Apricots and cream cheese, basil and bay leaves – Sylvia Plath’s shopping-lists were works of art in themselves.

filling her ‘black patent leather bag with sherry, cream cheese’ (to accompany her Grandmother’s apricot tart), ‘thyme, basil, bay leaves . . . golden wafers . . . apples and pears.’

Her picnic foray is an Enid Blyton version of herself; an exuberant school girl indulged by a beneficent Aunt Fanny who doles out lashings of ginger beer and Eccles cakes. Plath loves food because food is imaginatively generous. It is exotic, like Wendy’s stew, but also indulgent. Food is related to a juvenile form of freedom, a Pickwickian style of roaming that happily marries decadent picnics and the picturesque:

— - excerpt from Bread and Oysters

I’ve often found shopping lists rather artistic moi même.

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