Tapestry Humor and Food!

The New Yorker‘s weekly humor page, “Shouts and Murmurs,” recently featured tapestry humor (!) in “Small Talk in 1348” by Teddy Wayne. You should really read the whole pandemic-talk funny piece, but here is the relevant passage.

—And I thought I would be using this time to learn to read.

—I, too. Instead, I have attempted the new recipes for gruel that the town crier has shouted. When I prepare a gruel that is especially pleasing to the eye, I ask Garrick the Weaver to capture its essence in a tapestry, which I then unfurl outside my thatched cottage so that others may admire it. I am innocent of the sin of pride, because I am not depicted in the tapestry myself—only the gruel.

—I have seen and liked your gruel tapestries.

—I did not know you liked them. You have never indicated so.

—Have I not? I am sorry. I like them.

—Which ones?

—Just . . . all of them, really.

(A silence.)

It reminded me of a wonderful food tapestry woven by Grete Bodøgaard, a Norwegian-born tapestry weaver from South Dakota.

The tapestry represents the fish and potatoes that she ate every day as a child growing up in northern Norway. It made me think of what food was meaningful to me as a child. It’s horrifying now, but I loved Swanson chicken TV dinners, which we ate on evenings that our parents went out to bridge parties or the Elks Club. We were allowed to sit in front of the television while eating on TV trays, unheard of on regular family dinner nights.

I collected TV dinner images at one time and began to prepare a cartoon. Maybe I should get back to the TV dinner tapestry.

I visited Grete Bodøgaard in 2013 and wrote an article about her for the Norwegian Textile Letter. Sadly, Grete passed away the following year from a brain tumor. I am so glad I had the opportunity to visit her magical studio in a refurbished small town bank.

A Studio Visit: Grete Bodøgaard



  1. What a hoot! The Swanson chicken TV dinner was my favorite, too. And we ate them under the same circumstances in front of the TV on TV tables!

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