Wednesday, May 28, 2008


If nothing else, I'm hip. I started making jam in 2004. I ate miracle fruit last year. I go on and on about authenticity.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Tonight I won't start eating. Nothing will fill me. I could eat half a loaf of apple raisin bread pan- toasted in butter with cup after cup of heavy Eagle Brand sweet PG Tips. I could eat the frozen whole wheat penne with vodka sauce, scaling it with sharded slivers of hard Parmesan. Defrost the single cheddar squash tamale and wolf it down with spicy kim chi and the tiny vinegary yellow Brazilian peppers. I could stew and salt the collards. Steam the kale, dipping entire leaves in lemon tahini sauce.

I could eat the whole pound of earlobe-shaped artichoke pasta, with butter and backyard Meyer lemon zest. There are cold blocks of duck-rich cassoulet, memory-thick bean stew. There are freezer dessicated haricots verts, revivable with lemon and olive oil. Garlic sharp crackers. Irish oatmeal with plump raisins, custardy boiled dates, and toasted walnuts.

Freezer jars of applesauce to heat in the chocolate brown Le Creuset saucepan from my mother's wedding set, adding sugar and cinnamon to invoke my grandmother. Navel oranges from last week's box. A square pan of Droste brownies with pecans. The last of the milk and two pale blue green Auracana eggs with a block of Scharffenberger into chocolate pudding. A jar of sour cherries from Eastern Europe with half a carton of eggs fork whisked into a clafouti, finished with the big raw sugar crystals I carried home from Maui, on the trip with the pool and the plums.

I can eat jar after jar of apricot jam, starting with the tiny jar saved from the 2007 batch. I would think of Sylvia's line, "I eat men like air" as I emptied my pantry, my refrigerator, my freezer. I could eat my kitchen as easily as breathing, fueled by the tightness in my chest. It is the only thing that is how I hoped it would be, how I expected, that kitchen. All else I have accomplished falls short by my measure, who I had hoped to be and to become. I am emptied, and tonight I will not start eating because nothing in my kitchen will fill the hole.

Friday, May 23, 2008

[napa 2001] 2. peaches from our tree

fragrant, originally uploaded by sassyradish.

In the summer of 2001 I was banned from making pies. This is the story of how that judgement came to be.

I was born across the alley from an apricot tree. A huge apricot tree in the backyard of a large brick Victorian with a turreted tower with a resident clan of hippies. Those apricots were my first food, and I remain fascinated and comforted by ripe apricots. As a kid, sometimes we still had access to that huge tree. At some point in my childhood, the monster was cut down. I would not encounter limitless access to seasonal fruit, except for semi-yearly apple orchard trips and hot days gorging in pick-your-own strawberry fields, until the summer of 2001. In the interim, my appetite for picking ripe fruit grew unchecked for 20 years.

Finding myself in baking ingredient paradise, I commenced with an unchecked pastry manufacturing orgy. Meyer lemon meringue pie (our own eggs! our own lemons!), a meringue-frosted tall cake decorated with tiny marzipan toys for a baby shower, a double-stacked plum upside down cake, blackberry pie, strawberry pie, blackberry crisp, peach cobbler, and an endless stream of peach pies. Eventually, K --who despises mushy foods as a category and consequently seems to loathe Thanksgiving, banned the making of pies. I still came home from work and, after a trip to the tree, sat at the oak kitchen table prepping peach slices for freezing. The juice ran in streams down my forearms, pooling at my elbows. It was heaven.

Thanksgiving 2002 I showed up at their house with 9 pies, including a still-controversial fresh pumpkin pie made apple pie-style. I figured I could get away with flaunting the pie-making ban. I'm not sure that I did.

Story two, in a series of 48.

Friday, May 09, 2008

anchor & hope

Over a lovely lunch at shiny new Anchor & Hope (shared Ceviche with Lime & Coconut, butter-slathered Lobster Rolls with Old Bay Spiced Potato Chips) I had a restorative conversation with friends. We talked about Japanese baths, and community baths in general, L complaining strongly that Kabuki does it all wrong by enforcing silence. I shared my adoration for Cathedrals of the Flesh, a dead-on perfect gift from E. Doug and Steven stopped by the table, talking acoustics with our party.

One of us is headed to Paris, so I recounted my fall visit with E to the worn hammam at the mosque there, and the intense experience of being forcefully gommaged. It is indeed like being licked by a cat's tongue...a hand-sized one.

While in Paris, I 'borrowed' a lovely tiny guide to historic restaurants, Historic Restaurants of Paris. It was filled with gems and lovely turns of phrase. When a turn in the Jardin du Luxembourg slid into bolting from a downpour, we ducked out of the rain and into
Restaurant POLIDOR (41, rue Monsieur Le Prince, 75006 Paris). The banned napkin storage cabinet was indeed there, as was the Turkish toilet, in much too small of a room. We started out lunch alone, and by the time we paid the check the many communal tables were packed cozily with soggy refugees from the deluge. I often think of E's fragrant chicken with morels in cream sauce. Very often.

The fresh chips were so melt-in-my-mouth salty good that I took the unfinished remainder back to the boys at the office. As I walked the two blocks back to finish a stressful day, I noticed Anchor & Hope's hot mermaid (above) tastefully embossed on their paper takeout box. Well done.