I know I promised something about cocktails, but I canâ€™t resist a few words on oral surgery first. I had a tooth extracted today and was reminded of the great pureed and soft foods that we take for granted or overlook.
Being a vegetarian chef type gets you into all kinds of conversations, and I recently learned that my dentistsâ€™ two sons are vegetarian. So she expressed interest in trying my food and had some advice for me as a veggie faced with a few days of no chewing. (Dr. Lloyd, if you decided to tune in â€“ hello! You did a magnificent job!)
After she proclaimed that Iâ€™d managed very well, especially â€œfor such a small girlâ€ and before she got concerned about my high blood pressure and ghost-pale face, she suggested cauliflower. Mash it up, she told me, and itâ€™s wonderful. Continue reading
Perhaps you’ve seen the phenomenon of ceviche.* It might begin with a happy hour group sipping half-priced margaritas at a Mexican restaurant. Around 7:30, they start eying the menu. One person suggests yucca fries to share, another the spinach quesadilla. Then one gets a mischievous look in her eye and places her finger firmly on the name of a dish. She looks meaningfully at the group, eyebrows lifted. “How about… ceviche?” She says.
Inevitably, it must be explained. A few in the group already know and say that eating raw fish in a sushi restaurant is one thing, but in this place? (At this point, someone may point toward the bartender in his tank top, standing in a puddle of spilled Corona and lime pulp). Then one of the cheap drink revelers begins a rapturous defense of ceviche — what a fresh-tasting delicacy it is, and how he used to eat it all the time when he studied abroad in Latin America somewhere. Some are convinced. Most of those who try it are enraptured; ceviche converts who take a tiny forkful at a time and savor it. Continue reading
The summer after high school graduation, I worked as a cashier in a produce market. (It was Robin’s, for any of you New Paltz-area folks). There, I memorized numeric codes for at least 200 kinds of produce, including about 10 varieties each of apples, onions, and potatoes. Although the precise number that went with the purple potatoes has faded from memory, I distinctly remember one customer. He came in one day when I was bagging and a delightfully truculent co-cashier was ringing people up. This shopper unpacked his basket, revealing a series of goods bought in small quantities.
The co-cashier (let’s call her Lucinda) sized up the package of cherry tomatoes, one lemon, small bag of trail mix, and two pears and said, “Single guy, huh? I could see you a mile away!” She proceeded to tease him good-naturedly and boast about her powers of deduction.
Being the kind of 17-year-old who was only going to comment on an order if the jicama had an enormous worm wriggling out of it, I was embarrassed. But I soon realized Lucinda was very astute. The guy chuckled nervously and nodded. I thanked my lucky stars that I had my family to return to that evening, even if we didn’t always sit down together for a meal.
For the next several years, I cooked and ate with my family, in a student dining co-op, or in a group house. Now I’m cooking just for myself, and I can really feel for that guy. Continue reading
Kids and grown-ups alike just love to see things grow. If you ever watched, fascinated, as your childhood sea monkeys went through their short jig of a lifespan, you know what I mean. If you feel compelled to put seeds in soil every spring, or even if you enjoy seeing a whole bunch of new messages expanding your email inbox, youâ€™ve experienced the grown-up version.
Sadly, right now, everything seems stagnant. Itâ€™s consistently cold and icy outside, with just slight variations between you-may-or-may-not-need-a-hat cold and youâ€™ll-die-without-a-ski mask cold. Just a few miles from me as I write this, Congress looked at a resolution that would have nudged the situation in Iraq with the force of a feather and declared it was too much. Best not to upset the status quo. I also swear that my email traffic has gone down, perhaps giving in to the phenomenon of things getting slower in colder temperatures.
If you donâ€™t mind dodging guys hosing old produce off the sidewalk, or navigating between delivery trucks ungoverned by stop signs or speed limits, this place is for you. If you like your food served up cheap and with a side of adventure, this place is especially for you. Continue reading
Ok, for once I decided not to tackle making a condiment from scratch. Iâ€™ve long heard about mole (for those not down with the Spanish, itâ€™s pronounced â€œMO-layâ€), a Mexican sauce famous for having many, many ingredients. Continue reading
I guess any self-respecting chef-type person needs to offer a Valentine’s Day recipe. I have to admit I like savory stuff. You can’t deny that a cheesy fondue, with gruyere and swiss melting into the hot cunning of garlic-infused white wine, is pretty sexy. Continue reading
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