Last Sunday, the scallion pancake above was my “brunch” before an 11 a.m. Chinatown bus to D.C. The dim sum offerings of NYC’s Chinatown are wonderful, but there was something sad and unfulfilling about that pancake. Yes, it was delectibly oil-soaked, with just the right amount of scallion flavor. Even the crappy soy sauce from the little packet worked with it. But the context left something to desired… something that’s hard to pinpoint.
Maybe it was the rush of buying it, or the single-serving Styrofoam container. Or the fact that I ate it in a tiny bus station just before one of the bus company staff members jumped up, ordered us into a line, and marched us to the waiting coaches, all the while threatening that they were going to leave.
Today, my brunch was more laid back, with dishes made by friends. That’s the other photo. The spread included spinach and apple salad with walnuts, celery, and raisins; butternut squash casserole; kale and caramelized onion quiche; hashbrowns with red onions, couscous cake with pear, dried plum, and apricot compote; and vegan noodle kugel. To drink, it was fair trade coffee and spiked mulled cider.
I began writing this post as a comparison of one week to the next, implying that this week was far better. Really, though, each had its merits. I wouldn’t trade that experience of getting a little restaurant’s first scallion pancake of the day, whipped up as I waited, for two straight weeks of potluck brunches. Eating that with such an adventure and the triumphant execution of Maneuver II of a project I’m calling Operation Aunt Rhea behind me was actually pretty wonderful.
The brunch today was delicious, and part of another project related to my New Year’s food resolutions. It was delicious, and learning about new people was invaluable. Plus it kicked my ass to clean my apartment and compile a list of year-round farmer’s markets (the theme of the potluck was “local foods”).
Variety in eating and adventures makes life good. So there are my two brunches–one week apart, and shoulder to shoulder.
Recipes for some of the above to come soon.