Some books seem more alive than others. I found this 1949 copy of James Beard’s The Fireside Cook Book today in a used book store. Banged up and worn through, it was love at first sight. Opening with description of prehistoric man enjoying a salad, he then compares the caveman’s roasting of a saber-tooth tiger to the modern housewife making Sunday dinner. The illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen – turtle troubadours, snatches of music, lobsters taking swigs from wine bottles, foxes teaching hen school, devils and angels – keep pace with the text. I’ll have to read it cover to cover to find out why those clams in booties are attacking that chicken with pitchforks. While his love of the old world is evident, his Whitman-like enthusiasm for new world American pulses throughout. Everything about this book makes you smile. Read more
Posts from the ‘Food Breaks’ Category
My great uncle once wrote that he had an impure love for cities. Though he was describing 19th century Havana, the New York City High Line is the perfect expression of the sentiment. I’d been hearing about it since it opened but hadn’t gone till last weekend. An elevated railway last used in 1980, it’s been transformed into an promenade cutting into the New York City Skyline. With nature and design in perfect balance everywhere you look, it’s a beautiful tightrope.
The frenzy of commercials leading up to today’s release of Julia & Julia was so feverish that I didn’t know if I could enjoy it. Like sitting down to a meal when you’re already full, it was just too much. Though I haven’t read the Julie Powell book, I loved My Life in France and really wanted it to be great. I hadn’t planned on seeing it opening day, but after having one of those strange bumper car mornings where nothing goes right, I went to a late afternoon show. Early enough for a healthy senior turnout, I walked into the theater and saw a sea of white hair. I knew this was the perfect audience to see it with. I also knew that the aisle seats would already be taken. Read more
Deciding to take advantage of Friday night late museum hours, my friend and I made our way to the Rubin Museum of Art a collection of art from the Himalayas. After a quick drink in their K2 lounge buzzing with after work chatter, we made our way to the quieter hum of Gods and Buddhas. That’s where we found “The Lord and the Subjects Twenty-Five.” Disciples of the 8th century Tibetan teacher, Padmasambhava, each figure represents the devotee and the ability they achieved through their dedicated practice of Tantric Buddhism. Lang Palgyi Sengee was able to make rainbows appear in the sky, Drubchen Khyluchung Loba who was able to attract birds and teach them Buddhist doctrine, and of course my favorite, Ma Rinchen Chog, pictured above, was able to levitate cross-legged and make even stones edible. Seemingly unattainable, at least it’s something to work towards.
It seems that when the Yankees decided to move out of the cathedral, they had no choice but to move into Mount Olympus. As a Yankee fan, I’m a bit of a dilettante. I romanticized the old stadium I only visited occasionally while ignoring its season-long limitations. I thought I would miss it, though I should confess that I did not have a very good record there. Even during a winning season, they usually lost if I was in attendance. I was the reverse curse. I blamed myself for wanting it too much, avoided series with the Red Sox, and just prayed it wouldn’t be total blowout. I’ve watched the rally clip from Rocky II played on the jumbotron more times than I ever care to remember.
You’ll have to excuse me for not writing about food. Yesterday, a ticket to see the American Ballet Theatre’s performance of La Sylphide at The Metropolitan Opera House fell from the sky unexpectedly, and I’m feeling a little ethereal today. There was a magical Sylph, a Scottish reel, and a poisoned gossamer veil, but it was still not as dramatic as the Edith Wharton story I cast myself in when I realized I’d be sitting in the romantic boxes ringing the theater. Watching principal Herman Cornejo dance the part of James, I thought of a Today segment I’d seen earlier that day about the recent emergence of Latin American artists and performers in film and television. This has long been true at ABT. In addition to the Argentinians Cornejo and Paloma Herrera, there is the Brazilian Marcelo Gomes, and Read more
After another shift at the Park Slope Food Coop, it struck me how much it’s like high school. Founded in the early 70s, you report to a plain brick building where all members have committed to work three hours a month. Reliant on this to keep the store running, absences have to be excused and “make-ups” made up. If an infraction or “alert” appears on your record, you may be called up to the wood paneled administrator’s office to explain. The store won’t offer plastic bags but the walls are covered in a forest’s worth of multicolored paper handouts. A crew leader, who now represents authority but likely followed the Grateful Dead at some earlier point in their life, self-consiously tracks attendance and assigns tasks. Within the first 15 minutes, cliques form among the overbooked activities moms, bicycle boys and senior members long over the novelty. The cool guy picks the music. True to form, I’ll grumble in front of the other kids to blend in, but am secretly thrilled by my spice weighing assignment and can’t wait to graduate to cheese slicer. Jennifer shows me the ropes as we chat away about Puerto Rico where she’s from. Cheerful and irreverent, she’s picked up extra days to make up for a trip to Italy the month before. She’s the friend I would have made in detention. With 15 minutes to go, we’ll all start watching the clock. Shift over, class dismissed.
The first year I moved to New York the central medians along Park Avenue were lined with enormous bronze statues by Fernando Botero. Not really knowing a Park Avenue without them, I thought the full bodied sculptures had always been there and always would be. It turned out to be a temporary installation sponsored by the Public Art Fund, and they were gone after a couple months. Park Avenue has always seemed empty without them. Today, my mother and I were running to meet my sister when we came across this Botero in a walkway along 57th Street. I don’t know how much longer it will be there, but it’s wonderful to come across his public installations unexpectedly and know his figures are still roaming the City.
Today was my work shift at the Park Slope Food Coop. I am on a food processing crew which means that, every four weeks, I make my way across Union street, pull on an apron and start bagging spices, grains, nuts – whatever is missing. I thought this was only means to an end so I could shop there, but it’s become something that I look forward to every month. I love the easy, early morning chat that transpires between a handful of people with only dried cranberries and brazil nuts in common. It’s a nice lull before turning in my apron and heading upstairs to jostle with the tatooed yoga mommies for organic mangoes, green peppers and Spanish cheeses, another shift completed.