Monday, February 8, 2010


I’ve become a foodie. *sigh* You see us in the market--we’re actually sorting through the green onions…people wonder why. We debate over tomatoes, compare squash. The evil eye has been shown in the bakery. Seriously though, have you not just sat back and marveled at the wave, the surge....the tsunami of rebirth in the world of the edible? Once you begin to follow that lovely yellow train of thought (permeated with lemon zest and grated ginger) you could nearly bathe in the ocean of culinary programming. The food network couples with the world of PBS member weekends lavishing granny's biscuits and church picnic endorphin euphoria. TLC satisfies your quick urges with Weeknight Meals and Bourdain makes one absolutely yearn for lovely crispy pieces of porkish delight. Julie and Julia brought us to tears. Rachael Ray perks up your dreary afternoons while Tyler's Ultimate adds inches in theory alone. All the while, desire begins to burn....

Why settle for ordinary burgers with imitation american--when gorgonzola filled patties of ground steak mountained with crispy onion fries await thee? The promise of gastronomical heaven is just around the you see it? Just there...beyond the tuna helper and oodles of noodles....

My waist has grown. As has my dream of an Italian wine tour with me in a long, empire white dress, hair flowing down my eyelashes make shadows on my cheeks as I glance over my glass of Where was I? Oh yes. The cost of my food addiction. My family has had meals covered in cheeses they cannot pronounce. I have gone grocery shopping with a list of 27 things and come home with 42. All because Ina said potato salad had to have fresh dill....and pickles...and homemade mayo. And lemon zest. I have scandalized the PTA with chili and anise biscotti at the "Spirit" bakesale...and flaunted my fabulously empty trays as I SOLD OUT before their brownies were half gone. I have experimented with scrod.

I find this rediscovery freakishly aligned to our nation's return to the indigenous. The authentic. I felt this realignment of the universe far before the economic shift so please don't plead's too real for that. I think there is simply a vacancy left from years of fast food and microwavable wonders. We actually feel a space....a vacuum as we dispose of plastic wrappers and cardboard “heating sleeves.” It's not simply taste bud gratification--but the realization that ultimate satisfaction has a direct and undeniable correlation to investment.

Such is love.

As we travel this life, sometimes slogging--dragging our exhausted limbs through the dust of decisions regretted....sometimes plunging headlong into the glorious clouds that fill a sky of golden promise and bliss...we voyage. We love. I love. I love my husband, my children...the smell of greenhouses. I love poetry and techno; whiskey, freshly painted toenails, and cheese.

I love olives.

Life is a bowl of can eat it simply, or crammed with decadent dairy delight....soaked in spirits, sliced over salads, baked into bread and meat and fish....and every way. Every time. Is delicious. However, beware the ignorant one who snatches such a thing from the vine...bitter sour venom will be their reward. So is recompensed the gentle hand that gathers...sifts, sorts, washes and dries. The hand that saturates in lovely oils and herbs, folding the fruit in layers of luscious flavor for time to fill with magic...the bounty that awaits is splendid indeed.

Such is love.

Could the resurgence of our savory obsession be connected with the disintegration of our impermeable hearts? Which turned out to not be so resilient. We wrestle with independence even as we ache to belong. The contradiction and conflict that riddle our decisions is nearly overwhelming. 60 hour work weeks, 24/7 child care, instant food, abated sleep, short hand lives. Quality is better than quantity....and then. The realization that two days in Belize is not even close to nine eating hot dogs and listening to the crickets while you count the stars. That "date nights" can never fully replace weekday snuggles and toddler-interrupted scrabble games. Dried herbs will never taste the same as fresh...especially those that grew slowly...on the porch next to the daisies, drenched in sunshine and surrounded by laughter.

No matter how it's frosted or glazed, life is better done slowly. Slow roasted. Slow kisses. Microwave a love affair and I'll show you a pending divorce. "Just add hot water" to freeze dried parenthood and the canyon between child and parent gapes wider. There is no instant life.

And so I cook. I research how to draw the essence from a lobster broth...and from my husband's heart. I seek answers to why my milk curdled too quickly or the quiche was dry. I seek for hours to understand my sons…their dreams, their hopes. The television raves over faster, easier, cheaper....when the result is exactly that. Fast, easy & cheap. Not worth a damn.

Today, tonight...hug longer. Kiss slower. As you simmer soup, roast the potatoes....marinate and blend and grill...write recipes for life. For honesty. No lies, not even small ones. No short cuts. Kindness plus admiration mixed with encouragement equals marvelous success. Love without intimacy and vulnerability is like chicken without rosemary...soup without marrow....martinis without olives.

With the passion that we are rediscovering our most organic of delights....may we look at each other. The hunger...the appetite. May we take the time to cultivate, weed, harvest, and savor the relationships that give life itself meaning.

Love is like olives. Fancy, plain, in the morning or late in the night....they're absolutely splendid.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Someone once told me, "a person can make good decisions, but people are stupid." I rebelled. My generally optomistic, the damn-glass-is-half-full (hopefully of whiskey) nature leans toward assuming the best. I've been known to spout "maybe he's just lost" reasoning as to why the idiot in traffic cut me off nearly impaling my front teeth on the steering wheel as he whipped across three lanes to an exit leaving paint on the guardrail. He just didn't SEE me.....right? That awful woman in the market just 'had a bad day.' The bagger at the grocery that smashed your bagels in with your fabric softener so your breakfast tasted vaguely of fabreeze just wasn't "trained right."
But then...alarming awakening.
It started when I decided to pick up some Swanson's frozen deal for my grandmother and discovered the words, "Do not eat the plastic film" on the box. Are you serious? The film? I thought that was the best part! Gives a luminescent glaze to the little carrots and a tangy zip to the chicken. I actually considered calling Susie Swanson and telling her that the film was delicious and JUST because I hadn't moved my bowels in two weeks was NO reason to keep me from enjoying it!! Alas, I didn't.
And then last week the boys brought their report cards home. While I am indeed blessed to have honor roll children--I sat in silent stupefication (is that a word?) reading the accompanying note.
Tips For A Successful Parent Teacher Conference

1. Arrive promptly or even a few minutes early.'re only given a 15 minute slot so being "late" would be bad, right? We all learn that lesson every time we think explicit homicidal thoughts while sitting in the Doctor's waiting room for a 3:30 appointment with a screaming snot-nosed child--at 4:15 because some other idiotic parent was late. Death to those who can't tell time.

2. Begin with positive comments about the teacher or classroom. Wow. What kind of po-dunk moldy rock did you crawl out from beneath that you don't know how to say hello nicely? What prompted this lovely social tip--Mr. Thomas walked in and said, "Nasty place this room, and you're as ugly as Billy said you was."

3. Keep your emotions under control. It's a postal society, I know--but in the midst of the insanity, who "loses control" over a second grader's report card?? Exactly HOW many emotional escapades does it take to inspire such a an admonition? (and do I need to move if this is a regular occurance at our school?)

4. Be open-minded to suggestions from the teacher. Well....gosh darnit, she is the teacher. If she thinks your kid needs to work harder on his handwriting--she's probably right. Rocket science, this is.

5. Express appreciation for the conference. Again, who raised you?? Show appreciation for the person who puts up with your little demon 40 hours a week while attempting to educate him so he's not living in your basement when he's 35? DEAR GOD, say thank you!
And it occurs to me--damn, people are really....just stupid. *sigh* Not in the uneducated "good-hearted-but-can't-pour-piss-out-of-a-boot-if-the-directions-were-on-the-heel" kind of way (you can thank my southern mother for that one); but in a self-centered, oblivious, don't-even-SEE-you-on-the-radar kind of way. Where has this general dysfunction come from? When did parents stop teaching their children to say hello, listen while someone is speaking, and thank them for their time? And then these children grew up....and now they've spawned?
We have to be told not to eat the plastic wrap.
Where in the hell are we headed as a society??
Technology advances, entertainment soars, comfort is supreme....and we're losing our humanity. Our common sense is evaporating as quickly as our common manners. Just standing in line at the bank is an education in current swear-word-trends. You'd think that having to wait ten minutes for your turn while a slightly flustered employee who is obviously working their ass off hurries reason to flip out and lose control.
Then again, if it can happen over a report card....
Self control. Patience. Respect. These strands that weave a group of people into a community...I feel like I'm watching them fray. Has the cocoon of our independant lives left us not with magnificent wings, but crippled, clawing about on the ground? We're secluding ourselves as surely as a plump catepillar wraps itself in silk. We don't need to interact with anyone to shop for clothes, order our bills, invest in the market...even go to school or work. As we aggrandize our intellectual universe...are we creating a black hole in it's place?
I want butterflies. I want to see my children soar. If it takes all my strength and all my days...I will never settle for rude. Never allow the stupid, the insolent...the loss of the very thing that makes man so capable of such wonders.
I will battle to have sense and manners....become common again.