HOW MUCH OF THEIR OWN flavors do, or can, Ben & Jerry’s’ honorees eat? Is there a celebrity discount? Free ice-cream for a lifetime, as long as you eat your own flavor? At what point do you just feed it to the potted plants when no one’s looking? This is where today’s investigative journalists should be spending their time: deep in the dairy freezer, scooping for clues (or as my mentor Daryl Curtis used to say, “We keep digging down to get to the bottom to stay on top.”) I’d say an eat-off is in order, except that Phish Food is named after a band and they’d have an unfair tag-team relay advantage over someone like Willie Nelson or Stephen Colbert. Or Jerry Garcia who, being dead, isn’t quite the foodie he once was. Oh fickle Fate and her hungry handmaids, who bring together such cows, such cane and such celebrity!
FAMILY’S WHO YOU EAT WITH. (Conclusion drawn after viewing the final scene of “Safe.” Those who know, know.)
REMEMBER: FRUIT JUICE IS SIMPLY filtered water. (I like mine run through a tangerine tree, or pear, or cherry.)
1978. THREE A.M. 7-Eleven. Very hungry. Looking for the little heat-lamp-warmed nut-variety display thing. Cashews are definitely NEEDED. NEEDED NOW.
No hot nuts.
Where are they? Slim Jims, jerky, rotating hot dogs, horoscopes? These are not hot nuts. Must have HOT NUTS.
Ask the enormous scowling unfriendly muscled eyeglazed tattooed-before-soccer-moms-got-tattooed salesclerk.
Excuse me, do you have hot nuts?
Where’s your hot nut display?
I don’t see your hot nuts. Can I?
YOU’RE BETTER OFF THAN MOST if your dinner worries concern what, rather than whether, to eat.
WE WERE DISCUSSING SYNAGOGUE FUNDRAISERS, and I suggested an egg toss.
E. G., who knows who he is but may not want you to, looked at me with the sad seriousness of the ex-military and first responder. “Eggs aren’t for tossing,” he said. “They’re for eating. It debases us to play with something that half the world is starving for.”
That was ten years ago. To this day, the sight of someone playing with or otherwise wasting their food still makes me itchy inside.
One conversation was all it took to change my mind about something I had never seriously thought through. What will it take to change yours?
“MAY OUR LIVES BE NO sadder than necessary.”
SOMEONE ONCE ASKED PROSATIO SILBAN his thoughts on “presentation;” i.e., how a dish should look when it leaves his kitchen. The Cook For Any Price thought for a moment before replying.
“I suppose it depends on your notion of what the food’s for,” he said. “In ancient and epicurean Pormaris, more than elsewhere in the Commonwell, cooking is an art like music, painting or courtesanry. There, the current fashion is to pile the food as vertically as the ingredients and imagination will allow. I suppose it accents the dinner setting.
“My own customers range from wealthy banqueters to the bowl-of-beans poor, but they have one thing in common: they’re hungry. So I try never to let the food get in the way of itself. A pretty plate pleases the soul, and that’s important. But people don’t always know what to do with too much prettiness.”
HAMBURGERS AND FRIES SMELL BEST in a brown paper bag on the passenger seat.
They are cooked by the hardworking longmarried Chinese couple on the other side of Sonoma from the hardworking longmarried Jewish couple who’ll soon be eating them together.
The Chinese couple laugh and make secret jokes with each other in a brick building with painted dogs and banana shakes and secret sauce.
The Jewish couple almost only eat these hamburgers to celebrate. Tonight it’s the last day of school, for the one whose college education began 40 years ago next week, who has sweated and cried and (even) bled, and doesn’t like pickles or onions.
Forty years ago, neither couple had so much as heard of Sonoma.
Don’t rule out anything in a town where dreams come true.
SOUNDS LIKE A CONTRADICTION IN terms, especially if you live here in Recently Discovered Paradise. But travel blogger Lisa Mann’s Sonoma On The Cheap goes a long way toward resolving it. The site is frequently updated and covers the entire county, not just the city, of Sonoma (minor quibble: WHEN will people LEARN the %$#@!ing DIFFERENCE?!?). Well organized and bite-sized articles detail cheap-to-free food, events, lodging and more. Check it out at http://sonomaonthecheap.com/.
Note: This is an unsolicited review resulting from chance discovery. Hope you enjoy it!
YOU SEE THEM CASTING FURTIVE kitchenward gazes after a good dinner of roasted chicken or perhaps beef or lamb, excusing themselves with a piece of bread and trying not to run. Shortly afterward, stifled sighs waft back to the dining room.
Did I say “them?” I mean we. The Brotherhood of the Dunk.
The Brotherhood is a fine example of what ethnologists call Mystery Schools. These institutions, which flourished in Greece and Egypt at appropriate times in their country’s histories, were religious cults whose worship was based on an initiate’s experience of something — something wordless and immediate, so all-encompassing and clarifying that it couldn’t be shared unless, perhaps, through the eye-spark of mutual recognition.
For in truth, no words can truly substitute for the experience of dipping a piece of crusted bread into warm rendered golden animal fat, swiping up the pan-cracklings and biting into the result. The tang of drippings-soaked bread caresses your nostrils; the smooth liquescence balances and softens the dry crunch; the mouthfilling chorus of bitter sour salty sweet; the elusive fifth flavor whose harmonies transform the products of baker’s oven and roasting pan into something akin to what the angels, if they exist, must eat. (And if they don’t exist, then there’s more for the rest of us.)
Great care must be taken with this art, whose practitioners flavor it according to personal taste: some dunk only the inner, soft parts of the bread. Others use the crust to dislodge from the bottom of the pan toothsome chunks of blackened goodness. Still others will the soft side face down like a sponge, gingerly plucking at the rapidly softening crust and trying not to get their fingers too greasy. (Good luck.)
It is said that a man may be known by his dunkings, but I have seen little evidence to support this; some of the most otherwise timid souls I know dunk with a gusto and joie-de-vivre rivaled only by Paul Bunyan at a flapjack bar. Nevertheless, if a man tells you that you can find God in a piece of bread, don’t believe him — dunk for yourself.
IF THE PERSON AHEAD OF you in the checkout line is stocking up on Meow Mix, don’t ask about their cat.