I’m not naturally nostalgic, but I miss the tradition of sharing food with neighbours and buddies. “Tradition” is too strong a word — perhaps I mean “custom.”
Growing up, Mummy pressed a few brownies on a plate to my friends as they emerged from the basement after one of our high school Hearts fests. (You know, I’d love to have a gaggle of girlfriends who’d join me for cards and Fresca at four in the afternoon and fight about what music would hit the turntable.) Because one never returned an empty plate, I knew it would wing back home with a dozen of Mrs. Horne’s peanut butter cookies tucked under wax paper.
Nonna was the all-time greatest food gifter. As I dragged myself up the back stairs at 1208 W. Lexington after a long day in high-end retail, I never knew what would be sitting on the steps. Chicken Cacciatore over polenta? Canned fruit suspended in Jello? Spaghetti and meatballs.? I understand her generosity now: We cook for two and we eat a lot of leftovers. Annunziata Rovai, God love her, cooked her own meals until she was over a hundred years old. Of course she wanted to share.
I’m thinking about all this stuff because a friend and neighbour walked through my open front door this afternoon and presented me with his Polynesian Skewers — pineapple, bacon, shrimp, chicken, peppers and bacon, right off the grill. I smiled: I knew Dale Simpson when he had his original front teeth.
Bacon on a skewer is brilliant. Little Dale, you brought them on a paper plate, so I can’t return it covered with cheesecake. But thanks, Kid, for , well — sharing.
I have massive Blogger’s Guilt, right now, the kind you get with not keeping up. The Number One Rule of successful blogging, as enunciated by successful bloggers, is to be faithful, dependable and industrious. My daughter gave me that advice months ago, and she should know. Her blog, http://www.gototennis.com received its ten millionth hit this month and has 37000 Twitter followers. Congratulations, Honor and John! (They manage this around challenging real world jobs. Shame on me.)
It’s not just literary lassitude, mes amis, I have an actual deadline for a piece for The Daily Gullet over at http://www.egullet.org. When I pitched the piece I thought it would be a piece of cake. Ah, the time-wasting seductions of research, which can stop you short when it turns your theme on its head because you learned something that turned your thesis on its ass. Rethinking rewriting fighting the block. Pray for me.
I hate to reference the Sperminator, that sacko slime, but: “I’ll be back!” Soon.
I’m back from Lotus Land. My daughter set me up with one of the three greatest weeks of my life in a city I adore: Los Angeles. Like a lot of smartypants east of SoCal I spent too much of my life scorning LaLa Land. Then Honor moved there, I visited, and from that first trip I’ve been dazzled. Dazzled by sunshine, hot days (no sweating) cool nights and, again sunshine. High culture and fish tacos.
My next seventy posts could be about our week in LA, and might be. The theme could be: “You are too old to be so stupid to set out on your travels with two pairs of new shoes.” They felt good in the shoe store, but when I trotted along our LA hood walk — from Loz Felix Blvd., down Vermont to Hollywood and up Hillhurst with a swing back to home, my feet were shredded.
Two days later, wearing a pair of Goodwill sandals, I cruised Little Tokyo. I think I’ve said before that if I believed in a former life, I’d believe that I was Japanese. I thought I’d entered Retail Nirvana at Kinokuniya Books. OMG. OMG. “Madame Figaro ” in Japanese, with binding on the right? What seemed like a half mile of Japanese craft and cookbooks? I admit that I spent almost an hour in an eighth of the shop. I’m proud that I got out of that orgasmic nirvanic store only sixty bucks poorer
The second encounter was, good Lord, even better. I wish I’d taken note of the shop’s name, but basically it’s a Japanese five and dime — the concept makes my toes curl a week later. Here’s part of the haul:
The coolest bento box. Brace yourself, and don’t hate me: Hello Kitty ziplock bags. Erasers in dessert form. Argyle patterned tape. A lighter with a cute dangling thang. A Hello Kitty tempura strainer. A Hello Kitty callous grater. Fifteen bucks total.
I won’t walk into Walmart for labor reasons. I won’t eat at a Cracker Barrel for the same reason. But a Japanese five and dime? Take my wallet. Please.