The year 11 lollapalooza

Today marks eleven years of this blog. I started writing it when Ashish moved to Europe as a means of keeping up with our favorite shared pastimes, food and travel. I was not sure I would be able to sustain this for any length of time so I didn’t tell anyone that I was doing this until I had 100 posts which at the time I thought was an accomplishment. Now there are well over 2,300 posts.

And here are some of the recurrent themes, favorite foods, best of the best, worst of the worst, annoyances and surprises over the years.

Absolute faves. Pizza, Stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, Twizzlers, Dots, Chicken pot pie, Bread and butter, Dumplings of all persuasions. Ultimately it’s really just food in general that compels me.

Special mention: Key lime pie.

Also starring: Curries, vindaloos, naan and chaats. The first meal he made when he returned to me was this. His go-to comfort food.

The awful thing. The mind reels. This is the ultimate worst of the worst. I don’t want to hate them. I just do. I want to love them like I love chili, or maybe cheese.

Places. We didn’t realize when he went to Belgium how much time he, and then I, would actually spend there. It became a routine of autumn and spring in Europe for me (as well as an occasional night in the Newark airport), and Christmas and summer back here for him. He started in Gent and from there to Oslo, followed by Frankfurt for a hot minute and then Berlin. Along the way we made it to Rouen, Palermo, Rheims, Strasbourg, Bologna, Copenhagen, Naples, Venice, Rome, Paris, Lucca, Athens, Munich, Nice, Rapallo to name a few. Eleven years later he has moved back.

Food inventions. Stuffin’ muffins, cottage cheese tacos, national flag salads, peanut butter and pickles (a family invention), tartlets of all sorts, Jerk chicken soup, mac ‘n’ chuffins (I hate myself for saying this), Judy’s BBQ sauce—Yes she invented it but I claim it as my own, banana bread pudding, fritters and many patched up, cobbled-together leftover and reused meals of varied deliciousness levels.

Failures along the way. Some people don’t like to admit failure. I am not one of them. I revel in failure. Why not? You can’t have success without a few failures along the way. I am reminded of the first meal I made for him. He was polite but I know now that he was thinking “What’s wrong with this person?” I didn’t get a pic of the tabooz ki subzi I’d made, and for sure I will never make it again. But I wish I’d gotten pix of it and his face when he first laid eyes on it.

Rule #1. Never make Indian food for an Indian. (unless you’re an Indian) It is the surest route to failure.

Slop, the Month of Pain. Invented by my business partner, John, and I well over 40 years ago, the “Dry January” or “Drynuary,” as it is stupidly now known, can be traced directly to John and me. (One year we actually boiled vodka and inhaled the vapors. FYI, don’t bother). I stopped doing this—dieting and no alcohol, I mean—not boiling vodka, in Covid. That shit was hellish enough as it was—I didn’t feel I needed to add to the misery by not drinking. I still enjoy my fair share of slop, though, the hard-to-describe dinner of whatever is around, easy to throw in one pot, not fattening nor particularly appealing for that matter.

Messes and disasters. No one, and I mean no one, can make a mess the way I can. Every dish and pot that can possibly be used, broken cakes, splattered tomatoes, clogged sinks, burnt on food and all the cabinet doors left open. I’ve come to terms with it. I accept it. I don’t like it but I accept it. It’s not unlike aging, what’s happening to my neck, or whatever is the ongoing Donald Trump insanity. Not pretty but it’s what we got.

The produce report. Tomatillos, tomatoes, lemons, olives, peaches, rhubarb, potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, asparagus, cucumbers. Thousands of dollars spent and years off my life by raising my own fruit and veg.

Various battles with nature. Rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, fruit flies, coyotes, bears, thrips, caterpillars, mold, fungus, maggots, hornets, wasps, slugs, bacteria. Nature. You gotta love it. Again, none of this is a problem at Metromarket.

Oh, and bread, of course. It would not be my blog without this fetish that controls my every thought and deed. Stay tuned for my upcoming foray into ketosis a drab, gray, no-bread zone of sadness, and no pasta either.

Also, Mom. There wouldn’t be this without her. Miss her so much. This picture was taken during her “Pink” phase.

Husoor for whom this was all written. It’s been a ride. Und diese fahrt endet hier. Although I have no idea if he ever reads it unless there is a grammatical or spelling mistake—he’s all over that—but in some way it’s what has gotten me, at least, through 11 years of a long distance relationship.

And now he lives in Madison and a new kind of life begins for both of us. Instead of 9 hour flights to another continent, another country, there’s a 90 minute drive (electric car) to another county. And I’ll be damned if I ever get on an airplane again.

Acknowledgements: I didn’t do this myself. I am just the person who puts it together, writes it down. There have been so many people, family and friends who have influenced my taste, my style of cooking, entertaining and living. So many people who have helped me with concepts, given me recipes and eaten my food. As I was writing this I began to think about specific individuals and just as I was having a warm wave of affection for the people in my life I realized that The Beatles “Here, There and Everywhere” (but sung by Emmylou Harris) was playing and I totally lost it.

Thank you everyone.

8 Replies to “The year 11 lollapalooza”

  1. OhMyGod!!! Talk about losing it!!!
    Actually, I didn’t cry. Almost though.
    Very touching! My heart is full! Thank you for all the entertainment, the cooking advice and for allowing me to be the recipient of so many of those successes (and a few failures).

  2. Well, I certainly lost it. This is a beautiful accounting of your love for your mother, your love for your husband and your love of food. Overarching it all is your dedication and commitment to those whom you continue to care about and feed. Wonderful piece. Thank you.

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