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Anything Goes Food Life Lessons

On Getting Older.

June 1, 2016

It’s times like when I have to throw out an old credit card that I have no idea how to discard of properly that I feel like I can’t possibly be an adult. Yet as of over a week ago, I’m another year older.

I ended up cutting the card into little strips, splitting them up, and then throwing several pieces away in each of my apartment’s garbage cans. That should be sufficient, right?

I’m 27 now and I’m not going to induce any eye-rolling by pretending that 27 is “old.” I will say, however, that I sailed through my mid-twenties without much evaluation on aging–until now. In general, I don’t care about getting old at all except that it means my parents are also getting older. But there’s a part of me that wants a new age, like a new year or season, to change the tides and offer something new. Then I realize that turning over a new leaf is ultimately up to me, a conclusion that itself possibly signals the wisdom of aging. Of course, part of my proactivity means coming back here to chat. Another part is my decision that there’s no room for people who aren’t good for me in my life. And so last Sunday, I began to eliminate people who spoil Game of Thrones on social media from my life. You could say this means my standards for acquaintances are higher than ever. You could also say they seem lower than ever. Both, I think, would work.

I celebrated my birthday the way any 27-year-old should–however I wanted to. For me, this meant $100 worth of Taco Bell and board games. I know how some will respond: Taco Bell! Ugh, fast food! Do you know how bad that is for you? That’s not special occasion food! That’s not authentic!

But I can’t hear them, the crunch of corn shells are too loud and they’ve already gone the way of the Game of Thrones spoilers.

 

Food Travels

I’ll Have What Phil’s Having

November 6, 2015

phil[Image credit: pbs.org]

I was on the phone with my dad the other day and he took the opportunity to let me know where he’d like us to eat next time he visits LA. He’s been watching a show called “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having,” which is a program on PBS where Phil Rosenthal travels to cool places and eats good food. As someone who never had cable, I have a real soft spot for public television and all its unadorned sincerity.

My dad described every place referred to in this episode and explained exactly why he wanted to try them (“the way they prepare their calamari!” etc., etc.) and now, naturally, I’ve tasked myself with revisiting every place I’ve been to and pre-visiting all the places I haven’t. There’s a Seinfeld bit where the joke is that we always get another appetite so it’s fine to ruin one, which is true, but each one is especially important when you’re traveling, so I need to make sure they all count when my dad gets here. Seinfeld is one of those things I associate with my dad because it’s his favorite. Food is another.

I’ve been to a few of the places visited on the show, like Langers Deli. Pastrami is one of those foods my dad loves, but my hometown doesn’t have much of a Jewish deli scene. Don’t hold me to that, though, because I’m going off observational research done at 11 years old. When you’re from San Jose, you eat pastrami from Togo’s. It’s #9, and I didn’t have to look that up to know that. My dad knows that, my 7th grade P.E. teacher knows that. That’s what pastrami is there. Wait, is this just something everybody knows? Is this not special to the beloved city of my upbringing?

Like my father, I’d travel far and wide for something memorable to eat without a second thought. Now I really want to blow off work and get a Pastrami sandwich. It’s not even 9AM yet.

Food Rambling

Breakfast and That One Time I Got Sit Down Service At McDonald’s

September 12, 2015

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I’m more of a night owl than a morning person but really neither, though sometimes I admit I get desperate to be that person drinking warm lemon water as the sun rises, rolling out the yoga mat and like, setting my intention for the day or something.

My apartment has no AC and Los Angeles is slowly burning these days, even well into the evening. There’s something about heat that makes me feel like I’m walking with mesh over my mouth, all claustrophobic and uncomfortable. I have a little porch area in the front that closes my apartment off from the outside, so I’ve been daring enough to sleep with my front door open and only my screen door between me and the porch, on a yoga mat on the floor, where potential intruders would get distracted by the absurdity of the image and hopefully run away. I hit my body with an ice cold shower that lasts about 15 seconds in the middle of the night (last night, this happened 3 times), jump out and skip the towel dry, lie out on the yoga mat next to the fan, and try to fall asleep before I feel the heat again.

I’m not so great at getting to bed early so mornings are without fail brutal, even when I incentivize myself with things like avocados in the fridge for breakfast. I have alarm clocks in my bathroom, kitchen, and by my bed so a cacophonous symphony strategically set minutes apart from each other goes off like a violent shake everyday. If I get up early enough, I’ll try to get some writing done at a cafe or in one case, McDonald’s.

McDonald’s has a turkey sausage and egg white breakfast bowl that I’m admittedly crazy about. The other week I walked in and when I ordered they handed me a rod to hold my receipt in and Lakisha brought breakfast to my table. If that wasn’t enough, she came to check on me twice and told me I was glowing twice (which I was, because I was eating McDonald’s and getting TABLE SERVICE). There’s something about eating a fairly healthy and super satisfying breakfast that would cost $15 at any of the many brunch places in LA that makes me feel like I’m gaming the system and coming out on top–a great feeling to start the day with.

Food Holidays

On Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2015

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I’ve never really celebrated Valentine’s day, and by that I mean the Valentine’s day that comes ribbon-tied with red cellophane wrapped souvenirs. But I’ve never felt like I was missing out on something either. It seems like there are two major camps when it comes to the holiday–some people either really let it influence their mood for an entire week while others feel that they must inform you that it’s a Hallmark holiday in a way that has a certain unspoken “nobody told you?” tone that is frankly, trite. I’m either somewhere in the middle or not at all on the grid. I usually find that if I’m not dating on February 14th the same goes with the 13th and 15th, so another day doesn’t cause additional despair. I mean, chocolate is tasty and flowers are pretty. Do I really care who they’re from?

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I’m making what has to be my favorite tomato sauce ever (from smitten kitchen) tonight while I think about this, but before I can feel like a wise, mature adult because I’m so mellow about this holiday, I struggle with the can of San Marzano tomatoes with two different can openers for ten whole minutes and get tomato splashed on my white shirt and all over the cutting board. It’s then that I realize I’m no more enlightened than anyone else and bring dishonor to my family’s long history of competence with canned goods. I’m no cook (as if you needed me to tell you that) but I can stew tomatoes with butter and onion. I’m also perfectly capable of using the holiday as an excuse to enjoy a decadent bowl of pasta followed by a glass of milk and some chocolate. That, I think, is pure love. Or joy. Maybe both.