Scenes from September 8

Baking soda is my new best friend.

After a tragic red wine incursion on my husband’s part on the kitchen counter, I thought for sure the white laminate was done for.  Alas, baking soda is my new savior.  I don’t think I’ve ever before accessed its truly miraculous cleansing powers.  Nor have I so closely examined my kitchen counter, though we’ve lived here for a year!  Or maybe it’s just never been clean enough for me to notice the subtle pattern in it 😉

Red wine disaster averted (for the time being – don’t ask 😕 ), we enjoyed a homemade ‘gravy’ from homegrown tomatoes (thanks to my husband’s coworker) and a loaf of delicious peasant bread from a local farm.  Good stuff.

Red wine, meet baking soda.  Baking soda, red wine.

Red wine, meet baking soda. Baking soda, red wine.

Am I the only one who sees the flying nun looking back at her!?

Am I the only one who sees the flying nun looking back at her!?

A Night in India

Basmati rice, saffron

Persimmon, metallic gold

Lotus flowers, tumeric

Paprika, paprikash, lentil soup.

Mango lassi for dinner                                                                                                                                                         on an open air veranda

Honey, ginger,                                                                                                                                                                   Come closer, Naan

Fiery balanced by the sublime

All You Can Eat Buffet

Buffets are not the best means of eating for anxious people.

So many choices, so much activity, so many chances for E. Coli and bacteria.

Then the bus loads of people coming in, adding to the tumult.  Kids cranky from traveling.  Everybody wanting food at the same time.  Not unlike the distractions of life, pulling our attentions from our goal: homing in on the buffet line.

The myriad choices are like our choices in life.  So many desirable options.  Mac n’ cheese.  Fried chicken.  Tostadas.  Sweet and sour pork.  Then what we should eat: the salad.  Also a lot like life, no?  We can choose what we know we need and is usually more cost effective (i.e. veggies) vs. what we want or think we should have (bacon-wrapped filet).

In the world of an anxious person, who cannot prioritize, who perseverates over decision-making, who gets overwhelmed easily, the all-you-can-eat buffet is a microcosm for life on a very bad day.

Unfortunately in real life, we do not have a Reina, the queen of bussing, to clear away our messes – or watch us to decide when that’s needed.

Or an all-you-can-eat ice cream bar.  Damn it.


Chopping Mangoes

Is there an easy way to cut a mango?

I tried the avocado method.  Cut in half, drive knife blade into pit, rotate blade quarter turn, and pull.  Not so much.  That pit was not having it.  Didn’t budge.

I tried digging it out.  That just hacked up the fruit flesh around it.

I did not have such warm feelings toward my mango.

I did not have such warm feelings toward my mango.

I finally sliced the fruit away from the core, apple style.

Except my hands were completely covered in goo from the pulp most of the fruit had become.

Goo + santoku = not the optimal chopping situation

As three small children pulling at your pant-leg while wielding said santoku is not.

Giada’s fish tacos with mango salsa be damned.  I was ready to fling that mango out the window or smash it against the wall.  I’d have squeezed it in my fist if only it weren’t so damn slippery.

No, you can’t have fishies right now.

Mama’s trying to concentrate.

No, fish tacos aren’t disgusting.

Yes, I’m putting that green stuff in them.

How the hell do you cut a *&^%*(# mango!?

Potatoes, mangoes – whatever I’m chopping, preparing dinner is always a trigger for me.

It used to be because I hadn’t planned a meal.  Countless trashed produce and late nights cured me of that.  Now I plan an entire week of meals before food shopping.  So that’s not the problem (well, that’s a PIA in and of itself, but that’s another topic for another day).  I’m toast by the time dinner prep rolls around.  I’m getting hungry myself.  I’m tired.  The sun is going down.  Daddy isn’t home yet.  That pot of anxiety boils up pretty quickly.

Revisiting the feelings elicited from chopping potatoes, things have changed.  Potatoes are dense; mangoes are much softer, pliable.  Potatoes are born of dirt; mangoes have a hard core with a soft surrounding (oh, there are so many metaphors for a post-baby body with that one).  Potatoes are a cold-weather crop; mangoes thrive in a tropical clime.

I am a warmer, softer person than I was post-partum.  I may not have tight abs, but I do have an inner reserve of power from which to draw.  Like slicing through the pulpy flesh, a lot of things are easier, but not all (removing the pit).

I still get pissed off at the distraction and whining as I’m wielding a large, sharp knife, but I no longer want to cut off my fingers to earn an escape to the emergency room.

I’d call that progress.

And I’d call mango salsa on fish tacos freakin’ delicious if it weren’t so hard to chop.


* Against my better judgment, I’ve included the recipe for Giada’s fish tacos.  Proceed with caution – and use sour cream instead of wasabi and crème freche, unless you like adding more stress to your life.

** I’ve also included a link to the proper way to cut a mango (There is a – who knew?  Video is worth it for the entertainment value alone).  I think I’d still proceed with caution.

Dreaming in Blog

Last night, I dreamt I was walking down the broad, curving main road that passes by my street.  I waved to my daughter’s playmates.  I laughed at the bizarre boat race in the bay.  I pushed my children to the side of the road when a snow plow came careening around the corner.  It was at that point that I probably should’ve realized my subconscious was in control.  Even though I live in New England, the weather does not shift that abruptly.

But no, I continued on down that street.  I think there may have even been a parade.  Then as easily as they do in dreams, the street morphed into another, further removed from my  home.  I passed by small businesses, restaurants whose culinary ancestors hailed from various countries.  In fact, there were two such restaurants from two apparently feuding South American countries directly across the street from each other.  I knew the origin of each cuisine from the outline of its country on the front of the restaurant, of course.  And I knew they were feuding because, well, some things are just understood in dreams.

As I passed the front porch of the restaurant closest to me, a man in an apron stepped onto it and deposited something that looked like a pizza box on one of the outdoor tables.  He was trying to sneak off the porch when another man in an apron stepped out the door.

He questioned him.  “Aren’t you from [feuding country’s restaurant]?

“Yes, I’m just taking part in the ancient tradition of the holiday truce in which we share our culinary treasures with our foes,” he said, and moved off the porch.

The second man’s face softened.  “I thought that tradition had died out,” he said.  “I’m glad to see it lives on.”

All this as I moved (apparently very slowly) past the building.  But time, like place, is also fluid in dreams.

As my husband and I (who knows where the kids had gone!) moved on to a nearby hotel’s sorely lacking continental breakfast and I melted my swizzle sticks in my cup of coffee, I thought, “What an amazing blog entry this would make!  A story of cultural divides torn down, if only for a day.  And I witnessed it firsthand!”

And then I woke up.  Is it bad to say I was disappointed when I did?  When I found out that none of that which seemed so vivid and heartfelt was real?  And that I missed out on a kick-ass blog entry?

Now, those that analyze dreams would have a field day with this one.  I walked through all these scenes without interacting.  I created hybridized cultures and foods.  I thought I’d found the answer to many of the world’s problems.  I lost my kids.  And thought melting plastic into my morning drink was a good idea (not to mention I don’t even drink coffee).

But if had to hazard a guess, I’d have the following to say:

  • I stayed up way too late blogging because I was so psyched about my new-found versatility; said staying up late caused restless and insufficient sleep
  • Cause of staying up late meant I had blogging on my mind
  • I dreamt of coffee because I knew once I woke up I’d be dragging; I screwed up the coffee because my subconscious knew I wouldn’t like it
  • I saved my kids because I’m always afraid I won’t be able to some time in real life
  • I dreamt of varied foods because I’m always looking for something new and delicious; and because I’m apparently in denial about this blog not being about food.
  • Holiday traditions?  Thinking of the true meaning of what we hold dear after Easter’s recent celebrations?
  • And I’ve always wanted world peace – even if it’s one restaurant at a time.  What can I say, I’m a sucker.
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