Crumbling Pictures

November 17, 2009

Going through old photographs is dusty, sentimental and satisfying work.  I’ve spent the day traveling through the past, poring over old albums and pawing through boxes. I’ve promised to come up with new material for the reissue of Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me With Apples, and I thought old pictures might make people happy.   But what a journey it’s been!

Here’s the picture of our fourth grade class at PS 41; I’m a little stunned to discover that I can name every person, even Glynn Turman, who was only in our class for one year.  (He left for a role in Raisin in the Sun, and later I heard that he’d married Aretha Franklin.  Wonder if that’s true?)  Here’s my sweet Aunt Lili, squinting into the Hollywood sun, holding one of the miniature Schnauzers that she bred.  Aunt Birdie, eclipsed by the gaudy splendor of my rainbow wedding dress, stands between me and Doug ; she is so tiny that she barely comes to his waist. In the next picture Alice Waters, Marion Cunningham and Cecilia Chiang hover like three fairy godmothers as they cut the cake at my wedding to Michael. (Nancy Silverton, who made it, stands in the background, holding an infant – it must be Ben- and frowning as if she doesn’t quite trust that they’ll do it right. )

The pictures are in no particular order, and they tumble from the box in a dizzying spill of years.  One minute I’m looking at my father’s father, who died in 1913, posing in front of some Alp wearing lederhosen, and the next I’m looking at myself in front of the lake in Taishan in 1980, a long-gone China which no longer exists. I found a whole box of slides from that trip to Barcelona that Colman arranged in the late 80s for Alice Waters, Lydia Shire, Mark Miller, Brad Ogden and Jonathan Waxman.  We are buying food in the Boqueria, we are in restaurants, we are in bakeries.  MOstly we look like we are pretty drunk (we were), and like we’re having way too much fun.

My hands are covered in dust, there are piles of photographs all over the floor and stacked on top of the tablle.  But what I keep wondering is how all these random memories ended up, together, in an apartment in New York in 2009?

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Street Food

November 13, 2009

It’s raining in New York, but I’m sitting in a little cottage in the Napa Valley,  looking out at trees, sky sunshine, thinking about this street food conference I’m attending at the CIA.  Roy Choi, the Kogi Truck guy, spoke last night, and he was so moving in a shyly quiet way. While he mixed pork (butts and bellies) in a firey red chile mixture with his rubber-gloved hands, he spoke of putting his whole soul into the food.  “I don’t like to speak while I’m doing this,” he said.  “You probably think it doesn’t matter, but I’m convinced that it does.”

Later, walking around the huge hall with, literally, hundreds of different dishes made by hundreds of different street food chefs, I couldn’t help wondering if that was the reason that the Kogi food stood out.  It was simple, but it was superb.

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The Last Party

November 3, 2009

Sitting at La Guardia, way too early, waiting for a flight to St. Louis.  Txikito threw a party for Gourmet last night, and it felt so… final.  The last time we’ll all be gathered in one room. We all drank way too much, devoured all those delicious little tidbits – crisp mushroom croquettes, pa amb tomaquet, the tomatoes tasting very much like the last fruit of Fall, and wonderfully black chiperones.  This morning I discovered that my fingers were still black from the squid ink.

When the party ended, nobody wanted to go home.  So we drifted, one huge amorphous group, across the street and into Grand Sichuan where we just kept eating and drinking.  The chiles with black beans teased and tingled, and I realized that I’ll never eat them without thinking about all those lunches in the conference room at the magazine, the table covered with little white boxes.  It was always too much food, and we always ate it all.

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Techno Idiot

November 2, 2009

People are begging me to add an RSS feed to this – and I will – as soon as Nick comes home from school and does it for me.  I’m a complete fool when it comes to this sort of thing.  Sorry. 

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading Dana Goodyear’s piece on Jonathan in this week’s New Yorker.  She’s got the food bit right, but it sidetracked her.  It sounds like nothing but endless meals.  She’s missed his quirky brillliance and his extraordinary sweetness.

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