Thursday, September 25, 2008

One Handed Questionnaire

So sometimes I cook myself a nice dinner and then I sit down at the table. I wish I were the kind of person who could just taste each delicious mouthful she has cooked and ponder how to describe the taste of shallots, but the truth is that I only do that kind of shit when I can talk about it with other people. Eating each bite mindfully when I'm alone makes me feel like an anorexic on death row. I want to ENJOY my meal, not deliberate on every morsel. So, as a compromise, I often read about food while I eat. Those crazy Italians say "The man who eats alone dies alone." I like to think that I'm just having a one-sided conversation with M.F.K. Fisher or A.J. Liebling or the authors of the The Joy of Cooking.

It doesn't make any damn sense to read about Parmesan Black Pepper muffins while you're eating fried rice, but I do it all the time. Problem is that I end up sitting there a few hours later still reading about creamed cauliflower or currants, and my should-be leftovers are congealing on the stove.

So that's what I did tonight, with my Thursday-is-the-new-Saturday grad student schedule. This time though I sat at the computer, and a few glasses of wine and a few extra scoops of fried rice later, I found this website: Eat Drink One Woman She has different folks fill out a food-related questionnaire each week. Reading them in succession helps distract you from your pretty unsuccessful fried rice.

I thought it would be fun to answer the questionnaire myself. I heartily encourage you doing the same in the comments. Maybe you could do it one-handedly while you are eating? If y'all all do, I'll make a new post just for them!

Name: Susanna Williams

Occupation: Grad student/ English tutor

Borough: In CA we call them neighborhoods, and mine is actually a small town called Moss Beach.

Relationship status: That has nothing whatsoever to do with food and is none of your damn business.

What did you eat today?

Half carrot/half orange juice on campus
Frozen banana, vanilla soy milk, almond butter smoothie
Veggie-melt sandwich from the local pizzeria I have never eaten at
Half a chocolate bar when I woke up from my nap (I had a bit of a hangover)
Fried rice I made at home

What do you never eat?

Restaurant Chinese food, mustard, relish, chicken breast, chicken nuggets, milk, chocolate and mint together

Complete this sentence: In my refrigerator, you can always find:

vanilla soy milk, carrots, celery, butter, frozen bananas (for smoothies), Hellman's mayonaise (y'all call it "Best Foods" in the west)

What is your favorite kitchen item?

My square wooden spoon. It's a spoon and spatula. And has notches in it from when it was once used as a drum stick.

Where do you eat out most frequently?

The food on campus at SF State is surprisingly healthy, cheap, and delicious. I eat the falafel plate on campus a lot or get a weird healthy burrito (I'm a sucker for bourgeois burritos).

I also eat burritos at the taqueria in Half Moon Bay that doubles as a fried chicken joint. It's SO HANDS DOWN the best taqueria on the coast. And I will fight you if you disagree.

And I guess I eat out in Big Sur a lot at the bakery for breakfast.

World ends tomorrow. What would you like for your last meal?

It depends on who is with me. If it's my love, then I would eat sexy food that makes me close my eyes and chew. Blue cheese, lamb, fatty raw tuna, artichokes, chocolate truffles from Recchiuti (it's in the Ferry building). If it's my family, then squash casserole, grandma's green beans she grew in her garden and canned, mama's mac and cheese casserole and chicken n' dumplins, my pecan pie, sweet tea, and Aunt Sherry's peach ice cream. There should be a bread, but I swear that nobody in my family (including me) can make a decent bread, be it cornbread, biscuits, or pie crust. I'd probably be happiest with canned biscuits (and apple butter). If I were alone, it's be Strauss whole milk yogurt and some maple syrup, a nectarine, a salad with kidney beans and garbanzo beans, pumpkin seeds and slivered almond, radishes and grated carrot and celery with sweet miso dressing. And a tuna salad sandwich with a lot of tarragon and mayo. And I'd bring back the artichoke and dip it in Hellman's with white wine and gigantic black olives that taste like soil.

Oh PLEASE tell me yours! PLEASE.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Dreams (Are) Red, Gold, and Green

Um, okay...sit back and relax. We're going to a time when even hot young people danced like nervous 12 year old boys shuffling back and forth from one foot to the other. And a pop singer could reflect the depth of emotion in his song by merely opening and closing his palm dramatically. My favorite part is the harmonica solo.

Why do they dance like old people? WHY DO THEY DANCE LIKE SENIOR CITIZENS? I'm sure their hips are still full of cartilege!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Kava Kava

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far way, this sailor-talking semi-whore was a sweet Mormon girl who wasn't entirely sure where the clitoris was located. This isn't a story about how she found that out; this is a different story. The place was Provo, Utah, and she and her friends had been invited to a "Kava Kava" party. All she knew was that Kava Kava was some sort of special tea from Samoa and that they were all going to sit on the floor and drink it out of the same cup. Now Susanna knew that Mormons weren't supposed to drink tea, but Kava Kava was herbal tea so it was alright and besides, the guys hosting the party were Mormon too.

It was a very small party. It was just her and her friends and the guys from Samoa. One guy mixed up a big wooden bowl of kava and he'd ladle some into a wooden cup and they would clap and go "Kava Kava" and then pass the cup around and everyone would drink it. And they drank cup after cup after cup after cup. And then everyone was brushing each other's hair and giving each other back rubs and they were all so close and comfortable and nice and it was all strange because they had all just met each other.

And the next morning, when Susanna woke up and was confused about why she let a guy she barely knew brush her hair and another guy give her a back rub, she found out that Kava Kava is a sedative with mild psychoactive properties and drinking 10 cups of it is akin to a large dose of Valium.

So now she buys it on purpose and drinks it at night while she is studying.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Opening Pandora's Box

Mac, this post might make you cry.

This is in response to my brother's post, "Missing My Damn Pater Familias" about the online radio-ish station Pandora, which uses some sort of magic voodoo to accomplish its purposes. You can type in any artist and they will make a radio station that plays music similar to that artist. My brother wrote in his blog that he found himself wanting to email our Dad and tell him about it, and then realized that he couldn't. He thinks that Dad's favorite radio station would have been the Jimi Hendrix station.

When my Dad died, I got his iPod, and, after listening to the songs on it for a few weeks, I finally had to just move on and put my own songs on it. But I couldn't do it without cataloging every single song on his iPod, including his 25 most played. These were the top ten:

1. "Ruby Tuesday" Rolling Stones
2. "Me and Bobby McGee" Janis Joplin
3. "We've Only Just Begun" The Carpenters
4. "Don't You Want Somebody to Love" Jefferson Airplane
5. "One Way or the Other" Blondie
6. "Hurt So Bad" The Letterman
7. "Purple Haze" Jimi Hendrix
8. "Bad Moon Rising" Credence Clearwater Revival
9. "Southern Cross" Stephen Stills
10. "These Eyes" The Guess Who

Before I go any further, I need to explain to those of you who are just joining us that my Dad died last October 30th. He had a very rare brain disease whose first major symptom is psychosis. So my Dad quite suddenly went crazy, but we didn't know he was going crazy. My Dad presumably stopped listening to this iPod in early August right before he became bat shit crazy. I draw your attention to this fact because it makes absolutely no sense that my Dad would like Blondie. And I do not understand why Janis Joplin is #2 on his list. I never heard him listen to her.

Below is a list of every single track on the iPod in alphabetical order. The numbers before the tracks are the rankings in his top 25 most played. Jimi Hendrix didn't rank as high as we would have expected. I read this like a diary or a poem, especially the end, and it hurts:

Abba-Dancing Queen
Abba—Take A Chance On Me
Addicted to Love
Al Green—Lean on Me
Al Green and Annie Lennox—Scrooge Soundtrack—Put a Little Love In Your Heart
17.All Along the Watchtower
Allison Kraus—When You Say Nothing At All
Allman Brothers—Ramblin’ Man
16. Back in the USSR
8. Bad Moon Rising
Beach Boys—Fun, Fun, Fun
Beach Boys—Good Vibrations
Beatles—Hey Jude
14. Beatles—Let it Be
Bette Midler—Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
5. Blondie—One Way or Another
Box Tops—Cry Like a Baby
California Girls
Carly Simon—You’re So Vain
Christopher Cross—Sailing
4. Don’t You Want Somebody to Love—Jefferson Airplane
24. Drifters—There Goes my Baby
Elton John—Crocodile Rock
Elton John-Daniel
Elton John—Pinball Wizard
Fifth Dimension—Let the Sunshine In
18. Free Bird
20.I’ve Been Waiting for a Girl Like You—Foreigner—Foreigner 4
12. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Jimi Hendrix—Are You Experienced
Jimi Hendrix—Foxey Lady
7. Jimi-Hendrix—Purple Haze
19.Kinks—All Day and All Of The Night
22. Leaving on a Jet Plane
Led Zeppelin---Stairway to Heaven (Rare Acoustic)
Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd—Whole Lotta Love
6. The Lettermen –Hurt So Bad
13.Magic Carpet Ride
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terell—It Takes Two
11. Maybe I’m Amazed—Paul McCartney—Wings Over America
2. Me and Bobby McGee—Janis Joplin
23.Pink Houses—John Cougar—Scarecrow
15. Platters—Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Political Grapevine: 7/25/07—Brit Hume’s Grapevine
Political Grapevine: 7/27/07—Brit Hume’s Grapevine
Political Grapevine: 8/1/07—Brit Hume’s Grapevine
The Radio Factor—7/25/07—The Radio Factor
The Radio Factor—7/27/07—The Radio Factor
The Radio Factor—8/2/07—The Radio Factor
The Radio Factor—8/3/07—The Radio Factor
Rocket Man
Roy Orbison—Crying
Roy Orbison—Only the Lonely
Roy Orbison—Pretty Woman
1. Ruby Tuesday—The Rolling Stone—Flowers
Sloop John B
9. Southern Cross
10. These eyes
3. We’ve Only Just Begun
25. Yesterday
5 Minute Newscast (1 PM EST 7/26/07)—FOX News Radio
5 Minute Newscast (2 PM EST 7/29/07)—FOX News Radio
5 Minute Newscast (4 PM EST 8/2/07)—FOX News Radio
5 Minute Newscast (5 PM EST 8/3/07)—FOX News Radio
5 Minute Newscast (7 PM EST 7/29/07)—FOX News Radio
5 Minute Newscast (9 PM EST 7/27/07)—FOX News Radio

The Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.

by Wallace Stevens

P.S. Wallace Stevens was a businessman.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On Not Eating Out in New York

My mother came to visit me in July and she bought way too many sweet potatoes. We were going to make them for my former roommate who had been sick, but we ended up taking her out to breakfast instead. I thought I'd make some soup with them, so I did a search for "sweet potato soup" and I found the best website:

This woman decided not to eat out at all, akin to a media fast, for two years. Over the two years, she became a pretty rad cook. She's an omnivore, but she buys most of her stuff local. Also, her mom is from Taiwan and taught her a lot about cooking, so many of her recipes have an Asian influence. The number one thing I learned from her is that Sriracha hot sauce is always a good idea.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Last time I wrote in this blog I was smack dab in the middle of grieving. As I've said 20 million times on this blog since my Dad died, grief is peculiar. It never looks like what you would expect. I do think I was right when I wrote at the end of July that this was the "dark night of my soul." Oh sure, yes, it's a bit dramatic, but fuck it all, life is dramatic sometimes. Plus, I was alluding to Joseph Campbell's heroic journey: I was passing through the dark valley, the unknown, where things don't make sense and you are confused and lost and alienated from others.

So I did what any decent hero would do, I went to Hawaii by myself for 9 days. I camped and stayed in hostels and went hiking and snorkeling and scuba diving and sat on the beach and made Austrian friends. The point of the trip, really, was for me to do something special for my Dad's birthday. The day before his birthday, I was driving through a rain shower toward a black canyon and the man on the radio said, "It's August 10th, 2008." Before I could think about how it's the day before my Dad's birthday and he's not here and I'm here alone on an island in the middle of the world, the man says, "The past in ash in the wind. The future is a seed germinating." Hearing that was profoundly comforting.

At my Dad's funeral, I spoke. One of the things I said was that my Dad is still alive in me. I have his eyes. He was there with me in Hawaii. I am a part of him, and he still exists because I and my brother do. And the next step of the heroic journey after the dark night of the soul is the atonement with the father.