Monday, April 30, 2012

How To Eat Porn

I’ll admit it.  I have succumbed to the “Fifty Shades of Gray” mania and have jumped into this soft porn for hard old ladies phenomenon that has become so popular.  While the subject matter has successfully taken me to old familiar heights of passion it left me slightly unsatisfied: the story line dependent on a beautiful young co-ed and a dashing young rich entrepreneur. Characters a little too far-fetched to relate to personally.  However, I was thinking perhaps it did get the libido engaged as I found myself wanting to write about my recent dining experience at the Pantry at Delancey in mostly pornographic terms.  Thus, my latest entry:

How to Eat Porn

Start with a tease.  Let your partner know what you are capable of.  What treasures you might have in store.  Perhaps a quarter sized mushroom shell, softly supple, with a smooth, moist flesh loaded with a sharp salty goat cheese blended with a hint of sweetness emanating from the creamy caramelized onions blended in.  Approach gingerly.  These may be too hot to handle at first, all fired up from their time in the oven.

Or slap your palate, shocking your taste buds with a bright bite from the lively blend of finely minced salsa of biting green jalapeno pepper and white fleshed apple lightly saturated with freshly squeezed lime juice preciously poised atop an also quarter sized round bed of pink salty salmon flesh.

And just in case you are not yet primed for the sensual encounter, wrap your tongue around a savory herb stuffing laced with juicy pieces of wrinkled currents all atop a fat, juicy, soft plump clam which you scrape off the shell with the sharp edges of your sharp and assertive front teeth.  Try not to sigh out loud too loudly as you macerate this very satisfying combination.

While you are playing with your taste buds it is good to keep your mind well lubricated with very good wines.  For the first few rounds a lively, fragrant, flowery Riesling which deflowers your mouth with the aroma of springs newest blooms, like a 2011 Efeste Columbia Valley Riesling will do very well. 

At this point you become aware of the fact that your palate will be experiencing a long night that will go down in the books as a multiply orgasmic experience and you want to be fully present to the dance going on inside your mouth besides the distractions emanating from the room around you.  You must focus on the dishes set before you, not wanting to miss a single touch to your taste buds.

The next course will send you over the edge, even though you are early on in the encounter.  Bite sized pillows of creamy ricotta dumplings bathed in a bath of browned butter give way in your mouth.  Your mind sorts through a question of whether this is a lightness or a richness you are pressing to the roof of your mouth with your eager tongue.  You decide it is perfectly both.  The dumplings are wearing a conservative top coat of beautiful bright green wood sorrel shedding a crisp peppery flavor with a hint of fresh lemon.  The perfect way to cut through the richness of the dumplings.

Next arrives a more rugged entry, rustic and bold, a taught layered complex soul just waiting to be explored.  A crusty toasted slice of levain bread with chunks of nutty walnuts incorporated provides the mattress on which a perfectly poached egg is laid out.  This is tucked under a beautifully executed garlicky green fennel pesto which helps to contain the oozing yolk of the egg as it breaks into the toast in which it is absorbed.  You lap up every streak on the plate, blotting with the pieces of toast scattered to the sides as you abandoned your soul to this hearty romp.

This calls for a stronger libation.  Something to stand up to the testosterone of the egg and toast.  A red blend which must have at least four or five different grapes to get your palate immediately sorting and wondering.  For this you have a 2009 Columbia Valley Red from “For a Song.”  The complex layers draw your attention from the fennel pesto and you think “is this too much?  Can I take so much in one night?”  But like many cases of overstimulation, you adapt.  Boost yourself up.  Give yourself a pep talk and remind yourself you are in it for the long run. 

And just in time, arrives a virginal palate cleanser, white and shivering on the platter, pale and thinly shaved flesh of fennel, turnips and radishes.  Very lightly sprinkled with a clean mildly tart vinaigrette.  Then dusted with a coarse salt and dry grana parmesan. 

The tricky thing with love is to know when to stop before too much damage is done.  Or actually more about how to let your love know when you have had enough.  You look forward to lying together, fully sated in the arms of a sweet blanket of surrender.  So when one is spent and the other arrives with a lovely offering of even more perfection the work of love is cut out for you.  Disguised as a bath to soak your senses in, the blend of the sea brine found in the fish broth is made richer from the crème freche with which it is steeped.  Lovely little French carrots float with fleshy pocketed morel pieces and short lengths of crispy asparagus spears swimming with perfectly poached shrimp, scallops and fleshy halibut pieces.  Ah, if this had just arrived in your lap before you were so perfectly sated by your earlier moments of palate pleasing bliss.  It is too much stimulation for one night.  You force yourself beyond comfort, perhaps faking your pleasure as there is just nothing more to give.  Perhaps.  Only you will know.  This is the only dish you cannot fully imbibe.    Even chilled glass of Righteous 2009 Walla Walla Viogner is pretty much un-noticed.  Your mind wanders away from the lovingly executed offerings set before you to thoughts of future fasting, which gym class you must hit the following morning and what strategies you might come up with to be able to find comfort enough to sleep in the following hours.  You want to get up and walk away but you don’t want to hurt any feelings.  Or, selfishly, miss anything further that might be coming, even though you know you are already done.  In the arms of a great lovely meal you are grateful that you were able to find in the depths of the soul that is you the ability to come up with the proper sounds and words to let your server believe that you are still in it.

And there is a final offering.  Painfully undeniable.  Your own personal jar of tart and spicy ginger roasted rhubarb layered with a pillowy lemon fluff topped with crunchy ginger cookie chunks.  Somehow you find a way.   Spent and panting.  Nearly comatose.  So grateful for the mug of black coffee, this one a Stacya’s blend, True North.  A lovely and reorienting final note.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mucking Out

There are just some things a daughter should not see.  Nor a parent suffer the discovery by their child.  A life blurred at the edges as the body and mind ever so slowly, or in other cases swiftly, go into neglect mode.  A sibling sends up a red flag and things that were swept under the rug, or shut behind closed doors leak out: revealing a confusion and clutter that is beyond embarrassment.  It reaches into the realm of denial and then surrender.  What he had been hiding from us is out in the open and it is not pretty.

Boxes, dozens of them, little brown boxes, stacked high like termite towers landmine the rooms.  Evidence of late night shopping for unneeded and forgotten items that filled a lonely life and give witness to a life chapter where there are expendable funds but nothing meaningful on which to spend it. 

Unopened bills and financial statements.  I say a prayer that somehow these got paid and remind myself that the cable is still connected and the electricity on so some arrangements must have been made.  Respectful of his pride and independence I resist the urge to question his bill paying approach and let that one go.  Larger looming are questions about the shopping channel shopping sprees and the donations he’s made and hoping he has not been taken advantage of.  He supports a multitude of causes and I love that he loves to do that.  But still…I want his funds to last him as long as his body does.

My brother, acting as a self-proclaimed “prick” about this tries to keep him focused on the most important task at hand: deciding the fate of each item.  Lake house.  New senior apartment.  Donate.  Toss.  We are gently urging things for the toss and donate.  He does not need all this stuff but he is having trouble letting go.  My brother, who is the calmest, most positive man you will ever meet, is not a natural in this role of prick.  He even says so to my father and my father tries to take advantage of this admission, looking for a weak spot that will let him keep his unneeded stuff.  It feels a little overstepping as we secretly shift things from the “take with” piles to the donate piles but still necessary to do: we want him to have a fresh start.  A clean page.  A less cluttered foothold on his new reality.  And we truly believe that we will not miss those things about which we made these decisions.  Three flashlights are enough.  He will not miss the other seven in assorted sizes.  Nor the second set of ecofriendly non-stick pans that are so thin I worry about the effects of smoking food on the atmosphere (and smoke alarms at the new place). 

In the kitchen the clutter and filth is appalling.  How long has he lived like this?  How is he cooking and eating?  How is it that he has not gotten sick?  My own stomach is queasy just looking at it and breathing in the air slightly tinted with rotting fruit and burned coffee.  I believe the stove will need to be replaced before this place goes on market unless a successful exorcism can be performed.

The amount of date expired food and bizarre packages procured from the import stores that he loves is stunning.  A dear friend who has arrived to pitch in wonders why someone alone needs so much food.  Together we conspire to toss anything previously opened or outdated.  We divvy up unopened up bags of Trader Joe Pine nuts and still send a few with him.  Did he buy a new bag with each Trader Joe’s visit forgetting that he already had several at home?

Teetering on the bar top, among the piles of used plastic bags, corks and crisply aged rubber bands are several bottles of “Men’s Slimming Pills.”  This confuses me.  My father is fit for an 85 year old.  Heck, he’s fitter than most 75 year olds.  But during some part of our mucking out he rushes in with urgency saying “I hope you haven’t touched my special medicine on the counter.”  I tell him we have not but it’s something I want to talk to him about later.  He rolls his eyes, swoops it up and squirrels it away in his bedroom where we will sort through it later. 

Later, as we are dining out for dinner, I, as casually as possible, ask “Does your Doctor know you are taking diet pills?” 

“No.”  Then under his breath “but they said a doctor developed this and it’s apparently supposed to be safe.”  These words from my PHD professor father who hangs everything, including his denial of God, on pure scientific fact, render me nearly speechless.  Dad goes on to say how he can’t lose the fat around his waist though he doesn’t eat cheese and he is getting plenty of exercise.  He is not fat.  He is not his thinnest either.  But he’s perfect enough for me and in impressive shape for his age.  I’m intrigued by his self-assessment but even more worried that he is taking diet pills ordered from a shopping channel along with his blood pressure medicine.  And living in a nearly haz-mat situation. 

There are other things that shock me.  Things that a daughter should not see.  Things I can’t share in this love and concern based disclosure.  It saddens me to see his world crumbling around him.  The last thing I want him to feel is embarrassed.  There were years when we could easily put each other on the defensive.  When a word or a comment from my father could easily send me back to a rebellious teenage brat-like state.  Or a poorly phrased question from me could send his walls up.  (Unfortunately that time was not that long ago.)  But in thinking about the decluttering of his life and his near willingness to let us do so, I realize we have come full circle.  I have taken on the protectiveness a parent feels as they launch their child into a new life.  I want him only to make good decisions, knowing that there will likely be some that will serve as lessons.  I hope.  I hope I have the grace in me to respect his dignity when things crumble more.  I hope he can see that the toughness with him comes from love for him and not a desire to take away any shred of independence he deserves.  The inner struggles I have as we muck out his place are so familiar.  They are the same I have for my son.   A combination of protectiveness, irritation, pride, fear for his wellbeing and love.  The greatest of these is love.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Fool Was I

It started as a joke: I love a good April Fool’s joke, especially when it’s me playing it instead of receiving it.  The key to doing a good joke is catching people early in the day.  On THE DAY, April 1.  I don’t really plan an April Fools ahead of time.  I just happened to remember to do it this year because I was watching Sunday Morning on TV, before church and they had a story on painted masterpiece forgeries in honor of April Fools.  I was inspired.
 First I got Melinda.  I was supposed to meet her in an hour for church so I sent her a text telling her I was too hung over to go to church and was going back to bed instead.  She shot back that she hoped “it was worth it” and remarked that I had sounded so sober when we had talked the evening before about our arrangements.  I sent back the April Fools confession and re-established our meeting time before church.  But my appetite was wetted.  Sad but true: being hung over is not a huge stretch for me.  I might have been in that condition a time or two in the not so very distant past.   But then for some reason I wanted a bigger lie: something that was more a stretch.  I got a wild hair and decided to change my relationship status on Facebook.  I haven’t had the pleasure of doing that since I started actively Facebooking a couple of years ago.  With no thought to the consequences or how it might be received I went to edit my profile and changed the status from “single” to “in a relationship.”  I initially tried to complete the “with” portion with George Clooney but since he is not a FB friend of mine it wouldn’t let me complete that part.  I guess that was a good thing because it let the other part of my new relationship remain a mystery. 

As I selected the “save changes” button a crack opened up in my heart.  What would it be like to be in a relationship?  Those of you who know me know I have done my best to avoid any such status change since the very welcome end to my twenty year marriage about seven years ago.  But just checking that box did something in me and I kind of April Fooled myself.

I was surprised when some of my closest friends almost immediately posted things like “What???  Call me.  Want to know all the details!”  Others “liked” my status.  I thought “you mean people might actually believe that I could be in a relationship?  This is interesting.”  So I let it ride for most of the day.  I’m not a good liar in real time so those I talked to on the phone I fessed up to.  But as I told each of them “I love that you think that it could even possibly be true.” 
Later in the day there were some who immediately smelled a fool and tried to spoil the lie.  I tried to keep up with those spoilers, deleting those remarks as quickly as I could find them.  (And if you are one of those, you are very smart but also a dream killer.  I forgive you.  I would have done the same thing.)

I have done a lot of work avoiding being in relationship.  Ask Jill who is forever after me to get on a dating website (She is a success story.  Found a wonderful man to whom she is now married on such a site.  Diligently kept up the work through some not so successful internet based dates until she found her love.)  Ask my friends who openly agree that relationships take too much work and we don’t want to do that much work anymore.  Ask my heart that goes into spastic palpitations with just the thought of getting close to a man again.  Nope.  I am not relationship material.  Yet…I am admitting it was some fun on April Fools for just one day (well not even one full day) pretending to be in that status.  So the joke was on me.  I was a fool.  For love.  April Fools.

Just so you realize that I wasn’t always this way, I walked into Starbucks Naked as a result of being there.  Doing that.  A long time ago.  You can read about it here.  If you dare.