Friday, August 5, 2011

Food Brain, Colander Mind

We spent a weekend in Vegas and had a great time.  Saw Russell Brand, Penn & Teller, and  Cirque Du Soleil’s Love.  We went to the BodyWorks Exhibit, the CSI: Experience and Madame Tussaud’s.  We ate at some really fabulous restaurants, including Marion Batali’s Otto, in the Venetian resort.  Twice.  The first time, we ate Squash Blossoms 

Fried with Spicy Cheese Filling, Salty Rice Tempura 


And The Perfect Pizza.  Dark, savory deeply sun-roasted tomato sauce, perfect thin crust, gorgeous cheese and just the right pepperoni.  I swooned publicly. The second time our server, The Sensational Suzie, found two spare signed copies of Mario’s books for me after we had discussed, in depth, the existential necessity of olive oil gelatto with sea salt on top.  GingerMan pointed out there was no room in our luggage for two cookbooks.  Suzie, whom I had apprised of the fact that should she find herself in a foreign berg she should hie herself to the nearest fibre establishment and ask for dining recommendations as fibre fanciers are big eaters.
Short end of a long story, Suzie personally shipped the two books and I’m knitting her daughter a hat.  Tragedy?  I’m not close enough to teach her Girl Scout troupe to knit.
An Act of Closure:  At BodyWorks, I finally, FINALLY got to see the backside of a bellybutton!!!!!  Didn’t you ever wonder?  Ever?  Looks like a tornado.  I’ve been wonder for over 30 years, and now I rest easy.
However.  There be not, apparently, enough olive oil gelatto to assuage my current existential untidiness.  In Cirque’s Love, an ode to the Beatles, Sergeant Pepper drags an increasingly massive pile of broken band instruments behind him as his life progresses.  Huger, ever more ungainly, a ball of Past Things.  
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean lies the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  In various estimations, it is now comprised of three parts stretching from here on the west coast of North America to the east coast of China or one great roiling mess the size of Texas, and deep as an iceberg. 

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Logo
The State of Me
I am twisted up in these seemingly inescapable mental images, tied up in Things I own and Things I’ve lost in the vast ocean of life.  A life of chaos meant leaving people was easy, but Things are precious.  Things never left until they broke or went missing, at which point the loss was devastating, and the penalty twofold.  Scorn and disappointment from the parents.  Things and Grades Mattered.  But more crushing was the deep sense of grief at losing a Friend, as these Things were my closest friends.  
Lately I have experienced what I feared was early-onset dementia.  I do not claim that blithely, I truly thought I would have to seek evaluation from my doctor, I was loosing words, sentences, whole ideas, directions and abilities to do things I could usually do blindfolded.  And I started losing things.  It started in March with the Purple Shoes.  They were beautiful lilac colored suede loafers with a dark lavender velvet lacing tying in a bow on top of the foot.  I wore them with everything nearly every day for two weeks.  The day I went up to Spice Heaven to accept the job offer, GingerMan and I went to lunch in Menlo Park after, then he drove me down to knitting.  Whereupon Brass Needles and Jedi Jasmin proclaimed we would brave the heat and walk from the coffee house to the shoe warehouse across the parking lot to find me some of them fancy toning trainers.  So we did and did.  And I wore them out of the shop, placing the Purple Shoes in the trainers box.  And immediately forgot I owned these beautiful shoes.  Forgot.  I returned home that night, and every night for the next two months wondered, with ever-growing panic, as my memory slipped away, what went on that slot in the shoe rack???
The shoe box went in to the recycling, unchecked.
I cannot tell you, even now that two months has passed since this discovery, four months after it happened, how painful this is to think of.  
It turned out that a medication was causing the memory problem and the dosage was reduced.  I once again feel (mostly) human, remembering where I am, what I’m doing and keep track of stuff.  Through all of this, I believe this is why food has always been so important to me.  Yes, I am an emotional eater. Duh. And I do love me some processed junk food.  I believe I have extolled the virtues of Kraft Dinner here before as well. And Donuts.  And Nachos.
But food is always here. Food can always make life livable, better, happy.  Feeling adrift, panic-stricken and chaotic, believing I truly had early stages of Alzheimer's, cutting up a bunch of white peaches and tossing with an experimental dressing is truly therapeutic.  It tastes sweet and fresh.  It is full of vitamins and sunshine and color and happiness and well-being.  Meatloaf is full of protein and fresh herbs, flavor and comfort, it feeds you for three nights and therefore quells some small part of the panic  for a week. 
And Food extends me back out into the world.  I somehow cannot create anything that will feed a number fewer than the 5th Army Infantry Regiment.  So I have to reach out and share it.  And share a bit of the crazy, and share some wine, and then share a bit of a laugh and feel...sane again.  Like the Things don’t anchor me in this world, that the life full of People and Love that I have created in the last several years now ground me.
Except for Vegas.  I’m fairly particular about traveling protocol, especially when decamping, but I managed to lose a pair of pants and a Bare Minerals foundation.  
0-:-D  ~~Now it’s hot, simmering August, so grab some White Peaches or Nectarines and have some fun!  First, how to cut up a pit fruit all pretty without significant injury to self :

1. Fruit: IMG_3529 

2.  Hold the Nectarine in one hand on the cutting board, knife in other.  Remember from here on out, you will turn the fruit, against the cutting board, NOT in the air in your hand, NOT moving the knife a whole lot. Stability Saves Digits!

Haha, this looks like I'm lying, but it was the only way to photograph the next  two steps:

3.  Stand the Nectarine stem up.  Start slicing into the flesh, rotate the fruit all the way round so you have cut it in half.

4.  Stand the Nectarine stem up once again, but turned 90 degrees so when you make these two vertical cuts you will have made four quarters of your fruit.  It will start to loosen from the pit.

5.  Turn the Nectarine on it's side and place the knife near the stem end again.

6.  Start slicing in and rotate the nectarine all the way round again.
7.  You will be able to make 2-3 radial horizontal cuts  from top to bottom before:


8. The bite-size pieces start to loosen and come right off.  Ta-Da!
6-8 medium White Nectarines
1 box Blueberries
1/2 cup Grapeseed Oil (Or Canola/other neutral flavor oil)
1.5 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Zest of One Lemon
1-1.5 teaspoon Greek Seasoning (Penzey’s is best, or Cavendar’s)
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (or more to taste)
1. Cut up Nectarines into bite-size pieces, place in a lovely bowl. 
2. Add Blueberries
3. In another bowl, thoroughly whisk together all other ingredients
4. Pour dressing over fruit, toss gently
5. Cover and refrigerate for half hour or more
6. Eat until you feel a sunny well-being overcome you once more.

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