Monthly Archives: April 2011

Experimenting with Eggplant Parmigiana

My dream of having two young men in my bedroom at once was realized the other night when I got home after a long day of work and found Nick Edwards and the Beast in there making sweet music.  So I did what any other girl would have done: I climbed into bed and listened.

When the music got weird, I went downstairs into the sun room and curled up in my chair with some notes I had to read over, a glass of wine and a bag of cookies.

These weren’t any old cookies though: they were a gift from my friend Erinn.  She brought them over a few days before she left to go live on a farm.  They are her favourite store-bought cookies.  And now, they are my favourite too.

I sat there in the quiet, not actually reading my notes, but just eating the cookies and washing down every bite with a sip of white wine. I know it doesn’t seem like those two things would go together but they do. I was so exhausted that the idea of speaking words out loud to others seemed impossible.

Once I did manage to wander back upstairs to share the last of the cookies with the boys, I climbed straight into bed.  I figured that would signal to the Beast and Nick that I wanted to actually sleep and they should stop playing.  And while they did put down their guitars, another type of performance took the place of their music.  I don’t know who started it but the three of us, knowing each other so well, knew exactly how to follow: I reached into a drawer and retrieved an old pair of eye glasses.  When Nick put these on he transforms into a certain type of character complete with very specific facial expressions that results in me giggling in a series of wheezes and snorts. Meanwhile, the boys began to hunt for accessories through the closets.

And before I knew it, I was cramping up from laughing so hard and grunting as these two old friends posed for affectionate photos that would make any parents of LGBTQOES (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning or even straight) kids proud.

They went downstairs soon after and the last thing I remember hearing before falling into a deep sleep was the Beast show and telling Nick about the new blazer and button-up shirt that he got from “Mike’s” on College–it’s that “Italian” men’s clothing store that he loves so much. He sounded truly excited, and he kept talking about “Mike” like he was best friends with him.  It all made me feel just a little bit sad because I had made such fun of him when he’d tried on the clothes that “Mike” had sold him.

Anyway, I mentioned that I made an eggplant and zucchini parmigiana last weekend. But I don’t think that I told you how, in a bid to make it healthier, I grilled the vegetables au natural rather than frying them in breadcrumbs and oil.

The dish actually turned out okay too!  We even managed to stretch it out over two meals.

After work one night, finding the Beast upstairs in front of his computer.  He flexed his bicep when I walked in.

Foodie: May I ask where all this muscle madness is coming from?

Beast: I want to have a fucking rad body.

Foodie: (Silence)

Beast: Like Barry Bonds–see, look here (Googling images of Barry Bonds).  This is how he looked when he first started out.

Beast:  And this is how he looked later.

Foodie: Didn’t he do steroids?

Beast:  You bet your fucking ass he did steroids and he is the best baseball of player of all time so you tell me.

Foodie:  What am I supposed to tell you?  That steroids are okay to do?

Beast: (shrugs his shoulders)

Foodie:  I can smell that eggplant parmigiana–I bet it’s done.

In the kitchen

Beast: Guess how many push-ups I did before you got home?

Foodie:  I don’t know, 50?

Beast: 120.

Foodie:  That’s amazing!  Hey, can I ask you something?

Beast:  Sure.

Foodie: Do you just do your little work-outs in normal clothes or do you change into gym clothes?

Beast: I don’t have gym clothes.

Foodie: So you wore that to do push-up in?

Beast:  What?  It’s easy. Watch.

Foodie: Wow. I’m not too sure what just happened here.

Beast: Ah, I just showed you how to do an inverted push-up.

Foodie:  Okay but here’s my concern: when I made the bed today I noticed something very upsetting.

Beast:  That my side of the bed is slightly discoloured?

Foodie:  You saw it too?!

Beast: Yes.

Foodie:  Do you have any idea why that might be?

Beast:  Because I don’t shower as much as you and I’m filthy?

Foodie:  Yes.  Do you think you should try and do something to remedy this?

Beast: Do you think you have to use white bedding all the time?

Foodie:  I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.  I think I actually gasped out loud.

Beast: (Shrugs his shoulders.)

Despite it’s appearance, dinner was delicious.

My only regret, culinary-related, was not having some crusty bread in order to make a sandwich.

Foodie: **

Beast: **

The Big Cry and a Bit of Whoopie Pie

Here are a few titles of some of my graduate school essays:

Face to Face with Michelangelo: An Examination of the Artist’s Self-Portrait in the Last Judgement as Representing his Transient State of Being

Roman Fingerprints in Miletus, Ephesus and Aphrodisias: A Discussion of Scenographic Architecture in the Cities of the Greek East

Potential and Selves: An Examanination of Artist as Art Object as seen in the Works of Cindy Sherman and Matthew Barney.

Evolving Gottfried Semper: The Influence of Darwin and the Debate between Materialism and Idealism in the German Architectural Theorist’s Work

Oh, I’m sorry: Did I wake you? Don’t feel bad. I fell asleep for the two years it took me to complete my Masters of Art, emotionally speaking anyway. I had a real hard time with the theory side of things at school: I’m talking about the Foucaults, the Derridas and the Bartheses–about Deconstructionism, Semiotics and Post-Structuralism.  Sadly, I couldn’t understand any of it. I would read a sentence in Of Grammatology six or seven times in a row, often out loud, desperate to glean any sort of meaning but I always turned up empty-handed–and very frustrated. Maybe it was the translation.  I don’t know. But something wonderful came out of that discontent: I craved good old-fashioned complete sentences with such ferocity that after I graduated I spent my afternoons (I worked at night) selfishly reading words that meant something to me: Epictetus, Spinoza, Thoreau, Goethe and Bertrand Russell, among others, became my good friends that summer.

And then I lost it–that yearning for reading beautifully written words that address fundamental questions about our funny little existence, and for being challenged to read things you don’t necessarily agree with if only to learn how to articulate why exactly you disagree.

Now, I mostly think about what colour I want to paint my nails, what’s for dinner and…what was I saying? It’s sad, really.

On Sunday I was out getting a mani and a pedi (no joke) and shopping (for real) and was late getting home.  I was starving and suspected that the Beast would also be starving so I made a pit stop at the Drake BBQ for some pulled pork sandwiches and whoopie pies in order to tie us over until dinner.

After our sammies (we saved the whoopie pies for dessert later on) I got to work in the kitchen (a room I’ve been in only a few times these last two busy weeks): I had quite a bit of produce that was about to make a turn for the worse in the fridge so I wanted to make an eggplant and zucchini parmigiana to cover a few weeknight meals and a mushroom pasta for our dinner that night. The latter is based on a Jaime Oliver recipe that you can find here.  I’ve made it before with great success, when I’ve actually followed the recipe.  This time around, I decided I didn’t need to actually pull the cookbook out so I made it up as I went along.

In the living room, watching commercials and trailers on the DVD to the movie, Never Let Me Go.

Foodie:  Mmn.  Not bad.  What do you think?

Beast:  It’s good.  It could use a bit more sauce though, just like those pulled pork sandwiches.

Foodie:  You’re right–that sandwich was so porky.  I would have liked to sauce it up a bit.  I’m going to get some olive oil to try and fix this pasta.

After carefully drizzling a nice olive oil over both of our pastas.

Beast:  That’s much better!

Foodie (The trailer for the movie 127 Hours comes on):  We should rent that.

Beast:  No way.

Foodie: Why not?  I thought you liked James Franco.

Beast:  I do.  But I refuse to watch a movie directed by Danny Boyle–the man who directed Trainspotting.

Foodie: What’s wrong with Trainspotting?  Didn’t it speak to your generation?

Beast:  Trainspotting was a movie about how hip and cool drugs are and then it ends by saying don’t do drugs.  Danny Boyle has nothing to offer me.

Foodie:  Quiet!  The movie is starting.

Beast:  Do you mind if I go upstairs after dinner and finish redesigning my music room?

Foodie:  Silence

Beast:  You won’t be mad if I don’t watch the movie?

Foodie: Silence.

I wasn’t mad.  It was probably better that I watched this movie alone.  Now, I don’t want to reveal the story to those who haven’t seen it, or who haven’t read the book, but I will say this: the movie ends on a note about the resounding speed in which our little lives take to pass: How we have to cram in so many moments with loved ones and it’s messy and painful and beautiful and then it’s done.  The Big Sleep comes and all those memories–those moments that make up an entire being’s existence: they’re gone. I wasn’t crazy about the movie, but that ending left me weeping uncontrollably.  When the Beast came downstairs he found me sitting on the edge of the couch with swollen eyes and wet sleeves from wiping the hot tears away.

Beast:  How was your movie?

Foodie (sobbing):  It was…..sad.

Beast:  Did she have to harvest her friend’s organs because society is so cruel?

Foodie (raging):  You are a such….a….BULLY!  I bet you were a terrible, terrible bully in high school!

Beast:  I was NOT a bully in high school!  What are you talking about?!

Foodie:  Well you shouldn’t go around wrecking meaningful things for people just because you think something is sooooo beneath you. I’m sooooo sorry that I have feelings and that I think about things like death and existence and, and stuff like that. I’m sooooo sorry I just don’t think about, about….JAZZ. (Still sobbing) You shouldn’t make fun of me!!!!!

Beast (almost laughing): I’m so sorry. Genuinely. I did not mean to make fun of you. Or the movie. I don’t think the movie is beneath me either. (Pause)  May I ask you a question?

Foodie (sobbing): WHHHHHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTT?

Beast:  How much wine did you drink?

Foodie:  I don’t know (sobbing).  Whatever was in that bottle (pointing to an empty bottle.)

Beast:  May I sit down here with you now?  I’d like to spend some time with you.

Foodie:  Are you done being mean?

Beast (pause): Yes.

So we ate our whoopie pies and the Beast held my feet (newly pedicured) while he searched for something to watch on the television.

The Beast, because he adores Hugh Grant, settled on Music and Lyrics, a romantic comedy about a one-hit wonder musician (Hugh Grant) who falls in love with a woman (Drew Barrymore) who has a knack for writing lyrics.  It was a café scene: Hugh was drinking a coffee and Drew was drinking an iced tea.

Foodie: Did you know that Drew Barrymore loves iced tea in real life?

Beast:  Wow.  I tell you anecdotes about Bach, Brahms and The American Civil War and you tell me about how Drew Barrymore loves iced tea.

Foodie:  It’s all I’ve got anymore.  I’m empty. (Pause) Did you know that Drew Barrymore had a breast reduction?

Beast:  How the fuck do you know so much about Drew Barrymore?

Foodie:  I’ve always identified with her.

Beast:  Laughing hysterically.

Foodie:  What?  We’re the same age.

Beast: You’re the same age as Drew Barrymore?

Foodie:  Okay, like, I’m seven months older.  I identify with her earlier roles mostly, like Gertie in E.T. and Firestarter.  Also, Mad Love.

Beast:  Of course.

Foodie: I also read her biography, Little Girl Lost, when I was a teenager.

Beast:  Holy fuck.

Foodie:  Laugh all you want.  But this is the sad reality of things for me now.  (Pause) Do you know how many people it took to get my pant leg pulled down over my calf after my pedicure today?

Beast:  Two?

Foodie:  Three, including me.  All the ladies were laughing at me too. They were like, Stop flexing your muscle lady! and I was all like, I’M NOT FLEXING NOTHING MAN!  This is just the sort of shit that happens when you wear skinny jeans to get a pedi.

Beast:  Are you feeling better?

Foodie:  Yes.

I was feeling better: I had successfully distracted myself from the fright of the Big Sleep with the electric glow of Hugh and Drew, and I let myself unfold into the Beast’s comforting arms. And there, I took a moment to consider something: Perhaps I was originally drawn to the Beast because he had (and still has) that curiosity that I’d lost. I had just lost it too when we met: I remember him wearing his mother’s hand-me-down cardigans and carrying a Toronto Library bag filled with books written by people who addressed all those isms that I’d so fiercely resisted, like Theodor Adorno and some dude named Slavoj Žižekwondering, and wondering Who is this odd little creature? And I remember declaring myself a staunch formalist and determinist to him, and in turn, he challenged me to explain why and I–having lost the hunger–was incapable of doing so.  I could barely even remember what those things meant.

I was like a moth, hoping to get close to his light, hoping that some of his wonder would eventually wander over to my side of the couch.

Drake BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich:  Foodie: *1/2 Beast *

Drake BBQ Whoopie Pie:  Foodie: **1/2  Beast **

Mushroom Pappardelle: Foodie: **  Beast **


You Say Poutini. I Say Yes.

 

 

*WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS PHOTOS
THAT SOME READERS MAY FIND OFFENSIVE.

 

 

Calling the Beast very late Thursday night while outside of Poutini’s on Queen Street West.

Beast:  Hello?

Foodie:  I am outside of Poutini’s right now.  Do you want me to bring you some poutine home?

Beast: (pause) YES.  Why are you not home right now?

Foodie:  I had that thing to go to, remember?

Beast:  What thing?

Foodie: The Toronto Standard launch party.

Beast:  Oh yeah.  Was it fun?

Foodie:  Great fun! I’ll be home in ten minutes to tell you all about it.

And when I got there, I found the Beast on the couch wearing this.

Foodie:  WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?

Beast:  I can’t believe you were going to give these pants away!

Foodie:  I bought them in a dollar store for a skit I did like two years ago and that’s the only time they’ve been worn!

Beast:  A skit?

Foodie:  You know how I do a skit sometimes at the annual Christmas party for the restaurant?  Well I needed the tights for the one I did two years ago. But that doesn’t matter. You’re wearing my joke tights! And what concerns me almost more than that is thinking about how hard you would have had to dig through my giveaway pile of clothes to find them.  How many other pieces of clothing did you try on?

Beast:  Just these.

Foodie: Well, you can wear them tonight but then I’m giving them away.

Beast:  You’re crazy to give these gems away.  Where’s my poutine?

Foodie:  Here.  I’m famished! All I’ve had to eat today is foie gras, raw tuna and oysters at the Top Chef Canada media thing and some deep-fried stuff at the launch party.

Beast:  Oh yeah!  I almost forgot about that.  How was it?

Foodie: Amazing!  Seven of the 16 chefs were there and Mark McEwan and Thea Andrews–

Beast: Who’s that?

Foodie:  She’s the sort of Padma-type host and Mark is like Tom Colicchio.  And there was a real quick fire challenge and everything!  The chefs had to make 25 portions of one dish that used Quebec foie gras, B.C. oysters and Atlantic tuna, or they could make three separate dishes but that meant they’d have to do 75 portions and they only had one hour!  There was a clock and everything!  The chefs were all sweating and running around and swearing–just like on the American Top Chef!

Foodie:  And two of them actually cut themselves, including Dustin.  Remember him?

Beast:  Who’s Dustin?

Foodie:  You know, Dustin?  We’ve met him at Tracey and Alex’s dinner parties.  The guy that was Susur’s sous chef for six years and now is the executive chef at Grace? Really sweet?  Great laugh?

Beast:  I’ve never met him.

Foodie:  Yes you have.  And Alex was actually there too!  She worked on the show and she was setting up all the gorgeous displays of food and running around being all professional!  It was amazing.

Beast: Did you talk with Mark McEwan?

Foodie: Did I talk with Mark McEwan? Ah, yeah!?  At one point he just stood right beside me and we both started laughing at something lewd one of the chef’s said and he was talking to me like we were old pals.  I reminded him about that time I bumped into him and his TV crew outside of the Spotted Pig in NYC and how nice they all were to me.  And then we had a nice chat about that city and about Toronto and about how much he liked working on the Top Chef Canada show and how hard he was on the chefs. I get a feeling he can smell bullshit a mile away.

Beast:  And how was the Toronto Standard launch party?

Foodie: It was a lot of fun, but I think I drank an entire bottle of wine.

Beast: Are you drunk?

Foodie:  Surprisingly, no.  But then again, I’m eating poutine at 12:30am on a school night so you tell me.  Hey, can I delete that photo shoot we did months ago for your “friends and family” Christmas card?

Beast: Which ones?

Foodie:  You know, the ones where you hung up white sheets in the bedroom to serve as a backdrop while you posed naked with a little plastic Christmas tree covering–but not always covering–your privacies, and forced me to take at least a hundred different photos of you?  I’d really like to delete them simply because every time I upload photos from my camera to my computer they pop up and it’s like looking into the dark eyes of a terrifying truth.

Beast:  Liar!  Don’t you remember how hard you were laughing?

Foodie:  That’s true.  I was in physical pain from laughing so hard.  But there are some things, how do I say this, that couples should do in private, like their Christmas party skits or their Christmas card photo shoots.  There are some things that should be left to the imagination.  No–that’s not what I mean because I wouldn’t want to ever imagine you doing those poses.  I don’t know what I mean.  I’m very intoxicated.  May I delete them?

Beast:  Go ahead and delete them but I think they’re artful.

Foodie: They’re something, that’s for sure.

Beast:  When can I watch your Top Chef video?

Foodie: I don’t know. Probably tomorrow.  (Or now.)

Beast:  I’m really proud of you, you know that, right?

Foodie: Yes, and thank you–but maybe wait until you see the video before you start handing out accolades.  I have a feeling there’s going to be some rather graphic footage of me shoving food down my throat.

Beast:  Like what you’re doing right now?  I can’t believe you finished your poutine before me.  You’re like an animal!

Foodie:  YOU’RE WEARING LEOPARD PRINT LADY TIGHTS.

Foodie: ***

Beast: **


Roommates with Feelings. And Pork Chops.

When I got home from work late last night I was greeted by the most beautiful sight:  at the end of the dark hallway, illuminated by the soft kitchen light, stood the Beast.  And he was flexing like a body builder in little red Adidas shorts.

Foodie:  What exactly is going on here?

Beast:  What, these? (pointing to his muscles)  I just did 80 push-ups.

Foodie:  That is incredible!  Truly!  I’m so proud of you.

Beast: Look! (pointing to his pecks)

Foodie:  Yes, I see!  You’re body is practically metamorphosing right before my eyes. In fact, I think you look more like a stalky, old-timey body builder than I do now! Amazing!

Beast:  Thanks.  Feel (pointing to his pecks).

Foodie:  Yes, I see.  Just incredible!

Beast:  (Doing a squat.)  And I’m going to start doing crunches too.

Foodie:  You mean squats?

Beast:  I don’t know what the fuck they’re called but I’m going to do them.  Why are you taking your tights off?

Foodie:  Because I need you to tell me if my hip is bruised.  It’s so sore!

Beast:  (Examining)  It’s not bruised.

Foodie:  Are you sure?  Compare it to this side.

Beast:  It’s still not bruised.  You need to stop running.  Running is for assholes.

I might have somehow injured my hip a week ago during a long-ish run and I think that’s how I talked myself out of doing a big run this last Sunday. It’s the first Sunday run I’ve missed in several months. I think this fact might have played a part in the emotional free fall that followed. In lieu of exercise, I took a nap. When I woke up I was in an inexplicable sour state.  Running would have probably cheered me up–what, with the increase in endorphins and such, but instead I grabbed the Sunday New York Times and took myself out to the Aris Grill around the corner for an order of bacon and eggs.  Afterwards, shockingly, I was still grumpy so I bought some summer dresses from the consignment shop down the street.  That wasn’t a quick fix either, so after picking up some groceries, I came home and ate potato chips.  Still miserable. Then I decided to rip apart my closet and go through the giant tupperware containers under my bed that are filled with clothes that I don’t wear.

And that did it:  nearly two hours later–after playing dress-up and after curating my unwanted clothes into two neat piles–I felt better.

I even managed to kind of organize my wardrobe along the way.

By the time the Beast got home from his Sunday night shift, I was in the kitchen and in great spirits.  For about five minutes.

Beast:  What are you making?

Foodie:  Well, I was craving a really comforting dinner so I decided on barbecued pork chops, baked potatoes and broccoli.  Doesn’t that sound like a nice dinner?  Sort of old-fashioned, you know?

Beast:  Are you going to make the broccoli like Erinn does?

Foodie: Yes. (That means blanching it for exactly two minutes, then making sure the florets are all dry before dumping them into a smoking hot pan of olive oil, chili flakes and a garlic clove. Then you cook them until they get a little bit crispy.)

Foodie:  Hey, I cleaned up my closet today and I suggest you do the same soon–you have a lot of bullshit clothes up there.  And I also put away all the clothes that you left out on the rocking chair and speaking of that, I find it really insulting that you do that-that I have to hang up your shit all the time.  And I hate it when you just leave clothes on top of the hamper.  Like, are you fucking kidding met?  You can’t even lift the lid up and dump the clothes in?

Beast:  (silence)

Foodie:  I feel like your maid.  Or roommate or something.

Beast: Did you just call me your roommate?

Foodie:  Yeah, I did.

Beast: Well if we’re just going to be roommates I’m going to call my mom and dad to come pick me up because I might as well be roommates with them because at least my MOM DOES MY LAUNDRY WITHOUT GETTING SO MAD AT ME ALL THE TIME!

Foodie: I’ll get you the phone.

Beast:  (silence)

Foodie:  Do you want to come outside with me and help barbecue?

Beast:  NO!

Foodie:  I’m sorry I called you my roommate and I hope you don’t move home to your mom and dad’s place.  I’m just in a really funny mood today–one minute I’m up and then the next I’m down.

Beast:  When’s dinner?  I’m starving.

I barbecued the chops and potatoes by myself while it started to rain.  It gave me a moment to consider my pour behaviour.

When I brought the food inside, the Beast and I prepared our plates.

Beast:  Don’t yell at me for what I’m about to do.

Foodie: Why would I yell at you for adding delicious toppings to your baked potato?

Beast:  Because you yell at me for everything these days!

Foodie:  I’ll make it up to you: guess what movie I rented for us to watch with dinner tonight?!

Beast: The ten-part PBS Jazz documentary?

Foodie:  No, Morning Glory!  You know that new release starring Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford?

We watched the movie and ate your old-timey, Ponderosa-inspired dinner.  The pork chops were some of the best I’ve ever cooked.  I barbecued them for six minutes a side (they were just a little over an inch thick) and basted them in Diana’s barbecue sauce.

On the couch, full, and watching the movie.

Beast:  You’ve got a lot of grey hair!

Foodie:  I know.  A colleague at work pointed it out a few weeks ago too.

Beast: Doesn’t your hair dye cover it up?

Foodie: I haven’t dyed my hair since I got the greys.

Beast:  Why don’t you just dye it?

Foodie: Because I have natural blonde Cuban highlights that’ll get muted if I do.

Beast:  I like it.

Foodie: I’m thinking of chopping off all this shit anyway.  Stephen and Liz from work say I should get it cut, like the way I had it when we first started dating.

Beast:  You mean your bowl cut?

Foodie:  Yeah.

Beast: No way.  You’re older now and you couldn’t pull off that cut anymore.

Foodie:  I could too!  But I wouldn’t because of my glasses: I’d look like Veronica from Scooby Doo.

Beast:  You mean Velma?

Foodie:  Whatever.   What about a sort of messy look?

Beast: (silence)

Foodie:  You know who I’ve always admired stylistically?  That feral kid from Mad Max: Road Warrior.

Foodie:  You know, that one who had the boomerang?  That kid looked fucking awesome.  What about that sort of cut?

Beast:  (silence)

Foodie:  Do you think I’m like Rachel McAdams in this movie?

Beast: (silence)

Foodie:  I do, a bit.  But I’m not high up in my job like she is so I don’t think I’d get “poached”.  But imagine if I did got poached from my job at a news organization by another news organization?  Wouldn’t that be funny?

Beast: (silence)

Foodie:  No, like in a funny way because I don’t think secretaries get “poached” much in the business world.  So, it would be like, “Oh hi there, this is the Toronto Star calling and we’ve heard about your faxing skills and we’d like to hire you on as our editorial assistant.”  That’s funny, don’t you think?  And there could be a funny bidding war and the bids would all be under $35,000 a year?

Beast:  That is sort of funny actually.

Foodie:  I’m feeling better now.  I’m sorry again for being so grumpy.

Beast:  That’s okay.  Can you pass me the phone?

Foodie:  Why?

Beast:  I need to call my mom and dad and tell them not to pick me up tonight.  I’ve decided to stay.

Feelings are funny things, aren’t they?  I barely have the words to explain how I feel about feelings right now, except that they’re complicated, beautiful and sometimes quite ugly.  28 years ago, however, I had plenty to say.

Foodie: ***

Beast: ***