Monthly Archives: October 2010

Medley Mealtime

(On the phone yesterday afternoon)

Beast: Are you going to be home for dinner tonight or what?

Foodie: I think so, if I can get my shit done. It might be late, like 9:30pm.

Beast: That’s perfect. I’ll be home by 9:00pm, and I’ll bring dinner.

Foodie: Pardon?

Beast: I’m going to bring home some homemade lasagna and eggplant parmigiana from the espresso place across the street from work.

Foodie: They started making food?

Beast: Yes, and don’t be a snob about it. It’s really good. They’re from Rome you know.

Foodie: I wasn’t being a snob about it! I’m sure it’s going to be great.

Beast: Can you pick up makings for a salad?

Foodie: Sure.

Beast: Caesar salad please. And can you pick up one of those frozen garlic breads with cheese on it?

Foodie: Okay.

Beast: Great. See you tonight.

We met just on time, shortly after 9:30pm, in the kitchen.

Foodie: I think this is going to be the first night we’ve had dinner together at home in about three weeks.

Beast: I KNOW–and I had to make it!

Foodie: I wouldn’t call you bringing home prepared foods making dinner. Anyway, it’ll be–wait: what pants are you wearing?

Beast: What, these? You bought them for me a few years ago, from H&M I think.

Foodie: Wow. That’s a seriously cool outfit. You’ve got my Dior belt on, and…are you wearing my ring?

Beast: Just as a joke, but I’m thinking I might start wearing rings. What do you think?

Foodie: Absolutely not. I won’t allow it. And I thought you were against cool pants?

Beast: Whoops–I did it again!

Foodie: Did what again? Be cool again?

Beast: Exactly. Would you please help me? I’m doing everything here! Can you at least open up the pre-packaged garlic bread?

Foodie: This is disgusting. It’s covered in oil! Feel it!

Beast: No way. Please don’t skimp on the bacon bits in the salad.

Foodie: Everything we’re having tonight comes from a package–the bacon bits, the croutons, the romaine lettuce, the lasagna and eggplant parmigiano, and even the fucking garlic bread. This is horrific.

Beast: This is amazing. This is a perfect dinner in my eyes.

Foodie: It really is, isn’t it? You love frozen lasanga.

Beast: This lasagna is not frozen! It’s really good!

Foodie: Fine. I just want half a piece of each please.

Beast: That’s all I was going to give you anyway. The other lasagna is for my lunch tomorrow.

Foodie: You’re being awfully sassy tonight.

Beast: Well you’ve left me home alone for A MONTH!!!! Give me the bottle of Zin that Aaron brought you and I’ll open it up. (Footnote: Aaron was a student at the school in Florence where I was a teaching assistant. He and his roommates were all extraordinary people with whom I still keep in touch. He stayed with us for two nights earlier this week–an experience which will provide the subject for the next post–and brought a bottle of zinfandel for me, remembering that I loved it many years ago.)

Foodie: I can’t watch you open up a bottle of wine wearing a ring.

Beast: Relax man! I bet you won’t tell your F&B readers that you used to love Zin.

Foodie: I can’t believe you just said F&B and Zin in the same sentence.

Beast: Zin is sogauche. Aren’t you embarrassed?

Foodie: That was, like, eight years ago! People’s palates for wine inevitably change over time. Oh God.

Beast: What?

Foodie: Eight years ago, I was still older than you are now.

Beast: And I’m old enough to know that zins are for fuck brains.

Foodie: I think there’s a time and a place for them.

With our plates loaded up, and our wine glasses filled with a lovely, not-over-the-top, zinfandel, we made our way into the living room. The Beast turned on the TV and tuned into a baseball game.

Foodie: This eggplant parmigiana is really, really good!

Beast: I told you you’d like it.

Foodie: Why is the stadium at this baseball game so full?!

Beast: It’s the World Series.

Foodie: Since when do you watch baseball?

Beast: I don’t. You can turn it, but TV is shit. At least watching baseball doesn’t make you feel bad about the human condition.

Foodie: Wow. Would you say that about all sports or just baseball?

Beast: Just baseball. Did you try the lasagna yet?

Foodie: I did. It’s good, but I like the eggplant parmigiana better.

Beast: Will you go get me the other lasagna?

Foodie: I thought you said that was for your lunch tomorrow.

Beast: You’re right.  I’ll take another glass of wine then.

I filled up our glasses and then we curled up on the couch. While the Beast watched the baseball game, I read a magazine.

It’s nice to be home.

Foodie: **

Beast: ***




Fashion Week for the Beast, plus Liver

(After work one night last week.)

Foodie: Oh wow! That’s some sweater you got on there mister! Did people like it at work?

Beast: Oh there were some comments, but I think most of them were sarcastic.

Foodie: (silence)

Beast: They were like, “Oh I didn’t know you liked Scottie Dogs!” And I was like, “I don’t. I fucking hate dogs. But I love high fashion.”

I don’t know if the Beast is joking or being serious when it comes to some of his fashion choices. He actually wears a lot of clothes that he picks up for free from the store where he works, like this Scottie Dog sweater for instance. And just to be clear, he’s not stealing these clothes: they’re garbage-bound, but he rescues them from the trash and brings them home.

Beast: I don’t know what you’re laughing at–look what you have on!

I was on my way to my Wednesday night soccer game and was dressed like An Athlete.

Foodie: What?

Beast: Look at that jacket? When did you buy that? 1990?

Foodie: Actually, about 1991. (It was a yellow Far West GORE-TEX® pull-over coat thing that I’ve had since high school.) It’s my athletic gear. What’s the big deal?

Beast: You’ve just changed so much.

Foodie: Listen, I have to go. Are you going to cook the liver I brought home for you for your dinner?

(Back Story: The night before, I had a work dinner, which the Beast was invited to, but because he had a music obligation, he couldn’t go. But my boss couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t have canceled his music thing in order to come to dinner, (actually, either could I.) So my boss packed up all these pretty elaborate left-overs for me to take home so the Beast would feel like shit for not coming. There was some spelt risotto made with porcini mushrooms and fresh truffle shavings, elaborate hand-made desserts, a bottle of 2005 Barolo with about a glass’s worth of wine left in it, and the raw ingredients for Fegato alla Veneziano, or liver with onions.)

Beast: I thought you said you were going to make it for me.

Foodie: I did say that, but I don’t have time now. I have a game to get to.

Beast: We’re falling apart, aren’t we.

Foodie: It’s easy to do. Are you listening?

Beast: (Silence)

Foodie: Put the pieces of liver in some flour and then melt some butter and olive oil in a pan. When that’s nice and hot, add the liver and cook it until it’s browned. Then add the capon stock and a touch of brandy, and it’ll form a nice little jus with the flour in the pan. Wish me luck! Oh, and don’t forget to fry up some onions first to go with the liver.

And off I went to make my way to some elementary school gym in the northern reaches of the city. On my way to catch the bus, I got a telephone call.

Beast: How long do I cook it again?

Foodie: I’m not sure exactly, but just do it until it gets a little crust on it–you should have the heat on medium-high so that shouldn’t take too long.

And then at the second bus stop, I got another call.

Beast: When do I add the brandy again? And how much?

Foodie: Add it when you add the capon stock. And just throw in a bit of brandy.

When I got home a couple of hours later, I found the kitchen cleaner than I’d seen it in a long time.

Foodie: How did your dinner turn out?

Beast: It was amazing. I’m so glad you didn’t come home until you did though because you should have seen the kitchen–it looked like I’d just made three entire Thanksgiving dinners by the time I was done cooking.

Beast: And there was so much blood in that bag of liver!

Beast: It was all over the counters so I had to bleach them clean.

Foodie: You know how to do that?

Beast: Of course I do.

Foodie: Then why don’t you ever clean the kitchen counters?

Beast: Do you want to see photos of the dinner I made?

Foodie: You took photos?

Pretty impressive.

I’ve been feeling bad these days because I’m rarely home for dinner, meaning the Beast has to fend for himself come mealtime. And I haven’t had a chance to do any of the domestic chores I take great pleasure in doing, like cooking on Sundays, doing laundry, and painting my nails. As a result, I turn into a bit of a maniac and little things will set me off, like getting home at midnight and finding the bed not made. I’m not capable of getting into an unmade bed. And I’m not asking for hospital corners here: I’m just asking that you pull the duvet cover up and fluff a couple of fucking pillows.

But it wasn’t an unmade bed that set me off a few nights ago: I came home, after working a 16 hour day, and found some gigantic musical instrument case in the middle of the living room. The Beast knows how much this aggravates me: I’m not a clean freak by any means, but for the love of God, just put instruments in THE INSTRUMENT ROOM!  It’s a ROOM FULL OF FUCKING INSTRUMENTS! So I grabbed that fucking case without even taking off my shoes or coat and dragged it up the stairs and dumped it in the middle of the Beast’s music room. Then I drank two glasses of wine to cool my engines and fell asleep.

I didn’t even hear the Beast come home, and I didn’t hear him leave for work the next morning. It was Sunday, and I was going to try and work from home. At about 7:00 that night, I got a phone call.

Beast: Do you have two minutes right now?

Foodie: Yes.

Beast: Listen to this and tell me it’s not the most incredible thing you’ve ever heard!

Foodie: Okay.

The Beast put down the phone and started playing When the Saints Come Marching in on a saxophone in the basement of his work.

Beast: Now tell me, just go ahead and try and tell me that that’s not the most amazing sounding thing you’ve ever heard.

Foodie: It sounds amazing.

Beast: It’s the new baritone saxophone that I’m renting.

Foodie: Was that the gigantic instrument that  I found in the living room and dragged upstairs?

Beast: Yes, and don’t think I didn’t notice that. I know what you’re trying to do.

Foodie: I’m just trying to put musical instruments away in this house.

Beast: Anyway, I’m renting it for now but I’m going to buy one. They’re about $4000 so here’s my financial plan: I’m going to put a thousand dollars down and then I’m going to start busking 20 days a month and I bet I can make ten dollars a day. This thing is going to pay for itself!

Foodie: You’re going to play that thing on street corners?

Beast: Yes, maybe around Yonge and Eglinton. You know, some free improvising and When the Saints Come Marching In, in the key of E flat concert. What would you do if somebody from your work saw me playing on the street corner and then asked you about it?

Foodie: I don’t know.

Beast: Would you be embarrassed?

Foodie: No.


Foodie: What’s that?

Beast: That’s my blog that’ll be associated with my avant-garde music project: I’ll blog about where I’m playing and what I’m playing and how much money I made and other musicians can come and join in if they want. I could also Twitter about it.

Foodie: You could also make little signs and have cards that people could take if they wanted to learn more about the Tone of Baritone Project. I think it’s a great idea. I am concerned though–about the money part. If you’re going to be busking to pay off this $4000 baritone saxophone for the next eight years, what does that mean for our plan of taking one big vacation every year?

Beast: We could do day trips.

Foodie: I want to go visit Uncle Ron in Mexico and I want to visit your relatives in France and I want to go to New York and I want to go do one of those beach vacations where there’s white sand, blue water, and optional yoga and tennis.

Beast: You could go with your girlfriends.

Foodie: Am I not giving you enough attention? Is this what this is all about?

Beast: Listen, you’re not the only one who’s busy and successful in this relationship.

Foodie: Oh I get it–this is about me not being home very much these days.

Beast: (He starts playing the saxophone again)

I finished my work at about 8:30 at night and the Beast got home soon after that. We ate roti from Mother India and watched Catch Me If You Can, starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio, on TV. The Beast wandered off and I continued to watch.

About 20 minutes later, he called me from upstairs.

Beast: Can you come up here for a second?

Foodie: Is it important? I don’t think I can move right now.

Beast: It’s very important. Hurry!

I found the Beast upstairs wearing a woman’s black cashmere sweater and no pants.

Foodie: What the fuck is going on?

Beast: My boss gave it to me. It’s a vintage Pringle sweater you know. I just can’t figure out how to wear it.

Not only does the Beast take home garbage clothes from work, but he also gets hand-me-downs from his boss, who is a 75 year-old, 90 pound Jewish lady. Last year he wore her old winter coat all season. It had a drawstring waist and was shiny forest green.

Foodie: Do you think this is something you should be wearing?

Beast: The ribbing reminds me of something Shackleton might have worn. Maybe a belt would help.

I gave the Beast a belt and he put on a pair of my black leggings. And then it was game over: He couldn’t stop prancing around and posing–on the bed, in front of the mirror–and I couldn’t take photos fast enough (he asked me to take the photos so he could send them to Nick Edwards.) I was laughing so hard that I started foaming at the mouth and saliva was running down my face like a dog, and my stomach started cramping up, like I’d just done 100 sit-ups in a row (which, as An Athlete, I could do in my sleep.)

When he sent the photos to Nick Edwards and his brother Noah, he included this message:

Hey guys – my publisher just got the proofs back from the photo shoot for the cover of my book “Method Actor: A Life – a Memoir of Love, the Theatre and Learning”. Can you let me know which shot you think best captures the essence of me, the performer, without being too pretentious or actorly?

It was the most I’d laughed in a long time. It felt wonderful.

And now that I know the Beast can clean the kitchen counters and cook himself dinner, I can book that beach vacation with a guilt-free conscience.

Fegato alla Venezia alla il Beasto: ***

(Thank you to two readers, Tonya and Rosemary, for pointing out that you could see my pant-less reflection in the photo where the Beast is posing in his black sweater.  I’ve edited the photo.  Foodie and the Beast regrets the error.)

An Avuncular Thanksgiving

My brother and I get along wonderfully, but the differences in our personalities are shocking: He tends to be reserved in social situations and observes others around him while I tend to act like a child and am observed by others in the way that people who go to the zoo observe gorillas. He can read stuff and then tell you about it using words in a really clear way whereas I forget even what I’m talking about right now and when I do try and use words to explain what I forgot about, they’re often the wrong ones.

When we were kids and people came over to our house, I bet my brother would have sweetly said hello and then retired to his room to read or draw, while I would have lifted up my hair, shown them the nape of my neck and then in one swift move, turned around, and pulled down my pants in order to show them my bottom. That’s a true story, and it’s a strange ritual that can be blamed on my mother: she said I had the sweetest neck and the cutest bottom she’d ever seen so why wouldn’t I want to share that with company in our home? Or with strangers in Swiss Chalet? Or at the top of the CN Tower? (Rest-assured, it was a ritual I abandoned in high school.)

It’s hard to articulate how different we are. But I’ve always felt this photo captures our polarity better than any words could.

Don’t be fooled by the dimples: I was brazen, overly confident, manipulative, needed obscene amounts of attention, spoke when I should have listened, and was filthy. I’m still all those things and my brother is still the extreme opposite of all those things.

That’s why I was a bit nervous for Thanksgiving dinner at the Beast’s family’s place. My mom and Russ were there, the Beast’s parents, his older brother Noah and his wife Laura and one of his younger brother Jake. With my brother and his wife Stephanie present, plus me and the Beast, that made for eleven people. Eleven very different people. Add that anxiety on top of having dinner around a table where anything can happen–and has happened–and then you might be able to better appreciate my apprehensions.

Things started out all civilized-like. The Beast’s parents presented a lovely selection of spreads, crackers, and cheeses for us to nibble on when we arrived late in the afternoon.

Everybody was talking and telling nice stories. It was great. Russ told us how one time he thought he’d finally found a word that my brother wouldn’t know the definition of so he called him and said, “So, what does avuncular mean?” My brother told him that it meant like an uncle, and then proceeded to tell Russ how certain South American tribes, anthropologically speaking, have avuncular tendencies blah blah blah. (I blocked out the rest because nobody ever calls me to see if I know what avuncular means.)

At first, we were reserved in our rate of alcoholic consumption. But as the clock ticked past 8:00pm, the wine and beer flowed a little more steadily. Jokes started to fly about this here blog and whether or not the meal we were about to enjoy would make the cut.

You see the Beast’s dad, Dave, is a wonderful cook, and there have been plenty of meals that he’s prepared that I could’ve blogged about but I’ve chosen not to, out of respect for the family and not wanting to publicize scandalous events for personal gain or cheap laughs (like last year’s Thanksgiving dinner when Dave frugally chose a utility-grade turkey that was missing a wing and a leg, which was only revealed mid-dinner, and was quite upsetting to certain parties who have difficulty eating healthy birds, let alone crippled ones). But Dave has assumed my lack of familial blogging has to do with the quality of the food he prepares. On the contrary, he doesn’t mess around when it comes to festive dinners (minus the deformed turkey). In fact Dave, an art director, controls every aspect of the meal, as you can see from his Thanksgiving flow chart:

So, I’m not going to hold back this year: it’s what the family wants.

Things took a turn for the worse when my brother and I joined Dave, who perpetually has a tea towel slung over his shoulder and wears a beret, in the kitchen. And then Noah, elder brother to the Beast came in. And then Dave put on an apron that bears a reproduction of the nude torso of Michelangelo’s David. And then Noah started doing lewd things in front of the apron.

And then Dave took the turkeys out and put them on the counter.

And then Noah made Dave do lewd things to the turkeys while he was wearing the apron. And then I looked at my sweet brother, who’d witnessed everything, and his mouth was agape and he was white as a ghost. And I did nothing to protect him from it. I may have even, in a small way, encouraged the debaucheries.

At around 9:30pm, dinner was ready. Marg had set a beautiful table replete with a joke setting for Noah, the son with the healthiest appetite.

Dave made a touching speech about how thrilled he was to have us with him around the table, and how he’d made a donation on behalf of all of us to a local charity that provides Thanksgiving dinners to those in need. It wasn’t just the 11 of us eating here tonight: 6 others were there in spirit.

We all filled our plates with Dave’s dishes, including spectacular Brussel sprouts cooked with bacon.

Marg, mother to the Beast contributed her famous carrot casserole to the spread. By all measures, it shouldn’t be any good (processed cheese slices count as an ingredient), but it is truly sublime and I can never get enough.

By the time all the dishes went around, my plate was brimming with bounty.

There was some anxiety over divvying up the turkey legs: The Beast and Noah each secured one and I knew my dear mother desired one too, but was too timid to grab it from the platter, so I procured it for her.

A Beast Family Thanksgiving ritual is to go around the table and tell everybody what you’re thankful for. Marg and Dave gave wonderful speeches about family and being together and that was lovely. In fact, everybody said lovely things, except for a few odd exceptions: The Beast was thankful that the “six homeless people probably didn’t have to wait as long as we did for our Thanksgiving dinner.” Jake used this forum to make some political statement (as most 22 year olds and hippies would do), and said something about Indians and land, which was weird because I don’t see what that has to do with Thanksgiving. And then I mentioned how thankful I was that I’d found a turkey leg for my mother because even though by all accounts there should have been four legs to go around, you just never know how handicapped your bird is going to be.

With all the splendid food and drink, the colour in my brother’s face was returning. And then things took a turn for the worse: Somehow we started talking about the Beast and Noah’s long hair and beards. And then my mom whispered something to me:

Mom: Do you think that the drapes match the carpet?

Foodie: (Silence)

Foodie: Did you just ask me if the drapes match the carpet?

Noah: What did she say?

Foodie: She asked if the drapes match the carpet.

Laughter erupted. My brother’s colour disappeared again.

Marg: What’s going on?

Somebody: (pointing to my mother) She just asked if the drapes match the carpet?

Marg: What does that mean?

More laughter erupted. My brother may have gone into shock mode.

Somebody finally explained to dear Marg what it meant and then my mother, in an attempt to make Marg feel better about not knowing the urban meaning of drapes and carpets, told an enchanting mealtime tale…

Mom: You think that’s bad, well one time at the singles club that Russ and I run I had to explain to a table of older ladies who can’t hear a damn thing what the Mile High Club was during a brunch. I was shouting that it was, “sex on an airplane!” across the table.

More laughter, and my brother, my sweet, dear brother, who must have desired nothing more than to have a metaphorical shower in order to wash away the sin, the filth and the pain, sat tall in his chair while clutching a siphoning of scotch with all his might, and almost even smiled.

By the time Dave brought out his pair of pumpkin pies–one made with bourbon and caramel from a Bon Appetit recipe and the other a more traditional recipe from the New York Times–we were all stuffed to the gills.

Remarkably, the two pumpkin pies tasted exactly the same.

Marg made an apple pie as well but I was too full to sample it. Supposedly, it was perfection. (Too bad I’ll never know because she sent the left-overs home with Noah and his wife Laura.)  We sat and chatted around the table trying to finish the gorgeous desserts and sipping on coffee.  The Beast said something to Noah about how everything their family does is sort of over-the-top and that there’s nothing “small” about them.  My mother heard this, leaned over and whispered to me, “I could have been all over that one,” in a way that a hunter might say, with a nudge of an elbow, to a fellow hunter in the woods after letting a 8 point buck get away.

Close to midnight, we said our good-byes and thanked our hosts for such a wonderful night. Driving the Beast, my mom and Russ back to our place, I remembered that when I helped clear the Thanksgiving table I noticed that everybody had left little scraps–a lone strand of spaghetti squash, a piece of turkey skin–but two plates were entirely clean, like the kind of clean where you could just put the plate back in the cupboard and nobody would be the wiser (I’ve never done that). And those plates belonged to me and my brother.

Not only do we share more DNA with each other than with anybody else, but we both have very healthy appetites. And that made me smile.

Foodie: ***1/2

Beast: ***

Pulled Pork Again, Some Soup, and Some Mom

(On the phone with my mom last night)

Mom:  Those eggs in your last post looked really good–better than one and a half stars. Well, I should get going–it’s my big TV night:  There’s Hoarders and then Little People and then Intervention.

Foodie:  Whoa, whoa, whoa–back up.  Are you telling me that there’s a show called Little People?

Mom:  Yes.  And there’s also one called Pawn Stars, I love that one, and one called The Picker too.  That’s about two guys who pick through junk.

Foodie:  (Silence)

Mom:  And American Chopper, where they make the choppers…

Foodie:  But–

Mom: And my favourite, Come Dine with Me.  It’s so good that one day they had on a ten hour marathon and I couldn’t stop watching and then I missed all my Housewives shows like New York, New Jersey, Altanta, Washington D.C., and Orange County Housewives.

Foodie:  (Silence)

Mom:  And then there’s a show on MuchMusic called Teen Mom.  I love that show.  I just love T.V.

That’s an understatement.  My sweet mother and I don’t share such an intense love of television, but we do have plenty else in common.  For example, neither of us cares for coats very much, or socks.  It’s just so hot most of the time.  And usually a sweater suffices.

There’s also a similarity that I’ve only recently noticed:  we’re both pretty nonchalant when it comes to wearing appropriate attire around the house, specifically pants. In my youth, my mom used to reach her arm out to the mailbox wearing nothing but a t-shirt and underwear.  My brother and I would plead with her not to do it–even offering to collect the mail ourselves, lest somebody from high school see her in action.  But the thought never occurred to her that anyone would be looking and who would care anyhow?  But we cared!

One day in the high school cafeteria, a really cool kid came up to me and said, “Hey man, I saw your mom this morning taking out the garbage and I’m pretty sure she was just wearing a t-shirt and underwear.”

Me:  No you didn’t.

Cook Kid:  Yes I did.  Don’t you live on Manor Road?

Me:  Yes, but my mom wasn’t even home this morning.  She was…she was cooking for orphans at some charity thing (both lies).

Cook Kid:  I’m pretty sure it was her.

Me:  No,    it     WASN’T.

Cool Kid:  Whatever.

If you would have told me that day in the cafeteria that soon enough, I too would disregard pants at home, I would have baulked.  But it’s happened.  And not just pants, but tops too. In fact this summer, I think I paraded in front of the living room window naked on numerous occasions.  After showering, it was simply too hot for a house coat–even a towel.  I can’t explain why I make a detour into the living room, rather than going straight from the washroom to the upstairs, where my clothes are; maybe just to pick some up newspapers and put them in the recycling.  I don’t know.  But I do know that every time we see the guy that lives across the street walking around in our neighbourhood, the Beast whispers to me, “That guy has seen your t-s more times than I have.”

And since I’m an athlete now, I often get home from work and take off all my clothes in the hallway in order to have a shower (I don’t shower at our work gym.  That’s another story though), but end up doing stuff around the house for a good 15 minutes before getting to the showering part.  I’ll put away the dried dishes in the dish rack, maybe check some email, or tidy up some magazines.  Just simple chores really.  But it never occurs to me that I’m doing anything out of the ordinary, until the Beast gets home.

Beast:  Why aren’t you wearing any clothes?

Foodie:  Huh?  (Looking down)  Well will you look at that!

And lastly, neither my mom or I care as much as we should, perhaps, about food safety, like keeping stuff refrigerated, or expiration dates or stuff like that.*

So last night, while I waited for the Beast to get home, I had a quick shower, and then heated up a bowl of acorn squash soup (I was naked of course),  that I’d made exactly one week ago.

It tasted much better seven days ago.  But it’s a great recipe because you just throw all your main ingredients–the squash, some onions, an apple and some bacon–into a roasting pan.

And then after it’s all roasted, you scrape it all out into a pot, add some stock and you’ve got some lovely soup.

I didn’t finish my bowl of soup.  Good thing too because our main dinner was going to be pulled pork that I’d made on Sunday in the slow-cooker, served with some white beans and lines (that coleslaw salad that my Aunt Sandy makes.)  I even cooked my own beans instead of using canned ones.  And what a difference it makes!  My friend Gio is always going on about how she only uses dried, or fresh, beans rather than the canned ones because they’re so superior in taste and texture.  I just never bothered before.  But man oh man was she right.  They keep for a long time in the fridge and forever in the freezer too.

I only put on some clothes (a knee-length night gown/smock that I tucked into jogging pants with elastic cuffs that I pulled up to my knees and then put on knee-high striped socks so I looked like an old-timey baseball player),

when I started to heat up dinner because some of the pork was splattering and it hurt my naked skin.

I made myself comfortable on the couch in my baseball uniform, had a little white wine, and did some work on my computer while watching The Rachel Zoe Project, which I’d never seen before.  By the time the Beast got home, dinner was served.

Beast:  This is going to be so good! The house smells amazing too.  (Pause)  Are you drunk?

Foodie:  Whhhaaat….meeeeee?

Beast:  How many glasses of wine have you had?

Foodie:  Uhhh, like one?

Beast (checking the white wine bottle in the fridge):  That looks like you’ve had more than one glass.

Foodie:  What are you the police?  I had alittle drink while I did some work. Gossip Girl is on can we watch it with dinner?

Beast:  I thought we were going to watch Top Chef tonight?

We did watch Top Chef.  And we both cleaned our plates.  I think this might be one of my favourite dinners.  You can have it as-is, or eat it with warmed up white baguette and butter so you can make little sandwiches.  God is it good.

During a Top Chef commercial break, I tuned in to catch the end of Gossip Girl.

Beast:  Is there a website that has the target ages listed for shows like this?

Foodie:  What’s that supposed to mean?

Beast:  I don’t think you’re Gossip Girl’s prime demographic.

Foodie:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Get me some more wine will you old chap.

Beast:  You’re the old chap.  You’re better than Gossip Girl.  How stupid do you think you have to be to enjoy this television show?

Foodie:  That’s a redundant question.

Beast:  Do you mean rhetorical?

Foodie:  Whatever.  There–it’s back on Top Chef.  Happy?

Beast:  Will you look at those.

Foodie:  What, Padma’s breasts?

Beast:  Yes.  (Pause)  What’s for dessert?

Foodie:  (Asleep)

It’s been a long week.

Foodie: ***

Beast: ***1/2

*Footnote:  If I’ve ever made you dinner before, or if I ever make you dinner in the future, please trust that I don’t, and won’t, take food-safety risks when I’m cooking for others.  Thank you.


Aris for Breakfast with a Side of Mark Bittman

Scene:  Saturday morning.  The Beast is on the couch in his underwear and a t-shirt reading the paper and drinking his first cup of coffee.  The Foodie has been up for hours, has had three cups of coffee and is starving.

Foodie:  Sorry to interrupt but when do you think you’ll be ready to go for breakfast?

Beast:  Three hours.

Foodie:  But I’m starving!

Beast:  (Sighing)  Go get me a pair of pants, a sweater, and two magazines from my bedside table.

Foodie:  (Running up the stairs) Which magazines?

Beast:  Lapham’s Quarterly and Wire.

Foodie:  You read Wire?  That doesn’t seem like the sort of magazine you’d like.

Beast:  You’re thinking of Wired!

Foodie:  Well, what’s Wire about?

Beast:  Modern avant-garde music.

Foodie:  (Silence)

Scene:  Walking North on Roncesvalles towards Aris Grill–an unassuming little place that serves, “breakfast, steak and souvlaki”.

Foodie:  Oh God do my legs hurt. And my ankles too.  Am I walking funny?

Beast:  (Silence.)

Foodie:  Indoor soccer was so hard on Wednesday!  I thought I was going to throw up after seven minutes.  I felt fine on Thursday but then Liz and I did soccer drills at lunch time and yesterday it felt like my legs were going to fall off.

Beast:  Who’s Liz?

Foodie:  Liz from work–the one who plays on the indoor soccer team and asked me to play on the team when one of their regular players got shingles.  So now I’m playing every Wednesday night.

Beast:  You’ve changed so much.

Foodie:  Just because I’m an athlete now?

Beast:  You’re running, you’re playing soccer.  You’ve just changed.  I don’t like it.

Foodie:  Oh God, it feels like my ankles and the tops of my feet are bruised.  Do you think I’m walking like an athlete right now?

Beast:  You’re walking like you’ve got gimp legs.  You’re too old to be playing indoor soccer.

Foodie:  Excuse me?

Beast:  You’re 35 now.  And that’s too old.  That’s why you’re injured because your body can’t take it.  Plus, sports aren’t good for you.  Everybody knows that.

Scene:  Inside Aris Grill, the Beast orders a western sandwich with a side of bacon, and the Foodie orders eggs over easy, bacon and rye toast.  Diner-style coffee (re:  not very good but strangely appealing) arrives quickly.

Beast:  (Reading paper)  You know, somebody should leave a Post-It note for people that write about contemporary people being icons and the note should tell them to pick up a dictionary.  “, celebrated music and fashion icon…” Are you kidding me?  I don’t even know who the fuck is!  He’s just a hologram on CNN.

Foodie: Pardon?

Beast:  He was a hologram, during the presidential election.  Remember the holograms on CNN?

Foodie:  Oh yeah.

Scene:  Breakfast arrives.

Foodie:  You know what I like about breakfast?  I like that everybody eats theirs a little differently–they personalize it.  For instance, I like some egg, a little bit of bacon and toast in each bite.  I like planning it out so that every bite has that combination, right down to the last bite.  See–look at you:  you’re putting your side of bacon right on your sandwich.

Foodie:  (Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ is playing on the radio)  Every time I hear this song I want to watch the series finale of the Sopranos again.

Beast:  Me too.  Did I tell you that my brother and I were walking in Liberty Village and we saw two guys take off their shirts and start washing a car while this song was playing?

Foodie:  That’s a lie!

Beast:  That’s the truth.  I swear.

Foodie:  Unbelievable.

Beast (One, by U2 is now on the radio)  I think this song was used in the series finale of Friends.

Foodie:  You watched the last episode of Friends?

Beast:  Of course I did!

Foodie:  I didn’t.  (Pause)  Oh yeah!  Weren’t you, like, obsessed with Friends? Didn’t you have a Friends T-shirt and the Friends soundtrack?

Beast:  I loved Friends.  It was the most important part of my childhood.

Foodie:  Oh shit man.  You were actually a  kid when Friends was on.  I think I was in grad school.  Or I at least had a driver’s license.  Oh God.

Beast: When does your Mark Bittman story come out?

Foodie:  Next week I think.

Beast: Are you going to blog about getting to have dinner with him?

Foodie: No.  I’ve thought about it  and I don’t think it’s the professional thing to do.

Beast: Why not?

Foodie:  Well, there are a couple of reasons:  One, you weren’t there and this blog is about our dinners, and two, it would sound like I was bragging about it.  And it was really just luck that I got to go: His Simon & Schuster publicist, Amy, asked me at the last minute because there happened to be space for one more.

Beast: But you’ve already bragged about it to everyone.

Foodie: No I haven’t!  I’ve barely told anybody.  Mark blogged about the dinner though.

Beast: Oh so you’re on a first name basis with Mark?

Foodie:  No!  Although we did share our dinners.  But I don’t want to talk about it.

Beast:  Okay.

Foodie: Well, we both sort of wanted the burger and we both were humming and hawing–

Beast:  It’s hemming and hawing.

Foodie:  We were both hemming and hawing over the fish, so when he ordered the burger and found out I ordered the fish, he told me that we were sharing.

Beast: So you shared dinner with another man.

Foodie: What was I supposed to say! It was Mark Bittman!  And I was sitting beside him.  I don’t want to talk about this anymore.  It feels unprofessional.

Beast:  Fine.

Foodie:  You know what an awesome part was?  He was just, like, so down to earth.  He was texting with his daughter and stuff, and he likes to swear so we were both swearing, and he’s quite funny too.  We laughed a lot.  He just seemed really real, you know? Like, down to earth.

Beast:  Sounds like you two had a real blast.

Foodie:  There’s one part I’m regretful of though: Somehow we got on the topic of World War I–because we talked about a lot of interesting stuff–and we introduced him to the poem Flander’s Fields, which I read to him from my iPhone, and I think I made fun of it a bit.  I’ve just never been moved by the poem–I think the rhyming really distracts me.  But he was genuinely touched by it so I felt like a real asshole.

Beast:  Are you done?

Foodie:  What do you mean?

Beast:  I thought you said you didn’t want to talk about this.

Foodie:  No, I just said I didn’t want to blog about it. Are you going to eat that last piece of bacon?  No?  Did I tell you about how somehow my art history background came up–

Beast:  You probably bragged to him about.  I can hear you now:  “When I lived in Italy and was teaching art history…”

Foodie:  I DID NOT!!!!

Beast:  You so did.

Foodie:  The subject came up organically.  Do you want to hear this story or not.

Beast:  (Silence)

Foodie:  So he was telling me how he’s going to Washington D.C. soon and a friend told him how he had to see this exhibit by a Renaissance painter who used fruits and vegetables to make portraits–

Beast:  Archimbaldo?

Foodie:  FUCK YOU.

Beast:  What?

Foodie:  Well, he asked me the name and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember it.  I had to look it up on my iPhone, or maybe he looked it up on his BlackBerry–I can’t remember.  But I was devastated because the art history Master didn’t know the name of the artist.  I knew the name started with an “A” though, and that he was active in the 16th century, so that’s pretty good, I think.

Beast:  Are you ready to go.

Foodie:  Yes.  Can we stop at the optical place down the street?

Beast:  Why?

Foodie:  I want to make an appointment to get contact lenses.

Beast:  Why?

Foodie:  For the indoor soccer man!  I did a header last game and my glasses dug into my face and it hurt like hell.  So I want to investigate contact lenses–just for when I’m an athlete.  This place down the streets gives lessons to people like me who’re afraid to touch their eyes.

Beast:  You’ve changed so much.

Foodie:  *1/2

Beast: **