Monthly Archives: March 2011

A Booming Weekend with two Erin(n)s

It was my Uncle Jim’s 60th birthday on Saturday so I hitched a ride to Paris, Ontario with my brother and sister-in-law for the festivities at my cousin Erin’s place.

She and I used to play like there was no tomorrow when we were kids.  We would spend most of our visits at Aunt Sandy’s, weather-permitting, in the branches of a big old red maple tree in the front yard. And there were a few summers when I spent a week with Erin and her family in Waterford, Ontario.  We played baseball outside and we’d dance and sing along for hours to the Beach Boys in the cool basement, escaping those hot, humid August afternoons.

Now, Erin has three kids.  I like these kids because they think I’m younger than I really am. (One time when I aggressively pressed the youngest one–when she was three or so–to take a stab at guessing my age, she answered, 17!  HA!  You gotta love kids!) Anyway, their mom Erin really likes to feed people.  She and her husband Neil preserve the fruits and vegetables that grow in their garden, make their own cheese, harvest their own maple syrup and rear their own chickens.

And Erin’s a bit of an experimenter too who often creates her own recipes: in fact, as soon as I walked in the door she had me sticking my fingers into three dressings she’d concocted: a homemade Caesar salad dressing, a coleslaw dressing and a BBQ sauce, which she made me taste back to back with a very popular store-bought brand. (For the record, the two were indiscernible.)

Erin and I share a real interest in old cookbooks too–not fancy ones by famous authors (although she does have a bordering-on-unhealthy obsession with Gordon Ramsey) but the small town regional sort that our grandma Adeline would have used: the kind that have been produced by Five Roses Flour, church groups and Mennonite communities for decades now.  They’re often written in a vernacular that makes reading them feel like you’re sitting around a kitchen table chatting with good friends. And sometimes the recipes within are so simple that you wonder why anyone bothered to write them down.  Thank goodness they did: they’re often some of the most comforting things to prepare–and eat.

Speaking of comforting, the first thing I did when we arrived at Erin’s was to grab a piece of what everybody else was eating: Aunt Sandy’s coffee cake.

While I ate that, I planned my plate-filling passage around the tables stacked high with food.

I also monitored the kids who’d congregated around the chocolate fountain that Erin had procured for the event.

After a perfect lunch of cold cuts on still-warm crusty rolls, salads, pickles, olives and cheese, a few of us hunkered down and looked through some of those old cookbooks and I resigned myself to execute a couple of the dishes the next day. I had company coming after all: after reading my friend Erinn’s recent blog post about Sam Shepard I invited her over to watch Baby Boom, a very important film from the 1980s starring Sam and Diane Keaton.

I was set on making a meat pie after hearing my cousin’s mouth-watering description of a Dutch meat pie that her mom has made for years.  And I also decided to make butter tarts.  I’ve never made them before, but I’ve been craving them for weeks.  My Baby Boom dinner choices required two batches of double crust pie pastry but I don’t have a go-to pie crust recipe, despite having researched the subject extensively. Mind you, I’ve tried countless recipes, and I’ve experimented with using lard, vegetable shortening, butter and combinations of those fats.  Believe it or not, I’ve never really made a pie that I’ve flipped for but I’ve flipped for plenty of pies.

I settled on a very simple 100 per cent shortening recipe from Edna Staebler’s Food that Schmecks.  Many of you fancier types may be questioning the exclusion of butter from my crust.  I don’t blame you: crusts made with butter taste better and I love that golden colour of the dough too.  But I don’t think I’m skilled or patient enough to incorporate that finicky fat into my pastry: whenever I do (and despite using freezing cold butter, letting the dough rest, blah blah blah) the resulting crust is always a bit stiff. And besides, some of my favourite pie crusts–all impossibly flakey–have been made with only shortening. That, along with the fact that nearly all of those charming recipes books I love so dearly call for only shortening (the really old ones usually demand lard) in their pie crust recipes, made me confident that my recipe choice was perfect for my light meal of meat pie and butter tarts.

Unfortunately, I had some trouble this time around rolling out the dough.  I don’t know what the fuck happened.

I ended up just sticking pieces together like a puzzle and pushing them down into the pie plate.

The tarts were a little easier to assemble.  And I used a little trick that my Uncle Ron mentioned to me just the other day about filled the shells with nuts and raisins before pouring in the liquid butter mix, rather than putting those things directly into the butter mix: this way you can ensure each tart will have just enough stuff.

Like clock work, Erinn rang the bell at 6:00pm.  After a short yarn, I whipped us girls up some mojitos to drink and we started watching our movie.  At the half-way point, when Diane Keaton’s character decides to leave her big job in the city and move to a 200 year old house on an apple orchard farm, we paused for snacks and wine.

I’m glad the Beast came home after the scene where Sam Shepard tries to help Diane Keaton change a flat tire in the middle of the night on a country road and Diane is all bossy and wants to do it herself and then Sam grabs her by the waist and kisses her and Diane goes limp like a doll in his arms because IT’S SAM FUCKING SHEPARD because the Beast would have witnessed us squealing and screaming and kicking our feet in the air.  To my surprise, the Beast actually joined us to watch the conclusion of the critically acclaimed film.

After that, we ate our dinner not in the dining room where all civilized people would feed a guest, but in front of the television.  I know, right? Just writing that I made a dinner guest watch a movie while eating dinner makes me wince, especially considering it was Erinn’s first time over. But it all just happened quite naturally. Besides, the only obvious way to follow Baby Boom is to watch another very important film from the 1980s called Willow, a little movie directed by Ron Howard, written by George Lucas and starring Val Kilmer.

I thought the meat pie turned out great: the savoury filling was perfectly seasoned with just a little dijon, salt and pepper and the pastry was light and flakey.  I especially loved the combination of the pie with the simple greens that I’d dressed in a white wine, garlic and dijon vinaigrette. I noticed, however, that neither the Beast or Erinn helped themselves to salad.

The butter tarts turned out just okay: their interiors weren’t gooey enough for my liking.

I also made a small batch of pina coladas by whizzing up canned pineapple pieces, coconut milk and rum with my hand blender.  Something was missing though.  Sugar? I don’t know.  Maybe it was just that pina coladas don’t go so well with butter tarts.

But it didn’t matter so much: the three of us were quite content sitting on the couch with our plates in our laps watching our movie.

It felt like we’d done it a hundred times before.

Foodie: **

Beast: **

Pie Crust Recipe

*For the butter tart filling I simply melted 1/3 cup of butter and added that to 1 cup of brown sugar beaten with 1 egg, plus 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tbsp milk or cream. Add as many raisins and nuts as you see fit.

Dutch Beef Pie

Meatloaf Sandwiches: A Victory

Last night after work, as I walked along our street towards home, the Beast called to ask me to pick up season three of Deadwood. He also suggested that I give my dad a call because Joe Morello, a jazz drummer best known for his considerable time spent playing in The Dave Brubeck Quartet, had passed away on the weekend.

My dad plays the drums too (quite well).

And Joe Morello is my dad’s favourite jazz drummer.  And jazz is something that features fairly heavily in my pop’s life, and, as a result, in my life too. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie, among others, provided me with the soundtracks to my youth (side by side with a heck of a lot of Bach and some of my mom’s favourites including Kenny Rogers, Anne Murray, The Boss, Patsy Cline and Kris Kristofferson.)

One of my earliest memories is falling in and out of sleep on the couch looking at the Christmas tree while the third cut of Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert played softly. I remember crying too–not heavy tears that run down your face or anything, just the sort that well up in your eyes a bit.  And when I squinted, the tears made the multi-coloured tree lights reflect and refract in all sorts of beautiful ways.

I don’t remember why I was crying.  And despite the tears, it’s a memory that brings me comfort.

Anyway, my dad took the news better than I expected (he cried when Buddy Rich died when I was in grade seven). And he promised to toast Mr. Morello later that night with a touch of Glenmorangie.

When I got home, I heard peculiarly loud punk-like music playing from upstairs, which is where I found the Beast doing his last set of push-ups.

Foodie:  Look at you!  How many did you do?

Beast:  65.

Foodie:  That’s amazing!  (Going in to give him a congratulatory hug)

Beast: WAIT!  I still have to do my cool down.

As the Beast pushed me away, he picked up a book from the countless stacks of shit in the bedroom.

Foodie:  This is how you cool down?  With Nietzsche?  This is one of the funniest jokes you’ve ever made.

Beast:  All my jokes are funny.

Foodie:  What is this terrible music?  Is this what you always listen to when you do your push-ups?

Beast:  It’s Iggy Pop.  And no, sometimes I do them to various requiems, like Mozart’s, Verdi’s or Brahams’.

Foodie:  Aren’t requiems death marches?

Beast:  They put me in a mournful state of mind.

Foodie:  (Pause) Want to see my new running shoes?  They’re going to help correct my over-pronation problem which will in turn help cure my sore knees, butt and feet.  I am so excited I could scream!

Beast:  Whoa.  Those look…like running shoes all right.

Foodie:  I know they’re ugly but the fact that they’re functional is what’s important here.  Still though, why are the functional sort of running shoes always so hideous?

Beast: Don’t take this the wrong way but the people who those shoes are designed for–people who actually want to run–generally have bad taste.  For them, these shoes represent the height of good design.

Foodie:  Why don’t you come with me to the video store?

Beast:  If I do, I’m not going to change out of my work out clothes (a stained t-shirt and jogging pants from Chinatown that Nick Edwards gave him.)

Foodie:  I don’t care.

Beast: That means I don’t have pockets for keys or a wallet.

Foodie: That’s fine.

Beast: Okay. I’ll go.

Walking to the video store.

Foodie:  I thought about these goddamn meatloaf sandwiches all day!  I can hardly wait.  What are you putting on yours?

Beast: Butter and ketchup on white bread. Done.

Foodie:  I think I’ll toast my bread and just put on a little dijon mustard.

Beast:  Disgusting!

Foodie: No it isn’t.  And I might slice some dill pickles on the side.

Beast: Gross!

Foodie: Not really.  Think about all those chacuterie platters with meat pâtés and stuff like that.  They all come with mustard and cornichons.  Our meatloaf sandwiches are practically the same thing.

Beast:  All I know is that I have to eat within the hour.

Foodie:  Are you starving?

Beast: Yes, but it’s also really important to eat within an hour after working out.

Foodie:  Really?  Who told you this?

Beast: Nick Edwards told me and his friend who’s the personal chef for a Toronto Raptor told him that the Raptor does this all the time.

Foodie:  Let me ask you something: do you equate your push-ups with the intensity of an NBA player’s workout?

Beast: I bet the music I listen to is more intense.

Foodie: (Silence)

As soon as we got home we headed straight to the kitchen.  With few words, we prepared our appetizer of “Artisan” tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa.

We nibbled on this while getting our individual meatloaf sandwiches under way.  I sliced my meatloaf nice and thin and, just as I’d planned, smeared my toasted white bread with a little Dijon mustard and chopped up a dill pickle for the side.

The Beast took a more Beast-like approach: he sliced big, thick wedges of that meat loaf and piled it high on his slices of white bread, which were smothered with butter and ketchup.

Although we approached our individual meals with slightly different methodologies, we both heartily agreed that this meatloaf sandwich dinner was one of the best meals of all time.

Foodie: ***1/2

Beast: ****

The Hippest Saturday

Foodie:  Would you look at the size of this?

Beast:  That’s disgusting.  It’s so swollen!

Foodie:  It’s awesome!  It’s so fierce I can hardly stand it.

Beast: What happened?

Foodie:  I got kicked during our last soccer game.

Beast: That’s why you shouldn’t take part in athletics: they’re too reckless.

Foodie:  What about all those push-ups you’ve been doing?

Beast:  That’s not athletic–that’s military training.

Foodie: You’re not in the army though.

Beast: Ahhh, I’ll be needing the training for when I start my marching band.

Do you ever think you really know a person and then behind your back they start posting all these things on Craig’s List looking to start esoteric sorts of bands with strangers?  The Beast has done this three times now.  The latest cattle call is for a marching band.  And this isn’t some joke.  He’s got uniforms planned and everything.  He says it’s going to be like Philip Glass meets New Orleans Jazz.

Foodie:  Well, I’m starving.  I can’t think of a better way to reward ourselves for the respective exercises we did this morning (me: a five kilometer walk disguised as a jog, him: 53 push-ups) than going for banquet burgers at Aris. Let’s pack up some reading material and get out of here.

Aris is a family restaurant on Roncesvalles run by a Greek family, I think.  It’s really a wonderful place to go for truck-stop style feasts and diner specialties: I’m talking about eggs and bacon, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot hamburger plates (you know when you take a piece of white bread, top it with a burger and pour some gravy on it and then add a side of peas?  And by the by, Erinn introduced me to this delight), and a classic banquet burger fixed up with a processed cheese slice, bacon, and the works–onion, tomato and pickles.  There’s not an avocado or a piece of brie in sight to top an Aris burger. And who’d want a gourmet topping to crown this?

Beast: I don’t know how I feel about the redesign of the New York Times magazine.

Foodie:  Look at the cover of Food and Wine this month and it’s just as pretty as the rack of lamb Erinn made for us!

Beast: Oh God that was good.  And she even let me pick out jazz records to listen to. That was a nice touch.

Foodie:  Remember when we put the napkin around Satchmo’s neck?

Beast: Remember when Nick Edwards put the little napkin around his neck?

Beast: Even the salad was good.  Can you get that salad recipe?

Foodie:  I’ll try.  I want the couscous recipe too.  There was orange blossom water in there.  Can you believe that?  I never thought I’d have thirds of couscous.

Beast: Can you find out how she made the broccoli too?

Foodie:  She just fried it I think.  I can’t remember.  But it tasted like the Platonic version of broccoli, you know, the ideal–

Beast:  I know what Platonic means.  I’m really shocked that you ate so much lamb.

Foodie:  It was the best lamb I’ve ever had–and that mint sauce?  I have to admit though, I felt really self-conscious about eating it.  You, Nick and Erinn picked up those chops like you’d done it a million times and you got right in there and got all the bits of meat out from all the nooks and crannies.  I felt really awkward holding those chops man.  I felt like I had two left hands–like if I were a homo habilis on the the Serengeti Plains I would have starved to death without the carnivore skills that you three possess.  It was like breathing for you.

Beast: What’s wrong?

Foodie (whispering):  If these little shit brats knock my chair one more time I’m going to lose my shit man!  Can you believe it?  Their mothers are sitting right there and allowing them to run the length of the restaurant over and over again screaming and having fun.  I would never have been allowed–wait: it would have never crossed my mind that running in a restaurant was even an option!  The worst thing I did was ask to go the washroom by myself so I could play James Bond.

Beast:  Oh, pardon?

Foodie:  James Bond.  Where you pretend like you have a handgun and you’re being followed or you’re following the villain and you go all sneaky-like down the stairs and stuff like that.  I did it every time we went out for dinner from the time I was five until I was 16.  I’d go right after I ordered my kitty cocktail, straight up.

Beast:  My brothers and I would have been those kids running around wild in the restaurant.

Foodie: Your poor mother.  But your mom wouldn’t have stood for it–she would have been  yelling at you, wouldn’t she?

Beast:  She was probably too tired.  (Whispering) But those mothers are more annoying than the kids.  That one woman keeps singing an Enrique Iglesias song, “I Can Be Your Hero Baby,” or something, while the kids run lose.

Foodie: Want to get coffee from Cherry Bomb down the street and stop into that consignment shop and try on clothes?

Beast: Yes.

The Beast ended up buying a black and white houndstooth blazer and I bought a floral linen sundress and a pair of cotton bloomers from the turn of the century. I don’t know what I will do with them but I have a feeling they will come in handy, some day.

Foodie (Walking out of the store): Do you like that dress?  I like it.  Do you?

Beast:  It’s a bit tight in the back where the buttons are.  It sort of pops open here and there.

Foodie:  Why didn’t you say anything when we were in there?

Beast:  There were all those girls around and I didn’t want to embarrass you!

Foodie:  I couldn’t see the back.  How tight?

Beast: It’ll be fine.

Foodie:  God, I hope those bloomers fit at least.  I didn’t try them on.

Beast: (Silence)

At Cherry Bomb, a really lovely coffee spot with wonderful baked treats (particularly their date & pecan scones), the Beast ordered an espresso and I ordered a small black drip coffee.

Foodie (outside the store): You get so Mr. Cool when we go into Cool Coffee Shops.

Beast: What do you mean?

Foodie (doing an impression of him): Yeah.  I’ll have an espresso.

Beast:  That’s what I wanted.  I should have asked for an EXpresso so that hipster could have corrected me and told me about the roast of the beans.

Foodie:  What are you talking about?  You’re a hipster.


Foodie:  Look at you–with our Levi’s jeans and your Converse sneakers and your hunter’s hat and your beard and dirty hair and your ironic Isle of Skye sweatshirt.

Beast:  YOU BUY MOST OF MY CLOTHES  and I happen to love the folk music from the Isle of Skye AND their single malt.

Foodie: Do you want to keep walking?  I have to pick up a nine inch tart pan from that restaurant supply store on College Street.  You could go to Soundscapes to look at CDs while I do it.

He did, so we kept walking, under the Lansdowne bridge where lots of pigeons live and then along College.

Foodie: Hey!  Would you come into this bike shop with me?  I want to ask a few questions about a custom build.

Beast: A custom build?

Foodie:  Yeah.  A custom build.  That’s where they–

Beast:  I know what a custom build is.  Why don’t you just go buy a bike from Canadian Tire?

Foodie:  Because I’ve been researching bikes since November and I want specific things that I don’t think I could find in a bike at Canadian Tire.

The Beast came in with me.  Actually, he was remarkably well behaved.  And Martin, the owner of the small bike shop, was incredibly helpful and answered a hundred questions and offered lots of sound advice.  He’s going to look into ordering a couple of different frames for me since they didn’t stock too many smaller ones in the store. Soon, I’m going to have the mint green bike of my dreams.  But it’s going to cost me.

Foodie (outside the bike shop): You know, Stephen from work is a real bike maniac.  He’s got, like, four or something, and when I told him months ago how much I was going to spend on a new bike he said I was nuts and that somebody like me shouldn’t spend more than $400 on a new bike.

Beast:  Why don’t you buy one of Stephen’s bikes from him?

Foodie: They’d be too big.  Plus they’re specialized and stuff.  I think he custom builds them himself.

Beast:  Why don’t you get Stephen to show you how to custom build a bike?  You buy all the parts you need directly from the suppliers and do it yourself?

Foodie (pause): I don’t think he would enjoy doing that.  I sense that bike time for him is alone time, not show-other-people-how-to-do-basic-things-that-you-could-learn-from-the-internet sort of time.  It would be like if somebody asked me how to vacuum or something.  I couldn’t ask him to do that.

Beast:  I think you should.  He owes you–think of all the countless hours of entertainment you’ve provided him with FATB. And speaking of which, when am I going to start seeing some money from this “blog”?

Foodie: Why would you get any money?

Beast:  Because I give you all the material.

Foodie:  That’s true.  (Pause)  I can’t even ask people with cars to take me grocery shopping with them.

Beast:  Why don’t you trade him?  I have a perfectly good clarinet he can have if he builds you the bike.

Foodie:  I don’t think that would be a fair trade.

Beast:  It’s a really good clarinet though.

Foodie:  I don’t think he plays the clarinet.  Besides, the price difference wouldn’t be that much anyway.

Beast:  Probably not actually.  And buying that mint green one would be like buying ten months worth of metro passes and you’re going to have it for years and years. And besides, people spend their money in unique and different ways: I’m saving up to buy a $5000 saxophone for instance.

We walked and talked and laughed all the way down College. I bought my tart pan and also a muddler to make mojitos with all that rum I brought back from Cuba.  The Beast didn’t buy one CD.  We decided to take Dundas Street back home, for a change of scenery.

Foodie:  Look at all these restaurants that we haven’t been to.  There’s Campagnolo, and that Porchetta place, and up there is the Enoteca Sociale, and across the street is The Brockton General and then further down is The Atlantic. We need to eat out more.  Enough frozen pizzas and roti man.

Beast:  Want to go to one now?

Foodie:  Are you kidding me?  I’m still stuffed with banquet burger!

Beast:  Me too but we will need to eat later on.

Foodie:  Why don’t I make us a lightish spaghetti?  I just read about one that Gwyneth Paltrow makes in Food and Wine: fried zucchini, some Parmigiano and basil, but I’m going to use mint. Oh look!  There’s Melissa from the restaurant!

Melissa is a filmmaker who serves at the restaurant where I sometimes work, AND she just got an editing job on a real TV show AND she reads FATB.

Melissa: Did you ever tell the Beast that I think FATB should be a television show?  And that I’d love to shoot it?

Foodie:  I think I told him that.  Did I tell you that?

Beast:  I think so.

Melissa:  And you guys would have to play yourselves, obviously.

Foodie: No way.  Mark Ruffalo would play him and Rosie O’Donnell would play me.

Beast: Are you kidding me?  Kathy Bates would play her and James Caan would play me and it would be like the movie “Misery” only instead of breaking legs it would be about us criticizing each other and eating average food.

We said our good-byes to Melissa who rode off on her bike and made our way home.  Enroute, the Beast spotted a men’s clothing store that looked very Italian or Portuguese in style.

Beast:  Look at this place!  This place is going to have the linen blazer I’m looking for!

Foodie:  It’s closed.

Beast (peering into the window): Can we come back next Saturday?  I see it!  It’s only $29.99.  It’s perfect!

Foodie:  They look a bit cheap, don’t you think?

Beast:  A linen blazer can’t have too much tailoring to it or then it becomes like a interior designer’s blazer.

Foodie:  Or a hipster’s blazer.

Beast:  Call it what you want.  I don’t want it to be tailored–it needs to hang in just a certain way to be authentic.

Foodie:  Hipster’s love authenticity.

Beast (with exaggerated pronunciation): First of all, a hipster doesn’t walk around thinking about how to start a progressive marching band–a marching band that presents African American music with the dignity and respect it deserves, including uniforms, dance steps, flashing arrangements and modern tunes.

Foodie: (Pause) I’m sorry you didn’t find the CD you were looking for by that Chubby Belly guy.

Beast: That’s not his name.

Foodie:  What, Jelly Belly Rub or something?

Beast:  IT’S JELLY ROLL MORTON!  And I wasn’t even looking for that: I was looking for field recordings of prisoners that were made in the 1930s.

Foodie:  That’s can’t possibly be a real thing that exists.

Beast:  It does exist and I’m going to find it.

Foodie: This has been a really perfect Saturday, don’t you think?

Beast:  Yes, yes it has.

We picked up a bottle of cheap white wine and walked the rest of the way home just as it started to drizzle a little.  Our hands and noses were cold by the time we made it back, and the grey sky was just about to turn black.  Housecoats were retrieved from different corners of our apartment and a fire was made.  And then, just as I was about to settle in and finish a book that I’ve had a hard time putting down these last few days, I spotted a rather large cardboard box from Amazon tucked away, as though a child were trying to hide it, in the corner of the living room: The Beast wasn’t looking for the Jelly Roll Morton CD any longer because he’d already purchased an entire box set of Jelly’s music.  I confronted him about it in a non-threatening way and the Beast scurried upstairs and retrieved his Amazon order, which he’d hidden, for me to see.  He opened it up and showed me all the CDS, all the booklets–and he was so happy.

What could I say?  I just justified buying a $40 tart pan because it was made in France.

Later on, once we’d finally digested the last bits of our lunch, I made us a pasta which we ate in the quiet of the night, both of us content in the fact that we were perfectly happy in this little moment of calm.

Aris Banquet Burgers: Foodie **  Beast ***

Erinn’s Lamb Dinner: Foodie: ****   Beast ****

Zucchini Pasta: Foodie: ***  Beast: **

*Drizzle with some good olive oil at the end too!

Black Bean Soup and Cheese Toasties Please

Around the Christmas holidays, I purchased a few cookbooks.  Last Sunday I finally got around to cracking their spines, or just one spine: the spine of The Essential New York Times Cook Book.  It’s a collection of over a 1000 recipes–some going back 150 years and some by Aunt So-And-So and some by famous people like Jaime and Nigella.

I settled on the black bean soup and a banana bread because I happened to have most of the ingredients for both on hand.  I served the soup with some cheese toasties.  Those are slices of bread smeared with butter, sprinkled with garlic powder and covered with grated orange cheese that are then put under the broiler until the cheese gets bubbly and crispy.  I recommend cheese toasties for soups, to have as a snack, or to serve at a very fancy dinner party.

It was such a perfect dinner that we had the left-overs two nights later.  And the Beast offered to prepare the meal since I had some work to do at home in the evening.

Foodie:  I’m home!  Where are you?

Beast:  I’m upstairs!  Can you be quiet?  I’m trying to record stuff.

Foodie (at the top of the stairs now looking at the Beast in his music room): Well excuse me!  Want to know what just happened?

Beast:  Did you just hear me?

Foodie:  I know, I just have to tell you something really quickly.

Beast: WHAT.


Beast:  (Silence.)

Foodie (Giggling and going nuts):  Can you fucking believe it?  Isn’t it amazing?  And I was trying to be all cool about it and I fumbled about with my license and kept looking back at the people in line to see if they were smiling too but they weren’t. They looked kind of annoyed actually.  But then the lady almost didn’t believe the picture on my ID was me!

Beast:  (Silence)

Foodie: AND the other day Stephanie at work–

Beast:  –Who’s Stephanie?

Foodie: She’s one of the interns. Well she brought in her little sister and later on Stephanie told me that her little sister said I was STYLISH. And then Stephanie asked her, “How old do you think that lady is?” And her sister said…are you ready?  HER SISTER SAID, “I don’t know, 24?” AHHHHHHHH!HHHHAHAAHAHAAH!!!

Beast:  You’re fucking crazy tonight.  What are you doing?

Foodie:  I’m taking off my clothes.  What does it look like I’m doing?  I need to get into my jogging suit and house coat if I’m going to get that work done before dinner. Are you still okay with making the cheese toasties and heating up the soup?

Beast:  I guess so.  It seems like a lot for me to have to do though.

The Beast watches the Foodie suck in her stomach and then stick it out, repeatedly.

Beast:  You know what’s funny?

Foodie:  What? This? (Pointing to her stomach.)

Beast:  That when you have your clothes on I can tell that you’ve lost weight but when you’re naked you just look the same.

Foodie:  That’s so funny because I was just thinking the exact same thing the other day!  It’s so weird!  It’s like I defy physics or something!

Beast:  Okay, can you be quiet now because I have to get some work done too you know.

Foodie:  Do we have wine? I need a glass of wine.  You want one?

Beast:  I’ll have a gin please.

After delivering the Beast his aperitif, I went downstairs to my new office–the dining room–and prepared myself a little snack.

After 90 minutes or so, the Beast came downstairs to get dinner started.  His efforts resulted in this:

And this:

Watching Deadwood in the new dining room (the living room.)

Foodie: Uggh.  I can’t believe I ate more cheese toasties than you did.

Beast: No you didn’t!

Foodie: Oh yes I did!  I ate four!

Beast: I ate six!  And you better be careful what you eat because you’re going to be a fat fuck before you know!

Foodie (laughing and weezing)

Beast: If you ever try and leave me, I’d start calling you fat fuck all the time and trick you into believing that nobody else would love you like I do.

Foodie (laughing and weezing harder)

Beast:  Now shut-up will you? I don’t want to miss too much of this episode.

Foodie: (Very serious all of a sudden.) You know I hate it when you say shut-up.  I absolutely hate it.  And I’ve asked you a thousand times not to say it.  I think it’s so crass, and so rude!  It’s just a terrible, terrible thing to say to me.

Beast:  (Pause) I think it’s interesting that we’ve reached a point in our relationship where it’s acceptable that I call you a fat fuck to your face but unacceptable that I tell you to be quiet.

Foodie: True.  (Pause)  Do you want a piece of that banana bread I made?

Beast:  No thanks.  Don’t take this the wrong way but that’s pretty bad banana bread.

Foodie:  It is, isn’t it.  It’s so dry!  One minute it was all gooey in the middle and four minutes later it was overcooked.  I’m sorry.

Beast: I’m sorry for telling you to shut-up.

Foodie: That’s okay.

Beast: And I’m sorry for telling you that when you’re naked you look the same as you did before you lost all that weight. It was a lie and it wasn’t very nice. But I just don’t want you to get too full of yourself.

Foodie:  Do we have any cookies in this house?

Foodie:  ***

Beast: ***

*Black Bean recipe to follow!

Getting Physical and Roti (Again).

The Beast has been exhibiting some unusual behaviour (for him) lately; he hasn’t been sleeping through the night, for instance.  He’ll get up for a few hours and read, or watch his Shackleton mini-series.  I only found this out a few days ago because I never wake up when he gets out of bed or comes back into bed.  When I asked him why he thinks he’s having trouble sleeping, he used his index finger to point to his brain and said, “too many ideas.”

He also can’t be in a room without playing a record or a CD: let’s say he’s in the kitchen while I’m puttering about.  He’ll put on some Klezmer music.  Then he’ll think about a book that might be upstairs on his bedside table so he’ll go up there and put on some early American gospels.  Then he’ll come back downstairs into the living room where he’ll play the slow march from Beethoven’s 7th symphony and he’ll think about the ten CD box set of the Music of Islam he purchased last week and come back into the kitchen to play some of that. So all this music might be playing in the house at one time. For the most part, I’ve learned to tune it all out–not because I don’t enjoy listening to music from all over the world; I just like listening to one piece a time.

He’s also, much to my surprise, taken an interest in fitness–it’s not nearly as extreme as my passion for athleticism mind you, but enough for me to raise my muscular arm and scratch my toned head.

On the phone yesterday afternoon:

Beast:  Guess how many sit-ups I did today?

Foodie:  I don’t know.

Beast:  25.

Foodie:  That’s great!

Beast:  No it isn’t–the average person should be able to do 60.

Foodie:  Where are you getting these stats from?

Beast: From the internet!  I’m on a new fitness program that I found.  I’ll send you the link.

Foodie:  What’s really going on here?

Beast:  Do you know how much fucking pain I’m in after doing 25 sit-ups?  And I don’t even know if I’m doing them correctly!  What the fuck is a sit-up, anyway? Whatever I’m doing, it fucking hurts like hell.  Hey, would you watch me do one when you get home and tell me if I’m doing it correctly?  But you have to promise not to laugh.

Foodie:  I can’t make that kind of promise but I will gladly watch you do sit-ups. Are we talking old school sit-ups?  I can show you some other ways to approach your abdominals if you like.

Beast:  NO. (Pause)  Do you know how exhausted I am?  I also did 60 push-ups.

Foodie:  Are you fucking kidding me?  That’s amazing!

Beast:  Not all at once.  I took breaks.

Foodie:  Still, that’s really good.  I bet I couldn’t do more than 5 in a row.

Beast:  My muscles are trembling right now. It hurts to hold this phone to my ear.

Foodie:  I have to go.

Beast:  Why?

Foodie:  Because I hate the phone and I’m at work.

Beast:  I’m going to need a lot of food tonight now that I’m on a new fitness regiment. And will you pick me up some protein powder on your way home?  I need to gain some muscle mass.  What would you do if when you got home from work you found me dead from all the exercise I did today?

Foodie:  I HAVE TO GO NOW!

Beast: I’m sending you an email with a document I made up today that records all the goals I want to achieve before my birthday in May.

Beast: And I’m also attaching a photo.

Foodie: What kind of photo?

Beast:  It epitomizes the kind of summer I want to have.  What are you bringing home for dinner?

Foodie:  I rode my bike so how about I pick up some roti?  Do you want me to go to Mother India or to Vena’s?

Beast:  I’ve been thinking a lot about a mutter paneer roti from Mother India.

Foodie:  Perfect–I’ll go there.  I really have to go now.

By the time I finished work though, I’d changed my mind and went to Vena’s Roti instead. And as soon as I walked in the door back at home, I did what anyone in my shoes would have done: I marched upstairs, to where the Beast was listening to music, and asked him to do some sit-ups for me.

Foodie:  I think you’re doing crunches.

Beast:  I can’t even do a demonstration I’m in so much pain!

Foodie:  Do you want me to show you some other ways to do them?

Beast:  No. Did you bring me home my protein powder?

Foodie:  No.  But I got you your favourite roti from Vena’s.

The Beast, I think via his older brother Noah, got hooked on what I find to be the oddest combination of roti ingredients: mushrooms, potato and goat. He loves it.

I stick to Veggie: chickpeas, potatoes, yams, spinach and eggplant.

Beast:  That was really delicious but don’t you find that you’re never quite as full after a Vena’s roti as you are after eating one from Mother India?

Foodie:  Yes!  I’m starving right now! I’m going to have a bowl of cereal.  Do you want one?

Beast:  That healthy cereal you bought?

Foodie: Yes, and how do you know about that?

Beast:  Because I found it today and had a bowl.

Foodie: Was it any good?

Beast: It was okay.

While I went into the kitchen to prepare a bowl of cereal, the Beast paused Deadwood, which we’ve been watching all week, and put on a record–probably some Ornette Coleman–in order to pass the time, which was about 23 seconds.

Foodie:  Did you eat a lot of cereal growing up?

Beast:  I basically ate cereal every day until I moved in with you.

Foodie:  I got really sick of cereal as a kid.  But I think I might get into it again.  I don’t like this stuff I got.  It tastes–

Beast: Artificial?

Foodie:  Yes! What’s odd is that it tastes like chemicals but it’s a really expensive health cereal. What kind should I buy next?

Beast:  Captain Crunch, Life, Honeycombs, Honey Nut Cherrios, Apple Cinnamon Cherrios, Regular Cherrios, Shreddies.

Foodie:  Wow.  You really know you’re cereal.  What about Raisin Bran?

Beast:  Yuck! No raisins.  And no Lucky Charms.

Foodie:  I think I could eat cereal for dinner and be satisfied.

Beast: I think Deadwood may have the best writing of any show ever: Al Swearengen rivals any character from Shakespeare, and you know what?  So does E. B. Farnum. It’s just incredible.  INCREDIBLE.  The music too is amazing, in every episode.  Did you see my Jazz picture book?  I know it was expensive to buy a book just filled with pictures but they just make me so happy to look at.

I think the Beast may have some anxieties over his upcoming 28th birthday and that’s why he’s acting like a psycho-idiot savant. I remember having a great deal of anxiety in my late twenties too: I didn’t have a career to speak of but I had a dozen or so things that I was interested in and I tried to do them all but ended up not excelling at a single one of them. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, yet the possibilities seemed limitless–it was paralyzing.  It still is.

Foodie:  **1/2

Beast: **