Friday morning, reading the paper and drinking coffee before work.
Beast: Did I tell you about how I rode the bus with one of the Chinese ladies from the corner green grocer? You should have heard her! “Your girlfriend she so skinny now!”
Foodie: Are you serious? The two of them are obsessed with weight loss and the funny thing is, they’re both half the size of me. Like, literally. Oh, and I forgot to tell you that when I was in there last Sunday, the younger one with bangs gave me half a mango to eat. I tried to politely decline but she forced me to eat it. Do you know how hard is to eat a mango while grocery shopping?
Beast: I’m not done: I went in last night to pick up some fruit and the other one, the one who’s married, went on about how skinny you are too and how she always sees you running.
Foodie: They’re obsessed man. There will be a line up of people waiting to pay and she’ll ask me questions about running and what I eat. And the people in line are like, “Really lady?” She always says that I only eat fruit and vegetables because that’s all she sees me buying but that’s because they’re a fucking green grocer: that’s all they sell. I don’t know how to explain that if they sold chips and french fries with gravy I’d buy all that too.
Beast: They should sell chips there.
Foodie: Do you know that your dad texted me via your mom’s phone about Adele and how there was a review I should read in the Toronto Star that was really well written?
Beast: I’m not surprised. He called me at work the other day to ask if I’d heard anything about the Adele concert.
Foodie: What the fuck is up with Adele? How can I be so out of touch with contemporary music?
Beast: I’ll tell you what’s up with Adele. She’s more “real” than Lady Gaga and people are loving it. Mind you, they’re both over-marketed and packaged, but in Adele’s case, it’s the absence of packaging: the sale’s pitch is that there is no sales pitch.
Foodie: I can’t even hum an Adele song.
Beast: You shouldn’t hum an Adele song: you should be paying homage, and so should all the record companies, to the black women who were doing the same shit 50 years ago, like Etta James, Irma Thomas, Gladys Knight. It’s exploitation. Society is so fucked up,man.
Foodie (Turning on radio to try and find an Adele song.)
Getting home Friday night at 9pm (after a meeting at Terroni with my boss and publisher of T Magazine, Elena) with dinner in my bag: two ciccios, which are folded pizzas stuffed with prosciutto, bocconccini, tomatoes and arugola from the restaurant, plus a movie: Country Strong.
Beast: Did you bring the ciccios?
Foodie: Yes, I brought the ciccios. Hey, do you want me to carry that saxophone up to your music room or should we just leave it here in the living room.
Beast: Oh boy, here we go. You’re not even in the door five minutes…I’m taking the saxophone to the rehearsal space tomorrow so there’s no point in bringing it upstairs.
Foodie: Well, I’ve just worked all day and I’ve brought dinner home and it would be nice if we didn’t have to eat surrounded by mess.
Beast: Why don’t we eat in the dining room then? Oh wait, we can’t–because you’ve got our winter sweaters spread out all over on the table in there. What movie is that?
Foodie: Country Strong. You said you wanted to see it, remember?
Beast (putting the DVD into the player): I was sort of joking.
Foodie: I’ll get plates.
Beast: Who needs plates! Let’s just eat these ciccios out of the foil!
Foodie (movie is starting): I think you’re going to like this movie.
Beast (under his breath): It’s bound to be nicer than this relationship.
Foodie (pausing the movie) What’s wrong.
Beast: YOU ARE HATEFUL.
Foodie: Yes, I know. I’ve been a real capital Bitch lately. I am so grumpy and I can’t explain why.
Beast: Just say the word.
Foodie: What do you mean?
Beast: Just say the word and I’ll leave.
Foodie: What would you do if you left?
Beast: I’d move home and save up enough money to go to India for six months.
Foodie: You would?
Beast: Yes, or at least I’d talk about doing it.
Foodie: Like Eat Pray Love?
Beast: No, because I wouldn’t let that guy make love to me at the end. I’d be the one making love to him and it would be Biutiful spelled like the movie he was in.
Foodie: Javier Bardem?
Foodie: I’m sorry.
Beast: Do you want me to put away all my records right now or can we eat?
Foodie: You are being very, very funny.
Beast: I might as well go out with a bang.
Foodie: Stop talking like that.
Beast: Remember, no Beast, no Foodie and the Beast. Chaos without. Chaos within.
Foodie: You’ve been saying that Chaos stuff all week. What in the hell does it mean?
Beast: Ah, it’s in every line of the Cliff Notes to King Lear, dummy. Did you even finish grade 11?
Foodie: Okay, okay.
Beast: I just read somewhere that Richard III was someone’s favourite Shakespeare play and it’s my favourite too. Or at least it has my favourite speech. Who was it? I can’t remember.
Foodie: You’ll remember once we start watching Country Strong.
Beast: It was Glenn Gould. That’s who it was.
Foodie: Of course it was Glenn Gould. (Pausing the movie again). I can’t explain why I’ve been so mean lately. I’m sorry though (tearing up a bit.) Do you really want to spend the rest of your life with me?
Beast: Excuse me, but if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you, I would have asked you to marry me by now.
Foodie: Again, very, very funny. Thank you.
Beast: You’re welcome. Can we watch this fucking movie now?
Half way through, we have an intermission to pull together a dessert.
Beast (taking an ice cream container out of the freezer): ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
Foodie: Oh shit. Sorry. I think I finished that when I was on my root beer float bender a few weeks ago. I’m so sorry. There’s watermelon though!
Back in the living room watching the movie.
Beast: Can you pause the movie for a second?
Foodie: What now?
Beast: I have two questions for you. First, Gwyneth Paltrow is beautiful.
Foodie: Yes, she’s lovely, but in a–
Beast: And second, can you imagine primitive man first cracking open a watermelon and discovering its delicious interior? They must have gone fucking nuts man.
Foodie: Are you done?
Beast: Yes. Wait. Do you want to know the name of a country and western song?
Beast: “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.”
Country Strong was more like Country Wrong. It was terrible. But I was still bawling at the end of the movie. Was I ever in a mood! I don’t know how to explain my state as of late, but I’ll try: I feel like I’m a working man from the 1960s who comes home to his wife (or a Beast), and is a real prick–just a grumpy, mean prick who bosses his wife around and nitpicks at everything and feels like he’s entitled to stuff, like a hot meal on the table and no-questions-asked-about-why-he’s-late. And I don’t want to be that person. Conversely, I don’t want to feel like the Beast’s…get ready for it…mother. Maybe I’m caught between wanting to be domestically perfect and a working professional. And I feel like I’m failing a bit at both.
So, Saturday morning, sick to death of myself and my whiny, high-pitched nagging voice, I decided to try and be nice to the Beast all day. I figured this would be easiest if I parked myself in the kitchen and made him things to eat. I had a new Kitchen Aid stand mixer to bust of out its box (I let my mom buy me this cornflower blue beauty for Mother’s Day), and a few recipes I was eager to try out.
But first I had to actually plug in the fancy mixer and figure out how to use it. This took about 15 minutes. Then I got down to coconut cupcake business.
It was like the mixer just took over for my brain and did everything. I just had to stand back and watch.
I wasn’t done with my new toy. My aunt Sandy gave me her coffee cake recipe (which I will scan and post at the end) and also a whole whack of rhubarb from her garden. The cake was very easy to make, especially after my mom gave me her tube pan for keeps.
In total, I spent about four hours in the kitchen–in one day I probably spent more time in there than I have all month. The Beast visited here and there, to lick the occasional spoon and to give me hugs. It felt pretty nice to stand back, just before dinner time, and take in the efforts of my labour.
The coffee cake has provided us with marvelous breakfasts all week. In fact, coffee cake might be the best breakfast.
I feel much better. But I don’t think I feel better simply because I had some time to cook and bake. That’s too easy. I don’t know why. But I know that the Beast and I spent nearly all of Saturday and Sunday together without one fight. And on the holiday Monday, which I had off from work, I popped into the green grocer for a few things and, as she always does, the unmarried Chinese lady with the bangs (and who’s desperate to find a boyfriend) asked me how my “honey” was. I said he was working and that secretly I was very happy to be home alone. She said, “Yes, sometimes it’s nice to be home alone, but when you’re alone, you wish you were home with somebody you love.”
COFFEE CAKE RECIPE TO FOLLOW.