Category Archives: Food

Reliable Witless

One of my aunts once tried to sneak up on a peacock at the zoo, in a vain attempt to pluck one of its magnificent tail feathers, a souvenir to remember the day by. We were in the picnic area eating our packed lunch (day-old pork-chops and corn brunt on the cob); the peacocks wandered among us, free-range. Squatting on her haunches creep-creeping along, a wicked smile on her face (or perhaps a wide grimace) she extended her hand, fingers grazing a fringe of iridescent feathers of blue, green and gold. I watched. I could not not watch…

…then I realized that the memory actually occurred to me during a dream, in which I was walking through Chinatown looking for cutlery and came upon a store display with peacocks feathers for sale for a buck a piece. The memory of the zoo was part of the dream and upon waking and right now as I’m typing, I cannot say whether the memory in the dream was a real-world memory, or a dream of one. I don’t remember. I can’t distinguish.

I could ask my aunt, but if she lied I wouldn’t know the difference anyway. I don’t know if she’d have any reason to lie, especially about something as seemingly harmless as this (of course, for this to be true, we’d have to set aside the peacock’s POV because I don’t imagine it would consent to such mistreatment), but confirm or deny the matter nevertheless remains, crucially, beyond me.

A memory in a dream, or a dream of a memory. It happened, one way or another.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Birds, Childhood, Dreams, Family, Food, Places

Good Fishy Fish (in a can)

In a recent post I’ve realized that I came down rather hard on sardines. Actually, sardines are quite delicious. They are not just fish in a can.

 

So listen, I never do this, but you’ll need:

  1. A largish or smallish onion (red or yellow or white). It should remind you of a fist cupped doggedly in the hand of a steady and determined foe. Shallots will work too, in a pinch, but they should be gob-sized. Gobs of shallots, then, would be wise.
  2. Your tolerance level of red Thai chilli peppers. I recommend a smattering. A smattering is good. Yes.
  3. One can of sardines in tomato sauce. Note the brand for later. There are lots, so many out there to choose from, so please do also keep that in mind. Too many really. A ridiculous amount.
  4. Leftover rice, a good lunch portion of it (i.e. enough to fit comfortably in the a child’s sun hat or mid-size catcher’s mitt).
  5. Like, some oil (read: cooking). Anything else is between you and your god. Between you and infinity.
  6. Salt and pepper (but not really, you can skip this if you want).

Then:

STEP 1: Prime stovetop to medium heat. Spill a bit of oil into to a shallow pot or pan. If necessary, deploy gumption. Sauté the onions until translucent. Add red Thai chillies, sliced dramatically. Enhance with salt and pepper (or not).

STEP 2: Empty can of sardines in tomato sauce into pan. Reduce heat. Simmer till onion and sardine and sauce enter into an exquisite union wherein the parts do and do not make up the whole. A dance, really, and a rather intricate one at that, something at the level of a tango or Polonaise. You’ll know it when you see it, probably. You’ll feel it before you know it. Trust.

STEP 3: Drape over rice and make sure to tuck it in at the corners before it’s too late. Remember to use leftover rice so that there is that feeling of extra accomplishment.

 

There. That’s it. You’re done! Now try it and see. Hope you like it.

Don’t like it? That’s fine because it wasn’t like I was really asking, was it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Ceremony, Food

Fish in a Can

I met my childhood best friend in the gymnasium during lunch, just after our second grade began.

During lunch, the gymnasium doubled as the lunchroom, filled with rows of collapsible picnic tables rolled in from the school storage shed, the basketball nets above folded up so as not to provide the children with yet another unwanted distraction.

I remember. No one would sit with me because of my “Chinese lunches.” According to the other children, the food my mom packed for me (leftovers from dinner and the now fashionable, but back then the as-yet-reviled bánh mì sandwiches purchased from the local Vietnamese market) – that food was so smelly and gross and simply unfit for human consumption. So go ahead and let the “Chinese” girl eat it. This went on for quite some time; longer than it should and much, much longer than seemed possible.

Then one day someone did sit next to me. A redheaded girl whose preoccupied mom began packing her sardines for lunch. I remember the heft of the can, the way the girl plunked it down at the table. No one would sit with her either, at least, not after she opened up that can of fish. She was more confused than sad about this, but then maybe her confusion just masked her sadness as it did for me.

It took a while, but we got to talking, then comparing lunches. It was a sobering exercise. Because, whatever else I had (old rice, soggy noodles, weird veggies with marinated eggs), she had fish heads. Whatever else she was, I was still the Asian girl in a mostly white school.

We were a match.

I never shared my lunch, and the girl, my eventual friend, never asked. She never ate her sardines, though she eagerly opened them every day, right after plunking that heavy tin on the table.

We smashed up the fish with her fingers, rendering them into a viscous fish-paste that fascinated (so much destruction in that particular transformation). We took the heads and spines from the sardines and threw them at boys, then girls, then whoever. We were seldom caught (not many snitches in that lunchroom and who wouldn’t appreciate some distraction?).  I was always a little proud we started with the boys, targeting them not out of malice but out of a vague sense of obligation. Anyway, it was something my friend and I never questioned.

Her mother remained preoccupied, packing her can after can of tomato-submerged fish, thinking they made a good lunch. This went on for years.

***

Bánh mì is now fashionable, so much so that non-native speakers gladly twist up their tongues trying (and failing, failing, failing) for an “authentic” pronunciation of the word, the dish. What they settle for (“Bah, bah”, “me-me-me,”) is, fortunately, often more amusing than anything else. More amusing, possibly, that it should be.

Sardines, however, remain what they are.

Still just fish in a can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Childhood, Food, Friendship, Race, Relationships, School, THE PAST

Avocado Hands

I know someone with a job I cannot do and never could do (therefore never will do). The person is a nurse, a job I tell people I’m too sensitive for. But it is a selfish thing to say, isn’t it? On my part, I believe it is.

Such stories this person could tell you about extraordinary things happening every day, at the their job, while they’re on the job.

For example, Avocado Hand.

The other day, I learned about Avocado Hand.

Heard of it? Avocado Hand: when someone accidentally stabs themselves in (more often through) their own hand when attempting to remove an avocado seed (its stone, or the pit, depending on your perspective) with a knife.

Halve an avocado, twist it apart: one side, pristine, hollow, ready for you. As for the other, well, there it is. That damn pit. Staring at you like an all-seeing eye. Something for you to pluck out, with gusto. Tout suite. Grab a knife. Use your hand.

Results Often In: Pierced, serrated, mangled flesh. Blood too. Lots. Damage a few nerves, sever a few tendons, split the sinews here, there…irreparably, maybe. But then again, maybe not. You could get lucky.

I’ve never heard of it before, Avocado Hand. But I’ve always suspected, felt its presence, its potential, in the spare moments when I prepare some extravagant toast or contemplate a nice guacamole or consider the produce on a grocery run.

What if? Press this way and that with the point of a big, solid knife. Stab it there, just right. Just hard enough to get it. Never mind going across with the side of the blade. Never mind a spoon.

The nurse. Avocado Hand. You know how many times they’ve seen it? Three times this summer at least. Not enough to count on one hand, but getting there, not forgetting, of course, to include that all-important thumb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Body, Food, Health, People

Gros Michel & The Anaconda

Did you know? All bananas are clones.

Not all. But the ones we (you & me) buy at the supermarket are overwhelmingly clones, produced via cuttings of the most desirable progenitors; therefore (re)produced clonally.

Gros Micheal. That is the variety that dominates, that we consume, that we eat for breakfast. Which we have as snacks during our busy, hectic days.

But this is hardly new knowledge. These are just facts.

It’s just…the fact that the bananas we consume are genetically identical seems absurd, doesn’t it? Absolutely preposterous. That’s why a banana tastes like a banana tastes like a banana. It’s why a banana never not fits in a Banana GuardTM. Haven’t you noticed that?

It never not fits.

***

But not all copies are not always created equal. Lacking males (or perhaps it’s better to say “bereft of suitable males”) some reptiles, for example, have been known to spontaneously self-replicate, a process known as parthenogenesis (derived from the Greek meaning “virgin birth”).

However, genetic material can get shifted during parthenogenesis, shuffled like a deck of cards, thereby producing imperfect copies of the progenitor.

Not so for Anna the Anaconda, current denizen of Boston’s New England Aquarium and mother of 18 identical babies – identical to each other and to herself and born without Anna ever having contact with a male of her species.

Anna, in essence, gave birth to herself: 18 babies worth. Only two survived. Still, that seems so much better (i.e. simpler, easier) and frankly more impressive than, for instance, being your own grandfather; no paradoxes there. No needless complications. Just the question of creation itself. Only the mystery of it, going forward, as we hurtle through time.

The same cannot be said for our Gros Micheal.

But then, it’s hard to complicate a banana.

***

Anna is also a palindrome, derived from the Greek meaning “again” and “way or direction.”

“Running back again.”

Never odd or even.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Food, Nature, THE FUTURE, THE PAST, Time, Words

The Crow

FLASH MEMORY: my grandpa had a crow!

At least that’s what I remember, I think. I think I’m sure I do.

I remember being 5 or 6 years old. Coming in from a hot summer’s day, running up the red porch steps of his house and past the broken screen door with the holes in the mesh and into the kitchen to find it there, large and black and so alive, staring out from its wire cage which had been placed on top of the counter by the sink.

I remember its giant wings. Its sharp beak and the way its back sloped smoothly down toward its ragged tail feathers. Its sacred black eyes, blacker than black. My grandpa standing next to it, watching it with his one remaining eye.

Why did my grandfather have a crow? How long had he had it? What was he going to do with it?

Answers elude. Companionship? Husbandry? Admiration?

Or something else.

A day? A week? A month?

I can’t say.

And what indeed.

Grandma was there too, standing at the stove across from the sink, the crow, my grandpa. Standing with her back to me making soup, giant daikon sectioned neatly on her cutting-board.

Grandpa, Grandma, Crow. Sink, Stove. Wire Cage, Cutting-board. I stared at all three – at everything – burning the scene into my mind. No one said a word.

The crow beat its wings inside the cage.

***

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this memory, only its intensity, or what I like to think of as its tactile veracity. The truth behind the facts.

I don’t want to know if it is real or not. I want neither to confirm or deny but rather to indulge, let the image sit as it sits and shine or fall, fade or endure as it will.

My grandpa had a crow, with giant wings and eyes blacker than black. There was soup on the stove and sliced daikon arranged in neat piles on the cutting-board.

I can’t remember what my grandma looks like, not from memory.

 

 

 

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Filed under Birds, Childhood, Family, Food, Hobbies, Pets, THE PAST

Top Recs

The following: A list of things people have recommended to me, ordered according to our relationship to each other, arranged by order of importance and/or frequency of occurrence of said recommendation.

Friends:

  • Archer
  • Downton Abbey
  • Lost
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (book and movies)
  • Afternoon naps
  • Bouldering

Acquaintances:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Jimmy Fallon
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
  • Hitchhiking
  • The one on the left.
  • All lady fight club
  • To prove it by choosing which limb.
  • Mint tea
  • Chewing gum

Co-Workers:

  • Downton Abbey
  • March Madness
  • That cute place down the street.
  • To give up the coordinates for the rest of him we swear we only want closure.
  • Vaping

Upper Management:

  • To value “experience.”
  • To treat co-workers “like family.”
  • To give 110%
  • Offal on demand.
  • Game of Thrones
  • Dystopia
  • THE BOX

Family:

  • To call more.
  • A career change.
  • A nose job.
  • The key so we can finally know what he hid in that room we found behind the fake bookshelf in his workshop.
  • To please god stop reminding us.
  • Downton Abbey

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, Family, Food, Friends, Hobbies, Jobs, Movies, People, Relationships, Sports, Television

Bad Eggs

My grandma died, and then my mom got rid of all the eggs in our house. For years, no eggs. Not for breakfast, not even for cooking.

No eggs. Not one egg among us. None.

Ours was not a household in which questions from the children were encouraged or treated seriously.

Grandma died, and then no more eggs. 

Grandma died, so no more eggs.

No more eggs because grandma died.

No sense asking why.

It was a mystery among mysteries (another reason we as children did not question it – it was merely one among so many exhausting many).

Later – much, much later – I learned that my grandma died of a heart attack (my mom initially told me she died because she had “a hole in her heart,” once again allowing her penchant for tasteless euphemisms to cloud event and circumstance and circumvent understanding). The belief was that high cholesterol was the cause of the heart attack (caused her heart attack). And because my family believed that eggs caused high cholesterol they, all of them, each and every last egg, had to go.

I don’t remember exactly when eggs were reintroduced into our home. But come back they did.

One mystery solved, only to be replaced by another.

At least no one had to die to cement this one, to hold it in place for us all.

At least, I don’t think so.

 

 

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Filed under Childhood, Death, Family, Food, THE PAST

General Improvements

  1. A system of pneumatic tubes.
  2. Better snacks (healthy or otherwise).
  3. Gobstoppers!
  4. More dogs.
  5. A little less blame and a lot more slack.
  6. Keep it to 90 minutes or less.
  7. Make it optional…informed, but optional.
  8. Fire him already.
  9. Polish it.
  10. Yes to no.
  11. Unlimited dipping sauce.
  12. No time limits despite expiration dates.
  13. Your face.
  14. Still more dogs.
  15. SMOOTH LINES.
  16. Better coffee.
  17. Let it play out first.
  18. Just ignore it sometimes.
  19. Portable numbing agents.
  20. A cat or two. Or three.
  21. To the left, to the left.
  22. Now goes to 11!
  23. Prioritize those odd numbers.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Dogs, Entertainment, Food, Movies, Thrift, Time

B-A-N-A-N-A-S

They are best, in my humble opinion, when slightly spotted. But only slightly so – that, after all, is what gives them the perfect touch of sweetness to go with their inherent starchiness.

But anything more than that is too much. Too sweet, not enough starch and a rather unpleasant softness that sets in and only intensifies after that.

Buy them by the bunch, eat them too slowly (or not fast enough) and watch them all go bad at once.

My solution? Make banana bread!

(Or at least I would, if I knew how.)

My alternate solution? Store the soft, effectively useless bananas in the freezer until the day I learn how and decide to make banana bread!

Now, I admit it took a while. Realization was slow in coming, but as all things, it eventually hit. The frozen brown and black bananas (previously soft and still effectively useless) I’ve found in the freezers of a few of the places I’ve moved into over the years…they are the same bananas. They are different, but exactly the same as the ones I’m even now storing in my freezer.

They will never be bread. They were always not going to be eaten, never going to be bread.

That’s just nuts.

Just plain nuts, you hear?

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Food, THE FUTURE, THE PAST, Thrift, Time