Injustice And Grace

January 23rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Like most of male America, HG watched the AFC and NFC playoffs. HG did his viewing nestled in HG’s super comfortable classic Eames lounge chair and ottoman. And, like most of America, HG seethed with anger at the injustice done to the New Orleans Saints. HG refers, of course, to the infamous failure of the refs to call a pass interference call on the LA Rams for a blatant helmet to helmet hit on a Saints receiver at a crucial point in the game. The Rams should have been called for both interference and unnecessary roughness on the play. There was no call and the injustice cost the Saints the game and the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. HG thinks the NFL should fire those refs (Saints fans would suggest the gallows). The AFC playoff displayed true courage:”Grace under pressure” (was it Hemingway who coined that phrase?). The Chiefs’ phenomenal young quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, brought his team back from a deficit to an overtime challenge. Then, Tom Brady of the Patriots, the greatest quarterback of all time, took over for his team. With grace and elegance, he targeted his favorites, Gronk and Edelman, and won the game and a trip to the Super Bowl. HG savored the victory with a big bowl of BSK’s chili (smothered in chopped sweet onions, grated cheddar cheese and pico de gallo). Drank much Bass Ale. If the English are flummoxed by Brexit, they sure know how to brew ale.

When Men Had Style

January 21st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is astonished when he enters a modestly formal restaurant (tablecloths, etc.). The majority of male diners appear to be on their way to feed cows or hogs; mend fences; do heavy labor. They are costumed in plaid flannel shirts and jeans. Shod in sneakers. Faces adorned with beards. HG remembers when men had elegant style. Men wore suits, white shirts and ties. Hats (fedoras or homburgs) were ubiquitous. Shoes were shined. Men patronized barber shops that offered amenities. The shops had sexy manicurists, shoe shine attendants and experienced barbers who knew how to wield a straight razor, cut hair, apply hot towels and utilize masculine after shave lotions. When a man left such an institution he was perfectly groomed and ready to face a challenging world with confidence and elan.In those days, men wanted to look like movie star Cary Grant. Today, they want to resemble farmhands or lumberjacks.

Tagliatelle a la Norma, and Love

January 20th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Cliche: “The way to capture a man is through his stomach.” Nonsense. One falls in love for many odd and mysterious reasons. None of them have anything to do with food or cooking. March will soon be here. On a March evening some 56 years ago, HG held BSK’s hand on the Staten Island Ferry in New York harbor. Breeze in BSK’s hair. BSK’s profile looking at the lights of Manhattan. The feel of BSK’s hand. HG was in love and remained so all of these many, many decades (even more intense as HG heads hopefully into HG’s 90’s). Must admit there might be a bit of foodyness in all of this. HG/BSK had a sumptuous meal at BoBo’s in Chinatown (closed for decades but the memory of the lobster rolls lingers) before boarding the Ferry. BSK remains a cornucopia of beauty, creativity and family love. HG adores present day BSK for many reasons. Some are glorious. Some are mundane. For example. BSK can look at the refrigerator, the freezer and pantry. Swiftly, BSK improvises a glorious meal. Tonight it was Tagliatelle a la Norma. Pasta in an eggplant, tomato, garlic, herbs, etc. sauce. Brilliant son-in-law Massimo R. introduced this dish to HG/BSK as the family toured Sicily under his guidance. The dish was served on a hilltop terrace overlooking a Greek Temple ruin. Unforgettable. But, BSK’s version tonight was quite spectacular.

Pasta Fazoole, Indeed!

January 17th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Pasta e fagioli, “pasta fazoole”. Call it what you will. it’s an Italian dish guaranteed to beat winter cold and leave you with a full stomach and happy thoughts. It’s composed of olive oil, garlic (lots); onions (abundant); San Marzano canned tomatoes; chicken broth; penne pasta; canellini beans; salt and red pepper flakes; rosemary and thyme. Dusted the steaming bowls with lots of grated Parmesan and more red pepper (for heat loving HG). So good that HG/BSK had it for dinner two nights in a row. Preceded it with appetizers of roasted red peppers, anchovies, capers and olive oil. Soaked up all the juices with slices of toasted sourdough bread. Much red wine: A surprisingly good Colorado blend (gift of pals Matt and Allie) and a lusty Argentine Malbec. HG drank Whistlepig 10-year-old Rye Whiskey after dinner. (Another wonderful gift from M & A). Yes, pasta and beans. Delicious duo.

Cold Weather Soups

January 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Snow falling on HG/BSK’s New Mexico home (coldest, iciest, snowiest winter in memory). HG kept warm and snug on a snowy Sunday. Blaze in the fireplace. Toby, The Wonder Dog, nearby. Playoffs on TV. Fortified with congee, HG watched mature quarterbacks Brady and Brees do their thing (HG thinks the Eagles should have won). Dinner was roasted red peppers with mozzarella and olive oil. This was followed by BSK’s lusty variation of red lentil soup with lemon (NY Times recipe). Gifted Daughter Lesley R. served it to applause at her Rhode Island home. BSK does a variation, adding lots of grated lemon peel, middle eastern spices, fiery harissa to the mix. Taste sensation. In the offing is Pasta e Fagioli, that super robust Italian soup/stew of onions, garlic, herbs, broth, beans, pasta, grated cheese. The late, much lamented New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia called it “pasta fazoole.” It was his favorite dish.

Gracious Bathrooms

January 14th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

The incessant demands of old age have made HG recall the gracious (and some ribald) public bathrooms of yesteryear. The most monumental “comfort stations” of HG’s Bronx youth were those that Borough President James J. Lyons constructed (with WPA money, HG presumes) during the 1930’s Great Depression years. They looked like Roman mausoleums. Dour city employees (the Democratic Party machine rewarded the faithful) kept them spic and span. During the dark days of The Bronx these were dangerous places. You didn’t enter unless you were armed. In later years HG experienced some attractive bathrooms. The facility in the lobby area of the Algonquin Hotel on W. 44th Street in Manhattan had a courtly gentleman in charge. He would hand HG a towel with a graceful flourish. Best bathroom attendant ever was the man in the Plaza Hotel Oak Room bathroom. He must have been a continental nobleman in former years. HG watched him hand movie immortal Cary Grant a towel. Grant gave him five bucks. Economical HG gave him one dollar. Of course, there were some funny and irreverent attendants (with a stock of scatological humor). Famed was “Old Sam” at the long demolished Polo Grounds stadium in Upper Harlem (the baseball and football Giants played there). “Old Sam” was an aged African-American who would chant: “No matter how you shake and dance, the last drop always falls in your pants. After you’ve had your little pee, don’t forget to remember me. Old Sam.” He was always tipped.

Happy Days Are Here Again

January 13th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG can drink lush, stimulating alcoholic beverages again. Tonight started with a flute of chilled Provencal rosé. BSK was busy in the kitchen creating a wondrous platter of pasta. The sauce was coins of baby zucchini, gently fried thick cut bacon, lots of olive oil, garlic, onions, spices and herbs. The pasta was Abruzezze spaghetti. HG/BSK drank abundant Argentine red wine, a blend of Malbec and Grenache. Rich and fruity. HG mused about the cliche: “A meal without wine is a day without sunshine.” Yes, New Mexico weather remains chill. And snow showers are on their way. But, winy sunshine illuminated HG/BSK’s dinner table. Sipped an after dinner snifter of Whistlepig Rye Whiskey (a generous gift from nephew Matt M. and lovely companion, Allie). Powerful 100 proof. Not for the the faint of heart or palate.

Teetotal

January 10th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, that’s a sad word. Describes HG at present. No alcohol until anti-biotic regimen is over. Just a few more days. Food solace has been found during this dreary, involuntary bout with teetotalism: Avocado butter on toast with tomato salsa. BSK spotted the recipe in “Ottolenghi Simple”, the latest cookbook from Yotam Ottolenghi (gift from Lesley and Massimo R.). Voluptuous dish. Would have been better with a glass of red or white wine. HG had to make do with some sparkling water. This was the treat as HG and pals watched Clemson demolish Alabama in the college national championship game. Yes, Clemson’s 19-year-old QB, Trevor Lawrence, was sensational. But, he was aided by some miracle catches and ‘Bama stumbles. The heroes were the Clemson defensive linemen. They put up a brick wall whenever “Bama got near their goal line. Schadenfreude (joy at the misfortune of others) took over as arrogant Saban took a licking.

History Lesson

January 9th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Is there anything to be learned from history? Much, believes HG. The history of the ancient Roman republic has relevance for the American republic of today, a republic in jeopardy. Rome was once one of the world’s longest lasting republics. A new book by Edward Watts (Basic Books),: “Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell Into Tyranny” analyzes the death of that republic. The book was prompted, says Mr. Watts, about how antiquity can illuminate “the occasional alarming political realities of our world.” The book notes that by the 2nd Century BC Rome had shocking inequality and leaders who wouldn’t deal with it. There was a minority of super rich (like the oligarchs of today) and a majority who did back breaking work and looked forward to a bleak future for themselves and their children. One of the most powerful of the wealthy was Crassus, an unscrupulous real estate wheeler-dealer. He used his money to gain political power and influence. (Sound like anyone?). Watts concludes that such a situation couldn’t last. It didn’t.The republic came to an end at the end of the First Century. Centuries of autocracy followed.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

January 8th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Many people mistake New Mexico weather for that of Arizona. Lots of sunshine in both states. Great weather in spring and fall. Summer in Arizona is unrelenting, temperatures spiking in the 100s. Hot in Santa Fe. Big difference is winter. Pleasantly warm in Arizona; however, New Mexico gets snow and ice spells. And, that’s what’s happening in HG/BSK/s Santa Fe County neighborhood. Making things a bit worse is the fact that BSK has a bad, lingering cold and HG’s COPD has been aggravated by a cold (anti-biotics are curing it). Not a great way to start the year. Toby, The Wonder Dog, has raced outside only to return quickly covered in ice balls. Hot soups and cereals have been chasing the chills. Congee. Pho. Korean ramen. Whole grain Red Mill oatmeal. Polenta. Middle Eastern red lentil and lemon soup. Garbanzo soup (gifted by delightful pal, Karen K.). HG has been transfixed by wild card NFL playoffs. (Chicago made the ultimate comeback only to lose by an inches astray field goal). Better weather is on the way and more NFL combat. Hurry up, sunshine!!