Category Archives: Food

The Sandwich

 
He didn’t so much eat the sandwich as fall into it. An architectural wonder of a sandwich it was, layers of meat and cheese and those expensive sprouts you get at the Whole Foods stacked primly yet precariously one after the other, like magic, like wonderful, luscious stratigraphy.

The sandwich was a sensation.

Held together by great dollops of fancy mustard and glistering with just a hint of artisan olive oil, the kind that comes from an island, somewhere far away.

As he bit down his face slowly vanished, embedding itself in sandwich almost to the bridge of his nose, and with laboured chewing and a mighty exhalation he resurfaced again, like an orca cresting the waves against a magnificent sunrise, the light of the midday sun hitting his face just so.

Our eyes locked.

“Oh!” he said, and I marvelled at his audacity.

Don’t say anything. Don’t you dare ruin this.

“Is that all you’re having?” he said, indicating my own pathetic lunch (nothing at all compared to his), sandwich juices running down the sides of his mouth.

He dabbed at them with the palm of his hand.

He took another bite before I could say anything, his face disappearing again into the sandwich, two great slabs of ham dangling from between thick slices of bread, mercifully blocking my view once more.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, People

Perfect Eggs

 
“I don’t know anybody who likes hospitals.”

Caitlin from work said this.

Which reminded me…

The white walls. The echoing hallway. The bleach smell and the urine smell hiding just under the bleach smell. That unfiltered light.

Gran wasn’t waiting for us after school like usual. We waited on the porch, not knowing what to do. My sister sat on the stairs with her head in her hands. It seemed like a long time before my dad pulled up by the house, bringing the car to a sudden stop in the driveway, sending Mr. Corn’s husky dog, Panda, into a fit, froth forming at the corners of his black mouth as he choked himself on the short chain that kept him on his side of the driveway, barking his head off.

Then, those walls, that bright, flat light. My dad ushering us through the corridor and my mom standing there, waiting for us. Or maybe she appeared from around the corner. Or from behind the double-push doors.

She pulled the both of us into a hug. She was crying, had been crying, and when she pushed herself away from us she grabbed me by the shoulders with both of her hands.

“Your Gran has a hole in her heart,” she sobbed.

Then, all of us as we waited, sometimes sitting on the floor. My cousin, the oldest of the kids, got up after a long time and went into the closet. He pretended to sob, cried at the top of his squeaking vocal chords, banged and scratched on the door, stomped his overgrown feet and then came out with a smile so full of teeth it was obscene. He stood there and said nothing, bracing himself against the dingy wallpaper, smiling all the time. No one said a thing.

I remember his hanging stomach and him fingering the exposed bellybutton peeking out from just above his sweatpants.

Then, the room, everyone around the bed looking, some crying. And there was Gran with a sheet pulled up to just under her neck. Her eyes were closed.

She was cold.

Then, the eggs.

“Eggs have too much oil,” said my uncle.

“Your Gran ate a lot of eggs. Too much,” said my aunt.

“Eggs are bad for the heart. No more eggs,” said my mom.

Then, for years and years, no eggs. Eggs in other things, for cooking and baking, but not on their own. Never. Eggs were off limits, taboo. Eggs became unmentionable.

Years and years then slowly, with time, they were back again.

Boiled only.

Then, scrambled.

Then fried, sunnyside up.

And finally as another everyday thing, just another option in the fridge, next to the cheese and carrots.

At breakfast the other day, I made soft boiled eggs. It took a few tries, but I finally got the method down perfect.

An inch of water. Boil for one full minute and 15 seconds. Then, perfect eggs.

I carefully peeled back the delicate shell and dug into the softness inside; yolk overfilling my spoon, warm and golden. I was running late but still took the time to make the eggs and eat them without hurry. So good, so good!

So good, I wondered why on earth we hardly ever had eggs growing up.

And then I remembered.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Food

The Luckiest People in the World

 
When you know enough people, eventually you come to owe people favours, whether or not that was your intention in actively knowing them, as people. Not all, but some, which is a lot when you get right down to it.

That’s how I found myself in the park that hot, insufferable day in June. Dead centre in the beating black heart of something known as the “Multicultural Festival”.

It was a place where you could purchase $8.00 giant barbecued turkey legs and $5.00 lemon drinks (cherries and lemon slices and ice and water, served in a plastic cup so wide and squat it is a cube, a small tank of refreshment). A place where you could buy Vietnamese springrolls and Chinese eggrolls and Thai springrolls and watch traditional dances and buy handicrafts, and visit Madam Miasma’s psychic palm reading booth and sign your kid up for Ka-ra-te.

People, being people. Together.

It was a kaleidoscope of elaborate authenticity and good manners. Where everything was up for grabs and within grasp, and words like “DIVERSITY”, “TOLERANCE”, “CULTURE” and “HARMONY” slipped easily from the mind and off the tongue and screamed at the senses from colourful banners flapping here and there.

Hey. It’s a living.

I was with someone who wanted me to give someone else, whom I actively disliked, another chance. To get me to get to know that other person better so that the three of us could function as people, together.

(I owed that that someone a favour, see.)

We killed most of that hot, hazy afternoon wandering from booth to booth, lost in a crowd of open hands and mouths. The sun was unrelenting, the heat absolutely punishing. There was nowhere to sit, no shade to be found.

Garbage everywhere; the discarded remains of the day.

The setting matched my mood completely, gave my surroundings and me an awful, terrible symmetry.

Inevitably, we approached giant barbecued turkey leg booth. I was told that buying and eating a giant barbecued turkey leg was something like a tradition at the Multicultural Festival and had no reason to think or believe or imagine otherwise.

We got in line…

… and watched as the women running the both quarreled animatedly over how the giant barbecued turkey legs should be placed on the grill and whether they should stock up on refreshments and whose turn it was to take their 10-mintue break. They prepared the food, cooked it, took orders and exchanged bills with such speed and efficiency that their patrons stood as the only hindrance to perfect service.

The line moved forward at a brisk clip…

…the women quarreled some more, at times in English, at times not, at times gesturing at the food, the sky, themselves, each other. At times smiling, at times not.

We made it to the front of the line.

I didn’t want any food and neither did the person I owed the favour to. That left the person who the favour was being used up for.

“I have to do this!” he said. “You literally can’t get these anywhere else,” he said.

He ordered, holding up his index finger for emphasis. The woman serving him barely batted an eye as she wrapped up one end of his giant barbequed turkey leg in rough paper and handed it to him. He shoved money into the woman’s hand and grabbed the giant barbequed turkey leg.

But instead of leaving right away, he held his giant barbequed turkey leg in the air for a moment like an oversized lollipop as he paused to watch a particularly lively exchange between the two women before, finally, shuffling off, away from the line.

“See,” he smiled tiny candy teeth at us and nodded behind him, indicating the women, “that’s why we have immigration laws.” Puffed up, proud, grotesque in his overwhelming satisfaction, he smiled just a little wider, mouth sagging ever so slightly at the corners under the weight of his remarkable jowls.

Despite the odds, his performance was the most real, unadulterated thing I had seen that day.

It was undeniable.

He lowered his giant barbequed turkey leg to his face and began devouring it with a gnawing/sucking motion, equally remarkable.

She laughed, shook her head – what can you do? HAHAHA! – and changed the subject.

I watched him eat and eat as we headed back to the salvation of the parking lot, favour over, fulfilled and done with.

Watching and hoping he’d choke on it, even though I was sure it just wasn’t going to happen.

I knew everything, at least, that I needed to know.

We did not become friends.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2 Comments

Filed under Food, People

Franchise

 
Sunday in deep afternoon in a coffee place in a small town in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by highway. Not that that makes that much of a difference. It doesn’t matter.

These coffee places spring up everywhere and nowhere. That is their, for lack of a better word, charm.

These coffee places are – this coffee place is full of people who don’t stay long; they come and go in perfect turnover, replacing each other like a low shuffling tide.

The uniforms for the employees… they are supposed to be able to wear them home, on the bus, to the mall, on the way from school without arousing the notice, suspicion or contempt of others. That’s not a lie, really, but it’s just not true, either. You can spot them easily, pick them from the crowd so fast, when they do any of that.

Actually, most of the employees at these coffee places are not fresh-faced teens but people about the exact age and build of my mom. My mom could be working here, and probably yours as well.

A lot of moms like our moms work here. They repeat orders dutifully to make sure they got them right, and then go out back when it’s time for their break.

There is an Indian family sitting near the door, eating from Tupperware filled with food from home. No one is bothering them about it (as long as they eat fast and somewhat furtively); they have already bought their coffee.

A trio of teens, draped in fading black t-shirts and determined sneers, plop down into their hard plastic seats, hands full of donuts and extra-large something-somethings. They sing along with songs they say they hate.

…I came in like a wrecking ball…All I wanted was to break your walls…All you ever did was wreck me…

(It is obvious they will be back here later, if they can’t get a ride out tonight).

… I came in like a wrecking ball…

Dog-eared newspapers can be found here and there, brought in by people from the outside. They are the only thing people seem to read in these coffee places.

There is an old man sitting next to me, thumbing through a section of newspaper. He stops to scratch his beard. He finds the Sudoku and does it with his finger.

I have a pen in my bag, but I do not offer it to him.

Obits

I read the obituaries until my coffee gets cold, which seems faster than can honestly be expected.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

6 Comments

Filed under Food, Places

The Meatloaf

 
In my dream, I made Stephen a meatloaf.

“I am going to make Stephen a meatloaf!”

That was the thought that echoed inside my head inside the dream that I was having, and if I was struck – inside the dream, inside my head – by the banality of the situation, I didn’t mind it.

I was going to make Stephen a meatloaf!

I was in a kitchen. It was my kitchen, but it wasn’t my kitchen – far too many familiar Things slightly askew and all manner of angles and proportions totally off or absent. Yet, it was a near perfect square of a space – four walls, but only three that I could see. I never turned around, but I remember feeling the fourth wall at my back even as I looked in from above, in the dream, to see myself facing walls 1, 2 and 3.

Everything was yellow and blue, I think. The floor was blue, I’m sure of it. The oven was yellow, dated: a 1970s-ish nightmare with an opaque, greased-over-from-a-million-uses cube of a window protruding from its exact centre.

Yellow or yellowed?

Yellow or yellowed?

I watched myself toss, throw, hurl and dump all manner of ingredients into the silver mixing bowl that I bought in Chinatown and that I keep in a cupboard by the sink. Into the bowl went globs of indiscernible brown-bridge goo, torrents of indistinct liquid, clouds of indistinguishable powder.

Meatloaf into meatloaf tray –> meatloaf tray into oven –> oven turned on high-highest.

The meatloaf started to raise, immediately (I did not know they rose. That was a dream surprise for me). It soon over took the tray and threatened to very quickly overwhelm the inside of the greasy-1970s-yellow-cube-oven.

But I waited.

I waited and I waited and I waited for it to get big, big, B-I-G enough!

A stephen meatloaf had to be big, big, big B-I-G, or it couldn’t be Stephen Meatloaf!

When it was done, it too was an almost perfect cube. I pried it out of the oven with two thick black plastic spatulas.  I plopped the Thing on the table by the sliding door that, I knew, wasn’t just there before.  And then, looking down at the meatloaf, I was wreaked with a kind horrific epiphany.

Even though I knew exactly what I was doing, it came out completely wrong.

The meatloaf was too messy; stuff was mixed and blended everywhere. There was no separating them; no hope of returning to basic elements.

No going back to the time before the meatloaf. Before I made Stephen a meatloaf.

The puzzle had been pulped.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I remember gasping myself awake. Then being awake and staring at an empty ceiling in the near dark of the early morning, listening to the blood rush in my ears.

Stephen was sleeping soundly beside me, totally unaffected.

I reached over and poked and squeezed him.  He was all there, intact and snoring lightly. He was turned towards the wall with his back to me. Rather loaf-like, if I had to admit it.

Eventually, I tried to fall back asleep again, with the hope that I would not finish the possibly unfinished dream.

Still, I wonder…if I had gone just a bit further, in the dream, what could have been.

Possibly, it would have been delicious?

“Interesting” is not the word.
 
 

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Mind and Body, Relationships

Black and White Cookie

The thing about eating the Black and White cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate. And yet somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved – Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeld

Of all I ever learned, all I needed to learn can be found in the cookie.

Known to some as the “Half and Half Cookie,” others as the “Half Moon Cookie” and, perhaps, among your grandparents and others hopelessly mired in an actually not-so-distant past, the “Mulatto Cookie”, the Black and White Cookie stands out to me as the ultimate embodiment of all Things Great and Tragic.

It is a bittersweet, sweet.

A world of harmonized oppositions onto itself.

Microcosm.

BEAUTIFUL!

Heartbreaking.

Because the only way to get black AND white in each bite of a Black and White Cookie is to eat it down the middle…to find subsistence through an ecstatic, crunching – indeed, VORACIOUS – destruction that ultimately, inevitably, irrevocably breaks the lovely union in two.

The reason we come together is they very thing that will, in the end, rip us apart.

Must the cookie really crumble so?

YES! And NO! 

These are Things I truly know.

If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved.

Look to the Cookie, my friends.

Someday...someday...

"And yet somehow racial harmony eludes us".

Amen!

Leave a comment

Filed under Food

Hangry

There is a reality that hangs in the space between Base Need and Raw Emotion.

It is called hanger.

It is being HANGRY: finding yourself at that exact point where hunger and anger collide, swell and mutate, creating a force no longer one or the other but with a terrible power of its very, very own.

It is being so hungry you’re angry/being so angry about being so hungry.

We’ve all been there.

It happens first thing in the morning following an early dinner and a late bedtime, when you emerge from slumber ready to take on the world with your fists and teeth.

It happens in the mid afternoon when your head throbs in tune with your stomach and you come to the abrupt and brutal realization that you really should have went to law school all those many years ago, which was actually quite a while ago now that you really think about it.

It happens close to closing hours when you’re incensed at the Institution but can only take it out on the person, and the person knows exactly what you are doing and is furious at you for being livid.

Because it’s your fault for not taking them for what they are, and NO ONE has had anything but toast today and you are all of you famished, starving, RAVENOUS .

Is there, like, a White Castle in here or something?

Here's an idea. How about you think me up a damn sandwich? HUH??

There are lots of words for “angry” in the dictionary.

There are many words for “hungry”.

But there is nothing that quite covers it when you’re hangry.

The way I am living these days, my days are filled with long periods of boredom and busy work interspersed with sudden, intense moments of pure, unadulterated hanger.

The cure for what ails me is not a Simple Thing.

You may want to talk about SCIENCE – blood sugar or whatever.

But I am talking about a State of Mind, A Reality of Being, which is more immediate than SCIENCE.  It is more than something that happens to you.  It is something you go through.  You live it.

You may want to suggest a snack to quell the hanger.

Like having a Snickers.

Well.  See.

Having a Snickers doesn’t help when you’re hangry.  To a hangry person, a Snickers is a fucking insult.

It is not enough!

It is deficient, like trying to put out an inferno with the air from whoopee cushions.

DON’T BE ABSURD

You may want to suggest eating less meat and more veggies.

Once again, you’re late to the point, trying to put the pin back into the HANGRY HANGER grenade.

When you’re hangry, the only cure is to get the fuck to the nearest FOOD you can and hope that some poor unsuspecting fuck of a someone does not get the fuck in your way.

The world is safe again. But...for how long?

Salvation!!!

Because when you’re hangry, the one cure once removed from food, GLORIOUS FOOD, is to punch a bitch.

Who’s a bitch?

EVERYONE.

That is the Thing about hanger.  It does not discriminate.

It is, in its way, a Beautiful Thing in the way that beautiful is honest, and in the way that honest is brutal and just doesn’t give a shit about you today, OK?

Maybe tomorrow.

Probably not.

1 Comment

Filed under Food

Whitebre(a)d

English is not my first language.  Growing up, there were words that I misheard, mispronounced and, at times, misunderstood.  There were those who found my clumsy handling of words hilarious and I remembered that for later, mostly so I could bring it up in moments like now.

Feel good about yourself? 

Even today, despite both practice and time, there are a few words that remain tricky:

How do words word, anyway?We didn’t normally keep bread in the house, so this is what occasionally still comes to my mind:

I am nothing if not an ardent patriot.

Rather than this:

It's the slices that make the loaf.

Whenever I hear this:

“Whitebre(a)d”.

Years later, I learned from Stephen that one of his favourite childhood pastimes was to take a slice of whitebread (“It only works with whitebread!”) so that he could pinch off pieces of it to roll around between his thumb and forefinger.  He would then EAT the bread-ball and repeat the process until the slice of bread was gone.

Rolling up whitebread into bite-sized balls of whitebread.

He would clamour for it, as did a few of my friends when I asked all of my friends about this bizarre culinary phenomenon.

Being the experimental type when the stakes are low enough, I decided to try this whitebreadroll for myself.

I was utterly underwhelmed.

Rolls rolly rolled.

WHY is this delicious??

Then again, I’m the kind of girl who enjoys dried squid with chili sauce.

So maybe it’s all just a matter of taste.  You know, circumstances.

Get kraken.

Squid pro go!

So…maybe I was right all along, after all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food