Saturday, October 13, 2012

Our Food, Their Food

When I was a child, my father took our family to Mangalore, the lazy, tropical city on the Konkan coast of India, to meet my aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and third cousins and great aunts and great uncles and step-great aunts and etc. The family joke is that when I got there, I would look at every street sign, every shop sign, every person I saw whose name was some variation of mine -- D'Souza, De Souza, Da Souza, de Souza, d'Souza, etc. etc. -- and ask whether I was related to him/her/it. It seemed impossible to me, the kid who had grown up on the Canadian prairies where my name caused all sorts of confusion (and even some aggression -- when I was in grade 6 a school librarian redubbed me "Aurora" despite my objections) that in this place halfway around the world it was the equivalent of Smith or Jones.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

For Joni

I have been on a long break -- semester starting, deadlines, etc. This is not a *real* post -- I'll get one of those up this weekend -- but rather two recipes for my friend Joni. Joni is a Facebook friend, which is not to say an acquaintance, but rather a friend who I've met and gotten to know in that arena. I realized this morning, talking to someone very dear to me, that I've made a lot of friends that way -- through typed words on a page, lively conversation, teasing, joking, arguing. And when we've met the relationships have been no less *real* than any other. And sometimes we've never met in person, only on the electronic plane. Even then, they've been supportive, fun, and satisfying.

So: not a *real* post, but for a real friend.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eve's Ribs

In the months after the divorce, my daughter saw a child psychologist to help her deal with the shock and confusion of her new reality. The therapist was a calm, sweet woman who had seen it all, I sensed; she would meet with me after her sessions with P. to let me know how my babydoll was doing, what she was concerned about, how I could help her. These minutes would often be filled with my own complaints about my ex, borne from my panic that I wouldn't be able to protect P. from the pain that I so desperately wanted to erase from our lives. Mostly I would recount P.'s stories about what he said and what he did, things which proved to me that he had gone off the deep end because they seemed so unlikely and bizarre.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Our Daily Bread

I have tried many times to bake bread -- not just to bake bread, but to become a bread baker, which strikes me as something entirely different: anyone can make a loaf now and then, but it takes a certain discipline to make bread regularly, as part of a daily practice of life.

Discipline, practice -- the words sound rigid, don't they, but I don't mean them to. On the contrary, I imagine bread bakers are akin to people who do yoga or people who medidate; the activity becomes so much of their routines, their measured movements, their breathing, that it's not an imposition of willpower but just a natural part of their days. Wake up, do your sun salutes and mindful breathing, and then knead the dough. Exhale as you push into the glutinous mass with the heel of your fist, your fingers strong but still loose, your arms engaged but not stiff, and inhale as you pull the dough back gently with your fingertips, caressing it into a a ball again. Exhale, push your hands down, inhale, pull your fingers back. Exhale, inhale. Exhale, inhale. The dough sits; it rises. You go about your day, knowing it's there, alive, on your counter, under the floured cloth, breathing, inhaling and exhaling, growing. You plan your day around it, the way you might a visitor, making calculations about when to go to the store or go for a run according to what the dough will need to be doing at that moment (resting, rising, baking). You weave it in. You submit yourself to its rhythm.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cooking from Future Memories

So much of what I cook is the product of taste memories: things I've eaten on my travels, in restaurants, at home, at friends', etc. But there are a few moments in my life when I've become enamoured with -- even obsessed with -- certain dishes and cuisines that I've only ever experienced in my imagination. I'm never sure what, exactly, prompts these fascinations. Perhaps they are purely aspirational, an acting out of what I want to do, where I want to go; perhaps they are some sort of exotic fantasy, a projection into a culture or a place that I experience in an entirely bastardized form because it exists at such a distance to my daily experience.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bounty

I stock my kitchen the way survivalists in Montana stock their bunkers, except instead of industrial-sized cans of pork and beans or hundreds of pounds of dry milk powder I store lentils, dried chilies, olives, saffron, preserved lemons, Thai chili jam, a variety of olive oils and soy sauces, sea salts, esoteric grains, and enough frozen meat, fish, and poultry to last until doomsday. I am not proud of this -- this excess -- because it smacks of greediness, of a fear of deprivation, but I understand where that fear comes from: if you are told, from the time you can first understand what people were saying, that you eat too much, you learn to look at food as the thing  you shouldn't want. And when your plate is taken away even when you want more, you learn to look at food, forever, as the thing that can be taken away. So you learn to equate "plenty" with "plenitude": quantity becomes peacefuness -- if you were really loved, your childish brain tells you, no one would make you feel bad about wanting to put another bite in your mouth. You wouldn't hate yourself for it, either. All that shame at one's own hunger, instilled in you from your youngest days, is now assuaged by the fullness of your cupboards --  now you are a grown up and you can revert to that childish equation of food and love, and start loving yourself one can of imported tuna packed in olive oil at a time.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Whetstones

I was thinking about a person -- someone real, but who I know mostly in my imagination, poor dear -- who goes through girlfriends like... Well, that was what I was thinking about: like what? Like a dull knife through a loaf of bread, perhaps. Tearing, indiscriminate, leaving a ragged scar instead of a clean cut. He isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to relationships. We use the phrase as if the worst part of dullness was simply an innocent stupidity. But dull knives aren't so innocent: they hack at meat, they squash tomatoes, they hurt their wielders.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Raising a Glass


I've discovered that I'm that kind of writer. The kind I look down upon: the amateur who gets into a groove and coasts for a while and then realizes that they only have one trick up their sleeve. My friends have been trying to describe that trick, and have done so in ways that make me laugh. Joni says that my game is this: depress my readers with heart-wrenching tales so that they want to eat to stuff the pain back down deep inside, and then tell them what to eat to get the job done. A perfect feedback loop. Another friend, Brad, proposed the following title for my future bestseller: "Women with Balls, Men Without Shirts, and Food Salted with Tears."

Both are pretty close to the mark.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Love Lessons in Paris

This post comes after a long break; I was in Paris, one of my cities. There are three metropolises in the world that are mine. Three places in which I feel, not perfectly at home, nor perfectly at ease, but perfectly at unease: where the strangeness of city life is exactly the strangeness that I can embrace, or tolerate, or endure. I love people for their faults -- I can admire a person's great qualities, accomplishments, and virtues, but I can only love them if I find their self-deceptions, insecurities, and character flaws heartbreaking and sweet at once -- and the same goes for places. New York I love for its inhumanity, its cruelty, its rush of people and traffic and money and words; in that inhuman place I can operate invisibly, part of the world but not of it, in a little bubble that gets knocked around and ignored but out of which I can see the most amazing things. Bombay I love for its claustrophobic-inducing crush of beings, its predilection for wearing people to the bone, its hungry hordes (not simply hungry from lack but sometimes instead from ambition); in this place where no one feels they have enough -- and where many genuinely don't -- I can recognize my own satedness, but I can also feel fully spent, exhausted, stripped to the bone.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fetal Basketball

My friend Linda told me I should tell this story, and because I always do what Linda instructs me to, here it is.

One night in New York, a bunch of years ago (maybe 1998 or 1999?) I bumped into Linda -- Linda Nochlin, a much-loved and very brilliant art historian, and my former dissertation advisor, and my daughter's unofficial granny, and one of my best friends -- at a gallery opening. "Let's go out and get dinner," she said. "But first, I have to stop in on a friend's book party. It's in Soho."

We got out of the subway stop and made our way to the right block; it hadn't occurred to me to ask where, exactly, we were going, because Linda had everything firmly in hand. We got to the building. "Oh. It looks very dark, doesn't it?" I said. We got into the elevator. Suddenly, Linda panicked: "Oh my god, I hope it's the right night. I don't even know the hosts!" "Who are the hosts?" I asked, alarmed look on my face.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Typologies, or Party Planning


This is a very scientific post about some new categories I find useful for making the world make sense. In the interests of science, therefore, it will be presented in the form of a list. Because as everyone knows, lists are very scientific. I would say that no animals were harmed in my research, but in fact at least one salmon lost its life.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Something that Didn't Happen

[This is a very tentative foray into fiction writing. Since this blog seems to be my testing ground and a place for experiments, I'm posting it here.]



First Meeting

She walked into the exhibition, headphones in her ears and steel plates behind her eyes; something about her face -- she didn't know what -- must seem so open to people, given how often she was approached by strangers wanting to talk, but most days -- today -- she wanted to be alone. So she turned to stone, a little. Made herself impenetrable. She wanted to look, that's all.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Roughing It

When I was eighteen, I developed a crush on a much older man (twenty-three!) who was an avid mountain climber. Of course, in the true manner of the eldest sibling, I assumed that if I demonstrated my interest and aptitude in his chosen hobby, I would get his attention and he would fall madly in love with me and we would live happily ever after, climbing mountains with our 2.2 children and dog and picket fence strapped to our backs. This strategy was short-lived, lasting until, hiking with my parents one day, I decided to scale some rocks next to a rushing stream, slipped, and came *that close* to being crushed against some pointy boulders sticking out of the water below me. I mean, the guy was cute, but he wasn't worth a cracked skull.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Other Peoples' Problems

An acquaintance of mine is going through a divorce. I don't know her that well, but we've been talking a lot about what the first days, weeks, and months are like when you suddenly realize that the structure to your life -- your routines, habits, reliable markers of the day or of forever -- are gone. There is comfort for her, I think, in knowing that the very particular complications of one's split lead to very familiar types of dislocations. Half of the trauma of the end of a marriage is not the drama of heartbreak, but the banalaties of loneliness: the accidental setting of an extra placemat when friends come over for dinner because you long ago internalized a math that no longer works, waking up curled into the same corner of the bed you occupied when someone else was on the other side, running the dishwasher and doing laundry less often and in half loads, the shortened message on the voicemail greeting, the extra space in the closet and on the bathroom counter and in everything. All the extra space. Divorce as agoraphobia.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Kitchen Recoveries

Most of the time, I cook efficiently and fairly simply. I worry sometimes, when I start to spend a lot of time in the kitchen and break open my piles of cookbooks and imagine recipes I'd like to make and write long and detailed shopping lists, that it's a sign of something not-so-good, psychically speaking. Just as many people turn to eating for comfort, I turn to cooking. Avoidance isn't always a bad thing, except for when it is.


Friday, May 18, 2012

The Simple Life

FOR JUDITH

Just some perfect olives, vivid green and
almost buttery.
Whenever my parents and I are in the same place, my mom will ask me to make a salad because mine always taste the best, she says. It's so gratifying to watch them enjoy something so thoroughly, and (always) marvel over the deliciousness of the dressing; I don't think my mom ever quite believes that it's usually just olive oil and vinegar/lemon juice/orange juice with salt and pepper (occasionally mustard) thrown in -- not really a dressing at all. My parents make their salad dressing the way they make curries (or, in fact, most things): they put in pinches and dashes and splashes and glugs of this and that and the other. The result always tastes very good, but is a study in intricacy, involution even. Of course, it is occasionally the case that the situation is reversed: I remember looking at my father with intense distrust when we went to the market in Paris so he could buy ingredients for soup, and all he picked up was one leek and one large potato. When it came time to prepare the meal, I would have hovered over him in the kitchen had the kitchen been large enough, but instead I sat in the living room shouting annoying queries as he calmly cooked: "Are you sure you don't want chicken broth? Should I get some carrots? There are vegetables in the fridge! Maybe some mussels?" And yet the soup -- practically just water -- ended up being one of the best I've ever eaten. (I still don't know how he managed that.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vegetables I hate

I really love vegetables. Honest. Except for a few. And then there are the allergies; I'm allergic to a lot of raw vegetables, but I can pretty much eat anything cooked. Except for avocado, but that's a fruit. So. Yeah.

I feel guilty about the vegetables I just don't like, though. I mean, what have they ever done to be unlikeable? Nothing. There's no reason I don't like them except that I don't. And so I feel ungenerous towards them. Like I've done them wrong. Like my antipathy is simply a lack of understanding. If I just got to know them better, I would understand their charms.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cooking for the Revolution: May 1 Diary

Today is May 1, the worker's day -- my daughter and I are taking part in the general strike that's been called by the Occupy Wall Street movement, so no school, no work, no internet, and no chores. Like the dreaming anarchists of the late-19th century, we are spending the day thinking and creating and (I mean, c'mon -- we're only human) getting a little bored. Or, at least, my daughter is. However, the political radicals have not really thought through the whole "no chores" thing: taking care of a cranky and bored eight-year old is actually WORK for someone *cough* me, even if I forgo vacuuming and scrubbing toilets and mending socks. I mean, kid's gotta eat. Where's that collective child care I was promised? Oh yeah. That was Kropotkin, not the weedy dudes in Zucotti Park.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Dinner with Habermas

When I was in grad school, I worked with a very eccentric and brilliant sociology professor who spoke by turns in a rich baritone and a tremulous high pitch; he always had something interesting to say.

He invited Jürgen Habermas to lecture in New York, he of the public sphere and theory of communicative action et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. If you are reading this and have no idea who Habermas is, not to worry -- I barely knew anything about what he had written at that point, though I knew, from way he was spoken of by people who knew better, that he was someone who had done game-changing work in political theory. Someone that I should have known, in any case.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cruel Optimism, or Make Extra Just In Case

I have a very bad habit of falling in ”unrequited love.” I don't consider the term particularly accurate, because it implies that what Person A is feeling towards Person B is actually love, and that there is a broken circuit: this so-called love is sent but not returned, like a misformed boomerang spinning forever outwards, lost in space. But of course it's not love, and nor is it an exchange. It’s a one-sided conversation; it's the most profound form of turning inward. We talk about this phenomenon in romantic or tragic terms, in terms of the unfairness of life and the vagaries and capriciousness of the heart. It's none of those things, though. It's merely a form of self-immolation, a throwing oneself on the funeral pyre, a form of sati. It is allowing oneself to burn in one’s own desire. There is no romance in this.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Crab Curry Test, or Cooking for Cowboys

My dad is a cowboy and an imp. These are the two things that are perhaps most surprising about him, especially because it's not that often that you meet an East Indian cowboy, even in Alberta. (My uncle, who was cast as the Indian Marlboro Man in a 1970s ad campaign and appeared on billboards and in magazines, was probably India's only cowboy, so maybe it's got some family connection.) When Dad was in medical school in India, he styled himself as a matinee idol, complete with ascot and blindingly white smile; when he arrived in Canada after a stint in England, he was a mod; when he moved his new family to Flin Flon, near the Arctic Circle, he learned how to skate and snowmobile and ice fish and cross-country ski; and then, when we moved to Southern Alberta, he became a cowboy. It was called "assimilation," at least by him.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hunger

I've been going to the field house everyday to walk around the track; the consequence of doing this blog is that I'm no longer hungry, strangely, and at the same time I'm desperate to be in my body in some way. This can't be bad. But despite the exercise, my mind works overtime, and the music in my headphones does nothing to drown it out. I am on the verge of something in my life, I think, but I'm terrified what that something will turn out to be. I am living life with my breath held. I'm living as if my life is a lump in my throat.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Breakfasts of Champions

I have a problem. My kid won't eat breakfast foods. It drives me crazy -- forget cereal, or toast (even with the lure of Nutella), or yogurt, or eggs, or waffles, or really anything representative of North American breakfast. No, she insists on savories for breakfast: leftover pizza, soup, mac and cheese, Chinese food, etc. Which is fine if I have that stuff around, but a world of frustration if I don't.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Butcher

When I was searching for a dissertation topic, I asked one of my mentors, a curator at MoMA, if it was worth pursuing a topic in post-war American art. He said to me: "Why would you want to do that? You'd spend your PhD writing years in an archive in Washington DC instead of in Paris or Rome or someplace worth being." He was mostly joking, but not really.

I ended up in Paris; I was no fool. The first time was in 1995. Ex and I had the great good luck of renting an apartment in the Fifth Arrondissement.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sai Bhaji in New York

Clockwise from upper left: masoor dal, channa
dal, toor dal, moong dal. Click to enlarge.
I got into art history by total accident. When I was choosing a university to go to back at the end of high school -- there were far fewer choices in Canada than there are in the US, so it wasn't nearly as traumatic as what American kids go through -- I wanted to go away, to University of Toronto, maybe, or University of British Columbia, but my parents, convinced that I was not prepared to be that far away from them, made me go to the small university in our hometown so that they could keep an eye on me. And keep an eye they did: I started at the age of 17 -- drinking age in Alberta was 18 -- and so my curfew was 9.30 pm, which is sort of awful when you have to go home exactly at the moment when your friends are just heading out. I took one art history course in that first year, and the professor said I should think of majoring in art history -- I didn't pay much attention (I wanted to be an architect) until he said the magic words: "Too bad you can't do it here; we don't have an art history major." That was my ticket out. I suddenly became committed to -- nay, passionate about -- art history.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cardamoms and Madhu Aunty

My mother has eight sisters and two brothers. Had, I suppose -- one of the brothers, the eldest child, died early in life, and one sister died in her twenties and her passing is felt, still, as a fresh wound by her siblings fifty years later. And recently, another of the sisters passed away -- my aunt Madhu. This is a story about her.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Samothrace

When I was in my second year of graduate school, the director of my program took a liking to me. He was an archaeologist out of central casting, a vague man, painfully shy, and determined to keep himself locked in an ivory tower. He had a funny laugh, though, and a good heart. I liked him, too.

Every year he would take a group of students to work on a dig that he directed on the island of Samothrace, the same site where the Winged Victory (the Nike of Samothrace) had been discovered in 1863. The dig was known as the Club Med of the archeology world because of the luxurious conditions for the students. I had no experience with archaeology, or even ancient art, but the director looked at me with a twinkle in his eye when I said I'd like to go and said, "I always say that if I have to choose between smart and nice, I'll always choose nice." And lo, I was accepted onto the crew.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Doubt

This blog started by accident: set up in ten minutes as a place to post recipes that my Facebook pals were asking for, a dumping ground more than anything. It's turned to something else pretty quickly, for better or worse. It's the "for worse" that I worry about: I imagine that I am the four millionth woman writing a food blog-slash-memoir, that I am, in other words, the worst cliché of middle-aged, suburban femininity. God, am I middle aged? God, am I suburban?

How did I get here?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Inauthentic Taste

I live with a nagging feeling that I am doing things at least slightly wrong all the time -- that I don't quite know the rules. My grammar and punctuation, despite the fact that I write for a living, is just a bit off -- commas in the wrong place, who/whom problems, prepositions at the end of sentences, and other mistakes about which I am sadly unaware -- I have a fairly egregious grasp of idiomatic phrases, and my spelling is atrocious. There are moments when I feel like I relate to the English language in the way of a foreign speaker, even though it's my mother tongue and the only one in which I achieve anything near fluency.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Flin Flon and Comfort Food

When I was two years old, my parents, who had finished their residencies in Edmonton, moved us to Flin Flon, a coal-mining town in northern Manitoba. Canada was importing doctors from the developing world in great numbers at that time in order to send them off to northern outposts where the white doctors wouldn't go. My parents were not that great with geography, to tell the truth. I don't think they knew what they were letting themselves in for.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Baby Cooking and Maternal Instinct

When I had my child at age 34, I was completely unprepared for parenthood. A lot of parents say this, but god -- what did I imagine having a baby would be like? How could I have sat through all those parenting classes without deriving the least hint that life would change? I didn't realize what sort of schedule the baby would impose on me, so I had, while pregnant, agreed to give a lecture seven weeks after my due date; my plan was to research and write the paper after she was born, in between her feedings, while she was sleeping. No problem, right? I mean, they say about babies, don't they, that they don't really wake up till they're six weeks old, right?

Right?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mr. Smith Comes to Dinner

I started dating soon -- too soon -- after my ex and I split. There were lots of reasons for it, in retrospect, other than the sheer madness that I know is pretty typical of the post-breakup phase. I will list them very methodically here, so it seems that my insanity from those first months after my world collapsed was in fact much more rational than it looked from the outside; square brackets around the numbers will emphasize the almost scientific nature of my analysis:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tulsi's Gift

My grandmother had a maid named Tulsi, but we always called her ayah. She was hired when my mother was born, and helped raise all my aunts and uncles, and then when my cousins arrived she took care of all of us, too, when we were around.

Tulsi had a strong, sinewy body, and she was tiny -- maybe five feet tall, and slim. She had rough hands and dark skin and a shy smile and a joyful laugh. Every time we arrived in Bombay, my dad would tell her to put coconut oil in our hair, and she would scrub our scalps with her bony fingers till we winced, and then take us into the shower room and scrub our bodies till we cried. And she would hug us to her thin body, and we would get embarrassed the way children do.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What I learned from my mother

My mother was a really, really smart student. When it came time to decide what to do for her university degree, she was given two options (like every smart student in India in the 1960s): engineering or medicine. No women in engineering school, but medical schools in India  had almost equal numbers of male and female students in the 1960s, so Mom went to med school. That's where she met my dad.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our Last Supper

It was January. My daughter and I had returned from a trip to my parents' house. When I came back, something had changed. Something about my husband. The house was too clean when I came home. He kept asking me to compliment him for cleaning so well. I smelled cleaning products everywhere.

There was something strange about my nightstand, too. Nothing I could name.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bhel Puri

When I lived in Bombay during the year between undergrad and grad school, I split my time between the homes of two of my aunts -- Sheila, who lived with her husband and her daughter in Bandra in a flat that looked out to the sea, and Nina, who lived with her husband and her son and her husband's parents in a Colaba high-rise. I was working for Sheila's ad agency; she was so kind to take me on as a copywriter -- I was more trouble than I was worth. I'd stay in Colaba during the week because the commute to the office was so much shorter, and drive out to Bandra on the weekends. Many of my other relatives lived in that little area, Colaba, all within walking distance. It was my neighborhood.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sindhi Curry, by way of my grandmother

My parents got married in 1967, left India for the UK, and then ended up in Canada. They had met in medical school and fallen in love; theirs was the first "love match" in my mom's family of eleven siblings. They were from different religions and communities -- mom was Hindu, her family originally from Sindh, and dad was Manglorean Christian. They left, I think, because they wanted to work in better conditions in the west, but also because they wanted to escape the fact of their coming from different worlds, so to speak.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Coffee, hold the pepper.

This is black pepper. Not just any pepper -- Tellicherry pepper, which is supposed to be some of the best in the world, grown on the Malabar Coast of India. It sparks on the tongue, a little lemony, sharp, warm. Full and robust. It was, for a long part of human history, the most expensive spice, prompting sea exploration and colonization. It was international currency. It made the world want to come to India.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cooking for Two

Much of my life with my ex-husband happened in the kitchen. Cooking together was a big part of our day; I would chop and cook, he would follow me around and clean up after me. He would stir the pots, and I would chide him for stirring too much. (Have you ever noticed that men stir pots too often?) We would chat about our days, gossip, talk about problems we were having with our writing projects, complain about colleagues.

We never had a fancy kitchen: a basic NYC, rent-stabilized pre-war kitchen; kitchens in Paris (one was long and narrow, with the sink at the end so if the person at the sink wanted to leave the room the person at the stove would have to leave the room, and one the size of a closet where I would stand in one spot and he would stand in another and we could both reach every corner of the kitchen but we couldn't actually move from the spots in which we were standing); a simple kitchen with cheap appliances in the first house we owned; a kitchen in Berkeley which was beautiful but totally dysfunctional. We prided ourselves on not needing much to turn out a great meal. From that tiny, tiny kitchen in Paris we produced an American Thanksgiving dinner with a huge turkey and all the fixings. We were wily in that kitchen.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Pleasures of Touch

I've just finished a fantastic book, The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. De Waal is a descendent of the great, late-19th century art collector Charles Ephrussi; he is trained as a potter. The latter is as important as the former in this tale, which traces a group of objects -- tiny Japanese carvings called netsuke -- from the time Ephrussi acquired them to the time they come into his possession.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Best Corn Chowder in the Universe

My daughter complains a lot -- she's a griper, despite how freaking awesome she can be when she's not, you know, griping. This morning, she was carping about having missed lunch in the cafeteria yesterday, because they were serving corn chowder. "I can make you corn chowder," I say, maybe a little too eagerly. My favorite soup ever.