Friday, April 27, 2012


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


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


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.