Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dal Makhani

One of my most memorable meals in India happened when I was 22 years old, backpacking through the country with my trusty Lonely Planet guide and my friend Pam. We were in Jaipur, in the heart of Rajasthan. After seeing forts and riding elephants and touring havelis and shopping for jewels, we walked down the dusty main drag looking for dinner.

We were always looking for supper at the wrong time, the hours of sightseeing and our unfashionable Canadian mealtimes conspiring to make us perpetually early at every restaurant we went to. Of course, the waiters were always too polite to tell us that, and would bob their heads with big smiles when we ordered food that wouldn't possibly ready for hours since the cook just arrived in the kitchen. They would fill our glasses with water and we would sit, waiting, more and more impatient, not realizing how ridiculous we must have looked.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Serendipity and Oranges

I've written before, probably more than once, about how I feel like my whole life has been a matter of falling into things and situations, almost blindly, and just going with the flow. I berate myself sometimes that I do this -- I should be making my choices with more foresight, more planning, more skepticism. My Pollyanna tendencies and almost stupid optimism have failed me sometimes, a fact that I am painfully aware of as I enter firmly into middle age, a time of looking back as much as looking forward.

That said, if I did a full accounting of the choices I've made, and the bits of dumb luck I've had, I'm sure I would end up in the black -- I don't consider myself to be especially lucky, but I take great joy in the times when things simply fall into place, almost more joy in the falling into place than in the things themselves.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

High Anxiety

My kid was totally relaxed in the days before school started: happy to be seeing her friends and to have something more stimulating than me to entertain her every day.

I, however, was in a sheer panic.

This is the thing I hate most in the world: packing lunch for my kid every day. It is only the legal repercussions and moral implications of allowing her to starve that brings me back, day after day, to the thankless task.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Eating Local

It has slowly dawned on me that when people speak to me (or I to them) about eating locally, and participating in a CSA, and farm-to-table cooking, we are often not speaking of the same thing at all.

When friends spoke recently of their qualms about the carbon footprint of belonging to a CSA, and all the imported tomatoes they were eating, I was confused -- this sounded like no Community Supported Agriculture farm I was familiar with. When I queried them about the box they received every week, I balked at the use of the term CSA to describe what was simply an organic food delivery service: some items gathered from local farms, supplemented by vegetables imported from Chile and Mexico.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Secret Menu

I moved from Manhattan to upstate New York about a month before my baby was born. I wasn't thrilled about moving -- I loved living in the city -- but my ex and I decided it would be a novelty to actually live in the same place, six years into our commuting marriage. Especially with a kid on the way.

The town upstate did not have a lot to recommend it, except for a great job at a great school. It wasn't so much a college town, though, and had been laid waste by economic downturns and shuttered factories and what was called the "toxic plume," an underground river of chemicals remaining from the IBM plant in a nearby town. It felt a bit Appalachian, in fact. When the real estate agent took us around to find a house, she would treat us to lunch at a different place every day -- a sweet gesture that ended up being pretty depressing. The offerings were not impressive. I worried.