Eat Me. Drink Me.

Why We Eat. Why We Drink. Why We Write.

Month: October, 2010

Comfort Food and Pumpkin Things

by lyzpfister

I haven’t written about comfort food in a while.  Although this is probably entirely untrue, since I was once accused of describing all foods as comfort foods, after which point I decided that food, for me, is comfort.

I wasn’t even going to make dinner tonight and just settle for the baguette with brie and a cappuccino that I snacked on a while ago while writing an article.  But I got some bad news today, and bad news always makes me crave tomatoes.  And, oh, the news is so tedious and repetitive (let’s just say it involves creepy crawlies…) that I don’t want to talk about it.  But I do want to talk about this brilliant little tomato and pumpkin pasta.

We’ve been having a lot of fun with pumpkins here on Starr St.  I bought a misshapen monstrosity at the grocery store the other night and scooped out all the flesh and Anette carved a very Matisse-esque design in the shell which lasted one whole candle-lit evening before the morning evinced a crumpled pumpkin looking like nothing so much as the old woman without teeth who sits on the stoop down the street.  I made a pumpkin curry and pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds, and I still have enough pumpkin to last through the winter.  One pumpkin is a lot of pumpkin.

So tonight, I made a pasta sauce with pumpkin, whole peeled tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.  Served over angel hair pasta and topped with chunks of black peppercorn-encrusted creamy parmesan cheese.

Things are looking up already.

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Where Manhattan Meets Dinner

by lyzpfister

I can see Manhattan from my roof.  There is the dazzling slope of the Chrysler Building, the geometric cascade of the Empire State, and further to the left, the spanned wires of the Williamsburg Bridge.  I was going through a rough patch a while back, and my favorite place to sit was on the roof, staring over the rooftops of Brooklyn at the Manhattan skyline and thinking of all the other people who were struggling with me.  Each light representing a life.  I’d sit alone, cradling a plate of pasta or bread with jam, balancing a glass of wine on the rooftop, and be silent and breathe.  There was one bad night, where I wanted nothing but stillness, that I made myself a bread salad to eat on the rooftop.  I had some leftover, almost stale baguette, and there’s nothing I’d rather do with stale baguette than add cherry tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, rice wine vinegar, salt, and pepper to it.  I put in extra garlic.  There are advantages to eating alone.

The roof is a good spot in times of peace, too.  The skyline is stalwart whatever my case may be.  There is the noise of the basketball games in the park, the ever present cacophony of sirens, planes, Latin music from the bodega on the corner.  But underneath the calm of an unobstructed sky, the frenzy is at a comfortable remove.  Tonight, I made a bread salad with French bread and plenty of garlic, even though I’m meeting people later.  I took it up and watched the sun set.

There’s a nook on the roof, a joint where the ledge covered in poorly spackled silver paint butts against the building’s edge.  I sit here, my back against the wall, my feet propped up, gazing at the skyline as tacky and beautiful as a velvet painting.  The sky, now the color of cantaloupe and blue, will soon be black – but the false black of a city sky where there are no stars.  Manhattan twinkles at me, red and white lights against that blue and cantaloupe sky.  While I sit in calm communion with New York, my bread soaks in olive oil and salt and garlic.  I remember, that other night, I closed my eyes and sent out love to everyone who needed it.  Because just then, for me, I had more than enough.

Another Reason to Love Bushwick or Surprise, the Post Office is Not so Bad

by lyzpfister

Besides the fact that the L train just wasn’t running this weekend (I’m sorry, New York City, what were you thinking?), I keep finding more reasons to love my new hood.  These are the last warm days of the year, and now that the park has reopened post a sweeping up of the fallen trees and debris from the tornados, there is a comfortable amount of foot traffic strolling past my still open windows to remind me that I should go outside and eat ice cream, dammit, before the city is covered in an interminable blanket of snow, slush, misery, and fur-lined parkas.

I had the day off on Friday, and as any self-respecting masochistic New Yorker would do, I worked.  Three loads of laundry, picking up mail from the old apartment and the shoes I’d had re-soled, scrubbing the bathroom, cleaning out the pantry, and gathering up the energy for a trip to the post office.  The post office is unfortunate, like a theme park without any fun at the end of the lines.  And in Bushwick, the post offices are especially bad.  At my old Bushwick post office, I used to put aside an hour for a trip, because no matter how many people were in line – fifteen or five – the wait was one hour.  Always.  One hour.  So a trip to the post office requires reserves of zen-like patience and at least one and a half good books.

I gathered my packages.  I gathered my books and my patience and set out to find my new post office.  As I passed the Jefferson stop, where the train was spitting out commuters lucky enough to come home before 11:30 at night when the train would just. stop. running, I paused at the rich, charred smell of barbequing meat.  By the stop was a woman with a portable grill, searing kebabs in a haze of smoke.  I’ll treat myself to a kebab if she’s still there when I leave the post office, I thought.

Here is the second most wonderful part of my story:  it took me ten minutes to complete my errand to the post office.  There was no line, there was plenty of light, and my new post office lady was a little less surly than my last post office lady.  I didn’t even open my one and a half books.

The sun shone brightly outside and I quickened my pace at the thought of a forthcoming kebab, no longer a reward for myself, but a reward for the post office for being so efficient.  I would eat this kebab for the post office.

This is the most wonderful part of my story:  for two dollars and fifty cents, I bought happiness.  Sweet, smoky pork drizzled with barbeque sauce and a thick slice of white bread wrapped up in a dazzling piece of aluminum foil.  The last piece of summer in my hand.  I ate it and internalized it, so that when my sidewalks are frozen and my hands are too numb to take my metro card out of my wallet, I can remember that here on this corner was summer and soon, soon, soon, will be summer again.