Archive for the ‘Comfort Food’ Category

Bulgarian Crepe Tacos

Bulgarian crepe tacos (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The beauty of leftovers is that they allow for the most unusual of cultural combinations. See, for instance, Bulgarian crepe tacos.

If, like me, you made too many Bulgarian meatballs (see last post), never fear, you don’t need to eat Bulgarian meatballs three days in a row – you, too, can pretend you’re Sarah Palin, confusing Bulgaria for France and France for Mexico. Sweet, beautiful, cultural cacophony.

Crumble leftover Bulgarian meatballs in their tomato sauce into a skillet and heat. Add a chopped carrot to the tomato and cucumber salad. Cut up some cheese (I found a fingernail piece of hot chili gouda). Find some lettuce. Put the sour cream on the table – you should still have some leftover from the sour cream/lemon/garlic/cilantro sauce. And make crepes. Flour, milk, and egg, thrown together in some measure until the dough is the consistency of a runny nose. I’m sorry, I know that’s unappetizing – but it’s winter, it’s a pervasive problem, and it’s the only comparison I can think of right now.

So wonderful. So easy to throw together. Like the joy of eating those Bulgarian meatballs for the first time. Resist making a bad Madonna pun. Eat another taco to keep from talking.

empty plates are good plates (Eat Me. Drink Me.) » Continue reading this post…

Welcome Back Berlin Fritters: Sweet Potato & Fennel Fritters

Sweet Potato and Fennel Fritters (Eat Me. Drink Me)

I rode my little Hercules down Bergmannstr., and as I did, it started to rain, skinny drops that snuck under my scarf. But even with the rain, all I felt was joy to be reunited with my bike, my little Hercules. I forgot that I need to find another job, need to meet more people, am still so new somewhere. I pedaled through the rain, a route that is familiar to me now and realized, I have stopped comparing Berlin to Brooklyn. Because coming back, even after having been in New York, in my own beloved Brooklyn, feels like coming home. » Continue reading this post…

Fall Homage, In Memoriam: Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve bathed my laptop in liquids one too many times and I have killed it. Killed it dead. Marley was dead: to begin with, as my dear, dear Dickens said. And it’s getting to be that season anyway, though the weather is unseasonably warm here in Berlin. I took a long bike ride today, partly because the weather was so nice – and partly because I had to go to O2 to see if they could get the internet to work on this wonderful computer my dear friend Elisabeth has lent me – they can’t.

So, my laptop, my love is dead. My internet does not exist. I am shut off and out of the world. And here’s a secret. When, after two hours, the nice man at O2 told me the internet wasn’t going to work, I cursed the heavens silently, first, and then I felt – relief.  Although I don’t know if that is exactly the right word. There should be a word that means something in between resignation and freedom. So don’t tell anyone, but I don’t think I’m upset to be shut off and out the world. I can feel my brain blossoming.

Of course, the only thing to do the night I broke my laptop was to leave the apartment. To find my way to a champagne party whose address I wasn’t quite sure of since the internet had failed before I could plot my meticulous way across the city. To leave the scene of horror, half-sopped liquid still puddled on the floor, and go to meet people and drink champagne with berries and talk it out and then go dance it out. I know nothing more cathartic than hip hop and sweat. But the next day, my first day, waking up to a laptop pried open and drying on a chair, battery expunged (I learned that much from the first time I dropped a drink in the keyboard…), I didn’t know what to do. » Continue reading this post…

Cheese Sauce for Everything

Potatoes and stuff and cheese (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

There is a battle royale being waged for my waistline. I live on a sixth floor walk up, so every day I walk up and down, up and down, until I think I’d cry if I see just one more step in my life. But I’ve gotten pretty good at it by now, all the up and downing, so I think I must be getting in shape. And then I come home and I make things like potatoes with cheese sauce, thereby undoing all the good work I’ve done.

After a long day of translating, I walk up my six flights of stairs and into the apartment I’m calling home. It’s easy to step inside and hang a quick right to the kitchen, turn on the stove, and throw some olive oil in a pot, since everything I cook seems to start that way. I turn on the light, there’s only one small light in the kitchen and the large, orange shade around it keeps the ambiance dim. Which is alright, I guess, since it gives my neighbors in the building across the way less of a reason to look in my window. Although I know their lives well, by now, so I’m sure they know mine too.

And yet it feels a little Hitchcock to do too much looking – besides, living in New York cured me of all my voyeurism anyway.

The kitchen is a small space, not even the most economical. The stove is wedged between the broken washing machine and the shower and across the countertops are splayed half-full boxes of tea bags, postcards, a potted plant, stacks of books, cutting boards, empty cardboard packages, jars of honey and nutella, small stacks of coins, receipts, ticket stubs, and a plastic placemat with a picture of a palm tree. » Continue reading this post…

Welcome Home, Berlin

Sardines on toast (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

It’s been a long time, I know. But I just haven’t had the inclination to write. I’ve been doing other things – like moving out of New York, studying for the GRE, hiking in Colorado, making a beautiful assortment of to-do lists – and really, I just haven’t been inspired to write anything. I’ve felt like every time I sit down to blog, I devolve into blasé maxims: food is good, food is love, food brings people together.  And I think all these things are true, but eventually, it’s boring for you to read – and boring for me to write. I needed something new.

As I sat at my new kitchen table in Berlin, I was reminded of an entry I wrote long ago about sardines on toast. This blog was begun as a class project almost three years ago, and when I first started blogging about food, I felt that every entry should be thoroughly researched – a blend of fact and memoir – though if you read through those early posts, they sound stilted. The missing element, my advisor said, was spontaneity. That day, I had a simple lunch – toasted baguette, butter, sardines – and the food was so good and unadorned, I immediately felt inspired to write about it. I’ve written about the sardines and the writing since.

I think I keep coming back to that moment because it encapsulates an essential truth about both food and writing. That both are acts of some skill rescued by intuition and a certain amount of receptiveness, and that sometimes a lesson is felt rather than explained.

Driving down the streets of Berlin from the airport to my new home, I felt both terrified and excited, thinking at the same time how wonderful it would be to grow attached to these streets, and yet, how different they were from my Brooklyn streets. » Continue reading this post…

Southern Comfort

The apron is over the railing (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I miss the South. I miss warm grits melted with cheese and dotted with firm, pink shrimp. I miss slow cooked greens and fatback and sweet and crumbly cornbread. I miss excessive hospitality and humidity and conversations dotted with those little “bless her heart”s. Oh God, I miss sweet tea.

Though the South is not everything. I live in the North because I like it more. Because I need the throb of city life and stripped-of-sugar sass. I need fast-paced and driven. And I really can’t stand pastel.

But what I love about the things I love about the South is that they’re things that for the most part I can bring to Brooklyn. People I love, weather I like, food I could eat until I become obese. Dinner parties.

Jamie and I sat on the back porch, with late afternoon sunshine across our shoulders, dipping strips of fried eggplant and chicken gizzards into buttermilk garlic sauce and drinking Firefly (sweet tea vodka for those of you never blessed). I had just dismembered two chickens, which really meant I had torn apart two chickens with my bare hands (it’s a learning curve) and the pieces were soaking in a salty brine upstairs. We were lazy, off of work, waiting for the third member of our party to join us. Absolute laziness.

My morning had been spent lying on a towel in the backyard, sunning my pale and pasty legs, reading the last five pages of at least three magazines, and working on poetry. I asked Jamie, “Do I look tanner?” “No,” he said.

We spent a few nice hours sitting in the backyard until at seven, we thought we should start dinner. I remembered having told people we would eat at seven.

Fried eggplant with buttermilk-garlic sauce (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Chicken frying (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Jamie pulled chicken from the brine and rinsed it in buttermilk and dredged it in flour mixed with jerk seasoning, cayenne, and salt. » Continue reading this post…

Doomsday Dinner: Sweet Potato & Collard Tacos

Tacos with sweet potato and collards (Eat me. Drink Me.)

I figured I’d go out with a bang. Something simple and celebratory that said, “Good food is a good life” and “I’m really tired from work” at the same time. It was time to dig through the pantry for cans unopened, vegetables unused, ideas unexplored. I found harissa. I thought: cinnamon, sweet potato, collards.

I played Adele very loud at the inconvenience of my neighbors. I sang along even louder. I thought, I have yoga-d, I have showered, and now I am cooking in the warm light of my kitchen. This is as ready as I’ll ever be to meet the hereafter. Assuming the hereafter is upon us in the next twenty minutes.

I remembered that when I was doing yoga, the rooster crowing at five in the afternoon was a sign. A frantic and unheeded sign. But now, with the sweet potatoes softening in a bed of onion, garlic, cumin, harissa, and cinnamon, I remembered also that the rooster starts to crow at three in the morning and crows, like sick clockwork, seven times in a row every nineteen minutes apart, until late in the afternoon. And by the end of the day his crows are like death throes, implausibly persisting croaks. And before, I had felt the rain to be ominous, wet foretaste of horror.

Now, it brought a cool evening breeze through the window and a calming patter. I remembered that I like rain.

I snapped open a bottle of Weihenstephaner, my right now favorite wheat beer. The apocalypse postponed itself, I think to give me time to really taste crisp wheat and honey, blue sky, the remembrance of bananas. I remembered that I don’t like bananas.

Two tortillas grilled on the gas stove’s open flame. Collards just simmering into a spicy tomato-laced harissa sauce. Crumbled feta. Everything wrapped in the tortilla. » Continue reading this post…

Kneading is a Homophone

Freshly rolled fettucini (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The dough speaks into your hands. It begs for touch, begs to be pressed and squeezed until the rocking of your hands is just the rhythm of breathing. It bends into your fingers, almost sighs as it twists into shape. Like a pliable lover, the dough responds to the guided pressure of a palm or the fingertips’ gentlest roll. The hands feel when the dough is done; the soft and elastic transition from disparate pieces to one yielding whole. The moment is indescribable, intuitive. And when the dough is done, you gently cover it and let it rest, somewhere safe and warm.

Last night, I rolled out dough for pasta. I heard my roommate say my name. “Are you ok?” she asked and pulled me back into the room. I felt my face loosen from its consternated knit and the rhythmic pounding of my hands slow to slackness. My knuckles rested casually on the dough, the touch a reminder of presence, and I laughed.

“I was somewhere else,” I said, and she laughed too. She went back to her phone conversation, and I began to roll out the dough again, but it was colder – stiffer, as if the break had ruined some fluid climax. As if it wanted forgiveness from my hands.

I’ve been kneading bread, pizza, pasta – and as my hands work into dough, I understand it’s just a metaphor for that other word, that I am needing, too – gentleness, patience, touch.

A friend of mine said, “My gift to the world is smiling.” And I realized, we don’t project nearly enough love into the world, especially in New York, where the train you need to take is always imminent, the line too long and slow, time too divided. Maybe that’s why I’m kneading. It’s nothing but time and some muscle, like love displaced into food, though for me, food is always love. » Continue reading this post…