November 26, 2008

(Cold)playing it cool, sans words

As much as I pore over certain passages in books, as much as I melt inside at well-worded sentences, I have to admit that in certain situations, words can't even begin to compete with the power of music.

Case in point, saw Coldplay perform at the Anaheim Honda Center last night. And needless to say - it was amazing.

And it was all yellow.

Last night was the first time I thought about just how crucial the wordless parts of their most popular songs really are.

No matter what language you speak, you can relate to the opening of "Politik," the sparsely worded "Life in Technicolor" that they opened with, or the epic backnotes to the second part of "Fix You." And as much as I love words, the wordless backbones of Coldplay songs are what make them such a universally appealing band.

Case studies:
1. The woman next to me belting out the oh-oh-oh-OH-oh-oh from "Viva la Vida," hands cupped to her mouth, her exhalations traveling so energetically over to my nose, that, though recovering from sickness, I was still able to detect beer on her breath.

2. The 20-something guy standing outside after it was over, yelling out the same chorus of oh-oh-oh-OH-oh-oh in the pouring rain.

A first:
As Chris Martin was playing "The Hardest Part" he messed up and almost submitted to profanity but laughed it off with the rest of us. We all still thought he was perfect. And Apple and Moses were saved from hearing their father say the F word on stage. was a close one.

Listening to the lyrics of this song, I realized it could very well apply to a number of situations. Swallowing tomato juice? Or perhaps a cup of harsh black coffee? Sour milk? All difficult things to do. Something tells me he meant it metaphorically, not literally, but it's still fun to imagine the scenarios that could have inspired such lyrics.
I could feel it go down
Bittersweet, I could taste in my mouth
Silver lining the cloud
Oh, I, I wish that I could work it out.
Oh, Chris Martin. A poet in his own right. Or maybe just ran into one too many foul drinks along the way.

November 25, 2008

The grapes (of wrath) that bind foodies together

Finally! Someone else recognizes that John Steinbeck is a master of conveying what it's like to be tortured with hunger pains and downing grease wherever you can get it. In Dubious Battle is another good place to find such scenes.
"Cesar Chavez appealed to my sense of justice, stirred from reading The Grapes of Wrath. It was one of my favorite books for its descriptions of dust, greasy food, and soulful characters.
The biscuits were 'high' and 'bulbous'; Ma Joad '[lifted] ... curling slices of pork from the frying pan.' I found myself charmed by Tom Joad, a good man in spite of the years he'd done in prison.
I felt his hunger when he came back from a day of picking peaches and shouted, 'Leave me at her,' while reaching for his dinner plate. The way he wolfed down his three hamburger patties and white bread with drippings drizzled on top.
'Got any more?' he asked Ma."
--Bich Minh Nguyen, Stealing Buddha's Dinner
Makes me want to curl up with East of Eden and some drippings right now. I love Steinbeck.

November 24, 2008

Oh Henry! Oh. what a downer.

Talk about depressing -- I was reading the O. Henry Prize Stories (1997), and came across this:
"You could go out of doors. The blueness of the sky, the brightness of the sun, the freshness of a tree would greet you, but in the end you would only have to go back somewhere to sleep. And that would not be beautiful; it would be where you lived. So beauty seemed a dangerous, foreign, and irrelevant idea. She turned for solace, not to it, but to the nature of enclosure. Everything in her life strained toward the ideal of separations: how to keep the horror of her parents' life from everything that could be called her life."
--Mary Gordon, City Life
Imagine replacing all beauty with enclosures and separations. The world would be a prison.

November 22, 2008

marshmallow madness

Don't these stuffed animals look just like marshmallows? So cute, you could just eat them up!

If only we could say the same of people. When humans act extra cutesy, you don't have the option of eating them up. Because then you'd be ostracized and/or prosecuted for your cannibalistic actions.

November 18, 2008

knish = delish

Several months ago, I stumbled upon the word "knish" and have been fascinated ever since.

What is a knish? Besides being fun to say, it's also steamy and delicious.

It's a pillowy potato creation (sometimes with vegetables inside), hot and wrapped in foil. People sell them on street carts in Manhattan ($3 is a bit steep but I say, well worth the investment, especially if you split it with a willing party).

Apparently knish bakeries exist. This particular knishery (it even warrants its own Wikipedia entry) was but a hop and a skip away from Katz's Delicatessan.

Mmm pastrami followed by potato heaven.

November 11, 2008

Sweet mother of fruit tarts!

The layer of cold custard peeking out from under the fruit is the best part.

This delicious "dainty" tasted like it was bathed in Heaven's misty sugarfalls (for this, I think, is what is in heaven, if it exists), but it's actually from Coral Tree Cafe. My only regret? That I wasn't gutsy enough to order my omelet in a cheeky manner (F*U*N*E*X?).

But if you aren't around Brentwood, you can still read about William Beckford's interpretation of food heaven in Vathek:
In the first of these were tables continually covered with the most exquisite dainties; which were supplied both by night and by day, according to their constant consumption; whilst the most delicious wines and the choicest cordials flowed forth from a hundred fountains that were never exhausted. This palace was called The Eternal or unsatiating Banquet.
Sounds kind of cool. I think I'm going to start calling things "dainties" now. Anyone listening? I'd like a plate of dainties dusted with powdered sugar, please.

November 9, 2008

lay your eyes on these babies.

Instead of sharing her cookies, she hoarded them; and rightfully so.

Those cookies were good. They were from Paulette.

The first time I made pavlova, I used a recipe by the self-proclaimed domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson. She put passion fruit on top of hers, but I ate mine plain. Crackly and dry on the outside, yet wonderfully chewy on the inside, I was in love at first bite.

No matter that I didn't have parchment paper; I used wax paper and it was fine. No matter that I didn't have cream of tartar; the egg whites whipped right up in my stand mixer.

Everything was perfect that day. If you ever want to make something that sounds impressive and tastes phenomenal, opt for pavlova. The only piece of advice I have to offer is to let the egg whites come to room temperature before beating into peaks, especially if you're cream-of-tartar-less, like me. I've never used it in my life.

November 8, 2008

Once you pop...

You just can't stop...reading.

"When Christmas rolled around we had a real tree with lights and a star. My sister and I had no idea what the word Christmas meant; to us it was, and remained for years, glitter and gifts. We had to put together the pieces of America that came to us through television, song lyrics, Meijer Thrifty Acres, and our father, coming home from work each day with a new kind of candy in his pocket."
--Bich Minh Nguyen

Christmas was always just glitter and gifts to my heathen (or oblivious-to-religion) childhood self, too. And just like her dad, mine liked bringing home treats for my sister and me, sometimes cookies wrapped in napkins. They must have left crumbs in his pockets.

I like the way she describes Pringles: "So delicate, breaking into salty shards on our tongues." I also thought that their trademark canisters made them the most elegant chips. I enjoyed stacking my Pringles and eating them sometimes in twos, sometimes in threes, sometimes half of a single one at a time if I wanted to make them last. While sour cream and onion (green) was my mom's favorite, and my dad happily munched on the barbeque (burgundy/purple), I liked the original flavor because it was red...I liked them all, really, but maybe just because I associated them with the movies we watched on weekend nights sitting on our old L-shaped Levitz couch.

Even now, any Pringle I eat still reminds me of Silence of the Lambs. Either we watched that movie a lot, or I was too young to see Anthony Hopkins do those sorts of things (or both) -- but to this day, I don't know if I could watch The Remains of the Day without cringing, even though it's one of my favorite books.

November 7, 2008

Flossing through love-hate relationships

Sweet forbidden kernels,
how my teeth adore to abhor thee.

A core theme

"And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it..." (Genesis: 2-3).

How much literature has been shaped by words like these? There simply wouldn't have been a story if Adam and Eve hadn't eaten the forbidden fruit.

November 6, 2008

Food for thought

In case it wasn't explicit enough, this blog is devoted to indulging in two ideas that instill happiness in me: Rilke and food. The following quote by Rilke himself is perfectly suited to what I'm all about:
Who shows a child as he really is? ... Who makes his death out of gray bread, which hardens – or leaves it there inside his round mouth, jagged as the core of a sweet apple? ... Murderers are easy to understand. But this: that one can contain death, the hole of death, even before life has begun, can hold it to one's heart gently, and not refuse to go on living, is inexpressible.

-- from Rainer Maria Rilke's Fourth Elegy
We all hold death to our hearts gently; death is all around us and we come in contact with it every day. From the moment we are born we begin stepping closer to death...and that is inexpressible even to someone as gifted with the written word as Rilke.

Comparing death to a useless shell of food – an apple core, or a hard piece of bread – is genius. Death is not the entire opposite of life, rather the two haunt one another, and are dependent on one another to exist.

November 4, 2008

I see red.

But not tonight.

The time has come to shed light on the forgotten corners (and colors) of the world: