September 25, 2011

Toad and oats, he wrote.

Spotting a typo online is like spotting a zebra in the zoo; it's not particularly unexpected, nor is it challenging. Part of the reason, I think, is that the typos are so easily fixed, after which a page refresh makes everything appear as good as new. On the other hand, I get really, really excited whenever I spot a potential typo in a good old-fashioned book. For example:
The horse could not do without Manhattan. It drew him like a magnet, like a vacuum, like oats, or a mare, or an open, never-ending, tree-lined toad.
--Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin
The beautiful and risky thing about anything published in print is that any and all typos are permanent, at least for that particular edition of the book or magazine. My favorite typo of all time? Last year, a cookbook published in Australia mistakenly listed "freshly ground black people" instead of "freshly ground black pepper" as an ingredient in a recipe. Still makes me chuckle to this day. Spell check never stood a chance.

The good news is that a typo usually doesn't have the power to make or break good writing. I actually still really like that quotation, even if it was distracting to wonder, for a bit, what a tree-lined toad would look like. Must be some very tiny trees, or a very large toad. I liked the mystical quality of this particular horse being drawn to Manhattan in the same unquestionable way a horse is drawn to oats.

As a fellow oat lover, I can really identify. I make oatmeal as a nighttime snack about once a week. The following recipe is the version I make the most often, since it combines my love for oats and Asian pastries. Best bedtime snack ever.

Oatmeal for One, Asian-Style
1/2 cup quick-cook oats
3/4 to 1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp sweetened red bean paste
1 tsp black sesame powder
a sprinkle of salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy.

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