Here’s REM with Maps and Legends.
Happy mothers’ day to all the moms of the world. And thanks to my mom, for all of the comfort and inspiration you continue to give me.
I go on and on about Proust, and being a mom, and have some pictures of my mother’s day bouquet, after the…JUMP
Stop number two in our super bodega travels brought us, on a warm and sunny day, to Patel’s Cash & Carry. Speaking of wonderful! The store felt HUGE! And so full of amazing and surprising food! I love Indian food. It’s one of those cuisines I feel like I know something about. I eat Indian take-out every chance I get. I’ve got two cookbooks! (Madhur Jaffrey and Julie Sahni, in case you were wondering). I’ve loved it since I was small, and my boys (still small!) love it, too. Walking into this store made me realize how incredibly little I know. Which is (part of) the joy of bodega traveling. You get to see, beyond the takeout menus, a glimpse into a rich and diverse history that the cookbooks only hint at. As David said, you could write a cookbook on the flour aisle alone.
Here’s what we bought…Kulfi for the boys – rose and pistachio flavored. They couldn’t wait to eat it, and it melted in their hands as we walked around the store. Curry leaves. I’ve seen these before, but never cooked with them. What a remarkable smell! A little earthy and smoky, but still very green, if you know what I mean. Two chikoo fruits. (Very excited about these!) Urad flour, black salt (volcanic and sulfuric! rotten eggy), whole moong dal (beautiful!!), Tinda (in a can), which is called baby indian pumpkin, lotus root, and different kinds of snack mixes, which my little ones eat like hungry mice with their whiskers on fire from the spiciness! Then we couldn’t let the boys back in the car because their kulfi was so melted, so they ate on a grassy bank, and Isaac got rose-flavored kulfi on the tip of his nose and in his eyelashes.
For the next few days we’ll be cooking with these, and we’ll let you know how it goes. We’ve got big plans!!
Remember that line in Christmas Carol when Scrooge accuses Jacob Marley of being “a bit of underdone potato?” Ebenezer ate some bad food and it gave him bad dreams, very lifelike bad dreams, or so he believed. And I remember watching a scary show that examined the theory that the madness of the Salem “witches” might have been caused by some sort of rye mold. It’s fascinating to me that food sometimes has the power to make us not just physically ill, but a little bit crazy, too. I’ve noticed that when I eat very spicy food, like curry, I have strange and vivid dreams. (Or am I just imagining it?)
And on the other side of the coin we have the foods that we believe make us well. When you were little was there a food or drink you would have when you felt ill? Does it still make you feel better to eat it today? I still feel comforted by saltine crackers and ginger ale. My son believes that water makes him feel better – I wonder if he’ll feel that way when he’s grown.
Do you have a comfort food you turn to when you’re not feeling well? Have you ever eaten anything that made you feel…odd?
Here’s the Mellotones Banana Water. I’m not sure what it is, but it seems to make them feel better. It’s a tonic!
And here’s Nina Simone’s Ooh Child, my musical version of a comforting tonic.
This week was my son’s birthday. His favorite food is pizza, so for three days, he literally ate pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I feel less guilty about this now that I know that pizza is a vegetable. My birthday is in June, and we always eat outside. We have a nice bottle of viognier, and good bread, good cheese, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, olives… you get the idea.
Another thing I like to have on my birthday is ice cream. Which made me think of this scene from Ghost Dog. It’s such a beautiful scene – and Isaach de Bankole’s character trying to persuade Ghost Dog that ice cream is really good for you (a nutritionist on the radio said it’s almost exactly like food!) reminded me of the current conversation about pizza. And Reagan-era catsup qualifications.
Is there something you like to eat on your birthday, or a special day? What’s your favorite meal?
Everybody knows that you are what you eat. But I believe that you are what you listen to as well, and what you read, and what you watch. There’s a line from the Dungeon Family song On & On & On about remembering “…the music that took you, put you in a pot and cooked you.” I’ve always loved this notion. I think he’s talking about the music that made you “lie in awe on your bedroom floor,” and I think he’s also talking about the music that you heard as a child, that shaped who you are.
I was trying to think of a food from my childhood that feels significant, that had special value, and made me who I am in some way. I thought of crepes, or as we called them, flat pancakes. They were a special-occasion breakfast for us, so simple, and so pleasing. And now I feed them to my sons. They both ate them on their first birthdays, and for many many breakfasts (and dinners) since. And it makes me happy when they eat them.
And the music I listened to was mostly baroque or early classical. I remember holding the tune of Mozart’s Haffner Serenade in my head as a kind of talisman to ward off anything that made me anxious. My sons listen to very different music, but I love that they love what they love!
So… what are you made of? What food or music is part of your childhood, and became part of who you are?
As a bonus question for people who like thinking of songs on a certain topic (who could that be?) can you think of songs about your musical heroes recalling songs they listened to as a child? Like Talib Kweli’s Holy Moly, for instance.
Crepe recipe (written by my mother on an index card and memorized by me!) after the jump.