Relationships with mothers can be complicated. Actuuually…the word complicated is not hefty enough to describe the intricacies and layers involved in mother-daughter relationships. I cracked up look at this the other day, because it’s says so much, in a way that words cannot express. I remember telling my mom a long time, during a typical and normal teenage argument, “MOM! I’m 14. I know the way the world works! Leave me alone!” Sheesh…..I cringe now writing those words because I still have no idea how the world works and cannot imagine what my 14-year old brain was thinking. It was full of itself.
Food elicits emotions, that’s a given….but can foods elicit facial expressions? For the queen of facial expressions, that’s a resounding yes. For some reason, I cannot, for the life of me, hide what I feel, and it’s always cemented on my face. Don’t ask me to lie, about anything, because it is not going to happen. Don’t want me to tell you what I really feel, unless you have no qualms in knowing. This can be very positive, though, because it’s easy to make me smile. Just give me a Thomas’s English muffin, which remind me of my grandmother, who used to feed me these for breakfast…”quieres un Tomas mufin?” she would ask, hovering over the breakfast counter, looking straight into my eyes with her loving expression as she watched me eat. Imagine my smiles when one of favorite cooking teachers, JJ, expressed his delight for said muffin.
When you’re going through something unpleasant, what do you do? Come on, everyone has their thing. How do you choose to escape the occasional blight that is hauled in your direction? Some people choose to drown their sorrows with wine bottles. Others turn to women, or men. A good movie or TV show can be a great pause from reality. A run can do wondrous things for the mind, bringing you back to a much better place than where you once started. Meditation is difficult, but some people can do it for hours, or weeks at a time, sometimes in complete silence. One of my best friends went to India a few years ago and did just that. But she couldn’t stay quiet. “Does talking to yourself count?” she asked me before she left. She ditched the place early.
Much to my chagrin, I have recently come to the realization and subsequent conclusion that I cannot, or should not, eat gluten. It just doesn’t work for my body. Let’s just say it doesn’t….digest well. TMI? This makes me feel all “WAH WAH WAH” inside. Incase you didn’t know, those are crying sounds. Because I love gluten. I love the taste of all-purpose flour in baked goods, it makes the texture smooth and supple. It provides the girth and dense sponginess inside of a perfectly baked baguette, which is probably my favorite thing to eat. But it does nothing for my health. Wahhh.
I’ll never forget a day exactly three years ago, when I attended my first official Passover dinner. It was a huge production. Unlike anything I had ever experienced, it was legitimately immersed in the Jewish culture and I loved every second of it. It was one of those special meals that is forever engrained in your memory because you have such warm feelings towards it. The dinner table was set up exquisitely and we went around the room reading from the Torah, saying prayers out loud, and eating dish after dish in succession. I remember eating an egg, gefilte fish, matzo, fruit salad, Manischewitz wine (the mandatory four glasses), and I can’t remember what else because there was an such a large abundance of food. I also can’t remember some dishes because one was so particularly good that it made me forget everything else, it made me live in a vortex where only me and this meat existed. For this vegan that cheats, you know that means it was damn right delicious.
You know, I’ve never been a huge fan of lemon in desserts. I like for my lemon for lemonade, dressings, or in my water. Maybe a slight zip of zest in lemon quick breads is good, too. But a dessert where lemon is the showcase? I always felt like I was eating pinesol. That all changed when I tried these bars, though…..lemon opposition, officially out the window, and forever. These bars are a breeze to whip up. They have a shortbread crust, heavily infused with butter which makes it crumbly and seeping with butter flavor. That richness is a perfect match for the lemon layer, which has just the right amount of tang. It doesn’t make you pucker exactly, but it lets you know the lemon is there, in its bright and bold glory. It’s texture is thick, unctuous and velvety smooth. Make these for Easter. I hope they have the power to change your opinion about lemon desserts, too. I know I’ve never looked back.
Getting to really know a person is one of the greatest joys of life. Romantic or platonic, cracking through layers of someone else’s personality is like a journey in and of itself. When you first meet someone, there’s usually a “crust” involved, as my friend the thinker so eloquently and accurately stated the other day. People are never really their true, quirky selves when you meet them. At least I’m not…I’m on my best behavior until the weirdness seeps through. In discovering new things about a person, layers upon layers need to be sifted through and revealed. Each new facet of the personality gets uncovered slowly, as you get closer to that person. Someone that seemed hum-drum or ordinary can quickly become the most fascinating thing to happen to you in a long, long time. And time is all it takes.
Last night I had dinner at an Italian restaurant. While Italian restaurants usually sprinkle my life with sheer joy, this one was different. Different than any Italian food I had ever experienced. As my friends and I glanced through the menu, we stayed silent for a while. Was it modern? What do we order? What sounds good? Speck? Lecco? Orato…what are such things? We were confused, but we settled on some choices. And as we munched on delicious bread and a white bean/olive oil dip, our food came. And it was not what we expected. It was beautifully plated but very dainty. Flavors were not a cohesive whole. We couldn’t quite put our finger on what was…..off.