Sunday, November 22, 2009

An account of the few weekend hours I spent awake

Yay! What felt like a bad cold on Tuesday, then definitively swinish (fevers, aches, the whole deal) by Thursday morning, has disappeared into nothing worse than a tendency to have a coughing fit every time I'm about to laugh. Once this subsides, it's vaccination time. But so far, recuperation activities have included:

-Reading Simone de Beauvoir's postwar take on America. Her main complaints were that there wasn't enough good shopping, that orange juice was hard to come by, that hamburgers were unheard-of, and that the Americans were too darn intellectual.

-Making a potato-leek soup that involves no blending. (I only found recipes that required blending, but I didn't think that sounded as good as non-blended.) What it involved was cooking a leek in some olive oil, pouring chicken broth on top of that, and eventually tossing in some cubed (or as best as I could approximate) potatoes. It turned out to be more than edible.

-Overanalyzing the Sunday New York Times. This was particularly fun this week because the Modern Love author is a former (professional) acquaintance, because I know exactly which French café in Brooklyn reacts in a disturbingly nonchalant way towards the three-inch waterbugs in the dining area, and, on a less personal-coincidence level, because of this clever point-counterpoint.

But seriously. This "Complaint Box" section had so much potential, but is not impressing. The complaints need to be general enough to cover a problem others might have noticed as well (i.e. 'this one employee at this one bank this one time had opinions about my personal life and I took it way too personally' does not count), but not so general as to be cliché (i.e. 'people with their cellphones can be so rude!').

The latest, however, is a new low. In what way is telling your host you're a vegan similar to telling her exactly which dish each member of your family is to be served, and how you'd like it prepared? If your guests are on low-carb diets for vanity reasons, how could this possibly be more work on your part? Doesn't this mean you can serve absolutely anything, they'll just eat less of it? And did this woman really lump "kosher" into the category of new dietary trends - ala low-carb and selective vegetarianism - that make throwing a dinner party these days such a challenge? Should the fact that her last name is Goldberg make her immune to the criticism such an error might otherwise inspire? Or are we to presume she's recently wed a Mr. Goldberg, which is why she's only just now had to deal with dinner guests not keen on pig-on-a-spit? Of course, if these guests are so strictly kosher, they're not eating off Ms. Goldberg's plates to begin with, which is another matter.

Anyway. People serve alcohol at events where Muslims, Mormons, and AA-members will be present, but provide an alternative as well. Hosts, good grief, if you must serve a meal, cook up a bowl of green lentils, toss with chopped red onion, dijon mustard, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and for next to no effort and 50 cents, you've fed everyone something elegant and vaguely French.

Oh, one of these days...


Miss Self-Important said...

"Charles H. Antin, a wine specialist at Christie’s..." So, what were you doing professionally before grad school?

Phoebe said...

Haha, I wish. This was before he was in wine.

Jacob T. Levy said...

Try adding creme fraiche to that soup.

Jeff said...

Or try blending that soup - it's not potato-leek soup, it's vegetable soup that happens to have potatoes and leeks in it.

Do you need a blender, Phoebe? Try putting up one of those Amazon wish-list links, with a (cheap) blender, and maybe I or some other kind soul will hook you up. The grad-student asceticism may be getting out of hand.