Oddities and Obsessions

ImageLast year, a few weeks before Christmas, a gnarly mole on my shoulder was deemed highly suspicious by my dermatologist. Although the biopsy results werent in yet, I prepared for the worst. Death. Just two months shy of my fortieth birthday a growth the size of a peanut was going to take me out – rob the world of all I had to offer it, and rob me of the third season of Jersey Shore. With death imminent I needed to get my affairs in order. There was a lot to do: sort out my will and testament; cancel my Netflix membership; and, most importantly, guarantee a good turnout at my funeral.

The funeral part was tricky – trouble was Id been a bit snippy all year. Annoyed some people. Burned some bridges. If I didn't make amends quickly there was a good chance I was getting buried with just the gravediggers in attendance. In need of a quick way to redeem myself with everyone I had pissed off, I decided to send out Christmas cards. I’d never done it before, but a joyful holiday greeting featuring a jolly Santa and his elves wrapping glittery presents seemed the perfect way to remind everyone of my wonderfulness. Cards, address book and pen in hand, I dipped in to a new sushi restaurant in the neighborhood to grab lunch and pen my final correspondence to loved ones.

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sicilian-olives-300x225.jpg Have you eaten at the Tuckers recently?”

“You mean the olives and the almonds?”

“Every fucking time. That’s all you get until dinner.”

Well, it’s true. I don’t like to stuff people before I feed them. I want that feeding-the-pirhanas feeling when I bring the pasta out. Forks flashing. That kind of thing.

I have no interest in serving food to full people.

So, we put out a bowl of olives – usually the “festive mix” or whatever it’s called, from Fairway, or those big, fat Sicilian olives, a bit lighter green in color, meaty and briny.

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frenchfarmcook.jpgOnce upon a time, a long time ago, I decided to go on a liquid fast to lose weight. Needless to say, living on 400 calories a day of fake “milk shakes” is hell, but one strategy, which may sound counter-intuitive, was particularly helpful in getting me through 14 weeks of deprivation: I kept a stack of cookbooks next to the couch and another one by my bed. Reading recipes replaced eating recipes, and I lost a lot of weight. By the time I was ready to eat again, it turned out that I had replaced one addiction for another. My craving for cookbooks filled five shelves and then spilled onto the counters in my den.

Coupled with the many boxes of antiques scattered around the room, I kept expecting the camera crew from “Hoarders” to knock on my door. But what was I to do when I bought Susan Hermann Loomis’ “Farmhouse Cookbook” for its Best-Ever Chocolate Cake recipe, and then, five years later, her “French Farmhouse Cookbook” is released, with another chocolate cake recipe that says, “I thought I’d found the best-ever chocolate cake…but just when you think you’ve tasted the best there is, something better comes along”? Naturally, I had to buy that one, too. Eventually, it dawned on me that even if I made a new recipe every day for the rest of my life, I still couldn’t make all the ones I wanted to try in my 250+ cookbooks.

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rhino.jpgWhat exciting news this past week! “The Woolly Rhino – a new species of ancient rhinoceros found in Tibet.” And, it's only 3.7 million years old!

Not that my first thought was how to prepare a Woolly Rhino that has aged for 3½ million years, (obviously one can forego the tenderizer) and if it is that ancient, how long should I cook it. Well, actually it was my first thought, though I hardly think it would be a Paleontologist’s.

Not without guile, I turned to the internet for Woolly Rhino recipes, and – quite naturally since you can find anything on the internet – I found one on CLUTCHFITNESS.COM: where research meets reality! (“a cutting edge power building, body building, fitness and nutrition forum”)

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Our-first-honey-standIn early December, an esteemed acquaintance of mine, Jill Soloway (writer and director of the current award winning feature Afternoon Delight) mentioned on Facebook that her beekeeper friend David Bock had local honey for sale and that it made a ‘perfect holiday gift’.

My first thought was “Wow, locally made honey? There are actually beekeepers in the city? What does that even look like?” My second thought was “hell yeah it makes a perfect holiday gift. I’d sure want to receive it.” The other perk I discovered was that raw local honey can boost your immunity to allergies. Her post on Facebook said he’d be selling the honey at a stand outside his house until 2:00 p.m. that day.

Things came to a screeching halt however, when I saw his address. The street name had a foreboding quality to it. “Division Street”. I didn’t know Los Angeles even had one and I’m a native. Sure, maybe Chicago or San Francisco but for some reason I felt like if you found yourself on Division Street in Los Angeles, you’d be hurled back in time to the Los Angeles Elizabeth Short might have dwelt in.

The last time I’d come this far east was when my daughter Lena was 14 and wanted to see the band Of Montreal in a club called The Echoplex. It should have been called Club Code Violation but man that show was good! On the way back from The Echoplex we drove on a street that was like driving on an inverted “V”. It seems so benign when you type out the words “driving on an inverted ‘v’… believe me, it’s not. It was traumatic, especially in the dark.

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