Some Thoughts on Sex and Food on Father's Day

dinner.jpg My father got me laid – twice. I’ll get to the food part in a minute.

The first was a cute, spunky doctor who worked with him in his Radiology department in a VA Hospital on Long Island. She told me she was in Los Angeles and my father had told her to call me. She added, laughing, ”Like for a good time.”

"Come on up", I said, "I’m in Benedict Canyon.  I’ll make you dinner." We bonded on my living room couch. Later, in the early hours of the morning I thought, “Gee, thanks, Dad.  A nice present.  And, it was my first doctor.”

luchowsmenu1.jpg The food. Growing up in a tiny town in upstate New York there weren’t any restaurants, just a luncheonette where if you asked for an egg salad sandwich the owner began by boiling an egg. The River Tavern Bar and Grill had a bar and no grill but in the summer you could get a pizza pie and in the winter they would defrost one for you.

On Sunday nights we sometimes drove ten miles to George’s in Monticello and have the combo plate: chow mein, a fat greasy egg roll, fried rice and sweet and sour pork. But since my father went to medical school in Europe and his Hungarian mother was a great cook he knew better and we saved up for trips to New York and ate at home.

A weekend would include a big Friday night meal in Flatbush at his parents or my mother’s (consult any Jewish kid’s memoirs for the menu) and then a round of art galleries and museums on Saturday.  We’d hook up with my mother for lunch at one of his favorite restaurants: Luchow’s on 14th Street for sauerbraten, Reuben’s on E.58th for the sandwich – for the lovers of the Reuben Sandwich I add this tidbit from the daughter of Arnold Reuben Sr. the proprietor:

“I would like to share with you the story of the first Reuben's Special and what went into it. The year was 1914. Late one evening a leading lady of Charlie Chaplin's came into the restaurant and said, 'Reuben, make me a sandwich, make it a combination. I'm so hungry I could eat a brick.'

reuben.jpg He took a loaf of rye bread, cut two slices on the bias and stacked one piece with sliced baked Virginia ham, sliced roast turkey, sliced imported Swiss cheese, topped it off with cole slaw and lots of Reuben's special Russian dressing and the second slice of bread. He served it to the lady who said, 'Gee, Reuben, this is the best sandwich I ever ate. You ought to call it an Annette Seelos Special.' To which he replied, 'Like hell I will. I'll call it a Reuben's Special.'"

Today the Reuben is made with corned beef or pastrami, and maybe turkey.  Or even tofu. But it wouldn’t be a Reuben.

Another of my father’s places was Faison D’or near the Museum of Modern Art. The special was  London Broil with mushroom sauce. My father would say, “This is what the advertising people eat.” In those days advertising was cool. Not as cool as art but who knew where artists ate? In Woodstock Tom Doyle and Eva Hesse were our neighbors and they once invited me to lunch in their studio.  We had Ritz crackers with peanut butter and jelly.

The second time came after my father died. I was foolishly in love with Nina, a stunning actress, whose visits to me in Benedict Canyon were determined by her appetite for wine, the recreational drug of her choice which I always tried to have on hand, or a simple desire to just hang out and talk. We were friends, she said, and sex would only complicate things. She could not be coaxed, seduced, or gotten high enough to change her mind. And because she was almost six feet tall with breasts of steel, legs that never ended and an ass you could hold in one hand I never gave up.

london.jpg But my father did, despairing of staring into the black hole of depression and finally taking leave of us one spring day in London, confirming Samuel Johnson’s directive, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”  I flew over to say farewell and mourn him with my mother, my sisters and their families.

A couple of weeks later I returned and received a call from Nina. She had heard about my father’s death and she was so very sorry. Would I like some company? I was inconsolable but I reluctantly said yes, yes, yes. And because Nina knew no better way to make me feel better she took me to my bedroom and eased me out of my grief with all her talent, passion, and expertise that I knew I would never experience again with her as I had just run out of fathers.

Later, in the early hours of the morning I looked out the window to the disappearing stars where I presumed he now resided and said, this time out loud, “Thanks, Dad.”



1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2 bay leaves
12 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large onions, sliced
1/2 cup salad oil
3 to 4 lb. beef roast, heel of round
3 tablespoon shortening
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup crushed ginger snaps (optional) 

Heat vinegar, water, spices, sugar and salt to boiling. Use large enough bowl, so liquid almost covers the meat. Pour over sliced onions and allow to stand until cool. Stir in oil. Pour marinade
over roast. Allow to stand in refrigerator 2 to 4 days, turning meat once a day so it will marinade evenly (use wooden spoons referably).

Remove meat from marinade and pat dry. Dredge with half the flour. Brown on all sides in hot shortening in a Dutch oven. Place rack under meat and add all of marinade. Cover meat tightly and
simmer or bake in oven 350 degrees for 3 to 4 hours or until meat is fork tender. Remove to hot platter.

Strain cooled down marinade and make a smooth paste with remaining flour and 1/4 cup cold marinade. Stir into liquid. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Stir in ginger snaps (optional) and heat
thoroughly. Season to taste. Serve hot gravy with sauerbraten.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.