Stories

ImageThis is a true story. Today as I walked into my office I was immediately confronted.

“Hey Matt, my mother-in-law taught my daughter Courtney to make homemade cream puffs! I brought some in today, would you like to try them?” she asked.

Why, certainly!

“Hey Matt, you’ve really gotta try this Almond Toffee Bark I made last night,” said another coworker.

Well, ok, I responded.

“Hey Big Boy, there are Krispy Kremes in the conference room,” teased another.

Not anymore,
I thought.

“Oh! I forgot! She also taught her how to make homemade donuts! They took forever and they look funny but they’re really good! Have one!” screeched coworker #1.

And I did.

Do you want to know what’s worse then everyone being clever and crafty and baking and frying during the holidays? It’s being born without one ounce of self control.

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ImageThe “Sunday Styles” Section of The New York Times recently ran a front page story on the evolution of the noun Charlie Sheen into a verb, as in sheened and sheening, meaning, among other things, partying or making bad decisions (Laura M. Holson, “When Your Life Becomes a Verb,” March 6, 2011). Apparently the first cited/sited reference appeared in Urban Dictionary, and more recently posters on Twitter have offered their definitions.

In the meantime, we’ve all been sheened: to be exposed to far too many stories and interviews involving Sheen. A dangerous side effect of this phenomenon may be an uncontrollable desire to turn all names into verbs, as in

To franco is to multitask, then fall asleep in all the wrong places, like classrooms and award-show stages.

To juliachild is to whip up a French dinner for 8, while laughing.

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juliejulia.jpg Thanks to Sony Pictures, I saw a special preview screening of "Julie & Julia." The screenplay for the film was adapted from two books: My Life in France, Julia Child's autobiography, co-written with her grand-nephew Alex Prud'homme, and Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. One book recounts (among other things) how Mastering The Art of French Cooking came to be, and the other is how one woman cooked every single recipe in it, in the space of a year. I also got to see a presentation with a past Top Chef contestant, the author Julie Powell and one of the primary supporting actors Chris Messina, but the most intriguing person I met associated with the film was the culinary consultant, Susan Spungen. She and an assistant managed to prepare and cook every single dish in the movie as well as prep the cooking scenes. 

Susan Spungen is a cook, food stylist, editor and cookbook author. She worked as food editor for Martha Stewart Living magazine for over 10 years, was a restaurant pastry chef and went to art school early in her career. She is a stylist with the soul of a cook.

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beach.jpgThere is a basic tenet in Buddhism that the only reality is what is happening now. The past exists only in our heads, muddled by our own unavoidable perspectives and biases, and the future may or may not come to pass. If a piano falls on you in three seconds, it’s best not to have spent that time separated from the sights, sounds and emotions of the moment.

I find this a helpful construct for many reasons; I tend to be a ruminator and a worrier, frequently leaving the moist, fragrant air of a summer second to regret the actions of a remote January morning, or to fret over what might happen as the air grows crisp and the leaves turn from green to red. I wonder, though, if it is wrong to remember places I loved, that are forever lost to me, and that live on only in my memory and the collective memories of those who actually experienced them. It’s a moot point, really, because I can’t seem to stop myself, and it doesn’t seem to do me any significant harm to remember. This happens, particularly, when I think about my grandmothers’ houses, places that still exist, but which are empty of the people, the atmosphere and any other context that gave them meaning for me.

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