Daily Archives: August 26, 2014

When in Rome, Do as the Australians Do? Or is it the South Africans?

She and her dad left early for New York and a day of putting the City House back the way she had found it: white walls, empty rooms, and broom-clean floors. I left for a pre-work run, training for a 20K race next weekend. None of us had quite the day we expected. 

They couldn’t find parking. They needed more paint. The air conditioner wouldn’t come off its mounting. The landlord didn’t show up to collect the keys. There was a 75-minute wait to return equipment to the cable company.  One thing after another.

The complications of my day were fewer: I just got stung by a bee. On the roof of my mouth.  I mean, really. Who gets stung on the roof of the mouth? Pained but with no other symptoms, I made an appointment to see the doctor, finished my run, and went to the office. My doctor, a fellow runner, said I’d done the right thing; he prescribed ibuprofen, ice cubes, and a Benadryl at bedtime.

By the end of the day, nobody felt like cooking.  She likes the barbecue place not far from home, so I passed around the laptop–the 21st century version of a binder full of menus.  Her dad and I chose the pulled pork.  “Can I do something completely not authentic?” she asked. Reminded that she is an adult and fully capable of making her own choices, she opted for the penne pasta with vodka sauce and grilled chicken.  And a cheese quesadilla.

The girl ordered Italian and Mexican food.  From the barbecue place.

The hostess was terribly sorry that she couldn’t deliver the collard greens I’d hoped for as a side dish.  I was only sorry I couldn’t place her accent.  Australian?  South African? Second-year theatre student practicing her dialect-class homework?

The pulled pork was smoky and citrusy. The cornbread was moist and full of actual corn. The cole slaw wasn’t as good as the Colonel’s (or even the reverse-engineered version I make when there’s time), but it was fine. And, apparently, the penne and quesadilla were good, too. I’d ask, but she’s asleep on the couch.

This Dinner Brought to You by iMessage

There are dinners you plan weeks in advance, snuggled on a sofa with cookbooks all around and steaming mugs of tea nearby.  (I’m pretty sure there are such dinners, anyway; the nearest we’ve had have been conversations about Christmas and Easter meals, although I don’t remember the steaming mugs of tea, and in our case “cookbooks all around” means searching on Epicurious.)

There are dinners you plan by opening the fridge and hoping not to find new cultures of penicillin.

Most days, dinner is somewhere in between.

On Monday morning, I received an iMessage:

Car unloaded.

(She had made a trip to the storage unit to retrieve some items from a “miscellaneous” box that should have come into the house.)

Also, dinner sourced.

Oh? I replied.

Tomato and mozzarella sandwiches on bagels. With whatever other veggies we have.

After a successful workday, several hours of unpack-and-sort (cleaning products, hats and gloves were the day’s projects), and guest-room-tidying in preparation for a visit from her dad, it was dinnertime.

Lightly toasted asiago bagels were spread with a molecule-thin layer of mayo, layered with thick slices of ridiculously good tomato from the CSA and dairy-fresh mozzarella cheese, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and a few fried basil leaves, and served open-faced alongside sautéed green beans.

It’s not the sort of thing I grew up eating. I didn’t like uncooked tomato until college, and the only cheese I knew was square, pre-sliced, and wrapped in plastic. It’s a fine and glorious thing to discover things you thought you didn’t like.

Tomato and cheese sandwiches. Who knew?

Yum.

* * *

(No photos last night, particularly not of the leftover burger I offered my breakfast-and-lunch-skipping dinner companion as a protein boost alongside the bagel. It was, as predicted, considerably past well-done. Instead, here’s one of the planned-well-in-advance boeuf bourginnone she prepared for Christmas dinner last year.)

Boeuf