Monday, February 25, 2013



I think I was meant to meet her.  It was arranged angelically I suspect, and though I don't know the who-how-why of it, the timing kind-of took my breath away.

For days I had planned this run to Alligator CafĂ© for my Academy Awards evening po' boy to-go.  Jennifer was picking up fried green tomatoes and bread pudding to take to her dad who is eighty-six and has Myasthenia Gravis which is a rare, autoimmune, neuro-muscular disorder.

It was midday and that she was sitting at the bar sipping a glass of white wine while waiting on her order should have been a dead giveaway, Jennifer's spontaneous and unexpected offer-turned-insistence she buy me a glass while I also waited, is what sold me; I liked her. 

Here's the freaky part.  Last evening, Spoke and I had dinner, a long-awaited-twice-postponed dinner with two dear friends, at a similarly-styled restaurant.  The husband of the couple has Myasthenia Gravis.

I know I am led to bars; the who-how-why of that very clear.  Inexplicably, the people who have entered my life from these brief bar exchanges, while puzzling, often turn out to have purpose and rewards, enriching my life in some way.    

Maybe it's nothing more than a rare coincidence that I met Jennifer on Sunday afternoon.  Time will tell but I do hope I run into her again.  The next glass is on me.



Sunday, February 24, 2013

here's to you, hoffman

A shot of Patron in the back of a limo?  Yeah, I get that.

Bon Appetit's "Back Of The Napkin" featured Dustin Hoffman giving readers a brief glance into how his Oscar night is likely to play out.  To summarize: he has a shot or two to calm his nerves, is then gracious to the least known reporters on the red carpet, gets through the evening win or lose, skips the parties to head home with a traditional and favorite post-show, fast-food dinner stop.

Tonight I may be rooting for Michael Haneke to win Best Director but I'll share private moments with Hoffman as I enjoy a messy Shrimp Po' Boy, curled up in our worn recliner, watching the show on recorded delay about the time he's eating an In and Out burger in the limo.  Worlds apart we are but not really.  Not so much.

I love that thought and I think if I met him, I'd love Dustin too.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

a love story

Back in December of 2006, a friend shared with me the article in The New Yorker titled Santa Secrets, written by Patricia Marx.  Christmas was approaching and Marx wrote a very clever piece on the pain of last-minute gift shopping with many real and most amusing suggestions for what you might get anyone on your list. 

I quite enjoyed that article but it was a poem, a freestanding, unrelated poem, which jumped off a page where the article had continued, and which turned out, in my eyes, to be a gift itself, a life-long gift and today I'd like to share it with you.

It's a love story; raw truth told of true love. 

Looking Back In My Eighty-First Year
Instead of marrying the day after graduation
in spite of freezing on my father's arm as
here comes the bride struck up,
saying, I'm not sure I want to do this,

I should have taken that fellowship
to the University of Grenoble to examine
the original manuscript
of Stendhal's unfinished "Lucien Leuwen,"
I, who had never been west of the Mississippi,
should have crossed the ocean
in third class on the Cunard White Star,
the war just over, the Second World War
when Kilroy was here, that innocent graffito,
two eyes and a nose draped over
a fence line. How could I go?
Passion had locked us together.
Sixty years my lover,
he says he would have waited.
He says he would have sat
where the steamship docked
till the last of the pursers
decamped, and I rushed back
littering the runway with carbon paper. . .
Why didn't I go? It was fated.
Marriage dizzied us. Hand over hand,
flesh against flesh for the final haul,
we tugged our lifeline through limestone and sand,
lover and long-legged girl.

Looking Back In My Eighty-First Year
Maxine Kumin
The New Yorker, December 11, 2006, page 64

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

mardi gras

My Fat Tuesday began at The Alcove, a great wine bar in Uptown.  That's Luiz!

It was then off to The Free Man in Deep Ellum, joining the crowd already elbows deep at the bar.  Fried Pickles were shared followed by some seriously Blackened Shrimp. 

Dave Washburn's Three Quarters Fast band played all night and if you missed Mardi Gras, they'll be back on Saturday.

I met a lot of nice people.

We're keeping the New Orleans vibe going here at 3906; a large pan of Shrimp Creole will simmer until I've had my fill and it's time to move on to Valentine's Day.  Here's an easy version of the dish.  I hope your good times roll...

Shrimp Creole
1 pound fresh Gulf shrimp
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
6 cloves minced garlic
2 twenty-eight ounce cans Italian whole, peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
2 cups shrimp stock (made with the shrimp for this recipe)
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
2 bay leaves
dried red pepper flakes or hot sauce (optional)
Peel and devein the shrimp.  Place the shells and the tails in 3 cups of water and bring to a bowl.  Reduce the heat and simmer while you prepare the vegetables.
In a large sautĂ© pan, cook the onion, pepper and celery until they are soft. 
Crush the tomatoes by hand and set aside with the juice from the cans. 
Strain the shrimp stock and set aside.
Add the garlic to the vegetables and cook it for just a minute.
Add the tomatoes and their juice, 2 cups of stock, Creole seasoning, and bay leaves.  Simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, adding tomato paste if you prefer a thicker sauce.  Add stock as it cooks if you prefer a thinner sauce.
Before serving, add the shrimp and cook only until they turn pink. 
Serve with steaming cooked rice or chunks of baguette.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

side by side

I tried describing it.  "It's as though he's always only inches from my face," I said.  Oftentimes he literally was, and if we weren't together but he was on my mind, Spoke still felt just inches from my face.  Twenty-five years ago, in love and on top of the world, everything was new and exciting, nothing had yet tested our strength or our love.  

During this time, Spoke and I discovered MoMo Italian Specialties, a restaurant which introduced us to the more regional dishes of Italy, which then led to trips, tasting for ourselves.  In Florence I ate white truffles for the first time, shavings covering a single, plate-sized ravioli and I bravely ordered squid ink spaghetti in Venice. 

Our group of ten met at MoMo recently; it's in a new location with a new name, MoMo Italian Kitchen.  Half of us were spaciously spread along the banquette facing the others in chairs.  Spoke and I arrived last which left us facing each other across the width of the wood table.  

It struck me that I have never, with the exception of a square table of four, not been seated beside Spoke at any dining event and after mere seconds, I was unnerved.  I was also uncomfortable, unable to reach the table without leaning far forward.  A switch was made, I was appreciative, for all was again right with my world.

As though we are extensions of each other, my husband and I instinctively, if ever so briefly, reach for each other throughout the night, sharing food, checking on the other's needs, all the while being completely engaged with our friends and enjoying their company. 

This dinner was excellent as they always are at MoMo.  People brought their favorite wines, and pasta dishes which were ordered by everyone, included shells tossed with four cheeses, fresh linguine with spicy seafood, cream-sauced angel-hair with smoked salmon and shrimp, and medallions of spinach baked with mascarpone and gruyere

Espresso arrived and our table rearranged; ladies gathered at one end, sharing zabaione and tiramisu, while the guys talked at the other end, their desserts consumed before we changed seats.  The girl time was nice; in a night that seemed to fly by, we grabbed a few minutes of final conversation before we said goodbye.

During pauses, I caught glimpses of Spoke down the length of table, still in his end chair, twelve feet away at least.  In a flash came that old familiar feeling and there he was, as he always is, only inches from my face.