Friday, December 30, 2005

The truth about junk food

Clearly, some time ago makers and consumers of American junk food passed jointly through some kind of sensibility barrier in the endless quest for new taste sensations. Now they are a little like those desperate junkies who have tried every known drug and are finally reduced to mainlining toilet-bowl cleanser in an effort to get still higher.

-Bill Bryson

Thursday, December 22, 2005

My new neighborhood

In addition to a cool new stove (literally - it has no door springs, so everything takes twice as long to bake. But the kitchen is nice and warm) - I live in a cool new neighborhood.

One of the great things about living here is that it is heavily Latino, almost Mexico norte. For instance, we have street food vendors, something that NEVER happened when I lived in gringo-land on the other end of the county.

On Thursdays we have the tamale man. Unfortunately I have missed every visit so far, but I am living in hope. Yes, I know about the lard. I love tamales so much I may have to pretend it doesn't exist.

And last weekend, on a cold Sunday, I heard a bicycle horn honking up and down the street. Paletas? I wondered. But it seemed too cold and grey for ice cream bars.

I walked out to see. Elotes! A small woman in a plastic rain poncho was pushing a cart that had a pot of hot water on it. If you wanted, she would use tongs to pull out a large ear of corn on the cob and then add the condiments you like to it, all for $1.25.

Perhaps you are thinking of corn on the cob with butter and salt. Change your thinking, my friend.

I was unfortunately not hungry, but my neighbor got the works - first, a thick smear of mayonnaise. Then a container full of crumbled salty cotija cheese was flipped open and the cheese tossed in a flurry over the mayo.

THEN a drizzle of liquid margarine. Were we done yet? Hell, no. A quick spritz of lime juice from a sprayer bottle and a hot red coating of chile powder completed the masterpiece.

Now, don't you wish you lived in Mexico norte? A treat like that, eaten in your driveway on a cold Sunday afternoon, makes life worth living.

Como Mexico, no hay dos!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Deepest apologies

Sorry for my extended absence. I have been in the process of moving, and you know how that is.

The good news is that I am the proud renter....of a genuine 1940's O'Keefe and Merritt stove with the griddle in the middle.

It looks like this:

Except not quite that clean or shiny.

It also has the added little problem of having no door springs so baking takes, oh, twice as long. But the Good Landlord promised to fix that soon. I hope so. It is Christmas cookie season!

In any case, I am delighted to have the same stove we had when I was a kid right in my own kitchen. Now I can do like my dad did - come home from work, prop the stove door open, warm my feet with the pilot light and eat saltines and cheese and pieces of oily smoked bonito fish sliced off with my pocket knife. Maybe I won't actually do it - but that stove sure brings back those good memories.