Monday, November 24, 2008

The mythical can of concentrate, etc.

This is a picture I snapped lastnight, listening to Viva Vivaldi. It looks like something out of the Renaissance but it is really just First Presbyterian Church. Observe the dark balconies, and the people in them. Note to out-of-towners: This is the kind of place Buffalonians sit around and play music in. We do not even think twice about it.

And as impressive as First Church is, it is a powder room compared with Our Lady of Victory Basilica:

Observe the man in the back pew reading the paper. Here in Buffalo we don't just worship and listen to music in our grand churches. We use them just for sitting around.

Speaking of which, I should not be sitting around like this today, reflecting on this and that. It being Thanksgiving week -- how is that for grammar? -- I am feeling guilty doing anything but preparing for the family feast. I just put in an hour working on a chapter of my book about when Leonard Pennario was 17 and I feel guilty about that. If I am not making pie crusts and cleaning bathrooms, I am accomplishing nothing.

Cooking magazines are bugging me these days. Want to know why? Sure you do.

1.) They are always asking for "best-quality" ingredients. "3 oz. best-quality chocolate," they say. Look, if I want to cheap out and use Shur-Fine, it's my business.

2.) Quit telling me to deep fry my turkey.

3.) What is with this mythical can of orange juice concentrate these recipe authors assume we keep in the freezer to dip into, a tablespoon here, a tablespoon there? For the love of God as my friend Michelle would say.

4.) Quit telling me to brine my turkey. I have brined chickens before and I know it is a good idea but for heaven's sake, this 20-pound turkey, how am I ever going to brine that and fit it into the fridge?

5.) Don't you hate it when the magazines throw 30 ingredients at you and twice as many steps and call it easy? OK, this is not my original gripe. An anonymous commenter posted it last time I went on a cookbook tear.

Now, why would someone with that opinion not post his or her name? It reminds me of a conversation I just had when I ran into my friend Ari at Mulligan's Brick Bar.

Ari complained: "You never answer me when I comment on your blog."

I said: "Ari, I don't remember ever seeing a comment from you!"

"Well, I'm anonymous," he said.

"Then how am I going to know it's you?" I said.

What a ridiculous conversation!

Maybe Ari was the one with the cookbook gripe. But I doubt it. Ari is calm when he cooks. The only thing is, he cannot read a recipe out loud without doing so in the voice of Julia Child. I caught that from him. Once my friend Jane and I were leading a cooking class at the Broadway Market and I was cooking North African Couscous and explaining how I did it and suddenly I was doing what Ari does and talking in the voice of Julia Child!

"I'm sorry," I said into the microphone. "My friend Ari, when he cooks, he always imitates Julia Child."

Then I just went on doing it! Some things you just cannot turn off.

Like this blog entry!

I have this long day ahead of me -- have deadlines at work plus at 6 p.m. I have to go out to Transit, to Barnes and Noble, to sign copies of my dad's book. I have miles to go before I sleep. And here I am writing about Ari. What in the world.

No wonder I am not signing copies of my own book, about Pennario. No wonder I get nothing done.

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