New York, New York (and other doubles)

Leave a comment

So nice, I've been there twice (or more)

I’m getting on a plane to New York in just a few hours. This is the first flight I will take in over a year, which feels strange as I used to fly once every few months. With all that traveling, you’d think I would have hit a bunch of varied locations. I realized, though, that I’m a traveler who doesn’t so much seek out new places, but instead prefers to return to old favorites.

I first traveled abroad to Spain when I was 16, during which I visited Madrid and cities and towns in northern Spain. As soon as I got back to Minnesota, I vowed to return. Which I did at the age of 22…and again at 24. I taught English for a year in a small town in southern Spain at 22 and, the following summer, went back to both to northern and southern Spain. Just, you know, to make sure it was all as wonderful as I remembered.

I’ve also been to Dublin, Paris, and London twice each. I lived in the central part of Mexico during a sophomore year study abroad, and then spent a winter vacation in the Yucatan five years later. But somehow, in all this traveling, I’ve missed Italy and Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia, South America and Asia. Either it’s time to start shaking things up, or time to admit that I’m not as adventurous of a traveler as I’d like to think. This will, after all, be my sixth trip to New York City.

What kind of a traveler are you? The I’ve-Been-Everywhere type, or the Revisited type?


How to be a raw food chef

1 Comment

What you’ll need: Sharp knives, agave nectar

Songlist: Vegetable Man by Pink Floyd, Save the Bones for Henry Jones (‘Cause Henry Don’t Eat No Meat) by Johnny Mercer with Nat King Cole

Further reading: Raw Food Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis

You are what you eat

It is blazingly hot in Minnesota, mere weeks after being bitterly cold. It’s the kind of weather that doesn’t make a person want to open the oven or turn on a burner for dinner. It’s the kind of weather that I bring down my favorite cook book, Raw Food Real World.

Sarma, one of the authors of this book, runs an incredible raw food restaurant in New York City called pure food and wine. Dining there with my brother and parents exactly three years ago was one of the best gastronomical experiences of my life.

I planned to spend the entire summer of 2008 trying out recipes from the book–the grapefruit-avocado-fennel salad, the red beet ravioli, the quinoa tabouli.

My first culinary attempt was the watermelon-tomato gazpacho. This recipe includes nine fruits and vegetables to chop up, but really no additional preparation. I figured I would finish the gazpacho midday and leave it in the refrigerator to chill until dinnertime. I started chopping at noon, and was still chopping at 5 pm. By the time I was done, I was so exhausted I’d lost my appetite.

I learned that I am a laughably slow chopper while working in a kitchen for a Wyoming dude ranch. I would be given a task of cutting up lettuce, say, and when I went back to the chef for a new assignment an hour later I would realize that everyone else had moved on to making the dessert course.

This seemed to pose a problem if I wanted to be a raw food chef: since there is no sauteing or baking or broiling or roasting involved, all the preparation is chopping up fruits and vegetables.

Still, maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be slow, as long as I don’t work in a restaurant kitchen. Being slow means that I am deliberate, that my food looks perfect when it’s done, that a whole lot of loving energy went into its preparation. Now that the summer of 2011 is just beginning, maybe I’ll get back into the raw food saddle and make all those recipes I’d planned for three years ago. Red beet ravioli, here I come.