Friday, April 18, 2014

Let My People Eat

Monday, April 14, 2014
I don’t know where you were on Saturday, March 29, 2014, but, after reading the report in yesterday’s Times about the wedding of Sofia Alvarez and Adam Squires in Baltimore, the bride’s hometown, I’m glad that I missed it. The couple sounds perfectly pleasant, she is a playwright and he is a graphic designer. Of course, I find it trying to go to a large wedding (over 200 guests) where you know few other guests. That usually induces a need in me for more than the usual amount of alcohol. However, an alcoholic fog might not have been sufficient to blot out one vivid image, one that emerges from the printed page almost as stunningly as if I had seen it in person. Quoth the Times: "The wedding dinner, catered by Clementine, a Baltimore farm-to-table restaurant, featured a whole roasted Whistlepig Hollow Double Cross pig, the head of which was displayed on a platter near the wedding cake." No dessert for me.

For sure, the touchy-feely left is able to come up with nonsense that can compete with our Domestic Enemies of Sanity. It seems that a bunch of students in and around San Diego State University and UC-San Diego have been publishing a raunchy and irreverent humor tabloid called The Koala. See The aggressively offensive publication has upset any number of people at the unofficially-affiliated institutions. My favorite comment in the article above came from a professor in San Diego State’s women’s studies department: "I dread when it comes out. It makes students terrified and uncomfortable and not proud to be here." Those poor kids. War and senility and earthquakes make me terrified and uncomfortable, but those San Diego student have to cope with "jokes about homosexuals, Jews, Latinos, African-Americans, cancer patients and injured orphans." I bet that they just can’t wait to graduate and go to work.

Lent and Passover have some crude parallels besides arising more or less simultaneously each year. They both involve changes to eating habits as a sign of devotion. Lent is five times longer, but Passover, which begins tonight, is far more restrictive. It’s well known that my adherence to Jewish ritual and observance is, to say the least, eclectic, for which, I believe, there is no word in Hebrew. One rule that I adhere to during Passover is No Sandwiches, bread being the Kryptonite of Passover, after all. So, for my last pre-holiday meal I went to Hanoi Sandwich, 224A Canal Street (August 14, 2013), for a delicious banh mi, the signature dish of the Viet Cong.

This tiny space, where as many people squeeze in to buy lottery tickets as to get food, has three small, knee-high metal tables and six chairs on the sidewalk if you care to eat in, that is out really. In any case, I had a Hanoi barbecue meatball sandwich ($5.50) on a just-warmed, foot-long baguette, containing "BBQ soy [sauce], chicken meatballs, herbs, carrots, pickles, special dark sauce, jalapeno." Yummy. I was careful not to drip anything on my nice duds, since the low table was about one yard below my mouth. An extra surprise is the decrease, yes, I said decrease, in price of sandwiches from $5.95 to $5.50 since my last visit. There’s the making of a religion right there.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
As always, we are fortunate to have our Passover seders at Aunt Judi’s and Uncle Stu’s in Englewood, New Jersey, where they still make Jews like they used to. Some cynics might claim that my faithful attendance at these seders is entirely attributable to Aunt Judi’s cooking. It is true that, year in and year out, I come away rhapsodizing about her inventive (strictly Kosher for Passover) menu and its faultless execution. However, I think that the tale of the Exodus (with or without Paul Newman), a tale of liberation from slavery, is worthy of repetition by all regardless of what’s for dinner. But, when Aunt Judi prepares and serves fried gefilte fish, beef brisket (so tender that thinking about a knife was all that was necessary), baked chicken in French dressing with a panko crumb crust, confetti vegetable souffle, matzoh jam kugel (hard to explain, but a great favorite even with the fussy little kids), cous cous with onions, health salad, strawberry-rhubarb compote, brownies, chocolate chip mandel brot (always at the head of my class), cinnamon and sugar mandel brot, and wonderful meringue nut cookies (feather light and full of slivered almonds), as she did last night, I can’t help but be more pious than usual.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Snow! Snowing! Last night, when we completed our flight from Egypt, we found our car covered with almost an inch of wet snow and more falling. That was April 15th in northern New Jersey, not northern Saskatchewan. Actually, it was April 16th by the time we were able to breath the air of freedom in Bergen County, which made this weather phenomenon even stranger. Fortunately, I was fueled for the journey out of Egypt and across the George Washington Bridge by fried gefilte fish (I could have this with every meal I will ever eat), veal brisket, Aunt Judi’s Famous Sweet and Sour Meatballs, chicken with garlic in wine sauce, vegetarian kishke (an attempt to gentrify one of the classic artery-clogging dishes of Jewish cuisine), three mushroom pilaf, red cabbage salad, broccoli souffle, chocolate chip mandel brot, cinnamon and sugar mandel brot, zebra cookies (chocolate cookies heavily dusted with powdered sugar) and chocolate cookies. On both nights, fresh fruit salad and commercial cakes and cookies were also available to pick up the slack.

The College Board announced details of the revised SAT today. Most disappointing to me was that "[o]ne big change is in the vocabulary questions, which will no longer include obscure words. Instead, the focus will be on what the College Board calls ‘high utility’ words that appear in many contexts, in many disciplines — often with shifting meanings — and they will be tested in context." Those couple of lines themselves present a test of reading comprehension that, I fear, many of us would fail. I have to admit that I never heard of high utility words; it’s enough that I am coping with New York Giant quarterback Eli Manning’s high ankle sprain, although I’m not sure where anyone’s high ankle begins. Maybe high utility words are to linguists as high ankle sprains are to orthopedists? It is beyond cavil that the College Board’s penchant to agglomerate a bevy of ostensibly arcane, obfuscatory, or nebulous words and proscribe them to lexical desuetude is demeritorious. Fie!

Friday, April 18, 2014
What bitter medicine to end this otherwise festive week. The headline reads:
Enrollments Exceed Obama’s Target for Health Care Act
Its sickening to think that millions of people now have health insurance thanks to the Socialist-In-Chief.  They might actually go to doctors when something ails them instead of merely molting in private.  This also contradicts the compassionate prescription once offered by George W. Bush, a real American President.  "People have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room."  Will we recover?

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