The Seasons

The Seasons

In Summer. The sun shining from its perch high in the sky. I remember riding my bike through the alley. I slipped and fell and skinned my knees and hands. Gogo and I snuck into the University Club on Grand Hill overlooking the city. We hold hands and go skinny-dipping in the pool. I find a diamond necklace left at the bottom near the drain – I give it to Gogo and tell her to keep it, to wear it, show it off like we have money for diamonds. She says, But. What if I see the woman who owns this necklace? What if she sees me with it on? And what if she says it was me who stole it? What then? I say, And? What then? She laughs and put the diamonds around her neck. She still wears them, I think, but not on special occasions. With t-shirts and sneakers and jeans. In Fall. The small white house on the corner of Webster Street. The lady who lives there who looks like my grandmother. She waves at me from the porch with her wrinkled brown palm as I pass on my bike. Once, two-or-three years ago, she beckoned for me to come inside. She gave me cookies still warm from the oven. My memories are made of brick and cement and glass. My dreams are bathed in waning sunlight of an autumn day. Long shadows creep over fences and pull at the sidewalk after 4. My dreams are apples picked from trees and flat piano notes from songs I never learned how to play. The air is...
Things eaten and enjoyed

Things eaten and enjoyed

I went out to dinner at Grand Cafe in South Minneapolis recently, with Gogo and one of her friends from Chicago. We ate steak tartare with boquerones, chicken liver mousse, pork pate en croute with savora mustard, wilted spinach salad with lardons, and a boozy rum cake for dessert. It was the kind of dining experience that holds your hand and teaches you how good food can be; how good food should taste and feel, and then leaves you defeated as though you’ve been crushed by a cleaver to the chest, the remnants hanging onto the edge of your lips and fingertips. Food rooted in the French tradition on which we’ve based culinary excellence for hundreds of years. We tipped our waitress. We bought a bottle of champagne for the kitchen. The next night, I smoked a joint and ate a platter of local cheeses at home on the couch. I only meant to have one or maybe two pieces, but I couldn’t stop cutting more until the entire block was gone. I finished it with a piece of dark chocolate from Madmoiselle Miel’s chocolate shop on Kellogg Boulevard and then collapsed onto the couch until morning. “It doesn’t have to be fancy, you know.” Gogo tells me. “Good food is anything that tastes good.” I made macaroni and cheese from the box, found some grapes and watermelon in the fridge, drank a beer from the can, opened a bag of chips and sour cream. “Food is meant to be eaten and enjoyed.” There’s something sexual about the way garlic smells cooking in butter. I made tomato butter for...
“86” clothes: What we gain when we take everything off

“86” clothes: What we gain when we take everything off

It was a feeling from day one, indescribable in a single word. So many different words came instead; words that came and come to mind looking into wandering eyes with wondering eyes like hers. “I want something to eat. And if there isn’t anything leftover when we’re finished, we’ll simply make more.” When things were still withheld and unsteady. When our imaginations ran wild and unchecked. When tension that could be cut with a knife was used to make Japanese udon noodles from scratch instead, and prepare dishes we knew would taste both different and the same, familiar and new, every time we sat down to eat. When words fail it is fingers and toes, breathlessness and beating hearts, inexhaustible passion and heat of the kitchen that reminds us why we stand so close to each other. Why we fall asleep intertwined, all knees and cheeks and sweet words left on the pillow. Because feeling and flavor are inextricably linked. Some people (many people, other people) don’t need much to be happy. They don’t need decadent meals, or the time spent over stoves and ovens. They don’t appreciate the plates so well composed that they beg to play the notes of Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt. So beautiful they could be placed on the wall next to Van Gogh, Dali, Renoir. We do. A recipe for candied orange peel Ingredients: 2ea large oranges, 1/4in cut off top & bottom 4 cups sugar, in 4 different cups 3 cups water Directions: Cut the peel of each orange vertically into 4 pieces Remove each section and cut into segments 1/4in thick Cook for 15min...
Apple sweet, coffee dark & bitter

Apple sweet, coffee dark & bitter

The Asian markets along University Avenue have anything and everything you could ever want to buy: They have the things that Minnesota’s Scandinavian, Irish, and Eastern European base will recognize, and then everything else brought from the far Eastern Asian countries along the Mekong River: Salted duck eggs, fresh quail eggs, pickled chicken eggs, Thai basil, live clams and frogs. Noodles – a wall of noodles. Hot sauces made from red chili. Coffee with sweet milk. It’s a wonderful thing, especially those who enjoy expanding their knowledge of food and their palate. A resource for everyone. It was not long ago that a farmer grandfather from Monticello looked at sushi with confused and disapproving eyes. Fried Chinese was acceptable, but, what in the hell do we need all these other things for? And he wasn’t necessarily wrong – he wasn’t wrong in the sense that regional authenticities deserve as much attention as all the new things flooding our grocery markets and restaurants. We forgot long, long ago what the Native Americans, the First Nation, indigenous populations were eating here before Europeans arrived. And now we have all of those foods, plus every single other food that has been added since then. It’s become quite crowded, noisy even, and if you don’t know how to navigate this new and exciting and ever-changing world of food; how to keep up and how to appreciate the beauty of diversity in diet, you’re going to retreat into the things you know – the things on which you were raised. Familiar things. Things that make you happy. Like my grandfather did. And it’s never really going...
What is it like to be so in love?

What is it like to be so in love?

We stand in the shower. Holding our bodies tight, close together. Hot taps run down our skin, between our fingers and toes. Then: We’re falling into the fresh sheets of the feather bed, our bodies wrapped up in blankets and sheets, surrounded by pillows. There’s a small bar at the end of the block. An old, rickety place that smells of cigarettes still – though cigarettes have been banned indoors for years. It’s warm in this bar. Always, no matter the season. Because it’s small. And. So full of people. In winter, when people yell for drinks and cheer their favorite teams playing basketball on the TV overhead, potato chips hang from the wall behind the bottles, the only thing there is to eat. There’s a dartboard on the wall in the back, hanging slightly crooked, like an open mouth with sharp teeth. Have another drink. The game above is last second, hold-your-breath, one shot, two-points, three, down-to-the-wire. We throw darts and I let her win. Then she lets me win so we both go home happy. We talk about leaving. About a long trip. A trip across the country. But before, long ago, when the wide-open spaces of the country were still a mystery to men. And when the open road could stretch on and on. Until finally it came to an end at the edge of the ocean. Anything is possible at the end of the road. America is not the mystery she once was. Her curves have been brought out into the light. Her rolling hills and long prairies and badlands now documented and developed. But...