’86’ clothes! Tasting something greater

’86’ clothes! Tasting something greater

It was a feeling from day one. Indescribable? In a single word, yes. But so many different words came instead: So many words came/come to mind looking into wondering eyes with wandering 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 imaginations ran wild, unchecked. When a tension that could be cut with a knife was used instead to make Japanese udon noodles (from scratch) and prepare dishes we knew would taste both different and the same, familiar and new, every time we sat down to eat. But when words fail it is fingers and toes, the breathlessness of beating hearts, the inexhaustible passion and heat of the kitchen that reminds us why we always stand so close to each other. Why we fall asleep intertwined, all knees and cheeks and sweet words left on pillows. Because feeling and flavor are inextricably linked. Some people, many people, other people don’t need much to be happy. Some people, many people don’t need decadent meals, the time spent over stoves and ovens, the plates so well composed they beg to be put on the same plane of existence as Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt. So beautiful they could be placed on walls next to the likes of Van Gogh, Dali, Renoir. But 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...
Apple sweet, coffee dark and bitter

Apple sweet, coffee dark and 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. 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 to be “simple” in...
What is it like to be so in love?

What is it like to be so in love?

We’re holding on tight together in the shower, hot taps running down skin and between fingers and toes. We’re falling into fresh sheets on the feather bed, our bodies wrapped tight in blankets, covered in pillows. Touching and laughing about nothing. There’s a small bar at the end of the block – an old and rickety place that smells like cigarettes even though they banned smoking indoors years ago (except in casinos, where rules don’t really apply). It’s hot in this bar, because it’s so small and so full of people. Even (or especially) in winter. People yell for drinks and cheer for their favorite team on the screen overhead. Potato chips hang from the wall behind the bottles: the only thing they have to eat. There’s a dartboard in the back – slightly crooked, like an open mouth with sharp teeth. We throw darts and I let her win. She lets me win. And then we have one more drink while the football game or the baseball game plays overhead, with everyone watching but us. We cheer when they cheer. Everybody stands crowded around the bar holding glasses and magic wands that will make their problems disappear. We carve out a little space of our own to throw darts. We talk about leaving – about long road trips across the country the way used to do – before – when the wide open spaces of the country were still a mystery and the open road could stretch on and on and on until, finally, it stopped at the edge of vast and insurmountable ocean. And everyone knows that...
When the world becomes water

When the world becomes water

Gogo stands over the oven. She is sweating – the air is warm and humid, even at night. She is cooking when I come in the door, licking her mother’s red sauce recipe from her fingers. There’s a loaf of bread and garlic next to her with a piece missing. And she says, “Forgive me, but I was so very hungry. You’re late.” “I’m sorry.” “I started eating,” she wipes her hands with a white towel from the rack. “I couldn’t wait.” Only the light over the sink is on, keeping the kitchen in shadows and smells. I take a bowl from the cupboard and she fills it with noodles, tomato, garlic, wine. We sit down at the small wooden table pushed against the wall and eat mostly in silence. We fall asleep on the couch after we’re finished, watching something on TV that we’ve both seen before. The apartment is only one room, so nothing is far away. It was the opposite the last time we had sex. It was the last time we fell asleep together in the bed – slept someplace other than the couch. “You’re early,” she had said, her hair pulled across her forehead, panting, licking her lips, unsatisfied. We watched a movie recently. I don’t remember the title. It was something that Gogo wanted to watch and I fell asleep before it was over. I woke up near the end to a guy with a strong jaw taking the leading lady in his arms and telling her, “You’re silly.” “What?” “To think that the money that you’ll inherit from your mother is what...
Not for sale

Not for sale

Gogo was raised by her uncle after her mother died and her father left for Africa. Her father never returned from Africa, and whether he was alive or dead she never knew. Neither did anyone else. Her uncle was large and had a strong jaw – a head shaped like an anvil. His words had the same sort of weight. But he didn’t say much, thankfully, and his house on the edge of the river was large enough that they could (mostly/almost) coexist without crossing paths. Gogo always said that she could dissolve into a glass of water when he yelled for peace and quiet. When I visited her we stayed in her room. If we were hungry we left the house. If her uncle was in a particularly foul mood we stayed at my place, hiding beneath the covers of my bed so that my parents wouldn’t know I had her over. We were safe there, beneath the covers, holding each other and whispering about where we would go tomorrow, next month, next year, forever. We read books to each other. Great tomes of Russian literature and the American classics. We tackled “Waiting for Godot” which was one of her favorites: We said we would go and see it performed one day when we had the money. We read poetry and wondered how so much could be said with so few words. My parents never caught us. Gogo always slipped through the window before sunrise and before my dad started making jokes at the breakfast table where I pretended to laugh. My dad always said, “You can’t be...