I spent the summer in Israel when I was 15 years old, and while I know I did all of the expected stuff–day trips, stays at hostels and kibbutz, the big cities and the desert–one of the things that stands out most clearly in my memory is something sort of random–the way the Israeli kids dressed on hot days: black jeans and often long-sleeved shirts. I’d look at them, so covered, so dark, and want to scream. “Don’t you know how HOT it is here? I’m melting in my Tevas and tank top and you’re there wrapped as tight as you can in WINTER clothes.” Clearly this penchant for melodrama isn’t a recent phenomenon.
June, 2007 Archive
Though this should surprise precisely no one, when I was a kid my best friend and I went through a phase where we became obsessed with baking cakes. Though the cake creations ranged in flavor and size, they never lacked for two components: buttercream frosting by the bucket and Dunkin Hines “yellow” cake by the layer. (My mother politely requests that I point out that we did the baking at my friend’s house, and not mine, as my mother would never, ever permit the use of such things as baking mixes. She doesn’t kid.)
I hate clutter. You might think that this means that I live a Type A sort of white glove test-passing existence, but anyone who knows me can vouch wholeheartedly that I do not. Because I’m lazy. But every so often (er, 28 days or so) I go on a cleaning bender and purge and sweep to my heart’s content. My inboxes get Bit Literate, absurdly insignificant things get vacuumed (dusty ledge around the walls of the apartment, your days are numbered) and things cluttered in this ever-expanding document called “to blog” get purged, well, onto your screens.
Everyone’s got a favorite potato salad, and this is ours.
I know most are aggressively forgettable, with so much slick and eerie uniformity in their texture that it almost seems that their creators knew people were never going to eat it anyway, so why bother? But if you do–bother, that is–you’re in for a whole other world of crunch, texture, tang, complexity and even, dare I say, flavor. I’ve made them with a slip of horseradish, with chopped hard-boiled eggs, celery and cornichon, I’ve tossed them in a mustard vinaigrette with red peppers, capers and olives, yet I haven’t done any of those things since I came across this one.
A few times a year, I fall in love with tarts all over again, and not only because Alex thinks that “fluted removable bottom tart pan” is the best name given to any kitchen tool, ever, but because there are few things not made tastier when rendered wide and shallow, in a flower-like shell. In the winter, I gush over slices of warm quiche, on a plate billowing with lightly-dressed greens, or a deep, rich, hard-to-forget ganache tartlet but in the summer, its fresh fruit or bust.
Some people are chef-chasers, meal-collectors. Being at the right restaurant exactly when it’s the newest thing so they can say they ate there first, or knew so-and-so would be the next Top Chef long before anyone else is where it’s at. Some want to be the first in line for Chef’s take on ramps, rhubarb, some adored garlic chive tangle and five different soft-shell crab specials each spring. Some people rank bathrooms (no really, they do) at the city’s best eateries. The thing is, I don’t know these people, and secretly, I’m kind of relieved.