We’re starting the long and brutal process of packing up our apartment, brutal because as I am sure you know, the longer you live somewhere, the more uh, “stuff” you accumulate and forget about. We’ve lived here over four years, the longest I’ve lived anywhere besides my parents house, which means that weeding through our belongings is part “so that’s where my Tonic CD went!” (he swears he was joking) and part “you had a recipe binder?”
Remember those 17 flourless/Passover-friendly desserts? Did you wonder why one would make a list that numbered, say, 17 and not some easily identifiable round number such as 20? I mean, once you’ve gotten to 17, are those last three so difficult, so clearly going to push a blogger over the edge that it simply cannot be done? No, you don’t think about this? Well, lucky you.
Every year, I see Passover-friendly recipes that frighten me: brick-like honey cakes, “sponge” cakes that still haunt my mother (who receives these in lieu of birthday cakes most years, due to the misfortune of having a birthday that falls in the first week of April), dinner rolls that my father likens to “hockey pucks” and macaroons that nobody (besides me) likes. And every year, I wonder: what ever happened to impossible-to-hate flourless chocolate cakes and truffles? Desserts lifted with egg whites? Ground nuts instead of flour? Do people even realize that one of the most popular peanut butter cookies on earth has exactly no flour in it?
A confession: In spite of my current, ongoing, seeming-like-it-will-never-ever-end condition, I don’t like traditional chicken soup. Obviously, boasting such sacrilege, I am undeserving of your sympathy. Obviously, this is why, four days in, I am still on the sofa on my second box of tissues, chugging down my 20th Brita pitcher of water, my nose as red as a rail-thin starlet at 4 a.m., the bitterness of having a SuperBowl party of one only slightly mitigated by the fact that the Giants triumph–I do not embrace everyones’ grandmother’s sworn-by home remedy.
A firm believer in the jinx-ing gods, I always pause before I say these kinds of things, but I have a pretty good life both out- and inside of the kitchen. Food is my friend. The only things holding me back from eating everything and anything in the whole world are, in descending order, my pickiness and my waistband. I don’t know what it means to have food make me consistently sick. (Well, except Spaghetti Carbonara. But that story for a different time, or on second thought, never.) I scour ingredient lists because I don’t trust them, but not because my life could depend on it. I can eat all of the bread, pasta and cake, glorious cake that I want. And it is these things I have been thinking about since I dug into Gluten-Free Girl this weekend, the new book by the food blogosphere’s own Shauna James Ahern, someone I had the fortune to meet, along with her Chef, Danny, and other friends last weekend.
Ever since we had dinner at Tia Pol for the first time six months ago, I have been bitten by the tapas bug, and with little warning this wee hallway of a restaurant on 10th Avenue replaced Tabla as my favorite in all of New York City.
I didn’t know that there were any higher small-plate callings than the Floyd Cardoz’s boondhi raita, that is until I tried Alex Raij’s garbanzos fritos, and though it makes me sad to have evolved beyond my Bread Bar obsession, I feel strongly enough about these chickpeas that if you haven’t had them yet, you should close your browser, turn off your computer, get on a plane if you must, wait patiently through the forty minutes it will take just to sit at the bar because these babies will leave your up-to-then favorite bar snack in the dust so quickly, its tasty little head will spin. Be prepared for a fast and fierce addiction.
I think it pretty much goes without saying that I wasn’t going to be allowed to show up to my parent’s seder tonight without one of these, but when my mother came down at the end of last week with both bronchitis and conjunctivitis in both eyes, did not consider this, perhaps, a sign from above that she would be given a pass on the thirteen-guest dinner tonight and insisted upon foraging ahead, she asked if I could attack the second dessert we’d decided upon–the mighty pavlova–as she wanted to wait until she was no longer contagious to start cooking. I thought that was mighty considerate of her, and of course, had been chomping at the bit to make it anyhow, so I didn’t mind.