Smart Phones: Bonus or Onus?
This post grew out of a conversation between my brother Dan and me. He noted that I tended to distance myself from anything that smacked of the popular and acceptable. Agreeing with him, I thought I would formulate my somewhat strange philosophy of life. Distilled down to its essence, it is to at all times avoid bragging rights—across the board—and avoid the endless search for prestige, wealth, and everything in their train. This is the second part in a series.
They’re everywhere. People are actually surprised when I tell them I don’t have one. All I have is a flip phone which I never answer because most calls I receive on it are robocalls in Mandarin Chinese. So my cell phone is always turned off and used only for emergencies. Being always available to receive phone calls makes me feel more like a slave than someone in control. I would rather be aware of my surroundings than checking my e-mail several hundred times a day. (In fact, more than 90% of the e-mail on my computer is trying to sell me stuff.)
Eating Take-Out All the Time Is Not My Idea of Fun
Food Delivery Services
Not showing up in person is now considered the height of cool. That applies to restaurants, but also to other food delivery services such as those sponsored by supermarket chains and recipe of the week services like Blue Apron. My former neighbors in the apartment below used to receive a Blue Apron box every Tuesday—and for the rest of the week, we smelled the same identical food smells.
At Ralph’s Supermarkets, where I do most of my grocery shopping, there are legions of young people employed in shopping for others. Would I trust a young person who doesn’t know how to cook to select my meat and produce for me? Not on your life! My mother was raised on a Hungarian farm. As the oldest child, I learned at her side how to shop, especially for produce. I know how to tell male from female eggplants, and I’m surprisingly good at picking sweet watermelons with thin rinds.
A Carnivore’s Delight
Last week at this time, I was in Palm Desert with my brother, my sister-in-law Lori, my niece Hilary and her family, and my niece Jennifer. We were looking in amazement at what Dan had prepared for us: a feast featuring various cuts of meat that would make any carnivore drool. There were also several varieties of roasted vegetables, such as the artichokes pictured below. To make it a truly gourmet experience, Dan had prepared a batch of homemade Béarnaise sauce which was so good that it seemed to go with everything.
Since the onset of my Type II diabetes about ten years ago, I have been more of a part-time vegetarian. But there is something about my brother’s cooking that cannot be denied. The last time I overindulged in meat was in Buenos Aires, when I went to a parrilada, ate a huge steak, and got picturesquely ill from several of orifices, missing my bus the next afternoon to Puerto Iguazu. This time, I merely sampled the cuts on display and suffered no untoward effects.
It was a delicious meal. I consider myself a passable cook, but not fit the touch the hem of Dan’s garment when it comes to a comparison. If I am overweight, it is fo a good reason. My great-grandmother Lidia Toth was an excellent cook. My mother was also good, but most notable for her soups and baked goods. (I am wearing those baked goods to this day.) I take after my mother in making good soups—the one area I might be able to give Dan a run for his money.
People have always told Dan he should open a restaurant. He is much too canny for that form of slavery. He has at times prepared dishes for restaurants and made friends of restaurateurs, but he was never tempted to go into that profession. Why should he? He is a superb home builder and has just finished building a log home in Idyllwild that he completed the sale of just this last week. Too bad: I would give much to live in a house that he built.
So You Think It’s Healthy, Huh?
It was Canadian writer Douglas Coupland who wrote that “Salad bars are like a restaurant’s lungs. They soak up the impurities and bacteria in the environment, leaving you with much cleaner air to enjoy.”
We have taken it so much for granted that salads are the perfect food that we typically ignore a few basic facts. First of all, how many of you salad-eaters actually clean the veggies you use, especially the lettuces? And then, how many of you pour sugary, fatty glop over the salad in an effort to make it palatable?
When I was growing up in Cleveland, we never ate salads, except occasionally for a warm salad made with romaine lettuce and bacon—and even then I never cared for the stuff. We had our own vegetable garden out back, so we never lacked for vegetables, which we sometimes ate raw, as tomatoes; or canned, such as Hungarian yellow banana peppers; or cooked, as cabbage.
I think that Hungarians would much rather eat their veggies in a soup than in a salad. So yesterday, I prepared a Hungarian-style pea soup with carrots and potatoes. For that extra Vitamin B touch and some delicious background flavor, I blend Swiss chard and curly parsley with some of the stock and pour it into the tureen.
So go ahead and disconsolately pick at that dubious salad. I prefer good soup just about any time. In fact, only when the temperature soars into the 90s that I will occasionally eat a chopped salad at lunchtime with a light vinaigrette dressing. Otherwise, no way!