Archive for May, 2011

Food ≠ Love

This Mother’s Day I am remembering my mother for her many fine qualities, but not for her cooking. I mean this as no slight; she would take it as a compliment, in fact. While Mom was a highly proficient, if unadventurous, cook, food was not her medium for expressing love, and the kitchen was not her creative crucible.

Mom often said she wished someone would invent a pill that would satisfy everyone’s nutritional and caloric needs so she could dispense with cooking altogether. Yet as a housewife of the Mad Men era, she dutifully produced meals for my father and whatever configuration of us three children were home. College-educated and introverted, Mom took no particular pleasure or pride in fulfilling the catering and event planning responsibilities of her job description. Entertaining on any scale made her anxious. Where other mothers exchanged recipes and cooking tips, my mother was more interested in discussing books and ideas. She never developed a signature dish to share at neighborhood potlucks, but she left her mark with the depth of her intellect.

May 1967

Mom loved watching The French Chef – not for the cooking lessons, but because she had been a French major in college and remained an ardent Francophile. Later, mimicking Julia, Mom would exclaim, “Bon appétit!” as she served up All American convenience cuisine: Shake ’N Bake fried chicken, Ore-Ida instant mashed potatoes, Green Giant frozen peas, Pillsbury pop n fresh crescent rolls, and Betty Crocker cakes. When Dad was away on business, she gave herself a cook’s night off and heated up Swanson TV dinners, which in the pre-microwave era saved labor, but not time. For her generation local, slow food was a thing of the past. At breakfast the modern way to make orange juice – even for a family in Florida – was to open a can of Minute Maid frozen concentrate and add water. Eggo frozen waffles went from the toaster to the plate and were soaked in Aunt Jemima syrup. StarKist’s Charlie, the tuna with good taste, regularly showed up at lunchtime on Arnold’s white bread from the supermarket, naturally. Continue reading ‘Food ≠ Love’

Love Lockdown

Cadenas d'amour, Pont de l'archevêché, Paris by Alain Chermat, Mar. 6, 2011

Want to declare your undying love to the world, but don’t have the royal star power of William and Kate? How about locking up a bit of historic real estate with a $3 dollar investment? That seems to be thinking behind the profusion of padlocks spreading like steel kudzu on bridges in Paris and a dozen other cities.

Over the past several years love locks have proliferated on pedestrian-friendly bridges from Stockholm to Seoul, as couples mark their commitment by shackling a bit of public property. With hordes of tourists looking on, the lovers inscribe a padlock, attach it to a bridge railing, and toss the key into the river. Chances are, the ritual concludes with the couple snapping a photo to share online. The majority of love-lockers are likely tourists, and many may never return to visit their locks. And if they do, odds are it will be with a new partner, and a new lock, in hand. Continue reading ‘Love Lockdown’

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