There is something so very magical about life.
I don't believe in fate or destiny or any of those things, but I don't see any harm in wishing. Nobody ever got to the top believing they were intended to stroll the streets, begging.
I fretted -- or had a small meltdown -- over my unemployment and have had a string of interviews since. I'm technically employed now, but I'm hoping something long-term will come about very shortly.
I felt lonely and wanted desperately to meet new friends; in turn, I met a large group of lovely people, quickly, through work.
I glanced at my cheap, crappy pots, adding new/not these pots to my list of things I'd like to obtain eventually (or soon), and when my former roommate came to visit this weekend, lo and behold, she brought two great steel pots, claiming they were mine. I don't think so -- I only owned a single pot when we lived together -- but I'll take the gift as a sign that maybe magic still wields its wonders, even in Hogtown.
A few years ago, I was looking to move into my first apartment. After scouring the ads obsessively, I met a girl online from Nova Scotia whom I felt instinctively was meant to be my roommate, and after several weeks of e-mailing and messaging, she was. Days later, I found our apartment.
I'm not saying we didn't go through our own adjustment phase, as all roommates must do, or that the apartment was perfect, but it has made for some humbling, wonderful stories. I recall Halloween 2007 rather vividly, considering that evening I somehow managed to crack our newly purchased water bottle and watched as the contents cascaded all over our kitchen floor. If I ever wanted to know what five gallons of water might look like, well, now I knew. There was the furnace filter that was so black and in need of changing it gave us both the most awful sore throats. The mice that ate my bedding and nibbled on my camera case. The mold in the bathroom. The nearly non-existent windows. Suffice to say, I learned many lessons that winter, all of them necessary.
However, no one can say we didn't eat like queens.
Yes, there were epic disasters, like the unedible carrot soup I made that I tossed off the back porch because it tasted so obnoxiously of garlic and fresh dill. But there's Silke's potato salad, a top secret recipe and for good reason -- it's the best potato salad I've ever eaten, and as someone who's consumed ten times her weight in potato salad over the years, I feel I have the authority to make such hefty declarations.
Oh -- Greek salads, silky hummus and a lemony, spicy lentil soup from a nearby restaurant; rice vermicelli bowls filled with lightly pickled vegetables, juicy and perfectly seasoned chargrilled pork, and a good dose of garlicky-sweet sriracha sauce, hot enough to turn a sick person well; addictive, gluten-free monkey bread that disappeared within a ten hour span (it contains raisins, and therefore qualifies as a breakfast food. Obviously); glorious cups of fair-trade coffee with cream. An assortment of memorable cheeses from our favourite cheesemonger at the Ottawa St. food market, thick tzatziki, giant kosher dill pickles eaten for lunch (as lunch?) on Saturday afternoons, tart crab apples, $8 rib-eye steaks, a 5lb basket of Montmorency cherries eaten within a week (oh, my poor belly!); Bubi's garlic sauce (also known as garlic crack); the nachos at Papa Cheneys accompanied by many whiskey sours; multiple bottles of Valpolicella; crispy fries dipped in mayonnaise; roasted chicken with lemon and garlic; spaghetti squash tossed in Alfredo sauce; the most amazing grapefruit from South Africa; pears poached in tea. Living together only encouraged our collective gluttony, but it was worth it. I still know who to go to with my latest culinary obsessions, of which there are many.
When she came to visit me this weekend with her fantastic boyfriend, it was a given the following days would be an absolute food fest.
Within twenty minutes of their arrival, we bore the brunt of a torrential downpour and walked over to a local English pub. I mean, you're basically talking about the duo who ran out in the middle of a serious winter snowstorm for a hot chocolate; what's a little rain?! It turns out, it's nothing much, especially when we glanced down at the plate of warm golden vegetables looking back at us. Sweet potato fries tossed with chili powder and cumin, dipped into chipotle aioli while we sat in red velvet booths, squeezing our soaked pant legs and laughing like the children we are. Sipping Strongbow and sitting back in our seats -- oh, the life. It's hard to contend with a Saturday night of catching up with friends, drinking English cider, our bellies full.
Coffee was drank. Four bottles of wine were emptied. Miser Wat was eaten. Potato salad was made, with local potatoes and dill -- and thank goodness. There's been a serious lack of potato salad in my life this summer, readers. And Laura Calder's chocolate cream cake? It was imagined. I want that cake. I want to eat a big slice of that cake, with a coffee, sitting next to my best friend. When I spotted it in the cookbook Silke bought for my birthday, I read over the ingredient list.
"Is there time to go out and get all of the ingredients?" she asked in that very mischivieous tone of hers. The cake will have to wait, but you bet your buttons it will materialize! Poof.
I suspect, ladies and gents, that this cookbook is a gem -- and not only for the Chocolate Cream Cake. The recipes are remarkably simple and easy to follow, and most call for fewer than ten ingredients (many less than five.) I happen to adore Laura Calder. In fact, I used to wake up at 7am to watch her, and followed the show with two eggs, sunny side up, topped with a tablespoon of cream cheese and fleur de sel.
"Really, a printed recipe is no different from a photograph of a person, snapped off guard at a specific moment in time. I see that as a good thing, because it means that every time I cook a dish, even if I've made it a hundred times before, it will have something new to tell me about itself, about the day I'm having, about what I'm hungry for in the broadest possible sense. Food has that way of pointing away from itself and back at us: that's why I find it interesting," Calder writes in French Taste. I would contend that encountering a great recipe is like meeting a new, great person -- someone who is open and available, someone who invites you into their life wholeheartedly and lets you see every crack and corner of his or her personality. Besides, I have no room for snobbery in my repertoire; the only recipes for me are the ones adaptable to change, that are varied, that are alive, that are totally and fully themselves.
That's when the magic happens, after all.
*The title of this entry is taken from "Mushaboom" by Feist