Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

College pasta

One of my college roommates had a book of pasta recipes. I don't know if we ever got around to making many of them because we made this one over and over again. I still make it every so often. The main idea is fresh vegetables with butter, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese. It's incredibly quick and easy. Why don' t I cook like this more often? Now if only I could remember how to make the Khalua cupcakes my roommates and I used to make as well.

Anyway, I started by parboiling a bunch of broccoli, reserving the water (in the vain hope that some of the leeched vitamins might be absorbed by the pasta). While the pasta cooked in the broccoli water I chopped the broccoli, two plum tomatoes, and one regular-sized tomato. I juiced and zested two meyer lemons. I used a microplaner to zest the lemons. They're relatively inexpensive, don't take up a lot of room in your kitchen, and you can grate with them, so gadget-adverse as I am I do like that gadget.

When the pasta was done I tossed it with the broccoli, tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, and about 3/4 of a stick of butter, cut into pieces. I had some thyme left over from yesterday, so I added that as well before grating cheese and grinding some pepper over it. The photo you see is from after dinner.

We didn't have meyer lemons in Provo, Utah when I was in college. I don't think I'd even heard of them back then. But they're in season now so use them I must. I've heard the meyer lemon described as a lemon that leans toward an orange. That's close, but while a meyer lemon is sweeter than regular lemons it's got it's own particular flavor that's not quite orangish. In this pasta dish the meyer flavor really comes through, partly, I think, because of the zest.

Yes, those are cat whiskers on Jasper. Hey, I finally got my camera out during dinner!

Today I've been mulling over an article a friend of mine posted on her blog. I made a knee-jerk, flippant comment. But Di, an American ex-pat who lives in Switzerland, noted how Americans get polarized over many issues lately. I tend to agree. What set me off so much about the article?

The article is about restaurants that are cracking down on kids' behavior. The featured cafe in Chicago is in a neighborhood that sounds a lot like Park Slope -- once artsy and bohemian, now gentrified and full of kids. The owner takes umbrage with the noise (his cafe has tin ceilings) and air of disrespect from his family patrons, and went as far as describing them as former beauty queens and cheerleaders with a sense of entitlement. Huh? I think that's what set me off. Clearly there's something else going on with this guy, who then goes on about sending out and bringing in positive energy. Uh huh, right...

It finally hit me why I find the imperative to make my child behave in public so unreasonable. I think it has a lot to do with families moving back into cities. When you live in a city, you live in a smaller space (unless you're a billionaire or a movie star), most likely without a back yard or other large, private space to run around. So as a parent I'm always looking for venues to take Jasper other than my two little rooms. The playground is the most obvious choice, but you can't go there when it's raining or very cold. And sometimes you just want a treat and a cup of coffee. Or you don't want to spend $60 on a sitter just to go out for dinner.

If you live in the suburbs, going out to eat is a special occasion. At least it was for my family. We were expected to behave ourselves. But in my current city life I spend far more time in public spaces than I ever did as a child, and it's just plain exhausting trying to get your child to stay still and quiet all the time. In fact, it's developmentally impossible anyway until your child is at least four. Jasper is pretty good for about ten minutes and then he needs to run around, or nurse, or something. I don't let him explore, move the cushions, yell, etc. because I have a sense of entitlement (I wasn't a beauty queen or a cheerleader -- I was a MEXICAN). I do it because I'm trying to maintain world peace and my sanity.

So I really appreciate how accommodating most Park Slope establishments are. My favorite cafe has baskets of toys and books for children. Most business owners know that if they want to keep their customers they need to be tolerant. Most New Yorkers know that if they don't like kids they'd better hang out in a different neighborhood. Do I think Park Slope businesses owe it to me to be accommodating? No. But I am grateful that they are. And yes, I am teaching Jasper manners little by little as he's ready to learn.

1 comment:

Miss Liza said...

Just a note to say you have a new reader! Your writing is refreshing and your meals seem so down-to-earth yet impressive. This gal in Flolrida says "hello!"