Memories Are Made Of This.

Keith and I were supposed to spend last Saturday night at Eleven Madison Park, a favorite restaurant of ours in New York, but Irene threw a wrench in our plans.  Mayor Bloomberg shut down the city, and Eleven Madison Park followed suit.  I can’t say I blamed them, regardless of how much I had been looking forward to dinner.  The restaurant has never failed me in the past, and I know we would have had a spectacular meal.  I was able to get us last-minute back up reservations at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, but they too closed because of Irene.

So, reservationless on the eve of a hurricane, we stayed at home with my parents and ate reheated-in-the-microwave rotisserie chicken from Costco.  A few hours later, the power went out.

And that is how Keith and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary.

I am not the kind of girl who cares about anniversaries, or Valentine’s Day, or if my partner stays out late with The Guys.  Frankly, I don’t give a damn about any of it.

Does Keith love me?  Do we still enjoy each other’s company?  Are we happy?  Yes to all of the above.  Isn’t that all that matters?

Okay, take all of that in and then scrap a third of it.  I mean, sure: love, company, happiness… I want to go to there, and most of the time, I do go to there.  But my relationship with Keith moved so seamlessly from platonic to passionate that until we got married, neither of us had a clue as to when it was we actually got together.  It was springtime, we agree, when I was nineteen and Keith twenty-three, but that’s it.  Was it March?  Or May?  Or in between, in April?

This is my point precisely: we have no idea.  And that’s why finally having an anniversary meant something to me.  Valentine’s Day can get bent.  It has nothing to do with me.  But a certain day in August…

It’s just plain nice to have one day marked in Keith and my lives that celebrates us, even if most of the time I don’t think about it unless someone asks or if the end of summer looms.  I feel that with Keith I’m part of something special, and though we take care to appreciate each other often, it’s important to take a minute once in a great while to formally acknowledge it.  Often with cocktails.  So when August 27th does come around, I like stepping into a dress and a favorite pair of heels, sitting across from my husband in a thoughtfully decorated room, and drinking a French 75 while talking about absolutely nothing related to our wedding.

Which is why I was pissed off at Hurricane Irene.

Now about those chickens…

My dad is a horrible snob.  He’s opinionated, and he’s particular, and sometimes — let’s face it — he can be a little racist.  That said, he loves Costco rotisserie chicken.

This is alternately bizarre and hilarious to me because my dad scorns places like IHOP and Outback Steakhouse (though he does like the occasional Red Lobster).  My father likes Peter Luger, drinking oghi on warm summer days and talking about life in Beirut.  Most modern American things are worthless, or a disappointment.  Case in point: Burger King.

In the seventies, when my parents were still dating, they went to a fancy dinner that neither of them enjoyed very much.  As my father drove my mother back to her apartment, he spotted a Burger King.  Still hungry, he pulled into the drive-thru.  They each ate a Whopper in the car, parked in the lot.  Now when my father talks about Burger King, what he has to say is all past tense, what Burger King used to be like.  He pinches an inch of air with his index finger and thumb and says, “The burgers used to be thick, like this.  And the lettuce was crunchy, and green.  The tomatoes used to be so fresh the juice would come out of it!  Now the hamburgers are so thin, like paper.”

For my father, the memory of something is always far more delicious than the reality.  So I can’t help but wonder, what’s up with the chicken?

To be clear, I fully admit to sometimes cheating a recipe and using a store-bought bird rather than poaching or roasting my own.  When I do that though, I feel like such a culinary con man.  My mother raised me better than this, I think guiltily as I hide the chicken’s take-out container deep within the recycling bin.

Of all the social stigmas in the world, the ones we’ve associated with food have got to be the strangest.  I mean, we have a whole category called junkBut is there anything junky about a rotisserie chicken?  If there is, like Valentine’s Day, does it even matter?  They’re flavorful and nutritious, and my Republican dad loves them.  And when I think about the day that marks my sixth year married, what I’ll think about is this: eating chicken with our crybaby puppy tangling himself up in the now-tattered quilt I made for our bed over a decade ago, while my parents — once so disapproving of Keith — tease and cajole my husband to eat some more as they piled more white meat onto his still-full plate.

And, for me, that’s what’s up with the chickens.

* The most popular recording of “Memories Are Made Of This” is by Dean Martin, but I’m quite fond of Johnny Cash‘s.

I Don’t Smoke…

…but I love matches too.  I don’t collect them, though — mine actually get used up.  Right now, I’ve got an old teacup of Keith’s grandmother in the living room, and that’s where I keep the matchbooks.  At the moment, there’s only a small assortment in there:

Intro.

Hello, and welcome to my blog. This isn’t my maiden voyage into the blogosphere (really, is there a more ridiculous word out there than this?) but it is my first solo go of it. I’ve decided to blog because I like writing and I’m trying to get back into the writerly swing of things, which is truly difficult, I think, if you’re neither in school nor on a deadline. These both apply to me.

Anyway, I think the key to this whole blog-writing thing is to narrow your focus, which is why I’m going with three things I like to do the most — eat, read and travel. The first two happen to also be the things I do the most, aside from involuntary actions such as breathing and pumping my blood to my heart and etc, so I figure it will be (or should be) easy for me to keep up-to-date.

For example, this year I’ve already read The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion; the unabridged Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy; Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl; The Best Food Writing 2004 and The Best Food Writing 2005, both edited by Holly Hughes; Loverboy by Victoria Redel; The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs; A Genius in the Family: An Intimate Biography of Jacqueline du Pré by Hilary and Piers du Pré; and Toast by Nigel Slater. I’m also doing something I hate to do, and that’s read two books at once. I’ll let you know more about them (such as titles and authors) once I’m done.

I didn’t think my dining out experiences for 2008 would be nearly as long as my book list thus far, but that was before I went through my calendar and tallied it all up: Evoo, Gargoyles on the Square, The Paramount, Addis Red Sea, The Blue Room, Zöe’s, Strawberry Place, Peter Luger, Tavern in the Square, and The Barking Crab. To think, that list doesn’t even include the lunches we have brought in once a week at work.

However, I can say with absolute certainty that my travels for 2008 aren’t nearly as extensive; all I’ve done is visit my parents in New York, and I don’t even know if that should count. Regardless… Travel is something I love to do, and often. And the next time I do, I’ll write about it.

Basically, that’s what this blog boils down to — eating, reading and traveling. Writing too, I suppose, so maybe I’ll write about that as well. We’ll see.

Happy eating/reading/traveling/possibly writing…!