Posted on February 28th, 2011
1. PEPPERS A LA PLACARD: First, find a pepper. Then, put it in the crisper drawer. Forget about it. Offer your guests your palpable sense of regret and resignation.
2. MARK BITTMAN’S INSTANT LASAGNA: Place three carrot sticks in a pan, each an inch apart. Using a citrus reamer, juice one ripe tomato over the sticks (freeze the tomato rind for stock). Let infuse for twenty-five seconds, then serve immediately with hummus and cranberries.
3. THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY: Here’s a doozy. Take a scant handful of sesame seeds, and press them into softened black-eyed peas. Voila! Crab cakes nobody has to walk out on.
4. WHOLE GRAIN ME: Place your favorite yoga mat in your Room of Sanctuary, after coating the floor in a thin layer of Dundee’s best marmalade. While in full repose, place a peanut on each of your closed eyelids, and a single piece of wheat toast between your knees. I call this the Gwyneth, but you can call it breakfast.
5. RAW AFRICAN CURRY ALMOND SOUP: This one’s great if you have a last-minute vegan coming over, and these days, who doesn’t? In a bowl, mix curry, almonds and soup, and serve with Swiss chard “spoons.” Done. (Dip the “spoons” into the soup and suck the soup off of them; pick up the almonds with the harder stalks.)
6. SRIRACHA: A lot of times, we have surprise people coming over and we just don’t know what appetizers to feed them, because brown rice takes forty-five minutes and who can hop out for a coconut? Well, one thing that doesn’t fill the tummy too much is a ramekin of Sriracha (a southern California hot sauce based on Vietnam) placed next to a tasteful black clay container of toothpicks. Everyone gets a taste, but no one gets too much. A definite party-starter. See if you can’t make that happen.
7. THE LAST-MINUTE VEGAN: I mean, who hasn’t wrapped their friend in a cabbage leaf and stood them next to a bowl of ice? Last-minute, first served!
8. HIDE THE BLANKET (MICHAEL MOORE VARIATION): Take one can of biscuits, preferably a nationally recognized brand, and carefully drill a small hole in the bottom. Insert a syringe, and extract as much joy as possible from the insides of the container. Replace with apple cider vinegar in equal measure, and then bury the can in the backyard at a depth of no less than four feet. This “Appalachian Kimchi” echoes the Korean tradition and connects us all to our greater sense of the global food economy.
9. OVER THE OATS: In an antique pewter washbasin, combine three tablespoons of steel-cut Scottish oats with the liquid from one pressed block of organic extra-firm tofu. Seconds before dry sauteeing the mixture in a cast iron skillet, carefully blow a palmful of Hungarian paprika across the surface of the oats. Divide into muffin papers and serve.
10. BLANCHE DU BLANCHE: The first sweet rains of spring in the French Alps bring forth things. We suggest bringing forth bundles of asparagus, and distributing them to your dinner guests in small packets of three. What happens next is as unpredictable as the snowmelt, but dinner parties are all about surprises!
11. TUNA: I find that Italian canned tuna, packed in olive oil, is vastly superior to its watery cousin. I also find that a number of my dinner guests routinely don’t know this, which is why I suggest holding a Tuna Tasting. Festive fall leaves make an elegant backdrop for the cans, and all you have to provide are the biodegradable forks! Afterwards, invite your guests to create jewelery or small hats from the now-empty tins.
12. PIQUILLO PEPPER: You don’t know what these are. They are not for you.
13. SUMAC: You also don’t know what this is. For all you know, it’s the plant that gives you a rash when you walk through the woods in the fall. If you even do that. This is also for me to know, and for you to long for, while listening to the early works of Louis Prima.
14. BARLEY AND MORE: After gently aging a sack of groats in the last boxcar of the trans-continental railway using the Quarter Turn Rub Method, combine two cups groats to one cup vegetable water. Microwave on high for three minutes, then transfer to earthenware crock for service. Soup is a communal affair, and great for creating a sense of intimacy and warming leisure at any dinner gathering.
15. TWICE BITTEN PEACHES: Many people are at a loss as to how to tell when stone fruit is perfectly ripe. The best method is simply to take two bites out of each of your offerings, prior to service.
16. FRESH MOZZ: I think we can all recall the heady pleasures of the original closet game, Seven Minutes In Heaven. Mix it up with your guests by leaving them alone in the hall closet with a fresh ovoline! What dreams may come!
17. EASY RAGU: While it’s simple enough to make a traditional Ragu, I find that it’s even easier to take small jelly jars, and, while the sauce is simmering, gather some of the fragrant steam in individual portions. All of the sensations, without any of the guilt! A great way to echo the harvest tradition, and keep Michael Pollan happy. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
18. CHICKPEAS: I’m sure you’ve noticed, in the course of making your own hummus, that one is frequently left with a large number of chickpea skins, post-blanching. These are fantastic quickly cooked in a hot skillet with several microns of olive oil, and served on dry bagel crisps. Add sesame seeds if you’re feeling particularly decadent. And you would feel decadent, infidel.
19. HEN OF THE WOODS: Foraging for fresh mushrooms is a dangerous activity. Let your small flock of homesteading chickens do it for you!
20. TORO TORO: One of the lesser-known practices of medieval Spain was a spring ritual that centered around the running of the meats. Village men would take to the streets, ferrying hams along a racecourse beset by bramble hedges that had been erected the previous evening by the village women. I suggest combining cardio and historical curiosity by having your guests take a brief jog through your neighborhood holding shaved prosciutto aloft, while you follow behind on your fixed-gear bicycle, whipping their calves with twigs.
21. TWENTY-ONE MERINGUES: I am so high right now.
22. TORTA: Breakfast is, according to many, the most important meal of the day. Normally, I’d disagree on principle, but then I’d miss out on eating this: an assembly of thinly sliced raw parsnips, shaved tofu skin, and chilled, blanched, green bell pepper. Exquisite.
23. PERSIMMON: No one knows what to do with these, and I’m willing to bet that you didn’t either. It’s okay. There are times when the universe will open up to you, as a golden flower, and say ‘leave this to rot on the counter to express your dissatisfaction with factory farming and transportation costs for exotic fruits and vegetables. Poetry is to be found in the way this will resemble the very potato the other shoppers spurned by the end of the week.’ Once this has occurred, it makes a delightful puree to be added to smoothies and whole milk yogurt, or a restorative face masque.
24. SEA BEANS: During those rare times when you can’t get to Spain, simply assemble a pot of lukewarm salt water and set green or wax beans to steep for several days in a warm dark place in your kitchen. Redolent of Ursula Andres having a crisis, this, young man, is the true soul of the ocean.
25. RUMSPRINGA: Sometimes, I get so tired. When I do, I’ll take a TOMS shoe, and fill it with a warmed mixture of rum and one beaten egg. Then…I think about…Amos.
26. ABSALOM ABSALOM: The summer that I took the amateur woodcarving class from the Brooklyn Institute of Way-Old Hobbies gifted me with a variety of new skills, the least of which yielded this tender cocktail of canned baby corn and wisteria blossoms, wrapped in the back pages of a Somerset Maugham novel. One whiff will take you back, two whiffs will easily get you past the bouncers. Three whiffs gets you a centerfold spread in Nylon. Proceed with caution.
27. LADY OF SHALLOT: Typical American cuisine really suffers from a lack of exploration into the medicinal uses of various herbs and tubers. Surprise your dinner guests at your next winter fete by slipping a sock bearing a single shallot bulb down the front of their shirt, while delivering the customary Breton double-barreled ‘affront du chinoiserie’ (I suggest gentle cupping, with two fingers).
28. HOLD ME HALLOUMI: Once you’ve finished your most recent Blueprint cleanse, you’re going to need a serious dose of dairy rehabilitation. Get out your least-beloved set of latex sheets, and assemble the following on your bed: at least seventy properly grilled slices of halloumi, quality olive oil, and sel gris. Make sure the thermostat is set to at least seventy-five degrees, for proper absorption, and crawl on in. If you skipped that last green juice, be sure to add a generous handful of raw cranberries, paying close attention to the lower half of the body.
29. PINENUT: The element of char is easily understood when applied to meats and neapolitan pies, but, less celebrated when applied to nuts. Buck the trend and toast a panful of pinenuts beyond the point of done, to see what emerges—I particularly enjoy the results on dry toast, but you will find endless uses for these. I’m sure. Pretty sure.
30. TREACLE: On a cracker. BLOW YO’ MIND.
31. JONNYCAKE: I’m as fearful of petroleum as the next guy, but there are times when the traditional lure of the motorway is just too much to resist. It was good for Steve McQueen. It can be good again. And to prove it, you should never travel without a can of creamed corn, and a small bag of faro—separately, simple things; together, cooked on a hot engine cover—more than the sum of their parts. Just like your Mustang.
32. MEAT PIE: At first, this will seem like more work, but when you consider the alternative, that notion will dissipate like the morning dew. You could spend all morning, after all, constructing a traditional two-sided Cornish pasty, with both sweet and savory fillings—or, you can purchase a fruit hand pie from your local bodega, and siphon some of the filling out of a small incision, replacing it with beef jerky. I leave it to you to decide your level of involvement. The way a Libertarian would.
34. OLYMPUS: Get down the golden bowl. Fill it with olives. Then burn the whole of it to ash. The fragrant smoke will perfume the next week’s meals with a palpable sense of what has gone before.
35. PYRE FRITES: Unripened pineapple, cut carefully into matchsticks, will easily replace potatoes, with no one being the wiser. If they are the wiser, well, pellet stoves are an ecological and economical solution for those who wish to resist the forward march of progress/antioxidants (and really, aren’t those the same thing?).
36. SHAKSHUKA SHACK SHAKER: Tomatoes are an erogenous zone.
37. DELTA OF BURKE: I only want to give the world one thing, really, and that is a song. A song about preserved cabbage. I prefer the dry-cure, which involves a box fan, a Joan Didion compendium, and patience, but this works equally well in the microwave, with a stack of paper towels and a will of iron. When the cabbage has reached the appropriate texture, there’s a small surprise in store. I suggest waiting until after ten pm to find out what it is.
38. OVER AND UNDER: While on a kale recovery retreat in Basel, Switzerland, I hid fried eggs under my roommate’s bed for roughly one month. It started in malice; it ended, however, in breakfast.
39. MALTERDOM: Malt powder, celery sticks, fiber-all. REVOLUTION.
40. SOMETHING NASTY IN THE WOODSHED: In the darkness, private save for my own eyes and the eyes of a select few, is one thing: a can of trans-fats. It puts the chicken in the basket….
41. WILD WILD WEST: Take a bream, any bream, and thread a small hook through its gills, preferably one pilfered from a Christmas ornament you are not currently displaying in your tree. What fish is this? This is the fish that died for your sins, meat eater.
42. TUPELO IS JUST A MEMORY NOW: In the summers of my youth, there was Tibi. Tibi chewed gum, and rode a ten-speed, and had one long braid wrapped around a length of baling wire, whose sting graced my palms on more than one occasion. The days were hot and long, her legs were pale and coolly moist. This is the dress she wore, for all of the kickball games, in every dusty August lot. Dotted cotton, elastic waist, and a ruffle that says ‘take no prisoners’. 125.99
I could still do Peterman. In the meantime, though, pinto beans candied in single-origin wildflower honey are the best way to recall Indiana ballfields. Trust me, I’ve tried them all.
43. HONKY TONK BEANADONK: Look, I don’t know what the deal with heirloom beans is any more than you do. What I do know is that I enjoy putting out the eyes of the Barbie dolls at that supposedly ‘progressive’ learning center that Moishe’s kid goes to, and replacing them with lentils.
44. TUBERS, A LOVE STORY: I get violent around leeks.
45. NINE PEPPERS DANCING: We started this tradition in college, when everyone was long on hunger, but short on cash (especially you, Paolo). Take one unbleached cotton laundry sack, containing no fewer than two pairs of unwashed socks, and shake together with equal parts sliced bell pepper, salt, olive oil, and paprika. Left in a calm, dark space to ferment, the emergent spread is a piquant counterpoint to homemade hummus, and an enlivening swirl atop a bed of steamed greens. Kombucha is for pussies. This is what you really want.
46. PIEDMONT EXPRESS: When I take trains through the Alps, I’m always certain to pack the following quick and easy snack: a brick of hash and a packet of Wasa crackers. Whichever I touch first, upon reaching into the rucksack, is what I’ll be eating until the car pulls into Parma. Some argue that the romance has gone out of rail travel. Friends, it has never left.
47. CABLE KNIT QUICHE: Oats. Chickpeas. Sea salt. A splash of eau de vie. You don’t need directions for this one, just a few minutes alone in the walk-in and a feeling.
48. GOODBYE, JULIA: Dumplings confound many a modern homemaker, but they need not do so. Simply replace them with appropriately sized rocks. The mineral content of your soup is instantly increased, re-paving the driveway ceases to bother you, and your dinner guests are finally given a chance to reminisce about that memorable group vacation to Bratislava. We’ve all been waiting to talk about that one.
49. SIGH NO MORE SABLE: The sands of time are one thing; the sands of these cookies are another. Specifically, one is a literary construct meant to convey that time is fleeting, tiny, and made of silicate particles and the other is made out of sugar, flour, butter and vanilla. I recommend serving the literary concept, which is far more likely to inspire lively debate over the next round of kale chips and potash tea.
50. SO LONG, MARINARA: This is adapted from the Leonard Cohen Cookbook, only I’ve added twice the Kleenex for extra fiber and staying power. The rest of the ingredients remain the same though—millet, crushed tomatoes, cabbage, caraway seeds and regret.
51. DAISY DUKAKIS: Some say rubbing alcohol is a sign of a problem, and I say a lack of it shows a deplorable paucity of imagination. Vodka sauce? No. Turn up the spice a little at your next fete and toss your pasta in a mixture of isopropyl and clamato. It puts the ‘dinner’ in ‘Sardinia’ and your host in anything that moves.
52. PORTOFINO PRINCE OF TORTA: It’s fairly impossible, I would argue, to make too much of prunes. Prune reparations must be made. Debts, accounted for. Tortas, assembled: one cup of stewed prunes, a quarter cup of tahini, rosemary pounded with a pestle, black pepper and toasted nori, carefully folded inside of a sheet of egg white. Simple, classic, amazing, bowel-regulating.
53. SAVE THE LAST PAS DE DEUX: The night that Moira wore skirt steak to the premier of G’s new film was revelatory for a multitude of reasons (tulle has never been so relevant), but what most of us recalled afterwards was the simple cup of hominy, steeped in fermented soy paste, that we ate while sitting on the sidewalk outside of Douglas’ apartment. The sesame seeds really cemented that one, and they will again, the next time you have friends ’round for a light repast.
54. ALHAMBRA ALL UP ON YA: Despite a pinched nerve in my neck, I threw those clementines over the walls with all of my might, stoning passers-by and cats alike with orange orbs of consciousness. Escape through the Arabic quarter of the city on a bus packed with nuns, and while you do, please, eat this: chickpea jerky. You won’t be sorry. Everyone else will.
55. A LEGUME OF ONE’S OWN: Cooking for one doesn’t have to mean that appetizers go right out the window. Start every meal with something quick and simple: raisins and brown rice, toasted quickly in a pan. Crunch awakens the palate; fiber awakens what I like to call ‘the slumbering coil of Ozamanthius’. Reruns of House have never had it so good.
56. CASEMENT BEETS: Beets can be fussy if you’re bothering to roast them, but far less fussy is allowing your guests to cook them in a manner of their own choosing after you’ve handed them out. Set out different stations—one with twigs, flint, and banana leaves, another with a japanese mandoline and Band-Aids, etc. See what develops as you offer up olive oil, encouragement, and bactine.
57. BLIND DEVOTION: The next time you’re setting out to eat, pray, or love, I find that a simple focusing exercise, coupled with a monastic snack, is a great starting place for all of your most esoteric mental meanderings. Combine hot water with a teaspoon of garam masala, civet oil, and a sprinkling of capers. Gently massage this mixture into a paste and apply a thin, even layer to your lips. Adventure.
58. OUR LADY OF THE MULE: Deep in the Moscow underground, macrobiotic refugees gather and cook meats the old way: skewered on the innards of a Tatra T111, basted with juniper berries, potato peels, and the sweat from a miner’s undershirt. For my more adventurous friends, I’ve often catered luncheons in a similar fashion, under the Williamsburg bridge. When the courage fails, I suggest a woven whip of swiss chard to keep things moving along.
59. GOOD NIGHT SPOON: Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Sometimes, I just have to check out of my own dinner engagement and sit in the tub, eating poutine and reading antique issues of Hello! I imagine my ghost writer will call this my Canadian Period. But, I imagine all sorts of things.
60. OLIVINE OVOLINE LINOLEUM OLEO: During the days of the Great Depression, my Aunt Ida still managed to recreate the classic dishes from a sixteenth century dinner for the Pope, using both her resourcefulness and a whole lot of margarine. Such butter sculptures! I can’t recommend this in summer, but, in the cooler months, have your friends around to build a city of their choosing from this most flexible medium. You provide the bagel chips, they provide the vision, margarine supplies the way.
61. YOU CAN GO YOUR OWN WHEY: Part of the power of Fleetwood Mac is to be found in their choice of fonts. You know it will rock you before you’ve even heard the first note. Similarly, I find that wrapping farmer’s cheese in something from Beacon’s Closet lets your audience know exactly where you’re at: upstate New York, right after the mud pit, but before the brownies.
62. GHOSTS OF THE YUCATAN: Alton Brown doesn’t like unitaskers, and neither do I. Fried plantain chips are there to do one job, but raw plantain mash is there for the long haul. Leaking roof, noisy toddler, hungry llama—it’s going to be there, and be strong, for as long as you need it to be. And, if there’s time, it will still be lunch. It’s masterful.
63. PRIMAVERA: The tired workhorse on the light end of the red sauce menu gets a makeover: it has become Sandra Lee.
64. TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT: Whatever happened to making canapes in the shape of shark egg sacs? Let’s take it on home, with a new version: corn husks cleverly stuffed with wild rice, turmeric, and pu-erh. You say ‘fabulous’ and I say ‘I know already’.
65. POTATOES PIAVE: The root vegetable is the diamond of the plains, the sparkle in any Eastern European step(pe). Play up the natural diamante quality of the everyday tuber by studding the slices in your next casserole playfully with clove. It’s an homage to medieval armor, it’s the glitter of a thousand swords, it’s dinner.
66. CAVIAR FOR JULES: I have a friend named Jules who used to masturbate sturgeon for a living. (It’s not like it sounds; you just rub this one part of their belly until their mouth opens, then a guy with a really moist gurney rushes them away.) He worked for a large caviar farm, and while I never really got a taste for the stuff, it got me to thinking about eggs. Try this: with the tiniest melon baller you can find, make little “caviars” out of cantaloupe and bind them with a mixture of white pepper and spider honey. Serve in an anchovy ring.
67. DOBRO MICE: That’s my cute little name for these spinach purses. Line cupcake molds with wilted spinach; fill with chopped walnuts, your favorite wild rice blend, dried cranberries, and cheddar cubes; top with more spinach. Refrigerate until serving. (I call these “dobro” mice because they’re a little bit country, a little bit rock-n-roll.)
68. THE 58TH STREET MOLECANTH TYPEWRITER REPAIR SHOP DRESS-DOWN: Way back when Mel and I lived down in the Little Djibouti district off Times Square, we’d often spend the early afternoon drinking warm es’malaam tea and learning checkers from Mr. Lutufyo, who owned a then-booming typewriter repair shop named after a deliberate misspelling of “coelacanth.” He was a fiery character, and after one of his characteristic checkers thrashings (he once won an entire game against us on the first move), he’d often command his wife to bring us a dish of rocket-hot roasted chickpeas mixed with chilled chickpeas and tossed with aromatic tangerine stems. Mind-blowing, though I still feel a little humiliated when I eat this. (Historical note: Did you know that Julius Caesar was called “The Chickpea Prince” after a large wart on his face? You can probably guess why people have been eating these for millennia.)
69. TROUT: I like to mess with my seafood as little as possible, and one way to do that is to serve a simply steamed trout in the manner of a suckling pig. Instead of an apple in its tiny mouth, I put a grape. (You don’t have to eat the grape, which, with its perfect storm of surface yeasts, sugars and juice, might turn to wine in your belly and give you cirrhosis.)
70. MISHKA’S BURRITO: I have a friend in the East Village named Mishka, and this person cannot stand burritos, so when they come over I make this Balkan version: beets, cold-poached in yoghurt and dill, served open-face on a cooled flatbread. (I don’t know if Mishka is a man or a woman.)
71. DAMES OF THE RIORDAN: I like to think of the famed River Riordan in Ireland when I make this: gently fold two curled potatoes into an unstarted bread sponge, shape, and cook. Careful, this last part is tricky. Maybe use Google. I have to write the next recipe.
72. CARROTS NÈGE: Stud two peeled carrots with cloves, simmer in hummus (believe me, this works), and remove the cloves (save in your tea ball). Serve after the hummus has stopped boiling.
73. KALE AND RADISH POP-UPS: Take a length of PVC (or, if you’re desperate, an empty toilet paper roll) and stuff with alternating layers of chopped kale and radish (don’t chop too much, we’re after texture here). At snacktime, stick your thumb up the bottom to push out the veggies. Great on the bus or just on a walk.
74. CHRISTMAS SARDINES: This one’s for the Jews, too. Wilt one chive per sardine, then knot it around the fish’s middle like a festive bow. Place a cranberry in its mouth. (Jews: use a light blue Jordan almond, and omit chive: perfect holiday colors! L’Chaim!)
75. TOLTOLOTS: We made this one up the other night after me and Mel finished Yahtzee. On a toothpick, alternate chickpeas and cored strawberries. Really takes me back to those summers in the East Village, before I got my car.
76. YEFE BREVIM: Based on the lamb kebabs famous throughout Moroccan cuisine, try this one on for size: a bed of Moros y Cristianos, with a little take-out lamb kebab meat on top. Mush the kebab hole closed and no one’s any the wiser. (You can omit the meat in this dish to make it veggie.)
77. PEPPER FRY: Grind some pepper onto some chopped peppers (your choice) and serve in a halved pepper (larger is better). Sprinkle mixed sesame seeds on top. Handy for a picnic, and crawling with Vitamin E.
78. AVOCADO PUSH-OUTS: This one basically explains itself. Slice a nickel-sized piece off the top of the ripest avocado you can find (usually the ones they’re about to throw out), and just squeeze the body of the fruit to expel the goodness within. I wouldn’t doubt if warriors used to eat this.
79. JAMIROQUINOA: This might be the only thing I like to eat while listening to Jamiroquai: quinoa. To make it a little bit funky, I eat it out of a black bowl with apple chips.
80. THE CHEVROLET SONG: Back when Mel and I lived in the East Village, I took a job as a quiltman’s understudy and spent many, many hours learning to surge, sew, hem, quilt, darn, line, pad, and thresh. I often got home pretty late, and Mel would be starving, so we’d head out and see if any restaurants were having closing specials. They pretty much never were, since there isn’t really that idea, but it didn’t hurt to look, we thought, plus it gave us great exercise (ever notice how good everybody used to look?). Well, the one time we did find a place with a closing special was this latke joint on 73rd and Gold, down in what at the time was ironically called the haircut district, and the owner was offering a big greasy bag of latkes, probably a dozen of them, for twenty-five cents each. Mel had brought a tub of chive-scented sour cream in his bindle (these were the rage at the time), so we instantly snatched up the deal. As we sat on the curb in the brisk, still January darkness—me in my jeans, him in the jeans that he wore—noshing on the latkes, we mused on how far and wide we could roam if I bought a car. We’d often had this conversation—it was nothing new—but for some reason the good luck of the latkes put me past the tipping point. I had to have a car…and right there, across the street, was a big gold Chevrolet for sale. I bought it on the spot after calling the owner from a pay phone, and the rest of the winter saw Mel and me prowling everywhere for closing specials, from Rochester to Wall Street. We really put on the miles. While we never did find another closing special, I like to think that we invented freeganism, and isn’t that what it’s all about? Anyhow, that May, Mel met a woman, which pretty much ended our prowling. However, their romance ended in December, and we were back to our old ways. A couple years later the car broke down and I sold it to public television.
81. PUERCO MALARBLE de FRUTA de MANZANA: Can’t stand the idea of pork? I know some people who would like to shake your hand. (Call me for contact info.) Anyhow, this, which is basically a julienned apple rillette, substitutes cottage cheese for the fat and is spiced with 2 tbsp of simmered bay leaf stock.
82. PINION WHEELS: I’m not a big car nut, but the reason I finally had to sell the Chevrolet to public television was that the pinion gear (which engages the steering rack) flew a tooth and cocked out at a rhyming canter. (At least, this is what the mechanic told me—all car repairs were described orally back then.) These sandwiches remind me of that final, fateful problem: cut two slices of bagel into circles, stud the edges with peanuts at an even interval, and dab with tabbouleh. When Mel comes over, I’ll add a baby carrot “steering column,” but if I do that when he’s not there, I get wistful, and that’s no way to be.
83. THE BELLS OF OLD NAZARENE: John Wayne. Robert Redford. That other guy. If you put it in a boot and tell me that it’ll make me tan, I am going to eat the hell out of it. Providing it’s based loosely on the principles of a classic barley crowdie, and has at least one source of Omega-3. A man’s got principles. A man’s got socks. A man is only as good as his last fiber supplement. Take that one to the bank, Gilette.
84. OUR LADY OF THE BENEFICIAL WAFER: In a cave outside of Nice, I came across a lichen whose patterns upon the rocks resembled nothing so much as the noble silhouette of President Nixon. Omens followed quickly (water into wine, my hemp sandals transformed into actual shoes), but the lingering aroma of self-sacrifice and finger extensions is what stayed with me most afterwards—and not only because I turned this flaky delicate living lace into a nutritious spread for sprouted grain toast. It wowed the nuns, it will wow your luncheon guests, on top of gluten-free nut thins.
85. AFTER MIDNIGHT APRICOT: The Amalfi coast. Oceans. Brine. Banana hammocks. Nathalie. I found the perfect fruit, hidden in your espadrille: piquant, moist, mysterious. I love this with Brie, but, everyone must find their own brilliance. Get outside of that breadbox, and live, live I say.
86. PLAYA PIANO: Billy Joel has, for years now, been hosting his own arts escape in the Hamptons. While my installation of asparagus arbors has yet to find its true audience, the resulting canape has long been a crowd favorite: thinly shaved raw stalks left to ferment for at least 48 hours in the last of the Burning Man barrels. One bite, and it all comes rocketing back. You never did call Soundwave Nightorgasm, but she’ll feel each chew, across time, space, and sand.
87. DRUMS SOUNDING IN THE DEEP: Nostalgia for my student days led me to create this singular dessert—blueberries, carefully suspended in tomato aspic. I can’t talk about it. I can only remember.
88. PICKLES FROM THE FAINTING WELL: Lesser-known than the practice of clystering, pickle therapy was also once heralded as the premiere treatment for wandering womb. Should yours have strayed, call it back with a pungent mixture of mustard seed, vinegar, snuff and cambric, applied at regular intervals to the first of the season’s cucumbers. Startling in a Pimm’s, transcendent on pork, irresistable to one’s internal organs.
89. BOUTROS BURRITOS: Lettuce wraps are amateur hour. Get yourself a colocasia, and show them what a man does with tempeh, son.
90. BELVEDERE’S BEAN CURD: Careful fermentation brings the simplicity of Marie Antoinette’s white nightgown into the 21st century, by way of overnight pressing, Old Bay, and a hot skillet. Surely, there’s room in the brave new world for both this and hand-etched brass buttons?
91. THE GUNS OF BRIXTON: You thought you knew her. But all you really knew were white beans and a Glasgow kiss.
92. BON MOT BON BONS: Oscar Wilde often kept a small box of prune truffles in a desk drawer for those tight moments, but in an effort to cut back on my refined sugar consumption, I’ve skipped the sweet and substituted a compound of skin-enriching yak butter and olive oil-poached Turkish plums.
93. AIDA CRACKER BARREL: Milocz, back in Chicago, had this way of taking Triscuits and grinding them to a fine dust in a mortar and pestle that, carefully packed into a woman’s nylon with Italian herb seasoning and left to cure in an under-stair closet for no fewer than four months, was…well, I will never get those days back, Milocz. Or my left eyebrow.
94. CARLOTTA MARMALADA: I was often given this choice: play doctor with Vicki Samirowitz, or make orangettes with my Uncle Tobias in the garage on a camp stove. Then, I learned the third way: hummus, with Mrs. Samirowitz.
95. JELLY BINGO: Kidney beans? No. Black beans? Yes. Oh yes.
96. A LONG NIGHT IN A POTATO SACK: Sometimes, things are EXACTLY as they seem. I am so sorry, Benjamin.
97. SMOOTH IT OVER: You know what’s really good? Salami. On a piece of baguette. With a smear of Taleggio. There. I said it. There’s no taking it back now, or hiding it with a chickpea. And I don’t care. Tomorrow is for carrots–tonight is for lovers.
98. BARN OWL BAKE: The haunting white threads of fermented soy beans that weave through this carefully constructed mat of braided nori are as the wings of an owl upon a midnight breeze: stealthy, with an updraft of carrion. Dig deeper into the casserole to find the sustainably harvested mouse skeleton, lovingly preserved in aspic.
99. BEAUTY AND THE BRUHAHA: Limes shoved into Coronas are so yesteryear. Get busy with an okra segment instead, and you’ve got yourself a party.
100. FIGS OF YOUR IMAGINATION: right. here.
101. AND SO WE BEAT ON: The best way to end any memorable dinner is schnapps in the singing bowl. Your Aunt Betty knew this–and now, so do you.