Popcorn for Breakfast and Other Minor Revelations

Leftover popcorn, I’ve discovered, makes a good breakfast. My wife often makes popcorn for the kids in the evening, and there it is in the morning, half a pot — the butter soaked in and coagulated. Like many things, it is better the next day.

I especially like the crunchy, half-popped ones that congregate at the bottom of the pan. My wife worries: “You’re going to break a tooth on one of those one day.” But I like to live dangerously, I guess.

I made another delightful breakfast discovery this morning. It’s soft-shell crab season — one of my most favorite of all foods. Last night, I made seven soft-shell crab sandwiches for our dinner party. I had miscounted, and there were only six of us. So my second course of breakfast was a reheated soft-shell crab sandwich. What a start to the day!

I haven’t been blogging so much lately. I’m not completely sure why — some combination of busy-ness and apathy. Sometimes I think I’ve run out of things to say about food. And then I consider: “How is that possible?” I’ve also noticed some of my other blogger friends suffering from a similar inertia (I’m looking at you, Gourmandistan!). Maybe it’s a seasonal thing.

I do periodically just tire of my own writing. “Oh my god, not that metaphor again!!” And need a break from myself.

I used to publish a post every Tuesday and Thursday. I was very consistent for several years. I don’t know how I did it. Now, I’m like, “Whatever!”

I was saddened by the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, although as a parent of young children, I also thought it was a selfish and cowardly act given that he has an 11-year-old daughter. That’s a hole in her life that can never be filled.

Leftover soft-shell crab sandwich

Like many people, my first introduction to Bourdain was through his book, “Kitchen Confidential,” which lifted the veil on the many horrors of restaurant kitchens. I worked in several restaurant kitchens and never experienced — nor perpetrated — anything too terrible.

The worst crime I ever committed against a customer was when I was a teenager working in an Italian deli. Every Saturday, around 5 p.m., the old Italian owner, Ron, would say, “Okay, let’s clean up and get out of here.” The deli closed at 5:30. And I inevitably had someplace fun to get to and was eager to split. So I would wrap up all the remaining cold cuts and cheese, put away the lettuce and tomatoes, cover the condiment tins, wipe down the counters and wash all the knives and utensils. And every Saturday, just as I finished, a skinny little plumber dude with greasy black hair would come in and order a pastrami sandwich with extra mayonnaise. Old Italian owner Ron was not one to turn down $5. So I would grudgingly get everything out again and make the skinny plumber dude his sandwich, cursing under my breath and casting daggers with my eyes.

One particular Saturday when I had something REALLY fun to get to and already practically had one foot out the door, skinny plumber dude came in and asked for his pastrami with extra mayo. “I’ll give him extra mayo,” I mumbled to myself. I was sure to hand the wrapped sandwich to the customer myself, as had it passed through Ron’s hands, he would’ve surely noticed that it weighed a good pound more than it should’ve. I must’ve used half a jar’s worth of mayonnaise.

The next Saturday when skinny plumber dude came in, he ordered a pastrami sandwich with regular mayo. Once again, I loaded his sandwich with a cup of mayonnaise, and again made sure to hand it to him myself. The following Saturday, he came in and ordered a pastrami sandwich with light mayo. This time, I barely brushed the bread with the faintest trace of mayo.

He never came in again.

Those are my thoughts and stories for a Sunday morning.

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A Remembrance of Things Past

In “Swann’s Way,” the first of the seven books that made up Marcel Proust’s famous À la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past), it happened this way:

The narrator, upon a taste of a madeleine dipped in tea, is suddenly flooded with a long-forgotten memory from his childhood.

Wandering North Hollywood

Here’s how it happened to me:

I had to get the car serviced, so had a couple hours to kill in North Hollywood. On the particular stretch of Lankershim Boulevard where the dealership is located, there ain’t much to see. So I set out to wandering. I had gone in and out of the 99 Cent Store, walked under the U.S. 101 overpass, glanced at the menu of an old school French restaurant housed in a small faux chateaux, and was wishing the couple of legit dive bars in the neighborhood opened a little earlier, when I spotted it: H. Salt Fish & Chips. More

A Chili in the Air

If it’s early fall in Topanga, it must be chili time.

My ingredient list

My ingredient list

Every year, around the first weekend in November, the Topanga Swap Meet & Chili Cook Off rolls around. For a couple years, I was a judge. And then two autumns back, I was convinced by my friend Nonie who helps run the local community house to enter the contest, along with her husband Dan who was also entering. More

Queues and Barbecues

They asked me to do it again. Despite the lines — oh! the lines… — they asked me to do it again.

“Is there anything we can do about the lines?” they gingerly put forth.

Last Halloween, our children’s annual grade school Halloween carnival got an upgrade. It moved from school to the ballfield at the local community center, a live band would play, there would be a bar… And they asked me to do the food.

The Chef boogying at sunset

The chef/fairy/cow boogying at sunset

I was to cook for somewhere between 450 and 600 people. I was a week in preparation and was all set — except that the chimneys I needed for my coal were 90 minutes late. The carnival had opened at 3:30, people began queuing up for food at 4-ish. And I didn’t have anything to serve until close to 5 p.m., at which point the line had stretched from our home-plate set up well into left field. We would never catch up.

More

Skinny Girls Roadshow LIVE from Paris — A Tale of Two Cities

It took me a little while to get my bearings in Paris. It’s a city I know well — I’ve spent a lot of time here — but after the easy, laid-back intimacy of Italy and the French Rhone-Alpes, Paris was a jarring awakening.

Arc de Triomphe, Bastille Day

Arc de Triomphe, Bastille Day

The entre, after two weeks of meandering country roads, was driving the rental car into the heart of the Marais to drop the family and luggage off at the Airbnb, and then trying to navigate my way along the frenetic Rue du Rivoli to the subterranean Hertz offices at the swirling mayhem of the Louvre Carousel. More

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