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Monthly Archives: August 2012

~Did You See the Bear?~

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I’ve never thought of myself as a dozy person. In fact, if you asked most people I know, they’d probably describe me as in control, organized and a tad OCD. I’d always prided myself as being incredibly perceptive, with an above average awareness of the world around me. That is, until I met M.

Moving through life with someone is a lot different than going it alone. There are loads of advantages, but there are some curious disadvantages. Have you ever been a passenger in a car driving somewhere, say a store, that you’ve been to a few times, but when you have to drive there yourself, you have no idea how to get there? By relying on M to get us there, I tend not to pay attention to my surroundings. Not a good thing. For most of my life, I’ve been my primary focus and very self-sufficient. And while I adore the intricate duet of taking care of M and he of me, I’m not as razor-sharp as I was bM (before M). In these moments, he lovingly refers to me as Blasian (blond, Asian).

I went to Halifax to work with a dance company. I get to the hotel and the gal at the front desk tells me it’s not my requested room, but one in the adjacent building. I schlep my suitcase to the room, and I’m not crazy about it. For one or two nights it would have been fine, but since I’d be there for a week, I wanted cozy comfort and the much-anticipated crackling fireplace. I immediately call the front desk, and they explain that the other room will be available the next day. Satisfied, I leave in search of booze.

I’m perusing bottles of wine in a charming waterfront shop when my phone rings. It’s M. I’ve already texted him that I landed safely (a rule we have), so I figure he must really be missing me.

“Hey baby, what you doing?”

“Oh just in a wine store, trying to choose a bottle.”

“Oh… so…”

“You should see the wine here. Great selection. I’ve never seen these bottles at the LCBO. Some of the Californians you buy from Duty Free are here.”

“So… how’s the room?”

“Ugh, I didn’t get the room I wanted, I’m in another building. It’s really drafty and cold and…”

“Ah ha… did the front desk give you anything?

“What do you mean?”

Pause… inhale… exhale… “Did they give you any flowers?”

Pause… slow realization… “What?! What are you talking about? What? Oh baby, that’s so… I didn’t get any flowers.”

“They didn’t give you any?”

“No.”

“They weren’t in your room?”

“No.”

“That’s weird. I was told they were already delivered. Check with the front desk when you get back.”

I buy my wine and hurry back. I’m not accustomed to receiving flowers from a beau, and I can’t believe the hotel fucked up the surprise. They assure me the flowers were delivered, and should be in my room. The gal at the front desk says she’ll check the room I was maybe going to be in, because she doesn’t know where else they could be. This is a small boutique hotel, more like a bed and breakfast, so she says she’ll bring them to my room, when she finds them.

Growing more livid, I rush to my room, open the door, scan the room and there on the mantel is a rather elaborate bouquet of colourful wildflowers. In a glass vase. Next to a box of chocolates. And a teddy bear. Now that I think about it, I sort of recall seeing something out the corner of my eye during my room negotiations, something that could have been a stem or even a twig…

Blasian.

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~ Glory What? ~

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Before I moved in, M’s fridge looked like a typical bachelor fridge – beer, milk, cigars.

“I know how to order really well,” he told me.

He certainly does. Pizza Nova (his already established favourite) has made it onto our weekly rotation (“Pizza Sunday!”).  I love pizza. In fact, I’ve always regarded it as my favourite food. It’s a food that I can eat any time of the day or night, hot or cold, fresh or days old. And, for the same reason many guys like blow jobs: even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty damn good.

Getting tired of our usual – medium with extra cheese, pepperoni, sometimes pineapple – I decided we should have his and her pies. Mine, with lots of veggies, sun-dried tomatoes and feta, guarantees he’ll never reach for a slice, once his is done.

I’ve been challenged in my efforts to make tasty and healthy meals for us, and compiled a mental list of veggies he likes, so I could make a stir-fry. I finally had enough veggies to make one with tofu, green beans, carrots and baby bok choy (“baby bok choy, and I don’t care!” is now a favourite ditty of his). I threw in some broccoli for myself, because they’re easy to pick out. He wasn’t crazy about the tofu, but still had two helpings doused in soy sauce. He did try one piece of broccoli. And all was right in the world.

I started making my version of “Glory Bowl,” from a recipe I saw in Candian Living. My version is basically brown rice, marinated and fried tofu, sautéed kale, grated raw beets and carrots, pickled ginger, and a vinaigrette made of cider vinegar, Bragg’s soy, Dijon, honey, salt and pepper. I have to say, it’s freakin’ awesome. And it looks phenomenal – all red and green and orange. I made a big batch once and froze half before going on a business trip. Not only did M eat the batch in the fridge, he defrosted the other half and ate that too! “Ahhhh…” (angels singing).

M may not be a natural in the kitchen, but he has developed a small and consistent repertoire over the years – pancakes (Bisquick), french toast, hamburgers, and mac and cheese (Kraft Deluxe) with added Cheese Whiz for an extra cheesy zip.

Here’s his recipe for hamburgers:

M’s Burgers

1 package of ground beef

Couple dashes each of Tabasco Sauce, Soy Sauce, Worcestershire

1 squirt of Heinz 57

1 package of soft, white hamburger buns, the kind you could easily squeeze into a ball, should the mood strike

1 George Foreman Grill

Plug in grill. Spray with no-stick Pam. Remove plastic wrap from beef. Add Tabasco, Worcestershire and 57, while meat is still in Styrofoam tray. Allow to marinate for a few minutes. Form patties, place on grill, close lid and cook for about 5 minutes. Place patties in buns and serve with generous amounts of ketchup.

When he first made these for me, I was a tad horrified.

“Oh… you’re not going to mix it in a bowl?” I asked, eyeballing the 57 sauce.

“Why make more dirty dishes?” he countered, matter-of-factly.

Truth is the burgers were quite tasty – basic, uncomplicated, good. Kinda like him.

~ The Toast ~

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M likes toast. He butters it on a plate, picks it up off the plate and stands in the middle of the kitchen to eat it. When I say “middle of the kitchen” I mean the actual middle. Not hunched over the sink, but right out there in the middle of the kitchen, far away from a pesky plate or paper towel, not so much as a cupped hand to catch the shrapnel of crumbs exploding all over the floor, the counters, the front of his shirt. Sometimes he takes his show on the road, and walks around the condo or reclines in his “man- chair,” where the crumbs collect on his chest and belly. I’ve asked him to be careful, but soon lost patience watching him negotiate getting out of the chair, trying not to let the crumbs fall and embed into the fibers of the carpet. I made both our lives easier by having a dust buster charged and standing by.

Now I just dust bust M.

A few passes across his front, and crises averted.

~ Step Away From the Kitchen ~

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At 51, M’s not exactly a natural in the kitchen. One morning, I made hard-boiled eggs and kept his in the fridge until he finished a conference call. I took a shower and returned to find him looking a little sheepish. I half-noticed a shiny, white mark on his bottom lip, but didn’t think much of it.

“I made a boo boo,” he said, intentionally like a little boy.

“What do you mean?” I asked, leaning in to look at his computer screen, assuming he’d done something to his laptop. It was then that I felt something grainy on the front of his shirt, something that, on closer inspection, resembled egg yolk.

“What did you do?” I asked, intentionally like a mother.

“I put my egg in the microwave and took a bite, and it exploded on my face.”

That’s when I realized the white mark on his lip was actually a bubbling blister.

I marched into the kitchen, and he followed behind. Being a bit of a clean freak, I scoured the scene like a CSI investigator. Though he tried to clean it up, I discovered bits of exploded egg on the counter’s edge, the side of the fridge, the floor directly below. Then I looked at him. He’d applied Aloe Vera to his swollen lip, which made them look sort of bee-stung and glossy. I couldn’t help but laugh, and asked him why he would put a hard-boiled egg in the microwave.

“Because I wanted to warm it up.”

“How long did you put it in for?

“About a minute.”

Not exactly a natural in the kitchen.

~ Potato, Potahto ~

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I don’t consider myself a foodie, but M does. Of course next to him, I suppose I am. I’m Korean-Canadian, and he’s white. White-Canadian. Whitey, white, white. So while we both grew up eating things like Kraft Dinner and Hamburger Helper, I also ate Korean food. That alone makes my food experience a tad broader. Though M’s mom was born in Slovakia, she never prepared Eastern European dishes. Just as well because, apparently, she wasn’t a great cook, and tended to overcook everything. Her chicken was like the turkey in Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation – dusty dry. When M was a teenager, his dad would call him to ask what was for dinner and, if it was chicken night, would arrange to covertly meet M at a nearby McDonald’s.

In my mind, foodies are somewhat pretentious people with impeccably discerning and adventurous palates. That’s not me. I just love food. Next to being a bit of a clean freak, I’ve always had a preoccupation with food, even bordering on obsessive at times. It’s amazing what years of controlling calories will do to a dancer’s mind – all we can think about is food! I plan dinner at breakfast, and holiday meals weeks in advance. I have the most delicious conversations with dancer friends about meals we’ve had, meals we’ve prepared, restaurants we’re dying to try and on and on. I’ll show up early to my dentist appointments just to read the recipes in Chatelaine and Canadian Living. Even better? My dentist has televisions in his exam rooms that I set to the Food Network. I learned how to make buttermilk fried chicken, during my last fluoride treatment!

The Food Network is my go-to channel. The first one I turn on, the one I turn to during commercials, when watching other shows. It’s the only channel that programs shows right up until the next show. So at 2 minutes to the half hour or top of the hour, when all the other channels are running commercials, the Food Network is still showing food! M thinks I’m nuts.

I especially like programs that show people eating the food they’ve made. Probably because I grew up in the 70’s watching the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr (the King of orgasmic eaters), who ingrained in me a palpable pleasure of food.

I’m not the most ambitious eater, but I enjoy tasty, well-prepared dishes of almost any ethnicity. I get a little picky with meat. Anything beyond cow, pig, chicken, and some seafood, makes me squeamish.  But after initially balking at, or downright reviling, certain foods for much of life, I’ve developed a great fondness for things like pickled ginger, cilantro, raw oysters and sashimi. And considering I’ve evolved from well-done grey to juicy medium pink in my cooking preference for beef, I think my taste buds are maturing quite nicely.

M’s food likes are narrower than mine. For him, pizza (extra cheese, pepperoni, sometimes pineapple), hamburgers (no garnish, lots of ketchup) and wings (hot, with extra hot sauce on the side) are his go-to eats. He doesn’t care for very strong-tasting foods (too garlicky, oniony or spicy), seafood, anything cream-based or pickled, or most vegetables. He’s allergic to mushrooms, peaches, nectarines and nuts (though not in a can’t-be-in-the-same-room-as-a-cashew kind of way).

Once, when he was on a business trip, we were chatting on the phone. He was tired and cranky because he hadn’t eaten much all day. I asked him what he was having for dinner.

“I’m just going to order pizza.”

Imagining how many times he’d probably had pizza that week, I suggested he order a salad too.

“No,” he groaned, “I just want to relax.”

Apparently, broccoli would have pushed him over the edge.

One birthday, I asked M to take me to a new restaurant called Buca. We started with two glasses of Prosecco and a lovely cheese and charcuterie plate (we both passed on the horse meat salumi). For my main, I had the braised beef short-ribs with polenta and he had (wait for it) pizza – a tad more misshapen and rustic than his favourite, Pizza Nova. My meal was divine – creamy, fall-off-the-bones tender and very tasty. Incredibly rich, but I savoured each bite. He, on the other had, was less impressed.

“Meh,” he said, “it’s alright. I mean, it’s no Pizza Nova.”

The day after that meal, I regaled my dance colleagues with mouth-watering details of my fabulous meal, and laughed about M’s comment. One gal said she could never date a guy who didn’t love food. What she meant was she could never date a guy with M’s less adventurous tastes in food. Sure, M likes what he likes, but he’s also willing to try things at least once. Why just the other night, we had dinner at a high-end sushi restaurant, chosen by his former colleague. Course after meticulous course, the chef designed the entire meal for the table. The food was fresh, delicate, and M actually liked it. Later, of course, he admitted that all the beer and sake helped it go down easier.

Although they aren’t his first choice, M’s not averse to going to restaurants off his beaten track. His first meeting with my family was at a Korean restaurant, and he loved it. We’ve also had Thai, Chinese, Indian, and even went to Rodney’s Oyster House. True, he didn’t have any oysters, and he did somehow manage to get a steak that’s not even on the menu. But he chose the restaurant just because he knew I’d like it. What more can a gal ask for?

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