Ride the Wave

I’ve been wondering of late if the universe gives us exactly what we need but not as often what we want. As I face more job upheaval, something I thought surely impossible given the sheer amount of prior chaos in this sphere of my life, perhaps the wisest piece of advice I’ve received lately is to “ride the wave” at work. So I’ve been thinking a lot how flexibility is critical to creating happiness for ourselves.
Facing the bleak prospect of working in New Jersey and losing Tribeca as my spiritual base makes me want to spit nails! I just got here and love everything about it. The random cobblestone street, the pocket parks I traverse on my walk from the subway, the unconventional coffee shop (Kaffe) where the swag wait staff knows my name and the playlist is awesome, the access to sky, the wind from the Hudson that reminds me of the renown Mistral wind in Provence. How can life be so unfair to deprive me of these daily pleasures — F*@#$&^%ck!! The only thing I’ve ever liked about New Jersey was “The Sopranos” which you can tell since I can curse like Carmela.
Despite this set back, I realized that I’ve gotten many things that I wanted….just not in the form or timeframe desired. Take cooking for example. Although cooking was a big part of my prior life – as La Mamma for my family creating a tradition of Italian, French and Cambodian food ties that bind, it was an art that had gotten lost in the divorce transition. I longed to get cooking back on the front burner in my life. Actually a happy by-product of my marriage was an exposure to Asian food. So sitting at my desk at lunchtime, I consider the option of a tasty banh mi sold at the food truck outside 388G on Tuesdays in the warm season – a shrimp summer roll, Vietnamese iced coffee, alternatively, a Vietnamese sandwich. Sometimes I meet JuJu at Viet Café down on Greenwich St where we sit at the bar, share a pho and catch up. It’s good to enjoy food again.
Eating out notwithstanding, I was a great cook back in the day. In my spare time, I am creating a personal cookbook of all my favorite recipes to pass down to my daughters. The Cub is perhaps a better cook than me, being fearless and adventurous in the kitchen. Faithfully following the Paleo diet, he has created some awesome dishes such as cauliflower rice. Cooking, though, takes time and between my exercise schedule, class at Hunter and work, there’s not much to spare. As the Cub and I are often weirdly in sync, we both expressed a desire to cook for the “someone special” in our lives. As there’s no one special in our lives, that experience hasn’t materialized. Instead of lamenting that fact, we decided to be happy cooking for ourselves. If you thought Brian was in his 20s, think again! Ever the perfect 40 year old role model, he shops, preps and cooks his weekly meals every Sunday. A bottle of wine might be shared as we bring the weekend to a close.
Cooking for others may sound easy but not! I have noticed with some despair that not all of my friends appreciate a dinner invitation and fewer still reciprocate. Providence appeared in the form of a classmate who lives in my ‘hood. Finding ourselves with 15 technical competencies to complete prior to graduation from Hunter, we started reciprocating dinners each time we got together on a Sunday evening to work on another competency. A recent menu chez moi started with a respectable & properly chilled Sauvignon Blanc, soppressata and wafer crackers, followed by my favorite Cipriani lunch – arugula salad with chicken Milanese. The bite of the bitter arugula is balanced by the sweetness of ripe summer tomatoes, the chicken cutlets are fried to offer a counter balance of fat; season to taste with some freshly ground pepper and dress simply with an ample squeeze of lemon. Dessert was my first attempt at granita something I discovered in Sicily when JuJu and I would watch the elegant Italian women appear at the breakfast buffet and take a healthy helping of coffee granita topped off with a wallop of whipped cream! Accompanying my mango granita, I added extra blueberries to a crumble cake which Brian agreed should be a new addition to that personal cookbook.
So in the end, I remembered that it’s all about riding that wave and taking advantage of what comes along. I may not be cooking for my lova! but I am cooking for myself and sharing food with people who enjoy it with me. As faithful readers may know, I am fond of a particular food analogy – the slow braise as relating to love. The art of braising – the French elevate everything to an art – is a simple, economical and efficient cooking technique with huge outcomes. It is characterized by searing quickly at high heat, followed by a long, slow cooking not requiring much attention. The meat magically becomes tender through a steady low flame that is no less intense than a roaring fire. This method of cooking is suitable for tough cuts of meats (like people who are oppositional maybe?!) Remember that braising takes time but you get a deliciously satisfying result in the end. So my advice is to let love simmer below the surface, enjoy the surprises on the journey of life even if they detour through New Jersey.

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