Third day in on my attempt to resume daily blogging, and I nearly forgot to post. This does not bode well…
In any case, I remembered. And I found a photo on my phone to share. These are some apples that the kids and I picked a couple of weekends ago on an idyllic weekend afternoon. We picked quite a few varieties of apples, and it’s interesting to see how varied they still appear, even after being peeled. (We also bought an apple-peeling gadget, that also slices the apples into spirals. It was quite fun, and made a cool tangle of peels. It was also fun to snack on the peels.)
Tonight I am grateful to have access to an abundance of healthy food for myself and my family.
No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine dew which the soul, on certain of its summer mornings, feels dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden fruitage of Paradise. (Charlotte Bronte, Villette)
Happiness is not a potato.
Close to 2 years ago, I was preparing to roast some vegetables for dinner. I washed a potato, and started to cut out some of the eyes that looked like they would be a bit tough, when, to my surprise, I had the impression that the potato was looking back at me. Yes, we all know that potatoes have eyes, but they don’t usually have mournful eyes. Further, I realized that the “eye” I was cutting into with the point of my knife was actually more like the potato’s nostril. Filled with remorse, I stopped to take some photos of my sad, sad potato. (And then I continued to cut it up and put it in a roasting pan.)
Some days later, I came across the quote above, by Charlotte Bronte. Indeed, happiness is not a potato, and I had the photographic proof.
If anything, as far as I can tell, sadness is a potato.
Sad potato is sad.¹
While perhaps not with the same frequency as my sharing of leaves, this is far from the first time I’ve shared vegetables with faces. In fact, 3 years ago, a butternut squash and I declared November 21st to be International Day of the Odd Vegetable.² Together, the squash and I reminisced about an eggplant we once knew.
How about you? Have you come across any produce with personality?
¹ That’s what I was imagining I’d call a post about this potato.
² Alternately, The Day of Peculiar Produce.
When I visited mainland China in 2012 with my cousin for a conference in Shanghai, we also made a quick trip to Beijing so that we could make an excursion to see the Great Wall. Even though it was a short trip, we also wanted to see some of Beijing, including the Forbidden City. Between a hole in the wall place where we had breakfast and the Forbidden City, we encountered this impressive building:
Stone guardian lions are quite a frequent sight in China, but nowhere else did I see a guardian duck. This little (well, actually, it was quite a large duck) welcomes visitors to the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant. (I’d never have remembered that, but I can make out the English text on the very shiny golden revolving door.) The internets inform me that this is quite a famous restaurant, and possibly the home of the original Peking duck. We did not enter this colorful building, so I can’t speak for the interior, or comment on the quality of the food. I can only vouch for the memorability of the duck.
I’m on a roll with my ducks these days. Not that I have any actual ducks. I do, however, have plenty of photos of ducks.
This photo is one that strikes me as funny, probably because it’s not a sight likely to be seen in the US. I saw this display of duck heads on my trip to China in 2012, at a food stall. I believe it was in the city of Hangzhou, which is near Shanghai.
Most Americans prefer to dissociate the meat and poultry they eat from the animals they come from. Typically, these purchases are made in a supermarket, with cuts of meat and poultry wrapped in cellophane, denuded of as many signs of having once had feet and faces as possible. Clearly this is not the case in many parts of the world. I still remember being somewhat shocked as a kid when we moved to France, and encountered butcher shops and market stalls with whole animals hanging from hooks, and being disturbed that the chickens we purchased still had feet and head attached.
In any case, it seems that in China, duck heads are a fairly popular food dish.
It has become a tradition for me to bake gingerbread in the winter. On more than one occasion, I have been quite taken with the way the various dry ingredients compose themselves the bowl: the various spices making dark patterns on the lighter flour mixtures. Here are photos from three different times I made gingerbread in recent years.
Here, I seem to have added the spices from lighter color to dark, with ginger, then cinnamon, then cloves.
Here, the spices clumped up, looking like miniature boulders on a bed of sugar gravel.
Here, the cinnamon perfectly held the shape of the measuring spoon.
(And no, I haven’t had time for baking yet this year. I’ve been too busy cooking up perception experiments and writing abstracts. Which are not nearly as tasty.)
These cute little artichokes were some that I bought a couple of years ago in the Spring.
Their tiny size and shape was so egg-like once I cut the stems off that I couldn’t resist arranging them in an egg carton.
They look like strange little alien pod eggs. I do wonder what sort of creature would hatch out of such a spiky egg! Likely one with very sharp claws.
A few years ago, a doctor wanted Phoebe to go on a clear fluid diet for a day as a part of a medical evaluation. In addition to clear juices and broths, she was allowed to eat Jello. Jello is not something we tend to eat in our family, but under the circumstances, I decided to go all out. I picked up packages of cherry, orange, lemon, lime and grape Jello, and I put together a dish of rainbow jello for my rainbow-loving girl.
The process involved making the different layers of color separately, letting each chill and gel, and then adding the next layer. I honestly don’t remember how long the process took. But I do remember that the result was quite striking to look at!
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When Theo was a baby, maybe a year or so old, I came across a link someone had shared of Andrea Bocelli singing to Elmo. We were travelling at the time, visiting my in-laws, and a super-tired baby Theo was sitting on my lap long after he should have been asleep. I clicked on the video, and Theo was entranced. What’s more, he was lulled. By the end of the video, he was asleep in my arms.
This is not the sort of magic than an overtired parent easily forgets, and this video was revisited quite a few times over the next year or so. (Not always with exactly the same magic.) I also bought the song (not the Elmo-directed version, but the original Italian version), and found that it was effective at getting Theo to nap on car rides. When Theo was a little bit older, he would request the song. However, the name he had for it was “Rainbow Jelly.” I’m not sure how long it took us to figure out what he meant, but eventually we realized that it must have been how he’d misheard “Andrea Bocelli” in the video.
And so it was that I was inclined to call the rainbow layered Jello “rainbow jelly.”
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Last week’s friday foto finder theme was food, and given my recent run on rainbows, I couldn’t resist sharing photos of this. It is somewhat debatable whether this treat counts as actual “food,” but Phoebe had fun with it.
To see what other potentially more nutritious food items have been shared, pay a visit to the fff blog.