Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Memories, Memoirs, and Sandy

As I write this New York City is in recovery mode from the raging path of Hurricane Sandy. She brought horrific winds, high waters and widespread damage. Thankfully my roommates and I, and our apartment were unharmed, barely a flickering light. I'm so grateful to have avoided any harm or damage but throughout the storm I've thought about what people will be remembering when all is back to normal and time has passed. 

For over a year I've been consuming food memoirs as if they were kernels of buttery popcorn at a suspenseful movie. Due to this I have taken on a strange perspective for how I consider life events, major and minor. As things happen I begin sorting them into chapters of my own imaginary memoir. I debate what will carry enough weight to exist within the "New York Years," if I will ever actually leave New York (I intend to, someday) and what might come after it. When it comes to Sandy I keep going back to the outpouring of food chatter that came about. Nowadays it is our default to share what we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner - but usually only if it is particularly amazing or interestingly mundane. Sandy brought about full fridge-clearing feasts, warm comfort foods, stress/anxiety munchies and odd flavor combinations shared thanks to Twitter

At my house we refused to buy bottled water, opting instead to fill empty wine bottles with clean tap water; I baked a chocolate banana bread for the sake of using up ripe bananas and correcting the lack of sweets in the house; Monday night dinner consisted of a first course of banana pancakes then an impromptu second course of Mexican black bean pizza due to a severe protein craving; tonight to rejoice in the calm post Sandy evening we made a feast of steak and pasta with a bright green salad. Food was a crutch and a way to entertain ourselves while waiting for the storm to begin then finally come to pass. In large part thanks to the uneventful effects of Sandy's fury chez moi, it will be the meals I can remember. 

I think food plays such an important part of memory because of all its sensory effects - we see, smell, touch, hear and taste as our mouths water and our stomachs yearn. In the coming months I hope to explore memory and memoirs more here on the Culinary Librarian. Here's hoping...

Monday, October 1, 2012


Even though my last post was titled "Transitions" there have been even more since then. All summer long I have been in anticipation of changes to come. The new job, the new apartment, the new roommates, the new kitchen, and above all a new attitude and a new outlook on life. Each and every change has come about with careful consideration and weighed options, and fortunately each has been a cause for celebration. 

The not-so-new job is still going very well, still not related to food but so far plenty to learn, plenty to contribute and even lots of fun to be had. The real star at this point is my new home life. I've gotten lucky, especially for New York, and have consistently lived with relative strangers who have turned out to be fun companions and some even good friends. Even if you live in the most beautiful place in the world it can be soured by poor quality of company. Thankfully, once again, I seem to have found myself among roommates-cum-friends to be. With good relationships in place I'm free to enjoy my new home at ease. And this is where all the celebration really comes in... 

Before I was in a decent sized bedroom... without windows. Before I had a nice wide kitchen with a full-size fridge and a working gas oven... that occupied half of the room considered to be the living room. As I said, I had wonderful roommates and a Manhattan-low rent so I was in that apartment for over two years. When it was time to find a new place, these factors created my primary requirements: windows/light/air and as real a kitchen I could find within my rent budget. I'm pleased and proud to say my needs have been met in abundance.

The new bedroom is bigger than the last (more room for my books!) and features two high and wide windows, full of light, air and city sounds. The kitchen, conveniently located right next to my bedroom, is galley-style with room for an eat-in table and chairs, lots of cabinets and up-above storage, a full-size gas stove, full size fridge and yet another window (expect better daylight food photos). In addition to these key features, the new place also has a spacious living room-cum-dining room, wide hallways, big closets and a black and white tiled bathroom. Seriously, there are wins left and right in this place! Oh there's laundry in the basement, too! And even with all of this my rent hardly changed (even when you divide the broker's fees across 12 months its not a big jump). I feel so fortunate. 

But back to anticipations. The job and apartment changes had been anticipated for years and months. Now that they have both happened, I'm finally picking up my new rhythm. This is the very first night I have come right home from work with no where to go, no one to see and no feeling of "should" in terms of unpacking, doing laundry, sorting apartment things, etc. Empowerment and liberation flow over me.