Sunday, March 30, 2008

Food bites

Early last week I left the office late feeling angry. It had been a rough day but my mood was fine until a fold-up bicycle-riding tenant who lives in the apartments above our studio flung the door open just as I was leaving and started yelling at me and being bloody rude. The perceived fault was not ours and I was the only person available so he vented at me. I tried to investigate the problem and when he responded by being more rude I lost my rag and so later found myself on the subway, steaming. One thing, one human thing and one's balance is thrown and a day blasted by anger, and an evening to come scowled at.

Walking home, I stopped at Sahadi to buy a little feta and some almonds. I had planned to make a Persian cucumber (some people call them Israeli cucumbers but the word Persian is so much more evocative), radish and feta salad, to accompany a roast baby chicken. I took a number and was greeted smilingly by the crew. I was given some almonds to chew and a fresh block of French feta was unwrapped and sliced. I was asked about dinner and what I would do with my cheese. I remembered to buy more Baleine salt. Next door at The Green Pea the Mexican fruit packer and I smiled shyly at each other as we always do. His is beatific. I bought my radishes and some red onions. By the time I had reached Henry Street I suddenly realized that I was not mad anymore, or resentful; and I can hold a grudge like nobody's business.

I think it took about 6 smiles, and some small, polite, kind words, the benefactors of which could have had no idea what effect they were having on one in whose breast a storm was raging (I've been reading Patrick O'Brian)...

And so came about one of the nicest little solo picnics I have ever enjoyed. My small chicken roasted to a turn with an onion inside it, salt and pepper, the juice of a lemon and nothing else but a splash of water to keep the pan juices going: one hour at 440'F. Hot, yes. My cucumber, radish, feta and olive salad, and a salad of bitter radicchio with a sherry vinaigrette. And Kir.

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