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How was your Easter?

Bye Bye Bunny

Bye Bye Bunny

I’ll be honest: I’ve had a grudge against Easter ever since I realized that, when I was growing up (before the invention of fire) we got a basket of chocolates with one big bunny, a couple of Easter Creme Eggs, and a lot of jellybeans, and only a few years later my much younger stepbrothers got Rollerblades, BUT I’M SO OVER THAT REALLY.

Ahem. Anyway, I didn’t do anything special on Easter and I didn’t get any chocolate except the Hazelnut truffle my friend Raul bought me from the charming Portuguese fellow at the market and no, I’m not sulking, I’M SO OVER THAT I TELL YOU WHY DO YOU KEEP LOOKING AT ME THAT WAY?

I did have a delightful and delicious Easter tea on Friday with a good friend and the most adorable 14-month-old baby you’ve ever seen, and a post will be forthcoming on that shortly, once I’ve gotten my hands on the pictures. I’d almost have a baby so I’d have an excuse to buy those adorable little baby shoes!

On Easter Sunday I got up late, put the kettle on, made myself a French Press of Kenya (yes, from Starbucks: their Kenya AAA is one of the most perfectly balanced coffees in the world FACT and the VP of coffee there once told me it had the second highest caffeine level of any of their offerings, right behind Columbia) and then had a big mess of vegetarian chili while re-reading Toby Young’s extremely addictive memoir How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (curse you, Toby Young, how many rainy days have you cost me in lost productivity???) and then, as always, I went to the cafe with the dreadful coffee and had the green tea while I went online. Hey, a blogger’s gotta blog, eh?

What did you do? Do people still have Easter traditions? Holding out for Monday? Favorite candy? Gawker has a What Your Favorite Easter Candy Says About You quiz, and I present the following Cadbury Easter Creme Egg result without comment:

You normally have things under control but are subject to wild and uncontrollable cravings. While your life is typically together, you suffer from a serious flaw like constant tardiness, chronic attitude problems, or the lack of discipline to keep yourself in check when around seasonal chocolate treats. When you dedicate yourself to your vice, you go in whole hog. If you don’t have a drinking problem now, you probably will in a year or so. Also, you hate people who like those tiny little eggs they sell in packs of twelve. They’re like people who get wasted on New Years Eve and St. Paddy’s Day.

Word of Mouth

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The world is changing. Indeed, the election proves that the world has already changed.

The world of eating is changing, too, and profoundly for the better. By now the locavore movement is well established as a culinary ambition, one with expanding political and ecological implications. All across town farmer’s markets pop up in unexpected places – schoolyards, church grounds, and forgotten plazas.

Sitting at your desk dreaming of new flavors, how do you get connected? In the bad old days you found these events by word of mouth, by knowing someone in the know.
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Now, just in time, Edible Manhattan is out. A new food magazine that began in Ojai, California, Edible finally cracked the big city. Valuable as a shopping and dining source, it is equally inspiring as bedroom reading. The inaugural issue features excellent articles on New York City tap water and on Manhattan beekeepers, two topics of keen interest to Mr. Henry who has always hated people who carry bottled water and who has always harbored a secret longing to keep bees on the terrace.
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In the new issue Regina Schrambling writes about Duncan Hines – an actual person – who in 1959 published the Zagat’s of its day. Who knew? Mr. Henry always thought Duncan Hines was like Aunt Jemima, Betty Crocker, or Mrs. Butterworth – an ersatz icon of ersatz cuisine.

Armed with Edible Manhattan and an eco-friendly cloth shopping sack, Mr. Henry feels prepared to venture out from his little village on the Upper West Side, a village more populous than Wyoming, mind you, but a village nonetheless. The great metropolitan expanse lies before him.

Courageously he will take a southbound train for Union Square to hunt wild mizuna, parsnips, and spring lamb.

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Play with your food

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“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

This is sound advice representing balanced good-sense values. Although Mr. Henry was not the first to coin the remark, he heeds its admonition conscientiously.

Proper care must be taken in handling both the gun and the cannoli, and each can be useful in a pinch, but the cannoli is the subtler means of persuasion. As a general rule of etiquette, Mr. Henry advises you to take the cannoli.

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Do you know who said it, and in what movie? If you do, you’ll triumph at the new parlor game Foodie Fight, a Trivial Pursuit-style competition quiz that the Henry posse finds irresistible –  lowdown fun at high table.

Children are instructed NOT to play with their food. But isn’t playing with food the essence of the  international food revolution? Don’t chefs play both with ingredients and with presentation? Don’t we place high value on such food-play?

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Many years ago Mr. Henry climbed the stairs to visit his photographer friend Maggie. On her table under the big umbrella lights that day lay piles of green peppers and bags of black-eyed peas. Maggie was busy shooting How are you Peeling?, another book of  visual genius from  Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers.

Fast Food is the newest one, appropriate for anyone over the age of two. It’s delicious.

Roughing it

Mr. Henry has been roughing it in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, living on Grape Nuts, Eight O’Clock Coffee, bacon, tuna fish, red chard, chips, salsa, and Yeungling Black & Tan.

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To capture the internet he cruised Third Avenue while his laptop Airport searched for a signal. Parked in the breezeway of the Jacksonville Beach Quality Suites, he logged onto the hotel wi-fi and downloaded the Manolosphere. Across the parking lot the Crab Shack loudspeaker bellowed “Baker, party of six! Baker, party of six!” Even from 100 yards the air was thick with frying oil. He wanted to shout, “Bakers, save yourselves! Don’t do it!” but Mr. Henry does not foist his opinions upon innocent beach people.

To his amusement and delight, during his absence spirited contributors duked things out for themselves without intrusive guidance or editorial assistance. It was a barroom brawl from the Old West, a fair fight in which things sorted themselves out to the satisfaction of the many.

Mr. Henry does not like to apologize. He embraces the old show business adage, “Never complain. Never explain.” Now and again, however, he will do so, if only for the pleasure of breaking his own rules.

The kerfuffle over Michael Pollan’s injunction against more than five ingredients was settled satisfactorily. Yes, Pollan does refer to packaged products, not to other recipes, as Mr. Henry should have noted.

The food fight over pizza was such good fun that Mr. Henry is almost sorry to say he is sorry. He should have specified “American pizza,” the take-out kind. A thin-crust pizza with light tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil like Serafina’s in New York or Mrs. Henry’s home-made is one of life’s irresistible temptations.

Likewise for take-out tacos. A fresh fish taco from Baja California is one of the world’s great treats. Here in Florida Mr. Henry has been imagining just such treats by dipping his corn chips into the tuna fish, watching the Atlantic while dreaming of the Pacific. (There must be a name for such ingratitude, no? Or does the beach air simply render you perpetually sulky and less than satisfied?)

Regarding Mr. Henry’s denunciation of Subway, he just does not trust “cold cuts.”(Chachaheels explained most eloquently precisely why you should avoid fast-food sandwich places.) When he eats a roast beef sandwich, he cuts the meat from beef he roasts himself. In a pinch he will eat the fresh baked country ham from Zabar’s, but if he wants to eat genuine salumeria, he doesn’t put it on a sandwich.marktwain.jpg

Inevitably cold cuts are preserved in some nitrate or glutamate that to Mr. Henry’s nose smells like embalming fluid. Eating cold cuts he gets the queasy sensation of having crashed high in the Andes trying to remain ALIVE!

In Roughing It, Mark Twain reports:

“At the Green River station we had breakfast – hot biscuits, fresh antelope steaks, and coffee – the only decent meal we tasted between the United States and Great Salt Lake City, and the only one we were ever really thankful for. Think of the monotonous execrableness of the thirty that went before it, to leave this one simple breakfast looming up in my memory like a shot-tower after all these years gone by!”

Tomorrow Mr. Henry faces the monotonous execrableness of Walt Disney World, and he must face it like a man, not a mouse.

Mr. Henry gives thanks

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Still in his morning skivvies, Mr. Henry raises his eyes heavenwards to offer thanks for:

– the Genius Bar whiz kids who repaired Mr. Henry’s MacBook.

– high 75° with low humidity.

– the new Lyle Lovett.

– Liz the foot wrangler who is curing Mr. Henry’s fallen third left metatarsal.

– Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons.Ben-Hogan-Print-C10097613.jpeg

And yet, Mr. Henry remains less than completely satisfied. He longs to integrate all his pleasures. He offers up a late summer prayer to be granted perfection in multi-slacking.

A novel by John Lanchester, The Debt to Pleasure, combines two of Mr. Henry’s principal interests – murder and food.

Through slyly brilliant description, Lanchester manages to make traditional English cooking seem positively sensual and murder seem downright defensible.

Mr. Henry hears your wry retort, “The English have always murdered their food.” Save it. Lanchester’s humor is way ahead of your own, possibly even ahead of Mr. Henry’s.

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Summer avocations

In the inimitable manner of The Manolo, Mr. Henry feels obliged, almost compelled to share the following with all his gentle readers:

Mr. Henry is reading

Mr. Henry is listening to

Mr. Henry is watching

Mr. Henry is eating