That spinach souffle I made for Easter dinner got under my skin. (Please, hold your punchlines.) I’ve been looking for a little celebration meal that wouldn’t require a $180 trip to Joseph Decuis, and tonight seemed to offer the opportunity, so I got out the Julia Child and made merry with whips and egg whites and a pound of the spring’s first spinach, and mmm. Dinner was an hour late, but when it’s spinach souffle and buttered baby carrots and a bottle of Fat Bastard shiraz (yes, really — Fat Bastard), who the hell cares?
Speaking of Joseph Decuis, the best restaurant in northeast Indiana, I ran into the executive chef, Lisa Williams, at Meijer the other day. It was gratifying to see that professionals capable of making magic with things like crabmeat and wasabi-ginger tartar sauce still buy Ore-Ida frozen hash browns. Her daughter is 4, mine is 6, and oh but it felt good to hear them have an argument over whether cotton candy-flavored Gogurt constitutes an acceptable snack food, the way Kate and I did only moments before.
I probably wouldn’t feel this way if I hadn’t made the mistake of selecting "Fanny at Chez Panisse" one day at the library, a book ostensibly written by Alice Waters’ daughter, Fanny, who (Alice claims) has never eaten a Big Mac in her life. In the book, Fanny expresses her enthusiasm for such entrees as halibut in grape leaves. As the French say, Bitez moi. I had one of the most memorable meals of my life at Chez Panisse, I grant Alice Waters all the mad props she has coming to her on the course of her brilliant career, but when she starts in on kids and food and her "eating is a political act" speech I have to tune her out or go insane. Life contains Doritos; deal.
Eating is (something of) a political act, but maybe only in Berkeley. Around here, you meet people with Alice Waters’ ideas about food, only they come from a religious perspective. It all comes out in the wash. Same impulse, different justification.
Speaking of religion, two things:
Richard Cohen had a good column on Santorum this morning. Yes, another. I was hoping Amy would blog it and throw a great bloody chunk of meat to her orthodox-Catholic readership, just to see what they’d say, but she says the subject interests her almost as little as the Dixie Chicks. OK, then. You go read it; I think he has a point:
On Sept. 12, 1960, John F. Kennedy, in a tight presidential race with Richard Nixon, addressed the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. In an attempt to reassure those Americans who thought a Catholic president would take orders from the Vatican or somehow impose Catholic doctrine on a majority Protestant nation, Kennedy not only said he believed that "the separation of church and state is absolute" but added something else as well: "I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair." For this, Sen. Rick Santorum has rhetorically excommunicated him.
Kennedy’s position did "much harm in America," Santorum told the National Catholic Reporter last year. "All of us have heard people say, ‘I privately am against abortion, homosexual marriage, stem cell research, cloning. But who am I to decide that it’s not right for someone else?’ It sounds good. But it is the corruption of freedom of conscience."
In contrast, Santorum named George W. Bush — a Methodist — as a president with the right approach. He dubbed him "the first Catholic president of the United States." Goodbye, JFK.
Second thing, remember when I said it wasn’t easy to write a column about turn-signal abuse, and if you thought it was, go ahead and try? Dan, another local, gave it his best. I think it’s pretty good, although he couldn’t make 700 words. Because I’m full of Fat Bastard, I’m going to let him carry us out. Because this is Indiana, he somehow makes it all revolve around a Bible verse. Neat trick. Enjoy:
Deuteronomy – Chapter 2, Verse 27
"Let me pass through thy land: I will go along
by the high way, I will neither turn unto the
right hand nor to the left."
I took a short trip that just rimmed the cup of forever yesterday. We took Katie to see "Dora the Explorer" live at the Murat Theater in Indy. We left early so we could stop by the zoo (where we are members) and our in-laws (where we are not). We saw Polar Bears and Dolphins but, as Katie repeated endlessly, no yellow ducks. From the far south side of Indianapolis to the Murat downtown, we followed an apparently driverless blue Saturn intending to turn left on Meridian. When we were finally able to pass by, those words from Deuteronomy came to mind. All we could see as we looked down into the Saturn from our white van was a wisp of grey hair and two gnarled fists, perfectly positioned 10:00 and 2:00. Maybe she could no longer reach the brake, or didn’t have the strength to press it down, and had been wandering the city for hours, waiting to run out of gas. Perhaps I just didn’t know that a left turn flasher can be used as a universal distress signal, a call for help from the weakest of the weak, a shout of rage from one who has no voice. Or maybe she just forgot.
Anyway, why do all kid shows start late and have intermissions? I saw Neil Diamond sing for nearly four hours straight without a break, but twenty-something actors in animal suits can only go for forty minutes? Come on! Dora was cute, though. That’s Daddy’s take, Katie’s take was that it wasn’t the real Dora. We had front row center seats, which were too close — the railing of the orchestra pit was well above Katie’s eyeline so she had to stand on me throughout the show in order to see over the rail. All the kids in the theater screamed at Swiper-the-Fox each time he appeared with a fervor I’m sure will be reborn in their teen years, turned toward these same parents they hug with joy today. Katie went home with a Dora tattoo, a Dora flashlight and a Dora fiber optics necklace. Why do all kid shows start late and have intermissions? One word: Merchandising.
Going home in the barren darkness of I-69, Katie slept and Cindy played every Luther Vandross CD she owns. She owns them all. The last time we went to the Murat was to see Luther, so he was heavy on her mind. Somewhere after Muncie, I flipped on my left turn signal and let it go, flashing for the last hour of our trip, blinking the universal signal of distress, or a prayer for mercy, as we passed through the land of God, turning neither left nor right in the Quiet Storm of the night.
I have the best readers ever. Have a swell weekend.