23 July 2010

What a day, a year, a life it is

No, my days have not improved. I didn't want you to get the wrong idea because I'm going to attempt to write cheerfully.

Dammit, anyway.

Whilst on the exercise bike, I was reading a food magazine (I know, seemingly a contradiction in terms. But it's worth pointing out that I never did get lunch today because of the various landmines in my path. Unless you count that banana, and I don't), specifically Andrew Knowlton on proper picnic food. Very perfect. And then, of course, a few moments later I was reading someone else's opinion that sweet tea is the perfect drink for a hot day. I could not disagree more, and anyway, I loathe sweet tea.

(I think I mentioned that we've been Southern food central lately. The daughter started reading the Fried Green Tomatoes cookbook, followed by Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and topped off with a viewing yesterday of, yes, Fried Green Tomatoes. I've been offering color commentary on the recipes she's been reading aloud--it's unlikely that I will ever eat tomato aspic, jello salad, or grits again, at least not voluntarily--but I did promise to make one of the desserts, and maybe a meal. So last night for dinner, we had creamed turkey [it was supposed to be creamed chicken, but I had about two pounds of cooked turkey breast in the freezer that I decided really needed to be used up] over white rice with mixed veg and lemon icebox pie for dessert. I was mildly amazed at how these recipes reflect my early childhood with stuff like lemonade concentrate and Cool Whip. And the pie was predictably super sweet and rich, though it reminded me a little of a lovely cream cheese pie my mom used to make when we were kids called Cherry Breeze. End digression.)

Picnics were always an exciting thing when I was a kid, and like Knowlton's mother, my mother would make fried chicken before we packed up and went to Randolph Park. (Picnics were different from the all-day Easter affair that I've described.) My mom made great fried chicken (Maryland style, which is how I make it when I do, which I don't) but she made even better potato salad. When I want potato salad, it is my mother's potato salad that I want (my MIL gets props for the best German potato salad I've ever had). She also grilled a heck of a steak and made the best vinaigrette for green salad (sadly, it's a little of this, little of that sort of recipe and I've never quite gotten it).

Fried chicken and potato salad. Best picnic ever. Probably with a jar of iced tea because growing up, pretty much all we drank was water and iced tea, and very rarely as a treat, soda. When I was really little, I used to put sugar in my tea, and of course, the tea was cold, the sugar didn't dissolve, and the last gulp would be this gritty sweet sludge. So, I looked to my mother, who didn't sugar her tea, and decided to be a grown lady, and not sugar my tea. Two glasses later, I was hooked on unsugared tea and I never looked back.

While on the bike, I found myself thinking about making fried chicken and packing a basket for the beach. My heretical family, of course, doesn't like potato salad, but I might make some for me.

We unofficially picnic rather a lot, particularly when we're on the road. One of my favorite picnic memories comes from a trip to Germany years ago, just weeks after reunification. In Berlin, the spouse and I bought sausage and fruit at an early morning, open air market (he's never been forgiven for not allowing me time to buy a portion of champignon mit brot from the woman who was cooking it up nearby. I can still smell the mushrooms cooking in butter that misty autumn morning) and then we took off down the Autobahn toward Munich. Along the way we stopped at Something or Other See, a picturesque lake loaded with hungry gulls, where we shared the only picnic table with a small group of raucous young men who were busy hiking to or fro. The gulls made it memorable, the multi-lingual exchange of commonplaces made memorable, and the consumption of the food we'd purchased that morning made it memorable.

It's memories like those that are among the ones I cherish the most.

And I want to make more.

Go listen to some good music: "Dreamer" from the album Crime of the Century by Supertramp. It's interesting that this same song came to mind a little over a year ago when I was trying wrest control of my life back from a world run amok. And here I am, my resentment increasing as I've been repeatedly thwarted in certain ways in the last two years. Even as I take a very active role in making it stop, it is not stopping. I'm not, strictly speaking, a patient person, but I'm starting to feel that I've been plenty patient long enough.

1 comment:

jeannette said...

I still would eat jello salad (with whipped cream on top). It sounds we have some things in common: one of my daughter's favorite childhood movie was Fried Green Tomatoes - can't tell you how many times she watched that DVD -at least once a week!!
And...I lived in Berlin - believe it or not, that is where I learned to eat hamburger the American way: with your hands! (I/we am/are Dutch, but hubby was working in Berlin).
Thanks for visiting me!