Na zdrowie!

Just over six months ago, I launched Urban Gastronomy. Do you remember that first tale of food and drinks? It was all wrapped up in the end of the relationship. Because that's how it is, ladies and g's. Sustenance, enjoyment, ritual, sensuality, aesthetics, striated layers of touch, taste, texture and emotion... Am I describing dinner and a martini or an afternoon with a lover? Perhaps it's more interesting not to know, but to speculate, imagine, take the words and place them like cellophane over some remembered experience of your own?

I hinted, in that first entry, that relationships and food are so intertwined that the related shared gastronomic experiences leave an indelible, but not inedible, mark upon our hearts (and stomachs). I believe, readers, that this is true.

I bring this up again now both because it has been lingering in my thoughts since that first entry, and because the next several weeks are going to be exhaustively busy. It seems a good time to share some of the snapshots lingering in the gastronomic photo album in my mind.

I am not naive. I can tell you why each of these past relationships did not lead to a committed lifetime of eating breakfast and dinner together. It is not only because I am now the grown up woman who was once the 12-year old girl that told her mother she had no interest in ever getting married. Each relationship had its own special set of flaws.

I might now reconsider the idea of committing to eating breakfast and dinner together over the long term (shhh... don't tell anyone), but I secretly love that each and every relationship left me with some new culinary appreciation. Like the photos in my old albums, these morsels now make me smile, despite the flaws that made the men only temporary visitors in this vast and varied adventure.

There was, for example, the man for whom I baked the heart-shaped carrot cake. You may remember the original recollection from the Digital Girl archives. A few months back I wrote in UG about running into him and being genuinely happy to hear he was married and doing well.

Well, we had more than the ill-fated carrot cake. We had Polish vodka and beets. In fact, he taught me how to order the beets myself in Polish from the great home-style Polish restaurant near his apartment in Greenpoint. And the vodka? Well, we got ourselves into trouble more than one night drinking Luksusowa martinis.

And, there were stuffed mushrooms. I still occasionally use the recipe, penned in his handwriting. It's a sure crowd-pleasing appetizer. I have even shared it with friends, which is really the best thing one can do with a good recipe.

I suppose that brings us to the heart of the matter, or rather, the platter. I couldn't possibly give up a good recipe or let go of a decent potato vodka because the relationship lasted only slightly longer than a tray of stuffed mushrooms among a hungry crowd of party-goers. Sure, I have forgotten how to order beets in Polish, and I no longer mourn the loss of the relationship. I have long ago forgiven myself the trespasses involved in this particular love affair. But, I am grateful for it. I don't even resent the lessons it taught me. I have, instead, come only to appreciate the beets, the Polish vodka and the the stuffed mushrooms.

If I was at a table with myself right now, I might raise my glass(es) of wine and toast: May my choices be wiser in the future and may the gastronomic adventures continue!

Stay tuned, ladies and g's. And, Na zdrowie!

P.S. A not-to-miss place for brunch in Red Hook, Brooklyn is Home/Made Brooklyn (formerly Tini) on Van Brunt between Pioneer and King streets. The food is fabulous. The roasted potatoes, in particular, now top my list. The coffee is strong. The bacon crisp, and the mushroom scramble superb!


  1. I still have a handwritten recipe given to me by a 'frat boy' classmate from college. After I gushed about the slice of homemade banana bread he brought to class to share with me, he wrote down his grandma's recipe... a gift to him when he first left for school. I think of him every time I have a few too many ripe bananas.


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