Isn’t it funny how notions of sophistication change dramatically from decade to decade? In the ’90s, high-end restaurants fell hard for chocolate lava cake. In the ’70s, suburbanites thrilled to tiny skewers, melted cheese, and wife-swapping. In the ’60s, pre-Friedan-era housewives thought that drinking Heineken with dinner would fill the yawning chasm in their souls, or so Mad Men has led me to believe.
And in the late 1890s, a Swiss maître d’ named Oscar Tschirky won over a room of Gilded Age socialites and robber barons with a cutting-edge appetizer that was, essentially, just chicken salad without the chicken. (Tschirky also may have invented Thousand Island Dressing and Eggs Benedict, which mostly makes me think that he was in the pocket of Big Mayonnaise.)
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There will come a time, not too many months from now, when I will be convinced I’d rather voluntarily watch football than eat another apple. (As I write this, the man I married is watching one football game on mute while listening to the play-by-play of a different football game. No jury would convict me, right?) Currently, farmer’s markets are bursting with end-of-summer produce as well as the first Honeycrisps and Macouns of the season. But before long, the tomatoes and eggplants and berries will fade into memory, and the only decent produce around will be the sort of stuff I associate with my shtetl-bound ancestors: potatoes, cabbage, and, yes, pile upon pile of apples, the only fruit around these parts that makes it through the winter intact.
So yeah, I know I’m going to get sick of apples at some point. But my friends, that day is not yet here. Continue reading →
It’s still Hanukkah, which means it’s still acceptable – encouraged, even – to painstakingly grate a mess of potatoes into long, ropy strands, plunge them into ice-cold water, squeeze the living daylights out of them, bind them together just barely with eggs and flour, fry them in copious amounts of oil, slather them with sour cream and applesauce, and call it dinner.
Acceptable and encouraged, maybe — but nobody would blame you if you’re exhausted just from reading the previous paragraph. Continue reading →