the secret about secret menu

Yes, it’s true. Despite having THE most beautiful baby kale and not one but two kinds of radishes in the fridge, all I could summon when I walked into the kitchen tonight was a scowl and a bowl of cereal. And no, that’s not a glass of milk next to the bowl — it’s lackohol. More specifically, it’s the Pastis bottle’s swan song. I’ve been working on that bottle for, what, four months? A year ago it would have taken me a week, so I feel golden. My restraint improved a lot after I turned 30.

Today was a long day. I forgot what it’s like to pull an 8 to 6. When I was fresh out of college, I could make it through a full office-style work day with my eyes closed and two hands tied behind my back, but five years of graduate school have rendered me lazy and entitled. And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not going to post a recipe tonight. I’m going to get tipsy and talk about my feelings. I hope that’s cool.

JM’s out of town again, also working like a gerbil. We’re both sleep-deprived, and I had to wake up at the crack of dawn this morning to make it to a pretty intensive consulting gig. The result is that JM and I barely spoke at all today, and the text I sent him this afternoon had so many typos in it that it no longer qualified as English. And while I’m usually pretty good about kitchen sublimation, I haven’t cooked much since he left.

I’m doing my best to pretend that this has nothing to do with him being gone, and everything to do with me being busy, but the truth is somewhere in between. There’s something about cooking for someone you love that makes it so much more than the mere preparation of sustenance. Every second I spend measuring out spoonfuls of flour or chopping herbs or shattering Pyrex is a second that I’m really, truly awake and aware and full of purpose, working overtime to expand the bellies — and by extension, the bodies — of the people who expand my scar-ridden heart, inspiring it to play the Amen break instead of the Wilhelm scream. So feeding these people well is just a gastronomic payment towards an astronomical debt. And these days, JM in particular is guilty of making my life beautiful and interesting when it would actually be a lot more productive, academically-speaking, for it to suck. So thank you, JM, for leaving town and giving me a reason to complain bitterly again. As a consequence, I will probably earn a fellowship.

All right, I lied. I AM going to post a recipe.

melancholy, secret menu-style

-an absent boyfriend
-a fridge full of promising items
-ten hours under fluorescent lights
-a huge to-do list
-soy milk
-an apéritif

Get home around 9pm, with no clue as to how the last three hours rolled by. You remember walking out of that office building around 6, but then things get a little blurry. Make them blurrier by pouring yourself a drink and opening the fridge to gaze passively at vegetables for fifteen to twenty seconds. Close the fridge and open the kitchen cabinet instead. There’s some cereal in there, and an unopened box of soy milk. Get to it, killer. Your dinner is so avant-garde that it’s actually breakfast, about eleven hours before its time.

Put on some pajama pants with a huge hole in the right leg and get into bed to eat your bowl of cereal. Sip your drink cautiously, since you actually have a few more things to do before you pass out. Okay, fine, gulp it down and deal with the consequences. You’re just part of a long line of writers — Yeats, Hemingway, my granny, etc. — who were a lot more compelling after they copped a buzz.

(That’s the claim, anyway. Are you still reading?)

More recipes forthcoming. I promise.


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