Archive for the ‘Slightly Off Topic’ Category
No, I have not just found Jesus but props to the many who have. Instead I’ve come back from a “nothing wrong” weekend with 8 of my closest friends from college and hence, because I enjoyed college and was lucky enough to go with a whole bunch of awesome people, favorite people in the world. I hope some of them will read this so I don’t have to actually tell them how I feel about them in person–God that would be embarrassing.
Anyway, we got a cabin and spent our Memorial Day Weekend in the mountains of Colorado on a Lake named Dillon that I can only describe as big, blue and wet. I was told we were 10,000 feet up, and I’ll take it on faith that my graduating from Harvard law school friend who, while she doesn’t know everything, probably didn’t makeup the elevation of a location in a state she grew up in. We had a cabin, a hot tub and lots of provisions which thankfully included gin but did not include cilantro. Actually that isn’t entirely true.
With the $300-something grocery tab (9 people, 3 1/2 days, pretty good if you ask me–no this did not include beer) we purchased lots of things that generally fell under these categories: meat, carbs, (both refined (hot dog buns) and unrefined (7-grain hot dog buns)) cheese (including my new once-a-year favorite–Salsa con Queso), condiments, (I correctly insisted on full-fat mayonnaise) bagged and pre-washed salad mix, and Oreos, which were consumed with such abandon as to require a group of their own. A category we did not entertain the use of was herbs, which if that means no cilantro is just fine with me.
Of course, when it came time to make extemporaneous use of the (somewhat) well-stocked pantry of the cabin we stayed in, anise seed made no appearance–a slight disappointment to my doctored-up leftover hamburger baked ziti. What they did have was two containers of dried cilantro. You know who else has two jars of dried cilantro? My folks. You know who else? I’m guessing a lot of people. But here’s the thing: neither container had been used much, especially when compared to the others, especially when considering there was only one jar of most of those.
In any case, I’m very proud to report that we put a dent in neither dried cilantro jar–the gin’s another story.
Like the Christian Existentialists who explain life’s troubling, irreconcilable paradoxes through the existence (and source) of the greatest irreconcilable paradox–Jesus (God/man? mortal/immortal?–anyone else confused? No? Congratulations–you’re smarter than me.)–sometimes we do things not because they make or don’t make sense, but because we just do them. Some things just are. Their absurdity is in line with the inherent absurdity of the universe and hence, given a certain liberal mindset, we are comforted.
I ordered the chicken enchiladas. Here’s the thing about chicken: I was a vegetarian for 11 years, vegan for two of them and I certainly didn’t start eating meat again to eat factory farmed chicken. But, and I’m not making excuses here as I think factory farm chicken is morally and ecologically reprehensible, in the moral/flavor cost-benefit analysis often at work in my food choices, there’s something about that ambiguously but inarguably delicious American Mexican chicken that I’m a total sucker for. So, as I said, I ordered the chicken enchiladas.
At Chavella’s, a pretty good little Mexican joint a few blocks from my Brooklyn digs, one orders his/her enchiladas with a choice of salsa verde or mole. You don’t need a PhD in Cilantro Hate to know salsa verde is quintessentially dangerous to the cilantro averse. For those of you living in the far reaches of xenophobic denial, speaking so little Spanish that you don’t know verde means green–verde means green. It gets its green moniker from a variety of ingredients, most notably tomatillo, lime, green chili and, yes, cilantro.
But the thing is the gentleman next to me had ordered the chicken enchiladas with salsa verde and he was enjoying them with gusto in a not-subtly audible fashion. I asked, “Sir, excuse me, I can’t help but notice that you’re enjoying those enchiladas.”
“Oh, God yes. They’re so delicious,” he replied.
“Sir, do you have a palate for cilantro? What I mean to say is, would you notice if there was cilantro in your salsa verde there?,” I continued.
A good sport, he confirmed what I already knew: “Well, yes, it’s noticeable but certainly not overwhelming and did I mention how truly delicious they are?”
So then the waitress did what I didn’t even consider asking her to do, which was to bring me the mole and verde to try. The cilantro-hating friend who was with me tried them both too. Strangest thing: I could kind of tell there was cilantro in the verde, but I liked it anyway, not because of the cilantro mind you, but despite it. Now, it’s common knowledge that the cilantro taste is mitigated in the cooking process and in this case it was cooked. There was no extra fresh cilantro chiffonade or fresh cilantro finishing touch of any kind. As such it just sort of became one with the sauce. I don’t know what I’m saying here. This doesn’t make sense! This is so, so, absurd.
So I ordered the enchiladas with the very bright, pleasant, garlicky, limy, spicy sauce. It was perfect with the queso fresco and crema and yummy chicken and delicious house-made tortillas. The mole would have overwhelmed everything as (if you want my opinion) it does most everything it touches. In short, the chicken enchiladas verdes were good.
Now, this is not the post you’ve all been waiting for where I change my ways, start liking cilantro and ruin my blog. No. This is the post where I admit there was once a time in my life when I ate something that had cilantro in it and enjoyed it and much to the chagrin of you polarizing cilantro lovers out there–I’m OK with that. Existence precedes essence, if you know what I’m saying.
6. The use of the word traditional in the Traditional Cheese Flatbread. (In case you were wondering — traditional cheese is mozzarella cheese.)
5. The way the soup guy stares at me when I order a tomato soup, rather than ask what he’s really thinking, which is “What size (eye roll) of tomato soup would you like (eye roll) ma’am?,” until I say say, “Um, small?”
4. The worst incarnation of lunch salad-ready factory farm chicken ever known to man, and at a premium price.
3. The inconsistency in flatbread salt level. It’s immeasurably better when well-salted.
2. The very very small print on everything (especially the overhead salad menu) rendering it impossible to determine what you might want in advance, giving you nothing to do while you wait in line, except strain your eyes in vain.
1. The expression “Nothing Says holiday like eggnog (we don’t know why either).” Ick. Is there anything more annoying than cold calculating corporations trying to seem ironic or hip or coolly ignorant? No, there isn’t. It’s very annoying. Furthermore, the reasons eggnog say holiday are obvious:
i. Eggnog is served always and only during the holidays.
ii. Does nothing, in fact, say holiday like eggnog? What about mistletoe, snowflakes,
Christmas trees, menorahs, turkey, ham, family, red and green together, peppermint sticks, the calendar months November and December, presents, mulled red wine, Santa Claus, reindeer, etc., etc. These take nothing away from the eggnog/holiday association, (in fact my coworkers have confirmed that eggnog is on their top 5 list of holiday word associations) but would question the superlative “Nothing” says holiday like eggnog.
iii. People love eggnog, even if they don’t love eggnog. It makes you feel warm and nostalgic. The corporate suits have absolutely, deliberately chosen eggnog as the symbol of the holidays to make you (the consumer) associate warm, nostalgic feelings with them (Cosi) and, you know, buy more stuff, and then backed away from this deliberateness by suggesting the eggnog reference is innocent, accidental, organic. We could all learn a lot from Starbucks.
See you in 2008, earnestly back to the business of hating cilantro.