Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kosher Food for the Masses?

[ok kids, we're gonna get a little religioso here. and preachy. bear with me.]

It's been a long while since I kept any semblance of kosher, but I certainly see a lot of value in the dietary restrictions of kashrut. So, I have a lot of thoughts about a FoxNews.com (I know. I'm sorry.) article this Sunday about kosher foods increasingly being embraced by non-Jews.

Maybe it's latent guilt, but ever since college, I've often thought about the secular benefits of a kosher diet, and I still believe there are many. A lot of them have to do with meat. There are strict laws about how animals are kept before slaughter -- what they are fed, how they are treated, etc. -- and about the slaughter itself. The laws of kashrut (kashrut is the noun form of the adjective kosher) also prevent you from eating dairy together with meat. This means no pepperoni pizza, no cheeseburgers, no lasagne bolognese. Depending on how strongly you adhere to the rules, you may wait several hours between meat and dairy consumption.

There are a few reasons I like this. For one, because of both the requirement for all meat you consume to be kosher (you effectively become a "fishetarian" at most restaurants) and because of the restrictions on eating dairy and meat together, you eat less meat, which to me, is always a good thing. For another, you are cognizant of what you're eating and often have to wait hours before eating the next thing. Which is to say you eat less in general -- something we can all use. You can't just mindlessly chomp down on some jerky if you know you're having mac and cheese for dinner. Keeping kosher forces you to eat consciously.

When you do eat meat, you know that meat was fed a vegetarian diet. So you don't have to worry about your cow being fed other cows. And there's no chance of it having eaten feathers, bones, brains, and other such unsavories (which, besides making you feel a bit better, also translates to no mad cow disease). You also know that the slaughtering might be done a bit more conscientiously -- there are strict and specific rules for equipment and procedures that make it as quick and painless as possible. In an age where books like Fast Food Nation and The Food Revolution tell us how quick, messy, and careless the slaughtering and rendering processes can be, and how that leads directly to infection and, as Eric Schlosser so eloquently puts it in the former book, "shit in the meat", it's nice to know that there is at least some more oversight here.

Admittedly, I don't have hard facts about conditions in kosher slaughterhouses. I assume it's a bit better, but it's still a business, and I don't doubt there's still some atrocious stuff going on. I would love for someone to write that book: a fast-food-nation-like exposé on kosher slaughterhouses, and the kosher industry in general. Maybe the trends this article points to will lead to it. If anyone has any info on this, I'd love to hear it.

And then there's the morality. These rules are in place to respect the animal whose flesh is nourishing us. Reading this article reminded me of an essay I read a while back. Many years ago, my parents received in the mail something their synagogue's sage rabbi had written on the morality of eating meat. He dealt in biblical passages, yes, but the essay was very much about the spirit of the law, in addition to its letter. His kind of kosher forbade foie gras and veal, because, as he put it, "It is not kosher to feast on the tortured." There seemed to be a bit of remorse behind every bite. Years later, these ideas still strike a chord with me. [And thanks to the glory of the internet, you can read that extremely thoughtful -- and thought-provoking -- essay here.]

Having said all that, I think a lot of stuff in the FoxNews article is ridiculous. Kosher chicken broth "seems healthier"? Come on. The author's idea of "kosher foods" seems to consist of everything that Manischewitz might box up and sell. I don't think that noodle kugel and coconut macaroons and ground fish in a jar (barf)(whoops. sorry. there goes cultural relativism.) are the path to health. Blindly trusting a symbol on a box is the very antithesis of eating mindfully. Although i will say that my Trader Joe's now carries kosher organic chicken products, which is a sign of all that this article is about, and which I think is pretty rad. Maybe it's pie in the sky, but here's to hoping this all means more awareness of what, and who, we're eating.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ignoring Mother's Well-meant Advice

There is a certain citrus fruit that made its way into our childhood household every now and again. In Persian, it's called limoo shirin, which translates directly to sweet lemon. It's yellow like your regular run-of-the-mill sour lemon, but has a light flavor, is so sweet you could eat it like an orange, and a delicious fragrance that comes through from both the the rind and the juicy flesh.

In our house, limoo shirin usually meant someone had a cold. It was supposed to be very good for you -- lots of vitamins -- so Mom would either cut up a whole one for us to eat straight (much to my sister's protestation), or juice one and add its juice to that of a freshly squeezed orange. In either case, the key was to consume it fast: sweet limoo shirin quickly turned bitter upon exposure to oxygen. An ephemeral pleasure.

Recently, it occurred to me that the delicate flavor flavor of limoo shirin might be amazing in a lemon curd. Lemon curd is an incredibly delicious treat as is (I mean, it's lemon, sugar, butter, and eggs. duh.), but imagine using a citrus whose sourness doesn't have to be tempered with so much sugar. A new and exotic twist.

So, I mentioned off-handedly my intentions to my mother. It distressed her. Bad. She warned me against doing so, in an urgent threatening tone that simply doesn't translate to English. Obviously, she said, the juice from the sweet lemons will go bitter, and I'll have to throw the whole lot away.

Initially, I took her word for it -- after all, Violet seriously knows stuff. But then, I was sad. I really wanted to try it. And maybe it wouldn't be so bad. The potential gains in deliciously perfumy slather were worth the risk of bitter curd and bitter I-told-you-sos.

Fellow rebels, let me tell you, my limoo shirin curd was absolutely delicious. Well, it curdled. So I can't exactly feed it to company. But that's just because I'm easily distracted, not because of any restrictive characteristics of ingredients or shortcomings of recipe. The taste was still everything I had hoped: lightly sweet, with just enough citrusy tang to cut the creamy richness of eggs and butter.

So, tomorrow I'm going to watch TV from about 6 inches away. The next day, I'll be talking to strangers, maybe even taking candy from one or two. After that, I plan on eating a lot, swimming immediately after, then going out with wet hair and no jacket. From there, who knows what I'll do. Watch out world.

Limoo Shirin Curd

I took a lot of guidance from Eating Suburbia (although I cut the sugar considerably), and of course consulted with beloved Ina as well. I also made sure to cut and juice the lemons at the last possible moment, to prevent oxidization.

3 sweet lemons (limoo shirin)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Zest the lemons with a lemon zester or rasp. Place zest, sugar, and butter in top level of double boiler over simmering water. Squeeze 1/2 cup of juice from lemons, and add to butter and sugar, and cook until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Whisk in eggs, and continue whisking (constantly, or else it will curdle) until mixture is thick (about 20 minutes). Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

new links spotlight!

I added a couple links to friends and cohorts. I wanted to mention each one:

  • A Peek Into: Tianyi is a Los Angeles artist and a friend of mine, and this blog is a little glimpse into her artistic process and her mind in general, which is frequently filled to capacity with wonderful things. See her rad artwork here.

  • Beware the Red Rooster: Juan is another LA artist and friend. A talented sculptor, his blog showcases his work, with the story behind each piece. And his stories read like modern-day noir. He brings the gritty underbelly of this city into the light in all its glory. (hmm.. should i have put him in the los angeles section?)

  • Bollywood Nights and CG Days: Jude is spending 6 months working in visual effects in Bombay. Her posts are detailed, but it shines through in every one how she is relishing her adventures in India -- as does her enthusiastic, joyful personality.

  • Wise Bread: Living large on a small budget. Read it. Live it. Love it. (and if you're me, write it.)
You know, because you don't have enough to read on the internet yet.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Here's the thing about Bloom: it's really a great spot, but it's not quite ideal. I'm not blaming Bloom though; the problem with Bloom is actually a fundamental problem with Los Angeles: too many people live here. Bloom just wants to be a sunny local cafe that makes delicious food with quality seasonal ingredients -- a small spot where you can sit on the sidewalk and eat well-prepared organic eggs and a green tea latte. And it does that well: the food is delicious, the space is adorable and the staff are personable. But on a Sunday afternoon, with a full house plus a constant handful of people waiting to be seated (sharing the sidewalk with the friendliest graffiti giraffe ever), the service seems flustered and harried.

Bloom has taken over two spots where other cafes used to live, and neither of them had this overpopulation problem. Perhaps it was Posh on Pico's prices -- a little spendy for cafe fare, though the spot's Latin-inspired menu was delicious and the airy space was perfectly appointed with inviting thrift-store-chic decor. Or the fact that Sierra Bonita Cafe, despite a broad menu and friendly stay-for-a-while vibe, never really had a focused personality. But something about the style and substance of Bloom is striking a chord with the progressive Wilshire Vista neighborhood, and it's bringing in diners in droves.

In spite the crunch, I got a great sense of what Bloom does well, which is fresh thoughtful food. You might have to wait a bit, but you won't be let down. A simple breakfast of poached eggs is elevated to something much more sophisticated: Fresh walnut raisin bread is spread with a light goat cheese and sprinkled with diced applewood smoked bacon. Top that with two perfectly poached eggs and a fresh tomato coulis for a satisfying and clever breakfasty take on crostini. The blueberry pancakes are generously packed with inky blueberries, and the plump browned chicken sausage bursts with chunks of fresh apple. They also offer plenty of sandwiches, salads, and inventive smoothies.

The staff are friendly and uber-hip, with each member of the crew sporting either a funky Bloom tracksuit jacket or a French accent, and the cheery spot is decorated in bright summer colors. In fact, the vibe of the place makes you want to be a regular, were it not for all those other pesky Angelenos who also want to elbow their way into the tiny spot. I'd like to come here on a weekday when the droves are at work and the place is more calm. I have a feeling I'm deluding myself though: even during the week, there are too many people in Los Angeles. And in a twist that never fails to amaze me, none of us have day jobs! So, perhaps when Bloom expands into the space next door (appears to be in the works), they will be able to better accommodate me and the rest of this overcrowded city. But still, I'll go back anyway. Happy people and organic eggs are kinda worth the inconvenience.

Bloom is at 5544 Pico Blvd., 2 blocks west of Hauser.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Stitch in..

I spent the last few weeks of autumn thinking about soups: all the soups I'm going to make, how I'm going to turn sunny salads into warming soups, how I will nourish my body with some of the healthiest food out there. I finally got to it last night.

I started out with a recipe for porcini mushroom soup with barley and pancetta, but ended up with something different entirely. In a mad dash to buy ingredients and get some other grocery shopping done, I stopped at a couple of ethnic markets, but not at any supermarkets: no dried porcini mushrooms to be found. I was also cooking for a friend who's a vegetarian for the month (not to mention a no-caffeine-etarian, and a teetotaler... yikes), so there goes the pancetta, not to mention the beef and chicken broths in the original recipe.

I'd heard of vegetarian beef boullion cubes -- a kosher relative uses them in her French onion soup, so she can have it in the traditional cheesy gratinee style -- but again, no time. So I was stuck with plain old water. Kind of a disaster -- where is this soup going to get its flavor?

Then I remembered something my mom taught me a few days ago: when making polo -- any of a handful of Persian rice dishes with herbs, vegetables, and fruits -- you usually add flavor in the form of the juices from the accompanying meat. However, if you're not serving meat, you just fry some chopped onions in some oil, with salt, pepper, and saffron -- magical ingredient that it is, and this will add all the savory goodness you need. It should also be noted here that the smell of onions frying in oil with saffron is, quite literally, the best smell in the world.

When you have to get somewhere fast, and you're stuck in the gridlock that lately seems to plague every street in Los Angeles at every moment of the day, a couple things happen: you start yelling at other drivers, and you come up with brilliant ideas. Maybe this is just me. I realized I would not have the soup done in time if I went by the recipe. In a fit of genius, I decided to prepare it in a way that cut the cooking time in half: cook the barley separately while chopping vegetables, then add it into the soup pot when you're ready for it. It's another dish to wash, but it's multitasking at its finest.

So, the soup was done in time, and ended up all I expected: nourishing -- with a wide variety of vegetables; richly scented -- with a mix of bulbs, greens, mushroom, and fantastic saffron; and substantial -- from meaty portobello mushrooms and barley. All in all a brighter, friendlier version of the traditional mushroom and barley soup. As we're getting some cold cold days and nights, here's to hoping there will be many more great soups to come.

Portobello and Barley Soup with Saffron

The idea of this recipe is to chop as you go: you can start with whole vegetables, straight from the market (well, washed of course), chop each one, then add it to the pot to sautee while you chop the next. As such, the times for each vegetable to cook are approximate -- they take as long to cook as it takes you to chop the next vegetable.

2 cups water
1/2 cup pearl barley

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
small pinch ground saffron
1/2 cup chopped celery (about 4-5 stalks)
1/2 cup chopped carrots (about 4-5 large, or 20 baby carrots)
1 large portobello mushroom
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white wine or dry vermouth
4 cups water
4 Swiss chard leaves, cut into lengthwise thirds, then thinly sliced crosswise

Shaved Parmesan cheese

In a small pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add barley, stir. When it returns to a boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. If during this time, the water all evaporates, add another 1/2 cup.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallots and onions; stir. Add saffron to oil in pot and stir. Take care to stir onions and shallots into the saffron, not saffron into onions and shallots, so that you don't end up with all the saffron on the spatula. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring if it begins to brown. Add carrots and celery, stir, cook for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, stir, cook for another 5 minutes, or until you smell cooked mushrooms. Add garlic, stir, cook for another 3 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Add wine or vermouth to vegetables and cook, stirring constantly until mixture no longer smells of alcohol. Add 4 cups of water and stir. Increase heat and bring soup to a boil. Once it's bubbling, pour in barley with any water from the barley pot. Lower heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes, until barley is soft. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, stir in the chard. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper.

Serve with shaved Parmesan cheese and crusty bread.

As a meal, makes 3 servings.

A note on saffron: A lot of cooks throw whole threads into their food, and claim this is the best way. I beg to differ (and so does my mom, which is surely worth more). When you grind it, you expose much more of the saffron's surface area to the food you're working with, and it spreads more evenly throughout the food -- so you get deeper flavor and brighter color, using less. Saffron is quite expensive, so stretching it out this way helps a very small pinch go a long way. Of course, had we world enough and time, we'd grind just the amount we want to use right before we use it... If not, grind it in small batches in your coffee grinder.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bread Wise, Occasionally Foolish

Friends, I have to take a moment for some self-promotion. I'm very excited to say that I have begun writing for a group blog called Wise Bread. It's different from what I do here, although I'm going to make it all overlap. The theme behind this one is "Living Large on a Small Budget", a subject that happens to be very close to my heart. It's filled with hints, tricks, stories, irreverence, and humor related to this theme. It's driven by a handful of great writers, who bring a very diverse set of posts to the site: everything from can't-live-without-it makeup bargains, to car-buying tips and finance advice. I'll be focusing on food-related posts within the theme, but I've got plenty of non-food ideas as well. I've started with a guide to the hidden treasures of ethnic markets -- lots of good tips in there on one of my favorite subjects. You can find that post, and all of my posts to come, here: wisebread.com/tannaz-sassooni. Get wise. Check it out.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

no more t for T

t on Fairfax, we hardly new ye. I'm sad to say that a mere three months after I discovered this great place, they're already closing their doors. Bummer. I was really excited about a tea shop within walking distance that had a wide selection, a great menu, and welcomed you to sit for a while. Alas.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Inevitable Mozza Post

It's been said that sex is like pizza: even when it's lousy, it's still pretty good. Now, imagine it with a fat guy with a ponytail, and a nice Jewish girl who's been known to pack in the sandwiches. So, how is it?

click photo for detailsAbsolute ecstasy.

I'm talking about the pizza, people. The partners in this little dalliance are Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton, and of course, the deed went down at Mozza, their new pizza place on Highland and Melrose. Usually with these restaurant posts, I try to find the story in the situation -- the Hollywood power dinner, the sexy waitstaff, the enigmatic couple. But in this case, the food is the story. We sat at the counter for lunch and watched as Nancy Silverton and her staff deftly created individual masterpieces, each receiving delicate care, each irresistibly delicious.

Every Mozza pizza goes through two stages of preparation: before and after the oven. First the dough is stretched, and covered with the ingredients to be baked -- say, emerald green squash blossoms and a light tomato sauce, or fennel sausage and red onions. After a stint in the wood burning oven gets the crust bubbly and slightly charred, they get individual attention: in the case of the fennel sausage, just a drizzle of Italian olive oil; for the squash blossoms, stretchy oozy dollops of burrata, individually seasoned and drizzled with olive oil in their own right. Others might get pandered with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, a gentle rain of freshly grated parmesan (er, Parmigiano-Reggiano no doubt), or a pixie-dust shake from the bunch of dried oregano sitting on the counter. Every pizza, from the ripe, earthy funghi misti with taleggio and fontina, to the brightly flavored rapini gets a quick but meticulous once-over before it's served. Then, two quick slashes with the pizza cutter, and off they go.

And it's not just the pizzas that get this star treatment: I think mine was the day's first order of the agua fresca special, clementine basil limonata. But I had to wait until Ms. Silverton had a taste and made sure it was just so before I got my glass, vibrant with fresh basil, garnished sweetly with 3 tiny clementine sections. Believe me it was worth it. The winter caprese might give its sunny counterpart a run for its money: more creamy burrata, covered generously with pesto and fresh basil, and topped with a handful of oven roasted cherry tomatoes, still on the vine. And then there's the butterscotch budino: a dessert of rich caramelly pudding, touched with fleur de sel and served with a pair of pretty little pinenut rosemary butter cookies. So damn delicious.

In spite of all this indulgent -- and indulged -- food, there was no snobbery. The varied paper placemats set the casual scene with a sense of humor: one had the 'handwritten' recipe for the margherita, another, 7 important Italian hand gestures, and others had pizza fun facts and comic strips. The room was set with cheery orange tones and simple informal furnishings, and Ms. Silverton herself warmly warned us of hot plates and engaged us in a short conversation about the fried cauliflower at Pizzeria Delfina.

I feel like we need more restaurants like this: outstanding food, hip setting, friendly vibe. Mozza is more than just a pretty face, and it's certainly not a cheap fling -- it has personality. It's a pizzeria you'd want to come back to, time after time. I'm telling you now -- this fiery tryst is the just the beginning of a lasting relationship.

Mozza is at 641 N. Highland Ave., at Melrose Ave. Good luck getting a reservation: 323 297 0101. Check the 'Press Kit' link on their website for a sample menu. Update: The full webpage is now up and includes menus.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Momo's-Bastard-Son Ramen

Writing and researching for the post about Momofuku Ando's death, it's obvious my thoughts turned to noodles. It's fitting and expected, and I was sure I could work through it, finish the post, then go make some oatmeal for breakfast.

But it kept nagging me. Louder and louder. Finally, I realized I couldn't brush it off. I needed noodles. Reluctant to step into a restaurant yet again, I took matters into my own hands. Using what I had in the house, supplemented by a couple fresh vegetables I sneaked across the street for (the first 80-cent receipt in the history of Whole Foods, I bet), I put together a bowl of ramen that, while not entirely authentic, more than satisfied the need for rich salty broth and noodles.

Purists would roll their eyes at the concoction, but I managed to approach the rich, complex broth, traditionally reached through long simmers of pork meat and bones, using an unorthodox combination of chicken breast, a touch of corn starch, and a poached egg. Not exactly an innovation of Momofuku proportions, but on this blustering winter day in Los Angeles (it's 70 degrees right now), it hit the spot.

Momo's-Bastard-Son Ramen

The boneless skinless chicken breast was a martyr to the broth -- after it imparted its flavor and whatever richness it could muster, it was thoroughly spent: too dry to eat. But it was a worthy sacrifice. If you have chicken bones or skin, or a fattier cut, you'll end up with a richer broth.

The broth:
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
3-4 1/2 inch slices boneless, skinless chicken breast (about one-third of one breast; see note above)
1 shiitake mushroom, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 package instant miso soup (I used Mishima red miso soup)
pinch ground ginger
crushed red pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
about 1/2 teaspoon corn starch

The rest:
a one-inch-diameter bunch of long skinny noodles (ramen would be ideal, I won't tell if you use somen or soba or even angel hair!)
1 egg
1 small handful spinach leaves
nori to garnish, optional

In a small pot, heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add garlic, stir to spread oil across bottom of pot. Lay chicken pieces down in pot in a single layer. After about a minute, add 2 cups water and stir, lifting chicken pieces off the bottom of the pot. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add mushroom slices, miso soup mix, ginger, pepper, and soy sauce. Stir, increase heat to return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer again. Sprinkle half of cornstarch into broth and stir through. Repeat with second half. Continue to simmer broth, stirring occasionally while preparing noodles -- the longer it sits, the better.

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium pot. Add noodles, and boil about 2 minutes less than the package instructions dictate (since they'll be going into hot broth). When they are done cooking, remove them from the water with a pasta server, slotted spoon, forks, or spider, to serving bowl. Keep water boiling over heat.

Poach egg in the noodle water: stir water in a circular motion to create a little vortex in the center. Crack egg into vortex. After about 1 minute use a slotted spoon to remove egg from water and place atop noodles.

Ladle broth over noodles and egg, avoiding chicken pieces. Place spinach leaves atop broth in a corner of the bowl (I know, a circle doesn't have corners, bear with me here, wiseacre), pushing down slightly to start them cooking in the broth. If you've got it, garnish with nori.

Serves 1.

A Moment of Noodles

"Peace will come to the world when all the people have enough to eat." --Momofuku Ando

Momofuku Ando, the man who invented instant ramen, died on Friday at the ripe old age of 96. This innovative revolutionary has saved countless college students from imminent starvation, for which he should be commended: there's nothing wrong with making food more accessible.

However, a by-product of his Cup Noodle empire is that a lot of Americans think that's what ramen really is. But it's so much more: a big steamy bowl of rich broth, fresh ingredients -- maybe a poached egg, maybe a fish cake or some green veg -- and a hefty tangle of toothsome noodles, best eaten in a gritty hole-in-the-wall in Tokyo in the hours between the bars closing and the trains starting up again (see photo above).

So, I'll include a link to Annie's post on Momofuku, a ramen place in Manhattan inspired by and named after this fabled visionary, but serving up the real deal. On this chilly winter morning (it's a blustering 56 degrees here in LA), I keep trying to stick my hand into the computer screen and pull the foxy bowl of noodles straight out of the pictures.

And if you can't make it to New York City or Tokyo, check out Santouka at the Mitsuwa on Venice and Centinela -- a new LA outpost of a famed Japanese ramen chain. Deliciousness in spite of fluorescent lighting. Some pics here at Rameniac.

Or shell out a dime and pick up a pack of Top Ramen. And pour out some broth for our homie Momofuku.

UPDATE: Here's a sweet remembrance of good old Momofuku, over at the New York Times.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

such a good new year's

here's what's good: a home full of friends. like, real true friends, who have sincere admiration for each other, have known each other for years. who take care of each other.

i never have high expectations for new year's eve, but this year was really great. we conquered with great success the logistical mindbender of getting 3 people from 3 different locations to 2 parties across this public-transportation-less town with minimal driving (a feat which included The Last Great Miracle of 2006: i flagged down a cab on a los angeles street. that's right people.). we ended up at a very special party. dozens of people, decked out in swanky finery, many of whom were from some of my closest circles of friends, and plenty whom i'd never met before. but the whole room seem filled with love (i mean, a generous liquor cabinet didn't hurt either, but still). the host and some of the other guys had been friends since high school, and their mutual admiration was palpable, and spread to everyone else. it was just such a warm vibe. i could go on about the First Great Surreal-acle of 2007: the dashing gentleman who came out of nowhere to serenade me, then quickly disappeared (ok, it was karaoke, and the serenade was Boyz II Men, but still). but the real highlight occurred long after the party.

we got back to my apartment, me and 2 friends -- one i generally never seen because toy design school sucks away all her time, and one who has moved to brooklyn, whom i only get to see during vacations. while i have a roommate i am quite fond of, it's rare i get my own friends staying in my apartment. i love it when it happens though.

so, we shuffled in and Toy Design went to groggily take out her contacts, and i went to get a couple blankets to throw on the couch for Brooklyn. i walk past the kitchen to see Brooklyn standing at the stove. four o'clock in the morning, and he's making eggs for the three of us! i loved this idea of, he knew where the pan and olive oil were in my kitchen without asking, he even found some veggie sausage to throw in. a simple gesture, but he created a very special moment: we sat at the kitchen table, utterly spent but very content, and together had some eggs.

it's interesting what happens to friendships: they start out light, superficial, fun. but years pass and they mellow into something far more complex. the edges soften, the flavors deepen, and before you know it, you've got something exceptional. here's to more time spent with people we love this year.

i could post a recipe for fried eggs here, but the recipe is not the point. the instructions are simply this: go to someone you love. make them eggs.

[incidentally, towards the end of the movie Big Night, there is a great scene involving love expressed through fried eggs. worth checking out -- very fine movie.]