February 2004

A Moveable Feast in East Atlanta


I am in a coffee shop in East Atlanta–Joe’s–using the wireless internet to work on reserach for my “Sexuality and Parenthood” term paper.

Except, as usual, my research has morphed into a delirious bout of web-surfing and day-dreaming.

This morning, I received an e-mail from the lovely Clotilde of the scrumptious food blog Chocolate and Zucchini. She told me she would add me to her link list and I thanked her profusely.

And so, sitting here, I’ve been scrolling through her blog. My reactions are two-fold:

1) Jealousy;

2) Awe.

Why the jealousy? Why the awe?

Clotilde lives in Paris (“Monmartre to be precise” according to her About page) with her boyfriend Maxence. First of all, I am jealous of their names. Second of all, though, I am jealous of their lives! Like Clotilde’s visit to L’Etoile d’Or “a little candy store in the rue Fontaine, sprung right out of a fairy tale.” Or her description of Brittany, “a fantasy land of wonderful crepes.”

Very nice, Adam, but we need a telling flashback to flesh out your envy.

Rewind to three weeks ago. I am in a book store–Chapter 11, in the Ansley Mall–and on a themed display shelf there are books relating to Paris. The one that caught my eye was Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast”. Here’s the quote that did me in:

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

My recent birthday puts me at the very tail end of my “young man” years. My New York plans (I plan to move to New York at the end of the summer) are incredibly exciting and seem the inevitable route. But there is this daydream in the back of my mind: there I am, on the Seine, with my laptop and beret, writing to you about the croissant I just digested. I become a regular at the French Dunkin’ Donuts and sing all my Thursday Night Dinner Songs with a French affectation, like Maurice Chevalier.


Ok, so maybe not. I mean, for starters:

1) I don’t speak French;

2) Where would I work?

3) Where would I live?*

* Ok, the third one was addressed slightly last night in the car with my friend Andrew. I brought up my repressed desire to live in Paris and Andrew–who lived in Paris for a whole year–said he’d totally go to Paris with me and share an apartment.

Maybe, though, I can use my writing ability and infectious juvenile obsession with food to convince a magazine editor or book publisher to let me live in Paris, on their money, on the condition that I write frequently and enthusiastically about my adventures. Anyone want to sponsor me? I’m good for it, I swear.


Ok, back to my research. Maybe I won’t get a moveable feast. But at least my daydream was a nice moveable snack. C’est la vie.

It’s PomLightful, It’s PomLicious, It’s PomWonderful


Tonight, with my hastily assembled Whole Foods dinner, I needed to grab a drink. My normal drink of choice in such situations is Iced Tea. Whole Foods has a nasty selection of “mature” Iced Teas–Honest Tea, with its obnoxious Zen labels, tastes like dirty sock water. The Tazo teas–which I like in teabag hot-water form–are also pretty nasty. I’m a baby when it comes to Iced Tea: I like it syrupy and sweet.

But then I noticed a curvy bottle, one I had seen all summer plastered on billboards around L.A. I recalled the radio commercials: “Pomegranate Juice is the nectar of the gods and will add 4000 years to your life. If you don’t drink it, you will die tomorrow.”

Compelled by this Proustian auditory admonition (<--talk about pretentious phrasing), I purchased myself a bottle of PomWonderful with Tangerine flavors. Having just finished said bottle, my response is as follows: Eh. I mean, it tasted fine. Was it worth the $3.99 it cost for what felt like half an ounce? Absolutely not. Will it add years to my life? Here's hoping. In conclusion, PomWonderful is a fine drink to drink if you get it for free. Otherwise, just buy a pomegranate and a straw and cut back on your life insurance. **NOTE: While drinking my Pomegranate Juice I made a discovery that will change my life in more ways than I'd like to know. This discovery happened when I accidentally hit "Menu" on my remote control. It led my TV screen to a menu that featured the choice: "On Demand." I clicked it, and a whole world of television opportunity spilled out before me. Suddenly, I could watch every Sopranos episode from last season! I could watch any movie on HBO or Showtime whenever I wanted to, and I could pause it in the middle and come back later! Did you people know about this? Why didn't you tell me? Let's hope the Pomegranate juice DOES add years to my life, because I have a lot of TV-watching to do.


In Gourmet Magazine earlier this year there was a supplement listing the hottest and best restaurants in every city. When I finally got to the Atlanta section, I was surprised to see–sandwiched between the Ritz Carlton and Seeger’s–a restaurant Lauren often waxed lyrical about: MFSushi.

“It’s the best sushi ever,” Lauren would say. “It’s amazing. Like nothing you’ve ever had.”

This always seemed suspicious to me. Sushi is sushi. All raw fish tastes the same.

So tonight, when my friend Jimmy and I were making plans he said he was in the mood for sushi and I said: “How about MFSushi?”

Jimmy paused and said: “Yes, actually, that’s a good idea.”

Usually, sushi-goers in my circle of friends will sushi-go at RuSan’s, a perfectly respectable sushi joint with locations in Midtown and Buckhead. But tonight was special. Tonight we would eat the best of the best. I made the reservation for 8:30 and began my preparations. These entailed belting “Old Man River” at my piano and eating some Blackout guacamole.

Finally, the witching hour arrives. I drive down Ponce until I see the awning I have driven past so many times. I turn left and encounter a mess of a valet parking situation. I sit in the car for 10 minutes before someone finally takes my keys. (*As an interesting side bar, I have a weird thing where before the valet gets in my car I turn my CD off or put on the radio so they don’t judge my taste in music. You’d do the same thing if you had my taste in music.)

Walking up to the restaurant, I snap picture of the awning:

I sneak in the door and Jimmy is waiting inside.

“Were you waiting long?” I ask.

“No,” he answers. “But good thing you made a reservation. There’s an hour and a half wait!”

The hostesss leads us to our table. Here’s what the place looks like:


As you can see, the interior is very fashionable. Atlanta’s crem-de-crem are noshing on raw fish, and Jimmy and I fit right in.

Well, maybe we don’t fit right in, but we scrape by under the radar. The menus are brought and we begin our gameplanning.


“Do you want to get two rolls each and share them?” asks Jimmy.

I find this plan rather worrisome since what if I don’t like what he orders? So I ask the waitress for advice.

“Well,” she says kindly, “I suggest that you order two rolls each and share them!”

“Brilliant!” I say.

Jimmy shakes his head.

So Jimmy orders the crunchy roll and the rainbow roll. I order the shrimp tempura roll and the tuna roll. But first, we order a ginger salad.


I really like ginger salad. Or ginger salad dressing. When my friend Dana and I went to NYU for a summer, we were obsessed with the ginger-carrot dressing at this place called DoJo. So tonight, I really enjoyed my ginger salad.

“This is a good ginger salad,” says Jimmy.

The salads are taken away. Time passes. I think too much time passes.

“It’s been a while,” I say.

“No it hasn’t,” says Jimmy, pointing out that the people next to us, who just got their food, had been there before us. Before I can refute him, our food is brought.

Here is mine:


Here is Jimmy’s:


The verdict?

“This is really good sushi,” I say.

“Yes,” Jimmy agrees.

We scarf down 8 rolls from our plates and then swap.

“This is really good sushi,” I say, eating from Jimmy’s plate.

“Yes,” Jimmy agrees, eating from mine.

The sushi is gone.

Was this the best sushi of my life? Yes, most certainly yes.

But, to be honest, after tonight I realize that I’m not so much a sushi person. I like eating it, but I would never go out of my way to eat it. And I would never pay an exorbitant amount of money for the world’s best sushi. I’d rather have a really good steak.

The waitress, reading over my shoulder, begins to cry.

“There there, sushi waitress,” I say. “I didn’t mean it in a mean way.”

She scurries off with our credit cards.

“That was a good meal,” says Jimmy.

“Yes,” I say.

I stare at the empty plate.

“It certainly was.”***

*** Please forgive this strange ending. It is 3 AM and I have no idea how to end this. Thank you.

A Dirty Little Secret

The time has come for a confession. Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. A lot.

I have been advertising myself as a “gourmet”–an amateur one, at that, but still–and yet my “gourmet” status is about to become severely compromised. I wake up in the morning craving not a Bouillabaisse or a Vichyssoise. I pine not for escargot, truffles or slightly seared foie gras. When I wake up in the morning, the image I pine for glows pink and orange over my head; its letters luring me in with their incandescent splendor. Here is what I see in my fever dreams:

I have been a Dunkin’ Donuts junkie for almost five years now. It began innocently enough. I was a sophomore in college, finally permitted a car on campus. The world was my oyster, and I intended to slurp it.

My initial “haunt”–Einstein Bagels–provided an adequate carbon copy of my favorite comfort food at home: bagels. I would go there regularly; religiously. My usual was an onion bagel with smoked salmon spread, onion and tomato, and a regular-sized vanilla hazelnut coffee. This still remains a staple of my diet, but I rarely crave it as much as I crave my Dunkin’.

So how did it happen?

One day, Einstein Bagels was crowded. Way crowded. I noticed the empty parking lot across the street and the pink and orange glow of the Dunkin’ Donuts sign. My hunger grabbed the wheel and skidded us across the street. Before I knew it, I was face to face with destiny.

“An everything bagel, I suppose,” I said.

“Coffee?” asked the woman behind the counter.

“Yes, please.”

She assembled my tray.

“I suppose I’ll have a donut, too,” I said.

“What kind of donut?”

“Hmmm,” I explored my options. “A coconut one, please?”

She wrapped the donut in paper.

“Are you an Emory student?”

“Yes,” I said.

“You get a discount.”

She rang me up. $3.33. I gave her $4.00 and I dropped the change in the cup.

I carried the tray over to a table and sat with my New Yorker magazine.

I bit into the bagel cautiously. Was it love at first bite?

No. Very much not. I nearly gagged.

“Blech!” I said. I forced myself to finish. The coffee, on the other hand, was good. And the donut, of course, was yummy.

I left with a firm resolve: “Never again!”

And yet, the next week, Einstein Bagels was busy once more. And I was hungry. My hunger grabbed the wheel.

“What are you doing, Hunger!” I screamed.

“Shut up,” Hunger replied. “We’re getting some grub.”

The woman behind the counter recognized me. “Ah, you’re back.”

And so it went. For weeks on end. And, at its peak, I went on a daily basis. It’s a miracle I never got fat; or that I never died of congestive heart failure. If they tried to clear my arteries, they’d find one filled with vanilla cream, one filled with jelly, and one dusted with powdered sugar. I like variety in my donuts.

Today, I have tapered off. I went on a “health kick” this summer, and weaned myself almost entirely off the Donuts. But occassionally–perhaps once every two weeks–I treat myself to my favorite morning meal.

If you are disgusted by my confession, here are some justifications for my misbehavior:

1. I am known. From that first day when the woman behind the counter assembled my tray, we have remained connected on a spiritual/cosmic level. Today, for example, when I came in she said: “Well! We were just talking about you! Wondering where you were!” Here she is preparing my coffee:


2. Consistency. Unlike Einstein’s, where a crabby counter person can spoil the assembly of your bagel, the Dunkin’ Donuts bagel, coffee and donut always tastses the same. There is comfort in reliability. To quote an Alice Walker title: “The temple of my familiar.” In fact, today’s meal was so familiar I lost control and took two bites before I even photographed it. It’s that good:


3. Medical benefits. Since the tone of this entry is full disclosure, it is time I put more cards on the table. These cards are the Queen of Blockage, the King of Constipation and the Ace of Irregularity. I suffer from a common ailment, most famously rendered by Philip Roth in “Portnoy’s Complaint”: “his kishkas were gripped by the iron hand of outrage and frustration.” And, however much you don’t want to know this, Dunkin’ Donuts relieves my kishkas. Perhaps that is its greatest virtue: my smoker friends say that smoking keeps them regular; my mother and grandma eat explosive bran cereal; and I go to Dunkin’ Donuts. [Photograph not available.]

Is all this a poor justification for an unhealthy addiction? Am I employing a defense mechanism by rationalizing my disease? Perhaps. But, God help me, those donuts are good and they keep my kishkas healthy. And if that’s not reason enough for betraying a gourmet cause, I don’t know what is.

How I Survived The Blackout: A Journal

WEDNESDAY FEB. 25 2004, 10:53 PM

I am making guacamole. Lauren is watching Will and Grace. Suddenly, and without anyone warning, the electricty snaps off. We are in utter darkness.

10:54 PM

I begin screaming like a girl. Lauren smacks me across the face. She misses and knocks over a lamp. “Get a hold of yourself!” she yells.

10:55 PM

We begin lighting candles. “Don’t light the violet candle near the apple candle,” I instruct, “their aromas don’t fuse well.” It’s too dark to see, but I think Lauren rolls her eyes.

10:59 PM

The candles are lit. Lauren starts to pack for a wedding. I continue my guacamole by candlelight. Have you ever chopped an onion in darkness? I think you should be very impressed:


The guacamole is finished. The apartment smells like onions. I scoop some up on a chip. At least I think it’s a chip. It’s very dark. “Mmm,” I say, chewing our phone bill. “Delicious!”


I am tired of the guacamole. Lauren is finished packing. “Ok,” I say, “I guess I’ll go to bed.”


I am in bed. I attempt finishing “100 Years of Solitutde” (which, by the way, grows in length each time I put it down; I have been finishing this book for a month). I fall asleep.

THURSDAY FEB. 26 2004, 9:03 AM

Lauren wakes me up. It is freezing. The power is still not back. “Rise and shine,” she says. “Leave me alone,” I say. It’s too cold to get out of bed. “Very well,” she says and leaves.

Three hours later.

It is 12:03 PM. Business Associations starts at 12, but I figure it is cancelled. I look out the window and see this:


Atlanta doesn’t do snow well. School must be cancelled.

12:04 PM

Lauren calls. School isn’t cancelled. Since I missed B.A., did I want to go to lunch? “Ok,” I say. “I’ll meet you at Doc Chey’s.”

12:32 PM

I get into my car. This is what I see:


This may be a familiar image to Northerners, but I came of age in Florida. And windshield’s don’t freeze in Atlanta. Until now. I think fast and turn on my wipers. That does the trick.

12:42 PM

I arrive at Doc Chey’s. We order our food. I take a picture of the kitchen.


Some woman says: “Did you just take a picture?” I shake my head “no.”

12:52 PM

Our food arrives. I get Thai Fried rice. It is good but with the Thai Iced Tea the bill came to like $9.50. That’s too expensive for lunch.


1:05 PM

Lunch is over. Lauren leaves for the airport. I leave for my second class, Juvenile Law.

2:45 PM

Class is over. I call my community office and the power is still out. They expect it back on at 5:30 PM.

3:15 PM

I go to the movies. I see Bertolucci’s newest film, “The Dreamers.”


5:40 PM

The movie is over. It was way disturbing. But I loved the way it was made. (Not for the faint of heart, though). There’s an egg-making scene that’ll turn you Vegan.

6:00 PM

I return home. The power is back!

6:05 PM

Josh and Katy call. We decide on dinner. [For further detail, see “Dinner: The Musical.”]

8:00 PM

Arrive at “The Flying Biscuit.”


8:17 PM

We order.

8:30 PM

The salad and biscuit arrive.


8:45 PM

The Brie in puff pastry with raspberry sauce and apples arrives.


9:00 PM

My meatloaf sandwich arrives.


And then…

We return home; I write a musical and we record it.



It may or may not be a strange fruit, but in my life I have never had a kumquat. So I bought a plastic tub of them tonight at Whole Foods:

After my scrumptious “home cooked” meal, I popped the lid off and washed them. Then I read the label: “Edible skin and tart pulp.”

Great! So, after working up the courage, I held it to my mouth:


And I took a bite:


Yowza! That thing is tart! And it sort of tastes like biting into the skin of an orange. And yet it’s sweet. Though tart tart tart. Lemony and orangey and bittery but good.

Lauren disagreed.

“Blech!” she said, spitting hers out into the sink. “It tastes like pesticide.”

To each his own, I suppose. But now my mouth hurts—it’s all tingly and kumquatty. That’s one of the side effects, I suppose. And my stomach hurts. Though at least I didn’t spit MINE into the sink.

Favorite Easy Dinner

This is a variation on my mother’s recipe for chicken. The recipe goes like this:

1. Go to Publix.

2. Buy an already roasted chicken.

3. Go home.

4. Eat it.

In my version, I retain a greater morsel of self-respect. First of all I buy my chicken from Whole Foods. Granted, I probably spend a dollar or two more, but it’s worth it. And here’s what the chicken looks like when I take it home:

The first step, then, is to carefully remove the cover. Technique doesn’t matter here: just get the cover off.


Mmm, doesn’t that look good? And yes, I’m not so amateur as to believe that this purchased chicken is better than the one I could roast myself. But having roasted many a delicious chicken, I will say that the labor and money that goes into roasting my own is more daunting than the deliciousness differential between home-roasted and store-roasted chicken.

But to achieve some degree of dignity, I do “make” a salad. I buy a bag of pre-washed, pre-packaged gourmet lettuce leaves and a tiny tub of cherry tomatoes. I put them in a large bowl and toss them with good olive oil, sherry vinegar (though tonight I used red wine vinegar because I couldn’t get the cork off the sherry!), kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. I lay the chicken across the top and wah-lah!


Simple, healthy and delicious. A “home-cooked meal” in minutes. Oh God. I’m turning into Rachel Ray. Kill me now!

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