Convos With An Addict, A Food Addict

Shhhh.  Quiet. My fantasy is about to come true.

I’m lifting the triangular tip of my slice of pizza right up near my mouth, slowly. It’s always the anticipation that makes it so exciting. The savory smell of the tomato sauce and oregano, garlic,starts wafting in the air, that smell that draws you in, the one you’ve longed for. You breathe in the luxurious scent with one long breath, you moan with happiness and then, finally, you pick it up and feel the rough, grainy texture in your hands that you stroke with pleasure.

I lift up the heavily anticipated slice (or 2 or 3) of pizza, blow on it gently, I want warm pizza not too hot to burn me, a little spicy, adding extra garlic salt and I open my lips and taste that first amazing bite.

This is only the first slice of pizza of the two or more I will eat tonight, my husband and I have looked forward to this night for days. We only use one pizzeria in town even though there many other options. But, this one, is our favorite and we have tried every one of four or five places, sampling each, several times.

In the past we ordered a slice of Sicilian pizza and a regular slice for each of us of us but I’m not sure which direction we will go tonight. We’ve taken chances on the Sicilian slices before, sometimes it’s a bit too doughy and the ratio is wrong.

I know what you are thinking there is no such thing as too doughy yet when it comes to Sicilian pizza there needs to be a balance and sometimes from this place, the balance has been off. It depends on our mood, we are never disappointed with their regular slices, plain or mushroom, I have a feeling I know what we will do.

I lick my lips in anticipation. They also serve (sorry if this is a bummer for pizza enthusiasts) the most amazing salad, (stick with me here) with kinds of lettuce, craisins, goat cheese and slices of avocado .Believe me I am not a salad lover but this seems like it should be outlawed it is SO good. It comes with some sort of silky raspberry dressing and we are not counting calories here.

This was yesterday’s dinner, I would happily eat the same thing today. This is one of my favorite (and most comforting) meals. It speaks to me of my youth and happiness, and Dani’s House of Pizza and André the Pizza maker and of course, the owner, Dani. It was a tradition when we were old enough to walk from school and go there for lunch. For one dollar we got two slices, a drink (grape, no ice) and had leftover money for candy.
Just thinking about it makes me nostalgic and very, very hungry. Maybe I will have the same meal again, Saturday.and toast to the old times when we were young and life was easy and uncomplicated.

 

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Kew Gardens’ Own Bob Dylan

In Memory of Al MayoAlMayo

There is an official obituary about our friend Al Mayo that was written in the *New York Daily News and it was very accurate. However, I just don’t want people to remember him that way alone. It feels wrong to me.

The person who died, from my childhood neighborhood, was a lovely man, an old friend that passed away in January. A friend of mine called to tell me the horrible news of Al’s suicide. This was no ordinary death, it was a violent, brutal, grisly death. I don’t want this kind soul, the friend of everybody to be known by his suicide, or his obituary instead of his life, his cheery personality, his effusive grin, his loving and peaceful self.

I refuse to think of him in any other way than the newspaper’s photo that was published. It was a wonderful photo (above) where he is grinning, a twinkle in his eye, kind and sweet.  Al was all about peace and love, not violence, not to anyone. In his last years his body was ravaged by cancer, he couldn’t eat, talk, swallow; he had no life, he took his life, violently.

He said hello to everyone and he was like a fixture in our neighborhood, you knew that if you walked around the block you would most probably see Al Mayo smiling, leaning against a store, grinning widely, resting on his cane.

He didn’t have an easy life, he lost part of his leg in a motorcycle accident when I was young so he was probably in his late teens but nothing stopped him. He accepted what happened and moved on. He would be smiling and talking and spreading good cheer to all the neighbors in our little town. His lifelong friends stayed his lifelong friends.

Everyone was utterly shocked by the news but my friends M. and H. and I were shaken at the news, not as much that he had committed suicide but how. For a very peaceful man, he committed death in a very violent way, making sure that no one else would be hurt. Al, only wanted to end his life, never anybody else’s life. He wouldn’t harm a soul.

Al had cancer for a few years, unbearable, painful cancer that left him unable to eat, to swallow, to lead a normal life. If Al couldn’t lead a life that was close to normal, there wasn’t any Al left, he tried so hard and went through so much.

Now this sweet soul, friend to everyone is gone forever. We will all miss you Al and we will always remember your bright, warm smile.  We will miss our own elected “mayor.” You were Kew Gardens’ own, Bob Dylan, that’s how important you were to us, will always be.

Al Mayo, Rest In Peace.

Special thanks to Harry Klein, my friend and best friend of Al Mayo.

*Click on photo for NY Daily News Article

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Happy Birthday In Heaven

Delicious...........................

Delicious……………………… (Photo credit: ANDI2..)

Dear Lore,

It’s the day in the middle of our two birthdays. I missed your call to me yesterday and will miss my call to you tomorrow, but at least I remember your voice in my head and heart. It was a tradition for as long as I can remember. Every year we knew that our phones would ring, and every year, without fail, we would send each other a card. It was a tradition, a phone call and a card on two days, one day apart. I think I miss you more now than when you died. I really do. You understood me like no one else, we had the same temperament and you would give me advice. You were friends with my mother and I know she dearly misses you too. But to me, you were my favorite “Aunt” and a friend.

Tomorrow, I will not light a candle for you, you would hate that, but I will eat a lovely piece of chocolate in honor of you. You gave me my first job working for you in your European chocolate shop on Lefferts Boulevard in Kew Gardens. It believe it was called Mimi’s from the previous owner. People envied me that job and I can hear you say “and why shouldn’t they?” I pretended to dust, replace chocolate on the silver trays (while sampling in the back) and we talked a great deal and ordered pizza for lunch. I tell people now that “just because chocolate turns a little white doesn’t mean it’s gone bad.” I did learn something, see? .

It was 1977 and I was going to my first year in college in September and you and Edward surprised me by buying me a pair of designer jeans that I picked out at the jeans boutique down the street. I thought that it was the most generous thing that anyone had ever gotten me, you crocheted me a blanket too and it was on my college bed. Yes, I still have it. You sent me home-made Krispie -like treats to college, big batches and I was so happy.

There is just ONE thing I take exception too and I’m sure I speak for Diane (your real niece) as well. You called us each  “Augustus” telling both of us we were the ONLY “Augustus.” I would call you up and say this is “Augustus.” Only at your funeral did your real niece (and doctor) Diane and I realize you fooled us both, it was rather a funny moment when two grown women acted like 5-year-old children saying “I was Augustus” no, “I was Augustus.” You cheated on us, but we both were well-loved by you, love for two very different, wonderful people. Leave it to you to find a way to make us laugh at your own funeral, I have a hunch you planned it that way.

So I say to you, beloved friend, beloved fake Aunt,  Happy Birthday in Heaven. I truly miss you and I love you.

Love,

Augustus (1 or 2)

angel

angel (Photo credit: M@rg)

Photo credits to above mentioned photographers,no rights of mine.

Writing @ LAF Publishing

Krispie treats  home -made

Employment Application, 2013

So freaking delicious, from my favorite restau...

So freaking delicious, from my favorite restaurant Le Madeline 🙂 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Hiring Manager:

Wanted: Full or Part-time Job involving food, writing or any combination of the two. Traveling with car service a must: ( I have NO sense of direction and that is an understatement)  It is NO joke. It is NOT covered by the ADA but  why isn’t it?  Mode of transportation:  Airlines: Private jet or first class preferable, business class necessary, economy, okay..if I must. Stand by: Been there, done that.

Interests: Food, Special Interest: Dessert, Food TV shows, Favorite all time dessert: Sacher Torte: Original or Fake, German or Austrian or American from Kew Gardens, Queens at the Homestead Gourmet with raspberry jam.I had it every year growing up for my birthday and I miss it. RIP Teddy.

Special Skills: Having traveled (for free) in my childhood I am extremely knowledgeable to rate hotels in addition to their restaurants and room service if you would like me to do that. I do not shy away from extra assignments, in fact, I just offered a very, informative link to the hotel industry. Can someone call ‘The Hilton’s’, please?

Proof of Expertise: Reading my blog, references, and restaurant owners in the area. I wrote a review of “The Flying Pig” for the local newspaper, it is not my fault they closed the restaurant, we still miss it, I assure you. Receipts upon request.

Good Points: Very amicable, charming, an excellent communicator, doesn’t like alcohol. Does not consider sorbet a dessert, perhaps as a palette cleanser and no weird flavors like octopus or lizard. Prefers cakes over pies, ice cream in addition to the cake never in lieu of the cake. Fresh fruit on request, ha ha ha ha ha. For a special occasion our family went out to a fancy restaurant and our daughter, the vegetarian, ordered blueberries and strawberries for $12 or $15 dollars and we said “no.” She was beyond furious even after I offered to make her some at home. Cookies: any time, all the time, but if you don’t want to make them, that’s fine, go to a bakery instead, Just sayin’…

Bad Points: I confess, favorite comfort food is still Kraft American cheese slices on soft bread (not Wonder bread. Anymore.) with light spreadable “butter and a chocolate related drink, this could include hot chocolate, Yoo-Hoo or chocolate egg creams. Diet Pepsi/Coke/Root Beer acceptable too. There are certain food items and beverages that go together well. Something salty would go with this dish, chips, pretzels, nothing special.

Additional Experience: Watching TV shows with my husband on our couch while eating our dessert not to be confused with Pre-D which immediately follows our meal but is a predecessor of the real “D” (which as you may have figured out is: Dessert. Ice Cream, pastry from French bakeries, even an occasional cupcake will do if we have nothing else. (Okay, maybe a Twinkie) and Baklava, yum, (another post on Baklava is also a blog post.)

Market Reach and Development: I need to be the first person or close enough to TRY NEW PRODUCTS, that is a natural field for me, I spy them on the shelves, I immediately buy them. Case in point: “*Candy Cotton Grapes.” I did not stop until I found them, it took 3 stores but I HAD TO HAVE THEM. I excel at wanting, finding and buying new products, my mother said I’ve been like that since I was 5, haven’t stopped. (see the entry “Cotton Candy Grapes” on my blog.

Cooking Skills: I make a mean chicken soup, I can roast a chicken with lemon and love, my baking skills are superb but limited to Banana Bread with the following options (plain, chocolate chip or chocolate chip and raisin) The latter being my son’s absolute favorite and the one thing he actually brags about (and hoards) from his friends.  I can also bake Pumpkin bread with or without raisins (without for my daughter who doesn’t like the texture of raisins and many other things) Oh, I knew I would forget something an award-winning Pea Soup. (Okay not a real award but it deserves one.) I learned how to make Chopped Chicken Liver when I was ten by a neighbor…

Excellent Writing Skills: To summarize the meals, service, attention to detail and I interact beautifully with all levels of  employees. Note:  I believe that you need to be kind to everyone and yes, it’s hard but at least try. Karma is karma, I’m not perfect, neither are you.

Overall summary: Delightful person with excellent communication skills and a love of food (junky or refined), enthusiastic, funny, silly, and a charming dinner companion. This applicant plays no games, she can’t wear high heels because they hurt her feet, although she would try fancier flats if necessary, she is willing to adapt. She has dancing green eyes and brown curly hair and only wears lipstick which her mother has bugged her about for the last two months. She is thinking about being dragged to one of those fancy stores like Nordstrom (which I used to call Nordstrom’s before my daughter corrected me for the 19th time ( with the ever so charming and obvious eye roll to the sky) for a make-over. Plus, I need new clothing too.

This candidate, I can assure you, will never, ever be late. She will always, unless there is a natural disaster, be early because she had/has  European parents and there WAS no other option. She is honest, she can keep secrets and is always reliable.

Take a chance. At the very least, bring her in for an interview.

Pretty please with rainbow sprinkles on top?

Yours truly,

Me.

PS: If you call my friend Maureen she will tell you that at times I do eat pizza with either grape or strawberry jam on top. I do not deny this one bit. In fact, I am proud of it.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

gratitude

gratitude (Photo credit: nathalie booth)

I’m still in my blue fleece pajama bottoms with cherries happily bursting on them and a 20-year-old mauve Cape Cod sweatshirt and I have no interest in getting dressed. This is my outfit today, I see no reason to change. It’s freezing outside, and if my tensed up bones need a break (no, not literally) I will give it to them. Cold weather is not good for people with chronic pain or Fibromyalgia. Trust me. I know. It’s too early to long for Spring.

The wind is howling outside, seeping in to our little house’s walls, windows. I am under a mountain of blankets with my dog. She could lie beside me or at the other end of the bed, but no, she picks the place over my feet to settle down. My dog, my mutt, was a wild puppy, I struggled bitterly with her biting and pulling and ransacking the house. How my friends encouraged me to “hang in there, she’s just a puppy.” At 8 months, she is still a puppy but a better one and most certainly a larger one. She no longer bites into my hand as if it was a cheeseburger. I’m not as steady on my feet as other people, because of balance issues, so I hope she behaves.

Our children have left for their respective colleges, the house is comfortingly quiet, and we are happy,  probably because I know the kids will be back in three weeks and because this happened to be a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. No fighting, NO DRAMA and a good time all around. My daughter didn’t even object when we told her she needed to see a doctor, she came home from her appointment with a package of antibiotics and a diagnosis of bronchitis. No, you cannot drink while you are on antibiotics. As my kids used to say “Nuff said.”

There are more leftovers to eat tonight, I’m not even sick of them yet. It’s hard to get sick of turkey, cranberry sauce, my Danny’s home-made, unbelievable stuffing and Polish rye bread “from the Homestead” in Kew Gardens, Queens where we both grew up. There is nothing like that bread, it brings back all sorts of childhood memories: standing in line, getting sandwiches made, deciding between the shrimp salad, or chicken salad, imported cheeses, home-baked desserts: cherry, apple and cheese strudel, chocolate layer cakes, and the traditional jelly doughnuts for New Year’s Eve.

Like last year, we won’t be exchanging gifts this Christmas. Everything is so expensive and times are hard. My husband has a job but I can’t work and I live in silent fear of him losing his job since the economy is so bad. If that happens, we will deal with it then. My present this year will be the memories of this past weekend, the family getting together at our house for Thanksgiving. The memories of the pretty amber lit candles that lined the middle of our long tables, my dog, lying on the green couch, the four cousins whispering together, the three grandparents still with us, childhood friends that I grew up with here, and the giant dessert spread we had, enough for 40 people not 14. We had a warm place to sit, food on the table, we were all grateful to be here, we escaped the worst from Sandy; we were very, very lucky. For this, and everything else, we gave and continue to give our thanks.

NaBlaPoMo Day 3 Free Write

Sandy_JH_mdpNY-11

Sandy_JH_mdpNY-11 (Photo credit: mdpNY)

How Have You Been Personally Affected By Storm Sandy?

I want to stay in my safe haven, in my little house with my rust colored dog by my side. I appreciate dearly that my husband is able to work from home these past few weeks, I feel safer just being here. I could go out, I suppose, but I am limited to where I can go with street closures and fallen trees and wires in the streets.  I realize I just don’t want to go anywhere.  Not yet. I’ve seen enough on the television 24/7 to know the scenes by heart. I just can’t believe this has happened to my city. It’s difficult to believe that to fill up my car means that I need to search for gas for hours.

While I don’t live directly in the city now, I was born and raised in Kew Gardens, Queens. After college I had my first job in NYC at Paramount Pictures, working with my best friend, eating lunch in Central Park and living just over the bridge, in Brooklyn Heights, years before it became popular. I saw movie stars all the time and in my early twenties, I was so excited just to see them. I practically had a hotline with my mother to tell her who I had just seen in the elevator: Diana Ross, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman in our Reception Area being asked if he wanted coffee at least nine times by various assistants (he was not happy) and a young and beautiful John Travolta on the executive floor. It was an exciting and exhilarating time, free movie screenings and many perks.

Now, I appreciate other things. The comfort of my husband’s hand holding mine. My puppy’s peaceful breathing as she lays her head on my lap. Halloween photos from our two happy children in college. Yes, I’m older but more peaceful than before. Storm Sandy was something we may have expected from weather reports but could not actually believe.  A natural disaster, an out of world experience. I know I will venture out again when things are more settled, trains running, power restored. Right now, I am happy to stay here with my dog and my husband but when I am ready, I will explore again, I will reinvent the new New York.  Slowly, with different expectations.

Plinky: Who Was Your Favorite Teacher?

  • Best Teacher
  • Apple For The Teacher
    Timken Roller Bearing Co., calendar, September 1950, teacher at desk Her name was Mrs. Diner and she was a teacher in Kew Gardens, Queens at PS 99. She was my sixth grade teacher and I remember her kindness and her warmth. I remember how she looked based on a very old photograph of us that someone took. I don’t think she did anything extraordinary but being a teacher was important to her; she made her students FEEL important and loved. Mrs. Diner was a teacher to remember, she inspired us all. Thank you, Mrs. Diner.
    P.S. 30 years later my mom met her on an airplane and Mrs. Diner remembered me. I was absolutely thrilled!

"Share a memory about the house in which you grew up……"

Kids From Kew Gardens, Queens

apartment building

Not everybody is lucky enough to grow up in a house (Plinky) We grew up in an apartment building and not knowing anything else, for us, it was perfect. Imagine living in a world where you could walk down two flights of stairs where your best friend lived whose mother and grandma baked home-made vanilla crescent cookies and surprise cookies (I still dream about these) that had a Hershey’s chocolate kiss inside. I can still taste the crushed hazelnuts in the batter. Imagine going up a flight of stairs to babysit for someone you considered your pretend baby sister anyway and getting paid for that. This little, lost girl longed for attention and for someone to love and I was her older friend. I bought her candy bars with my money that her mother wouldn’t allow, I sat with her while her mother cooked two chicken legs in the toaster oven or when her mom stayed in her bedroom, under the covers for days. I watched that family from one flight of stairs away, practically living inside their house and I watched them unravel as well. A tragedy. My very first best friend growing up was a boy and he lived three flights down and we spent the first years of our lives together; our moms met in the maternity ward of the local hospital where we were born and yes, I am mere hours older than he is but a whole day. He had a gray, barking schnauzer but to us, he was Lassie. His mom made me my first milkshake, I ate at his house probably as much as I ate in my own. To this day, a mere fifty-fife years later than when we were born I am proud to still call him my friend, my oldest friend; I call him Brian and we both laugh.

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Paging “Mr. L” (Repost with Addendum)

kew gardens queens

Image by silatix via Flickr

I had a friend on my blog who once lived in the same town that I grew up in at different times. We both lived in Kew Gardens, Queens.  He would read my blog fairly consistently and would always comment with his classic signature “Mr. L.” even though I knew his first name was Abe. When I wrote about our old neighborhood, he loved it. I wrote a few posts on the now dissolved oldkewgardens.com about what it was like growing up in that sweet town and that is where we first met. He contacted me after that and we stayed in touch.

He hasn’t been on in a long time and I’m beginning to get worried about him. He was last living in California, I believe, and was contemplating whether he wanted to continue living there or not. Mr. L. to me, was like my substitute dad or uncle, since my dad passed away ten years ago. We used to kid around a lot and talk about our favorite gourmet delicatessen, The Homestead. I still dream about their Polish rye bread, sour and chewy and their faux Sachertorte cake made with many layers of raspberry jam between layers of creamy, sweet, chocolate cake. When I lived at home, every birthday cake was this particular cake inscribed with “Happy Birthday.” A real Sachertorte from Austria is drier and has layers of apricot jam but this was sweeter, this was MY cake.

When Mr. L talked about his deceased wife it was with such emotion, always, he still missed her so very much. From what he told me he absolutely adored her. In every “conversation” he would bring up his wife and talk a little about her; those little things that really make up a great marriage, sharing breakfast, the same bed, holding hands.

I know this blog post isn’t going to win any awards, nor will it attract a lot of people but that’s fine. I know Mr. L had adult children but I don’t remember where they live. So, if anyone knows him (and yes, I do know his full name) please let me know. I know I am overly emotional and sensitive, that’s a big part of who I am but I care about him and hope he is alright. I don’t want to lose Mr. L if I don’t have to. Mr. L. please come back and say hello.

ADDENDUM 10/19 2011. I HEARD FROM MR. L TODAY!!!!!!!!!!

The Most Trouble I've Gotten Myself Into…

Elmer's Products, Inc.

Image via Wikipedia

Candy I Could Understand…..

 

glue army

I was about 6 when I snuck the small size, plastic tube of Elmer’s Glue from Mr. Bees’ store. Why I took it I have no idea, I certainly did not crave glue. Candy I could have understood but glue? Why didn’t I just ask my mom to buy it for me? I can’t give you the answer but I can tell you it sure wasn’t worth it. My mom marched me into the store, glue in my guilty little hand and made me give it back and apologize; not an easy thing for a shy, quiet little girl to do. I learned my lesson though, my short-lived career as a thief was over.

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