WND – Who am I to argue with a birthday wish?

July 16, 2009

raspberry carton

Identity is made up of a weird and wonderful shifting mass of collected experiences, memories and adopted mores.  On any given day I will identify as any one of a wide variety of things, some of them mutually exclusive.  I am a graduate of a women’s college – in the case of Bryn Mawr, this is actually more like belonging to a benign cult than anything else.

I carry two passports, and while I don’t know that my world view is specifically Dutch, it is very definitely tinged by growing up in Europe.  I follow American politics with dismay and varying degrees of disillusionment.  I follow French politics with a bowl of popcorn and a fine appreciation for the ridiculous.

I am such a Northeast Coast city girl that I think Western Mass is rural, and the idea of living more then 40 minutes from a major airport is just inconceivable.  I’ve never lived further south than Philadelphia, but I have a Southern mother and I know that y’all is the plural form of you, that tacky is the worst thing you can say about someone, and that the appropriate response to everything is to bring food.

Announce an engagement?  Bring food.

Get into grad school?  Bring food.

Death in the family?  Bring food.

New baby?  Bring food.

Okay, an engagement or acceptance to grad school is more likely to elicit champagne at Dinner, but that’s really only because I feed everyone once a week anyway.  Events for which you are unlikely to appear at Dinner in the near future clearly require food.

Conversely, bad days, car accidents, and significant others who are suddenly not so significant, demand tea.  Nothing ever seems so daunting if you just stop and have a cup of tea first.  It’s the British version of prozac.

I’ve been thinking about this particularly since our friend for whom we had the baby shower has just had her baby (8lb 4oz of bouncing baby boy, neatly dashing all our unfounded and illogical convictions that he would be a girl) – pausing on her way to the hospital to finish making éclairs.  But, they keep a kosher house and thus bringing them food requires a little bit more imagination than just making a casserole that freezes well.

The idea of not bringing them food has not really occurred to me.  It’s a knee jerk compulsion.  I’d feel like a bad person, or like my mother was wondering exactly where she’d gone wrong in my childhood.  It’s bad enough that the lesson on writing thank you notes never really sank in (I send emails – but I do hand write condolence notes and trek all over creation to find real stamps to put on the envelope, because typing a condolence note is just tacky, although not as tacky as emailing one*).

* Yes, I know someone who tried to do this.  I told him it was tacky.  I’m not sure he understood the weight of the condemnation I was implying; he’s from the North after all.

Fried Chicken Strips
Corn Pudding
Pea Shoot Salad w/ Raspberries

Champagne Punch

Fried Chicken Strips
This is like making fried chicken, but easier, faster and marginally less messy.

Recipe previously given:   Fried Chicken Dinner

chicken composite

Corn Pudding

Recipe previously given:  Corn Pudding and Other Gateway Drugs

corn pudding

Pea Shoot Salad with Raspberries
I really mention this only because (1) I was so excited that the farmer’s market still had pea shoots. I thought we’d moved out of pea shoot season.  And, (2) because I want everyone to admire my restraint in actually managing to get the raspberries home for Dinner and not just eating them all at my desk that afternoon.


I have a flexible definition of local food.  My rule of thumb is that fruits and vegetables that do not grow in Massachusetts – lemons, limes, bananas, pineapple, mango, etc. are fair game at any time of year.  No matter when I buy them, they’re going to have to be imported, so it doesn’t matter if I buy them in December or in June.  I believe in local food, but not enough to give up lemons and bananas.  On the other hand, fruits and vegetables that do grow in Massachusetts – strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc. I try to buy only when they’re in season.  Occasionally for the sake of expediency and for the benefit of a really good early peach, I’ll extend my definition of local to include New Jersey.  All this being true, when it comes to watermelon I resolutely don’t look at the sign each week and thus I have no idea where it’s is coming from, and I don’t care.  Summer to me means melons, and the cantaloupe here aren’t ripe yet and don’t travel well from other places, so I’m sublimating my desire for rich cantaloupe with watermelon until the local melons ripen.


Champagne Punch
This was a birthday week, and the request was for corn pudding and champagne cocktail.  Who am I to argue with a birthday girl?

Recipe previously given:  Oscars 2009

punch composite



  1. Gosh, the pea shoot salad with raspberry looks amazing. Do you put any special dressing on it? I can’t get pea shoots here (I don’t think, I have never looked for them and have no idea how to translate pea shoots into French). Could I use something else, do you think? Mache?

    • Mache would work I think. Really it was all about the raspberries, which were amazing.

      I just did a regular viniagrette – white wine vinegar/olive oil/sugar/dab of mustard.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: