Another Ill-Mannered Appliance

My fridge is a little bit broken. Not full-on, throw out your food and scream at the landlord broken, but a little. It’s been not that cold in there for days. I threw out the milk on Monday; we stopped having ice on Tuesday. It’s mildly broken, and as I timidly wait for landlord-salvation, I’m forced to wonder about the lingering edibility of my foodstuffs. The milk was out, but what about the eggs? Has my squash gone off? The Greek yogurt is a lost cause, but it’s been lost for long enough that I’m afraid to confirm my suspicions.

Unsure about what to insert in my stomach at breakfast time—very important because it provides an excuse to drink coffee—I ate a big bowl of apple sauce. It takes an act of Congress to make that stuff spoil. It’s basically predigested as is. The trouble with apple sauce, though, is that there is no less filling food. It’s the fruit equivalent of Taco Bell cinnamon twists. (Only 20% fat, according to the website!) Eating apple sauce is like eating more hunger. Though it distracted me for a moment, I’m now at a loss.

Perhaps you’re unconvinced. As evidence of my state, I will tell you briefly of a dream my unconscious spat up last night. As I am somewhat less than an absolute narcissus, I will keep the telling brief. I dreamt that my uptown barbarian friend threw himself a birthday party, laying out $50,000 in cash to entertain his closest hundred or so friends. There is much fun to be had with such a bankroll, you would think, when the unconscious is allowed to run wild. What scenes of lavish, fantastic, mind-altering decadence did my brain come up with?

An open bar. And a long buffet.

In fairness, it was some smorgasbord: 100 yards long, and overflowing with Indian food, Southern breakfast, steaks, fall-off-the-bone chicken and Kansas City ribs. No matter how many people grazed, the chefs refilled it. My brick-fisted buddy was clearly determined to get his money’s worth.

On waking I was as disappointed as Little Nemo to find nothing in my kitchen but questionable eggs. Perhaps it is time to start yelling at my landlord.

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Phyllo or Filo? You Be The Judge!

There is a charming Greek coffeeshop on Ninth Avenue just north of 44th Street. It’s named Poseidon, and according to the behind-the-counter-lady, has been at that location for 88 years. That makes it, by my calculation, the oldest Greek coffeeshop on the block.

The decor, as you might expect from someplace I’m writing about, is negligible. The only chair is in the window display case, in front of a small table covered in flowers—the owner’s idea of what vegetarians eat for lunch. The owner fixes the coffee herself, leaving room, if you like, for milk or cream, which you must find for yourself in the massive fridge that sits beside the front door. She seems to sell nothing but coffee and various things wrapped in filo dough.

(Phyllo? Filo? I don’t know which I prefer. Phyllo is obviously more fun but a bit pretentious. After all, I had to look it up to know how to spell it—it’s not like I have some kind of ancient Greek ancestry that demands I spell Greek things correctly. I’m just an intermittently hungry guy.)

The pastries aren’t bad. Yesterday I purchased an apricot-in-phyllo-or-filo-wrap. The owner asked if I wanted powdered sugar. In a fit of fancydom, I nodded. On taking the first bite, powdered sugar rained down on my pants like cake flour raining down on a pair of long shorts. The sugar was a mistake, but the pastry was not. Flaky, intelligent, dignified—it was all a pastry should hope to be.

Poseidon isn’t astonishing, and that’s the point. It’s a homey place with tasty pastries and a modicum of charm, but if I had my way it wouldn’t be worth remarking on. Were I given the go ahead to remake the city, I would do it in Poseidon’s image. Hole in the wall coffeeshops would line our streets, their lunch counters packed, their greastraps full to overflowing. It’s a shame that I’m writing about Poseidon. If the city’s restaurants had character, I wouldn’t have to.

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My Nashville Roast Beef Beef

Lunch Matters is proud to announce that I have discovered an idea hitherto unconsidered in all the history of the world, an idea which should make me famous and—if my pending deal to brand novelty t-shirts goes through—quite wealthy. Put simply, my theory is this: Growing Up Can Be Sad.

Nashville boasts a small chain of sandwich shops which gave me much joy in my high school days. I won’t give their name because, well, you’ll see. But before I criticize, let me praise. Actually, before I do anything, let me heat up some Indian leftovers. I’m too hungry to tell this sad, sad tale.

A Few Minutes Pass…

Naan. Yum!

As I was backstorying, I spent many afternoons at one of these three sandwich shops stuffing my face with sammich or soup. At $8 or $9, the place was expensive for Nashville, but as a teen, these eight dollarwiches were revelatory. Piles of meat stacked on fresh bread, adorned with veggie sprig and lively sauce—they mindblew every time. Best of all was the roast beef—O, how pink was that beef!—served with a side of peerless tomato soup. The modern decor suited what was a thoroughly modern meal. It was a cutting edge brunch.

But as they say, you can’t go home again and eat a really good roast beef sandwich. Embarking on a Nashville to Asheville road trip this past week, my thoughts turned to proper road food. Rather than scarf a further Hardee’s cheeseburger—those suck, I had learned a few days earlier—I decided to revisit the sandwich shop of my halcyon days. Attempting to save time, I called in my order—a bizarre operation involving conversation with a woman at a phonebank who demanded my email address so she could send me an order confirmation. Before leaving with the food, I was forced to wait to sign an a contract stipulating that I had requested my roast beef—nullifying the usefulness of ordering ahead but providing a strange window into the Deli of Tomorrow.

No matter. I had sandwich in hand. All was fine until I began to chew. The bread was as fresh as ever, and the sauce just as crisp, but as I sped down I-40 at 80 miles per hour—girlfriend behind the wheel—I felt no fireworks. Love had died. The rose colored beef of my memory was a melancholy brown.

I redact the sandwich shop’s name because I don’t mean to rag on them. They make good food. They sell bread bowls. They have an incredibly complicated system for ordering by phone. All this deserves commendation. But good is all they are. When I was seventeen, they sold the finest sandwiches in the world. Now they are only ordinary. As the first person on earth to suffer this wistfulness, let me say this: roast beef doesn’t keep. Not for three days, and certainly not for ten years.

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A Happy Quarter-Pound

It’s been some time since I’ve written on here, but the clamoring masses should not blame me. Rather, they should blame what I’ve been eating, which is not my fault but that of the neighborhoods in which I’ve been dwelling. Those who crow about the brilliance of Williamsburg-food are fools. There are four good things to eat in that blighted nabe:

  1. Bagels
  2. Donuts
  3. Italian heros
  4. Polish food
Well I’m out of there now. Gone to Bed-Stuy—land of doubles, roti and $3.50 deli sandwiches which ensure I shall never go hungry again. And what a happy move it has been.
But I write tonight not because I’ve moved, and not because I can’t sleep, although if I were asleep I probably wouldn’t be typing so fast. No, I come to you tonight because on Tuesday I had a good lunch, and I thought you might want to know.
The locale was Bill’s Bar & Burger, a stately establishment on lower Ninth Avenue, whose awkward name does not mean that its burgers are not worth a stroll. Although my memory suggests that they were once larger and cheaper—$6.50 or so instead of $9—they persist in their remarkable ability to evaporate into my mouth. That is a plus. I’d eat one right now, but you’d be surprised how burgerless my office can be.
I remark on them not because of their squishy eatability, though. I’ve eaten them several times since I last blogged at you lovely people, and they did not draw internetcomment from me. I’m typing this type because, whilst cramming my face full of bunmeatcheese, a long-lost friend of mine gave me shit for mistreating poor Lunch Matters. Despite its stagnant quality, this remains the Most Important Website On The Internet, and for neglecting it I should be flogged.
Hmmm. My dozing lady apparently did not hear that last bit, for she has not appeared with her friendly whip. No matter. It’s been a couple of weeks since I banged out anything of theatrical merit, and while my laziness in that area does more harm to Legitimate Theatre than it does to me, not writing is, I think, lousy for my brain-mind. As long as my current masterpiece Long Day’s Journey Into The Cheesecake Factory languishes, it might be good to fritter my energy away on here.
We shall see how my resolve holds in the prickly morning light. Late night resolutions have a way of crumbling at the appearance of Mr. Golden Sun. But for an evening at least, this blog walks again! And that, in and of itself, seemed worthy of a few hundred choice words.

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The Results of My Chinesying

The food came in record time—12 minutes, straight up frozen Bedford Ave. And what a haul! Get a load of this, world:


Total cost, with tip: $11

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Staying Shut In

A combination of reportery deadlines and ferocious weather—the tree outside my window has spent all morning bombarding the ground with ice shards—have compelled me to spend the day inside. This is a problem because:

  • I need to do my laundry. I have exhausted my supply of t-shirts and normal socks, and for the last week have been wearing fancy shirts and the mismatched pseudostockings that have somehow infested my top drawer.
  • I am hungry, and there is little food here.

Until the last year, I was never one for delivered food. I am an intrepid eater, and never minded a stroll if there was a sandwich at the end of it. I would occasionally glom on to someone else’s delivery order so long as they were the one tipping the messenger, and would eat my food with the sly smirk of someone who has saved a few bucks. (Do not try to visualize this—there is nothing as unattractive as a man who smirks with a packed gullet.)

But then someone pointed out that having food brought to one’s house, even with the added gratuity for the poor fellow who carried it, is no more expensive than eating at a restaurant. And after an hour or so’s wait, it becomes very easy to minimize the tip and feel justified doing it. There are no fellow diners to shame one into hewing to the Law of 20 Percent.

What’s more, you don’t have to take off your bathrobe.

The only danger is the delivery minimum. I am not one to spend $15 lightly, and usually eschew appetizers and side dishes when dining out, but sometimes a few extra dollars are needed to make weight, and hunger makes it okay to throw a few extra items on the pile. Suddenly, in addition to your humble burrito, you have also ordered nachos, chicken tortilla soup and a flan sampler—all of which will be cold by the time they reach your greedy mitts—and signed away dozens of dollars just to keep from having to navigate pants.

And this is the beauty of Kam Sing. With a practically non-existent delivery minimum, it is possible to order a Chinese feast for one and have it delivered to your door. This is my scheme. I will take advantage of their bounteous lunch special—$5.50 for all manner of Eastern delights, plus 50¢ for fried rice—to let me spend the whole day indoors and full. To make up the $8 minimum, I’ll add on an order of scallion pancakes, or a pair of egg rolls. If a spirit of adventure strikes me, as it so often does when I am wearing fuzzy pants, I’ll request an order of what Menupages calls “French files.”

The deliveryman I will tip well, as thanks for fighting through the frozen wasteland so that I don’t have to see the sky today. And I will toast the indoors with a steaming cup of wonton soup!

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Winter Is A Rotten Child

Sleep, vi: The most wonderful pastime for a young man to engage in, short of training for the circus.

Sheet, n: A most wondrous place for a young man to engage in the above pastime. Works best in pairs, which should be washed at least once every six months, lest they become unsavory, and drive away potential partners with whom to practice the object’s use.

Ah. And there we have two of the loveliest words in the English language. The highlight of my day—of many of the days since a duvet of frost descended on Brooklyn-Town—was performing that verb inside that noun. My room is drafty, making it difficult to perform the Very Important Work That I Do (this week: proofreading reissues of The Boxcar Children), but the steady 55° temperature makes my cave a perfect place to stay in bed. Sleeping in sheets…it’s a wonderful thing to do.

Before nodding off last night, I did as responsible young men often do, and inspected the next day’s weather. The Internet Weather Service promised a “light wintry mix,” and on that I went to bed happy, expecting to rise the next day to a delightful outdoor medley of caroling, presents and assorted nogs. That wintry mix turned out to be an illusion, and I suffered the crushing realization that the Internet had misled me. The weather report in the Times proved to be more accurate:

Today, snow, ice, then rain, some heavy, watch for flooding. High 38.

In other words, hell on ice.

My musings on the loveliness of sleep and sheet at the top of this post were not merely the idle fantasies of a man who misses his bed. Rather, I want to know how it could be that two such ideal words, when combined, make something horrible. I don’t mean sheep—although they are nasty beasts—but sleet.

Neither rain nor snow, but with the negatives of each, it is the meteorological equivalent of stepping out of the bathroom to find an unexpected trickle of withheld piss making its way down your pant leg. I suppose it is the perfection of sleep and sheet that make sleet so unbearable—not just the agony of suffering God’s spit when you could be in bed, hiding from His expectorating presence, but the fact that two perfect parents seldom make a perfect child. Sleet is a rebellious little cad, and no matter how I try to discipline he will not hear. Sleet will redouble his childish fit, feeding off my discomfort.

Sleet beat New York City today. But tomorrow? “dry, windy, high 42.” From the Times, a simple forecast. A springtime forecast. We shall escape this slick trap soon enough, buddies.

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