Measured Extravagance

2000-09-17 - 11:53 a.m.

The kitchen has _got_ to be cleaned today, even though I'm still snuffling away thanks to a late-summer cold. There's enough leftovers to live on for another day or two, but I'm also thinking of driving to Kroger for a jar of matzo ball soup.

The fact that I expect to find matzo ball soup at the local Southern bad-part-of-town Kroger is worth cheering, methinks. I might be wrong, but they stock bean sprouts and wonton wrappers as well as chitlins and trotters, so why not Jewish penicillin? (Ironically, the hardest thing to locate in East Nashville has been fresh bagels. My colleagues in Michigan used to talk of Fed-Exing them in from Manhattan, and I'm just now starting to understand.)

My usual self-cure is actually homemade hot-and-sour soup, but that _doesn't_ come in supermarket jars and I'm not up to the chopping and shredding involved. Then again, I might just improvise: the pantry does have bouillon cubes, and there's some mushrooms and green onions in the fridge that ought to be used sooner rather than later. But this is all in the realm of rhetoric until I clean the kitchen!

Food, food, food. I'm not really physically hungry at the moment, but my fuzzed-up senses are still perking up at _thoughts_ of food. In truth, I don't think I could keep down any variety of salad at the moment, and I don't care for bread-pudding even when I'm feeling well, but still, when my friend Ip rhapsodizes about bread-pudding, fresh vegetables, cream of shitake mushroom soup, and Caesar salad with tiny, freshly deep fried scallops, oh how I want to catch the next flight to San Francisco. A Div school graduate, Ip would also be amused by the fact that, out of three information-packed chapters, it would be this particular verse that leaped out to me from Deuteronomy last night: "Blessed shall be your fruit basket and your kneading bowl." (28:5)

I thought about food as well when speaking to my mother on the telephone the other night. Mom isn't religious - a casual Buddhist, at best - so I wasn't sure if or how she planned to observe the first anniversary of Dad's death. It turns out she baked moon cakes and cooked fresh greens and made of them an offering, just as my more traditional relatives do every day at their household shrines. Dad converted to Christianity a month before he died, but if his afterlife exists, I believe he'd be pleased anyway: at any rate, it comforts _me_ to think of the dead and the living briefly joined by the scent of garlic, the warmth of sweet bean paste.

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