The Core

apricot-blueberry crumb tart

I love people. I take after my mother, a real “people person.” She is the chattiest, most exuberant person I know. For me it’s a little bit different. I guess I’m an introvert — a term that I think is more understood than ever before — who loves people all the same. I don’t think introversion is contrary to loquaciousness, to curiosity in others. Get me going, and I can chew your ear off (if there’s any flesh left after my mother is through). Because really, people are such curious creatures. Books filled with infinite pages. Oh, the stories they tell. Resources. There are so many people who are wiser, sharper, more learned than I will ever be. And people are just plain funny and awkward and infinitely interesting. Our little habits — the way we walk, we talk, we eat — are just so damn amusing. A boring person? I’ve yet to meet one. I know people with whom I’m incompatible. But I’m rarely bored when in someone else’s presence.

So, this medium has suited me well. At a time when I feel my personal relationships are suffering — from distance, lack of time, lack of effort, or what have you — writing about food has filled the gap a little. I’m sharing, I’m talking. Reading blogs from other people, some near, some far, each with his or her own friendly voice, has satisfied, to a degree, my craving for connection, even if I’ve never commented on that person’s blog or sat down to a meal with him or her.

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Après Disco

carrot-radish salad & a blurry teenage memory

15-year-old me. It’s hard to look back that far. But I remember one night vividly. Well not the night, exactly. The salad. The day-after carrot salad.

At such a young, fragile age, I had the chance to go to France with fellow language students for 10 days. It’s the farthest I’ve roamed; I haven’t traveled much. While the second half of the trip was spent crisscrossing Paris with classmates and our spunky teacher, the first consisted of a homestay, for which we were separated from familiar faces and placed with a French family with a similarly aged child. My family of four lived in a humble home set on acres of Muscadet grape-producing trees in La Haye-Fouassière, a small town in the Loire Valley, about a 30-minute drive from Nantes (not one of my favorite cities, but one of my favorite songs).

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For Grandpa

sour cherry pie & birthday cupcakes

My grandfather is not a man of many words. It’s not that he’s the quiet, stoic type; he’s a jokester, a big teddy bear with a fair amount of blue color scruff. His silence comes from his ever-waning ability to hear. Rosy-cheeked, he laughs out of embarrassment (and my grandmother’s condemnations don’t help) when he misunderstands the key twist to a story, or when he needs a word, a phrase, a whole story repeated shouted 6 or 7 times. But he harbors stories. Profound stories. He’s the youngest of 13 (!), a veteran, the brother of an escaped POW, a factory worker, a black-lunged explosion survivor. But he just sits. Interested in our lives, he concentrates, trying to understand. Meanwhile, my grandmother prefers to be the loudest voice at the table, subconsciously stifling him with her “God, Eddie!”s and her eye rolls. But I get it. It’s frustrating for her. It’s frustrating for us. With or without hearing aids he finds himself lost, too tired to exert the effort necessary to actively participate.

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