Thursday, May 22, 2014

Human Panda Saves America

Eddie Huang matters.
If you've never heard of him, if it seems like all you know is soundbites and bravado.
Eddie Huang matters. 
He just might be the most important 'scholar' of my son's generation if you can hear him over the Dipset and see him through the Purple Haze.

Three years ago I clicked on this twitter link . It gave me hope that there were still aspects of the food world that mattered to people like me. Real chefs who could give a fuck about how fancy your dinner was last night. There were funny and touching stories to be told about families and connection and diverse points of view to be discussed over Cheeto-fried chicken bao and bong hits.

His blog was as good as it gets for a chef, a stoner's dream of pictures of pork belly smothered in chilis, Cam'ron videos, riffs on white chefs appropriating ethnic cuisine, and Asa Akira's ass.

There was a minute when it seemed like Eddie was poised to be the next Cooking Channel talking head, but his inability to play nice and enjoy Anne Burrell's hair-do led him down a better path, one more in line with his brand of politics and entertainment. HBO's VICE channel gave him a show combining food, hip-hop, marijuana culture, music, conversation about racism and classism and all the other isms and makes it fun enough for my 9 year-old son to stay interested when the show is about Moscow and Marxism. He gets to ask the questions we should have been asking in Mrs. Baird's social studies class instead of looking at pictures of Peruvian corn farmers from the 60's.




For some reason, this sort of groove was exactly what ABC was looking for when it decided to option Eddie's memoir  into a prime time sitcom about his Asian family and their move to Orlando. The trailer looks as good if not better than the other family shows like The Middle and The Goldberg's which are Evan's favorites, and he's already given it a million thumbs up. Except for the part where the jokes are all at the expense of his family who very painfully lived through them, I am wholeheartedly on board.

I grew up in South Pasadena where the population is 45% white, 31% Asian and 20% Latino. My friends were Cuban, Japanese, Chilean, Korean. They had Tiger Moms and Spanish-speaking dads who were fresh off the boat, who worked hard and owned companies (EAT CACIQUE CHEESE) and taught their kids about work ethic and manners. This is why these kids could do all the drugs and grow up okay without needing rehab, which is for white people. I also had a semester of something called Asian Cultures when I was a sophomore in public high school because the history of these places was more relevant to half the kids at my school. I knew about the effect of humidity on bangs, what kind of tofu was for what and whose dad wasn't fucking around in the socks and tan shower shoes.
Other than weekend trips down to Vinh Phat, Evan gets none of it.
We live in a part of California that is predominantly white, mostly redneck, and not just Republican, but Tea Party-Republican. I have an issue with the fact that Evan is only exposed to very bigoted group of children who don't have the benefit of other people from other places explaining that Mitt Romney is NOT, in fact, 'going to get our parents money back' and that when we don't search outside our little boxes for experience, our experience is pretty much limited to what they're selling at Wal Mart. When Evan brings a salad to eat for lunch he gets made fun of.  Imagine if he brought shrimp rolls?



video 



My son is a genius. And a hooligan. An electronics whiz and a mouthy little shithead who lawyers me on every single thing that comes out of my mouth and who rhymes Eminem right after he reads Little House In The Big Woods. Who is he supposed to look up to? Justin Bieber? Barack Obama? The guys 'smoking Smarties' at the skate park?  He needs to be entertained every minute and you have to keep the matches away from him. But in a good way.

Public school isn't teaching this kind of stuff anymore. John Locke is that dude with the patch on Lost. No one is laying down economics for smart boys who want toys but hate sitting still in school. Evan needs critical thinkers to emulate, he needs to understand that making fun of people for being anything but assholes is unacceptable, and he needs to remember that his mama is always watching from somewhere.

When we went to the book-signing for FOB, Eddie was a little nervous, soft-spoken and very kind, especially to an elderly gentleman named Gary. He seemed surprised that we had all crowded into that tiny little room to see him.He did not disappoint.

The past knows the future when it sees it.

THIS IS WHY EDDIE HUANG MATTERS.




Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Kitchenbitch. Pt. 2: Oh La Vache

Your dick IS bigger than mine. Your knives are probably sharper. You are most likely able to reach the back burners while the front ones have flames and oil fire-crackering off of them without flinching much. You can take being called a cow without bursting into tears.
You are a man in a professional kitchen. It is your domain. Women guest star and some even kick your ass so profoundly you think you should go work at an Applebee's, so bad is your sabayon, compared to theirs, but you are the SEAL Team Six and there was only one woman in that movie and she cried a whole fucking lot.
You are always having to train some girl fresh out of cooking school, the daughter of one of the investors or the wife of the wine guy who loves The Taste and wants to see if her tamales can be world famous.
When her tamales get famous and she gets a cooking show on the Food Network, you find it hard to not be a tad bitter, but there are four new guys and one new Giada to ream out this week so you don't have time. The pantry station has the highest turnover in the kitchen. Every time you write a new menu, you may as well write a new cook's name on the schedule. All the trendy articles like the TIME one point out how sexist it is that women have to make salads, but the real deal is that if you can't handle throwing some fucking lettuce on a plate and saucing a chocolate souffle, then you sure as heck can't run a line of 8 burners. If the ticker ticking sends you running, it doesn't matter if you have boobs or balls. You can't do the job.

There is a reason that kitchens use the brigade system and not the nepotistic shitfest the rest of the world seems to run on. Many trades operate this way and you don't really see articles about the lack of female electricians or welders. You don't get to be the General without scrubbing shit out of the latrines first. While all the feminists are making their stupid points about women not being provided with these opportunities, they don't seem to have any women chefs coming forward to tell the tales of all the oppression. KNOW WHY???? The kitchen is a beautiful place where all you are is your skill. If you are oppressed, it's because you suck. Period. In this time of Millenial Toast, having a woman run your kitchen is hot and sexy and exactly what investors want for PR purposes. You can't find that many who have put in the time and are ready to step into that position. One of the chef's on Top Chef this season said she's never cooked for 500 people before. See. That makes you NOT a chef, except for you are. At a James Beard nominated restaurant. How many Mexican prep and line cooks does it take to prop up one of these female success stories?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Kitchenbitch

* I will be writing more about this later. There are so many reasons that 'men do it better' ( for the most part. I hate you people who deal in absolutes) that I want to list them without swearing and in a thoughtful fashion.

Hello I am a chef. Hello, I have a vagina. Hello, I have a scar on my thumb from when I hacked it in half during a really busy Saturday service which I completed with my hand wrapped in a towel, before they stitched the tendon back together. Hello, would you like to see the steam burn from 1997 that people still think is some sort of smudge on my chin?

THIS is why women don't represent in the kitchen. No sane girl wants to torture herself if it doesn't involve Channing Tatum and some furry handcuffs. No 'girls' really last more than a year or two in an environment where men think it is funny to fuck the meat and then serve it to unsuspecting customers (Did you not believe Fight Club?) No 'lady' of any repute would say the word 'fuck' 300 times a day. No normal person I have ever met would pull the assholes out of chickens for a whole shift, finish, and think 'Boy, I can't WAIT to do this again'.

We are a special breed of miscreant. Somehow, somewhere, we have been tormented enough that the brigade system combined with shit pay and bad outfits becomes our master.  We pull off our stinky clogs at the end of the night and say to the stars that we are blessed to have chosen a life of back-breaking manual labor instead of a cushy desk job with paid sick days and health insurance.

HEY!!!! JOURNALISTS WRITING POINTLESS STORIES!!!!! Does any of this sound like maybe the reason more women don't cook???

XOX.
Me.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

National Lampoon's Culinary Vacation

Dear Clark,
Come on, now.
This is getting a little bit embarrassing, if you don't mind my sayin' so. 
It's FOOD.
You're having so many of them Marie Antoinette moments lately, I feel like I need to step up and piss in your  farmed and forked and fucked Cheerios and say something respectfully and with great love and encouragement and affection.

WHAT IN THE JESUS IS WRONG WITH YOU?????

Seriously, Clark. Only an idiot would pay $1000 for something that is going to come out of their ass a few hours later and then have any kind of comment about hunger in America. Ever.  EVER, EVER. If you would like to demonstrate your superiority to me, it would be more intelligent to not purchase tiny amounts of dead, cut-up animals and bits of lettuce that grew in the ground for free. This makes you a SUCKER. I'm a chef and I am telling you that. You are a chump. 

What kind of person can, in good conscience, keep most of the money they make feeding said asshats, instead of giving most of it back to the other people who are food insecure according to every news source in the country and that includes a lot more than I get with my cable converter? Even at a 50% food cost, you're still making a fortune off of tricking people into thinking it's worth that much for future feces. Nice work, Willy Wonka.

Do you have any idea how silly it is for you to be so "involved" in food when your involvement doesn't include making sure as many other people are fed as possible, instead of a few app designers who wouldn't know what they were eating were it not for the other rich assholes before them posting thousands of Instagrams?  I know you like a tack-o, Clark, but the rise of street food as haute cuisine, meriting full tasting menus comprised of offal, is, well, awful.  It's The Emperor's Clothes at it's most entertaining.

I once worked for the catering company that does Paul Allen's Christmas party. I spent a FREEZING December afternoon in 1998, grilling what ended up being four rolling racks full of whole salmon filets on a dock. Earmuff hats are very handy for blue collar folk who have to work outside in the snow. Long johns too. You call them Silkies, I think. Cooking is FUN, btw.

We cured olives and preserved lemons months ahead of time.  Made pounds of mozzarella, smoked oysters, made biryani in rented tagines, dipped fruits in Callebaut. We cut a walk-in full of Port Salut and Humboldt Fog into wedges and spread pounds of Salumi's soppressata onto huge wooden cutting boards purchased just for the occasion The excess was as bonkers as you.

When you are a lowly cook processing all this food, things that run through your head while you hack apart chickens include the society broads who will never eat more than four bites of any of this dee-licious spread that you are going to the trouble to prepare. You also consider, in a nice way, the catering salesperson who made $5k in commission for selling all this.
Mr. Allen's hangar at Boeing Field was turned into a Moroccan tent with jeweled pillows and belly dancers. The halftime show was the man himself trying to force everyone to watch him play guitar. Good lord. 

Know what has stuck with me 15 years later? The two racks full of untouched salmon. Left AFTER the to-go containers were stuffed and servers were begged to take as much as they wanted.

The St. Rose of Lima shelter was near my apartment and I could take them a carload at a time. I'd pull up to the backdoor in a dark alley in Belltown and hand over bus tubs of salmon thrown together with the other stuff. A far cry from the display a few hours earlier. Dumpsters-full of expensive cheese and wine and steak and oysters and chocolate and things that we talk about as yum to the motherfucking yum yum yum get tossed hundreds of times every single day by people who then go on to make sad, pinchy faces about the hungry black childrens they are forced to look at sometimes in the NYT.  Or speak about SNAP benefits as if they have any idea. I don't care if your mom used food stamps to raise you. You have a bunch of restaurants and a TV show now so shut it the hell down, Baldy. For reals.

Humans are complex. I get it. Sometimes you can want to eat truffles and then go to the ghetto and teach a child what a carrot is. That is funny as fuck. Why not bring THEM to the fancy dinner that they will never, ever forget? Why not expose them to something as magical as a truffle when their mom is just going to feed them bologna later. Why exclude anyone?

It's food. No one is curing pediatric brain cancer or rescuing flood victims. You are eating things that mostly are on this planet because the planet decided this, and not because Anthony Bourdain invented olives. Capice?

There is alchemy in cooking. Duh. We are literal magicians making something out of nothing and that is something to feel pretty great about. We all fall for pictures of tattoos of eggplants, posts of perfect figs and cheese on a black granite slab.  We love reading stories of how hard that farmer had to work to get those silly goats to behave, but still.

It's food. To feed people with so they don't die from starving. Not so they don't die from sadness that some poor person brought a baby to a restaurant. To forget that is to forget the joy of pulling a carrot out of the ground or to cook a chicken until it turns to jelly that makes the gravy, gravy. To act like you are a special, special twinkie instead of an alien sharing some molecules with some other aliens means that you need a lesson in humanity that will not be printed on the bottom of your triple Caramel Flan nonfat (retard) latte or while your are funding your friend's kombucha kickstarter.

I don't know what we can do when we are a culture of people who wish they had more money worshipping a farmer who likely has nothing. Pig shit smells like pig shit. Not like miso-cured pork belly.

How can we say we want to feed people when most of the shows on the food channels have to do with excess, not inequality? How can social media be so much more concerned with the correct filter for composites of dots of food that no one can smell or taste? How much longer do I have to see people promoting cookbooks instead of volunteering somewhere and writing about those experiences which seems more useful than a few more recipes for a watermelon soup that no one likes or wants to eat?

I don't expect any BlogHerFood "how I saved some people with salad" contests anytime soon, but maybe you could demand more keynote addresses for this sort of thing in between all the schmoozing and duck fat at your conferences and picnics and ski fests? Maybe I could see a post or two about the kitchen you helped build on that trip to wherever you ate those fish tacos right on the boat that I had to look at 75 photos of?

I helped pick a few thousand pounds of citrus this weekend for a group that does this. These are the stories that I want to hear about.

I know you think we're cut from different cloth, you and I, but listen here

You're a lot closer to emptying septic hoses with me than you think. Shitter's full, Clark. Let's get to cleaning.

Love,

Eddie.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Grandma See. Baller.

One of the worst things about the holiday season is the invitations. It's nice to be asked somewhere to be reminded that you are not alone in this overwhelming life and that people love you and care about you. Also, sometimes your boss has a party and there is free booze. BUT. Being down to your last penny and not being able to bring a hostess gift is an awful feeling. NO, it is not required, most of your friends will tell you and NO, please, don't go to any trouble. You know how it feels when everyone is lining up bottles of Hennesey and amaryllis on the sideboard and you're all Hey! Off-brand vinho verde from Grocery Outlet! Everyone will know and a wilting violet from the dollar store is thoughtful but very Lena Dunham wrapped in green cellophane.
Know what else costs about $2? $3 if you buy a little box and ribbon?

TOFFEE

Who ISN'T a Goddamned caramel junkie? If you saw the inside of my mouth you'd think I'd done a bit of  meth at some point but I can tell you that the addiction was Heath bars and Sugar Babies.

After years of failing miserably and buying varying grades of candy thermometer, I had honestly resigned myself to feeling bad every year for paying for something that I KNEW cost nothing to make. It's like sourdough bread. $4 for a really good loaf of a quarter's worth of flour and salt. That See's Candy can charge $20 per pound is crazytalk and those thugs in their little pressed pinafores should be ashamed that a Scotchmallow costs $1.75.

This summer one of my favorite people on Twitter, thepeche , went to one of those little wing-dings that some of you go to and he started talking about this magic toffee that another very nice lady makes.

I trust this man. He had a contest where I won a bunch of fancy chocolate and he knows a lot about Little House on the Prairie.  He seems like a very sensible person who wouldn't act like something unattainable was just a snap, so I thought "Why not?" Except for the 100 plus degree temperature which is terrible for candy-making and explains pralines. I tried it, caring less about the fastidiousness of a thermometer and just watched and applied the tiny bit of food science I know about sugar. IT WORKED.  
This will make a lovely hostess gift. No one will know you are broke. They will only think you are cool as hell for being able to make this little bit of magic yourself.

Recipe adapted with swears and less finesse from Rachel at LaFujiMama .

2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips. Your choice of color. I mix milk and dark and I buy them in bulk so I only have to spend about 75 cents at a time.
Whatever sort of nut remnants from other baking or dried fruits or coconut or pumpkin seeds or whatever. No more than 1/4 cup. This is optional.

1 2-quart stainless saucepan , the heavier the bottom, the better. DO NOT USE NON-STICK
1 slotted stirring spoon, preferably a nice, cheap wooden one that the sugar will come off of, easier, later.
parchment paper or aluminum foil that has been lightly greased. A silicone baking sheet is the best. They even have them at most grocery stores now and they aren't more than a few dollars.

I have the crappiest electric stove ever. It never goes above 3. You do you.

Line a sheet pan (cookie sheet) with whatever above material you have. If it's not a silicone mat it needs to be greased or sprayed. LIGHTLY.  Dollar store has cans of all the delicious flavors. Usually PAM. Don't spend $5 on this stuff at a real grocery. It's all terrible, but very cheap and effective and you don't use it all the time so don't get too creeped out. Nothing "organic" that they turn into aerosol is that great for you, either, so forget those. Sprinkle the little scraps of whatever has been hiding in the corner of the drawer on the sheet and spread them into a square-ish shape.

On low heat, melt the sugar, butter and vanilla together. Stir every minute and a half (approx. the time it takes you to click over to Twitter, read a few, answer one, and click back) for about 20 seconds each time. When it separates, ignore it. it will be fine. When it looks like weird, lumpy paste, do not give up hope. Right here is where those thermometer bastards make their money and you don't need them. Sugar is dependable. If you heat it, it will melt and if you heat it too fast it will burn. So slowly keep heating and stirring and you will be right as a motherfucker when this little program is over. When it starts to brown on the sides, make sure to watch it very carefully. When it really starts to darken, stir, stir, stir and when it's the color of Shemar Moore, turn it off. Do not be distracted by thoughts of Shemar Moore. I have now made this difficult. Leave it there while the burner cools, stir the holy Jesus out of it to smooth it completely and pour it over the nut scraps. Make a "N" motion back and forth and try to fill in all the spaces. When it has cooled for a few seconds, tilt the pan like that board game with the ball you try to keep out of the hole until it's filled.
When it has cooled for one more minute, spread the chocolate chips over the top. Wait for them to melt from the heat and spread the chocolate evenly over the top of the toffee. You can add more nuts now or crushed things like fruits or salts or peppermint. I like more coconut so it becomes a food group.

Let it cool completely and gently turn over the sheet it's on, holding it with one hand to keep it from falling off. Do this over another sheetpan or sheet of paper or foil to catch the nuts. Gently crack the back so that it breaks into pieces, turn these back over, again, GENTLY, and either place them in a nicely lined tin or box or into a large plastic IKEA container that you can hide from your husband.

*If you are new to my blog, I don't take pictures of food because there is a picture of every single food ever made in the history of the world on Google by people who are qualified to do this. I am merely qualified to teach you how to cook. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

THE POORZ

There this lady stay in New York City and oooh this bitch is fine.
French, tall. Big titties.
She like to wear a crown.

Some people would do well to remember that the people who built this country did so brick-by-RussianCubanScottishMexicanIrishMongolianAustralianLatvianNigerianDanishChinese-brick. With little more to their names than a tin cup with their name stamped on it and some breeches. What if all you had was breeches? How long do you suppose you could make THAT work for you at your favorite golf course?

It is a real Goddamned shame that the little article I tried to help people with this week turned into such a shitshow in the comment section. It seems that many, many people hate those who are less fortunate than themselves and came out of the woodwork en masse to insult me for feeding my kids free food (which is organic and unspoiled, but destined for the hog farm, nonetheless, if no one eats it) and to question the life choices that got me here. Which really amounts to one and that was "Are you getting divorced or not over him quitting?" And my answer was no and so there you go. I sat on my hands and did not respond to some of these people for, like, 17 minutes, until the TexanArmenian in me thought FUCK THAT. I fought back a bit and refrained from calling anyone a 'Cocksucker' so small steps in self-development were made but it was still useless. It only made me feel stupid for bothering to try to defend myself against such total and complete assholes.
I decided the best thing I can do is keep telling people how to cook.
From the truffle to the trough baby. Start with the hocks..

Escarole, ham hocks, peppers, lentils. Cost. Less than $4 if you have to buy greens, $2 if they're free. F feeds 4 plus leftovers.

Escarole looks like green leaf lettuce but you have to cook it. No bueno to use it raw. You can use absolutely any other green instead of it. There was a case of this that no one else took because they had no idea what it was or how to cook it. The hogs eat very well in Placer County.


2 c. chopped escarole, rinsed and drained.
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 ham hock or pork shank or jowl. Approximately 5 ounces.
The Winco where we live has them in packs of three that cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.50. It changes a few cents every other week but that's the general price. Three ham hocks equal three times your family tastes meat and you get a bit of collagen and smoke flavor that goes a long, long way toward making your food taste more carnivore which we like
.1 c. lentils. Yellow, red or green. Rinsed.
1 c. chopped bell peppers, chiles, whatever is in the drawer that's a bit soggy and ready to go.
2 tablespoons of anything pickled that you have. NOT ginger. Anything but ginger.

Every week I spend $2 on fresh cilantro, parsley and mint. It may seem like a lot until you remember that they count as greens and can be used in almost all kinds of dishes together or separately. That's less than one of  those little herb packs. Or spend $2 on seeds if you have a the energy and grow some rosemary and oregano if you have a porch and all the herbs if you have a yard and some dirt.

1/2 c. parsley, chopped.
1/2 t. dried mustard
1/2 t. red chili flakes if you aren't using chiles as part of the vegetable mix
2 t. dried oregano or 1 Tbsp. fresh
If you have a store in town where you can buy spices in bulk this will cost less the equivalent of about .20 cents. I buy jars at Goodwill and store an ounce or 2 of all kinds of spices so I am never limited when cooking. Make your own mixes instead of buying those packets of stir-fry or seasoning mixes. They're full of chemicals. Never spend $5 on a whole jar of something that will go bad before you use it. Cloves and nutmeg are perfect examples of this. I don't know a single person who has ever used an entire jar of ground clove.
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
3 Tbsp. bacon drippings or alternate fat.
salt and pepper to taste but at least 1 tsp. salt of each.
If you can add a lemon,, it will be even better but don't sweat it.

Heat the fat in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the onion and piece of pork. Saute it until it is nicely browned and add the rest of the ingredients. Brown for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently and add 4 cups of water or stock. Bring to low boil, reduce heat and simmer until lentils and vegetables are soft. Pull out the chunk of meat which should be falling apart and shred it apart. Remove any pieces of fat that haven't cooked down and discard. Season to taste and add that bit of lemon, if you had it.

Eat the Rich, y'all. xoxo






Friday, July 1, 2011

The Ghost and Mrs. S

Around the corner from my Belltown crib was a sketchy pizza joint. Right behind the statue of Chief Seattle. The kind of place where pictures of every famous Italian-American blend un-seamlessly with cheap prints of gondolas and the Coliseum. Run by the worst sort of owner, the kind who frequently appears on Kitchen Nightmares blaming the staff for his failure while GR digs rotten chicken out of the walk-in. The manager was a dead-ringer for Sly Stallone in the first Rocky, before surgery prettied him up. A few drops of sweat were always right at the end of his nose ready to season the food. I ate there once and got food poisoning which should have been an indicator that I never wanted to get behind THAT line, but for a few weeks one summer when I needed some work, I caved to the perpetual "Help Wanted" sign and joined the ranks of the rotten sauce that dwelled therein. 

There is a painting of a small bouquet of purple flowers next to the vanity in Barbara Sinatra's bathroom. They are in a vase tied with a ribbon with a sky blue background. It's inscription, in tiny crooked letters, reads "to BAS love FAS"

4th of July reminds me of beach. Beach reminds me of Malibu. Malibu reminds me of living in Frank Sinatra's house.
Let me say that again in case your jaw didn't drop and you didn't get a little impressed. I lived in Frank-to-tha-mother-effing-Sinatra's house. Cooked for his widow. An ant moves a rubber tree plant.

I spent a snowy spring driving back and forth between Pilchuck Glass School, where I was cooking and my apartment in West Seattle where I catered Friday night shabbat for the Jew Crew, when an unexpected turn in the love department sent me reeling. A certain smug son-of-a-biscuit-eater named MICHAEL DAVID NELSON (waiter/glassblower, fuck yeah, I  name names) told me I was a loser who would "stay trapped in her room forever" waiting for him. Really dude? I threw aside ten years of hard work, clients and friends and went running back to LA. Trapped in a room to be sure, but a fancy-ass one with an ocean view and a charge account at Hows where the mangoes cost $6.99 and NO ONE EVEN CARES.

I never realized the clout the name Sinatra carries until I told people where I worked. I was pretty punk rock and even though we've all heard the songs, celebrities were all the same to me. I didn't realize they have their own caste system and Ol' Blue Eyes is plunked right on the top of that heap. Even in death. Chairman of the Board for a reason, yo.

Me and the Mrs. had a routine.
When she woke up she buzzed me.
A trip down the leopard print staircase to the living room and the monster steel shades that covered the house would be lifted, the stereo flipped on with disc after disc of Guess-Who ready to go. She listened to him all day long, the sound of his voice keeping him close to her, I suppose. Imagine the greatest crooner in history singing to you daily in that magic voice. Then imagine it drowning slowly in a sea of dementia and despair until it is silenced altogether. You couldn't blame her for wanting to hear it. Except for the fact that it drove you apeshit after the third day.

After the newspapers were gathered and the dogs let out for the walker to pick up, a Martha sort of moment would occur with oats and berries and hot lemon water on white porcelain and I would wait at the foot of her bed until she decided what she wanted for lunch. There was no menu planning with Mrs. S. If she said she felt like a Honey Baked Ham, then you enjoyed the hour and back drive down the coast to Santa Monica to get the lady her hunk of meat. I assure you, they have twenty different places in Malibu to get some damned ham, but it needs to be cooked on the bone, natch and she likey their cranberry mustard.  She would eat 2 whole slices before tiring of the taste and I would be forcing it on Hector and Eva the rest of the week.
Sometime after lunch she would hip me to her evening plans and I would either be back in the car in search of something special or I'd be loading up my tray with snacks from the larder for a big night in front of the TV. For reals. A larder. Have you seen one? It's a huge thing that looks like a pantry, but is humidity controlled. Built just for them to keep their cut onions wrapped in paper towels so they wouldn't lose their taste. Not kidding. I have never seen another one and I've been in a lot of fancy kitchens.

Five o'clock was crudite and cocktails. "Mr. S's Martini" Extra dirty. Of course. Forever a reminder that no matter who we are, the same three ingredients make up our mixed drinks. It's a good lesson and one of which I'm sure the Chairman would approve. A few slices of carrot, radish, jicama.  Overpriced heirloom tomatoes. I don't know how much Hows makes off their produce markups, but dollars to doughnuts that man is driving his Murcielago down PCH with a hooker right now. 

On the nights that she didn't go out, she'd bring her tray out by the beach and have me keep her company for a bit. Am I in a movie? I don't know, is Danny DeVito next door having drinks with Robert DeNiro?
Getting relationship advice from this dame was incredible. The best, paraphrased, amounts to "if you marry a cheater, instead of throwing his ass out, do your hair, put on make-up, cook him dinner and remind him why he wants to come home to you instead of that ho'".  Maybe a little fifties, but I now appreciate the sentiment as a married woman with furniture I would not want to have to split up.

One afternoon she came down to the kitchen to show me how to make pasta Mr. S's mom's way. The sacred Dolly. Who taught her son, who taught his wife who was about to teach me. It seemed very special and Italian and I am sure there are restaurant owners in Jersey who would weep at the chance to experience a cooking lesson in this particular kitchen.

I've eaten a lot of noodles, I've made quite a few. I've had them fresh from the masters, in sauces of truffle and caviar.  But Frank Sinatra's pasta sounded like the angels might be carrying that recipe card around in a gilded frame and I was lucky enough to be there for that heralding, that day.

She took off her rock of a ring, started pouring flour into a pile on the counter and instructed me in her stock method. Not my favorite. I don't think a boiled raw chicken, carrot and onion are going to get you anywhere but Ireland and who the hell eats THAT food? But I did it. I was drooling in anticipation. This was FRANK'S FAVORITE after all, it was bound to be the most italian-y pasta-y best thing ever.  God, I get my hopes up easily.

We rolled out the dough, hand-cutting scraggly long noodles, dropped them into simmering chicken stock, and fished them out a minute later. Tossed with butter and parmesan, they were the most disgusting noodles I have ever eaten.

If you Google Mrs. S, you will read many shitty things written by his daughters and jealous ex-girlfriends. Things that suggest she didn't love him, that she kept him away from his friends, that she was a gold-digger who somehow facilitated his death by not getting him the care he needed.

I would argue that the painting on the wall tells a better story about their love than these attempts to slander. I would say after living in the palace for awhile and getting to know Frank from the vibe of those who loved him, that he was a king on this earth. And I can unequivocally swear, 100 percent, without a doubt, that the best pasta I've ever had, was from that guido in Seattle with the sweat dripping off his nose.

Guido Pasta or what I call, STOP WITH THAT FUCKING BECHAMEL PLEASE.

Boil, cook, drain a pound of pasta. Whatever your kid doesn't have a fit over.
Melt half a stick of butter in a pan, saute a big clove of chopped garlic for 30 seconds, add a pint of whipping cream.
When it starts to break, add noodles and stir around for a minute.
As it starts to simmer add a cup of grated parmesan.
Stir around again to emulsify.
Add bacon iffen there happens to be any cooked laying around.
Tons of pepper, little salt b/c of cheese.

Eat it now. Right now. Don't do anything else. Especially don't consider the fat content. Next time make twice as much, because you won't want to share.