Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lily Eats

What's nearby and what's not far away

"Living in New York made you a better driver," Noah said.
"I didn't have a car in New York."
"I know," he said. "But you're more aggressive now."

If that's true, it's an aggression borne of making much more frequent mistakes, with much more dire consequences, and having to live with the results. So now it's a year and a half later, I've got no feeling left in the tip of my right ring finger, I'm arguably an even better driver, and without a doubt, a much-improved cook. It could be that all of this originates in my Brooklyn-bred ability to Man Up, or, as Adrian once referred to the required grit, "Go be Diane di Prima."

Di Prima slept in public parks, made love to junkies and fifteen-year-olds, fathers and sons, took her clothes for the day out of a dry cleaner's, one ticket at a time. I was never quite ready to be her, but we have a shared enthusiasm for feeding ourselves, whatever that means.

Say that it means relying on a food processor that I know in my heart is too small to complete the task for which I mean to use it. Raw carob cookies, which need some form of sugar, and since I can't boil water to soak the dates (because I've arbitrarily decided, in spite of the cheeseburger with french fries I ate last night, I'm going to honor the rawness of this process) I have to soak them for thirty minutes in room-temperature water. The trouble is, I bought these dates around the same time I signed the lease on this apartment. (Which incidentally, is up in August, and it's maybe the same ballsy New York influence that saves me from panicking at having no concept of where I intend to live come September.) The dates are still rock-hard after almost an hour of soaking, but I dump them with the allotted amount of water into the food processor. When I flip the switch, I get a real-life reenactment of the trickle-down theory, and date-water (much like benefits to taxpayers) spews out of any seam or crack it can find. I notice this when a stream of it hits me in the stomach, and after two more tries, I conclude that I never trusted Reagan anyway, and just use the syrup from the bottom of the pitcher, setting the date chunks to the side.

This is significantly less liquid than I am supposed to be using. I add the cocoa powder (because, even though I'm honoring the rawness of this recipe, I've arbitrarily decided to use cooked cocoa powder instead of raw carob) and almond butter, and what I've got is essentially a mass of date juice and almond chunks in an otherwise Sahara-like desert of cocoa. I directly forsake keeping the recipe raw, and take inventory of all moistening agents present in my kitchen. I add almond milk and stir. And add more. And it's about the right consistency now, I assume, but I take a taste and am immediately confronted with the absence of enough date-mash. It tastes a little bit like Baker's chocolate. So I add agave, lots of agave, till it tastes like something I'd want to eat, and not something I endure because (son of a bitch) I cooked this.

It's at this point that I notice the French Press. I check the remaining coffee--I used the pot three days ago, and I've grown very accustomed to peering in and finding patches of blue mold sprouting on the surface--but it doesn't seem to be contaminated yet. I pour most of it into the bowl, and stir, splashing more coffee and chocolate and coconut flakes, right, I added coconut flakes, around my kitchen. My feet are now sticking to the floor, and I've got dustings of brown powder on my gut, since I decided, in observance of my 91-degree apartment, to assemble these cookies in a bra and shorts.

Of course I don't even want the cookies. I've finished making them--rolled them up into little balls, which I then doused in more coconut, and ceremoniously garnished with a single almond each. Put them in the refrigerator because the author who says you can eat them at room temperature is from Northern Canada, for Christ's sake, and doesn't have to confront heat as not only a comfort issue, but an alterer of all alterable matter.

I leave them in my father's apartment in a tupperware container. After one day, he asks me to take them away and leave him just a few.

"Give some to your buddies," he says, my father being the kind of man who sees anyone as a potential "buddy," and certainly someone to share with. "I ate three of them yesterday, which I don't need to do." With a kind of routine cuteness, my father finishes every meal with "something sweet," which he searches his kitchen for absently, as though this is the first time in his life that the notion of dessert has ever occurred to him.

For lunch I assemble a salad of white beans, radishes, romaine, and balsamic vinegar. Then the avocado on Wasa crackers with cumin. And a Roma tomato, cut into wedges with olive oil and sea salt. I think of my father, how he didn't "need" three cookies, and eating my tomato, consider how easily I could eat three more just like it. Consider that two years ago I wouldn't have trusted my own attentiveness to know what it was I wanted to eat. (My ring finger was stitched up, but there was permanent nerve damage.) Maybe I wouldn't have even trusted my hand to be light enough with the olive oil.


  1. Beautifully written as I picture the whole process but I think I will pass on making them. Also I agree your father was probably being kind by having you leave a few of the...cookies.

  2. They're actually very good! But they taste more like truffles than cookies.