Tag Archives: food

How To Put The “Me” In Just About Every Meal

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Thanksgiving is here, and while many aspiring at-home chefs dream of salt pigs, Crisco, and Paula Deen, I’m trying to decide how to kick my relatives out of the house so I can focus on the one holiday each year that really matters.

My Birthday.

Yum.

In order to plan the secret getaway my husband will surprise me with next June, I need time. And space. And solitude. I also need money, but I’m pretty much gonna leave that one up to him.

Since airfare is cheapest right around 5:00 p.m. (and a rainbow unicorn will clean the kitchen before everyone gets here in a few hours), I need to focus on avoiding a connection through O’Hare at the exact time every afternoon that I should be whipping up a wheatgrass shake, some raw calf liver, and a side of kimchee for my kids.

Yum.

Most mothers have a hard time prioritizing themselves over everyone else, but I’ve pretty much gotten it down, probably because I’m left handed. And a fast learner. And desperate.

Anyway, following is my six-step plan to put the focus where it should be on Thanksgiving and just about every other day of the year. Yourself. You can thank me later, preferably in American Express Travelers Cheques that are pretty much untraceable and can be used to upgrade my seats.

1. Decide, after nine years of looking at the same kitchen table, that it’s time for a change. Like Obamacare, claim your new table is meant to include everyone, even though it’s really just intended for the few citizens who can hack their way through a complex matrix of broken code and steal all your bitcoins. That’s right, angry Russian expats.

2. Refinish above-referenced sad piece of furniture with something that takes 30 days to cure. So what if you realize you can’t use it for a month only after you’ve slathered your table with it? It might contain asbestos, kryptonite, non-soluble gluten particles, or something equally hazardous to your family’s health. Don’t try to bend the rules and serve a meal on day 25.

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Come eat at my new table and prepare to die.

3. Find some big, androgynous, shiny, circlet-like decorations that could be Thanksgivingish but are probably some designer’s attempt at an Ambien-inspired joke. Place them right in the middle of the table, rendering it fully inoperable.

This could be a thought-provoking centerpiece or ground zero for your next garage sale.

This could be a thought-provoking centerpiece or ground zero for your next garage sale.

4. Tell the kids that if they touch your new, expensive table art you’ll take their phones. Just for fun, go a step further and tell them that if they touch anything belonging to you, you’ll erase all their apps. This should make it virtually impossible for them to Snapchat their friends about your secret stash of painkillers.

5. Accidentally misplace the keys to the refrigerator. That’s right. Don’t be a hater.

6. And on Thanksgiving, when everyone in America is running around trying to find the instructions to their infrared thermometers? Sit back, relax, and dream about my birthday, because when you have a table no one else can use, you’re pretty much relegated to a bottle of wine and a store-bought pie.

If you don’t know what a bitcoin is, go here, buy one, and send it to me for my birthday.

The American Dream Wrapped Up in a Cannoli

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I first met Caity DiFabio at the epicenter of all clichés.  A bar.  On a trip to Louisville two years ago, bored and waiting for a friend, I settled onto a stool and ordered an Old Fashioned.  That such a young girl could serve an ancient cocktail the right way surprised me, almost as much as her sarcastic wit and quick smile.

English: Picture of an Old Fashioned cocktail,...

This cocktail is targeted at a specific demographic: old. Old Fashioned Image via Wikipedia

Eventually my friend showed up, Caity got off work, Old Fashions took a sharp left toward tequila, then dinner, which was a great excuse for….more tequila, enough laughter to annoy everyone at the bar who wasn’t in on the joke, and tears.  Lots and lots of tears.  If you happen to have two x chromosomes, you know that four seasons of emotion over a seared tuna salad with a stranger is rare.

Not only was I impressed with Caity’s mind, but also?  That girl could drink.  She was the one with her arm around me at the end of the night as I sniffled over a long-lost love and babbled my way into a cab.  Anyone who doesn’t agree that tequila is the ultimate truth serum hasn’t gotten to the bottom of the bottle.

This however, appeals to just about everybody, including your underage son. Tequila via Flickr

Even though she was hardly born the year I left Louisville to go to college, I knew almost instantly she was an old soul, and we would be friends.  Not the talk-on-the-phone-every-day-to-compare-notes-on-life’s-little-nuances kind of thing, but a real connection nevertheless.  It seemed what we had to say to one another mattered, regardless of the chunk of variable time and space placed in between.

So it came as no surprise when I got a Facebook message over a year later that she had something important to tell me.  Caity is from a family of restaurateurs, and spent considerable time in and around the kitchen growing up.  They had decided to open a branch of their restaurant in Louisville, and she was to be a key player in the new initiative.  At the time, she was excited and scared and nervous and ready, and was also only twenty-two years old.

DiFabio’s Casapela opened in 2010.  Caity was barely legal to crack the pop-top off a beer when her family launched the restaurant, much less understand the delicate balance between supply and demand, and that the term “management” is really just secret code for “what the customer wants, the customer gets.”

English: Beer cans and bottles.

Image via Wikipedia

Yet somehow she got it, and is doing it, and still has time to sit down over a shot of tequila and listen to the bleary-eyed stranger of the night lament the things that matter most.

Day after day and way too late into the evening she shows up, often early, to orchestrate the chaos and earn an MBA on the fly that kids her age pay up to $40,000 a year to buy.  If you ask, she won’t tell you that running a family business in a foundering economy is harder than she thought it would be.  She won’t mention the NOI isn’t always in the black, her stemware keeps disappearing, and she doesn’t get to see enough of her dogs.

Image via Flickr

She’ll just smile that impish smile, fill your glass, and substitute the Piccata for the Marsala, because you could have sworn that’s what you ordered (you didn’t).

At a time when corporate profits are being redistributed as dividends or kept in cash instead of creating jobs, and the stimulus package that was or wasn’t is debated around town, it’s the Caity DiFabios of the world who remind us what it means to pursue the American Dream.  All of it.

Image via Flickr

If she wanted to, Caity could simply ride the coattails of the lost generation, cash her unemployment check, and go home.  Instead, she’s building a business, hiring employees, and figuring out how to handle the bills.  And life.  Even when she’s supposed to be off, she shows up every day, regardless of what happened the night before, to do her job and roll with the tide of whatever crazy customer happens to come in the door.

I won’t bore you with my take on the gorgonzola filet versus the chicken parmesan.  This isn’t a restaurant review…it’s more of a critique on life.  As far as I’m concerned, Caity’s already earned a full five stars because what she’s doing is the heart of the American Dream, and I’ll take it with or without the sauce.