Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Polyprocrastinator, Part Two

Lest you read the previous post and think I’m totally without fault, there is plenty of stuff I’m not good at, besides the aforementioned math.

I have no sense of direction, and despite having lived in Chicago my whole life, I can still get lost eight blocks from home if I’m not careful. I make terrible completely undrinkable coffee. I have a black thumb and cannot grow anything green, my last houseplant was a $300 silk and plastic fichus and all the leaves fell off. I have no idea when to use a semi-colon, or why, and the whole its vs. it’s thing still nails me eight times out of ten. I’m not, as you will be surprised to discover, an athlete. Although at camp I was not only a really good water-skiier, but also a junior-Olympic-qualified archer in two categories, and a ninth bar sharpshooter with a .22 caliber rifle, a fact which gives my friends whiplash when I share it with them in random conversation. None of these really count much as athleticism, since my definition for that is the requirement of sweating, and I tried to avoid camp activities that made me sweat. A habit which continues today. Also not good at practicing moderation when it comes to food, hence the current size of my butt. (I wont give a specific size, but you could safely shelter from a rainstorm underneath it.)

I flunked Introduction to Chinese freshman year of college. I’m an awful bowler, have only broken 100 points once and I was drunk at the time. I can never figure out how to change the clock in my car, and tend to just let it be an hour off for half the year till Daylight Savings Time comes back around and makes it right again.

But I can set up audio equipment like a champ, installed my own television when I bought it, running the system through the cable, Tivo and DVD player all by myself, so I do get some mechanical/technical points.

So despite the long list of things I cannot do, the whole polymath thing still sort of fits. And one of my polymathematical skills, one of the best actually, is that I can cook.

I don’t mean I have a couple decent dishes or that I bake a little. I mean that I am a self-taught gourmet cook who can make just about anything (except, as I said earlier, coffee). I mean that I have good friends who are professionally trained chefs and own restaurants who refer to me as a chef and have invited me into their kitchens and praised my skills.

I have catered for people, cooking multi course sit down dinner parties and buffets for over 60, and I am the Queen of Thanksgiving. I have friends who like to test me by asking me over and making me make dinner out of whatever they have lying around. I write my own recipes. Friends try to get me to enter the Next Food Network Star contest every year.

I’m a really really good cook, and I love that about me.

I love prepping and planning and slicing and dicing, and I love when my friends come over and roll their eyes and make faces and moan in gastronomic delight. I love that people actually take leftovers with them at the end of my dinner parties. I love that everyone asks for my kitchen secrets, and calls me for cooking advice.

Second only to my skills in the kitchen, are my skills as a master procrastinator. Even things I love, like writing, I hate to actually sit down and do. Especially if there is good TV on. So it is a surprise to no one, especially me, that mere weeks before my last book was due, I found myself doing anything but knuckling down and writing. Which is very common for me at deadline time, but the way that my personal form of procrastination manifested itself this time around was something totally new, ridiculously obsessive, and resulted in a nearly 9 month saga that is still not fully concluded.

NEXT: The Polymath’s Writing Process. Or, the Non-Writing Process

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Polymath Builds A Better Butter, Part One

My mom calls me a polymath, hence the name of this blog.

I find it bizarre that she would saddle me with a moniker that has the word math in it, as math has never been one of my strong suits. I got decent grades in high school math classes by copying homework and cheating on exams. (I checked, and the statute of limitations is up on this, so I can admit it freely and not have my high school diploma taken away.) I got a D- in my only math class (essentially Math for Poets) in college. Luckily my graduate work was all about qualitative research and not quantitative, so I never had to do statistics. I don’t balance my checkbook. Math and I are not, as they say, BFF. I can do it when I have to, but generally, I leave math to those better suited. I have a good accountant. I have a good financial advisor. I have a good calculator.

I digress.

I guess the loose definition of polymath is someone who is naturally really good at a lot of different things, so it makes sense that it is the kind of word a loving mother would call her daughter. And were I a shrinking violet of the humble type, I would shrug it off as overenthusiastic maternal pride.

But see the thing is, she’s right. I don’t know if it’s the Gemini thing, enough skills for two people. I don’t know if it’s the gifted thing, high IQ and all that jazz. I just know that in my life, there seem to be a lot of things that I’m just really good at, often without frankly trying very hard, which is a blessing, since one of the things I’m really good at is being lazy.

Here is a list of some of my particular talents:
I have an ear for languages, am fairly fluent in French, and speak excellent menu Italian, Spanish, and Greek, and have enough Swahili to find the bank, the bus and the bathroom, which is all you really need. I used to be a good musician, playing trumpet and flugelhorn. I don’t play much anymore, but in my day, I was better than average. I’m spectacular in bed. I’m told I’m not a bad writer. I’m an exceptional educator, and have former students now tracking me down on Facebook to tell me that I changed their lives, which makes me weep a little, even as my brain says “Well, duh, I was awesome!” I’ve got a decent eye for design and a creative streak with home furnishings and decorating. I’m a fair hand with power tools, and can fix stuff when I choose to, although I am a girl and would prefer not to muss the manicure unless absolutely necessary. I’m a good public speaker, was, in my day, a competent actor, and I’m funny as hell. I’m a problem solver, a critical thinker, and occasional visionary.

But being a polymath doesn’t always work in your favor, and you can’t choose what stuff you are good at. Polymaths may all be smart, but that doesn’t make us not idiots…

I invite you to settle in for the next few weeks to see exactly how one girl with a lot of passion and skill, and not quite enough sense ends up on an exciting roller coaster involving recipe contests, lots of butter, a plague of miniature frogs, and a whole lot of sparkling wine. Its a long story, gentle readers, far more than any of you would want to absorb in one sitting, and the ending is still up to the Gods, so even I don't yet know how it all turns out! About twice a week I will be posting installments, an online serialization, like a little radio play. I won't be offering any secret decoder rings, and you don't have to send in any box tops, but I hope you'll tune in and follow along! (be forewarned, some of the pieces of this story are pretty flipping hilarious, so I don't recommend that you drink anything while reading, as The Polymath cannot be help liable for beverages shooting through your sinuses.)

NEXT TIME: The Polyprocrastinator

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thank You!

Dear fabulous Frans of Jen (and other intrepid readers)-

Welcome to my blog! So glad to see you all, and hope that you’ll be checking in, signing up for the feed, recommending me to your pals, and commenting to your hearts delight.

The cocktail votes are in, and thanks to all of you, I won by 800 votes!!! In true classic form, they have scheduled the judging on June 3, when I will be unavoidably out of the country, but luckily they are allowing me to send a proxy, so I’m still in the running for the grand prize. (Even more sadly, Jen will be in the middle of her tour and cannot be my substitute!) I will let you all know how it shakes out then, but in the meantime I just wanted to extend my most heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you who voted, I am deeply grateful.

Towards that end, I will be posting the story promised to you in installments once or twice a week between now and when the contest is over and the winner chosen….so be sure to come back to see how everything turns out!

[For those of you who have no idea what the heck I am talking about, a couple of months ago I entered a cocktail recipe contest where the top three online vote-getters got to be in the running to win 5K. My BFF Jen Lancaster posted my need for votes on her blog and her Frans (Friends/Fans) stepped right up to the plate to put me over the top...]

I promised to post a story I was writing about my entering recipe contests in general on this blog as a reward for everyone voting, and will be launching that endeavor later this week...

Stay tuned!

In the meantime, here is the yummy cocktail:


1 oz Mionetto Brut
1 oz premium vodka
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz pineapple juice

For rim of glass:
1 T lemon juice
1 T sugar in the raw
1 t grains of paradise, ground

For Float:
1 T Mionetto Brut

Fill shaker with ice, and shake all ingredients well.

Dip rim of martini glass in lemon juice and then in the combined sugar and grains of paradise.
Strain cocktail into glass and float 1 T Mionetto Brut on the top for extra fizz.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Always Good To Listen

I've never been a headphones on all day girl. I like to listen to music when I am exercising, or an audiobook when I am trying to fall asleep, but I have never been the person who walks around at all times with my ears plugged. I like to engage with the world around me, like to hear the friend yelling for my attention from the other side of the street, or the horn of the car about to slam into me. Plus, and this is most important, I love to eavesdrop. Because people are often ridiculous.

While walking to my car yesterday I overheard a middle aged woman trying to convince her friend to switch to her salon because, and I quote:

"For only $22 I get a cut AND a blow job."

Which appeared to delight her friend who "Usually pays more than twice that."

After getting into my car and nearly laughing out a lung, I went to the gym where my intrepid (and it should be noted, of foreign origin) trainer proceeded to tell me that he thinks this whole problem with Fannie and Bernie is ridiculous.

"Fannie and Bernie?"

"Yes, the loan people."

"You mean Fannie and Freddie Mac?"

"No, no, Fannie and Bernie Mac."

"Gabe, Fannie and Freddie Mac are the loan people. Bernie Mac was a brilliant comedian who recently passed away."

"You knew what I meant."

Which I did, but still.

The Ghost of Bernie seems to be haunting me, as right after he passed away I was having a take-out pizza and baseball date with a friend and George Lopez came on the television during the commercials.

"He's dead, you know." Said my dining companion seriously.

"George Lopez?"

"Yep. He just died."

"Oh my god, when?" Having heard nothing about it.

"Like two weeks ago, he died from some disease he had."

I paused. "Do you mean Bernie Mac, who died from complications from pneumonia and not from the sarcoidosis he had for years?"

He paused. "Yep. Thats probably what I meant. I'm no good with pop culture."


I bet it is the first and last time someone mistakes George Lopez for Bernie Mac.

On a personal note, I met Bernie once, through a mutual friend, and he was one of the most gracious, intelligent, kind, hilarious people I have ever had the pleasure to share a couple hours with, and the world is a much less warm and funny place without him. On the upside, heaven has a new headliner.

In the meantime, I got this little gem as I was leaving Lula Cafe after a business lunch-

Spoken by a 20-something hipster gent on his iPhone:

"It was okay, dude, but it wasn't exactly like the best movie since The English Patient."


"No, man, I never saw The English Patient either."

Oh, there is just gorgeous humor everywhere.

My final fave is an adaptation of a recent quote from a reporter for the AP who was being interviewed by Rachel Maddow....the original quote referenced a certain politician who has been in the headlines for the past nine months or so, and who has been famously made fun of on Live Weekend Comedy Shows on Network Television, however when I actually used her name in quoting this gem on my Facebook page, I accidentally incited a riot of political discourse, which was not my intention. So I have taken the liberty of altering said quote to eliminate the political aspect of things, since I am not a pundit, I believe you are entitled to any political view you choose even if it differs from mine, and I have no intention of getting into debates on this site. Besides, it isn't the subject of the joke that makes it funny, it totally works with many different people, so I encourage you to co-opt it for your own amusement by inserting the name of someone you loathe at work, your irritating cousin, or the celeb of your choice.

So, altered to avoid confrontation:

Attaching (insert the name of your favorite village idiot here)'s ambition to their intelligence is like attaching a jet engine to a golf cart. You have plenty of power, but not much steering capability.

If you decide to imagine that this is about a brunette who likes to shoot things from aircraft, let it be known that it is your own imagination which is conjuring that up, and I am innocent of any implied attempt at political influence or intolerance.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Legend in my Living Room

As most of you know, this whole 'full-time writer' business is still reletively new to me. Up until Dec. 31 of 2006, I was working a major job.

Here were some things that I was unaware of when I left my job for the exciting world of working from home, things that I felt I should share in case any of you are contemplating such a move:

1. There are no available single men wandering around your apartment while you are at work all day.

2. It is, as I have discovered, very possible to replace a 60 hour a week job with 60 hours a week of Law and Order reruns.

3. All those home projects that you think you will get done, you will not. In fact, something about working from home makes beginning those projects even that much easier to procrastinate. I had such grand ambitions about reorganizing my basement. Two years later, it is untouched. I am trying to muster guilt, but it isn't working.

4. The delicious home-cooked meals you plan on making for yourself will actually happen. For a couple of weeks. Until someone who shall remain nameless, (JENNIFER LANCASTER www.jennsylvania.com) informs you that Philly's Best not only makes a cheese steak sandwich that is totally addictive, but manages to deliver onion rings that are still crispy, and that they will bring these things to your house UNTIL MIDNIGHT. Suddenly this seems like an appropriate snack.

5. You will not, as you have planned, take advantage of the free days at the museums to clear your head and get you out of the house. You will, however, find the slightest excuse to go to Target and Costco in the middle of the day.

6. The Law and Order habit will be harder to quit than crystal meth. You will not succeed.

7. Suddenly cute ringtones for all of the contacts on your cell phone become a major priority. Currently playing The Psychedelic Furs "Ghost in You".

8. Your plan to keep normal hours on weekdays, get to bed at a reasonable hour, and not turn into a vampire will last approximately 1 week. Until you catch a midnight showing of Heathers on cable on a Wednesday night and all willpower will fly out the window.

9. You will purchase Law and Order:Trial By Jury on DVD because it is the only show they don't re-run, and will consider pitching Law and Order: Meter Maid as a viable next project.

10. You may begin to believe that you are simultaneously dating Jesse L. Martin, Christopher Meloni, and Vincent D’Onofrio. This seems infinitely better than actually meeting anyone new.

Most importantly....you will feel every day as if you are getting away with something, and keep an eye out for the truant officer who must be trying to track you down to make you go back to work. I'm still negotiating with myself what the days should look like, but I'm having a hell of a good time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tiny Bubbles

I am unabashed in my love of sparkling wines. And while I have a particular affinity both for the true French champagnes, and for the sparklers made in the Méthode Champenoise from other regions of the world, I don’t turn down a good cava from Spain or a prosecco from Italy. For the sake of ease, despite the twitch it is likely to produce in any serious oenophiles who may be reading this, it’s really all champagne to me, and I tend to refer to it as such.

I don’t need an occasion to drink champagne, any random day will do. Sparkling is the first section I go to in any wine list, and frankly, having decent bubbles by an affordable glass price will endear a restaurant to me faster than almost anything else. I’m blessed with a circle of friends who also enjoy life a little ‘frissante’, and, while we always start the evening with champagne, we often stick with it, letting the magic twinkle take us all the way from salad to entrée to dessert with neither shame nor apology.

It’s a long love affair for me, and the person most to blame isn’t that famous monk who exclaimed he was drinking stars when he accidentally invented my go-to beverage. It’s my dad, with some help from WGN television.

One Sunday when I was maybe eight or nine, my dad and I were watching television together. I know it outs me as old when I say that this was a time well before cable, and with only about twelve stations to choose from, Sundays without football were all about old movies. Flipping through the stations we landed upon the Sunday Afternoon Movie on WGN, which also tended to run the Late Morning Movie, the Early Afternoon Movie, the Mid-Twilight Movie, the Sort-Of-Early Evening Movie, not to mention the Late, Late-Late, and Really-Freaking-Late-Why-Don’t-You-Go-Bed-Already Movie. A classic black-and white comedy of manners from the forties, full of happy wealthy people who seem never to go to work and are always planning some big party. This is how I know it was just me and dad, since my sister has never been able to abide anything in black and white, and was probably off somewhere with my mom, who will never choose the couch if she can be actually doing something.

I wish I could remember the exact film, but ultimately it is irrelevant. What I do remember is this: A gentleman stops by the house of the family at the center of the film, uninvited and unexpected, in the middle of the afternoon. They greet him warmly and ask if he would like a drink. He says, and this is very clear in my mind “Well, thanks. Don’t mind if I do. I’ll have a champagne.”

And the uniformed maid goes to fetch it for him.

Just like that.

Not on New Year’s Eve, no one’s birthday cake in sight. Just as if he were asking for a glass of water or a Coke. “I’ll have a champagne.” It was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and I made a mental promise to myself right then and there that when I was a grown-up, there would always be champagne in my house and anyone could ask for it on any day and at any time. Fast forward to now, and I am, despite some of my occasional behavior, a grown-up, and in my house, there is always champagne. I always keep a couple of half-bottles, since I live alone and should not be consuming whole bottles on my own, but nor should I be thwarted in my desire for a glass when I feel like one. I keep usually two full bottles cold, one “everyday” champagne (Gruet, a lovely wine from Albuquerque of all places, and utterly delicious), and one of “special occasion” champagne, in case someone calls with excellent news (Nicholas Feuillette, Perrier-Jouet, or Taltarni, a great pink from Australia). And at least four bottles unchilled, in case a party breaks out. You never know. For really special stuff you’ll find me looking for Veuve Cliquot’s La Grande Dame, preferably pink, and if someone of means is buying, it’s all Krug all the time.

But I also often stock up on prosecco, the famed sparkler of Italy, which can be a very reasonably-priced alternative to champagnes, and is delightful in its own right. It also comes in half-bottles which, unlike champagne, are priced at literally half of the full size, which is great for a single girl on a budget. For big parties, I often buy Mionetto prosecco by the case. So it should be no surprise to anyone that when Chicago got it’s very own proseccheria, and I heard that the food was worth checking out, I got myself a reservation.

Ristorante Prosecco is a warm and comfortable room, decorated in muted Venetian tones, with tall ceilings and a generous comfortable bar. I meet Rachel, my intrepid dining companion, also a major bubbly consumer, and we indulge in a glass of the house specialty before being led to a simple table off to the side. It becomes clear that this is classic white-tablecloth Italian food, the menu is obviously seasonal, and seems to represent Italy as a whole, with dishes from many different regions. We receive immediately two small tastes of a rose prosecco , brought to us by the sommelier Christian, who will be guiding our wine choices for the evening. I resist the desire to tell him to only bring bubbles, and focus instead on the menu. We sip our prosecco and have some bread with agrodolce, a sweet and sour Italian condiment, a compote concocted of eggplant, tomato, raisins, and pine nuts cooked with vinegar and sugar.

I start with the biggest diver sea scallop I have ever seen, with braised fennel and lemon in a mild broth that cries out to be sopped up with the crusty bread. The scallop is impeccably fresh, caramelized well on the outside and tender within, and as sweet as any I have ever tasted. Rachel opts for the soup of the day, a chilled puree of avocado with a red-pepper swirl, and confesses the urge to pick the bowl up and drink with abandon. Christian paired this course with a 2006 "Rosenere" Sangiovese Di Romagna Superiore by La Palazza from Emilia Romagna. He explains that the grape is the same sangiovese as in Tuscany and particularly as in Chianti, but when grown over the border in Emilia Romagna, it tends to take on a smoother, more velvety texture. When he leaves, I explain to Rachel that I have no idea what any of that means, except that it is a really lovely glass of wine, and that I’m suddenly not sad at the lack of bubbles. She agrees heartily, as our empty plates are whisked away and a barrage of pastas descend. I may have over-ordered, but it is an Italian restaurant, and how could I effectively make recommendations to you, my faithful readers, if I didn’t taste a whole bunch of them, hmmm?

Okay, we ordered four pastas and a risotto for two people.

And we were glad that we did.

The Rigatoni Norcina, a fairly straightforward presentation of a light tomato cream sauce with pancetta and mild sausage, was very tasty, if not exactly unusual. The Orrechiette Tartufate, on the other hand, was not just delicious, but unique…the ear-shaped pasta with wild mushrooms, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and black truffle cream sauce with white truffle oil and shaved Grana Padano, in a word, trufflicious. The Gnocchi Gorgonzola were slightly gummy, the spinach in the dumplings serving to do little more than color the dough, and the gorgonzola sauce seemed slightly overwrought. But the Risotto of the day, served with a short-rib ragu, was rich without being heavy, the rice perfectly al dente and creamy, and the ragu was vibrant and earthy, the meat perfectly tender. But the surprise of the evening was the Fontina-Stuffed Gnocchi, in a tomato vodka sauce with prosciutto. These puffs of lightness literally melted on the tongue, with the creamy cheese oozing out and blending with the simple tart sauce in a truly perfect mouthful. I’ve never had gnocchi like them, and frankly would not have believed such airiness was possible in a potato-based dumpling without tasting for myself. Rachel rolled her eyes back in her head and proclaimed them “clouds of total yumminess.” She was absolutely correct. Christian paired this feast with a 2004 Masciarelli, Montepulciano from Abruzzo. This is a grape from central Italy that tends to be medium-bodied with some nice red fruit and a distinctive almost meaty nose. It held up well to all but the gorgonzola gnocchi, which we found pretty impressive, especially with all the different flavors we had going on.

Despite our pasta bacchanal, we gamely ordered entrees, a mere two this time, for the sake of propriety. Rachel had the Spigola Agrodolce, a Mediterranean striped bass in a different version of the condiment I mentioned earlier, this one with sweet peppers, Sicilian cherry tomatoes, olives, capers, and golden raisins, which was fine, the fish light and well-cooked, but slightly over-sauced for such a mild flaky fish. I had the Saltimbocca di Vitello, a traditional preparation of veal scallops with prosciutto and fresh mozzarella in a tomato brandy sage sauce, which was excellent, the meat perfectly cooked and the flavors well-balanced, but sadly paired with lackluster mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach that suffered from too much garlic. Christian brought us a 2004 Vivalda "L'Clumbe" Barbera from Piemonte, which is now officially my favorite Barbera, nice and chewy with hints of both currants and chocolate, very drinkable.

For dessert we stuck with tradition, a basic tiramisu and profiteroles, both lovely and not cloying and somehow refreshing bits of sweet after a decadent meal. And Christian didn’t let us down, bringing us back to bubbles with a really special dessert wine, "Amis" Brachetto d'Asti by Villa Giada from Piemonte. It’s a dolce frizzante rosso (sweet fizzy red!) made from a relatively rare grape called brachetto, very light, but seriously aromatic and totally tingly on the tongue. (say that ten times fast if you can!)

Overall, excellent food, thoughtfully prepared, and some really wonderful wines. The service was exceptional, and even better, despite the room being quite full, Rachel and I never had much sense of the other diners…a rarity these days, when a full house often means an oppressively loud dining experience.Granted, I was pre-disposed to like Prosecco. After all, any place as devoted to fizzy lifting drinks as I am is to be commended and celebrated. It was wonderful to find the food and service as sparkly as the wine.

Considering the theme this week, it seemed time to share a cocktail recipe. And while I’m usually a champagne purist, and don’t like to add things to it, every now and again it is possible to make something so inherently perfect even more sublime. My favorite trick for sparkling wines of all kinds is to put a finger of Pineau des Charantes in the bottom of the flute. Pineau is a light cognac from France that has a lot of apple scent to it, and is traditionally served chilled or over ice. I love it with a summer sunset in the same way I like a warm cognac at the end of a winter’s day. Great on its own, but truly special in your effervescents. Just that inch or so takes any sparkling wine and puts a velvet smoking jacket on it…taking all the acid finish away and making for a very smooth and different drinking experience. You can get a good bottle for about $20, just keep it in the fridge and I bet you’ll fall in love with it. Want something a little fancier and slightly less subtle? Give your bubbles the same treatment with a bit of St. Germain elderflower liqueur, available for around $28, a glorious not-overly sweet floral quaff that I can’t recommend highly enough. Plus the bottle is gorgeous.

Yours in good taste,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Emperor is NAKED

After a delightful dinner recently in NY with two of my most adorable bestest friends, one of them suggested, nay insisted, that we go to Pinkberry. Pinkberry, so I was told, is the elixir of the gods in the form of frozen yogurt, a treat Los Angelenos will happily pay a $60 parking fine to acquire. Its pull is like that of an opiate, apparently, and on both coasts the stores are crowded from open to close.

Now I never really jumped on the TCBY wagon, back in the day. My philosophy was always that if the calories were much the same as Dairy Queen, why bother? And it should be noted that I frankly most enjoy yogurt in the form of tzatziki sauce on a piping hot gyro, and even then on the side. So while my companions, gentlemen of class, distinction, and in my experience, profoundly good taste, waxed poetic about the delights we were about the enjoy, I was somewhat skeptical. But I had also been skeptical about Rice to Riches, a rice pudding store, which has haunted my dreams ever since I first ate of their bounty, so I wanted to give it a chance.

The line was out the door. We waited 30 minutes surrounded by an endless parade of girls in peasant skirts and flip flops, and young men in well-fitting jeans and ironic shirts. Not being 1) hungry or B) as aforementioned, a big fan of fro yo, I opted out but promised to taste my friend's. The yogurt comes in but two flavors, regular and green tea, and can be topped with fruit, cereal, or the like. My friend chose regular with coconut and chocolate chips, which endeared him to me even more than the fact that we had ordered the exact same thing at dinner.

And for the record, it tasted like a Mounds bar.

Dipped in ass.

Not theoretical ass.

Actual ass.

(And before the ass fans pipe in, I am referring to something more in the lines of day old ass, if one takes my meaning.)

Now, I have been known, in my time, to consume some fairly unsavory things, including, but not limited to, live termites, barium, and White Castle Chicken Rings. I'm not a candidate for Fear Factor, but I'm no shrinking violet.

But this stuff is reminiscent of a frozen combination of wallpaper paste, anti-fungal foot cream and come. With toppings.

I don't care if Jessica Simpson once bathed in the stuff, or if every stylemaker thinks that it is the best thing since Ben and Jerry's, someone has to stand up and say "Give me ice cream, or give me death, but for God's Sake keep the freaking Pinkberry away from me!"

And today, that brave soul, she is me.

I wish I could say the same about the Pringles. At some point I will have to ask a shrink about the out of town Pringles thing. I do not have a Pringles at home thing. It is probably one of only six food items that does not call out to me in the middle of my life and beg me to consume in quantities that would make my poor trainer cry. I can walk by a tube of Pringles without a wistful glance, with nary a salivary response. (I cannot say the same of Cheetos.)

I can be offered an open can and gladly wave them away. I have never really understood their appeal, since they seem to be made out of Potato Buds, those weird flakes of my youth that bore little resemblance to actual potato.


Put me in a hotel room with a stocked mini-bar and what sings to me? The wee little bottles of booze promising a quick trip to sleep? The peanut M&Ms, or Vitamin M as my mom calls them, with their salty sweet crunchy melty goodness? The decadent cans of cashews or macadamia nuts or icy cold Coke?


Despite what my parents might tell you, I can resist pretty much anything in a mini bar**.
Except Pringles. They become like crack. I lay in the blinding blue light of an impossibly bright clock radio that I know will awake me at precisely 5:42 am regardless of what I have done to it, and they call out to me. I sit and read, and they whisper salty nothings in my ear. They are like the Tell Tale Snack, and their siren call, which I assume no one else can hear, is maddening.

I have no idea what it is. A deep craving that only hits in hotel rooms. And god help me if not only is there a can of Pringles, but it is the full size. Even I can try to justify the individual serving size, there is no actual food in it, but if I skip breakfast, and don't order the mac n cheese fritters at lunch, I can bounce back. But SIX SERVINGS? I'd have to fast all day and then have a colonic.

Damn you out-of-town Pringles.

If someone would just require that all Pringles in hotel mini-bars be made in Pinkberry flavor, I'd be all set.

**the great mini-bar incident of 1986 lives in infamy, and I promise to share with the class at a later date....