Love in the Time of Coriander

Thoughts on food & more.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Cake for Each Decade

Who makes their own birthday cakes? Only food-obsessed people, who are too fearful to entrust such a task to their guests, do. In other words, me. In the middle of spending a full day baking while E went to school to do his work, I wondered if it was such a brilliant idea. Later I confessed to him that I'd like next year's party to be a surprise. "That's fair," he replied.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Existential and a Windy City

With the attitude of writing on my blog every two weeks, I'm assured not to be climbing the blogosphere's metaphorical ladder. To my readers who wish me to write more regularly, I can only say that life as usual has been interfering. Firstly, I've been mired in papers and projects related to school and trying to sort out my professional goals. If only I felt I could make it by abandoning everything and making food all day long! It's a dream I save for later, for when I've made enough money and helped enough people alleviate their pain.

I've also been away, visiting Chicago, speaking on panels for the Kriti conference on South Asian writers. I thought for sure that not having published my first book would make me a neophyte but what I've done for the past ten years has put me in the funny category of something akin to the PhD's nightmarish ABD (all but dissertation). I surprised myself; I had stuff to say. And, for the first time, the connections between being a shrink and being a writer came together. It all held loosely and sweetly together like the perfect flan.

I also ate in Chicago. Sruti, my cousin, had made reservations for a wine bar known as Bin 36, written up by all the local mags as a hot spot. But as the family dinner grew into an expansive affair and more vegetarian palates were added, we found ourselves at Opera. Described as an Asian fusion place, the decor of the restaurant is a high end version of a Macaroni Grill or P.F. Chang's, with tile floors and cheap-looking furniture. The red plastic booth-like chairs could be considered kitschily cute as could the gratuitous wall filled with newspaper cut-outs of sexy Asian pinup girls, but everything falls flat in the face of an overall chain-like vibe. Actually, I get the feeling that this is Chicago's restaurant millieu, with a cluster of eateries owned by a corporate group, not by individual chefs or food enthusiasts. I learned that one of the big groups that owns many small places is called "Lettuce Entertain You." The ones that own Opera are called the KDK consortium.

You can only imagine that the overall vibe of the restaurant reflected on the food. Actually, they were in perfect concert with one another--dishes with the $15-20 price tag that couldn't, by any stretch of imagination, complete with Potrero Hill's gem, Eliza's, where you can get twice as much food for this price. A concert I'm happy not to attend.