Food, week of November 2

Another way to remember last week

When I think back on election week in November 2016, I remember very little about what I was consuming, or listening to, or watching. It’s not like I was in some fugue state; it’s just that besides the big bad election, it was a kind of unremarkable, banal week. I remember some things, like getting drinks at the Rusty Knot and bringing a six-pack of Miller High Life to a birthday party at a building in Gowanus the Friday afterwards, but there are a lot of holes otherwise. I have been horrible at maintaining a journal this year, and I thought it might be nice to remember something about a very strange and cathartic week in November 2020, so here I am, writing about what I ate last week.

On Sunday I woke up at 8:30 in the morning to a FaceTime from Emma. I was very hungover because we went out the night before and I drank, horrifyingly, at least five mulled ciders at an outdoor bar (it was like 40 degrees that night, so the warm drinks were necessary and justified), in addition to a slate of other adult beverages at Washington Commons. I picked up bagels at the bagel place on Fulton which were Just Fine and came with cold breakfast potatoes that did nothing to assuage my hangover. The bagel I got - plain, with veggie cream cheese - could only be the order of someone who had been drinking for 6 hours the night before and was afraid to introduce too many textures, flavors, and temperatures to their stomach at once. I then doused the potatoes in Tapatio I found in Chase’s fridge to try to improve them and we both just kind of sat on the couch groaning in discomfort while I did the Sunday crossword and eventually I went home to go sit on my own couch and groan in discomfort and watch Jennifer’s Body. This was not necessarily the auspicious beginning to the week that I wanted.

On Monday I went for a long walk that culminated at Mr. Mango and I got one of their premade salads. I will admit that I miss ordering a $10 salad (Chopt) and a $13 salad (Sweetgreen) because I no longer have any use for them in my life on a regular basis so this salad—a honking bowl of chopped romaine with a little plastic divider on top that holds premium toppings, all for the low low price of $7.99—is a good substitute. The one I ordered had tabbouleh and a tzatziki dill dressing. I buy a lot of my food from Mr. Mango (the superior “Mr. Produce” grocer of Fulton Street—it’s just better than Mr. Melon, which is both further from my apartment and laid out in a more confusing way) but will admit that I had overlooked their premade food section, which I will not make the mistake of doing anymore.

On Tuesday I had the day off from work to vote, which I did the weekend before thanks to New York’s early voting system. I made a loaf of lemon poppyseed pound cake that afternoon from this New York Times Cooking recipe, which I got from my friend Kate who also swears by it. I don’t actually like that many desserts, I mostly sort of orbit around the lemon and chocolate flavored things, and this does the job. I cut a third of it and then cut off another big slice and put all of that in a Tupperware while it was still warm and I left my apartment at 6:30 when it was already quite dark outside. I stopped at Hops Hill, which I never went to before I moved to Fort Greene and now patronize weekly, and grabbed some inscrutable IPAs and went to Chase’s apartment and we ate the edibles I brought (“Weedy,” was his note, which, yeah) and proceeded to order $70 of Italian food from some place on Dean Street. Together, we ordered and ate: an order of pasta all'amatriciana; an order of pappardelle with wild boar ragu; fried calamari, shrimp, and zucchini; and some pizza bianca. We ate this while watching the Finding Frances episode of Nathan for You while I avoided looking at my phone. We also ate a slice of the lemon poppyseed pound cake, which I was too stoned to properly enjoy but tasted good anyway. I appreciate that when Chase checked Twitter that night he mostly made neutral noises and did not tell me what was happening. I would find out the next day that literally nothing had happened anyway.

On Wednesday I got a drink with my friend Hannah after work (again, at Washington Commons) and I was very hungry when we left so I asked if we could go get food at that Mexican place on Washington and Hannah was like yes of course so we drank margaritas on a back patio we had all to ourselves. I ordered the veggie enchiladas mole because I am trying to eat less meat because my cardiologist scared me away from it when I went to see her recently by explaining what it does to your heart. The enchiladas were good, and it was nice to be completely away from other people in an outdoor dining scenario because that hasn’t really always been my experience this year. 

On Thursday I was thinking about the pasta I had for dinner on Tuesday and realized that what I wanted to eat, again, was pasta, so I made a bastardized sort of spicy vodka rigatoni. I also had acquired a new Dutch oven that day and was excited to have another distraction so I immediately put it to use. Here’s what you do: you put olive oil in a Dutch oven and add a diced onion and some pancetta, and also three cloves of finely minced garlic. At this point I usually add red pepper flakes but instead I added a tablespoon or two of gochujang and then a bunch of tomato paste and let it turn sort of brick-red while stirring it constantly. Then, vodka. Then, cream. Then, the rigatoni. Then, half a cup of grated parmesan. Then you eat it while you’re watching Real Housewives of Orange County in front of your tv. 

I firmly believed nothing was going to happen over the weekend in regard to learning any new information about the election so when I got a text on Saturday that was like “everyone’s banging pots and pans over here” I no longer assumed the cheering coming from the park across the street was for a children’s soccer game. I ran outside and everyone on my block was hooting and hollering and honking air horns and dinging their little bicycle bells. I went to Diner for brunch and the atmosphere in Williamsburg was just as insane as it was on Fulton Street in Fort Greene. We got the burger (good as always, but who needs that much pickled red onion) and the salad and the egg sandwich and I drank two of Diner’s “corner spritzes” which certainly did the job. Then I went home and napped and went out to meet up with a couple of other friends. I stopped at Bar Meridian and Emma was drinking an espresso martini she hated because she didn’t know what an espresso martini was and eating a bowl of spaghetti, which was so funny to me because my nice friend ordering a bowl of spaghetti as a light bar treat is very funny. We went to Grand Army Plaza and sat in the park with Demo and met up with my roommate and popped a bottle of Gruet a coworker gave me for my birthday and I drank some of that and a White Claw. Eventually it got dark and cold and I walked over to Vanderbilt where there was a truly chaotic dance pit situation happening at Branded, which had a DJ who kept playing the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” song. I found Chase and his friends and we ordered from MeMe’s Diner for pickup — two patty melts, an order of the potatoes, the chicken tenders — and drank beers in the street, sitting in chairs. Some idiot was lighting off firecrackers on Bergen and Vanderbilt and one came loose and rolled over to the guy next to us and somehow went off directly under him and he was miraculously fine? He kept running his hands over his fire-retardant butt, presumably to make sure it was still there, which tbh, I would have done the same thing. Nobody even blinked. I feel like we all were numb to anything by then after a day of revelry that came primarily from a place of being relieved that Trump ate shit. Of course now it is six days later and case numbers are way up so I have done none of these things this week and I just found out MeMe’s is closing because our stupid governor has done fuck-all for small businesses and if my last nice memory of this fall and of eating from my favorite restaurant is with a handful of people spread out on lawn chairs on a closed off street, well, that’s okay with me.