Wednesday, May 14, 2008



"What Color Are My Parachute Pants?"

It all started with the brown rice.

There was a muttered conversation with Groom, a little talk that went something like, "Yea, okay, we eat a cow a week, so maybe sometimes we need to compensate by ingesting something uber healthy, like, you know, whole-wheat pasta."

Then we ate some whole-wheat pasta, and pretty quickly I decided I'd rather suck shag carpet through a twirly straw than ever eat another bowl of that whole-wheat schmutz.

So we held to The Principle but moved to brown rice. As Groomeo cooked it up that first night, I twitched around the kitchen, stomach growling, wondering what in the world of ultimate nachos I'd be having for dinner after my obligatory taste of the brown rice, which would, doubtlessly, be followed by dramatic retching into the garbage disposal.

However.

It seems.

When you cook up brown rice and then top it with--and Nostradamus never predicted this in all his crystal ballifying--stir-fried bok choy and soy sauce, it's

how you say

somewhat less than

varmint-inducing...

to the point that it's

hella good.

Nowadays, when the menu is announced, and the words "brown rice and bok choy" are uttered, I do one of my specialized and intricately-choreographed versions of the Happy Dance: the one that goes jazz hands, chasse, chasse, chasse, high kick, standing-half-moon, all capped off with a quick cherry-picker.

As I stand there, curtsying, accepting bouquets, panting, I sometimes think, "Me head is a leetle woozy here. There is some serious identity shifting going on. What's happened to the old 'If it ain't fried in powdered sugar and topped with bacon whipped cream, I ain't eatin' it' Jocelyn of yore?" Truth is, I hardly know myself.

Complicating things is the ongoing Polenta Polemic.

Groom lived for a short while in one of those Carolinas y'all keep down there. While hallucinating in the humidity, he learned to love some funky mush dish called "grits." No, not pronounced "oatmeal Jell-o." Try this: "g-r-e-e-e-e-t-z." Yes, that's it.

So throughout our marriage, he has sometimes pointed to the sky and shouted, "Look, Joce, a flying hamburger" and then, while I'm distracted out there with my butterfly net, leaping around trying to snag the thing, he has quietly hied off to the stovetop and made busy there, only to be discovered some time later (when I whomp in, dragging my net behind me, looking very disappointed), his head dipped into a saucepan, a wooden spoon hovering in his big paw, his mouth coated in hominal flakes. He tries to look guilty, but mostly he looks supremely blissed out and as though he's just realized he married the wrong semi-solid.

In the interests of us developing a few common interests that might sustain the marriage once the kids grow up and head off to cosmetology school, I agreed last month to try--NO, not grits, that bitch--but polenta, the Bergdorf version of grits.

Swat me to next Wednesday, but polenta is ambrosial.

It might have something to do with all that butter and the fact that His Groomitude cracks some eggs on top and bakes the whole thing into a "hold me, Mommy, for I need comfort food" lather.

At any rate, I find myself in off moments, of which I have a satchelful, dreaming of the polenta. I want to fill the bathtub with it and exfoliate with great vigor. Then I want to eat everything in the bathtub with a small spoon and finish off by licking the porcelain dry.

Yea, it's ugly-bad like that.

This whole business of changing and adapting and tolerating new pleasures, well, it's broadcasting into me a freaked-out noise. I mean, who am I, if I'm not a Double-Stuf-chugging, flank-steak-snarfing, Cheeto-deodorant-wearing whore?


It actually gets worse.

Just tonight, as I was typing up this little note to you, Aunt Hepzibah, I was streaming a little tv on the old laptop, as diversion from my own words (lest I find my self tiresome). Before I knew it, I was grunting at the selected program, "Why do you call it cha-cha-cha, Announcer Man? Isn't it just the cha-cha?"

And then.

I realized.

It was 10 p.m. on a Saturday night.

And I wasn't anywhere near the mosh pit at First Avenue (or, better yet, its smarter younger sister, the Seventh Street Entry), nor was I wearing a pair of Docs and a New York Dolls t-shirt, trying to bum a smoke off the guy at the sound board.

Rather, on this Saturday night, I was alone, tucked under the covers, clad in yoga pants,

WATCHING "DANCING WITH THE STARS."

Worse yet, I was weighing in with opinions--and how could I not, what with the appalling state of Crisitan de la Fuente's posture? Stand up, Senor, if you hope to earn the 10's!

Ultimately, I guess my point here, dear Hepzibah, is that brown rice is a gateway lifestyle slider. You let the brown rice in, and you're just a sneeze away from polenta, just a whiffle away from texting in your vote for Kristi Yamaguchi's jive.

Resist the brown, hipsters. Resist the brown.

29 comments:

Glamourpuss said...

My friend's cat is called Hepzibah. And I thought polenta wasn't actually that good for you - high GI, Iti peasant stodge, I believe.

Don't be fooled by that man - saturated fat has many forms. Demand steak.

Puss

Tai said...

Polenta licked off porcelain. Well, it's gotta be better than just plain ol' polenta.
'Cus that stuff is DENSE and bland and rather...icky.

But, um, probably good for exfoliating. I think you may have something there.

jess said...

I feel your pain, oh sister of the bacon-whipped- cream-topped-donut-sundae. Every time I eat vegetables I call my mother so that she can express her failed-crunchy-mom pride in my healthy self. I don't call home that often.

I once had a certified southern belle make grits for me and they were lickin'-off-the-porcelain good. In fact, they tasted just like polenta. Huh.

Chantal said...

Boy did I need this post today, and possibly a medium rare side of been chased with a chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard. I have yet to come up for air. I think the air might be thin my way.

kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

Oh, polenta -- a cheesy, buttery, oniony bowl full of heaven...... *droooool*

I, too, belong to the brown rice bok choy brigade. Yes, I wear the yoga-pants and sandals uniform. But I live on the west coast; I had no choice.

flutter said...

tell me you've had sauteed polenta with some parmesan. Please. Tell me.

rak said...

I've been absent for a bit from your blog...

I decided to visit today and I'm leaving feeling fulfilled and hungry.

Thank you for that. And for inspiring me to try polenta.

furiousBall said...

i tried polenta for the first time deep in the heart of Texas (clap clap clap clap clap) and i thought it was tasty... and i wouldn't lie about that 'tall.

did you know that the W in W.C. Fields actually stood for Polenta?

you did?

that doesn't make any sense... Polenta doesn't even start with a W

dummy

Maddy said...

I have been a brown everything aficionado for more than a couple of decades. It's the only way to go. Also goes well with 'recycled' toilet paper - what can I say? It's a life style choice as we Americans say!
Cheers

citizen of the world said...

Youv'e obviously never had pan-fried trout on a bed of cheese grits. Heaven.

Claudia said...

1/2 cup short-grain brown rice
1 medium zucchini (1/2 pound)
2 celery ribs
1 carrot
1 yellow bell pepper
1/2 bunch arugula (4 ounces)
4 scallions
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon coarse-grained mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preparation
Fill a 2-quart saucepan three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil. Add rice and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 25 minutes. Drain rice in a colander and rinse under cold running water until cool. Drain rice well.

While rice is cooking, cut zucchini, celery, carrot, and bell pepper into 1/4-inch dice. Remove tough stems from arugula and chop leaves. Chop scallions.

Have ready a bowl of ice and cold water. In a saucepan of boiling salted water blanch zucchini, celery, carrot, and bell pepper 1 minute. Drain vegetables in a sieve and transfer to ice water to stop cooking. Drain vegetables well.

In a large bowl whisk together lemon juice, broth, mustard, oil, salt, and pepper. Add rice, blanched vegetables, arugula, and scallions, tossing to combine well, and season with salt and pepper. Serve salad at room temperature.

Jazz said...

Well, I guess the brown is responbible for my lack of a hipster life.

Whole wheat pasta (love it), brown rice, polenta... It's all downill from here.

pistols at dawn said...

The only things keeping me from eating well are being broke and hating the Trader Joe's set. It's a pretty un-f-with-able plan.

yinyang said...

Hmm. If brown rice led you to Dancing with the Stars, what led me to American Idol? Because I don't think I've ever even seen brown rice in my life, much less eaten it.

Dorky Dad said...

No, you're wrong. Your slide began when your husband began sneaking off to eat grits. GRITS are the bad thing, not brown rice.

I hate grits. They give me the creeps.

chelle said...

I cannot get my husband to contemplate brown rice. He mutters something about his heritage and it being sacrilegious not to have white rice ... We do eat whole wheat pasta though.

Grits I have never had the pleasure of trying.

Her Grace said...

Advice noted. I'm off to eat some Cheetos.

Minnesota Matron said...

Please don't tell me you're wearing sensible solid shoes these days, too? Okay -- you can slide into mid-life safety zone of all sorts but keep that prose on the First Avenue edge where its currently residing!

Shieldmaiden96 said...

I worked with a woman whose brother owned a restaurant in Little Italy in Wilmington Delaware. (Not the most impressive Little Italy but definitely one of the more tolerable corners of Delaware.) She took us there for lunch one day. No menus. He just said 'I made some special things for you'. The first thing he brought to each of us was a seductively steaming wedge of polenta with a modest spoonful of homemade sauce over it.
I thought I'd cry it was so good.
If loving polenta is wrong, I don't want to be right.

cathy said...

I have no idea what grits or polenta are. I'm still trying to come to terms with octopus.I ALSO FIND IT HARD TO BELIEVE THAT I LIKE BASAMATI RICE WITH YOGHURT, but I do.


"Then we ate some whole-wheat pasta, and pretty quickly I decided I'd rather suck shag carpet through a twirly straw than ever eat another bowl of that whole-wheat schmutz." TOO FUNNY!

Diesel said...

If you start telling me how good tofu is, we can't be friends any more.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I lived in NC and TN and NEVER developed even a basic tolerance for grits (that's greeeets to you.) I would rather eat glass through a tennis racquet.

It bears an uncanny resemblance to Cream of Wheat cereal which I was forced to eat as a child because my brother liked it and for which I have never forgiven him.

Brown rice is manna of the gods by comparison.

Amy said...

Oh my. So I went on a hiatus recently (read: deadly addiction to internet pornography) but I'm back and thank Jevhovah. Really. Thank him. Because I love you.

Oh and also, Quinoa? Heroin. The unadulterated smack of whole grains. Don't fuck with that shit because, before you know it, you'll be joining Mariah Carey's fan club and going to see the Rachel Ray show. IN PERSON.

lime said...

so crazy late in getting here....

what does it say for me that i already like grits and whole wheat pasta....i'm doomed i tell ya...doomed, there is no hope. hide the children.

lime said...

oh, and then there is this kenyan version of polenta. it's called ugali....dear me....i'd crawl over broken glass for a plate of ugali with some tomato curry gravy poured over it....oooooooo

liv said...

I don't wish to sound unpleasant, but I think all the fucking haters who are hating on grits (no, we Southerners do not talk like transplanted Latinos, substituting a couple of "e's" for an "i") should just suck on it. And if y'all's choosin' not gwine be eatin' grits, then kindly shut tha hell up'an eat your dadgum Yankee food.

velvet said...

*sigh* So it was the brown rice, was it? And I thought it was the husband and kids. Well, that answers a lot of questions about my life and, thanks to you, I finally realize where I went wrong.

Diana said...

I've had greeeetz once in my life and I must admit they were ambrosial. It was in one of those cooking classes (where you pay to watch someone cook you amazing stuff that you'd never bother about at home and then you get to eat it) and the guy whipped them up. It may have been that he added TWO whole cubes of butter and several cups of parmesan, but they were, indeed, divine.

This once again proves the point that with enough butter and cheese, anything is divine.

MamaBird said...

Diana's right, enough butter and cheese and anything is delightful. Randomly coming here days late from Minnesota Matron's blog. Polenta with melted Taleggio and some sauteed greens is pretty mouth-watering. Ah, the ramifications of brown rice. Glad you identified the culprit for me.