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American Food & Culture

March 15, 2017

There’s never a day that I wake up and say to myself, ”Man, I can’t wait to fight about politics.”

That said, there is some awful stuff going on in America these days. And I’m not even talking about politics. I’m talking about hate crimes and violence towards people of South Asian descent, largely resulting from idiots who think a person with brown skin must be a Middle Eastern terrorist.

It might be laughable if it weren’t so contemptible. And deadly. Yes, there have been hate crimes in the past, but I do not recall this level of anti-immigrant sentiment ever being so loudly, proudly, and publicly proclaimed from politicians in office. Presumably, you’ve already heard about what Iowa representative Steve King recently said about the impossibility of restoring our civilization with somebody else’s babies.

I’m going to call that false on its face. Largely because I define a civilization based on its food culture, which surely isn’t shocking to anyone. And the food culture of America, and other great food cultures around the world, were indeed made great by the presence of foreign cultures.

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Find the Profussor

March 14, 2017

We played Find the Profussor in the beer bottle challenge not too long ago. By the way, congrats to Bob W. for being the winner of that game. Now I owe him a beer. Hopefully, he reaches out to me so I can make good on that. You know, once the beer is actually in the bottles.

But now we can play Find the Profussor in real life.

With the late season snowpocalypse, I’ve been told that some people are at their wits end. Me? I’m doing fine with the winter and the snow. I keep on telling myself, “This is the unlocking. This is the unlocking.” And that helps me keep my head on straight.

I’m doing less fine with this new range. The appliance itself fully meets expectations. I just forgot that before you can cook with a new oven, there is an initial “burn-in” period, where all the manufacturing residue is cooked off. And a half hour isn’t sufficient. The vapors were awful even with the windows and doors open during the entire process. I’m sure I’ve reduced the lifespan of everyone in the house and possibly the neighbors.

Next time, I’m buying something used. Or spending the same amount of money to fix something old. New stuff is terrible.

But I digress. Now that I’m properly worked up into a tizzy, maybe we can go to a happy place together. Fortunately, there are lots of moments of joy on my calendar coming up down the road. I thought perhaps I could share those with you, and maybe, just maybe, you might be able to join me at one of them.

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Surviving Without a Stove

March 13, 2017

Thank you all for the suggestions of what I might do in order to eat while the Fussy family awaited the delivery of our new stove. The call from Sears came yesterday, and I fully expect to be back to cooking tonight.

The ideas were all fantastic. And it’s really kind of amazing that I never thought of using the slow cooker on its own. Typically, I use it in conjunction with the stove. But often it’s just a tool to bring hot food to potlucks and have it stay warm and toasty.

Ultimately, none of the ideas really panned out.

There’s a good reason for that, which probably deserves further scrutiny.  Habit and routine are very strong forces. And when you have to approach new tasks, as simple as it may be, these forces can work against you in strange and unexpected ways.

Let’s take Friday night for an example.

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Close Reading & Crazy People

March 10, 2017

It can be a struggle to get someone to try new things. This is especially the case with children.

Last night, we had to go to the Empire State Plaza for Little Miss Fussy. One of her paintings was selected to be in an installation in the concourse. But since that event was at 5:30pm and since our range was out of commission, it seemed like a perfect night to go out to dinner.

The kids wanted Taiwan Noodle. It’s one of their favorite places. But I remembered that we would actually be closer to Timmy’s which is one of our newer Chinese restaurants. The place has an incredible amount of buzz within the Yelp community, including from people who I trust.

Plus, I remembered seeing some beautiful pictures of their soup dumplings. So I convinced the children to step out of their comfort zone and try a new place. My argument is that I wouldn’t take them someplace that wasn’t great.

Tempting fate with hubris is never a good idea.

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Out Of Range

March 9, 2017

[NB: Maybe it was International Women’s Day, but yes, I was thinking about this song when I came up with the title for today’s post.]

There I was, standing in the kitchen, minding my own business. I had gathered all the random ends of foodstuffs from the refrigerator, and I was preparing to make some kind of smorgasbord of leftovers.

Mrs. Fussy was going to have the split pea soup.
The kids were going to eat the black beans.
I was going for the rotini with tomato sauce.

It was going to be a multi-pot meal that would push the limits of the four burners on the stovetop. Mostly because I was running late and was using two burners to bring fresh, cold water to a boil at an accelerated rate.

Then I caught a flash out of the corner of my eye, and heard a loud pop. Apparently, the range had some kind of short circuit. It had been on its last legs for a while. It was the original stove from this house that was built sometime in the early 80’s. Appliances don’t last forever.

Anyhow, do you know that scene in every movie where the father gets something totally wrong?

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A Good Man Is Hard To Find

March 8, 2017

Happy International Women’s Day!

On January 21 I joined the Women’s March in Albany, and it was a powerful force. I’m one of those rare men who has pretty much always worked for women. I was working in San Francisco, so I had a smattering of gay male bosses too. But I’ve worked for precious few straight white men. So I suppose that makes me an outlier of sorts.

Honestly, I’m not sure where my deep respect of women comes from. But I’ve long felt more comfortable hanging out with a group of women talking about cooking and children than I have in a group of men talking about sports and work.

And none of it threatens my masculinity. Not one little bit.
I do wish this was the case for more people of my gender.

Just recently I saw some of Young Master Fussy’s friends referring to girls as bitches in an online chatroom. And honestly, it breaks my heart. These boys are kids. Kids. Most likely they are getting it from TV, or music, or the Internet. But I’m wondering if these children have anyone around who is going to sit them down and explain how wrong it is to stereotype and dehumanize their classmates with words.

That’s not to say that I am perfect either, but I try to be my best. Which brings us back to today.

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Tour de Burger: Nominations

March 7, 2017

Winter may still be trying to make a stand, but it’s a losing proposition at this point. No, it’s not quite spring. But we are firmly in the unlocking. So yes, we may still get a day in the single digits, or some mornings that are below freezing. But we’re in the home stretch.

That wasn’t so bad, was it?

In the past, spring has been the time for the Tour de Soft Serve, or some other frozen-confection-themed FUSSYlittleTOUR. We did FroYo, gelato, and homemade hard ice cream over the years as well. The logic behind the spring ice cream tours was that it could inform all your ice cream eating decisions for the entire summer. And that made a certain amount of sense.

The downside was that in the heat of summer, I was venturing out to eat some kind of savory dish just dripping in sweat. It takes the hardest of the hardcore to tackle a tour of Italian subs in 90-plus degree heat.

So this year, we’ve learned our lesson. Winter and Spring will be our savory tours. Summer and Fall will be the seasons for sweets, ice cream and cider donuts respectively.

And now, we’re launching the planning phase of the tour that I never thought would happen.

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