culture, race, and food

March 12, 2010

all things (e.g. decor, ingredients, location, etc.) equal, are you willing to pay an equally high bill for “ethnic food” and “french food”?

why are we so caught up with “hole in the wall” dining establishments? is the food better? maybe.

would you eat at a dingy purveyor of california cuisine?

why are people so hung up on the skin colour of the chef, rather than his/her skill set?

ever heard of ethnically Chinese people rationalizing giving lower tips at Chinese restaurants?

please leave contact info if this post is of interest to you. i’m looking to start discussions towards action!

Once in a while, I miss Chicago.

I left Chicago one week after my ex-boyfriend told me, “I love you, but not enough to move to Toronto with you. And that, to me, means I don’t love you the right way.” Days before, you could not have separated us (he asked me if I judged him when he picked the stems off vine-ripened tomatoes before bagging them). It was too easy for us to be that way and moving was just the hurdle to flag the inevitable. We broke-up that day, and I departed alone with orders from the U.S. Border Control to do so by the end of the month.

Those last days packing and preparing to leave were torturous. My half empty apartment and everything about Chicago represented our relationship – did I just accept and leave? Of course. If this was tough enough, then that was enough of us. I chalked it up to a ‘bad fit’. Nevertheless, I cried a lot. It was the first and only time I lost my appetite for food. I needed to grieve more, but had to get across the border first. Arriving in Toronto, I told myself that there was nothing left for me in Chicago and it was only a reflection of our good times together.

For months, I had nightmares and the ringer for long distance calls made my heart race. It wasn’t a secret; I thought about us all the time. The radio annoyingly announced Chicago’s weather, hockey results, baseball scores, and of course, Obama’s race. And then there was also the matter of finishing my thesis, based on ethnographic study in Chicago.

I returned to Chicago to graduate, and even spent some time with the Ex. I considered telling him (but didn’t) that this trip was to ensure for myself that I wanted neither he nor Chicago in my life. I was wrong, then right, wrong again, and I’m now only 97% over us and that’s ok. He was the romance of my youth (we sped on bikes down Magnificent Mile through the rain, jumped into Lake Michigan fully clothed, made ketchup from scratch). It was too sweet, I’d gorged myself full of every beautifully in-love moment. Actually, just before his revelation, I was on a diet to prep for more feasting in Toronto. (By the way, I am noticing the food-conflict analogy running through this post, as I’m sure that you have.)

On the other hand, Chicago – before and after him – bored me. It was everything I saw on TV. Once I’d become accustomed to seeing outlandish stereotypes in real-life, I felt that I understood Chicago. I was jaded once again and told him so. He said, “those things you liked about Chicago with me are still here, as they’ve always been in you.”

He was right, though I’m not sure about our friendship.

This is my list of things I miss about Chicago:

  • Bike-friendliness, and especially the lake side bike path in the early morning
  • Seminary Co-op and Gerstein Library at UChicago
  • Race reversals in Hyde Park
  • Intelligentsia coffee and garbage cookies, as they are served at both Istria Cafes
  • Abundant and less-expensive cheese choices and alcohol… and cigarettes
  • Multi-grain demi-baguettes at Medici and sunflowered bread from Red Hen
  • Brownstones (and architecture, in general)
  • Blommer’s aroma at the oddest times
  • Outlandish and gawdy stereotypical characters and neighbourhoods

food/love ?

April 6, 2008

it’s not a mere coincident that i stopped cooking for virtually all the boys in my life.

linking it to some instantaneous swooning from previous partners, i consciously stopped. it was with great reluctance at first. since i was a wee one, i’ve been dreaming up menus, baking up a storm, creating concoctions… my roomies from undergrad still ask for my alcoholic smoothies. i loved feeding my swim team with pancakes packed with chocolate chips and contributing to fundraiser food stations with breakfast bakes, cookies, and more.

before going university, i’d originally wanted to enroll in college for culinary arts. my latest graduate mentor, and dear friend, introduces me to others as: “… getting her phd, but really, really, in the end she’ll open restaurants”.

i get satisfaction out of feeding people yummy things (sometimes sneaking in healthy things). but the boys who too eagerly took it for love – mistakingly taking it for an attempt on my part to win their love – and too eagerly fell for me, they ruined it. not wanting to mislead the opposite sex, i feel restrained about cooking.

now, the only males i only cook for are family and gay friends.

i bring store-bought stuff for boys i like. and when i eventually meet someone with whom i can let down my guard, i guess that will be when i get back in the kitchen. peculiar for a feminist huh?