Monday, August 22, 2011

Recipes: To Share or Not to Share?

For a while, I used to scoff at people who kept their recipes to themselves. Whenever someone asks me what ingredients I used in the dishes I cook up, I promptly scribble down the recipe or simply email or text message it over. A friend of mine once asked me, “How do you make that great chicken dish you served the other night?” I smiled, happy that I can make someone else happy with my culinary concoction. My friend was happy too when I shrugged and told her that life is too short, so why not share the love? I typed up the recipe and emailed her the next morning. A while later, the same friend threw a wonderful dinner with friends. When I asked her about the ingredients of one of the dishes on the dinner table, she smiled coyly and replied, “I can’t tell you.” I frowned and smiled awkwardly, as if I exposed a dark secret. I felt used and taken advantage of. “I gave her my mother’s recipe and she wouldn’t even hint at any ingredient that was in her dish!” I told my husband when I returned home in exasperation. I was so upset that I could not sit down. I knew that it was not personal, but I was hurt! “You know what?” I huffed, standing with my hands on my hips, “I vow never to give anyone any family recipe!” The moment I said that, I felt slightly more calm and at ease. That is, until a very good friend of mine called me up a week ago. “Erzulie! I gave my in-laws what remained of that fabulous salad you brought yesterday night. Do you mind giving me the recipe to your salad dressing?” I cringed, sensing that same feeling of dread in my stomach. Since she is a close friend, I felt that I could afford to be honest to the point of being blunt. “Look honey, I would love to, but I know that recipe will soon make its way to your in-laws’ handful of restaurants. So I'm sorry, I can’t.” It was close to dusk prayer, so I was already tired and grumpy (read: I did not feel like sugarcoating my little speech). Once I said that, my friend grew quiet, “Oh, really?” I sighed, “Yes, really. I had a really bad experience with sharing a recipe and not getting anything in return. I do not want to go down that road again.” Now I am no Martha Stewart but I do have some fantastic family recipes up my sleeve. A part of me feels crappy about being greedy and not dishing them out to anyone who asks especially close friends, but another part of me feels that it is my right (dammit!) to choose what to share and what to keep to myself. I mean if anyone asks me to make my amazing apple pie, it will be my honor to bake the thing. But to share the secrets of how many pinches and sprinkles of what I add to my dishes? That just feels too close for comfort. I guess some people are the same way with where they shop for clothes or jewelry, where they dye their hair or which dermatologist in LA has the best Botox. For me, it starts and ends at the kitchen. Is that such a bad, bad thing?

Chris Isaak - Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing
Three Dog Night - Joy to the World
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Give it a Away

at 9:00 AM 7 comments

Sunday, August 07, 2011

30 Days of Lazy Chaos

Maybe it is the scorching weather or the lazy boredom that comes with August, but I am not feeling Ramadan this year, specifically the pre-futoor bit. I think I might have started out the month of goodness on the wrong foot, precisely being blown away by the ridiculously high prices of the not so good traditional women’s gowns (dara’a). I went to quite a few exhibitions. It is not about being put off by the millions of gaudy, glittery fabrics that went into one calf-length gown and the balloon-shaped cuts and styles that would even make Gisele look like a dumpy, frumpy clown; it is more about the prices. A note to le designers a.k.a. ambitious chicks with a team of Asian women whose sewing skills kick butt: people are not so stupid anymore! Some girls – like me – do not have to be great bargainers to know the real price of what a specific fabric costs per meter. I saw a dara’a at one exhibition and the next day, I dropped by the cloth souk in Kuwait City with my sister. There, I saw the same exact cloth for KD 1 per meter. The dara’a at the exhibition cost KD 85! I still remember that darned night. It was 50 degrees Celsius. As an avid walker, I usually park farther away from my main destination, and that is what I did when I went to the cloth souk. Unfortunately, that meant I had to walk through and in between the rows and rows of cars that jammed the cloth souk’s parking area. Anyhow, I walked by one car and I think the driver had just turned on the ignition. I was suddenly hit by the car’s hot air (I think it came from the motor or something). I am, in general, all right with dry heat. I would rather have that than humidity which makes me sweat like heck and have untamable lion hair. But this air was something else. Coupled with the oven-like weather, the blast almost knocked me over. The only way I can describe it is that it was like the devil’s fart. It was something out of this world.

Speaking of tummy-related issues, I have been trying to get back in shape. Well, I am in shape but ever since I returned home from my short summer break, I have been feeling a little lethargic and bloated, probably because I walked my rear end off every single day during my vacation and now I am back to the same short distance walk to and from my car. I enjoy going to the gym but deeply regret signing up to a women’s only one, mostly because of the cringe-worthy stares from quite a few women (think Ellen DeGeneres meets Rosie O’Donnell) at the place. So I walk around the neighborhood and the other evening after futoor, I hopped on my mother-in-law’s cook’s bicycle and rode all the way to the co-op to use the ATM machine (which was not working) and to get some pepperoni slices to make a nice, crisp pizza. “I really want to bicycle all the way to work someday,” I told my husband afterward, although it was more like me thinking out loud. “You can,” he replied. Although I know that I technically can, I know he would not like the idea of me weaving through the morning traffic. But I still want to. Maybe if I get up bright and early on a quiet Friday sometime in early December, just maybe…

Capricorn College Brass - Capricorn College
The Beatles - Here, There and Everywhere
Billy Joel - Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

In memory of Annette Charles a.k.a. Cha Cha DiGregorio:
Sha Na Na - Blue Moon
Sha Na Na - Born to Hand Jive

When I was young, I was obsessed with Grease. Apart from loving the dresses, I knew (and still know!) all the songs featured in it. My heart skips a beat when one of the songs of the movie's soundtrack starts to play whenever I put my iPod on shuffle. I always wish it was nighttime and that I would be driving alone on a highway so I can sing like no one's watching (which is usually the case at night with the exception of Ramadan). When I was a pre-teen, my cousins and I were so into Grease we actually videotaped ourselves singing Grease Lightening, Look at Me I'm Sandra Dee (in PJ's, wigs and pink rollers) and You're the One I Want. And the latter scene is what my peers and I performed in our talent show senior year. Actually hold on. I think I am still into it. I mean, I still love the songs and just this summer, I bought a 50's-style red dress with black polka dots (I love polka dots!) AND a black petticoat from a punk-ish store (kinda looks like this). I do not know when and where I will ever wear it but it sure feels good to twirl around in it!

at 8:30 AM 2 comments