If you are expecting a Halloween-themed entry from the picture of pumpkins above, well, I’m here to disappoint you. Instead, have a Halloween rant.
(I actually wrote this two years ago, on an earlier blog. But it still stands. And I think I’m allowed to quote myself.)
This morning, my dear colleague D gave an entire lecture on the spirit of the Roaring Twenties, while dressed in the following costume: a powder-blue leisure suit, a turquoise shirt, beige suede moccasins, an auburn wig with a lovely sheen that swooped down to his shoulders, and a pair of frightful 70s sunglasses that had big, black sideburns attached. He looked like a skinny…. Well, I don’t know what he looked like, actually. D is mostly unquantifiable, which is why I love him. What I like best is that he made absolutely no comment on the outfit before or during his lecture. So he stood up in front of 54 juniors and talked about prohibition and Calvin Coolidge, and he was wearing this ridiculous get-up. Every time he made a new point, running across the front of the room to write something down (and spilling yellow chalk on his blue jacket), I started laughing. I can’t imagine that the students are going to remember much about Herbert Hoover.
I try to enjoy Halloween, but I never really have since I last obtained free Snickers bars by knocking on people’s doors. I don’t know why. There could be something wrong with me. It’s not that I’m shy. I don’t mind feigning the appearance of someone else. Maybe it’s performance anxiety. Everyone around me is quite spectacular at coming up with creative ideas. A few years ago, my brother photocopied every part of his body (with clothes on, silly) and taped them all to his front. So he showed up as a copy of himself. One year, when I was living in New York, my friend Sharon showed up as murdered Baby Spice. Her hair was long enough for the pigtails, she owned all the baby-doll clothes already (I know, it’s a problem), and she painted thick red scars and blood drops all over her neck. It was terrifying. Perfect. I think that year I went as…a gypsy? A hippie? I actually didn’t know myself, because in my usual Halloween panic, I decided not to do anything, because I couldn’t come up with something brilliant, and so I wasn’t going to try. But, then I decided I wanted to go to the party, so I borrowed someone’s long-haired wig, wore a plaid shirt, and a big skirt. People at the party kept looking at me sideways, then returned to their fabulous conversations.
Last year, I actually planned a costume. When I had lived in New York, I had worn all black, of course. (It’s a rule.) One year, my brother took one look at me during my Christmas visit to Seattle, and said: “Try wearing a color. Any color.” Slowly, they started creeping in, and by the time I moved back to Seattle last year, I had switched to fleece clothes and hiking boots in my daily life. Especially at school. So, when I found out that all the faculty members at my school were expected to dress up for Halloween, I went to Value Village on my way home. Found a cheap black leather jacket, some impossible boots with towering heels, and planned my attack. I was going to be a New Yorker. I walked into school with sunglasses on, completely dressed in black, carrying a copy of the New York Times under my arm, talking on my cell phone, scowling. Some of my students understood, but my colleagues looked at me, then complained that I hadn’t dressed up. When I complained that of course I was dressed up—look at all the eye makeup I was wearing—one said: “Oh, I just thought you looked nice. I thought you’d just had enough sleep last night, for once.” Oh dear.
This year, I didn’t dress up at all, except for a pair of nerd glasses. That’s enough.
Come to think of it, I still may be scarred by this particular Halloween when I was a kid. I loved the LA Dodgers. Worshipped them. In what I considered to be the greatest Halloween costume ever, I wore an authentic Dodger uniform my parents had purchased for me. That year, I would have all the candy. All the people who appeared from behind closed doors would look at me in wonder. But it was also the year that my adorable little brother broke his leg, so he couldn’t walk around for Halloween. Instead, I pulled him behind me in a red metal wagon, and he just sat there looking cute. When the doors did open, mothers dropped candy in my bag, starting to ooh and ahh about my costume, then took one look at my tow-headed brother and broke into loud, sympathetic noises. They all rained handfuls of candy on his lap. But he wasn’t even wearing a costume! Outrage, I tell you.
Oh well. Tonight is my Buddhist class anyway, so when all the children are ringing doorbells, I’ll be meditating on the Hinayana path. I just hope I don’t have to have a compelling costume to reach enlightenment. If I do, I’m doomed.”
Hey, this year I’m the one with the bummed-up leg! Maybe if someone pulled me around in a little red wagon, I’d be the one showered with Halloween candy.… Nah. It would probably look creepy. Or ridiculous. Besides, most commercial candy contains gluten.
Instead, I’ve unplugged my doorbell. (Yes, I’ve become that person. Besides, it has the eerie habit of chiming when no one has even rung it, including at 4 am. Is it the wind?) Meri, who has been in Asia for three weeks, is on her way over with roast chicken and rice. It was her birthday yesterday (Happy Birthday, Merida!), and she’s cooking for me. That’s a friend. So this gives me just a squinch of time to show you my favorite gluten-free recipes on the web this week. After all, it is Monday.
Brendon, over at Something in Season just started his food blog this month, but I can tell he’s already hooked. He’s been serving up tasty recipes all month, and they are all gluten-free! His wife has to eat gluten-free, so not only does he eat gluten-free with her, but he also cooks it for her! Now that’s a good husband. Fitting with the Halloween theme (and in time for Elise’s pumpkin carving cook-off), Brendon made a gorgeous-looking Spicy Lemongrass Pumpkin Soup with Cinnamon-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds in a Pumpkin Bowl. Well, I’m convinced. Welcome to the food blog community, Brendon.
Ah, Clotilde. Even when she’s on vacation, driving through the French countryside without any internet access, she still inspires me. Since she’s gone, she’s running repeat posts from last year’s autumnal feasts on Chocolate and Zucchini. And her aptly named Zucchini Polenta Tart is perfect for us who have to eat gluten-free. I’ve never made a crust completely out of polenta, but as soon as I can stand on both feet solidly again, I’ll be rectifying that situation.
David Lebovitz is one of my food heroes. I’m not kidding. The guy was the pastry chef at Chez Panisse for twelve years. Need I say more? Well, I will. His three books on desserts, and especially The Book of Chocolate, will keep me inspired for years to come, either adapting certain recipes into gluten-free versions, or celebrating the ease of great gluten-free desserts. If you haven’t been to visit his site yet, you should. Especially because he posted a hilarious, enticing piece on the quintessentially French delicacy, macarons. David made chocolate macarons, and they are gluten-free! I may just fall over with joy. (Oh wait. I’ve already fallen over this week. That didn’t do me much good.) On top of that, David launched Prune Blogging Thursday, which inspired food bloggers around the world to concoct fabulous creations with prunes. How can you resist?
Adam at The Amateur Gourmet has been actively cracking me up for months. Prodigious in publishing, he seems to have five new posts up every day. And most of them record fabulous, seventeen-course meals he ate the night before at expensive Manhattan restaurants with his endless array of friends. And he attends graduate school at NYU and makes little funny films about food. Where does he get the money? The time? I may never know, and I don’t care. The fact is, this guy’s hilarious. I’ll be honest–I don’t check in for the photos. I read his site for the belly laughs. And this week, he posted a recipe for Brazilian Chicken with Olives that have me thinking he’s going to leave me with more than just laughs.
Finally, you have to go over and read My Madeleine. Molly is an extraordinary writer. She leaves me open-mouthed with her fluidity of language and generous, fearless posts. For the first few months of her blog, she wrote about her passion for food, her determination to leave behind her college expectations and work in a restaurant. She had concrete plans to attend the Culinary Institute of America. She was fierce. In August, she disappeared from the blog for awhile. I kept checking back, wondering where she had gone. It turns out she had been hit by a car while jogging. Among other injuries, she lost her sense of smell. As much as I may have suffered with my car accident, I never had to suffer that. But she prevails, beautifully. And this week, she put up a gorgeous post about baking on crutches. Reading it, I felt like such a ninny for complaining about my sprained ankle. Read her. You’ll adore her too. And her Chocolate-Chile Butter Cookies, which easily could be adapted to gluten-free cookies.
(In the spirit of disclosure, I have to admit that Molly and I have been writing to each other these past few weeks, which pleases me no end. In that post, she cites me for sending her a Rilke quote. That is NOT why I’m sending you to her post. But everyone should read that Rilke quote, anyway.)
So there you are. After the haze of too much candy has cleared from your head, take a look at those posts. You’ll feel better immediately. And then, start cooking!