Sunday, March 15, 2009

How I Came to Roast Chicken & Why I'm a Ninny

Roast pork has been on my mind since I spoke to my sister on the telephone earlier this morning having received this postcard from her, from the Prado in Madrid. She said it reminded her of me, usually mid-dinner party, as I have a tendency to fall asleep. Last night was no exception, and I lay awake before dawn chastizing myself for my horrible antisocial behaviour (dear friends, please forgive me, I have other gifts to share, though not many). However, my sister and brother-in-law had lunch with friends -- roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, lots of delicious puddings, and a host who was a tiny bit stingy with the wine -- which made me realize how much I miss Sunday Lunch, especially on days that started out as this one did; grey and gloomy. Pork with crackling (skin) is not easy to come by in Los Angeles. Jumby found delicious belly pork at a Japanese market, but the crackling part is elusive. I imagine they ship it off to large factories in the Central Valley to make Crunchy Bacon Snacks. Pork with crackling is the very best roasted meat in the world, I humbly submit and the way my father did it, using a loin of pork which still had kidneys attached is utterly decadent. Glossy gravy made with pan drippings, roast potatoes, sprouts, peas. I hesitate to boast but my family is the best maker of pork crackling on the planet. Period. (It's all about the olive oil and salt ratio which is rubbed into the skin, the scoring -- has to be done with a box cutter in thin, deep vertical lines -- and the heat of the oven).

Whole Foods seems to be a Sunday afternoon Destination. I don't usually shop there but it was on the way home. The pork I'd longed for wasn't there, just some sad-looking chops and a mound of corned beef (I forgot St. Patrick's Day was yesterday) but a handsome man in front of me (I think it was Donovan Leitch) ordered a lovely, fat chicken, air-dried or something like that and so I said, loudly "I'd like what he's having please" and then immediately felt like a complete tosser. Thank God, at that moment, I ran into my friends Lucie & Chris Ayres and their absolutely divine baby son who was munching on raw brocolli, patiently, while we spoke. Chris's book "Death By Leisure" has just been released in the U.S. and hence he's doing the requisite pr. We discussed his appearance on Patt Morrison's show on KPCC last week (click on Friday, March 6). The reviews have been great (Daily Express: “The apocalpytic flavour [of Death by Leisure] is fresh and ripe for satire. Ayres is a master craftsman... the turbo-charged, air-conditioned ride is enlightening and frequently hilarious.”)

And of course, because I'm obsessed and because he too is promoting a book, the conversation turned to Russell Brand. "O but he's so clever," I said. "O yes, he's very funny, isn't he?" they said, "Actually we saw him live on La Cienega while he was rehearsing his HBO special." Fantastic. And then I did that thing that I always do when I think the person I'm talking to is cleverer than me, I spit out something that is in theory clever, but sounds something like "Blur blur blur" when it comes out, because I'm paralyzed with panic. It's the very same reason that I forget the names of people I know well. "He's very clever with language" I say, "it's almost.....medieval." Medieval??? What on earth am I saying? Chris is obviously much more erudite and brilliant than me and not such a ninny as to stumble over his sentences by the butcher secton of Whole Foods on a Sunday afternoon. Kindly, he doesn't look at me pitifully. He takes his time and looks thoughtfully upwards. "Yes, he manages to combine his cockney street slang with a thespian's theatrical delivery with almost Shakespearian dialogue." (Obviously he was far more eloquent than this and this is why I should carry a small tape recorder wherever I go.) He looks at me pleasantly, quizzically. Eff me. Why couldn't I have said that. I thought it. I theorized it. I just can't articulate. So we moved on to Sunday lunch. Beef and Yorkshire Pudding to be precise. When in doubt, discuss food.

My chicken under one arm, chicken noodle soup for Mr Fluish Mountain Man under the other, Minks and I line up to check out and recount our numerous ninny moments this weekend. She tells me about the boy she thought was going to hug her goodbye, how she moved forward for the embrace and then he stepped backwards, and then stepped forwards as she stepped backwards and how she muttered "Um. Awkward!" loudly, creating an even more awkward moment. And then she reminded me of the man at the counter in Val Surf who was having trouble pronouncing my name. He was rather handsome, so I giggled just a little too much and he confided that his name was Kendall "and it's usually a girl's name so I kinda feel like the Boy Named Sue" and I of course said, far too dramatically "Oh! That's Terrible!" throwing Minks into fits of giggles. "Oh, I don't mean your name is terrible, just the situation." Ugh. I petered out, my face reddening. Isn't blushing like acne? Isn't it supposed to go away after your teenage years are over?

So tonight, it's roast chicken. And roast potatoes. And probably some Franco Zeffirelli.

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