It has been a doozy of a week. It all started off nicely enough–a really fun Spanish cooking class at 18 Reasons in SF (I cannot stress how refreshing it is sometimes to go out and dine with strangers!) on Sunday–but come Monday morning it was back to the grind. And, by grind, I mean wading through thousands and thousands of pages of documents in the hope of finding something that will be solid enough evidence to win us this case. You cannot even imagine how tired my eyes are (add to this the fact that I finally finished Bleak House! To be sure, it was, despite its legal theme, much more pleasant than legal production), but this is the kind of fatigue I was trained to handle. It’s no wonder than humanities majors often find themselves moving into the legal profession; they share a similar skill set and can treat what essentially amounts to 8 copies of War and Peace like it’s light and easy reading.
The real fatigue, however, comes from the commute. I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to public transportation, but you have to understand that, for me, the daily commute is my Hunger Games, a Darwinian test of survival. On Monday, I decided to squeeze my petite frame into an open space; the man who had been occupying this space seemed to be affronted by my savvy use of the space and basically spent most of the ride with his elbow in my face. On Tuesday, I was basically inhaling the scent of of a man’s backpack after said man wouldn’t scoot up so that I could crowd in behind him. Oddly enough, today was fairly tame in terms of BART offenses; the worst thing that happened was that every time the train would come to a stop, a lady’s braid would gently whack me in the face. I coughed once, hoping she would move away, but subtlety is lost in the morning battle between the small and meek and the large and backpacked. I thought I was in the clear, but as I sped through the streets, trying to make up for BART’s eternally lost time, I was basically body checked (body checked!) on Sansome; when I turned around to see who my offender was–I’m ashamed to say that I expected it to be a man; after days of being the victim of manspreading, could one really blame me for coming to the obvious conclusion of manslamming?–I saw a tiny Asian lady with a backpack running to catch the bus. Let me just say that it’s days like today that I arrive at the office simmering like a well-seasoned stew. Filled with righteous indignation, I walked more briskly than before, but, before I made it across the next street, I could think of only one thing: the scene in Notes from the Underground when the Underground Man contemplates the various indignities of modern urban life: 
“‘Why must you invariably be the first to move aside?’ I kept asking myself in hysterical rage, waking up sometimes at three o’clock in the morning. “Why is it you and not he? There’s no regulation about it; there’s no written law. Let the making way be equal as it usually is when refined people meet; he moves half-way and you move half-way; you pass with mutual respect.’
But that never happened, and I always moved aside, while he did not even notice my making way for him. And lo and behold a bright idea dawned upon me! ‘What,’ I thought, ‘if I meet him and don’t move on one side? What if I don’t move aside on purpose, even if I knock up against him? How would that be?’ This audacious idea took such a hold on me that it gave me no peace. I was dreaming of it continually, horribly, and I purposely went more frequently to the Nevsky in order to picture more vividly how I should do it when I did do it. I was delighted. This intention seemed to me more and more practical and possible.”
The very same idea tempts me and sorely, but I would never execute it. I do, however second the need for people to pass with mutual respect! While the need to articulate this fine sentiment is perhaps what drove me to blog tonight, I will end my rant here and instead send you to happier places than the public need for mutual respect and common courtesy: 
If my last post was any indication, I am all about citrus these days, so much so that I ordered the Greek and myself a 25-pound box of grapefruit and oranges. Now I am trying to figure out what to do with all of the citrus in my fridge! In the hopes of getting some inspiration, I started reading Claudia Roden’s Book of Middle Eastern Food on the way home this evening and I am now determined to make her orange and almond cake, which seems like a cross between a cake and a pudding. I am also fantasizing about Grapefruit Negronis.
Given all of the talk about measles and vaccinations the past few weeks, I was interested to discover, after reading about the dangerous illness one of the characters in Bleak House comes down with, that Charles Dickens was an advocate for vaccinations.
Yet another article in the New York Times by my old college crush–this time on relationships, literature and the movies.
I’ve long decided that edible gifts are the way to go and was recently looking at the Anson Mills website for inspiration. Maybe I’m just a food geek (snob) or easily swayed by a pretty description, but don’t you want to be using Artisan Fine Cloth-Bolted White Lamas Cake Flour? Or maybe that’s too much of a mouthful?
Tell your friends you appreciate them on Valentine’s Day, Leslie Knope style. Don’t we all deserve to be told, at least once a year, that we’re a “beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox?”
  I sometimes covet strange and useless things, but I think that wreaths, especially aromatic ones, have to be at least somewhat practical. 
An interesting look at a potential presidential candidate.
Some recipes I’ve enjoyed lately: Braised Onion Pasta (even an onion naysayer like myself found a way to love this one), Spiced Carrot, Almond and Pistachio Cake and, last but not least, the most amazing brownies ever: bittersweet and topped with a salted peanut butter frosting.

2 thoughts on “Food for Thought

  1. My commute is nothing compared to your incredibly taxing weekday journey, but I found it amusing that I read this post on the bus on my way to work this morning: a bus packed full of Berkeley High students and their backpacks and voices and devices and sneakers…
    It was a pleasure to read and made the ride feel quick, and then, all I could think about was salted peanut butter frosting. The pudding-like lemon almond cake is so intriguing, too!

  2. While I would never want you, Moriah, or anybody else, to suffer on his/her commute, I will say that there's comfort in knowing that others feel the same way: crowded, overwhelmed, offended. Of course, some days are better–and worse–than others. The Greek constantly tells me that I want a utopia and, even though I know it's a futile wish, I can't stop hoping for one. After all, I'm not really convinced that just because something is public it has to be bad…

    As for happier things like salted peanut butter frosting, there are few things better in this world. And, yes, there is too much baking to do; why work when you can bake? 🙂

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