Monday, July 25, 2005

The Tent

So I have a crush on this guy. It's harmless really. Just a mild crush on a neighbor. Chief thinks I'm ridiculous. See, he has a girlfriend whom he lived with until recently, when she moved off to live in Montana for a year. Also, he's two weeks shy of being 21 years old. It's not ideal, but like I said, it's just a harmless crush. Oh, and she thinks that he's homophobic because he's latino. Yeah, apparently Chief likes to marginalize and stereotype people. It's not her fault, she is from Connecticut.

He lives downstairs from Chief, who I will be housesitting for over the next week. I was visiting her the other day and he was out working on his moped with Bald Jew. I hadn't met Moped Guy before, but I had heard all about him and his girlfriend from Chief (she's a terrible gossip, especially when she gets together with Madge). So, we met and I went upstairs. At the end of the evening, as I was leaving, I ran into Moped Guy again. I mentioned that I was housesitting soon and that we should have a huge party with kegs of beer and midget strippers while Chief was gone. I mostly said this for Chief to overhear and scold me, but a small part of me was hoping we could hang out in a very harmless crush sort of way. He seemed into it (even the part about the midget strippers), and I went home.

Yesterday, after a nearly pointless but very interesting bike ride with Chief, I went to her place to get the skinny on the dog and the house for my housesitting stint this week. As we were bbq'ing and drinking beers her dog, Booger, managed to scarf up an entire hot dog from the grill (It was Chief's first time grilling on her own and she hadn't yet learned the lesson that hot dogs roll and must be forked instead of spatulaed from the grill.) Of course, Booger swallowed the dog whole and then, just a few minutes later, started to wretch all over the porch. The puke began to drip through the wooden slats onto the porch below and then ultimately to Moped Guy's porch below that. As Chief was cleaning up, Moped Guy came out from his porch to ask if that was indeed dog puke that was dripping onto his porch. After Chief apologized profusely, and while Booger uploaded another healthy dose of greenish-brown puke, chunky style, Moped Guy got some beer and came up to hang out.

Of course I was a tad nervous. Nervous that my harmless crush would be outed at some point while we were hanging out and then it would just be awkward and uneasy. I don't want to scare the guy away. Hell, I don't even want to go out with the guy...I just want to stare at him for awhile. He's fucking hot.

So, we're hanging out, he's an artist, his whole family is uber-talented (one a photographer, one an engineer, his father a doctor, etc.). We're looking at his older brother's photography online (which was extremely homoerotic I might add) and smoking a spliff. It was all very nice.

We're talking about biking and summer, beaches and what-not. I mention that he could bike up to a great beach on the north shore and he suggests that we bike there together. Panic stricken, I look at Chief for help. She offers nothing. Of course I think it's a great idea, the guy is nice and very interesting. It would be great to hang out more. But I definitely need supervision, for some reason I can't be trusted around really hot latinos. So I suggest we wait for Chief's significant other to get back to town and we can all go together. Moped Guy agrees, but then posits that even if Chief's SO can't go, him and I could still bike to the beach together. He even offers to pack along his tent "just in case...". What the fuck does that mean? He is Venezuelan, but I don't think they sit on the beaches of Venezuela in tents. Do they? Why do we need a tent if we are just biking to the beach? Now I'm nervous, horny and confused. It's like being a teenager all over again.

Well, I start the housesitting in a couple of days, and already Moped Guy and I have plans to get high and watch the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory together. His idea. Even Chief is questioning the guy's sexuality. But not to worry. He's only 20 years old, he's got plenty of time to figure it out.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Roommate Feast

In an attempt to become more healthy, support local agriculture, and do something good for humanity or the environment or something, roommie and I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm this summer. It's quite wonderful. Every week we pick up a new batch of farm fresh veggies--two huge bags full of greens, vegetables, herbs, and more.

Every Wednesday after work I bike over to Cambridge (unfortunately the people on the other side of the river seem to be more supportive of ventures like this, making it the logical choice for the farm's drop-off location) and pick up my share for the week. Then I bike home and spend the evening washing and preparing all the fresh, and usually unidentifyable, veggies. It's great. It's a very relaxing and cathartic activity in the middle of the week, and it makes the kitchen smell like fresh dirt. It's a very organic experience.

It's also been somewhat challenging. After a lengthy haitus from the kitchen and cooking in general, I now find myself in the unique situation of figuring out what the hell to do with things like chard, mustard greens, radicchio, fennel, turnips, and more. I must say, so far I've been wildly successful. I used to be a pretty decent cook--relying on recipes only as a framework for a dish, creatively adding and substituting other ingredients at will. I used to watch alot of Graham Kerr (a television chef) as a kid and some of it stuck...like the part where you don't use cups and spoons to measure ingredients, but your hands and eyes instead.

But upon moving into my current apartment in JP over six years ago, I discovered that I had completely taken kitchen counterspace for granted. My current kitchen has a counter that is 13"x22". That's it. Which made cooking anything very annoying. Since then I have stuck to cooking the standard college faire that I should have abandoned years ago: soup, pasta, grilled cheese (which never goes out of style, no matter now old, mature, culinarily gifted one becomes).
Since joining this farm, I have discovered that although my previous talents have been dormant for the past half-decade or so, they didn't leave me entirely.

Last night, to celebrate the arrival of the newest guest of Hampstead House, Pirgie, (and to use up two weeks of greens and other veggies that were close to expired in the fridge) we cooked a roommate feast that would rival anything Old MacDonald or Graham Kerr could whip up. We feasted upon collard greens with boiled beets, stuffed green peppers, a fresh mixed greens salad, and fennel mashed potatoes. Paired with a glass of Red Truck California Red Wine it was one of the best meals I've ever helped to prepare.

And it's really all due to the CSA, for without our weekly pickups of mysterious farm veggies I never would have even thought to eat fennel, let alone bastardize a home state classic dish--mashed potatoes. I have to say...the fennel was a delicious addition to an American classic.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Breakfast BBQ

The 4th of July is full of tradition. Fireworks, patriotism, not working, BBQs and boat rides. It's a great day, even if you hate America. I have had a tradition for the past 5 years or so of always having a BBQ on the 4th. Big or small, early or late, ever year I've managed to grill something on Independence Day, celebrating the freedom of our country with a hot dog and a can of Schlitz (it's the beer that made Milwaukee famous, you know).

But the last couple of years, competition to host your own BBQ has become quite stiff. It seems like by the time I get my ass in gear to decide to host a BBQ (every year I tell myself that I'm not going to do one and I'll just go to other BBQ's instead and then the weekend of the 4th I break down and call all my friends, which doesn't take long, and invite them over) everyone already has a BBQ to go to. So they can't possibly attend my half-assed, last-minute attempt at roasting up some freedom loving burgers. Also, living in JP, there are so many neighborhood BBQs that I'm invited to that it seems pointless to try to cram my own BBQ into the holiday. So the last couple years, I've gotten creative by hosting my own Breakfast BBQ.

It's perfect really. Start the grill around 10 or 11 in the morning, crack open a can of Schlitz (it's just a kiss of the hops that makes it the perfect breakfast drink) and start preparing one of the best breakfasts ever created. Eggs, sausage, bacon, homefries, fruit salad (not grilled) served with piping hot coffee and kalhua and, of course, mimosas. It's a hit, and by the time you get to the next BBQ you are already half in the bag. What could be better?

This year was probably the best Breakfast BBQ I've hosted (of course, there's only been one other one). It was small, which was entirely my fault. I didn't invite anyone until 10:00 that morning, and I only called two people, so it was my roommies, the whores from upstairs, and a lovely married couple who brought thier adorable dog. I have to say...the food fucking kicked ass! Even Chef, the grillmaster of grillers was so impressed he was nearly speechless. He is still talking about it to this day. (That's FOUR DAYS LATER, folks!) And, it was all over with by 1:30 in the afternoon. Plenty of time to clean up, watch the Red Sox, drink more beer and catch a little nap before the next BBQ.

What a perfect day. If only it could come around more than once a year.