Americans, the Brits, and a personal story

“The first thing I ever heard about Americans was that they all carried guns.  Then, when I came across people who’d had direct contact with this ferocious-sounding tribe, I learned that they were actually rather friendly.” So begins Geoff Dyer’s letter to his American friends as seen on the New York Times Page.  He goes one to talk about some of the other perceptions of Americans and how they’ve often turned out not to be true, the loud obnoxious American tourist of the stereotype appears to possibly have other reasons has seen from the Dyer’s British perspective.

Granted, these visiting Americans often seem to have loud voices, but on closer examination, it’s a little subtler than that. Americans have no fear of being overheard. Civic life in Britain is predicated on the idea that everyone just about conceals his loathing of everyone else.

This reminds me sort of indirectly of an experience I had in England. I had gone over to work as a youth counselor at the Keswick (pronounced, “kessik”) Convention in the Lake District of northern England the second summer I was in seminary.  Unlike some summer camps, this was a family deal, but there were separate tracks for the kids and the parents.  So a bunch of us counselor types were staying in this sweet 19th century victorian manor house, and there were about 4 of us to a room.  I had met two of my roomies as we were unpacking our stuff and then we were all supposed to go down and hang out and meet the other counselors and get an overview of what was to happen that week.

Well I forgot something, and ran back to the room for a minute.

When I got back to the main floor, there were my two roomies standing in a sort of half-circle configuration with two of the guy counselors.  As I walked up, it was quiet, and I figured I’d walked up to a lull in the conversation.

As neither of the girls moved to introduce me to the guys, I stuck my hand out to the nearest one, and said, “Hi, I’m Anna.” The two guys said their names and shook hands, and then one of my roomies burst out laughing.  “Leave it to the American,” she said, ” to break the ice and start talking.”

They had been standing there, in awkward silence because no one had introduced them.  We laughed, and I introduced the girls to the guys, and we all went on to have a lovely week working together.

A place for everything and…

… for the life of me I can never remember that second part…  “A place for everything and… what?”

Ah well.  My problem isn’t that I don’t have a place for everything.  It’s that I have a place, but then I take it out of the place, and then I put something else in that place, and then I can’t remember if the place is for the first thing or the second thing.  This goes on in my pantry a lot with the rice cooker and the crock pot.

I need some sort of order to work in, so when my work room got cluttered, I decided to move downstairs for a while… now the downstairs is cluttered.

I did a lot of contemplating cleaning today.  If only contemplating were dusting, my house would always be spotless.

And, just because I know you all are dying to know what I had for dinner after last night’s semi-sophisticated entry and all my facebook going on about the duck that I marinated in Cabernet Sauvignon for Christmas dinner, I thought I’d share this pic of tonight’s feast.  Yes, that’s store bought bread and cheap american cheese.  It melts good and tastes yummy.  But the beer is homebrew, part of a sampler some really good friends of ours brought for Christmas.  It has coffee in it. Yummy!  The sandwich didn’t taste as out of focus as the picture looks.  It actually tasted quite in focus.  And I paired it with a Claussen dill spear. (Note the beer is in focus, for all you photog’s out there, I was shooting with a 1.8 lens, hence the extremely shallow depth of field.  I would have fixed it, but I’d already eaten the sandwich 😀 )

Jody had frozen burritos.  Well, he did microwave them first.

Potatoes Anna

I bought a bag of Yukon Gold’s at the grocery store the other day fully intending to create the classic french potato dish known as “pommes anna” or “Anna Potatoes.” The attraction, I believe is obvious.  And, naturally, my kitchen idol Alice Waters has instructions on page 103 of the softcover Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, and thus I was going to launch into the brave new world of foods named for me (nope, not a narcissist, why do you ask?).

But bowing under the heavy weight of many pictures to edit and CD’s to burn, I decided that I’d cut the potatoes into pieces and roast them in the oven drizzled in olive oil, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and rosemary needles sprinkled liberally over the top.  The rosemary is from my very own bush, which, after sort of languishing all summer apparently decided that it likes it colder.  Who knew?

I’m still calling them potatoes Anna though.  My rationale? I’m Anna, and I made a potato dish, so potatoes Anna is whatever the h-e-double toothpicks I decide it is.  (not actual swearing by the way unless you spell it out in your head and then say what you spelled… I was just talking about toothpicks, whatever you see is your problem).

I’m serving them with wild caught salmon, courtesy of Whole Foods.

Jody’s pairing the potatoes with a New York Strip Steak that he grilled in our Le Cruset Grill pan.

and we added a salad of mixed greens with a Roquefort Vinaigrette (only I subbed blue cheese) and plated it looks like this:

And I accompanied all of it with a lovely Yellow Tail Reisling.