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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New Bike in My Stable

I’ve had my eye on one of these bikes since I lived in Seattle where all of the bike messengers rode them. Seattle was way too hilly for a single-speed bike, but Valencia is as flat as a pancake and the perfect cityscape for this bike.

My old city bike broke apart from abuse over a year ago and I’ve been making due with just my mountain bike and the city bike-share system. I’ve been looking desperately but used bikes are hard to come by here, or at least at anything resembling a reasonable price. The first requirement for my new city bike was that it had to fit in my elevator, something that excluded about ninety percent of the bikes designed for city use.

This thing fits comfortably in my elevator and it is a total blast to ride. It’s so light and fast that it feels like I’m piloting a glider. I think that reason that I’ve never been interested in learning to fly a plane is that I’ve always found biking to be such a thrill.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Thanks for Nothing?

A friend gave me a huge bag of cherries fresh off the tree in their village. A nice gift, right? You’re not looking at a bowl of cherries, but a bowl of cherries that I have painstakingly pitted. I’m not sure how long it took, exactly, but in dog years the family pet wouldn’t have made it to the end. It was more work than assembling a piece of furniture from IKEA, which should be the measure of all labor on the planet.

For years I have been trying to imitate a dish I used to order in a Seattle restaurant. As far as I can remember, it was chicken with cherries, vinegar, and rye seeds. I don’t think that I have ever really pulled it off in the many times I’ve tried to conjure up this dish in my kitchen. I’m too far removed from that restaurant in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle to be able to pull off a counterfeit, but I did make a pretty tasty dish last night.

The red wine vinegar is crucial in this dish. I don’t really know why, but if I had to venture a guess it would be to counteract the sweetness of the cherries. I also cooked this with a full head of cabbage, a couple of onions, and a cup of red wine.

I first began by roasting the back side of a whole chicken in the over. On the stove top I sautéed the onions in a bit of oil then added the cabbage and cherries with the wine and cooked this down. I added the vinegar to taste towards the end. When the bottom side of the chicken was cooked I took it out and placed it on top of the vegetable mixture and put it back in the oven to cook the top side.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Anthony Bourdain 1956 - 2018 (Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961)

I had never made the comparison before this morning. It only came to me after spending a couple of hours trying to wrap my head around his suicide. Now I see it clearly that Anthony Bourdain was the Hemingway of the TV generation. I don’t even know how or why this thought occurred to me. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that they were both famous and famous travelers. They both seemed to have it all when they gave it all up.

There are a few parallels I didn’t consider, like the fact that they both took their lives just before reaching their 62nd birthday (Hemingway: July 21 1899 – July 2, 1961 * Bourdain: June 25, 1956 – June 8, 2018). I don’t know, but I would imagine that they were both tortured by depression, a condition that I couldn’t imagine.

I’m sure that countless people have thought to themselves, “I wish I had his job.” That honestly never passed my mind, because I could have never done it as well as Anthony Bourdain did his job on TV for so many years.

I’ve been a huge fan of travel writing since back before I had ever traveled anywhere. Two of my favorites, Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson, are colossal whiners and I wouldn’t care to share a train carriage, canoe, tandem bicycle, rickshaw, or a car with either one of them, not even for the shortest of treks. Anthony Bourdain was probably the life of the party wherever he happened to be that day. I wish that I could have hung out with him to have a beer and some cheap food, like our coolest president was able to do in the above photo.

So not only will I never get that chance, I'm also denied the pleasure of following him around to places I've never even dreamed of visiting. Adiós, Anthony Bourdain. 

When the comments are better than my essay:

Tony Bourdain outlived Hemingway by at least a day, and probably more. But it was a close thing. It's easier to figure because both got 15, not 16 leap days. Hemingway because 1900 wasn't a leap year, and Tony because he wasn't yet born in Feb. 1956. So count back 19 days from the birthday for Hem. He was born about 8 AM and died early in the morning, so he got an almost even number of days. Tony was born about 8:30 AM in NYC, so you count back 19 days and get that time on June 6, or 1:30 PM in France. But Tony made it at least to the next day after 1:30, because they finished shooting work that day. Then he went back to his hotel and was never seen alive again, being found the next AM about 9:30. So Tony gets the extra day and then some. A small victory. "Life breaks everybody, and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those it cannot break, it kills."