Articles by Roz Cummins
Roz Cummins is a food writer who has worked in every possible permutation of food co-op, natural foods store, and granola-type restaurant. She lives in the greater Boston area and feels it is her mission to put the "eco" back in home economy.
My parents were way ahead of the curve when it came to employing Integrated Pest Management for tending their garden. They would send me (henceforth referred to as "the pest") out into the garden to weed, partly to control the weeds and partly to get me out of their hair. The problem was, from my point of view (then and now), I was only four years old.
Some four-year-olds might be able to handle being out in a garden by themselves, but I was not one of them. It wasn't the weeding itself that bothered me -- it offered the same easy satisfaction one enjoys when picking at a scab, something I relished at that age -- and it wasn't the feel of the dirt on my bare knees, although it's true I didn't care for that very much. It was the bugs that got to me. There were so many of them and they were everywhere.
I liked some of them. Ladybugs were acceptable to me and I knew how to pick up earthworms and cut them into two to make two new worms. I have never minded ants (even after watching The Naked Jungle) but I hated, and still hate to this day, flying, stinging insects and spiders.
A few weeks ago I sat down to watch No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain's food and travel show. It was a surreal experience to watch him wend his way through Sweden knowing that he and his camera crew had recently been stranded in Beirut. Indeed, his August 21st show will be devoted to that experience. (He and his crew evacuated safely a few weeks ago.) You can read Bourdain's account of what went on there on Salon.
Meanwhile, back in Sweden, the show included all the sorts of segments one might expect: checking out a herd of reindeer, spending the night in a yurt-like structure somewhere near the Arctic Circle, and going out on the town to see musicians play at a club with a comely Swedish MTV host. (A great deal of the show is dedicated to Bourdain's oft-expressed hatred of Abba.) After he and the young host went clubbing they headed out in search of late-night street food.
At a perfectly normal-looking street-corner establishment they ordered something that Swedes apparently eat all the time (although none of my Swedish friends has ever mentioned it ...), namely a hot dog, shrimp salad, and mashed potatoes served together in some kind of wrap.
"It's so hot that the terrorist alert level has been raised to Gazpacho!" -- David Letterman
Several years ago one of my male friends came up to me at a party, leaned down, and whispered in my ear: "You know, sometimes, late at night, I lie awake and think about your ... gazpacho." This particular scenario might have been slightly less annoying if it hadn't happened so many times already.
There seems to be a very strong soup-sex connection in men's souls. My father had a habit of saying mortifying things at the dinner table whenever a boyfriend of mine was visiting from college, and one night he announced to all present, "You know you're getting old when you lie down at night and find yourself thinking about soup instead of sex."
My mom looked furious (you could always tell when she was furious because her lips pressed together to make a completely flat line), but it was hard to tell exactly why she was upset. There were so many possibilities:
When I lived in North Cambridge in the early 90s, we lost our electricity with depressing regularity during the summer. Suddenly we would be plunged into inky darkness and, with the silencing of fans and air conditioners, radios and TVs, the neighborhood would become eerily quiet, except for one sound. My neighbor had a battery-operated cassette player and, apparently, only one cassette: Madonna's songs from the soundtrack to the movie Dick Tracy. He played it relentlessly, and the tunes wound their way between the houses and down the street until finally even he couldn't take it any more.
Sometimes, in an effort to take our minds off the heat, the darkness, and our neighbor's taste in music, my housemate and I would engage in long, rambling discussions about nothing in particular. One topic we lighted upon was: if forced to choose between the following foods, which would it be?
Round One: tomatoes or chocolate? Round Two: Bread or cake?