Monday, December 27, 2010


My New Year's resolution is to use more pictures in my blog posts.


I would like to talk about some things I have eaten/drunk over the past week.

KA'ICK. For Christmas, I made these Lebanese cookies that have a terribly unappetizing name: Ka'ick. My grandma used to make them every Easter (and Xmas sometimes).

I think they're traditionally an Easter thing, but don't hold me to that. Don't hold me to the fact that they're cookies either. Maybe they're more of an anise bread.

You can shape them into diferent shapes like snails or braids or you can make them like dumplings and stuff them with dates or walnuts and then dip them in rosewater syrup. They're the kind of cookies that taste stale three minutes after they come out of the oven and that only adds to their complex deliciousness. I like unfurling the snail ones and eating them as one long stale snake.

I tried to find a picture to show you the magic that is Ka'ick, but none of the images from Google images looked exactly like the Easter cookies--at least not the ones my grandma used to make:

LAO SZE CHUAN. We ate at LSC after driving home from Indiana after Christmas. LSC is my favorite Chinese restaurant and, hands down, my favorite strip mall restaurant. I was never so happy to see Chicago, and so I made my husband stop in Chinatown so we could detox from being surrounded by familial/familiar people by surrounding ourselves with non-familial/unfamiliar ones.

I was nearly euphoric sitting in Lao Sze Chuan's ridiculously itty bitty transparent chairs, looking out its windows, all fogged up from piping plates of food just on the edible side of spicy.

But why did Lao Sze Chuan replace its normal chairs with those baby chairs?

I'm a little person and I'm complaining. If you are a big(ger) person, it will not be easy for you to stay very long at LSC without your chair possibly ending up inside of your body.

My husband is a big guy. We live in Chicago so he actually gets called "big guy" approximately 180 times each year, as in: "AY DAIR BIG GUY, IS DA JEWELS DOWN BY TURDY TURD STILL OPEN?"

At LSC my husband always looks like a monster stuffed inside a teacup eating a tremendous plate of Mongolian beef.

Perhaps the smaller chairs were a part of LSC's strategy to speed up customer turnover? Good idea, LSC.

MARSHMALLOW EATING REVELATION. I always think, "Oh, look, it's a marshmallow. Cute. I am totally going to eat you." I must have done it 20 times over Christmas.

But why? I really hate marshmallows. I have never eaten one marshmallow that I liked--not even the homemade ones so don't suggest it--and I have decided, as of 15 hours ago, I am never ever again eating another marshmallow. You cannot make me.

Know this: If you sneak up on me as a green coconut-haired monster, I will avert my eyes from yours.



THE VIOLENT ROOM. I always call the Violet Hour either The Violet Room or the Violent Hour or the Violent Room. I always get names wrong. I hate it but that's the way I am and I have come to know and accept myself. See above paragraph about marshmallows. I went to the VH with my friends K and L last night. The VH is too cool to have a sign. In fact, it is too cool to have a door. The outside looks like a giant block-long building-tall piece of kindling.

To get in, you have to walk up and down the block and keep pushing on various parts of the kindling until you feel "give" and once you do, you have to push harder and finally, a secret door will open--thus granting you entry.

Once you are inside, your problems aren't entirely solved, considering you're immediately thrust into the vast darkness of the snooty cave that is the VH's foyer.

If you walk with your hands in front of you, sleepwalker style, your hands may eventually grace a velvet curtain that weighs 200 pounds. If you hang on the curtain and pull back on it with all your weight, it may part--at which point, you will enter a room only slightly more lit than the black entryway you just came out of.

A VH host will be on your right and she will glance up at you like, "What the fuck do you want?" Then you will say, "Hi!" and wave frantically. To which she will respond flatly: "Yes? [eye roll]" At which point you will think, "Now we're cooking!" [Wild internal clapping.]

After some time, you will be seated in a triangular configuration so close to the people you're with, your knees will touch theirs, and then you will order one drink. The waitress will look at you with her stone face and say with no humor: "That will be 15 to 20 minutes."

Then she will turn away and disappear into the darkness without a word more. She will communicate your order to the mixologist. She will come back in 15-20 minutes. Even if she could come back sooner with your drink, she won't. It's the principle of the matter and the VH is all about upholding principles.

I sort of HATE the VH--like an opium addict hates an opium den.

The VH looks like this, if everyone was cleared out and the candles were replaced with floodlights:

This is actually about how dark it is:

THE PARAMOUNT ROOM. After the VH, L and I went to the Paramount Room, which is--just like the sign says--HOME OF THE NINE DOLLAR KOBE BURGER. I like to eat what restaurants are known for, and so I ordered the $9 Kobe burger.

The waitress asked me, "And what kind of cheese do you want? Cheddar, Gorgonzola, American, or Brie?"

"Brie," I said. Doesn't that sound good? Brie on top of a $9 Kobe burger? I thought so.

And she was like, "We don't have Brie."

"Oh, okay," I said. "Cheddar I guess."

Then she walked away and L was like, "Then why'd she say brie? She totally said brie."

I said, "I know, I thought she said Brie, too, that's why I said Brie. I wouldn't have said brie otherwise I don't think."


I love L and this is why we are friends, and I will go as far to say that this is why we, all of us, HAVE friends. That cluster-f of a Brie situation right there.

L didn't have the $9 Kobe burger. It generally really annoys me when people get anything other than what is clearly communicated to be the house specialty, but it didn't annoy me because

1. L had eaten a burger for lunch.
2. L is very loveable in general.

Instead, she had The Cuban. The sandwich was obscene. It was the size of a small dog.

She ate two bites.

During our dinner, we sat at this very booth.

I said something like, "L, you know something, I love your poems, and in fact, that's why we're sitting here right now. Because I Internet-stalked you."

And she said, "I know. I loved it."

CM DINER. Now I am getting ready to eat at the hospital diner at Children's Memorial. It is criminally cheap--especially if you are breastfeeding because the CM diner gives breastfeeders a discount. You don't have to prove it or anything. You just say "I am breastfeeding" and they give it to you.

I am not breastfeeding so I can't get the discount, and anyway, it's not that much of a discount from what I remember, but I suppose it's a nice gesture, better than a punch in the mouth.

One good thing about the CM diner? It sells these giant individual bags of caramel/cheese/butter trio-bundled popcorn made by this tiny Chicago popcorn manufacturer. I'm pretty sure the popcorn by this particular company has been listed by Oprah as one of her Favorite Things.

If the general public knew about this popcorn, they WOULD be hard-core rushing the CM diner. Fortunately for me, the CM diner is a closed club, housed in the basement of the hospital. I am one of the elite and thus, have all-day access to those amazing bags of corn. Even Oprah cannot get into the CM diner. The security here is unmatched. Fame, money, and influence mean nothing to these people. They alone grant access to the CM diner. They alone are the holders of the paper access tags with metal pant clips--only distributed to parents and legitimate and verified visitors. Unless you have a deathly ill kid in your arms, you are not getting anywhere near that popcorn. Go cry your crocodile tears to someone who cares.


  1. I admire -- and almost agree with -- your brave stance against marshmal . . . wait, WHAT? No potato chips?? Now you've lost me.

    My wife's sister makes a fierce homemade marshmallow. But go, go live in darkness if you must. You're right about the rest of them; they're pretty much vile.

    The City of Chicago Bureau of Fire Prevention would no doubt be thrilled to hear the Violet Hour described as "a giant block-long building-tall piece of kindling." I know I was.

  2. Martin!

    I just went downstairs and you will not believe it. THERE IS NO POPCORN OF THE SMALL CHICAGO-BASED MANUFACTURED VARIETY!!! I could not believe it myself. So I went up to the gift shop and checked there. Then I went around to the Cafe in the hospital lobby and checked there. No popcorn . . . EXCEPT FOR ROWS AND ROWS OF SAD CARDBOARD BOXES OF CRACKER JACK!!!

    I smell a corporate-pig faced rat--and that rat SMELLS LIKE THE ASS OF A CRACKER JACK!!!

  3. K,
    IEPs are going okay. I think everything's going to be okay. We'll see next year once they're officially implemented and the placement happens, but i feel alright about it for now. Thanks for asking.

  4. John always gets names wrong too. There's a bar in Norwich called The Harp & Dragon which he always calls The Harp & Altar.

    I've never enjoyed plain potato chips, but flavored chips are delicious. Especially salt & vinegar. Or sour cream & cheddar.

  5. So, how WAS the $9 Kobe burger?

  6. Okay. Not as good as a 15 dollar one at THE PARK GRILL, that's for sure. Also, that restaurant NINE has fancy sliders that are delicious for animal eaters.