Resolution #10: First clean up messy desk, then redecorate office. But what if the mess is really creative disarray?
Oh, the horror! Citrus-marinated Cuban pork roast, oozing with luscious fat, mounds of white rice and black beans simmered with smoky bacon. Magnums of champagne and other sparklers. Trays of sugar cookies, pans of gingerbread, and don’t forget the chocolate pot(s) de crème, hidden under cumulous towers of whipped cream. Ribbons of tagliatelle, a tree’s worth of pecans, boxes of dark chocolate truffles….
There’s nothing I like better than making lists, and the first Monday of the year is resolution time. Like the rest of the world—does that include you?—I need to lose a few pounds, clean out our exploding closets (or perhaps the entire exploding house), be kinder and gentler to those I love. But I won’t bore you, at least not yet.
I’ve been on the prowl for quirky New Year’s resolutions. I love Nanette Lepore’s simple intention: “More flirting, including with my husband.”
Miguel Syjuco, Filipino author of the critically acclaimed Illustrado, plans to “smoke weed and listen to my vinyls”—which hopefully will make his next novel actually readable. And David Chang says he’s searching for “a new meat for the pork bun….We’re trying to use the leg, but it’s not as fatty and luscious” as the belly. Oh, really?
All these lofty ambitions can be found in “Cultural Resolutions,” (The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2010, pp. D1-D3.) Note to self: Cultivate inner peace by sticking to WSJ’s lifestyle articles. Infuriating editorials make a lively start to the day, but not in a good way.
Now, here are my resolutions for 2011. I’m planning on keeping at least three of them.
1. Be able to zip up skirt of slinky, black and white tweed Piazza Sempione skirt by end of February. Come to think of it, the zipper’s only gone all the way up once in the six years it’s been languishing in my closet. Action plan: no more than four drinks and one latte per week, more vegetables, fewer cookies, actually get on elliptical at gym instead of contemplating it.
2. Cultivate a generous heart: More yoga, daily meditation. But the cosmic loop is driving me crazy. Is it too much to ask for a meditation class without tears or tales of pain and suffering? Can we focus on joy and loving kindness? I know we’re all tied to our destructive behaviour, but could we laugh about it? Sometimes?
3. Resolved (part 1): In 2011, the pantry will no longer be a museum of travel. Just discovered three-year old jar of palm vinegar from Goa with holes eaten by acetic acid fumes into metal screw top. Clear case of criminal neglect. Need to use tangy Turkish zataar, finish half-eaten wildflower honey from Granada, actually open the Australian wattle seed…because more stuff will find its way home this year!
4. Resolved (part 2): Stop treating pantry as end-of the world hedge. Do I really need a pound of Mexican vanilla beans, 23 kinds of salt (seriously!), giant bags of star anise and smoky black Chinese cardamom—just in case? Cease and desist: No more forays to Kalustyans or internet shopping in France...
5. Resolved (part 3): But maybe I actually need a new pantry. Right now it’s the size of a (small) walk-in closet—I figure the new one should be the size of the kitchen, with miles of shelving, a small refrigerator for wet spices and fresh herbs, and a window—or maybe a door?—that opens onto the herb garden. Maybe the kitchen should be the new pantry…
6. Resolved (part 4): This will require the building of a new kitchen, with an eight-foot La Cornue range (continuous grates and a wok station), plus a pastry wing for Serendipity to work her magic when she’s in town. This, naturally, will require a new house—why not in Italy or on the coast of Turkey?
7. Back to earth: Reprogram internet radio. Love its global reach, but am getting a bit tired of Radio Punjab and call-in shows in Moroccan Arabic. This year, I’ll be dream-dancing to music from Turkey, Argentina, France and Madagascar.
8. Get off the beaten path. Paris is always a good idea—I’m a city girl at heart—but in 2011 I want to amble down a few side roads. There’ll surely be an expedition to Buenos Aires for tango and chimichurri salsa, and maybe a few days around Mendoza to taste Malbecs at the source. But I’m also channeling Gazantiep and Antakya in southern Turkey (for amazing spices and vibrant red pepper paste), and of course, Syria is just over the border. Golden ruins of Palmyra and the souks of Damascus beckon.
I'm longing to wander through Indian towns like Coorg and Pondicherry, tea plantations in Darjeeling, remote fortresses in Rajasthan. Hmmm…maybe this is a five year plan...
9. Perfect Indian flatbreads. I really love making Julie Sahni’s fire-roasted chapati and aloo paratha with fragrant potato stuffing, even if I do feel like a blimp after gobbling 7 or 8 of them. If I make them once a week, I might just begin to master the rolling technique. Note to self: Postpone zipping up of Piazza Sempione skirt until 2012.
10. Finish redecorating office. You were spared the painting chronicles of 2010, in which the walls changed color at least four times, causing Lawrence the painter to whimper desperately: “I just want you to be happy.”
Well, the color is a bit odd, a pale cream with an inexplicable greenish tinge, but it’s time to move on. Today I picked up an old file cabinet, newly painted robin's egg blue. On the to do list: Recover my grandmother’s chaise longue in wild pink and orange 1970’s geometric print, hang the camel plates, buy lamp for reading while lolling on chaise, set up a spice “sniffing bar” for inspiration. Photos to come….
And here’s my last resolution, maybe the most important one of all.
11. Do good: Start foundation to save honeybees, devise essay contest for high schoolers to explain how they’d change the world (details required), convince local grade school to plant edible schoolyard and eat what they grow in the cafeteria. Be nicer to husband.
That’s a start. What are your resolutions for 2011?