I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING

Jane and Michael Stern drive around America looking for good food.

And they write books so that we can find it, too. Over forty books, at last count. They also do a weekly spot on The Splendid Table.  I listen to the podcasts as I run past the cows, cornfield and hawk’s nest, then loop back on the woods trail near the marsh. The podcast is almost always long enough for my route. Some days, though, I shave a few minutes off my usual time and have what NPR calls a driveway moment.

Yesterday I dug into the archives. The Sterns never disappoint.  The show was from last summer. The topic: homemade ice cream at Bishop’s in Littleton, New Hampshire.………………………………………

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Specifically, a classic Yankee favorite ~ Grape-Nuts ice cream.

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Michael tells me that Bishop’s is featured in their recent book, 500 Things To Eat Before It’s Too Late and the Very Best Places to Eat Them. And then I get ‘a taste’  ~ Jane describes the little nubs of cereal softened to grainy bits, stirred into a smooth ivory custard.  She has a way with words, that Jane.

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But what really impresses me about Jane is that she is more than just the sum of her foodie parts. She is the kind of writer that makes you laugh, sigh and wince.

In Jane’s memoir, Ambulance Girl, she digs deep, is painfully honest and leaves plenty of skin on the sidewalk.  Abigail Thomas says a memoirist needs to find a jumping- off point and Jane finds her way in through the side door ~ her job as an EMT.  Thomas says that writing is the way she grounds herself and it’s what keeps her sane. Jane makes sense of her battle with profound depression and isolating phobias.  And she does it from the back of an ambulance. In the ordinary living room of her life, Jane writes for Gourmet magazine.  But in the home of a sick stranger, she’s the Ambulance Girl.  Now that’s a driveway moment.

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I adore Jane Stern –she has guts.  And she’s not afraid to spill them.

I also adore her food writing.  The Littleton podcast reminded me of My Very Own Diner Moment.

Remember ducktails and bobby-sox?  You can read it on Toni’s page.  Bet you’ll have a Foodie Moment of Your Very Own.

Hey, why not share it with us?

Toni

MKP-1, ANGELINA ZOOMA ZOOMA AND A JERSEY GIRL

Girl With a Pearl Earring (1665), considered a...
Image via Wikipedia

Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, recently had a birthday.  (I didn’t get her anything, did you?)   But our Tracy is no Material Girl.  As a matter of fact, she gave something to me ~

Twelve Words.

“Don’t write about what you know – write about what you’re interested in.”

Wise advice from the woman who researched and wrote a novel in just eight months so that she could be present, literally and figuratively, for the birth of her child.  Wise advice for the Desperate Housescribes, a clutch of news junkies besieged by intriguing headlines in newspapers, e-zines and blogs. Wise advice because it jumpstarts ideas, creates a network of thoughts and makes connections all over the place. Tracy showed us how. She linked the art history world, Johannes Vermeer and the mysterious girl in the painting.

So here’s my latest link-up:  MKP-1, Angelina Zooma Zooma and A Jersey Girl.

Red Work Hand Embroidery Deer Mouse
Image by Bascom Hogue via Flickr

MKP-1 is the new darling of Yale researchers. They have identified this gene as a possible culprit for depression. The study says that MKP-1 may even be the primary cause of this debilitating condition. The next step is to see if the findings can lead to a medication that will inhibit this gene. (I wonder, will mice be involved?)

But then, I think, what about the just ordinary blues? those dark-day-down-in-the-dumps-feelings? What lifts the spirit then?  What works for you?

For me, it’s music.  I Sing.  Loud.  And in Italian.  Try it.  Sing along with Louie Prima.  The lyrics are below. You’ll be smiling before you reach the zuppa.

Lyrics to Angelina – Zooma Zooma
I eat antipasta twice
just because she is so nice
Angelina
Angelina
the waitress at the pizzeria

I eat zuppa and minestrone
just to be with her alone
Angelina
Angelina
the waitress at the pizzeria

Ti voglio bene
Angelina I adore you
Ti voglio bene
Angelina I live for you
E un passione
You have set my heart on fire
But Angelina
never listens to my song

I eat antipasta twice
just because she is so nice
Angelina
Angelina
the waitress at the pizzeria

If she’ll be a my cara mia
then I’ll join in matrimony
with a girl who serves spumoni
and Angelina will be mine

C’e’ la luna ‘n mezzo ‘u mare
Mamma mia me maritari
Figghia mia a cu te dari?
Mamma mia pensaci tu
Si ci dugnu li musicanti
iddu va, iddu veni
sempre lu strumento ne manu teni
Si ci pigghia ‘a fantasia
lu strumento a figghia mia

O mamma, zooma zooma baccala
O mamma, zooma zooma baccala
o mamma, zooma zooma baccala
zooma zooma zooma zooma
zooma baccala

C’e’ la luna ‘n mezzo ‘u mare
Mamma mia me maritari
Figghia mia a cu te dari?
Mamma mia pensaci tu
Si ci dugnu pisciaiolu
iddu va, iddu veni
sempre baccala ne manu teni
Si ci pigghia ‘a fantasia
baccala a figghia mia

O mamma…

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Singing in Italian reminds me of my Aunt Phil from Jersey.

Come meet her on Toni’s Page.

She was a heck of a bookie.

Ciao, Amici!

Toni

GIVE ME YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR, YOUR PIANO PLAYERS YEARNING TO PERFORM

 

Play Me, I’m Yours  

It’s summer in New York.  And on the streets of the city, sixty upright pianos, painted in coats of many colors by talented artists, sit on sidewalks and street corners for anyone to play.  Above the din of buses, taxis, and cars, 5,280 keys turn public spaces into cabarets. I always have the urge, whenever I see a piano, to play it.   And, there, on the terrace of the New York Public Library, I do.

Christo had The Gates.  Olafur Eliasson had The Waterfalls.  Luke Jerram has The Street Pianos. (http://www.lukejerram.com/biography)  The Street Pianos Project was born in a Laundromat where Jerram saw that people pretty much kept to themselves.

Jerram doesn’t read music or see color, but he clearly relishes a blank canvas.  He says, “ The pianos are out there to activate the public space for everyone’s creativity. I thought, well, maybe putting a piano into a space like that would shake things up and would act as a catalyst for conversation. So far, it seems to be working. It turns ordinary people like me into street performers, and that’s magical.” 

He’s right, it IS magical.  And this is not just for the Chopsticks crowd. You can see some YouTube gems at www.streetpianos.com/nyc2010 and read stories of how people connect around a keyboard.  Like the two in Sydney who met at the piano and then got married.  Here is Public Art that actually engages the Public in the making of Art.  And, in this case, Music – a local cop belts out raucous tunes, the CVS cashier plays a soulful rendition of As Time Goes By –   all under the watchful eyes of the “designated buddies” who lock, unlock and cover the pianos daily and the piano tuner who favors hazelnut gelato.

Jerram started bringing scores of pianos to skate parks, squares, zoos and bridges, ferries, plazas, bus shelters and post offices in 2008.  He put 167 pianos in nine cities including London, Birmingham, Sao Paolo, Sydney and Barcelona. New York is his first and largest installation. More are coming to the US later this year.  Look for them in Cincinnati, San Jose and Grand Rapids. They will be donated to schools and hospitals by the nonprofit group Sing for Hope in an effort to keep the playing and community-building alive. 

NYC hosted my anniversary celebration in a big way – a boat trip around Manhattan, a night at the theater with the cast of Memphis, dinner at Lydia Bastianich’s Becco, gelato on Mulberry Street, a Vodka Watermelonade and popcorn in Bryant Park, a look at the Declaration of Independence in Thomas Jefferson’s own hand, rare Picassos at the Met, even a very happy Parade.

I play the piano at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue in between Patience and Fortitude, the famous stone lions named by Fiorello La Guardia. (He named them after the qualities he thought essential for the citizens of New York in the throes of the Depression.) The song I play is For Your Love.  My Big Handsome Guy takes pictures and is an all-around Good Sport. One day we walk up to 96th street, the next down to Canal, wending our way through Parks and Squares in search of yet another piano. As we wander, I finger my wedding ring, etched inside with Peace 6-26-70 and worn to a soft patina.  And I think about Luke Jerram, how he etched his marriage proposal on the outside of his wife’s ring so that she can play it back using a miniature record player anytime she wants.  Thanks, Luke Jerram, for sharing your creative genius with the rest of us.

So, what would you play if you stumbled upon a piano on your corner?

                                                                        

Leave us a comment. We’re all ears.

Mazel Tov, as we say in New York.

Toni  7/24