What a day! After my Blue Detective debacle of a morning, I waltzed into the city and saw a curious German film—The Strange Little Cat—in a New Directors/New Films press screening at the Museum of Modern Art. Afterward, still halfway in that poker-faced comedy about the life and times of a family kitchen and its pets, I wandered through the museum’s galleries of late 19th-century art, peering over people’s shoulders at Gauguins and Van Goghs and Matisses. What a way to look at such impertinent paintings, now heralded as sacrosanct. I walked down 6th Avenue to Union Square, ogling window displays of buttons and flowers and velvet trimmings, and munching from a little wax paper bag of cashews sold by a kind-faced, doleful-voiced street vendor. As I walked, I thought about how New York is like the kitchen I’d just watched: always changing, always staying the same. I thought about about how, as much as I like Brooklyn, Manhattan’s street smells—hamburgers and onions, hot dogs, pretzels, smoky and sweet nuts, quick gusts of trash and fancy flowers—trump all. And I thought about how alley cats like me—ladies of a certain age, ladies of a certain indestructibility, ladies of a certain scandalous independence—have been clicking in high heels down the city’s avenues for hundreds of years. I hope we always will.
While it is true that, if I did not love New York so much I would remain a conscientious objector to all things winter for the rest of my life, tromping through the snow yesterday to drink tea by a friend’s fireplace certainly conferred a Little Women-style joy. And on the subway later that day, looking around at everyone squeezed into mittens and scarves and hats and big squishy parkas filled me with an unspeakable tenderness. No matter how influential or world-weary or just plain wicked those humans might’ve been in other contexts, in that moment they looked like the innocent kindergarteners we all once were. Behold winter’s timeless, sweet-hearted melancholy.
We’re in the middle of a real cold snap here in New York City, and I’m not happy about it. Though I labor mightily to extract the glamour from all situations this weather leaves me in the lurch. First we had a snowstorm so severe that it forced me to resurrect the Pepto-Bismol pink floor-length parka that is so warm and indestructible that the New Englander in me can never rationalize chucking it. Then the temperature dropped below 10 degrees and I had to make chicken soup with rice. I’ve written of my great affection for soup in the past but chicken soup with rice is no joking matter. Not to be confused with chicken soup with noodles or cockaleekie or even the always-cheering matzoh ball soup, chicken soup with rice is a dish I reserve for the bowels of an ugly winter. I make it with such earnest ingredients as brown rice and organic kale and carrots and garlic and ginger because it is intended as an armor powerful enough to protect the extremities and immune system and, cliché be damned, soul from all those elements raging right outside my windows. Windows that are now steamed up from the stalwart soup simmering on my stove. It is a soup sure to put hair on your chest. Continue Reading →