Not Relaxing in Baden-Baden

“You can’t work,” pronounced The One as he leaned on his suitcase to close it. “Plain and simple.”

That was the directive delivered to me from on high a couple weeks ago on the very eve of our trip to the legendary spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany—and it wasn’t an unreasonable one. The last time The One and I were scheduled to vacation there with our friends Matty and Janet, I had to cancel the night before. While they winged it to Germany in business class, I was mired in work at home. Besides, how many times have I left the poor guy sitting at the table, alone with his dinner, while I hunched over my computer, every once in a while shouting, “Just a few more seconds, Mon Cher! Promise…”

While I couldn’t give up work entirely cold turkey—I had to do something—I did push away from the computer far more that week than I have in years. Lest you think it was for the baths–those ancient springs that purportedly have healing and life-giving properties–think again. How could I–someone as overcranked and ADD as I–sit in those pools for hours on end, like Matty, and not go stir-crazy? (He clocked an average of six hours a day in the baths. His overly tanned, 71-year-old skin looks like Gucci crocodile loafers when he finally deigns to exit the waters.) During my first dunk, I was so fidgety, so preoccupied with mentally playing out how I could bitch slap Mark Zuckerberg right out of Facebook and make it my own, that I could have created a tsunami. Read more »

Gritsapalooza 2013

It’s been a little more than a month since we converged on the city of Charleston, South Carolina, for our very first LC gathering. By “we,” I mean a couple dozen devoted LC recipe testers, Beth Price, our director of recipe testing, and Renee Schettler Rossi, our editor-in-chief, and me. We’d dubbed the weekend Gritsapalooza, figuring it only fitting given the locale. (We’re actually thinking of ‘palooza-izing all of our future meetups. Boston: Chowdapalooza; New Orleans: Beignetapalooza; Kansas City: Barbecueapalooza. You get the idea.)

But I gotta be honest. In all the months we spent planning this par-tay in response to testers’ requests for some face time with Fatty Daddy, I had no inkling how it would go. I mean, it was tantamount to a big blind date. We were inviting strangers—people who knew one another only via the comments they’d shared on our recipes and via social media—to come hang with us for three days and asking them to play nicely. And that’s exactly what they did. Well, for the most part. Thanks to sufficient liquor flowing to lube the wheels of social interaction, things remained quite civil, despite a couple of teensy skirmishes. (You know who you are—and so do I. Fatty Daddy sees all, knows all. Don’t you forget it.) Read more »

The Walls Are Falling Down Around Me

Gloria Swanson

For a moment there, I felt like Gloria Swanson in that famous 1960 Life magazine photo (above), in which she stood grand and tall in her dotage amid the rubbled remains of the Roxy Theatre in New York City. (We’re talking the same theater that opened in 1927 featuring Swanson in the silent flick The Love of Sunya.) The reason for my almost mistaking myself for her doppelgänger? My Connecticut kitchen is about to be demolished—stripped bare to the dry wall—to make way for a sleek stainless-steel emporium brimming with KitchenAid appliances, custom wooden cabinets, Chroma countertops, and a bill so huge, I’ll likely have to cash in my IRA. Read more »

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