If I had to live my life again and pick a new career, I think I’d become a veterinarian. My love for animals is matched only by my passion for writing and cooking. (And on those days when my baking mojo has rudely taken its leave or the only thing I’ve written in days is my mortgage check, I think my love for animals far exceeds the others.)
Of course, every ounce of that love has been poured into all the creatures I’ve had the joy to parent–my three turtles; two parakeets; 11 rabbits; two tanks full of fish; my dogs, Duke and Rusty; our cats Ariadne, Madame Maxine, Raja, Chloe (below left and right), and, now, the most magnificent of all, Devil Cat (above). Read more “Are You Causing Your Cat Whisker Stress at Dinner?”
There’s nothing remotely Southern about me. I can’t name the capital of Virginia. I have no idea whether Lee or Grant led the Confederate troops into battle (although I do know who won the war). And for the life of me, I simply don’t get the concept of boiled peanuts. For years my only primer to Southern society and mores was Gone With the Wind, Steel Magnolias, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I have, when in a mischievous mood, borrowed from Scarlett O’Hara, that great screen goddess, when entertaining. See, our house in Roxbury has four big columns in front. It looks more like a home from the lower half of the Mason-Dixon Line than anything remotely in keeping with Connecticut’s clapboard colonial sameness. When we’re expecting guests with resilient senses of humor and hearty constitutions, I don my big floppy gardening hat, sit coyly on the front stairs, doing my best Scarlett to no one in particular. Vivien Leigh won an Oscar for her captivating ways. I’m usually awarded a chorus line of shaking heads and pitiful looks as everyone steps over me on their way inside.
Bottom line, nary was there ever a gay man more in need of schooling in True Southern hospitality.
Originally published December 24, 2003.
I’ve been a haunted man for 13 years, and I place the blame squarely on Tiny Tim’s crooked little shoulders. It was December 1990, and I had just finished rereading A Christmas Carol. Inspired by Tiny’s exultant prayer, “God bless us every one,” I decided that I, too, would have a proper Christmas dinner. The next day I marched into my local butcher shop in Brooklyn and ordered a goose. Luigi, a short, rotund man who had to stand on a milk crate to talk to his customers, leaned over the meat case and cocked an eyebrow: “Have you ever made a goose before?”
“Puh-lease,” I replied, even though the only experience I had cooking fowl was microwaving Swanson turkey dinners. “Plenty of times.”
“What size do you want?” he asked, obviously trying to entrap me. But I outwitted him.
“Oh, the usual.”
When I returned several days later to collect my bird, Luigi instructed me in the ways of goose cookery. While he babbled on about something to do with pricking the skin and draining the fat, I imagined myself parading into the dining room with a bird so splendiferous, my guests couldn’t help but break into a chorus of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Read more “The Goose of Christmas Past”