May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Marcos, my neighbor is probably one of the most interesting people I know. He’s lived in my building the longest, since before the wave of gentrification moving northwards from Chelsea had really taken hold of Hell’s Kitchen. hHs grandparents were Jews during the fall of the Ottoman empire and intended to emigrate to Argentina, they somehow ended up in Cuba. His family was deported to Spain because Marcos’ father helped organize student protests in Santiago de Cuba. France granted his family political asylum, but they eventually ended up in Miami where there was a small community of other “Jewbans.” Marcos grew up speaking  Ladino, a language I just recently learned about from Ms. Horstein’s good friend Celine, who’s writing her dissertation on new Ladino literature at Cal. After running away from home and enrolling himself in the New York public school system with forged documents (procured somewhere near times square, when it was that kind of place) when he was only 15. He’s now married to John and they co-parent a young and brilliant child. I was remarking to O that no one has stories like Marcos’ anymore, well, at least those circles are becoming more and more distant from my personal circle, it seems that these days everyone’s stories amount to little more than a list of (never truly) remarkable achievements.

May 30th (memorial day) saucisson sec, cheese, whole grain bread. whole grain bread with leftover chicken and gravy, family bbq dinner… homemade bbq sauce, pulled pork from a 10lb shoulder i procured from esposito’s (in the oven now), cole slaw, buns.



May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment


This morning I slowly awoke to another little dreamlet— my cat was looking very human and was staring at me with an open faced smile. It got me to thinking about the disturbing photography of Duchenne de Boulogne (who I first learned about from the brilliant Katie Hornstein who was writing a paper about him when we were very tender undergrads) and the busts Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, who had a show at the Neue Gallery a couple of years ago now, that I’m really sad that I missed. They showed this pretty amazing video at the show… which led me back to my favorite Mary (McLeod) lecture on type and character (hence the Lequeu) and of Philippe Duboy’s assertion that Marcel Duchamp had invented the 18th c. Jean-Jacques Lequeu, inserting a fictional piece of France’s suppressed perversion into the national archives with the help of Georges Bataille… but I don’t know if even Duchamp could pull of the kind of genius drawn by Lequeu, then again it would be such a delicious coup for Bataille and Duchamp to plant such an amazing fiction.  ::END OF STREAM OF HISTORICAL CONSCIOUSNESS MISSIVE::

***by the way if anyone wants to be my secret benefactor Duboy’s Lequeu: An Architectural Enigma would be one of those perfect gifts.


May 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

i love central park.

o and i stopped by his parents place and were lucky enough to sneak into their adult picnic in the park with the domes (cornwall family friends). they set up a lovely white table cloth on the picnic tables just north of the sheep’s meadow. nancy made this delicious starter with boquerones, butter and avocado on top of a thinly sliced dark multigrain.

yesterday: last breath of french baguette, a couple of slices of saucisson sec, and a couple of slices with beurre d’isgny butter and fleur de sel topped with little chive flowers from my fire escape garden, chorizo, onions and eggbeaters (gabi left them in my fridge), i have to admit the chorizo was tasty enough that i didn’t even notice. tomato, cheese and bread for lunch, boquerones, various quiches (zucchini and broccoli/cheddar), tuna salad with dill and cranberry, white wine, fruit salad and la duree macarons, morroccan mint tea… cheese and bread with dried pears at mia’s.

today:   chorizo, onions and eggbeaters (had to finish it!), shrimp grits with bacon, stumptown coffee, shared sticky bun at peel’s, picnic: longanisa, pancit, lumpiang shanghai, bonchon chicken, little sesame dumplings, watermelon balls, cosmopolitans? mark bittman’s chicken under a brick – i will swear by this method from now on with a salad and shallot vinaigrette.


May 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Above: the crêpes at breizh café

The recipe below produces 18-20 crêpes

It’s best to let the batter chill overnight, but let it come to room temperature prior to frying them up. And keep stirring the batter as you go while frying since the flour tends to sink to the bottom.

2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons (80 gr) butter, salted or unsalted, melted
1/2 cup (70 gr) buckwheat flour
3/4 cup (105 gr) all-purpose flour (In France, I use type 65)
3 large eggs

(1.)  In a blender, or with a whisk, mix together all the ingredients until smooth. Cover and chill overnight. (2.) To fry the crêpes, remove the batter from the refrigerator about an hour before frying. Stir it briskly; it should be the consistency of heavy cream. (If not, you can add a tablespoon of milk.) (3.)  Heat a 8- to 9-inch skillet on the stovetop. You can use a real crêpe pan that’s been seasoned, but I use a Tefal non-stick skillet which works great. (4.)  Drop a tiny piece of butter or neutral oil in the hot pan and wipe it around with a paper towel. (I only do this for the first crêpe.) (5.) Lift the pan and pour 1/4 cup of the batter in the middle of the hot skillet, swirling the pan to distribute the batter quickly and evenly. The pan shouldn’t be too hot or too cold: the batter should start cooking within a few seconds, giving you just enough time to swirl it. It may take a couple of crêpes for you to get your rhythm. (6.)  After about a minute, run a non-stick spatula around the underside of the rim of the crêpe, then flip the crepe over. I grasp the crepe with my fingers, but you’re not me (…consider yourself lucky!) and I’m not you. So use the spatula if you wish. (7.)  Let the crêpe cook on the flip side for about 30 seconds, then slide it out onto a dinner plate. Repeat, cooking the crepes with the remaining batter, stirring the batter every so often as you go. (8.)  Crêpes should be served warm. To rewarm the crêpes for serving, fold the crepes and put them in a baking dish covered with foil. Heat them in a moderate oven until warmed through.


May 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

1734 Michel-Étienne Turgot, chief of the municipality of Paris as provost of merchants, decided to promote the reputation of Paris for Parisian, provincial or foreign elites by implementing a new plan of the city. He asked Louis Bretez, member of the Academy of Painting and Sculpture and professor of perspective, to draw up the plan of Paris and its suburbs. Turgot was a physiocrat, coming from the Greek, meaning “government of nature” (see M. Foucault’s Security, Territory, Population), thus his plan emphasized not only the city itself, but the agricultural richness around it. Turgot’s idea and those of François Quesnay were the precursors of classical economics. Their influence is reflected in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.

The outburst of plaza design connected with the erection of the monument for Louis XV in Paris can be studied in the wonderfully illustrated book written by Pierre Patte (1723-1814), architect of the Duke of Zweibruecken, and published in Paris 1765, under the title: “Monuments érigés en France à la gloire de Louis XV“. I just found a copy of it on Bookfinder for almost $3000. It was translated into English by one Melissa Calaresu and published as The Vision of the City in Eighteenth-century France.  As you can see, dense areas of Paris were ‘reclaimed’ here for the purpose of clearing area around statues of Louis XV—so that the citizens of Paris could stand in awe of each of the newly placed memorials. Though all concentrated around the center of the city, each of these pieces, remains relatively isolated from one another. In terms of an experience of the city, to move from one monument to the next one would have to dive back into the city of ‘organic’ growth. However, you can also begin to see suggestions of grand axes.


Finally Haussman makes the axes real, above is Haussmann’s paris 1853-1870. We now have the city as a linked and single entity. Here traffic was determined by the view of new monuments. But the boulevards are so wide, the sidewalks so spacious it gives birth to a different kind of viewing—flânerie. I think my favorite description of flânerie, perhaps besides Bauelaire’s own (but it is an unfair comparison) is in Marshall Berman’s Everything is Solid Melts Into Air. In his description we really see how the Haussmann era apartments were really thick façades hiding medieval urban interiors that all empty out into these new wide and leafy streets. The menu peuple, filtered out of the cracks between the facades and finally saw the middle class—who now had honorific entrances to the city—as if they owned the place.


May 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sitting on the coast of hawaii or a place like hawaii, on a grass terrace a couple of meters above the beach, watching an old airplane write the same inscrutable thing across the sky over and over again. I can’t remember what he was writing, but I want to think it was that trumpet symbol in The Crying of Lot 49. It wrote like skywriting used to be done… like (A) not (B)… kind of like when figure skating and calligraphy were still kindred practices (C).


The sun was setting and it ran out of writing vapor so he finished with a gigantic loop da loop (sp?), just grazing the water’s surface, this action in turn caused a series of large waves, so large I started to be frightened, and then out of nowhere a huge air craft carrier not unlike the Intrepid crossed the path of the waves which by that time were so large it almost knocked the tanker over. The wake of the carrier somehow formed an even larger disturbance (of the tacoma narrows type, where the crossing of frequencies somehow creates something unpredictably huge). It all magically mixed and formed a gigantic, slow moving wave that rose so tall it engulfed my field of vision, which made it difficult to judge how far away it was. For some reason I just lied there, sure of my fate and quietly crying but at the moment it made contact with my shoulder, the image of it evaporated, everything turned dark and the darkness turned into the night sky, filled with stars.


May 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

Georges Perec once kept a journal of everything that went into his mouth- no judgment, elaboration or superlatives, only a stripped down description. I’ve attempted this on several occassions, but I’m always amazed at the kind of disciplined consciousness this requires. In any case, I might try again.

May 16 – airplane beef in brown gravy with potatoes and carrots, 2 cups of tea and milk.

May 17 – croissant au buerre, yaourt mûre myrtille in a terra cotta pot, cherries, buckwheat crêpes with crème fraiche, reblochon cheese, lardons and potatoes, dessert crêpe with caramel au beurre salé, little bowl of apple cider, side salad with mustard vinaigrette

May 18 – croissant au beurre, sandwich with saucisson sec and butter, chicken curry with rice, salad with cucumbers and radishes, metwurst, spargel soup, two small glasses of gaffel kölsch, rhubarb soda, pork schnitzel with lingonberry, kids leftover crème brûlée

May 19 – pretzel bread, yogurt, coldcuts, bread with butter and prosciutto, melon ice cream, spargel with hollandaise and prawns, monkfish wrapped in pancetta with sundried tomatoes, potatoes with white truffle butter, prosecco

May 20 – yogurt, pretzel bread, asperge blanche avec jamón iberico, red wine, charcuterie, côte de boeuf (saignant), pork belly, veal kidneys, chocolate mousse with chantilly cream

May 21 – croissant from laurent duchêne (our local MOF), poulet rôti with potatoes, gariguette strawberries, apricots, sips of katie’s rosé, katie’s special cookies, white wine, ramen with corn and butter, bottle of sapporo beer

May 22 – mediocre croissant (laurent duchêne was closed), mettwurst, yogurt, bluefoots, chantrelles and saint something or other (small caps and thin stalks), with asperge sauvage, sauteed in butter and served with slow poached quail eggs, asperge blanche with slices of magret fumé, roasted quail in redwine and cassis reduction, stuffed with butter soaked crutons, dried nectarines and parsley, with potato and parsnip mash, dessert paris brest, passion fruit/ raspberry tart, rhubarb/ raspberry tart, chocolate tart with a caramel au beurre salé bottom.

May 23 – croissant from laurent duchêne, strawberries and tomatoes, faux fillet (á point) and frites, rosé with A.T. Miller and Usman, braised pork cheeks, salad, “le grand moment du chevre,” spring onions slow cooked in butter, salad with grated beets, radishes, parsley, shallot vinaigrette, almond/ milk chocolate magnums.

May 24- croissant…, olives, apricots, cherries, strawberries, terrine de foie gras mi cuit, melted leeks with skate grenobloise, rosé, bonne maman chocolate in a pot and creme brulée.

May 25 – croissant, buckwheat crepe with white asparagus, creme fraiche, egg, gruyere and slices of magret fumé, dessert crepe with fraise gariguette, vanilla ice cream and rhubarb jam, dark wheat bread with butter, charcuterie (duck saucisson, porc saucisson, chorizo and “jamon de bellota”), “the hake” lightly steamed hake with pickled mustard seeds and mustard leaves, buttered croutons, dessert #1: strawberries with chantilly cream and candied buckwheat crepe, dessert #2: strawberry sauce with olive oil ganache and pistachio ice cream, post prandial stroll across pont des arts and 2? bottles of rosé.

May 26 – croissant, macaron au beurre salé, orange blossom flower macaron, cherry mamie nova yogurt, peach mamie nova yogurt, orangina sanguine, lamb tagine and rice and lasagne bolognese salty chicken with spaghetti in tomato sauce, la vache qui rit (in a slightly more spreadable form) with crackers, a couple bites of ham and cheese sandwich, welcome home meal: pam thai shrimp pad thai and duck salad.

septime,  frenchie, (paris by mouth),

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