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KarenResta
NYC
Recent Activity
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I didn't want the day to end. I didn't want to cook. I did want to eat. I wanted to be everywhere in the world all at the same time, at tables with fine linen and guttering candles, or laying on a wood-slatted floor on fat red silk pillows. I wanted foods I'd never had, for a celebration not my own. And so it was. I stayed up late that night, my eyes intent on my flickering phone screen, determined to find the best ten photos on Instagram of traditional Chinese New Year food this year, 2016. Chinese New Year The dragon is in the street dancing beneath windows pasted with colored squares, past the man who leans into the phone booth’s red pagoda, past crates of doves and roosters veiled until dawn. Fireworks complicate the streets with sulphur as people exchange gold and silver foil, money to appease ghosts who linger, needy even in death. I am almost invisible. Hands could pass through me effortlessly. This is how it is to be so alien that my name falls from me, grows untranslatable as the shop signs, the odors of ginseng and black fungus that idle in the stairwell, the corridor where the doors are blue months ajar. Hands gesture in the smoke, the partial moon of a face. For hours the soft numeric click of mah-jongg tiles drifts down the hallway where languid Mai trails her musk of sex and narcotics. There is no grief in this, only the old year consuming itself, the door knob blazing in my hand beneath the lightbulb’s electric jewel. Between voices and fireworks wind works bricks to dust—hush, hush— no language I want to learn. I can touch the sill worn by hands I’ll never know in this room with its low table where I brew chrysanthemum tea. The sign for Jade Palace sheds green corollas on the floor. It’s dangerous to stand here in the chastening glow, darkening my eyes in the mirror with the gulf of the rest of my life widening away from me, waiting for the man I married to pass beneath the sign of the building, to climb the five flights and say his Chinese name for me. He’ll rise up out of the puzzling streets where men pass bottles of rice liquor, where the new year is liquor, the black bottle the whole district is waiting for, like some benevolent arrest—the moment when men and women turn to each other and dissolve each bad bet, every sly mischance, the dalliance of hands. They turn in lamplight the way I turn now. Wai Min is in the doorway. He brings fish. He brings lotus root. He brings me ghost money. -Lynda Hull from Poetry Foundation Karen Resta recent writings are at Lucky Peach, The Danforth Review, The Best American Poetry Blog and The Red Rose Review. She has bright yellow hair and lives in deep Brooklyn. Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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The almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:5-7 If a golden bowl exists in the form of a food, then surely that food must be soup. For in... Continue reading
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The September wagashi often takes the form of a chrysanthemum, otherwise known as 'kiku'. The fragrance of the flower offers the idea of eternal life and youth. There is a cat - there is always a cat - who also represents the idea of eternal life and youth, and it is to this cat we will offer our wagashi today. To Puss in Boots! Looks like the dear fellow has taken a nap in the autumn field after his wagashi. Smart cat. Continue reading
On September 11th the school secretary pointed to her computer screen as I stood there after dropping off my children that morning at the small rural elementary school. The children were then in Kindergarten and Second Grade. An airplane flew into the side of the World Trade Center as I watched the screen. It didn't seem real. The words that came out of my mouth will probably shock you. "Just another day in New York," I said, and turned to walk out of the office to go home. "Just another day in New York" meant a lot of things to... Continue reading
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Why is a photograph of apples with pretty droplets of water topping a post about a Louisiana fruit curry sauce? It's just a way of settin' the scene, darlins. You have to set the scene whenever you put out the food, and this was the best picture I could take of what goes into my sauce. I tried other things. There was the photo I took of the sauce itself in a glass bowl which looked like a murky tomato soup. Then there was the photo where I decided the scene should take on a bit of a 'Gone With... Continue reading
A pale white book sat snugly in between the garish bindings of the other old discarded books in the middle of the cheap folding table at the library book sale. It was a fat book, a wide book, a solid book. The Gold Cookbook was its name. I wedged it out and opened the cover to take a look. And I was stunned. Beverages, Eggs, Fish, Meats, Poultry, Why Go On for this book was a treasure chest. For the space of 1176 pages the book was filled with 2462 recipes - and each one of those recipes looked like... Continue reading
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It's Sunday. Since I'm mostly surrounded by Christians, naturally I'm thinking of religion this morning. I lack a church but my mind is a cathedral of a certain sort. Like most places of religion my cathedral is full of inside jokes, it is touched by attempts to rise above the banal and the everyday, it is built stone by stone upon my beliefs of what is sacred. There is also the usual infighting among the postulants and paltry attempts to survive the mass without sneezing or falling asleep. As I sit in the pews today I'm trying to focus on... Continue reading
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The search for meaning in life can take one to some funny places. There are days when the Art one practices along with the Muse herself may both turn against you! Take today, for example. Today was set for my next excursion into the meaning of fish and life through the medium of hats. This is not mere fashion (though fashion exists within it) and certainly not frippery. Today the nature of a King was going to be explored - most specifically the King Crab. My goal was to allow the King to express himself. This is no easy task,... Continue reading
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Love Among the Chickens, Wodehouse The Egg and I, MacDonald Robert Frost Farm-Poultryman ROBERT FROST: Farm-Poultryman The story of Robert Frost's career as a breeder and fancier of hens & the texts of eleven long-forgotten prose contributions by the poet, which appeared in two New England poultry journals in, 1903-05, during his years of farming at Derry, New Hampshire Edited by EDWARD CONNERY LATHEM & LAWRANCE THOMPSON Dartmouth Publications HANOVER · NEW HAMPSHIRE · 1963 -3- Questia Media America, Inc. www.questia.com Publication Information: Book Title: Robert Frost: Farm-Poultryman; the Story of Robert Frost's Career as a Breeder and Fancier of... Continue reading
Each one of these books left my shelves at one point or another, due to moving here or there hither and yon and not being able to carry all the books along - or from winnowing with the thought 'I never ever use this book'. And yet somehow I've bought the same books again, at book sales when they appear before me. 1. Food for the Emperor by John D. Keys - A cute little book with recipes not overwrought and overextended. A simple collection of Chinese recipes yet somehow chosen with a deft touch towards some of the more... Continue reading
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I've been thinking about cookbooks lately. That's nothing unusual because I like to look at cookbooks the same way some women like looking at shoes. I like to look at shoes too, but if you asked me: Do you want to buy shoes? Or do you want to buy cookbooks? My answer would be cookbooks. This is not from lack of wanting to be stylish, but seriously - with a few really excellent pairs of shoes one can get through life. And this is not so, with cookbooks. With cookbooks one needs lots. More and more. From the library, from... Continue reading
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Kasha's been on my mind lately. That's natural, since autumn's almost here and the time for deep nutty things has come. Well of course to my mind it's always the time for deep nutty things but when the air seems to hint at briskness and gray rains, I also want to eat deep nutty things. So kasha is the way to go. Kasha is made from buckwheat - which is pictured above. Kasha itself is not such a gorgeous thing to take a picture of, so staring at the whole grain is probably a better idea. When I think of... Continue reading
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Fruit cocktail is a 'nothing' kind of food. Lots of people think it sucks. Yet in ways it is an Ethical Food. What is an Ethical Food? Why of course it is a food that fits whatever code of ethics you choose to embrace. But if you don't want to have to worry about it too very much, it is very easy to find a code of ethics to follow about food simply by googling the term Ethical Food and there will be things online you can read, swallow, and repeat. How to figure out what to think about fruit... Continue reading
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Glory be to God for dappled things - For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firewood chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pieced - fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him. Ingredients (found in poem) Well-marbled steak (brindled cow) Waterchestnuts (chestnut falls) Golden chanterelle mushrooms (finches' wings) Pear (whatever is freckled) Chili-Tamarind Sauce (sweet, sour)... Continue reading
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Just around this time last year I was talking about the pickles my grandmother used to make. My claim was that you wouldn't often find these pickles unless you lived in Maine and maybe not even then. These are some odd pickles indeed. But the odd can sometimes be favored by being delightful, and that's how I feel about these pickles. I made some, to demonstrate my fine feeling towards them. This is the pickling liquid you start with. Fabulous color, no? Obviously it is pretty seriously mustard-y. Here are the cute little cucumbers cuddled nicely into the pickle jar... Continue reading
Here's a photo taken on a farm one hundred years ago.What do you think is being picked? And can you guess the age of the picker? Continue reading
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What, you may wonder - is this? Women in long dresses and aprons, looking industrious though perhaps not so cheery. I came across this photo while browsing and it stopped me short. 'Cooking Classes' it said. Cooking classes? Why, this looked nothing like the somewhat ecstatic always hungry for knowledge cooking class atmosphere I've seen photos of here and there. But of course cooking has not always been cooking in the same ways to people. It has felt different to various people in various times and places.This photo is of a cooking class offered by a cotton mill in Greensboro,... Continue reading
I don't think about gnomes much. Except, of course, when faced by them. They are tricky little beings who seem to inspire trust by their blandishments of just being a little statue alongside the road or placed next to someone else's house. But of course a gnome is nothing as simple as that. At the least, gnomes are mischievous - and at the worst they meddle in the doings of others while being circumspect. Gnomes are the embodiment of the passive-aggressive personality. Gnomes feed on a blend of sour grapes and holy wafers (the one grown, the other purchased and... Continue reading
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I'd written a great long thing about isinglass. It had multiple links, three images and lots of quotes.Then wooooof! It disappeared into a nothingness in one idiotic click of my finger. I blame the entire thing on gnomes for that is the one thing that makes their probable existence worthwhile!So quickly I'll relate to you the further story of what I discovered about isinglass-making. After making isinglass from sturgeon and other fish for some number of years a guy named Swinborne decided that the stuff stunk and wasn't that great. He decided to make isinglass from hides instead, and produced... Continue reading
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There's nothing big bold and sweeping about isinglass. Isinglass is a small thing, a quiet thing. What startling delicacy the white sparkles hold! And how do they do that, starting their lives as the quite indelicate inside guts of fish? That those delicate snowflake-like bits are to become the glue which makes a thin liquid stand up into an architectural shape - well! I really like this small quiet thing! If this is not to be a fish tale, the guts had better be looked at. And so, here they are That's what I'm talkin' about. I need that air... Continue reading
I started having a thing for the idea of isinglass a few weeks ago. It happened suddenly. The idea seized me and would not let go. I remember the exact moment it happened - it was while reading one of The Old Foodie's posts and isinglass was an ingredient mentioned in one of the recipes. This has happened before. I used to have a thing for ambergris. I still do, really, but have not found a way to find an old-fashioned whaling ship to set out to sea to find some (and this is aside from the fact that no... Continue reading
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A few days ago the words 'pig-sticking' came into my mind. It was as if the goddess of wonderful phrases had placed the words there to muse over. So naturally I got my happy feet on to go exploring among the pig-sticking ways. Pig-sticking is a form of hunting pigs or hogs. It is not much done anymore since hunting with firearms is more effective for most hunters out of practice with pig-sticking ways. Likely it is more in the category of sport hunting than the other kind where the meat is desired more than the glory (or at the... Continue reading
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Ferran Adria. I'm trying to see him as a woman.I'm trying to see him as a woman to see if the things that have made him the most influential and creative chef in the world today (in the minds of many) could be done by a woman.What are those things? If it were to be written as a recipe, I would write the name of the recipe as 'Playing With Your Food'.The ingredient list would include artistry, genius of a sort, impeccable taste, knowledge of marketplace, and a certain aggression (shown most in the idea of writing a 'manifesto'). Could... Continue reading