Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Feed Me, Suitcase. Feed Me All Night Long.

I'm back! After a delightfully long weekend in the most international city I have ever been to, I have returned to overcast(???) LA and my lovely computer. Oh my gawd I missed my computer. And my Internet connection. And Veronica Mars. But it's all better now, my world is right-side up and I am home.

I have so much to write. I think I'm going to have to do it in installments so I can cover it all. But I will start with the plane ride home, because it is still fresh in my mind.

As I made my way to what felt like the very last gate of the very last terminal at JFK, I was sad. I didn't want to leave the bustling city of food and culture that I didn't realize I'd become accustomed to in just six days. Now that I'm home, I'm wondering what that silly chirping is outside my apartment. And the lone car driving by not honking its horn is beginning to worry me. Am I in heaven? But I digress. Arriving at the gate, I plopped down wearily on the bright green leather seats against the wall in the bizarrely modern terminal. There were many comatose passengers draped over the other flourescent seats, most of them reading or listening to their iPods to pass the time until we could board. Then a couple pulled in and settled next to me on the bench seating. The woman lifted a heavy suitcase onto the couch and opened it to reveal a bevy of delights. Her suitcase was filled, entirely and completely, with bounty from Zabar's. I think I waited twelve seconds before commenting.

"Is that filled with food?" I questioned.
"It's all from Zabar's!" She exclaimed. "Have you been? Would you like some?"
"Oh, no thanks. I'm impressed, though. A whole suitcase. I love Zabar's."
"I know. I'm not sure what happened to all the clothes. I think they're dirty."

I laughed. And thus began our conversation. For thirty minutes we talked about food. Food in New York. Food in LA. Food in San Francisco. They had never been to San Francisco! I told them it was a pilgrimage any respectable foodie must make. I instructed them to change their travel plans for SF, deplane, and head directly for the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, perhaps stopping to pick up their checked luggage if it meant enough to them. Seeing as they had a suitcase full of Zabar's, perhaps they could just dump the rest of the clothes at a shelter and bring the empty food-transportation vessel instead. They wanted more. As it turned out, they would be heading to San Francisco in a few short months, and they wanted food recommendations. We oohed and ahhed about the best places to visit during their short 3-day stay, and we settled on Gary Danko, Slanted Door, and Delfina for dinner. Breakfast at Miss Millie's and Tartine, lunch at Pizzetta 211, and dessert at Mitchell's for their deep dark Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream. That would give them a lovely overview of the city, I told them. And on their next trip, they could delve into the foodie underbelly, the little places, the secret spots that everyone talks about, but no one dares give away. Okay, that's me waxing poetic. These were top shelf folks. I don't think they'll be gracing the steps of any of the secret spots anytime soon. But I will, if I can help it.

Once we actually boarded the plane—they sat in First Class, I mooooved back to Economy—our conversation was over, but I was consumed by thoughts of food. Happily, I cracked open my book, The Man Who Ate Everything, by Jeffrey Steingarten, and dove into some of the best food writing I've ever read. I will write about Mr. Steingarten again, rest assured, but until then, if you are curious, go immediately to the bookstore and buy his books. The other one is titled, It Must Have Been Something I Ate, and I assure you that you will savor every morsel of his delightful prose. As I was enjoying his essay on Ice Cream, who should turn up but my First Class food friend. She wanted to get the names of the restaurants I'd mentioned so she could make sure to go when they were in SF. During the course of our previous conversation, I'd told her about my family's deli and bakery in LA. Being a native Angeleno, and from the Valley to boot, she said she'd dated one of my cousins years ago who had worked at the bakery. What a small world. She had confirmed my food pedigree with her mother, who assured her that my LA family, and by extension me, are well-bred foodies, and that my advice should be welcomed with open arms. So pen in hand she braved the cattle car to chat with me. I was flattered.

Thanks to a generous tail-wind, we sailed into LA forty minutes ahead of schedule. Outside the window, our sprawling blanket of a city glided by, looking much like an enormous Lite Brite toy I cherished as a kid. I go back and forth about LA. Sometimes it truly feels like home. Other times, it's the place I hang my hat. Tonight it was a relief to see the ground, and know that I would be asleep in my bed shortly. My bed. In my apartment. With my stuff. Having gotten a good night's sleep, I'm ready to venture forth. Next stop, ?


Post a Comment

<< Home