[What this fall was all about, November 2010.]
Oh hello little blog! *Gently sweeps dust out of the corners* I have terribly neglected you this fall, what with the running and the baseball and the baseball and the … You have not seen very many recipes of late, and for that I apologize. However, I have been cooking, and I have been cooking a lot. It is just that I have not made time to document it all.
October (and much of September) was marked by 1. Chocolate milk (Clover, please), to soothe my stomach after all those long miles of marathon training and 2. Baseball, specifically the San Francisco Giants who, I don’t know if you heard, WON THE WORLD SERIES this week. The San Francisco Giants, whom I have loved and cursed for almost my entire life, not only barely made the post-season (predictably taking it down to the wire for the final game of the season) but somehow also managed to beat Atlanta, Philadelphia, and then Texas while actually looking like they knew what they were doing. The Giants — my Giants. Won the World Series. The Giants! Won the World Series for the first time ever in San Francisco! Will wonders never cease?
San Francisco was a fine place to be this week — the city was awash in sun and fiery orange with people wearing their hats and shirts, and even those who weren’t ‘fans’ excited and galvanized by the energy (my friend said it felt like a small town, that community spirit, and indeed it did). I’m so glad I live here now and got to experience it; during 2002’s debacle I was marooned in DC (perhaps it was for the best after all, however.). As my brother said after the final out Monday night, “We’ve been waiting our whole lives for this.” (Not, um, to be over-dramatic about it. But baseball seems to make people over-dramatic. It certainly makes me cry, in joy and sorrow both. I’m not ashamed.)
This year we got lucky. It was an amazing run, culminating in this week’s mad parade through the city, orange and white confetti drifting down through the beautiful sun. I saw the start of it, as it magically (there’s that damn word again) began just two blocks from my office. So I baked pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies (Giants colors — “Should I throw them at the cable cars?” in which the players were riding, I asked my coworkers, but in the end they ate them so fast there wouldn’t have been enough) and we went down to yell and take photos. And there they all were taking their own photos and looking like regular guys in their regular clothes, beaming from ear-to-ear and still, I think, a little shell-shocked they managed it.
(OH, you guys. You wonderful, stress-inducing, ridiculous, infuriating, fantastic guys. San Francisco says thank you a million times over.)
Baseball and food probably seem worlds apart but in fact they are inextricably intertwined — at least for me. Baseball is hot, salty french fries (with garlic, if you’re at AT&T Park) and overpriced beer during a day game at the ballpark. It’s smuggling in sandwiches if there aren’t any veggie dogs (and it’s veggie dogs with lots of ketchup if you’re lucky enough to find them). It’s definitely peanuts in their shells. It’s the smell of hamburgers and vendors lugging heavy coolers up and down the stairs, entreating you to buy an overpriced soda or chocolate malt or ice cream cone. It’s me going to my beloved Greens for dinner on my birthday and wolfing down my (delicious) food (beet salad, squash gnocchi, chocolate and salted caramel ice cream eclairs) because a playoff game was on and g-d forbid I missed the final out (though my brother did text me with updates of the score). It’s summer, and it’s fall, and it has marked my life for as long as I can remember.
And I love it. Little else can compare with that solid, satisfying thwack when a ball soars into the outfield (or dribbles down the first baseline, as the case may be), the hum of the crowd you hear even before you enter the stadium, the crisp uniforms at the start of the game, the collective roar when someone manages a home run. If you’re a fan you follow along all the summer-long and even if your team isn’t so good you cross fingers and cheer anyway and sometimes small miracles occur and that is the magic of it. When the Giants made the World Series after 8 long years (and on a called strike!) I sort of lost my mind and screamed and jumped up and down and I know it’s a just a game but OH! It is fun anyhow (fortunately my beau is also a fan, else I might have terrified him with my fervor) and don’t we all need more fun these days (any days)?
Baseball is a silly game, for sure. The players are often overpaid and it can feel like there’s no team loyalty anymore, and ticket prices are so high, and of course it’s just a game. And yet … and yet. If you start so early, like I did, it gets a hold on you and you can’t seem to shake it. You stay up late listening to the games on the radio because you can’t bear to sleep not knowing the outcome. You groan and curse. You get used to getting so close — you get used to the torture. You wish Will the Thrill was still playing. You follow along even when you’re living away and drag your friends up to Baltimore to watch a few inter league games against another team that wears the orange-and-black. You remember the good old days. You resign yourself to always throwing it away, but hey, that’s OK — we got legacy, man, going all the way back to New York City. And then something like this happens — something that is, yes, a bit of magic and which may never happen again — and you know if you ever have kids yourself you’ll raise them up the same way, and you will be happy to do so.
In short, if you haven’t already picked up on it, baseball makes me absolutely crazy. So to counter it — and to mediate the stress during those nail-biting innings (bringing Lincecum in in the 7th?!) — I cook. Last Sunday, for example (WS Game 4) I went on a mad frenzy of cooking and baked: an applesauce cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting via smitten kitchen; honey cake; a huge batch of cauliflower potato leek soup; whole wheat pasta with mushrooms, red onion, spinach. I’ve also baked cookies (the aforementioned pumpkin-chocolate chip), roasted cauliflower, stirred coconut milk into rice to be served with slivered, sauteed tofu and tiny green beans, made applesauce, stuffed myself with my mom’s spanikopita and grilled vegetable panini (to temper a lackluster game — and loss — during WS Game 3), and eaten a delicious salad from the pizza place in Pt. Reyes surrounded by other like-minded crazies who also could hardly believe the Giants scored 11 runs in one game (WS 1).
So guess what? I have a whole slew of recipes I’m itching to share — and I shall poste-haste. I will move on to the next thing (easing back into running, dontcha know, and I have a quickly approaching dinner party to plan, and oh yeah, Thanksgiving is mere weeks ago not to mention the new year …!), get back to the good stuff, forget all this baseball crap. Je promesse, mon petit blog! I will not leave you for such frivolous pursuits again.
But … just for right now let me say once more: The darn Gigantes won the World Series! We’ve all gotta savor this now, because it probably won’t happen again. But I think that’s what makes it so very sweet.