Sunday, March 27, 2011

Foodie? How Rudie.

Are you a foodie?  Do you love unusual cuisine, culinary masterpieces, and, well, just yummy grub? Here in Charleston, we tend to love food. There are plenty of good restaurants, and plenty of good chefs. And I guess a lot of people cook at home, but I'm not one of them (much). Today's been rainy, so I've been cozied up with a very interesting article from the Atlantic, about the moral implications of loving food. You can read it by clicking the link.

It actually made me think back to my dinner from Friday night--I ordered the chicken livers from Triangle Char and Bar, in West Ashley. I gave up beef for Lent so I couldn't have a burger, and I've eaten their chicken livers before and liked them. Plus, it's filling and inexpensive, so why not?

My boyfriend, who hates liver, is always secretly appalled when I order that dish. We were also there with the neighbor, Aaron, who kept referring to my dinner as "organ meat." I guess that's the truth, but sometimes, you just don't want people talking about your food! So when I read this article in the Atlantic, it seemed the guy who wrote it was talking to me, and a lot of other people that I would never label as "gluttons." But in the author's eyes, you don't have to eat a lot to be a glutton--you just have to enjoy food a lot--particularly animal products. If you order a steak, for example, and salivate over pink flesh on your plate, you're a glutton....even if you don't eat to the point of indigestion. 

My grandmother, a devout Catholic, would be A-OK after reading the article. She's eaten toast for breakfast for at least 50 years and does not mind. She eats the same things day in and day out--because she doesn't really care about food. It's not a real pleasure for her. And now that I think about it, I barely cared about food either, until I moved to Charleston! But does my newfound love for food make me a moral glutton? I'm not sure. 


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Over the weekend, I ventured home for my grandmother's 89th birthday. That's right--89 years old! But before you all start cooing in disbelief, let me just state that my grandmother is in EXCELLENT shape--both mentally and physically. She still operates a vehicle, spends a lot of time at the family business, lives on her own, and makes good sense. She's the matriarch of our awesome family, and no one is worth a trip to Florence more than her.

Part of the reason I love going to my grandmother's house is that her den and her study (what the "other" two sitting rooms are known as) are literally lined with hundreds of BOOKS. The walls are just bookshelves, and they're crammed with everything from my uncle's photography manuels to awesome, early-edition copies of literary novels. When I see those bookshelves, I feel totally awe struck and inspired. I pluck them out, one at a time, and try to imagine what my own life would be like if I owned that many volumes. They mostly belong to my Uncle Philip, so I can't just take whatever I want, but it's nice to imagine my own house filled with books one day.

And I know it sounds corny, but being home reminds me that I'm not just alone in the world, struggling to survive. Instead, I'm a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, an old friend, and a person with history and with traditions. My bedroom is like a time capsule--filled with my old short stories scrawled on sheets of paper, and my old childhood books. It reminds me of what's important, just by being there. The core of my true Denise-ness is visible, and I embrace that. I have a feeling it's going to become more and more important as the years go by.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tip-Toe Through the Tulips.

As a child, I tip-toed.

Not just through the house on Christmas morning, but always. It was my trademark, my "funny characteristic" that made people notice (and often make fun of) me. It got to the point that my mother and grandmother decided it was time to find out why, exactly, I was walking on my toes. They refused to believe me when I said that it was a "sign" I should take ballet classes. Nope--instead, they sent me to tap dancing classes and to a foot doctor named Dr. Dunlap.

Those years of visiting Dr. Dunlap were sort of grim for me. Not just because I was convinced, as they were, that something was wrong with me, but also because of the medical hoopla I went through. For a while, I wore these awful-looking braces on my legs. They were flesh colored like a band aid and made me want to cry, even as an unfashionable, frizzy little girl.

I also had an MRI done. I will admit that I'm thankful that this prodedure was done when I was little, and had yet to develop the anxiety that I now have in small spaces! I clearly remember lying in that silent vessel, almost like a tomb. There was a mirror inside and I stared into my own eyeballs, wondering....

But as it turned out, there was nothing wrong with me. "It's just a habit!" the doctor finally told my family. My mother and grandmother became more, instead of less, frustrated with me after learning this. Since it was not an underlying medical issue, they decided it was within my control to stop my toe-walking mayhem.

"Do you know the song, "Tip Toe through the Tulips?" my grandmother irritably asked me one day. "Is that what you want people to sing about you?"

I didn't know.

Years passed, and eventually, little by little, I outgrew walking on my toes. Nowadays, I still have a rather flouncy walk, but my heel is definitely more involved than it was when I was under age 10. I thought about my history of toe-walking this afternoon, at my friend Sarah's house, while reading Parents magazine. A concerned parent had written, asking if her toddler was "normal" despite tippy toes.

So I googled toe walking and I read an article that proclaimed it to be often habitual, as mine was.

Toe walking often has no cause, said the article. This is referred to as habitual, or idiopathic, toe walking.

Sometimes, we just do things without any reason. I'll never fully know the reason that I tip-toed as a child.

But it did make for careful silence on Christmas morning.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Afternoon Poems With an Inchworm

I sat in my yard yesterday, enjoying the sun with the help of poet Donald Platt's book of poetry, entitled Dirt Angels. I picked up a copy at the Poetry Society reading Friday night. Suddenly, I looked down and noticed that a little inchworm fellow also enjoyed Platt's words. He didn't mind being photographed.

....You just never know what you might have in common with the tiniest of earth's creatures.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Beef. It's Not What's For Dinner..Until Easter.

So I gave up beef for Lent. Before the decision to give up beef, I went through a few other possibilities. Give up Facebook, perhaps? No..I'd probably die. Give up fashion magazines? But April and May are awesome issues!! So I finally decided on good old-fashioned cow. I love a good cheeseburger, and I love a good steak. And I'm just not a fan of spaghetti served with chicken meatballs. Blecchhh.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dinner Thievery, Clothing Mishaps, and Other Blunders

Whew, am I glad this week is coming to an end! It's been crazy!

I got my dinner stolen at work, for the second time since I've been employed there.  I kid you not! I put my to-go box, containing a half-eaten sandwich and some fries, into our community fridge, only to have it snatched less than two hours later! I couldn't believe it! I also couldn't believe that the remnants of my dinner (such as a slice of focaccia and the last of my sweet potato fries!) were still in the trash can for me to find!! Didn't the thief have the courtesy, and the intelligence, to take the whole thing out of the kitchen and dispose of it secretly? See for yourself below.

Luckily, the school is equipped with cameras, and the sandwich snatcher was spotted. I'm sure I'll get my sandwich replaced soon. But I just can't fathom who would steal a half-scarfed meal from a work kitchen!

Today I had another "What the hell?" moment. I was out shopping and found a long skirt that I absolutely LOVED, so I forked over the cash, knowing that long skirts are totally in for spring. As soon I got into my car and examined it more closely, I realized something: It's a DRESS. A strapless dress!! NOT a skirt. Feeling foolish, I quickly questioned whether I should go back to the store and try it on again, this time properly. But nah, I didn't feel like venturing back inside. Still, I was curious, so I ended up parking at Starbucks and changing into the skirt/dress in their bathroom. I totally did not buy coffee either.

So, I finally concluded that the skirt/dress can be worn both ways. Has anyone else ever encountered this during a shopping spree??

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weekend Voyage

The season of road-trippin' has begun, and Stefan and I started it off with a bang. We got up on Saturday morning around 7 a.m., packed our bags, and hit the road for Columbia, SC, where Stefan got SIX awards for his photography and writing from the South Carolina Press Association. I'm so proud.

After the awards ceremony and the fancy lunch, we headed to the Columbia Museum of Art, and checked out a fantastic exhibit called "Who Shot Rock n Roll?" It was amazing; it was a collection of photos all pertaining to rock n roll, starting with Elvis Presley and ending in 2011. Everything in between--from the Beatles to David Lee Roth--was represented in the art. We saw pictures of artists performing, sleeping, kissing--just living life. It made tears spring to my eyes, seeing the true form of these genius musicians through the years.

Saturday continued its magic when we drove up to Greenville and blissfully spent the evening at my best friend's mountain lakehouse. Ahh. Our other friend was there too, with her four year old son, who gleefully played the piano, kept us amused, and added an element of charm. We stuffed outselves silly with food prepared in-house, drank liquor and beer galore, and basically had an insanely good time.

On the way home, we stopped back into Columbia and I held my friend Kristi's baby for the first time. Dylan was a huge ball of squirmy love. It was evening, so he was ready for dinner and bed (so were we) but it was great to visit. We got home Sunday at 9 pm, after a whirlwind 36 hours! Stefan and I can't wait for our next roadtrip. Aren't they one of the best parts of Spring?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

And the Lady Will Have...a Hot Dog?

Hot dogs are making a comeback in a big way. I can't help but notice it! I mean, the banal hot dogs of our childhood, doused in catsup and eaten on a doughy bun (or maybe just with hands or a fork) are NOT what I am talking about. Nope, these new dogs on the block are happening. They have festive, gourmet toppings and they are not meant to be eaten by four-year-olds.

I guess it all started a few years ago when I wrote my article for the opening of a new, at the time, bar in West Ashley called the Tin Roof. When I saw the menu of "gourmet hot dogs" I admit I was skeptical. Honestly, ingredients like homemade pimento cheese and mango on hot dogs? Really? Then I tried them and I was in looove.

Last night, I had another experience with hot dogs at the newly revamped Village Tavern in Mount Pleasant. Stefan and I went there for dinner and "rock and roll trivia." I had just come from a Board meeting for the Poetry Society of South Carolina, and I was craving something unhealthy after my snack of ice water and trail mix. (Our president is vegan.)

So I ordered a hot dog. The menu of the VT features lots of different, fancy hot dogs. I ordered the "Chicago Dog," which boasted toppings like onion salt, relish, pickles, and spicy mustard. The menu said the dogs were all "100% beef, seared in butter and then oven roasted." It was delicious, I have to say. I ate everything on my plate--even the french fries, which also tasted great.

Stefan and I ended up winning rock trivia, so I might order another dog when we go back to spend our gift certificate!

Either way, I feel like hot dogs in the Lowcountry have graduated from "summertime grill only" or "under age 7 only" categories. Nowadays, hot dogs are prominently displayed on the menus in Charleston, and people are ordering them and loving them!

What's your dream dog topping, readers?