Love Is The Thing

Eating Over The Sink

Since it was just Thanksgiving the other day, I don’t know how it can already be February, but such is the speed of ‘time travel.’ And speaking of how fast things travel, I want to tell you this piece of trivia which may or may not be true, but which ought to be true if it isn’t. They say that the speed of a computer mouse, that is, the distance the cursor moves across the screen, in relation to the distance the mouse actually moves across the mouse pad, is measured in units called mickeys. Don’t you just love it!

Love is on the mind in February. Everyone is speaking kindly of their Sweetheart, their Dear Heart, their Goose. At least, in English. The French don’t seem to get it right, calling their nearest-and-dearest ‘Mon Petit Chou’ (my little cabbage), or ‘Ma Puce’ (my flea). The Germans don’t get it right either, with their ‘Zaubermaus’ (my magic mouse). But, one of those is still far better than the endearments commonly used in Spanish or Polish! If you’re looking for a great way to stop any chance of a Happy Valentine’s Day in your house, try the Polish ‘Moja Zabcia’ (my little frog). Or, you could call your sweet senorita ‘Mi Gordita’ (my little fatty). That’s certainly going to go a loooong way. I’ll stick with ‘Glorious Spouse,’ thanks very much.

I’m thinking about how to celebrate Valentine’s Day. If you consulted these pages in December, last, you’ll remember Uncle Zack’s Plan of how to take the stress out of buying Christmas presents. For those of you not paying attention, the Plan specified that you should only buy things that wouldn’t still be hanging around by Valentine’s Day, things like champagne, pate, or great mustards and cheeses. The operative phrase in the Plan was Valentine’s Day, and since that festive day is now front and center, and since we have eaten up all such offerings that came to Chez Grady, I suppose I could honor Glorious Spouse with another helping
of some of those things. But, no. That would be too much like having roast turkey on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas! The whole idea of giving things that get used up is not so that you (or in this case, me) will be able to give more of the same, but so that the gift recipient doesn’t have to build a room addition in order to find some place to put the objects of your largesse. I need something more spectacular for Glorious Spouse.

On the other hand, as Mae West once said, “Too much of a good thing is just perfect.” Maybe I should reconsider the champagne. I could toast her with the bubbly; she’d like that.

Which brings me to a Zack Multiple Choice Quiz.

The Question: Which of the following three choices is the real explanation for the origin of the expression “making a toast”?

The Answers:

  1. The Duke of Toastenheim, known for his hunting prowess and his lavish banquets, would often rise from the feasting table to exclaim upon the deeds and accomplishments of his guests (so long as the deeds were less than his own). Others took up the practice, which came to be called “making a Toastenheim,” later shortened to “making a toast.”
  2. In Europe during the fifteenth-century, toasted and spiced bread was put in glasses of wine to flavor the beverage. It was sort of like adding a twist of lime to a shot of Tequila, or adding giant green olives to a Martini. When someone was being honored at a celebration, those giving the speeches started to refer to the honoree as “the toast,” because he (it was usually a ‘he’) added flavor to the gathering.
  3. It was originally a reference to money, and wishing some of it on the honored person. It came from the slang word ‘bread,’ meaning money. Toast meant hard cash, and ‘giving a toast’ therefore meant to wish good fortune on the honoree.

Personally, I prefer choice A. Has a good ring to it. But if you chose choice B, you are a winner! And, just to mix some metaphors here, I take my hat off to you.

In the final analysis, I guess the best bet for Valentine’s Day is to take Glorious Spouse out for a special dinner. There is such a connection between love and food! It is said that Marc Antony once gave his cook a whole town after Cleopatra praised a sauce he had made. But where can I take her that is special enough? If I could ‘Fly Me to the Moon,’ I could take her to the first restaurant that recently opened up there. I hear the food is really great, but the place doesn’t have any atmosphere. (I should probably keep my day job, don’t you think?)

Anyway, being devoted to Low Carb, we tend to prefer restaurants that serve a good choice of meat dishes, so it’ll probably be some fancy chop house. A great steak, a rack of lamb, now that lights my fire! I find it really hard to understand how anyone can be a vegetarian. Glorious Spouse told me a few weeks ago about a friend of a friend. “She never eats any meat. She lives on nothing but tofu, fruit, soybeans, and a bunch of vegetables that no one else will even allow in their homes!” Aren’t those the things that food eats?

Nonetheless, no matter how you look at it, food is pretty much in the center of everything. We think about it; we talk about it; we sing about it, (“she likes bread and butter; she likes toast and jam; I saw my baby eatin’, with some other man”); we name dances for it (the ‘mashed potato’, the ‘cake walk’). There’s even an artist who paints nothing but large pictures of it. His paintings depict things like candied apples, hot dogs, gum balls, and pies. When he was asked why food was the major subject of his art work, he rightly replied, “We’re fascinated with it; it’s an art form.”

When I was growing up, my mother had a large cookbook with a white cover. I don’t remember the name of the book, but I can still see the caption in my mind’s eye. In red letters, it read: ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’ The compelling relationship between romance and eating cries out for a treatise on aphrodisiac foods, but that’s a story that will just have to wait for another day. Right now, I’m busy with construction paper, scissors, glue, and glitter. I’m making a Valentine’s Day card for you-know-who. I know the way to her heart!


ZACK GRADY and Glorious Spouse sitting in a Southern Californian Tree, k-i-S-S-i-n-G!

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Eating Over The Sink

ZACK GRADY writes from Southern California. He reads cookbooks, but mostly, he just adds garlic and hot sauce.

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