“I don’t think any day is worth living without thinking about what you’re going to eat next at all times.” ― Nora Ephron
I have been a rabid Nora Ephron fan for years. In my never-to-be-humble opinion, she was and will forever remain THE quintessential voice of the New York literati- in my lifetime at least. If she had been born a little earlier, she might have lit Dorothy Parker’s cigarettes at the Algonquin.
If you’ve read any of her books (I Feel Bad About My Neck is my favorite!) or even more so if you are a happy owner of the anthology The Most of Nora Ephron you know that Nora wrote love letters to New York. You can’t watch You’ve Got Mail or When Harry Met Sally and not understand that for Nora, her beloved city elicited a sort of visceral reaction.
I get it!
Where else but New York can you turn a corner to find a Used Sneaker Store, next to “The Sock Man”, across the street from a combination Tattoo and Cappuccino parlor? A friend once said it’s no fun to go to St. Mark’s (in the Lower East Side) if you’re not afraid at least once that someone will try to knock you down and pierce your nose.
But as much as Nora loved the city, I think she may have loved food even more! She was famous for her dinner parties in her Apthorp apartment on the Upper West Side. In her book Heartburn she said “…people do not have nearly enough mashed potatoes in their lives, and when they do, it’s almost always at the wrong time.” Food was comfort to her. Food meant cherished time spent with family and friends.
I get it!
In my family, one sister is famous for her home cooking and hospitality. We have a baker who makes amazing cakes and cookies, another sister who can pull together a spread for 107 people in 20 minutes flat, one who makes a perfect replica of our Grandma Westfall’s macaroni salad and another, her potato soup. Then there’s me. I’m the one who is always relegated to bringing cases of water, gallons of orange juice or twelve packs of Coke. OR if left to my own devices, maybe a cheeseboard with slabs of brie and gouda and a great loaf of bread from a bakery I read about in the part of town no one else frequents.
When in Italy this Spring, on “The Sisters Tour”, we fell in love with the local cuisine. Ligurian pesto, simple tomato and mozzarella salads, crispy pizza and ALL things LEMON!
We ate lemon sorbetto, lemon candy and lemon cream filled pastry. We bought lemon soaps and lemon perfume. In Manarola (one of the 5 towns of the Cinque Terre) we stayed in a sparkling guesthouse perched on top of a hill overlooking our little section of the Italian Riviera. We loved this guest house for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that the terrace was home to a small grove of lemon trees (do lemon trees grow in groves?).
The scent of the lemons was intoxicating! So much so that I set out on a one-woman mission to squirrel away enough sugar packets from my morning (and afternoon) espresso purchases, to make some lemonade. With my job done and with the other sisters still shopping in town, two of the sisters picked some lemons and got to work making what we were sure would be the best tasting lemonade of our lives.
When Crysty and Wendy walked out onto the terrace with their few scant ounces of juice and the look of two people who had just witnessed unspeakable things, my sister Wendy said:
“Nobody wants to see how the sausage is made”.
She was right. They were battle-worn from broken plastic knives and lemon juice that ended up everywhere but in their cups. But the lemon seltzer I made from my tiny ration was heavenly!
Like making lemonade without a kitchen, travel is sometimes messy. Flights are delayed, airlines go bankrupt (wish I didn’t know about that one) and the hotel you meticulously selected weeks before could turn out to have you praying to make it through the night.
But the very next morning, you step onto the street and smell the aroma of freshly baked croissants and coffee so strong it could take the rest of the paint off those fading hotel room walls. And all is right again in your world.
It’s those sweet experiences that keep us going back again and again…
Until next time,
~The Gen X Traveler