I fall. A lot.
Figuratively, literally; both my head and my behind seem to need constant, unexpected contact with terra firma. It would seem that the universe (if I believed in such a thing) was dead on when it had me born as a Capricorn, the ultimate earth sign. It was also playing a big joke when it had me born to a woman who wanted me to be dancer-- I spent much of the fourteen years of weekly ballet classes in a heap on the floor instead of gracefully in the air, but whatever. I’m also the girl who spent eight weeks in a cast on my leg from walking across the driveway. Yes, walking across the driveway. It’s not even a good story.
Over Labor Day weekend I had the honor of playing “The World’s Oldest Bridesmaid Barbie (tm)” for a beautiful and lovely friend. Now I’m going to level with you here: there is something truly pathetic and sad and totally like a Lifetime movie starring Jennifer Love Hewitt about this situation. See, I’m about to turn 40. Yes 40. And yes, even though I know that in Kabbalah 40 is some kind of enlightened number, blah blah blah, and that it’s just another day, and that Kabbalah is a total load of Ashton Kutcher crap, I’m perilously close to jumping to the next box in questionnaires. And I really don’t like it. Not to mention I’m about to be relegated to a totally new dating pool in my online quest for love (more on that later-- can’t wait to meet you, Wyldmustang, 65 in Canyon Country). So at this incredible three day wedding extravaganza that united two wholly young, gorgeous and abundant people I felt a little (OK, A LOT) sorry for myself. Which is both annoying and expected. But really. Who wants to be the broke, in-a-rut bridesmaid that has almost a decade on the next oldest bridal party member? It was totally Bridesmaids minus any humor on my part at all.
The wedding was a sort of destination thing, in Laguna Beach which is about an hour away from LA. A little too much to commute for three days of parties and drinking, but still close enough to feel like it’s not exactly a vacation (though the wafting preponderance of men’s Axe body spray was like a totally different world from the normal BO smell get in line at my ghetto Ralph’s). In any event, I had to pack a bag for the weekend which included several party dresses and a sari in addition to my bridesmaid attire (which was, thankfully, cute and easy to wear) and shoes. So I’m heading down the diamond tread plate stairs in my loft, arms full of frilly stuff, in my very cute gold sandals when, at the fourth from the floor stair, I become airborne. My bag hurls towards the concrete floor, my dress flies over the hand rail and I am launched, parallel, towards the earth on my left side.
The bag hits the floor first, and then SPLAT!
I am staring up at the skylight wondering when the pain is going to set in.
Well, that pain turned out to be more psychic and existential in nature, lying there in that puddle of matrimonial fluff. And I had visions of being alone and old and without LifeAlert and of a certain black and white spotted cat eating my remains because no one ever calls me. It was all so very pat and clichéd. Once I realized that I hadn’t broken anything other than my diminishing-as-it-were ego and that the benefit to falling when no one is around is that no one is around to see it, I made sure that all of my bridal wear was damage free and I headed out for my journey beyond the Orange Curtain (for you non-LA people, that’s a nickname for Orange County, aka: where Republicans and Housewives roost outside, yet sort of in, LA).
And on that fun-filled, traffic-packed and bruised drive I made up my mind that I could no longer afford to disavow online dating, no matter how annoying I thought it, should I want to find a male companion, though an appropriate male companion may, indeed, be too much to ask for at this stage of the game (we’re nearing double overtime, folks). And that effing fall down the stairs? I thought it emblematic for me being the 40-year-old-retro-virgin bridesmaid.
In reality, that fall was really more like foreshadowing for the messages from possible online suitors with usernames like “iamsober” (have you MET me?!, iamtotallynotinterested), “PugDaddy” (do you have a vagina?) and “ready2gosteady” (your underoos are showing), none of which were age appropriate.
So I’m not going to elaborate right now (I’m confident there will be more later), but it suffices to say that there has been no shortage of comedic material in this online dating thing. In fact, it could be a whole new blog, “Dating in Douchestan: it’s like a war in Pakistan, but douchier”. Truly I’d rather be lying that heap on the ground than falling for any of this crap.
Keywords from the last paragraph: Fall (it certainly is, season wise) and ground (as in the earth). You know what that means to me (and to you by extension)? Mushroom soup! And what’s earthier than that, besides your freshman year college roommate that had a love affair with patchouli?
OK, that might have been a somewhat, well, loose segue, but you get my drift.
If I could turn Monkey (friend her here on Facebook should you be as pathetic as the person who creates an online identity for her pet) into a truffle pig, Lord knows I would. And even though there were no truffles in the making of this delicious soup, mushrooms run a close second in the fungi race and they don’t require personal foraging other than at the bin in Whole Foods (or, if you’re lucky enough, at the Farmer’s Market). AND they aren’t cost prohibitive when you’re cooking for a crowd. This is a very simple, somewhat quick and delicious soup that actually tastes even better the second day. Plus, the gremolata, traditionally an Italian condiment made from parsley, olive oil and lemon zest (substitute orange zest and add toasted hazelnuts in this case) would be delicious on poultry or fish. On the soup, the gremolata adds a nice, slightly acidic zing and cuts through the rich earthiness of the mushrooms and the sautéd bits on top add some texture, too.
Here is the rest of the menu for last week’s soupapolooza! extravaganza:
chili-corn cakes with creme fraiche and salsa
zucchini and chevre puff pastry
spiced pumpkin and lentil arugula salad with goat cheese
mushroom soup with hazelnut gremolata (below, naturally)
Elvis pie (peanut butter banana creme pie)
Here are the details:
Bon Appetit October 2008
Recipe by Tori Ritchie
1 1/2-ounce package dried porcini mushrooms*
1 cup hot water
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
1 cup sliced peeled carrot (about 1 large)
1 pound crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced (about 6 cups)
3 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
Place porcini in 1 cup hot water. Let soak until soft, about 20 minutes. Strain, reserving soaking liquid. Coarsely chop porcini.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1 pound crimini mushrooms; sprinkle with salt. Sauté until mushrooms are soft and browned, about 5 minutes. Add porcini and sauté 3 minutes. Add 3 cups broth and reserved porcini soaking liquid and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until mushrooms are soft and flavors blend, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree in blender until smooth, adding more broth by 1/2 cupfuls as needed. Return soup to pot.
Mix parsley, oil, hazelnuts, orange peel, and garlic in small bowl. Set gremolata aside.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 12 ounces assorted mushrooms and sauté until soft and browned, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide soup among bowls. Top with sautéed mushrooms and gremolata.
*Available in the produce section of many supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Italian markets.
soupapolooza! chef’s note: I added about 2 oz. dry sherry (good dry sherry, not that supermarket cooking stuff because no one should ingest that) to the soup after the purée step for good measure. You could also add sherry vinegar in a pinch, though a little less of it.
So back in the land of those laying in heaps or puddles on the floor, I’m thinking it’s ok to fall. And since I seem to find myself here so often, I should be good at this! I should offer a course on it at the Learning Annex! You know, there is a great amount of upward motion that can happen from this crappy position on the ground. Bruising is just par for the course, so I’m dusting myself off and making my way back up the stairs.
Though this is earthquake country. I hope the Truffle Pig doesn’t eat me next time.
Happy Fall and Soup on!