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51 Minutes in a Revolving Door

Mid-turn, and the whole thing stopped moving. With a sighhhhh. And a click. The person in front of me (hair scraped into a bun and brown coat) was able to squeeze out. As was the person behind me (heavy boots and red scarf). But I was trapped. By three walls of glass. After much pushing and shrugging on my part, the security guard approached holding up a note written on the back of a ticket stub. Are you ok? Door stuck? His name tag said “Bill” and he could not have been older than 19. “I can hear you,” I said. “Yes it is. And yes, I’m fine.” Good, Bill wrote on his hand before, subsequently, transforming these words into a thumbs up. He turned to another security guard: “I think the door’s stuck,” he said. Bill’s Friend looks at the door. And then at me: “Christ.”

10:15 AM: Bill and his Friend start to pull the door. And like any self-respecting young woman living in a post-Liam-Neeson-Taken era, I decided to call… my father. “Dad. I’m trapped in a revolving door.” There followed a crunch of cornflakes. “Is this a metaphor?” My father asked. “Did you want to speak to your mother? You know I’m no good at these sorts of problems.” I tell him it’s real. I tell him it’s happening. I tell him to feed my fish if I don’t make it out. “Honey, [cornflake crunch/ swallow] have you actually tried pushing the door. Push the door. See what happens.” This whole time, museum patrons are trying to use the revolving door/my new glass prison. Puzzled when nothing happens, they look at me. And then exit through the side door to the left. Some of them shake their heads or roll their eyes. I have, they presume, broken the door. Children are crying: they wanted to go through “the spinning” door: “What did the lady do?” A small girl asks her mother. “I can hear you,” I say.

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Dog Versus Baby

I have owned a dog for my entire adult life—more properly, a Chihuahua. First, there was Sal. Then, for a brief period, there was Sal and Penny. Since 2007, it’s just been Penny. (RIP Sal.) Both Sal and Penny, despite their temperamental differences, have always been treated like actual family members. We rarely leave Penny at home while we vacation or visit family. And, like family, we have made great allowances, and often, excuses, for her misbehavior.

Anyone who knows Chihuahuas will be unsurprised to hear that Penny is abnormal for a dog but fairly standard for a Chihuahua. She is sweet and cuddly and playful. She doesn’t even mind strangers, once it’s clear they are staying for a while. She easily adapts to hotels and new houses and new people. But, her list of dislikes, or, more properly, things she cannot tolerate, is long: other dogs, birds, squirrels, loud noises, strollers of any sort, doorbells, delivery people of any sort, and of course, babies and small children.

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Eat the Ginger

Around Christmastime, when you search for recipes with “ginger,” you get exclusively sweet things: gingerbread, gingersnaps, ginger cake, ginger donuts, ginger biscotti, ginger muffins. But ginger is so much more. It’s one of the four or five ingredients that I am never, ever without. I would like to share with you my One Weird Trick for using ginger in a foolproof and easy way.

Nearly everything I cook starts with the same process: Get out a pan, put some oil in it, and saute some combination of chopped plants; on Top Chef this is referred to as “building flavor,” or sometimes as creating a base. Onion is pretty much a given. Garlic, usually. Also common are celery, carrot, and peppers. (Depending on which specific ingredients you use and the various subtleties of how you use them, these base ingredients are sometimes called mirepoix, or soffritto—or, confusingly, sofrito, which is not the same thing; soffritto is Italian, sofrito is Spanish/Latin American, with slightly different ingredients depending on even which Latin American country you’re talking about.) Ginger is a key ingredient in a flavor base for so, so many cuisines—Indian, Chinese, Thai, Jamaican, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Filipino—so it should be as present in your cooking as garlic or onion, and you should have it on hand at all times. This can be difficult, because though it is fairly hardy, it will dry out after a while, and what if you have a stretch where you’re only cooking French or Italian food? Your ginger will go bad.

Except it won’t, because you should freeze your ginger.

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Sisters, Ranked

We are five: always, five, the five of us, the group of us, the lot. “You guys,” “the girls,” “the sisters.” Once, when I was young, someone asked me how many sisters I had and I answered, quickly, without giving it a thought, “five,” as if I couldn’t extricate myself from the larger being, the group, that we made up. I was one of them and they were one of me.

We are a tribe: each loud, brassy, strong, in her own way, each of us born about two years apart so that my parents, presumably, could catch their breath. I was first: curious, playful, shy, quickly carving out my old space in the world, trying, though I didn’t know, to fill the void of a miscarriage two years prior. My next sister didn’t wait much longer—she, born eleven months after my first birthday, arrived with a vengenance. With something to prove. When it was just the two of us, me walking around in a t-shirt, a leaky diaper, and a Band-Aid I affixed to my head because I liked the look, she was still immobile, reduced to sitting in a carriage or crib. I’d reach in and try to play with her. I was three, so I probably tried to eat her: nibbled on her toes, smooched her face, slobbered on her ears. She hated it, my mother would tell us later, and she didn’t stand for it. She’d attack, in the vicious way that babies do, grasping at my eyes and ears to try to get rid of me.

The next two came all at once: twins, which was weird for me, because one day I had one little sister and the next day I had three. They are identical but roundly different, and after a while, even you couldn’t fall for their identical twin switcheraoo. They both called each other “sissy” and carried mismatched stuffed animals around everywhere they went—a matted tiger and a purple bear, called “Tiger” and “Purple.”

Two years later, our youngest sister arrived. We’d all been spoon-fed femininity by then; We had scores of photos of us in matching dresses and hats, each of us looking like discarded swatches in a fabric store, and we were all enrolled in ballet and tap dancing classes at a local studio. Barbies and doll babies littered our rooms, but finally: here was a baby come to life.

We attacked her, relentlessly. We tried to feed her and wash her and poke her and play with her and dress her up and fuck with her and boss her around and protect her. She, now, is the strongest of us all; some of her first words were “Get away from me!” and “Leave me alone!” I am pretty sure she can beat me up.

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When Your Ex-Boyfriend Is Kale

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, BuzzFeed News sportswriter Lindsey Adler tells us more about what it’s like to really love Kale.

Cool thing about having an ex-boyfriend named after a trendy vegetable is that ordering a salad for dinner often feels like a comical affair

— Lindsey Adler (@Lahlahlindsey) December 12, 2014

Lindsey! So what happened here?

My first love was a man named Kale, and he broke up with me in the middle of the night one August a few years ago. He just kind of looked at me and said, “I can’t do this anymore,” and I reacted poorly. Breakups are painful, followed by periods of uncertainty, denial, and adjustments. Reminders of what was and will never again be should be avoided at all costs, but for me, it wasn’t that simple: The name of the man who broke my dang heart was plastered all over menus and the NYT Style pages. It took me an unreasonable amount of time (two years) to begin eating kale salads, despite all my hippie-ass, pseudo-vegan inclinations. The word still seems foreign when referencing leafy greens, like I’ve taken a relic from a much different time in my life and applied it in a new way. It’s no longer painful, of course, but it makes for a quick, funny story to be told over brunch.

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Why the Museum Is Closed

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New York vs. Los Angeles: Just the Dogs

As the two American population and media centers on opposing coasts, New York City and Los Angeles are prone to endless imperfect comparison. New York has delicious, abundant water, which may or may not make its bagels and pizza so far superior to L.A.’s; in Los Angeles, it is currently in the mid-60s, and will stay that way for the remainder of winter. Now, thanks to the datasets compiled by local radio stations WNYC and KCRW, it is possible to make measure of New York and Los Angeles using a common household pet, the canis lupus familiaris.

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Eat the Pear

The problem with the pear is the same problem that afflicts the apricot and the cantaloupe. When ripe, and fresh, and of good quality, it is spectacular, but it is a low-percentage fruit, its ripeness difficult to divine and often misjudged. I would wager there are literally millions of pear-eaters who have never had a good pear.

And that is unfortunate, because it is really an excellent fruit. Cheap, easily available, some varieties fairly hardy, with a wide variety of textures and flavors and uses, pears may not be quite as easy and foolproof as apples, but can make a fine walking-around fruit in addition to the more adjustment-friendly methods you might put them to in the kitchen.

There are dozens of varieties of pear, but in the States it is damnably difficult to find most of the weirder heirloom varieties. Still, a trip to an fancy grocery store or farmers market in the late autumn will yield a few different types. What they have in common, aside from all being pears, are called sclereids, or stone cells. These are plant tissue with a distinct hard exterior, hence their name, and are responsible for the “gritty” texture of pears. I think some people do not like this texture; it can get stuck in your teeth. But that is merely a symbol of the inherent toughness of the pear! Pear trees can live for over a hundred years, their wood is so fine and hard that it’s often used for woodwind instruments, and in some parts of Chinese mythology it’s a symbol of immortality! This concludes the Fun Facts section of today’s Crop Chef.

Here are the most common varieties of pear in the US and how to tell if they’re ripe. It’s tricky because the majority of pears never ripen on the tree; they can only ripen when picked. To speed up ripening, you can stick a banana in the fruit bowl, and to slow down ripening, you can put the pear in the fridge. But how do you know when it’s ripe in the first place?

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Tips For Treating Your Skin in The Wintertime

Winter is a magical time of year. Who doesn’t love winter? Curling up under a handknit afghan blanket by a roaring fire with your sweetie pie, the smell of pine and peppermint in the air, the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas playing on your expertly set up sound system, a gentle snow falling outside acting as a clean white blanket to Mother Nature, covering up suspicious footprints and DNA and those mysterious bloodstains. You are next spring’s problem, incriminating evidence! But all that cold, dry, drying winter air is not good for your skin. I’m no scientist or dermatologist or beauty expert. But I’m obsessed with skin. Touching it, stroking it, caressing it, smelling it. Poking it. Did I say touching it? Skin. Skin. Here’s what works for me.

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The Trailer Park at the Center of the Universe

The longest road in California is El Camino Real, a six-hundred-mile route that once connected twenty-one Spanish missions from San Diego to Sonoma. While the state began to pave over the road in the nineteen tens, portions of it still run throughout California, including every city on the San Francisco Peninsula. In Palo Alto, El Camino begins at Stanford University, where it winds past the Stanford Shopping Center, a regal, open-air mall with an Ermenegildo Zegna but no Foot Locker, restaurants but no food court. As the road continues southward, it passes a series of newly finished luxury apartments, then half-completed luxury apartments still wrapped in scaffolding and tarp, followed by a showroom for Tesla, and one for McLaren. Then, finally, it reaches the city limits at the border of Mountain View, about two-and-a-half miles from Google.

A few blocks before the car dealerships, tucked behind a strip mall with a health spa, a Baja Fresh and a Jamba Juice, is Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, a four-and-a-half-acre plot of land roughly in the shape of Utah. The park’s five small streets are not flanked by sidewalks, and the territory of each trailer seems to bleed into the next. Unlike the recent vintage mini-mansions and luxury condos constructed in tightly uniform patterns of stucco and beige, Buena Vista’s hundred and eight mobile homes are a patchwork of styles: Some are an inoffensive industrial brown, one is evergreen, one is baby blue, one has a roof lined with Christmas ornaments that appear to have been hung in the mid-nineties and never taken down. The park houses about three-hundred-seventy-five residents, who are mostly low-income and predominantly Hispanic. It is the last mobile home park left in the city limits.

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