Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son


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Come And Eat: Beignets and Goat Tacos on Mothers’ Day

Hello, internets. Did you make it through Mothers’ Day? I hope so. I’ve read several thought-provoking posts on the subject in the last few days — check out this or this or this. I’ve also been feeling grateful that Mothers’ Day isn’t a big deal in my family — my mother had forgotten it was Mothers’ Day until I called — which I think makes it a less fraught day for me this year than it might be. (Or maybe it’s just that I’m hopeful that next year will be different, thanks to the approaching IVF. I feel lucky to have that hope.)

In reading others’ posts on the subject, though, I began to wonder if part of the reason Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days aren’t big in my family is because my parents are IFers, too. Maybe they, too, got sick and tired of the holidays in the years they were trying to conceive. Maybe they chose to withdraw from them to protect themselves. Maybe the whole experience made them too aware that there’s nothing fair about who does and doesn’t get to celebrate those days.

When I was a child and my mother would refer to how it took her a long time to get pregnant, I shrugged it off — obviously it didn’t work quickly because the perfect combination of sperm and egg to make Wondrous Me doesn’t just happen every day. I didn’t think about how the wait might have made them frustrated or sad, because obviously it all worked out, right? It’s only now, as I face some set-backs of my own (and so far for not nearly as long as my mother faced them, and with more medical help than she had available — though she took what she could get: Clomid baby right here), that I begin to understand my mother a little better.

Which is, after all, a good thing to do on Mothers’ Day.

Now. Please Come and Eat:

We started the morning with the kind of breakfast that you have to plan the night before: homemade beignets. We used this recipe, from a New Orleans cooking blog that hasn’t lead me astray yet, and this week we learned from the tough mistakes of last week (yes, we will be big as houses soon, but HAPPY houses) and went easy on the kneading. I mixed up the dough on Saturday night, Sugar kneaded it just enough, and it sat in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, Sugar rolled it out and cut the beignets, and after they rose again, I fried them in sunflower oil.

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The blessed thing about beignets is that the recipe makes far more than we can eat ourselves. They allow us to enjoy the blessings of generosity. Last week and this, we packed up a bag of them for the Plant Whisperer, who spends this time of year raising operating funds for our community garden by luring everyone who walks within 6 blocks of the place in the gates and convincing them, in a mesmerizing display of virtuosity and salesmanship, to buy armloads of vegetable starts and blooming perennials and whatever else we’ve dug out of our beds for her to sell. The Plant Whisperer is no glutton, so it is especially gratifying to watch her devour food we’ve made.

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We also carried a bag to the friend who lent us his car to look for a place to have our wedding party. We traded the newspaper-wrapped pile of powered sugar and dough for his keys, and drove out to the ocean at Fort Tilden, where we saw feral roses, a tiny crab, and the homey and welcoming Studio 7 of the Rockaway Artists’ Alliance. It was very cold and the wind was fierce and exhausting. We did not find picnic shelters or anything else convincing in the way of a party-venue (though Studio 7 would be a great spot), but we did find a beach we’d like to return to in summer. And so ended the planned part of our day and our eating.

Since the friend of Automotive Generosity assured us he didn’t need the car before midnight, we decided to bite the bullet and go buy the IKEA dining room chairs we’d been considering, despite the fact that the best color had been discontinued. Our current dining room chairs, found in Chicago alley several years ago, are vintage charmers, with turquoise vinyl upholstery and elegant chrome legs. Under the vinyl, the wooden seats are giving out, such that a slight shift in body weight can cause the legs to suddenly give way, tossing the erstwhile-seated guest floorward. The back legs extend too far back for our small apartment, and I’ve never felt the same about them since breaking my toe on one. We were hungry, but IKEA has cheap and acceptable food.

IKEA Brooklyn is in the remote neighborhood called Red Hook, known for its giant grocery store, its semi-decrepit shipping works, and for the best Central American food in the city, cooked by the vendors who come to the soccer fields there every summer weekend, selling elotes and pupusas and agua fresca to the Latin American families who come to play and watch the soccer games, and to people like us, who just like to eat well. We make the walk — except for the shuttle buses and water taxis IKEA now runs, public transit to the area is dismal — through the heat, over the stinking Gowanus canal, and under the rumbling Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in the summer time, but as it’s several unpleasant miles from our neighborhood, we don’t go as often as I’d be happy to eat the tacos and huaraches and ceviche sold there. I’m embarrassed to admit that we may not have gone at all last year, but I thought as I drove through the gnarls of traffic under the BQE that I’d have to do better this year, despite the sweaty, gritty walk, make a point of coming once the vendors arrived in June.

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In the old days, before the city made them replace the tarps with trucks

at the huarache stand
At the huarache stand.

And then, like a dream, they were there: despite the cold and the wind, the vendors’ trucks were lined up at the park, dispensing quesadillas and horchata and my favorite of all: goat tacos.

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And the goat was sweet and tender, Sugar’s tacos al pastor complex in their spices, and the watermelon agua fresca divine. A meal of grace: something you can’t possibly plan for or make happen or even deserve, that you get to have anyway.

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So…what are you eating this week? Paste the address of your food-related post in here, and we’ll all come over to eat! (Please place a * after your name if your post is about pregnancy or children, for the sake of any in the ALI community who are presently in The Bad Place.)

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At The Last Minute

This has to be quick (and therefore long), because I want it done in time for Mel’s Show and Tell, but I promise I’ll get you more wedding stories sooner or later. Tonight I want to show you our bouquets.

A devoted and determined and diligent friend I met at the community garden — let’s call her the Plant Whisperer — made them. The Plant Whisperer is no amateur in this department. She works as a celebrity stylist, and her portfolio has like every famous person I’ve ever thought of in it. Her apartment is stuffed with amazing things, from bajillion dollar silk curtains a rich client tired of to a Louis the something-or-otherth vest that Andy Warhol tossed her way. I call her the Plant Whisperer because however impeccable her taste and impressive her client list, her skills in the garden outstrip them. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden just traded 90 year-old peonies to our garden in return for her fairy foxglove seeds, because, frankly, the alpine garden she’s established in the corner of our old building lot is better than theirs.

Months ago, she asked me to send her a list of flowers I like, and I did nothing about it, in part because I’m lazy and would find a way to postpone breathing if I could, in part because I was determined at that point that the legal business was no big deal — the real celebration will come in the spring, when our friends can come to a big party. Three days before the wedding, my mother just happened to forward me an email she’d sent to old friends, telling them we were getting hitched:

I hope they’ll carry flowers.

Mama always has been good at finding that B in subtle. She checked in via phone to be sure I hadn’t missed it.

Sugar and I had invited our parents and two friends from our respective early childhoods who have ended up living within blocks of us, hundreds of miles from our hometowns. I called my “womb buddy,” who’d offered to help with flowers, but it soon became clear this was asking a lot. Womb Buddy is a Soil Engineer and terrified she’d screw this up. I wasn’t expecting much — a grocery store bouquet with a ribbon from home? — and I thought the Plant Whisperer could at least supply the name of the flower I don’t like. She did (alstroemeria), and immediately took charge of the whole project, sending me home with ribbon swatches to hold up to our dresses, enlisting another garden stalwart and all-around prince to drive her to the flower market at 5:30 am, and ultimately coming up with this:

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Bigger here.

I still can’t believe we had something so beautiful to carry. They were stunning. I couldn’t have even imagined something so lovely. The roses came from an established bush in the community garden, so we’d have something “old.” The heather made me feel less bad for forgetting the Scottish tradition of a silver coin in my shoe (though Mama says my blood was Scottish enough). The dark red peonies reminded me of Sugar’s grandmother, who grows them and who couldn’t travel for the ceremony.

The leather box in the photo is from the Plant Whisperer, too. We carried our rings in it. It’s a replica of an opera glass case belonging to Napoleon’s wife, Josphine, and so it has Sugar’s and my shared first initial J embossed on it.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, she’s insisting on naming the new peony at the garden — the one she got in return for her seeds — after us.

It all makes me think about grace. Grace is like all of this: something you get despite the fact that you could never deserve it.