Monday, May 28, 2007

Robert Moses and the Forward

It has been my custom if I'm in town on Memorial Day to go to the Museum of the City of New York, which is open on holiday Mondays like today. A smallish museum, it's wholly devoted to all things New York. And since today was the last day of the exhibit about Robert Moses, which I wanted to see, off I went.

What was fascinating was his single-mindedness. He was responsible for some wonderful things, like Jones Beach and the number of parks and public spaces in New York City, but he also wanted to build more bridges and highways, many of which were voted down and later denounced by the citizenry and the like of Jane Jacobs. (I learned afterwards that he had never learned to drive! Interesting, then, that he wanted to Los Angelescize New York. I wonder what he would have thought now with gas reaching $4 a gallon and the poor air quality in New York....) Like many larger-than-life men who achieve things, he pushed forward the things he wanted, including many public swimming pools (he was a swimmer).

The exhibit about the Forward was enthralling in a different way--interesting to see how important this newspaper became to new immigrants, especially its Bintel Brief (translated from "A Bunch of Letters"), which was an early advice column predating Dear Abby! It was also interesting for a politically liberal paper to give this advice to a man who wanted to marry a non-Jewish woman: "Don't do it. You will have nothing in common with her because of the difference in your backgrounds." So even though the focus of the paper was on helping immigrants assimilate, there was only so much assimilation actually acceptable.

Robert Moses was the middle child of a very assimilated family who most likely did not read the Forward.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Satisfying Dinner

There is nothing better than a satisfying, home-cooked dinner with a glass of good wine (Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2005). I picked up some wild perch from Lake Victoria at Fairway today on my way home from the gym. I have vowed never again to eat farmed fish since I read that some farmed tilapia from Vietnam comes from the polluted Mekong Delta--eww!

Anyway, I adapted Emily's flounder recipe to cook the perch--here's how it goes: Marinate the fish in a shallow dish in which you have combined about a tablespoon each of lime juice and soy sauce. (You can also add some chopped parsley if you have it.) While that's marinating, saute 3 sliced button mushrooms in some oil, then put the fish and marinade atop the mushrooms, cover, and cook a few minutes until the fish is done and flakes easily. If you have company, increase the ingredients accordingly. Tonight I dined alone.

I also took the rest of the baby carrots and asparagus and roasted them with a little olive oil in the meantime. After they were done, I sprinkled them with Chef's Salt (a homemade mixture of late chef Louis Szathmary consisting of 1 cup salt, 1 tablespoon Spanish or Hungarian paprika, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt). This makes a lot, but never fear--it doesn't spoil and is especially wonderful on scrambled eggs.

I could really taste the difference between this wild fish and the farmed fish I had the last time I made this--long live all wild things!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Unreasonable Hope

It's a beautiful spring evening here in New York. Sometimes when the weather gets warm I get a little restless and even though I've had a full day, the urge to go out and savor the energy of warm weather by immersing myself in it overtakes me. And so it did tonight.

The new season fills me with unreasonable hope--despite the fact that someone whose ad I answered never called when he said he would (probably dealing with all the other responses he's gotten that have turned his head), twice disappointing me. But the disappointment is softer than it used to be--as I said, unreasonable hope! Maybe that's the only kind of hope there is.