Recovery Note:
Working on Sunday
21 January 2018

¶ In middle of last Fall, I had the bright idea of scheduling the next round of routine doctors’ appointments (including the visit to the dentist) in January, so that I would not be distracted from the holidays. And that worked. But then came the clumps of appointments, after which I seemed never in a mood to cook, or even to think much about food. (We ordered in a lot of Chinese.) In an unfortunate coincidence, I was also paralyzed by meditations on the state of the union in the New Year. I ordered a copy of Fire and Fury the day after its official publication, and yet Amazon scheduled the delivery for the last week of the month. Clearly, the book was wildly more successful than its publisher had anticipated — there weren’t enough books to sell. But the delivery date turned out to be overly cautious. On Friday, I got a note telling me to expect the book on Saturday, and it arrived as promised. I am in no hurry to read it; instead of Wolff, I’m reading the current issue of Harper’s, which features a collection of essays about trying to restart a national conversation. 

¶ Related hunch: Everyone talks about President Trump’s dismal approval ratings as if — they meant something. What I’m beginning to think those ratings really mean is that the people who respond to polls think that Trump is doing an excellent job of portraying a terrible president. Since his administration hasn’t accomplished anything that the Republican Party wasn’t pushing for anyway, who can blame them for enjoying the soap opera? 

¶ Twilight Zone?: Kathleen flew down to Florida this morning for an annual convention. Her flight landed almost an hour (fifty-five minutes) ahead of schedule. Great! But also a little disturbing, no? 

¶ I was going to make Chicken Tetrazzini for dinner last night, but the mushrooms in the fridge weren’t up to it, and having spent the afternoon tidying the apartment, I wasn’t up to going out to Fairway. So I made what I used to call butter sauce. It’s Marcella Hazan’s notorious concoction of three ingredients, one of which is eventually discarded. You take a box of pulped tomatoes, five tablespoons of butter, and an onion that has been halved and peeled but not sliced, and simmer them gently. When the results reach the desired consistency — and the kitchen smells as though a newly-butchered side of beef were hanging in the corner — you carefully fish out the onions and toss them in the sink, to cool down before disposal. Butter, tomato, and onion are each of them complex and protean, and it can be said of Hazan’s miraculous blend that, if less is more here, the more is really more. It’s an indispensable spaghetti sauce, and it couldn’t be easier to make. 

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