First, in honor of this historic day I have decided to roll back my age to 44. It's a small gesture I know, but I feel it's the least I can do. We have, after all, been called upon by our new Commander in Chief, to contribute, to make sacrifices. C'mon together we can become (younger, more vital versions of) our best selves.
Yes We Can!
About Food, Fashion, fekkin eejits...
Because I'm a food writer, everyone wants to hear what I thought about the food today. Guess what, I don't know a thing about it, except it was a tribute to Lincoln, apples and pheasant, etc. I will make my own Lincolnian tribute below. But first, what I saw more of, and am thrilled to discuss even more than food are the following:
1. Who invited that cranky Mr. Potter to the Party?
You're nothing but a warped, twisted old man Mr. Potter!
2. I wish they'd lay off the poet Elizabeth Alexander. Praise song for the day was about our common experiences and rising above the din and the busy-ness of daily life and finding courage and words to frame our vision and guide our progress forward. Read the text again and see if you don't agree. I didn't love it at first but there was a turning point that made me pause and when I read it again, it came together. I think it captures power and promise in a fitting tone for this inauguration.
3. I'm already sick of the news shows repeating only the last (somewhat silly IMHO) stanza of Rev. Lowry's Benediction. Missing the significance of its earlier stanzas citing from the song Lift Every Voice and Sing also known as the Negro or African American National Anthem. When you have to turn to USA Today for clarification, you know many people missed the point. The man's history speaks for itself. Malkin and Limbaugh should shut up already. Fekkin' eejits!
4. The Tuskegee Airmen (200 of the remaining 330) were in attendance, many swelling with tears and pride, like the rest of us. Another embodiment of the best in the collective us, though I hesitate to count myself in their company. Would I volunteer to serve for and die for a military and a country that denied me full rights as citizens? Would I then do so heroically knowing I was returning to a segregated America?
5. Fashion!! Here we go, hold on to your hats, even you Ms. Aretha, even you!
- Specifically - all the brouhaha over Dr. Biden's boots. I loved her look, it said, as much of the day did: "We are not the prior administration."
Gorgeous in gold!
- Loved Michelle's Inauguration ensemble. Going "big tent" with choices like designer Toledo (Cuban woman) and Wu (Taiwanese young man now resident in Vancouver). Loved that they are both less well known designers, with immigrant stories/histories.
The ball gowns:
- Again, Reem Accra for Dr. Biden was lovely and, as red of that shade must be, understated. But still celebratory and classic.
- Michelle, made her choice, I thought, to establish her own style. She chose a flowy, slightly somber (more so than her favored jewel tones) look, befitting of His white tie. (They almost resembled a new classic wedding cake topper).
- Of course, I'm smitten by the fact that they chose "our" wedding song, At Last, to dance to at every ball.
Appliqué and Swarovski crystals, but small train not so easy for dancing...
And, if any doubts remain about just how savvy the man is, what was the first thing he said? "How good-looking is my wife?" and one of the last? "She does everything I do backwards, and in heels." The old Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire quote. What woman in America (even the Hillary supporters) isn't now softened-up and leaning toward Obama?
Finally, Google clips of both of them individually appearing on Ellen to see who is the better dancer. Hint: the winner is wearing heels. (Again).
Inaugural food, Inclusion and Apples
People want me to comment on food of the inauguration. We had champagne cocktails. I had a dozen Hog Island oysters, a Reuben and chips. Caleb had Calamari and a Croque Monsieur.
Oh, you didn't mean us? Okay, the official Inaugural menu is discussed here. It recalls the Lincoln White House which Obama so admires. Apparently, even the huge Eli's Cheesecake is made with apples in homage to old "Honest Abe's" favorite fruit. While I have no comment on apples and cheesecake, I will share this with you, my fellow citizens.
When I was a young girl we moved from racially mixed Hawaii (shaka, Obama, shaka bro!) - my racially mixed family and I - to the very white suburbs of Washington D.C. There were exactly three of us in my entering class at Belair Jr. High who were neither white, nor bussed in from Landover (where the Redskins play.) Monica Santos (who was Filipino) another girl (who was half Asian and half Black) and me (half Japanese, half White). The year I joined this school, where everyone else had grown up together either in Bowie or in Landover, the Federal government decided to begin each school year with a census. We had to raise our hands when the teacher called out our race. And hold them up while she counted out the numbers.
It's hard enough not to feel awkward at 12 or 13 years old. How about that kind of welcome? I cried nearly every day because I could not understand why I was getting grief for trying to be friends with everyone, as we did on the Air Force bases where I grew up, including in Hawaii. I had my first year of living as a civilian in Hawaii, too. Great except for the fact that no one told me how different it is from the rest of the States. My poor mother had no answers for me, only a sympathetic shoulder. It was the start of a few tough years, for me and for her. This experience was only one more reason to act out, not that any teen needs a reason. I had plenty.
Mrs. Fisher's Apple Torte - the healing power of cake
Food is something that has the power to heal our wounds in ways that stay with us for many, many years. You can imagine I was not the most popular girl. I wasn't good at sports like Monica, or seemingly happy and well-adjusted like the other "Other" girl. One of the popular girls, a cheerleader, natch, was named Dee Dee Fisher. One day she shared an amazingly good apple cake with me from her lunch. It was a small gesture to her, I'm sure. I still remember it today. I commented that I would love the recipe and she shrugged "sure."
Of course, I was certain I had clinched my geek-outsider status with the request, never to be spoken to again. What was I thinking?
Guess what? Dee Dee brought me her mom's recipe and I still have it today. It's a simple cake and every time I make it I remember where it came from.
I shared the recipe here in my ode to The Joy of Cooking's 75th Anniversary edition. At the time of Joy's 75th Anniversary release there was much hand-wringing about the "dumbing-down" of recipes and cook books. I shared Mrs. Fisher's Apple Torte recipe to encourage people to cook with their kids, or simply to try their hand at an easy and delicious cake. Now you know the whole story about how I came to this recipe, or more correctly, how it came to me.
So it's not Lincoln and Obama, but it's my small story about apples and inclusion and the power of food to bring us together. Why not make it today - share it with someone and share your stories.
- For highlights of Rev. Lowry's life: Lowry to deliver benediction
- For more on the song, (and excellent background for Black History Month - February): Lift Every Voice and Sing
- For more on the Inaugural luncheon menu. Barack Obama's Inauguration Day Lunch Menu.