Wednesday, July 29, 2009


About a month ago, Leah and I went to Shopsin's, a delicious tiny restaurant in the Essex Street Market. Although there are only about 10 seats in the whole place, the menu is enormous, and everything on it looks fantastic.

When you walk in, you are welcomed by the dirty (and sometimes unwelcoming) mouth of Kenny Shopsin (restaurant owner and author of Eat Me). While we were there, he used several sexual slurs, a ton of curses, and explained that he recently cut seating in Shopsin's in half so that he didn't "have to go home and snort a half of coke every night." He also seemed to know most of the patrons by name, and had no problem telling some others there was no room for them. Though he was definitely entertaining, he was really rude and Leah and I basically couldn't hold a conversation because he was so loud and we just had to keep listening (he sat directly behind Leah). The atmosphere, then, was an experience in and of itself.

But then there was the food. I paid $14 for my sandwich, and it was worth every penny. I had a Luke's Lunch I (pulled pork and chili-cheese fries on a ciabatta), and it was huge and greasy and those fries made me feel like I was going to heaven. If I went back, I would probably order just the chili-cheese fries on their own ($12). Leah had the Indian Girl (fried potato, cabbage, onion curry, and lentil slaw on naan, $14), and that was also really good. Although the prices are steep, I'd say that the food was worth it, and the staff was entertaining in a certain kind of way, so I'd recommend at least trying it, if you like sandwiches. Just be warned: it can be really hard to get a table. We went on a Friday at 2pm, and it seemed to be pretty calm, but Leah had gone once for brunch (before they got rid of half the seating), and it was still very crowded.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Barbara Kingsolver

I don't know how I ended up in love with Barbara Kingsolver. I distinctly remember telling someone that I wouldn't read The Poisonwood Bible because it was too commercial (it might have been the Oprah sticker, before I realized that Oprah's Book Club can be damn good). I really thought she was someone like Lauren Weisberger. Yet, somewhere along the line, I did read it, and I loved it. Loved it in a way that I could never have expected, and in a way I haven't loved very many books. It is one of those rare books that was both deeply moving and informational, and every moment of it was beautiful. If you haven't read it yet, please do. It's lovely.

So, finally realizing that Kingsolver wasn't quite as painfully commercial as I'd originally thought, I put her aside and didn't do much about it. Until I saw Animal, Vegetable, Miracle had come out. As you have probably guessed by reading this blog, I love food. In particular, I love ethical food. Though I was leaning more and more this way, reading this book just pushed me over the edge. Although I'm sure if I read Coming Home to Eat or In Defense of Food now, I'd love them and be inspired and moved, when I first read them, they didn't quite hit home. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle did, and I think I'd have to credit Kingsolver with most of my trips to the farmers' market and my whole garden experiment this year. It's a lovingly written, funny, and again, informational book. It also has some really good recipes, all of which you can check out on the website.

Several months later, bored and not sure what to read, I scanned my roommate's bookshelf and discovered The Bean Trees. Though I wouldn't say that Kingsolver's first novel is as good as The Poisonwood Bible, it was a very fast, moving read. It tells the story of a woman escaping her rural roots by moving out west. Along the way, she picks up a baby and meets some fascinating people. Again, it was less sophisticated than The Poisonwood Bible, both in style and content, but it was a good read, especially for the summer.

Then, two weeks ago, I passed a box of free books while walking down my block and, of course, grabbed a ton. Prodigal Summer was one of them, nestled among six Toni Morrisons and a Dave Eggers. I started reading it late last night, so I'm only a few pages in, but I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I hope you grab one and let me know how you like it!