Category Archives: Good Food

The Gift Card.

 

 

Last week, I thought I’d found it: the perfect Xmas gift.

In fact, it seemed perfect for BOTH of my oldest, and dearest, friends.

Free food. Who could possibly reject free food – for the whole family, for a solid week, brought to their doorstep, complete with all supplemental ingredients and specific instructions as to how to prepare each meal for a truly gourmet dinner? And, how truly practical, as well; who enjoyed taking time to grocery shop during the holidays?

Yet, there it was: Hello, Fresh! the company – and GROUPON, the third party offering a discount that just could not be ignored.

Eagerly, I clicked on the appropriate online link, and ordered the products as Gifts. Filled out the forms, paid with PayPal, and off they went. So enthused was I a big, pink Facebook post followed; I’d found t.h.e. perfect Christmas present.

At first Lisa, my old college housemate, was ecstatic. She’d just sold their house in NY, was closing on the new one in the LA burbs in just days and starting a new job within the week…..this, she said, was a “godsend.”

Well, God’s been busy. It’s the holiday season, after all and, in these times, He’s had to field all manner of religious holy weeks and festivals and fasts and, well, who would want that job?

PROBLEM #1: How would this [free food] be shipped to either of my friends (in California), if their addresses had not been filed by GROUPON?

Oh.

The Voucher.

There was a Voucher, a Gift Card of sorts, which had to be printed by the Gift recipient who, in turn, needed to sign on to the site to select the meals. I quickly emailed my friend, with the heads up.

In between viewing job prep clearance videos and appointments for the requisite physical, she’d managed to open the email and become thoroughly confused. Perhaps she’d wait until her husband came home from his job as cartoon editor at Warner Bros. He’d make heads and/or tails of why she couldn’t seem to.

PROBLEM #2: And, this was huge. Access to the menu selection site. GROUPON, she said, was actually asking the gift recipient for credit card info, claiming some “ongoing subscription” requirement.

WHAT??! Did I do this to my two, best friends?!

Over on the other side of the county Alex, whom I’d called Sandy since first grade, was beyond any gratitude; she was incensed.

To her, self-employed business owner for decades, the whole thing felt so impersonal, and annoying, and no way was she entering any credit card info in order to receive food or anything else alleged to be a “gift.”

Several texts and emails later, far longer than it would have taken to coast over to the nearby department store for its weekly Tuesday Over 55 sale, true story: Hello, Fresh!, greedy as they came, in cahoots with GROUPON, the latter offering a discount to the giver, was roping the gift recipient into some ongoing subscription contingency; in short, no Hello, Fresh! meals delivered unless membership was first established which, of course, everybody knows, could be Cancelled At Any Time By Calling The Number On The WHAT??

My wallet was already filled with Gift Cards. There were 5 bucks left on the Bed, Bath & Beyond; at least one bookstore; and, now defunct, a local Mall card so old so as to carry an actual expiration date – meaning, in spite of the money put down by my former students’ parents, after a certain date that chunk of cash was doomed to the ether, or Bank of America, whichever held out solvency longest.

I’ll give you Cancel At Any Time.

I’ve got your number.

Commercial America: you want attention?

I’ll send you a card.

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© 12/13/17  Ruth Ann Scanzillo    All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Be a good person; it’s free.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Silver Bells.

“Social Intelligence and the Standard Bearer.”

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“The holidays” can put a person off.

As the season approaches, a certain set of expectations play across our culture. By some unspoken demand, one must be “festive”. This invariably translates as seeking out the company of others. In between massive bursts of expenditure, lunch dates are squeezed. The bravest among us host carefully planned and exhaustively prepared dinner parties. In the air, there’s that feeling of Christmas, and at the end of it all is the subconscious satisfaction of having met an effective standard; along with managing to get the gifts bought, wrapped, and delivered on time, there is the reward of having done it all right.

Just read, today, that those of very high intelligence prefer being alone.

In our family, it was always our older brother touted as the family genius; but, by golly gosh, he still commands an audience and I prefer my own company. Or, rather, after just a couple hours with people, I need to get the hell home.

Don’t read this wrong. People are fascinating. I love the energy of human exchange. I’ll be on the sidelines, watching and listening with keen interest. And, nobody dares call me aloof; the barber’s daughter, I know better than to look down on anyone.

But, what of social intelligence? Among all six recognized aptitudes (verbal; mathematical; spacial; physical; creative),  just how overvalued is this trait?

The life of the party is venerated, for an ability to both mobilize and inspire all in the company to open up, relax, and let it all hang together. Seems every social gathering can’t survive without one. And, why is that?

All are warned to steer clear of the “bore” – that one who tosses out a stimulating topic for discussion and then secures a solid conversation with another willing to listen and respond. Parties aren’t supposed to be about substance, after all; keeping things light maintains a more comfortable atmosphere, one which challenges no one to engage any form of critical thinking or divergent speculation lest any feel tested. Enjoying oneself at a social gathering is paramount, even if tantamount to total intellectual abdication. After all, nobody wants to be guilty of clearing the room.

When life was smaller, people all knew each other. Natural gifts – for music, or comedy – emerged of their own volition. The only collective expectation was that the food be tasty and plentiful, the beverages fine, and the location of the gathering within a moonlit walk of home.

The rest of the world was the place one went for a change of scene. And, this might constitute a few days’ drive from town, even including dinner out at a restaurant where the people looked, smelled, and served up food so removed from the usual that the whole experience offered plenty of follow up conversation for days thereafter.

But, beyond the monthly excursion, neighborhoods maintained intact homeostasis. Proximity was close, and familiar, and understood. The pool was smaller; all members were recognized; the power of influence-peddling was moot; and, anonymity was alien.

Now, life is enormous. Technology has made social access nearly total. People of every persuasion cross virtual paths, almost daily. Food, of every conceivable gastronomical device, is offered up anywhere a meal is within reach. But, proportionately, social expectation has become overtaking in its scope, and the quality of what used to be called “genuine” is fading.

Where does one go, anymore, to find a true standard for the authentic?

Have we become so practiced in the arts of persuasion, manipulation, and influence that our respect for the real thing is relegated to the attic find on Antiques Roadshow?

Perhaps our social collective can submit to regaining its willingness to acknowledge that which rings merely true. I think somebody said Jesus would have it so.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo   12/19/16       All rights those of the author, a real person who taught herself to type, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your recognition. I, too, see you. Merry Christmas.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Bold Golden Leek Soup w/ Purple Potatoes

(Why not celebrate with food? This is my 500th piece at WordPress.com — Eee-yikes! Nathaniel Hawthorne, here we come…( yawn )

Let’s Get Bold.

Sufficiently delusional, guess who just threw together a soup and then posted it on Anthony Bourdain’s FBK page. Yeah. Who does that ?

What Happened:

In a deep, wide skillet, emptied 3/4 16 oz bottle spring water. Then, tossed a handful of large leek medallions. Covered and brought that to boil, adding chunked purple potatoes, skins on. Still boiling, poured almond milk (unsweetened vanilla?!) until the water whitened. Diced one large clove garlic, poured two glugs EVOO (maybe 3 T?), then, dashed paprika liberally across the surface – reducing to simmer. While simmering, added a good mound of Parm-Romano and about a T dried parsley. Stirred, and re-covered. Walked away, simmering on low til potatoes softened.

Unbelievable broth color, maple tree gold, with bubbles of olive fat; served up (for 2, but I ate them both) in a deep bowl, pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste.

Fresh parsley, or cilantro, would have made better contrast, and coconut milk a better pair with the aged cheese than the vanilla almond. But, hearty and smoothe…a nice surprise.

Modify, to taste, peeps.

(So, thyme? wine?) Wish you could see the photo.

Oh! Here —  you guys c.a.n see the photo!

leekpurplepotatosoup2016

with warm and fond autumn fantasies,

© Ruth Ann Scanzillo  11/1/16

littlebarefeetblog.com