Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Flying High on Potatoes, God's Will and The View

Just back from a quick weekend trip to Tucson for the wedding of our nephew Gabe to Laura. Was colder in Arizona than back home in New York, but the real eye-opener of the trip was reaffirmation of my antipathy toward flying. I am soooo glad I no longer have to fly several times a month. Especially when our connecting flight from Houston to LaGuardia was delayed, the heaviness of sitting around the airport, eating airport food, was overwhelming. 

Eat Your Veggies: Last week WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show aired an interview on the origin of potatoes as a staple of Western cuisine. Originally from the Andes in South America, most of the spuds we eat today are cloned varieties of Chilean potatoes. Central to the diet of South American natives, the potato was introduced to Europe in 1530 by the Spanish. 

In the small southeastern Polish town of Ottynia where my father was born, potatoes dominated mealtime, so much so that by the time he left the village at 16 and made his way to the free city of Danzig (now Gdansk) on the Baltic Sea, he vowed never to eat another potato. He managed to maintain that self-imposed prohibition for some 10 years until sitting in a restaurant one day a waitress prevailed upon him to try a potato with his meat. 

The rest, as they say, is history. From that time forward rare was the day a potato did not take up space on his dinner plate. Boiled potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Baked potatoes. French fried potatoes at the delicatessen. Potato latkes. The man loved potatoes. His palate hardly ever entertained a vegetable. Nothing green made it onto our dinner table. On the rare occasion my mother tried to introduce a vegetable, say asparagus or Brussell sprouts, she failed miserably. Ordinarily a good cook, she grossly overcooked vegetables until all their nutrients and taste were eliminated. Her asparagus resembled a limp question mark with no hint it was once a spear. Naturally, I grew up disdaining vegetables.

As an early member of Trans World Airlines’ frequent flyer program some 30 years ago, I often upgraded to first class (back then you could do so without having to redeem miles; you qualified for an upgrade simply by flashing your frequent flyer card). During one first class romp to California, I accepted the stewardess’ invitation for cold asparagus under Hollandaise sauce. My taste buds exploded. To Gilda’s everlasting joy, I came home eager to eat vegetables. To my everlasting joy, Gilda knows how to prepare them properly and tastefully.

God’s Will: Last posting I opined that by sending Superstorm Sandy a week before the election God must have been on Obama’s side since it stymied Romney’s momentum in the crucial last week of the campaign. I failed to remember God previously intervened to thwart Romney’s initial push by hurling Hurricane Isaac at Tampa just before the city hosted the Republican National Convention. Coupled with losses by Republican candidates who believe rape is God’s will, I’d say there’s significant evidence God is definitely not a registered Republican.

For a moment, it looked like God would be neutral. A storm did, after all, prompt the Democratic Party Convention to shift Obama’s acceptance speech from an outdoor stadium to an indoor arena. But the threatened downpour never happened and Obama’s rhetoric, not as lofty as four years ago, probably played better inside than it would have outside.

Barbara Bests Bibi: Most of the pundits have analyzed the election far beyond my meager efforts, but it’s worth noting Obama was criticized in October when the United Nations General Assembly met for making a guest appearance on The View instead of meeting with Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu. In light of the overwhelming support women provided his re-election effort, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge sharing yucks with Barbara Walters and her crew was more beneficial than making nice to the head of a foreign state who clearly favored his opponent and, like so many caught up in distaste for the current occupant of the White House, came out on the wrong side of history.