Eating With The Angels

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If I’d ever thought to draw up a list of the people most likely to turn my life upside down, I seriously doubt Woody Allen would have made the top 10 let alone occupied the number one slot. 

Sure, I never much cared for his movies post Hannah And Her Sisters and I guess I was moderately vocal on the whole icky marrying-his-girlfriend’s-adopted-daughter thing but that was no reason to take away my livelihood, was it? To destroy everything I once held dear? To make me question, and I mean really question, my entire reason for being? 

Yeez, the guy almost put me off pretzels for life. What a sentence! In fact I still can’t see one without wondering how things might have turned out that day had he brought an apple from home. And while we’re on the subject of home, what is it with Central Park? I mean, hello-o, there are other locations in New York City. It’s just that had Soon-Yi baked Woody a cookie or had he not been filming on the Bow Bridge that day, my life would have remained right side up — not been blown into smithereens and splattered all around Manhattan and beyond like some booby-trapped multi-coloured layer cake, heavy on the frosting. 

But hey, this is probably not making much sense to you. Not yet anyway and believe me I know how that feels. Big time. So let me give you a word of advice right off the bat before you get any more confused, before you go any further, and that word of advice is this: relax. 
Don’t try to make sense of it too soon. 

It’ll come to you the way it came to me, seemingly clear until you get to the end when it will become really clear — making you realise how fuzzy it was at the beginning.

I’m not explaining myself so well, am I? Okay. Have you ever seen one of those magnified pictures in a kid’s magazine? Something totally run of the mill that they’ve zoomed in on times a thousand and you win a pen if you guess what it is. Well, a person can go pretty nuts looking at one of those pictures: there’s something about it, something you can’t quite put your finger on, it’s on the tip of your tongue, but you never get it and it bugs the heck out of you. Then when the magazine publishes the zoomed-out picture it turns out to be something so simple, so familiar, so perfectly every day — a blade of grass, a speck of sand — that you can’t believe you didn’t see it right from the beginning. 

What I’m trying to say is that you’ll discover little pieces of the story the same way I did, bit by bit, right up close, but it won’t be till you stand back at the end that you’ll recognise the whole enchilada.
And talking of enchiladas I’ve just realised that I could eat a horse (something I’m ashamed to say I have done in the past and quite enjoyed). Today, though, I think I’ll leave Black Beauty in the barn and maybe, maybe what? Once upon a time I would have jumped on the subway down to Joe’s for a slice of pizza. Just the thought of that piping hot fresh mozzarella bubbling across the perfect crispy base has my taste buds quivering in anticipation. In fact, my mouth is watering so hard my jaw hurts and I hate it when that happens. But then my mouth is on hyper-drive these days. 

Right now, believe it or not, while my mind is definitely on a slice of pizza from Joe’s, I am also subconsciously trying not to count each fat golden grain of organic unrefined sugar that I’ve stirred into my Big Cup take-out latte — because I swear I can taste every one of them. My buds are on standby full-time, poor battered things, and if you think that sounds whacko get a load of this: from here I can smell, with just one sniff, that the Sailor’s Delight washed rind cheese in my refrigerator has less than 19 hours to go before it reaches its prime, that the loaf of Rock Hill Bakehouse sourdough I bought this morning is missing one 20th of a teaspoon of salt. But those Sycamore Farms New York strawberries? Perfectly ripe and ready for eating.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking lay off of that caffeine, Connie, because you’re talking like a high-wired crazy person but honestly, by the time you get to the end of my story, when you stand back and see the whole thing in context, you will understand why being able to savour every little morsel gives me such a thrill.

Of course, before you get to the end you will probably go through quite a stretch of thinking I am a complete nut job and you would not be alone on this one, so don’t go feeling bad about it. Hey, even I thought I had lost the plot and was never going to get it back for a while: not helped by the big stack of medical evidence to just that effect, I might add.

But I have emerged from these past few months of hell — and heaven — not only relatively unscathed but with a new insatiable hunger for life that I never ever had before. Or if I did, I was standing too darn close to see it. 

They say that things happen for a reason, that bad things happen to good people, that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger . . . and yes, for most my life I thought that was baloney too. But now, I’m not so sure. (Hey, there you go! Only 18 hours till my Sailor’s Delight hits its peak.) Anyway, all I know is that because of what happened to me, because of Woody Allen and that freakin’ pretzel, I am now the person I was supposed to be, not the person I was turning into, and for that I believe we can all be truly thankful. And while it may seem weird that I’ve chosen to tell my story the way I saw it, which as you will learn is not necessarily the way it was, it was my own particular take on events that led me to reach the monumental life-changing conclusion that 50 bucks might buy you a hamburger with short ribs and foie gras — but there’s no price too high for the perfect tomato.

Kind of a turning point for a restaurant critic, you might say. Especially in New York City, a town where people don’t eat their young, they sell them so they can pay for that hamburger.

It’s a matter of taste.