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DINING IN

Food critic Tonya Kuxhausen writes reviews of meals she prepares for herself at home. Food is at the center of each article but the whole dining experience is considered and commented on. To paraphrase Socrates, an unexamined meal is not worth eating.

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key
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five hearts
excellent!

four hearts
very good

three hearts
good

two hearts
not ok

one heart
yuck!

broken heart
ouch

three hearts

Dinner, 2-20-02

I felt depressed and a little angry. The highlight of my meal was the excitement I had buying the wine before my class. I knew I would construct the dinner around the wine, so during class I made a list of things to get at the Wedge. The only certainty was a mini striato. I wasn't really hungry anyway. But figuring that I hadn't had vegetables in a while, unless I counted the olives I had for dinner last night, I decided to have a salad. Mainly I just wanted the striato, olive oil, and wine but felt that was unjustified.

The salad was OK. I actually tried pretty hard. It was a medley of fine organic ingredients: green leaf lettuce, cucumber, red bell pepper, kalamata olives (not organic), red onion, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese. I washed and chopped everything -- but not so much with the mindfulness that I had imagined, it was kind of half-assed; I even used a dirty knife. I skipped salad dressing because the feta coated everything and made it unnecessary. I ate it all pretty fast. The lettuce held up despite its apparent age, and the juicy bits of olives and red pepper that collected at the bottom of the bowl were my favorite. I wouldn't say eating the salad felt like work, but it wasn't joyful. At least I could feel good for eating vegetables. I felt that I deserved at least a quarter cup of olive oil for my mini striato.


The Menu

Mixed vegetable salad with feta cheese
Mini Striato with olive oil
Wine (a 1996 shiraz)
Ghirardelli chocolate chips


So on to the bread. It was delightful. A perfect striato from the French Meadow bakery. A beautiful hard crust, which scraped the roof of my mouth and hurt my gums. Chewy insides with ample pockets for the expensive, fragrant olive oil. I had poured a small soup-sized bowl full of the oil, and I used the striato like a small ladle. This was my second course. The wine, a 1996 shiraz, was a bit too sweet so I had more bread and oil to compensate. I was eating fast and mourning the last bite of bread before the striato was half gone. I tempered my pace with more wine.

As I paused to look around, I noticed the place was a mess. Same old stacks of paper and magazines on the table, same crumbs of food on the floor as yesterday. I was thinking about my ex-boyfriend and I started feeling sorry for myself. Suddenly it became hard to chew and the whole dinner seemed mirthless and effortful. I was angry and felt like swearing. I poured myself another glass of wine and ate handfuls of Ghirardelli chocolate chips for dessert.

The chocolate chips were excellent.


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