Friday, May 18, 2007

Why Every Jew Needs A Nice Goyische Friend

(by Sera)

I had a little personal drama last week. Some of it was tangentially related to my career, but most of it was just vintage Gamble freakout. I won't bore you with the details, because they'll just highlight my ability to go completely apeshit over really unimpressive issues. So let's just leave it at, I was having a hard week. Since I don't take Xanax, I resorted to lying on the couch in my office with my eyes closed, listening to the hum of cortisol pumping furiously through my veins.

Then, eventually, I got bored of lying on my couch. But I still felt kinda blue. So I decided to pull out the big guns. I emailed my dear friend Matt the following:

Rough week. Need your services stat.

Don't get the wrong idea. Matt's not a manwhore. Waaaaay better.

He's an amateur chef.

Matt emailed me back with the following shopping list:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1 package thick-sliced bacon
6 oz gorgonzola cheese

It was then that I knew: everything was going to be just fine.

Matt showed up to my house with a pasta machine and a neat patty of just-mixed dough. We uncorked a bottle of Coppola because we think it's funny to drink wine made by the guy who directed Apocalypse Now, and I started cranking.

Cranking out pasta by hand is fantastically therapeutic. It ranks right near the top of awesome stress-relieving food-related activities-- above kneading dough, and just below the holy grail, squashing wine grapes with your feet. By the time I'd finished making the linguini, my worry had gone the way of the dodo. (Okay, perhaps the fact that we were on to Coppola, The Sequel helped.)

Matt cooked up the sauce while I watched-- I am so not kidding-- with my mouth agape and drooling. That sauce had more calories per ounce than any recipe I have ever witnessed. And as you know, we Jews have whole holidays devoted to deep-frying, so that's saying something. I fully expected to die from this food. But it was clear: death was a reasonable price to pay for a plate of Linguini Carbonara a la Mateo.

Matt did his Iron Chef thing, I snarfed bacon while his back was turned, and then we ate until our eyes rolled back into our heads.

You know how people say it's bad to drown your problem in alcohol and food? They're so wrong. Not only did I feel right as rain by the first bite, I've felt aces ever since. The magical bacony powers of that pasta have lasted nearly a week.

Or, more likely, the magical bacony powers of Matt. Matt, it bears mentioning, is not a Jew. He's not even Jewy. I think he's Irish or something. Clearly, he comes from a culture that has mastered the art of cooking with pig in a way my people haven't been sanctioned to. There was a moment during our meal, right before we realized we were so full we might actually pass out, when I looked across the table at his bright, goyische face and said, "This is why we need each other."

He probably thought I meant, this is why friends need friends-- to cheer them up, to share a meal, to celebrate the vexingly chaotic comedy of life with them. And that's true and all, but to be honest, not my point whatsoever.

I was thinking about how fucking good bacon tastes in a sauce of heavy cream. And how if we Jews only hung with other Jews, we might never get to experience that ridiculously sublime taste. Even bad Jews like me; my family may not give a crap about kashrut, but none of our traditional dishes feature the slightest hint of bacon. It's just not what's for dinner in Jewy households. So I rely on my non-Jewish homies to cook up the contraband when I really need the pure sweet protein-n-fat Prozac on a fork.

And Matt knows-- one day he'll catch a cold that kicks his ass like a soccer ball, and I'll appear at his door with a crock pot of the good shit. He can google recipes all day; he won't come up with a chicken soup half as magical as my grandma's. This is why those cute Irish foodie types need a solid Jewish friend like me. See? We need each other.

And I think you see where I'm going with this: the healing that took place in my Santa Monica kitchen last week could, if we want it to, be just the beginning. I think that just maybe my non-Hebe pal has inadvertantly handed us all the key to world peace: food.

Don't you think? Don't you think if Israel's Prime Minister showed up with a really rockin' pot of chicken soup at the next summit, everyone would be in a better mood? More inclined to give just a little, because goddamn, that's some good soup? Don't you wish George Bush talked less and barbequed more? I bet he flips a mean burger; the dude's from Texas. Seriously, why do they not serve snacks at the UN? I'm pretty sure it would make all the difference.

Want to make the world a better place? Think global, act local. Like, your own kitchen local. Here, I'll lead the way. If you need me, you can find me in the ice cream aisle at Whole Foods.