I had a Radio Days morning yesterday. Well, almost.
You know the storyline. A young boy narrates his memories of growing up in Rockaway Beach, and his family's interaction with the fantasy and reality of radio in the early 1940s. It is one of my favorite movies.
As I enjoyed my breakfast yesterday, this bit of narration played in the cineplex at the back of my head. Right next to the little French restaurant that can never quite get the coq au vin right.
There were two completely different worlds.The wags amongst you are asking which world is mine -- Rockaway or Manhattan. Let me tell you my tale. Then you can decide.
While my mother stood over the dirty plates in Rockaway, Irene and Roger ate their elegant breakfast over the air from their chic Manhattan townhouse.
While they chatted charmingly about people and places we only dreamt of.
When Darrel and Christy were here, we cooked most of our breakfasts in my new kitchen. Any doubts that I had that the kitchen was not well-laid-out were put to rest. The three of us worked together like a team from Le Cirque.
After they left, I kept cooking meals in house. And then I started slipping back into my dining out routine.
When I got up yesterday, I decided enough was enough. I was going to cook breakfast here. Of course, I neglected to shop the day before -- for my new-found desire to eat in.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper has a segment on her radio show The Splendid Table called "Stump the Cook." A listener tells Lynn five ingredients in the listener's refrigerator, and Lynn comes up with an astounding meal. I have never heard her fail. That is because a good cook can work wonders with almost any five random ingredients.
I felt as if I had fallen through the looking-glass into an unaired episode of "Stump the Cook" when I opened the doors of my refrigerators.
Plenty of odds and ends from previous projects. A partial slab of ham steak. A cup of cooked black beans. A quarter of an onion. Halves of a yellow pepper and a red pepper. Maybe two tablespoons of corn salsa.
The solution seemed obvious. I sautéed the lot with five cloves of garlic and two tablespoons of Louisiana hot sauce. A tomato would have been a nice addition. But I didn't have one.
I slipped the mixture onto a shallow plate, and topped it with two easy-over eggs that I had sprinkled with chopped basil from my front garden.
With the addition of two linen napkins (from my airplane flying kit), I was ready to dig into what turned out to be one of the best breakfasts I have had in awhile. All enjoyed within the confines of my now finely-appointed walls.
There were no dirty dishes on the terrace. No Rockaway. No housewife. No Irene. No Manhattan townhouse.
And even though the worlds in Radio Days are "completely different worlds" from one another, they are also a long way from my simple breakfast on a warm morning on the Pacific coast of Mexico.
In any comparison contest, I think I win.