Saturday, March 4, 2023

My Day In Maui


I'm here in Maui, and on viewing a recipe from the NYT, I realized that, for some reason I cannot fathom, we did not have a Dutch oven.  My wife Ann was implacably well supplied with everything.  I set her up in our spare bedroom with a built in wrap around desk and shelves, and in going through them last year, I discovered pens and paper and folders etc. for roughly the next decade or two.   But no Dutch oven.

So I went onto Wirecutter to find the best Dutch oven for a good price, found one, ordered it from Amazon, and it was here in two days.  Then I was ready to make the NYT eggplant chili recipe.  I found the ingredients, had to replace one or two -- couldn't find canned fennel so I used pinto beans instead -- and cooked it up yesterday.  No salt -- I never add salt to recipes, it's unhealthy, maybe too much pepper, made the jalapeƱo to be added for each portion rather than in the mix.  And guess what -- it's great!  What a triumph of man over ability!

But then, the point.  Who did that make me feel like?  Was it Julia Child, Tony Bourdain?  Hardly.

It made me feel like Steve Kerr.

I often say that great managers and general managers are like landscape artists, who discover how each person, like a plant, fits in; which one needs light and water, which ones shade and sand, and which ones enhance the growth and beauty of the others.  But yesterday, I thought maybe they are also well thought of as great chefs, although in this case the creativity was only in recreating someone else's.

So, with that little snippet, we move on, perhaps to other pastures, perhaps to bramble bushes, but like the now un-PC Br'er Rabbit -- I had to go off-Amazon to get a DVD of Song of the South -- wherever we wind up, let it be a place of familiarity and ease.


But, oh, like Columbo, just one more thing.  After making the chili, I drove to Wailuku to have lunch at Cafe Saigon with two Maui friends, Ryan and Jess.  Ryan used to be my pool guy, now has moved up a bit in the company, but we used to see each other regularly and talk.  We became friends; I was able to encourage him in his give-up-smoking and live-better project.  An interesting, intelligent, introspective and very sweet guy, it turns out.  Then, what happened to him?  Far away in his native North Carolina, his friend of 20 years, Jess, traversing her own briar patch of a life, was in therapy, and discovered that what she wanted to do was to marry Ryan.  So she came to Maui and put it to him and said, we are going to get married.  Which they then did, and they are so happy, and she is so proud of herself, and he feels like he was given a gift.  They are going back to NC next week, after 3 years since she's been there, to get stuff settled, see her lawyer, sell her car, etc.  And, what did Jess want to know, what was eating at her?  She wanted me to narrate the further adventures of Hortense, one of my characters in my French novel, the grandmother-age who still has the hots for guys and doesn't hide it.  Somehow, Hortense tickles Jess, and she thinks she has some older friends at her gym up-country here in Maui who might fit the description of Hortense, I think.

And I was able to tell Ryan and Jess a little bit about my friend Big Bob's odyssey, his quest for and success in wooing Adele, and how I thought it was probably the greatest achievement of his life.  They nodded appreciatively, and recognized themselves in the story.

Anyway, onward and upward?  This is my son Peter's cat here in Maui, a feral cat whom he has befriended and made family, and who comes in and eats and rolls around several times a night.  I finished the day off petting him.  His name is Meatloaf.

Budd Shenkin