Convenience food

At five minutes to bedtime on Thursday night, I flicked the switch in the bathroom and got a flash, a pop, then nothing. These are the times when I am grateful to live in a city: it’s about half a block and one quick turn to a 24-hour Rite Aid. And there was light.

Yesterday’s assignments included some program notes for an upcoming recital. No problem: New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is less than a ten-minute walk from my apartment, and I located the scores I needed in a matter of minutes. (For free. I will never get over my glee at the existence of such a marvelous institution.)

But there is a price for all this proximity and convenience: we New Yorkers start to develop a warped perception of distance and time. (Travel to the east side? Not if I can avoid it, and I usually can.) Yesterday, at the end of a very long day at the computer, I contemplated ordering in. Nothing scandalous about that. Everyone does it. Except me. I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I have in the three years I’ve lived in the city, the primary reason being that I’m too cheap. Also, I tend to like my own cooking better than that of just about anyone else. And I like to know exactly what I’m putting into my body.

It was more of a battle than it should have been, but eventually my better self won out and I walked the four blocks (four blocks! sheesh! what is wrong with me?) to Fairway. It was a beautiful spring day—the first—and there were lots of small people underfoot, many of them licking ice cream. It was good to get out. But even surrounded by all kinds of delicious provisions, it was hard to get excited about cooking.

There is convenience food, and then there is convenience food. (In The Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan suggests that we not consume anything our great grandparents wouldn’t recognize as food, which pretty much takes care of all those products processed and packaged for our consumption.)

I ended up doing convenience my way: an avocado smashed onto a couple of pieces of coarse multi-grain toast, topped with sprinkle of coarse salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Then half an apple, a bit of cheese and a handful of walnuts. Completely satisfying. 

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