Excellent, Average, & Terrible Things I've Recently Eaten: Desserts of Summer


A few weeks ago I had a dream where my friend Niki and I went out for dinner at a fictional restaurant where instead of sitting at a table you sat on giant rocks and ate off plates on your lap. She told me what she was going to order and I asked, "Is it okay if I just order two desserts and eat one while you eat your appetizer and the other while you eat your main?"- which is honestly such an excellent fucking idea; I'm very disappointed in my conscious mind for not thinking it up on its own. 

Point is, I love dessert. It's the dreamiest, most romantic part of a meal, and eating it's pretty much the only time I'll allow myself to fully let go- of all of it- and when I bliss out I bliss out, like I'm on a morphine drip dripping into a sleepy secret world where I don't need to care or talk or listen, can't be bothered to try and make any enthralling writery points about "what the sauce is like" just in case anybody forgot that I'm a writer who writes about food for like five fucking seconds of their life God forbid. 

I ordered myself a piece of flan as my staff meal one Sunday evening. I'm not really supposed to do that, since flan is not a very nourishing meal and I don't think it would do a ton to enhance my performance or anything. But I was selling all these people all this flan all night and accidentally sold myself on it too. I had to do it. I think it's fine and normal if I do it every once in a while. 

Our flan has cream cheese in it. It's very rich, as all desserts should be. I hate when people act offended by the richness, by the wealth of their dessert, like duhhhhhh- yeah it's rich! Duh. Who cares if it hurts your stomach? Why are you paying attention to your stomach? Pay attention to your mouth. 

I had my little slice of flan up in one of the windows- there is maybe better terminology to use than "window"; I want to explain it so that people who haven't spent in time in kitchens understand it- it was resting on one of those silver shelves where the cooks put the food up when it's ready, to wait for a runner to come and run it to one of the tables. I had it shoved off to one side so I could take a little bite whenever I had a free moment here or there. I was eating it in the tiniest possible bites. I wanted it to last forever and I was dreading finishing it. I felt like I was going to die once it was gone.  

The curved line running through the lefthand centre of the flan in the flan diagram seen above represents the size of bites I was generally taking, although I feel like the diagram bite I've illustrated is a tad more generous than the bulk of my real-life bites. The crosshatched section at the bottom of the flan diagram and the shaded portion at the upper lefthand corner represents the amount of flan I'd already eaten when the tragic thing that is about to happen happened. 

I was standing by the counter, calmly and peacefully eating a diminutive and ladylike flan bite off a dessert fork, when my sous-chef noticed the flan, yelled, "OOOOH, THERE'S FLAN?", and then, grasping a tablespoon in his fist like a fat king about to dig into a feast involving turkey legs in a Disney cartoon, dug into the flan and took the gargantuan fucking bite, if you can even call a bite that big a bite, denoted by the EXTREMELY LARGE CIRCLE enveloping the ENTIRE TOP HALF OF MY FUCKING PIECE OF FLAN THAT I LOVED SO MUCH AND WANTED SO BAD- 

I screamed, "Nooooooooooooo!" in an arc of a whine that was about 95% pathetic, 5% fierce: a wolf pup's howl. A newborn wolf pup. "There was not flan!" I cried- I was literally crying. I mean, I wasn't crying, but my eyes definitely teared up. It was my flan! It was my meal! I was loving it so much, savoring it, and then he came and swooped up half of the entire thing, and the worst part was, he ate the fucking crust. I mean, it's not a crust, because it's a flan- but it's the edge part, you know? The burnt, sticky, caramelly outer ring that I'd been SAVING FOR LAST because I SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST because THAT'S HOW I EAT MY FUCKING FOOD. He ate the best part of the flan, and it meant nothing to him, and everything to me. I hate him and will never forgive him. I have not shut up about how this happened since it happened and I need to stop writing it right now or else I will wake up seventy years later and realize I just spent my entire life writing about the time my sous-chef stole a bite of my flan and that was how I spent my time on Earth, and then I'll die. 

Oh Christ, just look at these gorgeous little fuckers. Don't you just want to laminate that cone of newspaper into a pouch and carry them around with you everywhere? Like they're your marbles or pennies or whatever. 

I ate this dessert at Terroni with my mom in mid-July; I almost never eat dessert at Terroni, because I allegedly "hate" Italian desserts. So many times in my life, my mother has asked me if I want to get dessert at Terroni, and then I whine, "I haaaaaate Italian desserts," as if I have just been asked if I'd like to pop in to the gynecologist's office for a quick post-prandial look-see. Luckily our server was a great salesperson and, before I even had a chance to roll my eyes at the prospect of tiramisu, tiramisu, or tiramisu, described the feature dessert as being peach fritters, or fritturi or whatever, served with sweet cream gelato. I was like "Sold." Peaches & cream is my everything. She could have been like "We have some peach-flavored barf, served with sweet cream-flavored horse-bones," and I would have been like "Okay fine."

The fritters were, I don't know... fritters. The fritters were fritters. Everything is everything. The other day I was explaining ceviche sizes to a table of at my restaurant and I said, "Well, the small is a small, and the big is a big"- don't think I'll be using that one again! The fritters were fritters. They were fried dough. They were hot. I liked them a great deal. The peaches inside were sliced into cylinders, and they reminded me of gemstones. They made me wonder if there are gemstones the color of peaches. And if so, why don't we care about them more? They seem like something Southern belles would really dig.


I Love The Courtneys & Didn't Get Tickets To Courtney


Have you heard the Courtneys? They're this new-ish band from Vancouver: three girls, only of whom is named Courtney. I found them a few weeks ago because someone somewhere said something about they sound how like Blake Babies covering Sonic Youth - which they don't, at all, but I'm still into it. I listened to about half of a song on their Bandcamp page and then immediately bought the whole album and it's been a really chill second-half-of-summer soundtrack so far. They sing a lot about swimming and bodies of water, and about boys and love and being broke, and the songs sort of all sound the same but in a good way that hypnotizes you a little but also gets you hyper. I love these songs the most:

i. "90210." I think this is the one that sold me on the Courtneys. It sounds like summer and like being free, a kind of free-ness that's not hippie-ish or punk or even little-kid-like. It's just dreamy and scrappy and breezy and brash, and I always feel lighter and brighter when the Courtneys all yell "Slow down! Chill out! Breathe in! Breathe out! Kick back, and have a rest! Don't forget/To take a breath!" I like being screamed at to relax. And the video's so rad: it's got a cute fat baby and a cute fat dog, plus the girls in the band playing guitar in the ocean and eating pizza on the beach. You can watch it here.

ii. "K.C. Reeves." It's about Keanu Reeves! Love him so much. The song's a little jokey and that's not really my thing - usually the jokiest I like my songs is, I don't know, "Far Away Eyes." And one of the lyrics is "You are my '90s dream," which is minorly annoying - it bugs me when decades are used as adjectives. But "K.C. Reeves" is still a blast, with cool references to lesser-celebrated Keanu works like the 1986 made-for-TV movie Babes in Toyland. Plus it's got the most exuberant name-spelling-in-song since David Bowie spelling his own name in his cover of "Cactus" by the Pixies. Keanu's middle name is Charles, by the way. Huh.


Thing of the Week: Tarot LJ, Mick Jagger Wearing Sweaters, A Cocktail


I knew I had to buy a deck of Tarot cards when I got home from Martha's Vineyard. We all read each other's cards while we were there, and I found myself feeling connected to the cards in a way I never had before. It was one of those things you know you need to be around, like hearing the Beatles for the first time. 

I bought my deck two weeks ago, at a little hippie store I'd never been inside called The Rock Store. They mostly sell rocks. I bought myself a little Lapis Lazuli, since someone once told me it'd be good for my writing, and a classic Rider-Waite deck. 

I've been drawing my daily Tarot card every day since; it's becoming very obvious that my life takes place within the Cups suit, which represents my beloved element water. It's about emotion, inner worlds, inner life. I've also drawn the Seven of Pentacles twice, which is about taking a moment out of your journey to reflect upon where you're at, and now the Empress seems to be my new thing. I drew the Empress as my daily card a few days ago, on this day I listened to Isis by Bob Dylan about twenty-five times, and then I came home and put on Desire and realized that there's a picture of the Empress on the back cover, which was neat and spooky but definitely posi-spooky and not-negi spooky. 

Last night I was having a little anxiety about work and also pulled my back out at the gym and was just lying on my couch watching the episode of Mad Men where Peggy smokes pot and decided to be a little bit more action-oriented and a little bit less of a blob, so I did a work-related reading on myself. I found this spiral-bound notebook Liz Barker gave me last time I was in LA, it's the cover of Revolver and she bought it in Buenos Aires. It's my Tarot Notebook now. I took extremely detailed notes of every card and position and then wrote about what I thought they meant. It was highly absorbing and highly non-boring, non-blobby behaviour. The Empress appeared again, in the future/approaching influence/quality to embrace slot. When I saw it, I immediately/instinctively wrote down DRINK WINE, HAVE SEX, EAT DESSERT and YOU WILL ONLY BE HAPPY IF YOU MAKE SOMETHING THAT IS YOURS. Awesome. I am also hoping that the Motherhood aspect of the Empress means that I will buy a black Shiba Inu and name him Arthur. 

PS: Another cute Tarot-related thing is that Jen May and I have been sending each other our daily Tarot cards as Snapchats every morning. Let's do this forever, Jen!!!!

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Mick Jagger Wearing Sweaters

My thing of the week was going to Joshua Tree and eating chicken at Pappy & Harriet's and being terrified of the desert sky and loving Mick Jagger, which I already wrote about. Since being home from the desert I've really enjoyed looking at pictures of Mick Jagger wearing sweaters. I hate wearing sweaters - I find them oppressive - but I'm hoping to claim Mick as my "sweater muse" for fall:

My third thing of the week is I went to the Dodger game on Wednesday night and Robin Thicke was there! They showed him kissing his kid on the Kiss Cam, and I shrieked and clapped wildly like a weird child. You probably best know Robin Thicke from his performance in the feature film Blurred Lines, directed by Wes Anderson and starring Strawberry Fields Whatever. Such a great film.


I tried to relax this week. This is something that does not come naturally for me. I didn't stress out about getting more personal work done after being at work for an entire day. I did whatever. I listened to The Best Show. I made a drawing. I talked with pals. Most importantly though, Charlotte and I made A Cocktail. A Corn Cocktail. A Corn Drink. This cocktail needed to be muddled and I don't own a muddler. The photograph is the aftermath of making 3 drinks, which took approximately 45 minutes. We made these corn, rum lime drinks and trashed my kitchen. They were really good. 


In Joshua Tree I Saw Lots of Meteors and Learned That Mick Jagger Is Good


On Sunday my friends and I went to Joshua Tree to see the Perseid Meteor Shower. We stayed at Hicksville, which is a trailer park in a secret location in the middle of nowhere. I'd never been to Joshua Tree before; the last time I'd been out to the desert at all was seven years ago, the time I went nightswimming with the people who were family with Paul McCartney. Hicksville was rad and there's a teepee and a Cramps-themed trailer and a place to shoot BB guns, and on Monday/Tuesday we almost had the whole place to ourselves. Here's a pic of some of the trailers and our pool and the big beautiful terrifying desert:

Maybe my favorite thing about Hicksville was the jukebox, which was free and had amazing music, like the first two Big Star records and a lot of Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin and Beatles, and the Go-Gos and X and the Replacements and Wanda Jackson and Serge Gainsbourg and everything. It had Megan Draper singing "Zou Bisou Bisou"! And Skating Polly! Here's a picture of me picking out jukebox songs:

I was really into picking out songs for breakfast. On Monday we had breakfast quesadillas cooked in a skillet on the grill, and mimosas on ice and strawberries and chocolate, and the first thing I played was "Hey Good Lookin'" by Hank Williams, which is a perfect song for eating eggs and drinking champagne from a plastic cup at a picnic table in a trailer park in the middle of the desert in August when it's a gabillion degrees out. I would really love a job as a desert breakfast DJ, if you know of anything like that. And if you've never gone swimming at dusk to "Coming Down Again" by the Rolling Stones, then you should absolutely do that as soon as possible.

Our trailer was called "The Sweet," it was supposed to be like a van that teenagers would do drugs and make out in circa 1976 or something. The decor was very "stoner Greg Brady." There were lots of eight tracks stashed on one of the shelves, and the ceiling was mirrored plastic:

Hicksville also had some killer vending machines - they sold beer and Dunkin Donuts coffee and moon pies and Tab. On Monday morning/afternoon/whatever I had a chill time drinking Tab and painting my nails coral-with-gold-sparkles and reading fucking Helter Skelter which I can't ever put down despite its leaving me in constant terror:


10 Bob Dylan Songs I'd Rather Die Than Live Without, In No Particular Order, Part 1


I love Bob Dylan so much I feel like I am dead. I don't know when I'll write Part 2. Maybe on Wednesday. Maybe in a month. 

I'll Be Your Baby Tonight 

I moved into the apartment across the hall on the last day of June and I put a couch in my kitchen. "Nothing says "I'm a chill person" like putting a couch in your kitchen," I said. 

My kitchen-couch is brown, kind of a velour/suede-hybrid texture. Next to my couch is a little brown table and on the little brown table is my little brown record player, and a bunch of records and record sleeves are always lying beautifully askew on the table in front of it. Records and record sleeves don't know how to lie any other way. 

It's all a very laid-back, seventies sort of brown- "It's always 1972 in my couch-nook!" is definitely a sentence I've heard myself say; it's my couch-nook's slogan. It's really begging for some Bob Dylan. You can listen to other records too, but it became so obvious so fast. The first time I ever sat alone on that couch I put on John Wesley Harding, because it was the only Bob Dylan record I had. I'd never heard it before. 

I didn't have Internet for a week. All I did was chill on my couch reading MFK Fisher and listening to John Wesley Harding. I learned the whole thing in two days. It is wide-wale tan corduroy with a little bit of the brown suede-velour to it too. At first I thought it was from 1972, too, but my favorite thing about it's how it isn't. It's from 1967. 

I fucking love Bob Dylan, for straight-up refusing to participate in psychedelia. He was just like, "Fuck it. I'm not even gonna touch that." Everybody else in the world and their brother were singing "Gelatin kangaroos leaping over a leprous purple moon on Sunday..." and Bob Dylan decided to make a couple rickety little country albums, which was lovely of him- my exact preferred style of defiance. 

I decided on one of my sunny Internetless July mornings laying around listening to John Wesley Harding that I'll Be Your Baby Tonight was from that moment on going to be my Romance Anthem. Everybody needs to have a Romance Anthem! It's a very cool unexplored concept that I am basically a genius for inventing. A Romance Anthem is like the theme song for your romantic self, explaining how you like to be romantic. It's not about the way you want love to be; it's about the way love is when you're involved. 

I'm very romantic too. "Kick your shoes off, do not fear, bring that bottle over here"- it's all very kind, very lazy and kind, but it's a very alpha love song! He's the one doing the bulk of the soothing, he's definitely calling all the shots. He's not worried or afraid of anything that's going to happen in his room. All he's got to do is get drunk and show the girl the moon. 

Subterranean Homesick Blues

I almost didn't go to my favorite line cook's 22nd birthday party because it was the same day I got my Internet back and I was so stoked to go home and buy Bringing It All Back Home off iTunes so I could listen to Subterranean Homesick Blues; I'd been dying without it. So thank God that night was so shitty and my hair was so dirty; by the time I got to the end of the night I couldn't not have a drink. I had a hundred drinks: double gin and sodas in a pint glass with lots of lime and lots of ice. They were doing incredible things to me. Words were falling very smoothly out of my mouth and hanging out in the air like music notes in a comic strip. (I just typoed "comic" as "cosmic" which I think says everything you need to know about where this story, and every story, is going...) I have been blessed with the magical ability to never seem as drunk as I am, and also was stealing sips of my ex-sous-chef's banana slurpee, which helps. With everything


Thing of the Week: A Psychotic Muffin, A 1994 Issue of 'Bikini,' AN ENDLESS HARVEST

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: The Psychotic Muffin I Ate at the Airport After Missing My Flight to Boston 

A little-known fact about Strawberry Fields Whatever's seminal 2013 trip to Martha's Vineyard is that I missed my initial flight to Boston! My "behavior concept" for our Martha's Vineyard trip was to play up to my Beatles-archetype (JOHN LENNON), so I definitely got that one off to a strong start. I think it's pretty obvious that if one Beatle were going to miss his flight to the vacation he was taking with two of the other Beatles, it would be John. Paul McCartney is probably two hours early to every flight he's ever taken, and makes sure to bring along a couple granola bars and one of those neck pillows that looks like a toilet seat. 

I arrived at the airport 55 minutes before my flight left (it was traffic's fault) and tried to check in on one of those automated flight terminals ("flight terminals") but then it wouldn't let me because they cut you off after an hour. A lady rushed me to the front of the check-in line and then a zillion different airport employees brusquely asked me why I hadn't checked in online beforehand. "Because I don't have a printer?" I offered weakly. I asked one of the nicer ladies if she thought I was going to miss my flight. "It's not looking good," she said, "But you never know." 

At customs I asked a handsome hippie-looking airport employee if I could cut to the front of the line so I could make my flight. He said no, which was really fucking dumb of him- I was at a charismatic place in my life, and my hair looked great that day. So I waited in the customs line behind this Good Charlotte-looking guy holding a hockey stick for an entire half-hour, FLIPPING THE FUCK OUT. I was shaky and anxious and really wished I could just know if I was going to miss my flight or not. I was very angry at the Good Charlotte-looking guy for not inviting me to go ahead of him. 

Once I got to the part where you take your shoes off and put your bags through the conveyor belt, the airline went really far out of their way to help rush me through. They put me in line in front of everyone and then I realized I'd forgotten to take one of those little plastic bags to put all my liquids in and I started whimper-yelping "I need one of those bags for my liquids! For my liquids! I need a plastic bag to put my liquids in!" and the Air Canada lady, who was pacifying and I LOVED HER, was like "Shhh, it's okay, take off your shoes, honey," and brought me a plastic bag for my liquids. I finished up with that part of my "adventure" five minutes before my flight was due to depart and proceeded to run barefoot across the airport toward my gate. I arrived panting, but was too late. I hadn't even just missed my flight. The airplane was already rolling away. 

I really resent the airport for putting me through all that, by the way. They shouldn't have let me try to make it. It was a stressful and unpleasant experience that I endured for literally no reason. 

After it happened, I calmed way the hell down and was mostly just stoked I could go get myself some food and caffeine. I only had to wait another couple hours to get on the next flight to Boston anyway. I'd noticed this really cool-looking baked good as I was booking it down the moving sidewalk, since that's just the sort of person I am, a person who can't not notice a cool-looking baked good, even at the most inopportune of moments- it looked like a long, conical flowerpot, and in my mind I imagined that the recessed center was filled with caramel. I think the first thought I thought after missing my flight must have been "Oh awesome! Now I get to go eat that crazy flowerpot thing!" 

As it turned out, there was no caramel involved- it was just a muffin. But it wasn't just a muffin, it was also a psychotic muffin. You know? Look at that fucking behemoth! It's psychotic. It's psychotic, it's a behemoth, and it's a muffin. That's it. Those are the only things it is. 

I chilled out at my new gate, Gate 66, eating my psychotic muffin (it was carrot-flavored, a little chalky, but mostly excellent- muffins are my favorite food; I love them all), swigging from a bottle of Diet Coke, reading a tabloid about Cory Monteith's death and listening to "One Of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)" on headphones. I Instagrammed a pic of my psychotic muffin accompanied by the caption I feel like the cosmic reasoning behind my missing my flight to Boston was so this psychotic muffin and I could meet each other. I still agree with myself. 

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: A 1994 Issue of Bikini Magazine That I Found in My Parents' Attic on Tuesday

Obviously one fun highlight for me this week was when John Strohm from Blake Babies left a comment on my Adventures in Blake Babysitting post and told me I could come to Nashville and babysit his eight-year-old. Also, speaking of Blake Babies, I got back to L.A. on Wednesday night to find a package from my friend Mike which included this beautiful GRAY VINYL 7-inch of "My Sister" by The Juliana Hatfield Three, plus a 7-inch of "American Jean" by Helium. That was basically the nicest Boston-to-L.A. transition a girl could ever ask for, and I'm superthankful. 

Anyway before leaving Massachusetts the other day I went up to the attic at my fam's house and found a 1994 issue of Bikini magazine, with Liv Tyler on the cover. The cover story's by Thurston Moore and it starts like this:

Liv Tyler buzzes my buzzer about 1 p.m., a good half-hour before I thought she might appear. My wife, Kim, and I have a newborn baby named Coco Hayley who has wrecked sweet havoc on any semblance of a sleeping schedule for us. I drag myself out of bed. "Take the elevator up to the 7th floor," I croak through the intercom. Then I rush back into our bedroom and throw on some jeans and a T-shirt that says "Satan."

Hahahahahahaha/yikes!! The article's actually wicked boring but there's lots of pretty pictures, and I like that they went with "You're Liv-in All Over Me" as the title. Liv Tyler + Dinosaur Jr. is a cool life concept - like, soft and dreamy and ethereal + melancholy in a snarling, punchy sort of way.

Also in the same issue there's an interview with Parker Posey and I'm so into this pic of her eating a hot dog and wearing orange fishnets. I want orange fishnets! And a hot dog. Orange fishnets + hot dog is maybe even a better life concept than the thing about Liv Tyler and Dinosaur Jr.


On Wednesday I picked up my CSA share. This time it came with a book that kinda looked like a thick coloring book. I assumed it was filled with recipes I couldn't eat (half true) and didn't really care about it. Later Charlotte texted me, "Did you pick up your vegetables? This book is great!", I was like, really? I pulled it out and looked at it. AN ENDLESS HARVEST: Getting the Most out of Seasonal Produce Year-Round. OK, cool. I start flipping through it and slowly become completely obsessed by it. I ended up sitting there reading it for about an hour an a half. Did you know you can store carrots in a bucket of saw dust for the winter to limited success?! I do. It's more highly recommended to just store them in a plastic bag in the fridge but, whatever. I learned what vegetables should be in sealed bags. Wrap eggplant in paper towel in a bag. OK. Leave some bags open. Some in containers. I kept texting Charlotte about how much I loved it and we decided next time we pick up our shares we're going to make cocktails together afterwards and color in this book. My new favorite book! When I haven't been reading AN ENDLESS HARVEST I've been reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I am also super into.