Saturday, September 6, 2008

Things I like that I used to dislike

Over the course of the past few years, I have changed my position from not favorable to favorable on a number of things, most notably:

I used to hate tomatoes. Not tomato-based products - I have always loved marinara, salsa and ketchup - but a slice of tomato on a burger was enough to make me gag. I think much of this has to with the fact that 1) I was very unadventurous when it came to food until I began working in restaurants (not that tomatoes are adventurous, but I wasn't eating any place that was serving fresh tomatoes) and 2) the few tomatoes I had been exposed to were disgusting, thick, light pink, not-in-season slices of nastiness.

My feelings toward tomatoes began to change when I quit eating Pace salsa (which I now think is gross, to be honest) and started eating chunkier salsas where you could actually see the vegetables. But it was my summer in the Upper Peninsula living with Aunt Missy (to whom I owe a great, GREAT deal of my food appreciation and current passion for cooking) that really changed my mind about tomatoes. Aunt Missy made the best BLTs. She made them with really good, thick-cut bacon, crisp iceberg lettuce (iceberg lettuce DOES have a place in the food community, and that place is on a sandwich), and deliciously fresh, juicy, in-season tomatoes. Because of Aunt Missy, the BLT is now my favorite sandwich, and I like tomatoes enough to grow them in my backyard (see the next thing I used to dislike, gardening, below). FYI - Aunt Missy is also the reason I started making my own pesto.

I thought gardening was a lame, old lady hobby. My gardening consisted of growing one pot of mint and that was only so I could make mojitos.

Once I got together with Noe, however, I started getting slightly more into it. Noe's mom was really into flowers and plants and Noe definitely picked that up from her. He had really cool houseplants, and he and I worked on the front flower beds and the big deck flower pots at the old house.

Then we moved to Connecticut and not only did I inherit an awesome front flower bed (complete with a Japanese Maple) but I inherited a back garden patch as well. Since I am in to food and fresh, local food has slowly but surely been becoming the "in" thing, I decided to give it a try.

Well, those of you who have read the blog know that this experiment ranks as a success. I have in the past week alone eaten cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, beans and countless herbs that I have grown myself. They are not as pretty as the vegetables in the store (some of my cucumbers look downright alien) but I think they taste better. The garden is here to stay.

Another thing that I thought was strictly for old ladies and people with too much time on their hands. Really, I thought pretty much all "crafty" hobbies were hopelessly lame. Even pictures of celebrities knitting on movie sets couldn't sway me.

When my mom starting knitting I was sort of horrified. Except that she turned out to be really good at it. Seriously, she graduated from fun-fur scarves to sweaters within like, months.

Mom tried to teach me several times, but I did not have the patience or the temperament for it. Plus, it took too long to make any noticeable progress.

One day though, I got really bored and started looking through Mom's copy of Stitch & Bitch (the cool knitter's bible) and found a pattern for a simple scarf knit on huge needles with chunky yarn. Apparently you could make this scarf in a time frame that could be measured in hours rather than days. My interest piqued, I bought some yarn and taught myself (from the pictures in the book) how to cast on and knit a basic garter stitch. Two hours later, I had my black and white scarf.

This scarf is by no means pretty, and if you look closely, the squares of black and white are totally different sizes because I was too lazy to really count rows. But it was a stepping stone on the way to much better scarves. As for other projects, well, I am still trying to build up enough patience for those. We'll see this winter.

Gwyneth Paltrow
For some inexplicable reason, I used to hate Gwyneth. The mere sight of her on a poster was enough to make me not want to see a movie. I didn't want to buy magazines with her on the cover. I have no idea why I was so anti-Gwyneth; perhaps because - even though I loved Shakespeare in Love - I thought she stole an Oscar that belonged to Cate Blanchett?

However, I have begun to warm to Gwyneth over the past two years or so. First of all, the woman can actually act. Second of all, she has AMAZING style. (Seriously, if I were tall and skinny and had legs that were 10 feet long, I would dress just like her.) Third, once I started watching all those Gwyneth movies I had been ignoring, I found that she has been in some great flicks - most notably Emma and Sliding Doors. (Honestly, I don't know why I waited so long to watch Sliding Doors. If you haven't seen it, rent it.) Now instead of studiously ignoring Gwyneth projects, I am counting down days to the premiere of her PBS series with Mario Batali where they eat their way through Spain. Yum.

John Steinbeck
I don't know what Steinbeck book you had to read in middle/high school, but if it was The Pearl then maybe you hated Steinbeck, too. My distaste for The Pearl was pretty much enough to convince me I wanted nothing to do with the rest of Steinbeck's literary repertoire (plus, I read the last few pages of Of Mice and Men and it sounded really sad).

Later on in high school and college, when forced to read Mice and The Grapes of Wrath, I started to grow lukewarm towards Steinbeck. He wasn't so bad. I'm not sure what convinced me to buy East of Eden. It could have been that I had just taken that bible as literature class (which was incredibly cool, by the way) and Eden is more or less a modern-ish retelling of the book of Genesis. could have been that I just liked the name. (Anyone ever notice how these guys - Steinbeck, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc - wrote the best titles?)

Anyway, Eden was a literary life-changing book for me. It immediately earned a place among my all-time favorites. I have re-read it twice and can pretty much open it to any page and start from there. I am not sure why I like it so much; it is certainly not a happy book, and it contains one of the most truly evil women ever to grace the pages of fiction. But it is storytelling at it's best and most epic. Plus, it made me like Steinbeck which in turn made me read Cannery Row, which is a delightful little book itself.


Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention running.

Robert said...

Am I the only one who thinks that that picture of Steinbeck looks *suspiciously* similar to Doyle in his reenactment getup?

Amy W. said...

I still don't like running; I just DO it.

Jennifer said...

I LOVE Sliding Doors. It is one of those movies that I have only seen twice, but I am quick to recommend. I also love Emma. I don't even know how many times I have watched. I actually just watched it last night on tv even though I own it on DvD.

Oh, I have also been craving a BLT for a few days now. Thanks for reminding me!

Alison said...

Ooh, great post! I'd have to go with coffee and beer. It took me about 18 years to like coffee and 25 to like beer. Now I kind of wish I didn't like either!

Amy W. said...

That's funny. I used to think I did not like beer either! But of course I really did...

Becky said...

I have never read anything by Steinbeck, which is pretty sure to get me murdered in my circle of Lit Major aquaintences.

I saw Gwenyth on the street in NYC once after seeing Eddie Izzard perform. She was with Liv Tyler and REM. The REM guys were wicked nice, Gwenyth and Liv...not so much.

I love Sliding Doors though, and her snarkiness hasn't stopped me from watching any of her movies.

Amy W. said...

I have read that she is not a very nice person.

Jessica Watkins said...

I hate the 6 million 'fun fur' scarves my mom has made me. I finally had to ask her to stop. It's not fur, and it's definitely not fun. LOL. I was cleaning out my closet recently and found a whole bag of them. I'm giving them to Goodwill.