Monday, October 24, 2005

Postmodern Frolics in the Last Frontier

I took myself out on a day long date on Saturday.

I used to do this when I lived in New York. I guess, actually, I've always been doing this, wherever I'm living. Some mornings I just wake up and walk out the door, not knowing what I will be doing - only that I'll be going with the flow of events, and dining with myself, and coming across good reads, and restoring my independence, and nurturing my quirks, and probably stopping somewhere for a Hemingway'esque crisp class of white wine with oysters (ahhh, for the Seattle dates! it's so easy to sweep me off my feet in that town!) or a Dylan Thomas mid-day pint in a dark local with a band of loyal regulars (the most glorious such mid-day pints being Fiddler's Elbow in Florence or, oh!, that one[s!] in Belfast) - until I'm replinished with my necessary doses of randomness, characters, good books, flaneuring, and journal-capturing. I usually come home around midnight, brew a cup of tea and crawl into a fluffy bed to flip through one of the new cookbooks I inevitably picked up at some point during the day's events. And the next morning, waking up from a sleep of blissful contentment, I usually wax poetic about the adventures and the people I met in a group email and then set off to a grocery store to purchase the ingredients for the dishes I fell asleep contemplating.

But, it being now and it being an opportunity to sweep myself off my feet with Anchorage, here's how this girl entertained herself on one cold Saturday at the start of winter:

Brunch of dim sum at a tiny bakery in a commonly-overlooked stripmall, wearing black boots and reading Wittgenstein's Poker at a little table next to a bigger table of young men in their Alaskan khakis (i.e. carhartts), skilled in the arts of slurping noodles without interference from their mature beards and versed in the arts of comparing favorite dumplings. Bustling hum of Asian languages and the clatter of a kitchen spilling out to a room packed with a spicy cross-section of Alaskans, mixed with the chirping queries of toddlers learning the dexterity of chopsticks, and teenagers feigning disinterest in the lively conversation with their parents, and cross-dressers exchanging Friday night stories, and tables of women wearing boots and pearls (with coiffed hair and brazen wit). Strangers leaning over to inquire as to the name of particularly intriguing dish. http://www.anchoragepress.com/archives-2004/eatingoutvol13ed11.shtml

Coffee at a little shop in another, albeit more popular stripmall, with brick walls, mis-matched tables and chairs and a clientele of loyal locals that is nurturing the next generation with "freshly flown-in" gelato. Alaska's roaster since 1975.

Tour of Title Wave - a bookstore with the glorious gift of offering the books that Alaskans have traded in. Lots of second-hand insights into how to build a cabin. Lots of dog-eared tips on homesteading. Cookbooks with hints written into the margin. A poetry aisle that exudes the warmth of a winter stove. And, of course, the constant memory of having watched and listened to John Haines, himself, reading his poetry here last Spring. http://www.wavebooks.com/catalog/events.php

Tour of the Alaskan-authored books at Cook Inlet Books, which has recently been restored from tourist throngs to local customers supporting homegrown writers. They just got a new shipment of the most requested book, so I understand that there is no longer a waiting list for Amanda Brannon's homegrown treatise on rhubarb. http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/matsu/story/6609802p-6494416c.html

Contemplate a glass of wine at Club Paris, but decide that it is to dark there to read my newest acquisition (The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood) and this might be the perfect chance to finally try out Taste of Russia and sup on a bowl of butter-brothed pelmeni, with fresh dill and sour cream.

Opening night of Kafka Dances at Cyrano's Eccentric Theatre Company, attended by the freshly-imported Australian playwright, opened by a band of highschoolers playing traditional bar mitzvah music on a quartet of wind-instruments, and audienced by a diverse crowd of enthusiastic patrons. Some dressed with fashionable attention. Some in jeans. Some in flannels. Some in eye-catching flairs. Of course, there were the requisite young men with mature beards, and older man with trimmed ones. Cyrano's offers Pacific Northwestern wines by the glass, which you can drink throughout the show and replace with a refreshed glass at the pre-order table during intermission. Like attending the opera, or the symphony, your glass at the pre-order table is marked simply by a slip of paper with your first name. No matter how big the event, in the year and so of living here, I've never heard of a pre-ordered drink being lost. And the audience is close and animated, checking in with each other on their new projects and exchanging updates on their kids in New York, Chicago, London, San Francisco. http://www.cyranos.org/whoER.html

Last-hour dash to Barnes & Noble to buy the soundtrack for Fiddler on the Roof and The Man of La Mancha - because I can't be in a hometown theatre company that thrives on local committment without thinking of my father, which of course leads me to buy the Broadway soundtracks for the musicals that he once years ago produced with a bunch of fellow New England accents in the Willamette Valley of the 1970's. To dream, the impossible dream....

And, home, to end my adventure with the dolce of a long, latenight phonecall to J comparing and relaying our days' bounties of tales and characters.

[as a side note, my cookbooks and my pans are all packed in boxes (except, of course, for the skillet in which I am making my daily dinner of poached eggs) - some still in Anchorage, but some already shipped out - so there was no new cookbook nor any morning foray to purchase the ingredients for a new recipe. soon, though. soon. soon, my belongings will be unpacked all in one place, and i'll be able to cook and post.]

10 Comments:

Anonymous bread said...

Hi peeps
I never realised that so many blogs would show up if I did a search on something like home cooking. I'm still not sure how well Postmodern Frolics in the Last Frontier falls into that category, but I've enjoyed visiting :0) Adios Amigo.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Mona said...

What a fabulous day. That sounds like a little how I spent my day Tuesday. I love when I have weekends of no plans (tues/wednesdays are my days off) and I just kinda head where the day takes me. People at work always ask what are you doing for your weekend? And I love it when I can tell them I HAVE NO IDEA!
Beautifully written!

10:31 AM  
Anonymous cooking course said...

Hi
I was searching for articles on bread when I came across Postmodern Frolics in the Last Frontier, which is a bit weird really. I've enjoyed the experience but I'm not at all sure I've found what I'm looking for :0)

Just thought I'd say hello.

7:43 PM  
Anonymous bread said...

I wish I could understand how doing a search for kitchen utensils got me to Postmodern Frolics in the Last Frontier. Not that I mind, you understand peeps. It's just that I don't think it's exactly what I was looking for :0)

9:40 PM  
Anonymous baking said...

I wish I could understand how doing a search for kitchen utensils got me to Postmodern Frolics in the Last Frontier. Not that I mind, you understand peeps. It's just that I don't think it's exactly what I was looking for :0)

5:37 AM  
Anonymous cooking course said...

Hi peeps
I never realised that so many blogs would show up if I did a search on something like cooking course. I'm still not sure how well Postmodern Frolics in the Last Frontier falls into that category, but I've enjoyed visiting :0) Adios Amigo.

4:53 AM  
Anonymous Quentin said...

Hi, I'm very much into cookery & cooking, particularly low fat cooking. I would like to know where to meet similar people. I've joined this site (low fat cooking) and would like to know of other such sites.
Thanks

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any post you make on italian cooking vacation in the future will be well received.

1:01 AM  
Blogger amanda_in_alaska said...

Are you still cooking in Kodiak?
I'm the Amanda who wrote the rhubarb book. :-)

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi peeps,

Iv'e been reading alot in the last few days,
looking for content ;-)
I loved your post called " Postmodern Frolics in the Last Frontier ".

I'm looking for good content like that,
it's for an article site called http://www.letscooktogether.net .
So far I have quite a good site built :-D

LOTS of info about food and cooking etc.
Articles on everything food related!!
For example... diabetic cooking,
just to name one.
Stop by when you can!!
Maybe we can talk about swapping some content 8-)

Thanks again!!
Brad.

10:42 PM  

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