the creamiest

I woke this morning thinking about the little red potatoes I had put in a bag under the kitchen table waiting to be cooked. Then I imagined a bowl of creamy white potatoes flavored with garlic, as many cloves as I want. The unpeeled garlic had been gently cooked in water, peeled, then mashed into those little boiled red potatoes with pepper and Celtic salt added to taste. I should have kept the water the potatoes were boiled in, since I’m one of those lactose intolerant people, but I didn’t, so I added some bottled hot water, a little at a time, mashing those little red potatoes into the creamiest of the creamiest.

And tomorrow, if there’s enough left over, enough so that the creamiest of the creamiest is still the main ingredient, I’ll slice a cucumber and fold it into them for a tasty cold dish. Maybe I’ll add sliced scallions and place it all on a bed of greens.

david wolfe

I’d read in an eletter I’d gotten, perhaps 4 years ago, high praise for a book titled, The Sunfood Diet Success System. The next time I was in a bookstore I looked, but the book wasn’t there. I tried other stores. Couldn’t find it. Finally I went to the stores that were not considered mainstream, and there it was. I reluctantly picked it up. Reluctantly because it looked to me like information overload on a subject I wasn’t sure I wanted to know that much about. There were a lot of words in that book. However, the writer, David Wolfe, had put together a beautiful book.

It turned out that The Sunfood Diet Success System and I became fast friends. I read it from cover to cover a few times, highlighting the information I would need to become a “raw foodist.” I savored the words. They must have reached a part of me that was ready, because I felt, “Yes. I can do this. ” I was really excited. It wouldn’t be easy being in Manhattan and passing block after block of restaurants, bakeries, and take-out places having the most delicious foods. But . . .

David Wolfe came to town and gave a lecture. He taught us about coconuts and how to select the best ones. He opened a coconut and spooned out the milky white meat. It was similar to eating pudding. And the taste? Wonderful. He talked about many things; I was definitely hooked. At the time I was cooking for family, and knew no one would join me this time around in this particular endeavor. My main purpose was to have loads of energy and a clear head. And for one year I enjoyed every mouthful of my raw food meals.

Then there was a summer holiday and two couples came to visit. These four friends spend many weekends grilling steaks in their backyards. We had walked and walked in the East Village and were hungry. There we were in front of the Second Avenue Deli. We went in. It was merry and crowded and the smells came from everywhere. We sat comfortably at a big table- enough for lots of food- and began glancing at the many menu selections. And I noticed the very familiar pastrami on rye. The discussion was leaning towards sandwiches. And everyone knows that sandwiches in a Jewish deli at the right time is a taste worth persuing.

So, I didn’t blink an eye when the waitress pointed pen and paper my way and said, “And you?” It didn’t take but a few seconds to say, “Me. Well, I’ll have a pastrami on rye and a cup of coffee, please.” And my friends looked in my direction and smiled. That’s all they did was smile. Were they thinking, “Thank God. Now we don’t have to sneak out for a pizza anymore.” Or maybe they were thinking about the chocolate chip cookies that used to be in containers in my freezer.

Indeed. It was that way. You try things and sometimes they become a permanent part of your life. Sometimes they don’t. In both instances, you never do things in quite the same way ever again.


I met many savvy travelers of all ages, professions, and personalities last year in Ecuador. It’s a little country where there’s so much exploring to do. I don’t know why people say, “Ecuador? You went to Ecuador? Why?” I want to say, “Go and you will find out. ” However, I don’t know why Ecuador. Why any country?

Quito, the capital, has what every big, wonderful, high-energy city has – museums, fine restaurants, a good transportation system, many clean hostals run by friendly people, hotels with all the amenities, excellent shopping, beautiful parks, magnificent churches, great walking neighborhoods, galleries, etc. Neighborhoods to stay away from and neighborhoods for strolling. Don’t let the armed guards fool you. The situation is not as it looks. The guidebooks say beware of crime. They also say that about Manhattan where I am at the moment.

It was early evening when the plane landed in Quito. The airport is small and clean and uniformed employees direct everyone to the exist. Cafe Cultura was on my list of places to stay, and I needed to call to reserve a room. I experienced a few sweaty moments attempting to use the phone and then the nearby attendant came to help. Cafe Cultura had a room . The brochure in my room said it’s owned by an Norwegian. It was charming and friendly. In Ecuador it’s easy to find places to stay for $10 and they’re really okay places, but I find staying at a really feel- good place the first few nights in a foreign country is important. The location was perfect. After three days, I reserved a room at La Casa Sol to be in a different location . I walked, and walked to get a feel for Quito. My idea was to not stay long in a big city, but to return there before leaving for the States.

It was time to visit Cuenca, a beautiful colonial city in the southern part of Ecuador. My book said that in 1999 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site. The lovely people at La Casa Sol, realizing I had neglected to learn their language, offered to make a reservation for me at Hotel Inca Real in Cuenca. The Hotel was once a private residence. It was quaint and lovely. The rooms were surrounded by a courtyard. Courtyards play a prominent role in many structures. Most are beautiful and tranquil. The people working at the hotel had an old-fashioned reserve in their manner. They were always extremely gracious to the foreigner who only spoke English. It was almost painful for me to watch their expression every time I approached the desk.

Cuenca has its share of foreigners who have set up busineses, are studying Spanish, or simply enjoying a different culture for a few months. There are many beautiful old churches and parks, outdoor markets, small stores for shopping, and restaurants where you can get a good meal. On Sunday it’s practically a ghost town as natives and tourists alike take off to visit the surrounding areas.

I’d been in Cuenca for a few weeks when it occurred to me to do something about the daily frustration of not knowing Spanish. I enrolled at the Abraham Lincoln on Borrero 5-18. Admittedly, I was not the best student there, but learned enough words to enliven the time I’d be in Ecuador. Once you study the design of the city, Cuenca is small enough to get around easily by foot. The streets are named after historical persons or events and, at first, it was rather dizzying trying to read the map.

After six weeks, it was time to say goodbye. Goodbye to the wonderful big market where I bought all my fruits and vegetables negotiating prices in Spanish, the Austria Cafe, Raymipampa, Plaza Rotary, lunch at El Maiz and Moliendo Cafe, Culture Aborigenes, Musea de las Culturas, San Francisco Market for sweaters, shawls and hammocks, Museo de las Conceptas for delicious pastries made by the few nuns still remaining in the historic convent, Museo del Banco Central, so many places, so much delicious ice cream, and some very wonderful people. But, alas, I grabbed my Panama hat and took a bus to . . .

A place in a valley in southern Ecuador called Vilcabamba.

zabar’s and the apartment hunt

It’s a hot Monday. And a humid one. I promised to help someone find an apartment within the next six weeks. And so I will; I think. Manhattan in the summer with its concrete and crowds can be trying, but with its cafes it’s quite tolerable. The upper west side where I am now has many small interesting shops and really good eating places. The trick today is to focus on looking for an apartment and not fall into any shops. I watch one man walking pass me dressed in a suit jacket. He’s fading fast.

After a sixteen block walk, my shirt is soaked from the humidity, so I slip into Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway @ 80th Street, and buy a “$4.98 Pastrami on classic rye, mustard, and mayonnaise on the side, a pickle and 70 years of experience.” That’s what the wrapper of my sandwich says. It also states, “New York is Zabar’s Zabar’s is New York” I linger a bit before purchasing the sandwich letting the air conditioning revive me. I think, yes, Zabar’s truly does belong to New York. Its customers know how to shove their way into any area to get what they want, and the cashiers give the customers a touch of service and no more. It’s all all right because where food is concerned, Zabar’s does it right.

I decide to not eat at Zabar’s corner cafe. I walk to 86th Street, then stroll east at Broadway checking in with the doormen along the way to inquire about apartments. The first doorman tells me that the rent begins around $2800 a month for a studio. I tell him that I will think about that. (Laughter is good for the heart. And now I have something really funny to laugh about when I get back to where I’m staying). After speaking to a few more doormen, I walk to Central Park and find a solitary bench where there is not much foot traffic. I open the wrapper and eat the pastrami sandwich. It’s tasty, but the sweat dripping down my back forces me to vacate my bench immediately after eating.

I walk west again on 86th Street and realize that I’m going nowhere fast. There’s a Starbucks on Columbus Ave and 86th Street. I open the door, and true to form, most of the customers have either a book, newspaper, computer or pen and paper in front of them. I buy a San Pellegrino water. I’ll be out the door in ten minutes, I promise myself as I sit at the one table left. It feels so good to be right where I am.

I hope that whatever you’re doing, you’re absolutely fine, too.