Friday, April 28, 2006


I was a vegetarian for five years. Strict one, too! I even tried going vegan during my veggie tenure, but that lasted a single, excruciating, week. Me and cheese and ice cream? We're kind of Best Friends.

But now I'm clearly NOT a vegetarian, and I do suffer guilt feelings over it. To assuage my own bad feelings about eating meat, I Took A Stand. A Very Silly, Probably Ineffective, Stand. Around the time I quit being a vegetarian, some six years ago, I also quit eating most fast food. I honestly haven't purchased anything from McDonald's in five years, and am committed to never doing so again. I say "no" to most chains: Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Arby's, Hardees, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, White Castle, Papa John's, and Chipotle. I just don't consider them, ever, as viable places in which to purchase food.

Full Disclosure: feel free to call me a hypocrite if you see me with a Starbuck's coffee cup in my hand; yes, I do occasionally buy coffee there, as well as from Dunkin Donuts, although I have recently stopped buying from Dunkin Donuts because their storefronts have been popping up EVERYWHERE in the city recently and it depresses me. I think, actually, that I will now give up Starbucks, too. JUST NOT WORTH IT! And, let me tell you, TOO EXPENSIVE!

Look, we all pick our battles, right? My decision to not eat fast food is neither noble or even worthy of the word "battle" but I feel compelled to take SOME responsibility over how I consume. I KNOW the Big Mac is empirically DELICIOUS, but I also KNOW that spending money at McDonald's is empirically irresponsible. Read Fast Food Nation. Really.

And if I feel this way, you might ask, then WHY NOT just be a vegetarian? Go ALL THE WAY, Megan!

And to that I say, PLEASE READ THE MAY ISSUE OF HARPER'S MAGAZINE. There is an amazing article on being a responsible carnivore. It is more articulate and moving than I could ever be in a summation of it, so just go read it for free at Barnes and Noble. Or, better, BUY the issue at your local independent book shop!

I would love to raise my own cows and eat them. Same for chickens! THAT is respectful. Mindless eating of industrialized meat without recognition? Not so much.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Last night I met my friend Matt for dinner at Momofuku in the East Village. To call it a "noodle bar" is a severe underestimation of what this place is all about, but then again, you CAN and SHOULD get heaping portions of noodle soups there.

I have been going to Momofuku since it first opened, and in the year or so of its brief existence chef David Chang has gotten crazy--and well-deserved--press over the place. Last night it was PACKED, and it's just a sliver of a restaurant; patrons sit and eat communally over a blonde wooden bar overlooking a slender, steaming, open kitchen. Matt and I were fortunate enough to be seated right away, across from each other. It was his first time there, so I took the reigns. To be honest, even if it hadn't been his first time there, I probably would've taken the reigns anyway, because I JUST KNOW WHAT TO ORDER. I ALWAYS KNOW WHAT'S GOOD. It's a talent.

If you read any review of Momofuku you'll know to get the Steamed Buns, which come filled with either awesome smoked chicken, shitake mushrooms, or luxuriously fatty Berkshire pork. These buns, pillowy and moist and schmeared with gorgeous hoisin sauce and brightened by pickled cucumber and scallions, are 100% delicious. Matt wanted to get the pork, but I insisted on the chicken. Two reasons: 1) this ain't no ordinary chicken, and 2) I knew we'd be getting TONS O' PORK in our entree, so why blow our wad on it during the appetizer? It's good Matt let me have my way, 'cause he flipped out over the buns and told me he was having a food orgasm. Which made me feel awkward, but only for ten seconds. Because honestly, I understood. You WILL have a food orgasm over these buns! It's IMPOSSIBLE not to! The chicken is smoky and moist and like, not at all poultry-like. In a good way.

Matt's an awesome person to eat with, because, like me, he's up for ordering TWO appetizers! Momofuku's menu changes seasonally, and last night there were some real beauties to choose from. I was thinking, "Do I feel like eating THIS awesome thing, or THAT awesome thing?! WHICH AWESOME THING, WHICH I'M GUARANTEED TO ENJOY, DO I WANT TO PUT IN MY MOUTH?!" Matt and I agreed on the Pea Shoots, which came with rice cakes and lardons and golden slivers of onions. This was SOME dish! The thing about Momofuku is the inherent RICHNESS of its dishes. Everything is SUPER-FLAVOR-INFUSED to the MAXIMUM EXTREME! And it's not overwhelming, either. The Pea Shoots exemplified this; they were so so so good! How do you get something to taste smoky, bacony, oniony AND fresh?! I. DON'T. KNOW. But luckily, David Chang does.

Then it was onto the entrees, which, considering it was Matt's first time, were a no-brainer: Momofuku Ramen. What you get: a GIANT bowl of perfect ramen noodles, floating in a meaty, super-porky stock that tastes as if its been simmering for days. Then there's that Berkshire pork I mentioned earlier: big, fatty slabs of pork belly mingle with tender, shredded shoulder, so you get TWO cuts of meat, TWO kinds of tastes and textures, and A BILLION KINDS of deliciosity! That's NOT a word! Okay, so that's all awesome, but then you ALSO get fresh, bright green peas that burst in your mouth and taste like Spring feels; crisp, paper-thin sheets of dried nori seaweed that faint and soften in the soup; chopped scallions; chewy brown bamboo shoots; and, the final awesome detail, a poached egg that floats and oozes yolk into the broth with one little tap of your chopstick. Matt's mind pretty much exploded over the poached egg. I understood: it's so unexpected and so right on!

Other details: David Chang loves to rock out -- it's his personal ipod providing the music, and last night he was on a Black Crowes kick. Also: it says right there on the menu, "NOT VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY". Which is pretty obvious. I mean, you don't get a stock to taste like that without some meat and bones.

Momofuku is truly good eating, but if you want to do it right it's not cheap. Our bill came to about 70 bucks, including Matt's beer with an owl on its label and my classy glass of sake. Worth it? Totally Totalamente!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


One of my Old Reliables let me down last night! When I need a good night's sleep but know that I'm too wound up to make it happen on my own, I turn to Chamomile Tea. Chamomile really is one of Nature's great soporifics, and steeping its dried leaves has always worked for me. Literally three sips into the stuff and I start to get The Sleepy Feeling. How I love The Sleepy Feeling when I'm laying in my bed, a long day behind me!

So last night I opened a brand new box of Chamomile Tea, put the kettle on, nibbled some Trader Joe's ginger snaps, and made what I thought was going to be my standard panacea to my jittery jitters.

Except the damn tea DIDN'T WORK!

I steeped it, I sipped it, I tried to stop my mind from racing. I read a little but was too distracted. I kept sipping. My eyelids didn't get at all heavy; I just lay on my back blinking at the ceiling. "Come on, Chamomile," I thought, urging it to work its relaxing magic. "Come ON! You can do it! JUST DO IT YOU SONOVABITCH TEA! MAKE ME UNCONCIOUS!"

Alas, my pleas were ignored. And I lay awake for about two more hours, tossing against my useless pillows, kicking my legs out like a baby horse being born. Except much cuter. I was helpless to my own frustration and actually pouted in the darkness. I think I even whispered "Harumph," and crossed my arms against my chest. "Stupid tea," I muttered, my last thought before finally, yes, finally, falling asleep.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Today I visited one of my favorite stores, Economy Candy, on Rivington Street. It's pretty much the greatest place ever, unless you're a diabetic or claustrophobic. But if you're neither of those and you love candy then definitely go to Economy Candy, because it will entertain and delight you to no end, as well as offer you all manner of current and nostalgic candy treats.

I don't want to sound like a Fame Whore or anything but the last time I visited, about 8 months ago, I saw AN OLSEN TWIN shopping there, and it was honestly one of the most disturbing things I have ever witnessed. Remember those fuzzy-haired toy trolls that were so popular in the '80's? It was like seeing one of those, dressed in a dirty caftan, accompanied by an enormous bodyguard, grabbing at candy indisciminately and with a kind of rabid, glassy-eyed enthusiasm I can liken only to a lobotomized Muppet who has retained the ability to be rabidly enthusiastic. My point is that if AN OLSEN TWIN shops at Economy Candy, you know it's good stuff.

The shelves are lined, floor to ceiling with everything from Pez, to olde timey Violet lozenges, candy cigarettes, Nerds, Big League Chew, caramels, licorice, Lindt chocolate, bulk candies like jelly beans, gummy bears, red hots, and even those gross kosher jelly fruit slices. But my favorite stuff is the old-fashioned candy, and Economy Candy has it all: Sky bars, Mallo Cups, Black Jack Gum which is totally gross but the packaging is amazing, Mary Janes, Smarties, those disgusting Necco Wafers (again, great packaging!) and just like, a bazillion more that I can't even think of.

Wait, did I say my favorite stuff was the old-fashioned candy? No, that's not right. My favorite favorite stuff is the Imports. I lived in Brighton, England for six months when I was just a girl of twenty years, and because I was sometimes lonely in that grey resort town I became addicted to British Chocolate Bars. Years have passed since my Brighton residency and while I've no taste for the loneliness, my palate still craves the chocolate. Economy has all my favorites! Cadbury Flake, which is just the most horribly-textured chocolate in the history of the world, but so typifies British cuisine that I adore it; Cadbury's Crunchie which has a super-crispety honeycomb center; Nestle's Lion Bar, which, if I remember correctly, is chocolate-covered wafers and crisped rice and maybe some caramel? But my Ultimate Favorite continues to be the Cadbury Dairy Milk Fruit and Nut Bar. It's simple: raisins and almonds in milk chocolate. I LOVE THIS CANDY BAR! I love its shiny purple foil wrapper! I love the creamy richness of the chocolate! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the sweetness and chewiness of the raisins intermingled with the crunch and saltiness of the almonds! And I also LOVE the surprise of each bite: will there be an almond, or a raisin, or neither, or, best, BOTH, in a single square from the bar? Fruit and Nut is MYSTERIOUS and SURPRISING and it is one of the only foods that I will allow to pass my lips that has those qualities!

I bought one today. And I ate it today. Yes, it was only a minor treat in what will no doubt be a major lifetime, but Economy Candy is a small store in what is no doubt a big city, so what is that if not the perfect ratio of something to something else? I should maybe not use math metaphors but hopefully you get my meaning.