I know, based on my keen observance of TV ads during the joyous yuletide season, that many women really want jewelry. Mostly they seem to want something called a “journey” necklace with a sort of squiggle of diamonds in graduated carat weights. I am not against jewelry or diamonds (I wear a platinum and diamond engagement ring of fairly impressive carat wattage) but when I saw the ads, and specifically the prices, my immediate thought was that I could buy (pick one) a pound of saffron and a whole truffle, a Le Creuset Dutch Oven and a complete set of new cookware, dinner at Babbo, a shopping spree at Zingerman’s or ten fantastic cookbooks for that kind of money. I could fly to New York and take a class at the CIA. I could have a new refrigerator or a range with a warming drawer and a fifth burner. And I’d rather.
I did not receive a diamond necklace because my husband, who is handsome, funny and exceptionally observant, actually bought me what I wanted. Not everything I wanted, but quite a lot of it. Based on a little game called “I’ll make a list and you pick what you’d like to buy,” he managed to completely surprise and delight me with nary a jewel in sight. Here, in shameless, vulgar and materialistic detail is what I got for Christmas:
- Spices, etc.” Harissa Paste, Hot Smoked Paprika, Galangal, Garam Masala, Sweet Smoked Paprika, Cardamom and Saffron (!)
- Gadgets: A beautiful mortar & pestle for spices, one of those metal-strainer-on-a-stick things that are so useful for turning and/or fishing out things one is frying and a Mario Batali 5 piece measuring prep bowl set so crisp and white anhd useful it makes me want to weep with joy.
- Books: Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch, The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman, The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman, and The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken by Laura Schenone.
- A $60.00 Linens N Things gift certificate which will get me one substantial item or let me gadget shop to excess.
Additionally, we received a heart meltingly generous gift of funding from Rob’s mom which will allow us to go to Cleveland and eat at Michael Symon’s restaurant “Lola,” which I have been dying to do. Its not far, he has approximately 400 free nights in hotels saved up, and we can also check out The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Symphony, if we play our cards right. Oh, and visit Aunt Dorothy. Its probably unspeakably geeky, but I have this fantasy about asking Symon to sign my copy of Soul of a Chef if he’s actually in the restaurant when we are there, since its (partly) about him….
I hope that all of you who celebrate Christmas had a wonderful day with people that you love. I hope that all of you who don’t had a fabulous day off. I hope that if this is, for whatever reason, a hard Christmas for you, that there were many folks (and animals) reminding you that you are wonderful and beloved. I hope that no matter what your religious beliefs, you were able to see in today’s celebrations some reason to have hope and to try to be a positive force in the world.
I hope too, that if you wanted a necklace, you got one. As for me, I am practically in orbit deciding which book I’ll start first tomorrow after sleeping until 9:00, and what I’ll cook first with my new swag…..