Sunday, March 8, 2020

Humankind’s insistence on refusing to adhere to the timing laws of nature has once again accordioned our weekend by releasing a single hour of it into the ether with a breathy squawk. Daylight savings time robs us of this hour, then rewards us with evenings that stretch out to the final yawns of summer. Then we are afforded the pittance of an hour in autumn which forebodes a stretch of dinner-time darkness. What for? Let’s tweak it later for the extra evening sun and leave it. And while we’re at it, let’s celebrate:

National Cereal Day

From müesli to Frankenberry, the landscape of breakfast cereals is vast and untethered. Some opt for oats, others devour thick, toasty cornmeal. Kasha, rice congee, cream of wheat and pap – the traditions are vast and varied, but breakfast cereal appears more a fixture of western culture than anywhere else.

America’s first cold breakfast cereal was something called Granula. Picture Grape Nuts, but larger and more gravel-like. It debuted in 1863 but never really took off, due to the fact that you’d have to soak them overnight in order to avoid breaking your teeth on the little nugs of graham flour. Fast-forward to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in Battle Creek, MI in the 1870s. He ran a ‘spa’ – one of those institutes that offered affluent people fresh air, plenty of exercise and rest in order to escape from their lives. While there, he experimented with granola, then wheat, then in 1895 he created Corn Flakes.

We don’t go through a lot of cereal, and when we do we’re usually not trying anything bold and exciting. Jodie settled for a container of Frosted Flakes, which we had obtained for National Michigan Day back in January. I skipped breakfast, as I was putting together our shopping list for another week of weirdness. My favourite lately has been the chocolate Frosted Flakes, which leaves you with a couple gulp-fuls of chocolate milk when the last flake has been crunched.

National Roast Crown of Pork Day

I found a really, really simple recipe for this. Salt, pepper, some dried herbs and some celery. Rub all the seasoning on the pork, then arrange it with the celery and bake it. Beautiful! The crown of pork is like a bunch of pork chops arranged in a circle – how could we go wrong?

Well, we could assume that any deli or butcher shop would have these on hand, ready for us to take one home and work our simple magic. We even stopped in at Acme Meats, this city’s preeminent meatery, and were turned away. They didn’t have any corned beef brisket either, and that’s going to pose a problem for March 17.

So we offered forth a salute to the roast crown of pork today, while dining upon butter chicken that one of Jodie’s students put together for us. It’s a bit of a hollow celebration (much like National Absinthe Day earlier this week), but unfortunately a lack of planning ahead sometimes drops you in a bit of a hole. And besides, the butter chicken was killer.

Genealogy Day

Finishing off Celebrate Your Name Week (which we honoured in its entirety), we come to the day that looks way up the line. Neither of us has submitted our DNA to be held in trust by one of those genealogy companies, but we’ve both unpeeled some sweet fruit of truth about our lineages.

Jodie’s mother, who had been adopted at birth, learned about a whole fleet of siblings she’d never known about just last year. This presents Jodie with an army of aunts, uncles and cousins, none of whom we have met at this point. I’ve been trying to fan the flames of optimism, but it’s ultimately not up to me to extend the family branches.

I had some help from a dear friend in uncovering my path up my paternal side, which leads though Brooklyn, the Bronx, Ellis Island and back to Hungary. Last year on an unforgettable outing in New York with my daughter and her bestie we visited seven locations, mostly in Brooklyn, where my grandfather or his father had lived at one point. We snapped photos at each site, chronicling the year when a Schwartz had hung his hat on that spot. One building – the one in the Bronx – I later learned was also inhabited by a young Stanley Kubrick, albeit decades after my family had called it home.

We may stretch our curiosity someday and order one of these kits. I mean, we’re all related at some point down the line, but who knows what curious tales our genes could tell?

This is going to be a fun little day.

  • International Women’s Day. We just wanna do somethin’ special for all the ladies in the world: Caribbean, Parisian, Bolivian, Namibian, Eastern Indochinian, Republic of Dominican, Amphibian, Presbyterian…
  • International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. A day to toast beer made at the hands of a female brewmaster! We have one such beer, ready to go.
  • National Oregon Day. Maybe some salmon for dinner… fuck it, we’re going with a Rogue Ale, some of Oregon’s finest. It’s beer Sunday around here.
  • National Peanut Cluster Day. A chocolate-peanut treat we’ll be making this afternoon.
  • Check Your Batteries Day. We… we just did this. I guess we’ll do it again?

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