Thursday, January 16, 2020

This was an unusual day. Most of our celebrations circulated the dinner hour, yet one National Day stood out as a perpetual reminder that I (Marty) was, for this day, in a state of constant revelry, even to the point where it became obnoxious. Jodie? She was fine.

National Hat Day

Where once my wiry dirty-blond tresses could fly free with the wind (and fly they did, taking flight in greater numbers than I’d anticipated), yesterday they remained clamped to my head ‘neath a flat cap. A bunnet. A scally cap. A cheese-cutter. Wait – in New Zealand they call these hats “cheese-cutters”? Great. I spent all day with a fart atop my head.

I made the lifestyle adjustment to honour the day; Jodie had no need to follow suit, however. Her school’s rule-book forbids the wearing of hats, probably because one rotten kid showed up with some witty but naughty saying (like “Send Noodz” or something), and they ruined it for everyone. I don’t look great in most hats, but I like this one – albeit for a short stint. Wearing a hat all day whilst toiling away in a cubicle tends to make the minutes tick by a little slower. So instead I’ll raise my glass (stinky as it may be – more on that below) to the tuques and wool caps that are keeping us Canadians from tripping over fallen ear-parts in the streets. Stay warm, everyone.

National Bagel Day

For all its flaws, this universe is fairly well designed. We get two doughnut days this year, and – because one was originally known as “Bagels & Lox Day” – two bagel days. It’s the February 9 National Bagel Day that used to insist on a smoked salmon companion, but there is truly no greater way to enjoy a bagel so we’ll simply perform an encore that day.

The noble bagel has Polish origins, specifically among the Jewish communities. This is likely why my (Marty’s) most prized bagel memories are the ones baked by my Polish grandmother. Those puffy bread-rings were perfection: they required no toasting (no good bagel should require toasting), and tasted heavenly on their own. Apparently bagels used to be given as gifts to women in childbirth back in the 15th century, so if any OB-GYNs are reading this, that could be a hilarious piece of trivia to drop in the middle of your next patient’s labour. If you use it, let me know how it lands.

I don’t care for those sweet berry-filled spreads, and I won’t go anywhere near those pulled-taffy dough-globs they call bagels at our local fast food outlets. But otherwise, be it sesame seed, poppy seed, naked and free or loaded with everything, you can’t go wrong with a great bagel for any meal. Next, however, you must decide with what you shall wash it down…

National Booch Day

It’s not an ideal pairing, but the bagel with kombucha is where the fates steered us yesterday. Jodie had tasted the stuff before and wasn’t a fan. It was my first kombucha rodeo.

On the one hand, I liked it. It smelled a little like fart, and that didn’t go away, but the taste was fruity and refreshing. That said, it was a bit much for the evening repast. It had a humble fizz to it, and would probably be a tasty mid-morning beverage for a bit of a natural lift. It just didn’t pair with smoked fish.

Kombucha is a fermented tea originally enjoyed in Manchuria, a region of northeastern China known for its… candidates. There have been numerous claims of health perks from drinking the stuff, but no scientific proof that I can find. That said, if you’re going to consume something with some flavour you could do a lot worse. Interesting note, if you extract the kombucha culture and dry it, it becomes a leather-like textile that you can use to make seamless clothing. I respect a beverage I can wear as pants.

There are a few warnings of some rare possible side-effects, but the one I would watch out for are the people who call it ‘Booch’. Just… just call it what it is, let’s not get pretty about it. But if you haven’t tried it, grab a bottle and give it a shot! Sure, you might spit it out, or reject it outright once you catch a whiff of that fart-smell, but life is short and you may as well sample everything at its buffet, right?

National Strawberry Ice Cream Day

For example, sample some strawberry ice cream, like we did yesterday. Strawberry is one of the three Neapolitan pillars of creamy magnificence. It was the third option for milkshake buyers for years, until science opened up a wider world. It’s classic and retro, yet shockingly vibrant and alive. And sure, the weather may suggest that downing a scoop or two would only increase Mother Nature’s January fisticuff of frigidity, but don’t be fooled – ice cream is a fine winter treat.

Trust us, we’ve been eating the stuff all week.

Today we aim to do as little as possible, not only because we both awoke with some unpleasant stomach concerns (we blame neither bagel nor booch, and don’t even think we’ll pin this on the ice cream), but because today’s star demands minimalsim:

  • National Nothing Day. How do we celebrate multiple things while celebrating nothing? By celebrating only nothing-ish things.
  • National Fig Newton Day. It won’t take any effort to toss a few figgy newtons down our throats today.
  • National Quinoa Day. Another quick and easy solution; we’ve even bought a pre-made quinoa salad so we don’t have to put any effort into making it.
  • Anniversary of Prohibition. Out of respect for those poor Americans who had to endure 13 years of a bad political decision, we will not consume any alcohol today.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

We did it! We have reached the halfway point of our first month. So… 1/24th of this project is complete. If we were to adapt this project into a one-second-long movie, the first frame would be in place. And such a delicious frame it has been.

National Soup Month

No, we won’t be neglecting the week-long or month-long festivities this year. Jodie’s colleague, Annette, prepared this bud-quaking soup from leeks and cauliflower, with just enough veggies to make it heavenly. On a day when it would appear the sun has opted to fully shirk its planet-warming duties, a warm splash of soup is the perfect defense.

Soup comes with many faces and many flavours. Some prefer the bite of a bisque, others would sooner chow into some chunky chowder. Myself (Marty-self), I love a gumbo, bursting with sausage, shrimp and okra. Jodie’s favourite is that old-fashioned bastion of feel-goodery, chicken-noodle (though yesterday’s recipe is apparently climbing her charts). Whatever your fancy, I hope you take a meal out of your January and stack it up with soup – there is truly no better time of year for this celebration to land.

Speaking of apt arrivals:

National Dress Up Your Pet Day

Most dogs we’ve met have worn clothing only reluctantly, and it tends to reflect the image of the person on the other end of the leash when pups are made to appear ‘human-fashionable’. In this cold climate, an extra layer of cozy is a kind gesture to a pet, though. Trixie and Rosa – in particular Trixie, who does not appreciate any additional inconvenience in her already-burdened little life – are not big on getting dolled up. Today they obliged.

Dress Up Your Pet Day has been a fun hashtag to follow over the past 24 hours, but we won’t be making a habit of this. When it serves a function it makes sense, and they should certainly join in the fun when Halloween rolls around, but I doubt you’ll catch these two in any state other than au naturel for most of this year.

Then again, I’m not specifically the one who gets to decide this, so…

Poetry At Work Day

Jodie delivered a beautiful reading to her students yesterday morning, and their response was ecstatic. I work in a government office, so standing up and reciting poetry would have been deemed a distraction at best – a mental breakdown at worst. So I made sure all emails I sent were in haiku. No one noticed.

I then bombarded a few of my friends at work with some verse through our instant message software, until we all remembered that as servants of the taxpayers our time would be better spent napping. That way we’d be ready if a real emergency rolled around. Don’t forget – your government works for you, as much as they legally have to.

I composed this little stanza as a tribute to my unglamorous desk job in consumer protection, with a nod to how wonderful a teacher Jodie has become.

Consumer protection requires correction and that’s why I get out of bed;

I could be a teacher but I’d never reach her, she’ll always be eons ahead.

But I’m a debater, a good celebrator: I praise and I write and I eat;

For now here I’ll stay, in the beige and the grey, but the book ‘bout this gig will be neat.

National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day

We could bore you all with yet another diatribe about how “real” pastrami exists elsewhere and how this city can only muster up rubbery coldcut pastrami, but anyone who knows us will have heard that rant before. I present exhibit A above: the best we could find in town – a somewhat-thicker-cut vacuum-pack of pastrami that we steamed and served on rye with mustard. It was okay. The fatty parts were chewy, gristly and inedible, the seasoning was quite mild, but it held the flavour of actual pastrami.

This is exhibit B from Katz’s Deli on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The meat submits to the will of your teeth with an elegant curtsy, allowing its juices to swirl around your mouth like a cascade of seasoned glitter. The fat isn’t chewy, it’s effervescent, dissolving in a splash of umami wonder when it hits the tongue. If heaven was to manifest in sandwich form, it would bow down to this masterpiece.

Okay, we went on one of those rants. We apologize for nothing. If you live somewhere fortunate enough to boast a real deli serving real pastrami, don’t worry if you missed the sandwich’s big day. You deserve a hot pastrami sandwich. We all do.


Four items on the menu for today, and three of them are literally menu items. Bundle up and join in the party for these numbers:

  • National Hat Day. When the high is -30, everybody wears a hat. But do they wear hats indoors? At work? Probably not, and they probably shouldn’t. But today, we shall.
  • National Bagel Day. We leap from one staple of New York cuisine to another, only we won’t be settling this time. Bon Ton Bakery makes a fine bagel, and once the lox & cream cheese step onto the stage, it’s a show-stopper..
  • National Strawberry Ice Cream Day. Dessert! Really, some of these celebrations must have been concocted in Australia or somewhere in the southern hemisphere. We’re eating a lot of ice cream for the coldest week of 2020.
  • National Booch Day. Jodie has tried kombucha, I have not. Today we will enjoy some with dinner.