I walked to work this morning. I had a meeting part of the way between my job and my home and it didn't make sense to go all the way to work first, and this city is basically bereft of public transportation so I walked. I walked through mountains of snow, because even though it has been almost a week since the last storm apparently it's been decided that the sidewalks of Struggledelphia should remain as scale models of the Alps. And I walked through rivers of ice, because salt is for pansies and the city government would prefer that us Struggledelphias bravely take on the elements with nothing more then our bare hands and Quaker determination. And I fell. Right on my knees. At the corner of Struggle Garden and 11th street. Thank you, good people of City Hall, for teaching me that valuable lesson about falling down in public.
But on some level I'm glad I walked all the way in because my path took me through all kinds of struggle, and as I always carry around my camera, I can now share some of that for you. Enjoy. Happy end of January. If February has this much snow, I'm moving to Mexico. Who's in?
I was driving in downtown Struggledelphia the other day when I came upon a deeply perplexing sight. Cold the wind was, and icy breezes blew through the city. Wrapped in fleece and down, the noble inhabitants of my fair struggle hurried on their way, faces turned from the bitterness of the day. None of this, of course, is surprising, it's been insanely cold here in Struggledelphia, the kind of weather that makes you understand why so many Colonial beverages mix hot liquids and alcohol (Have you had mulled wine lately? A hot toddy? Cider? It's all working for me right now). But what WAS surprising was the large typically vacant office building at the corner of Market and StruggleFirst street which was festooned with pictures of actor Bradly Cooper's face in some kind of pseudo political campaign. But the weirdest part? That political campaign was for the city of New York.
Now, I'm fairly certain that Struggledelphia is not, in fact, New York. I know for a fact that there are at least 5 people in our Chinatown who speak English, which is 500% more then New York has. Also, we barely have a subway system. Also, a bottle of water costs under 5 dollars. So it seemed unlikely that the two cities had in fact fused together overnight and that I was at the corner of Struggledelphia and Broadway. Although that would be an awesome Twilight-zone....
And then it occurred to me, none of this was real! It was, in fact, a movie. A movie being shot in here in Sturggledelphia but set in New York. Right, Because the two cities look EXACTLY alike. We have a Statue of Liberty as well. It's called the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Looks exactly the same, if you squint. And have glaucoma. And it's nighttime. And raining. And all the power is out. Right?
And then I realized, as I dodged Bradley Cooper fangirls (and boys, let's not be heteronormative) and tried to make it to my pilates class in something approaching on time, they have been shooting a lot of movies in our fair city. Last summer they shot the completely unsuccessful "How Do You Know", and the as yet unreleased "The Best and the Brightest". The movie that has prevented me from punctuality recently is called "Limitless". And apparently the trailer for "Ceder Rapids" features the Struggledelphia skyline, even though the movie is supposed to be set in, well, Iowa. Thanks, guys, that was kind of you. Next time you are here, we are spitting in your stupid cheesesteaks.
So what does this add up to, pray tell? Why, it's obvious! Struggledelphia is the new Prague! Think about it, Prague is the stand in for every European city ever. Movies are shot in Prague all the time, because it's cheap, it's beautiful, and stupid American movie audiences will never figure it out. Unless they actually go to Prague...but of course that's crazy talk. Americans don't travel. We are literally incapable of being outside of a 50 mile radius of a Starbucks and/or a McDonalds. Everyone knows that. But really, think about it some more. Prague has never been bombed. Struggledelphia has never been bombed. Prague is famous for it's history. Struggledelphia is famous for it's history. Prague was the capital of Bohemia. Struggledelphia has a naked bike ride! Prague has had not one, but TWO defenestrations. Struggledelphia recently got a Barney's co-op! I could go on like this all day, but I think you all get the picture. Struggledelphia is the new Prague. Come visit us quickly before we convert to the Euro and all the cigarette prices go up.
I don't know about all of you, but when the temperatures drop and it starts to rain white crap from the sky, I personally can dispense with the salads. I love gazpacho as much as the next girl (assuming the next girl REALLY loves gazpacho), but wintertime, especially wintertime here in Struggledelphia, the not-quite-Northeast, means substance. It means style. Hell, I'll say it, it means pasta.
Remember those few awkward years (not that that narrows it down) when everyone was all about carbs being the devil? First of all, the Devil is the Devil, people, stop trying to make the Devil into bedbugs or reality television stars or Christine O'Donnell (though obviously that last one is some kind of minor minion, a sub-demon, perhaps, something along those lines). He is that he is, folks, he's not hiding in your bagel. So I don't care if this causes a group of priests to come down on me like a load of bricks, exorcise all you want, folks, I'm eating pasta. And I'm eating in all sorts of different ways. Why? Because it's filling. Because it's delicious. And because if animals can get all fatty-no-friends and store up winter fat then, by God, so can I.
Considering that the horribly cruel local news stations had spent the weekend predicting doom and gloom and more snow then a cocaine dealer would know how to handle, I thought it prudent on Monday evening to whip up a dish that would give me the warm fuzzy feeling of carbohydrates, the solid strength of protein and the mildly superior sensation of having eaten something vaguely healthy. A tall order, perhaps, but it's all in a day's struggle:
Orecchiette with Spinach, Peppers and Sausage:
Enough dry Orecchiette for four people (depending on your appetites and pasta needs)
4 turkey sausages (or pork, should you not be a chosen person)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 red peppers, diced
1 large bag of spinach (about 6 cups)
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, heat up olive oil under medium heat in a large heavy saucepan. Cook sausages until almost completely cooked through and browned. Remove sausages from the pan, set aside to cool. Maintaining a medium heat, add the minced garlic to the pan, and saute for one minute. Add the diced peppers, saute together for several minutes while pepper starts to soften. Slice sausage into long diagonal slices about 1/4 of an inch thick each. Add sausages to the saucepan, then add washed spinach and salt and pepper (according to your tastes/sodium requirements). Cover the pot and lower the heat to medium-low, allowing the spinach to wilt and cook and the flavors to meld. Add pasta to water once the water is boiling, and cook according to the package directions. Remove pasta from heat when it is still al dente. Spoon sauce over the pasta, and serve with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy the sweet sensation of added layers of lipids insulating your winter-prepared body. Not everyone does.
Leah Franqui is a fairly interesting person/director/writer/reader/eater/drinker. She likes ugly dogs and dislikes her hair in the morning. She's a sucker for environmental causes and plays hardball with deals on chewing gum. She is a struggle.