My Kind of Town

When Oliver moved to New Jersey right after we were married, we split up America and divided it evenly in half between ourselves. Armed with guidebooks and a portable navigation system, he quickly mastered the East Coast. I’d never been before so when I came to visit, he was my chaperon. It was fully his town. He could speak knowledgeably about Philly Cheesesteaks, Grey’s Papaya and Katz’s Deli, shopping on fifth and how the Plunge at the Gaansevort is the best hotel bar in town. He knew how long it took to get to Soho from Jersey at four in the afternoon and where you could still find a space to park your car, for free.

In that year he spent more time in the US than I have in the last six years. True he was only on the East Coast, but when he returned I noticed something else he’d acquired that I hadn’t reckoned with. Maybe it was due to the fact that when he lived in the US before he was in school and never turned on the TV and rarely went to a movie, but in all the years we knew each other he’d never been able to keep up long in conversation about pop culture. So it was the strangest sensation that it seemed like all of a sudden he had an opinion about these things, in particular very passionate opinions about the Food Network. Anthony Bourdain was a pretty cool asshole, a swashbuckling kitchen pirate sailing through foodie infested waters, Rachel Ray was a fake, insta-cook who never did her own food prep on camera and had a hideously annoying tendency to call olive oil EVOO, like she had a special inside relationship with the stuff. Jamie Oliver’s early work was great, chaotic and all over the place, a hyper-active kid genius gone wild, but his later stuff was too domestic, too tame, what was all that garden shit and hasn’t he packed on the pounds?

It was great and eerie and made me feel somewhat competitive. Without cable in Germany, I was helpless in keeping up with him. Within a few short months, I was outdated and he was current. With seeing the last Sopranos episode and the first Desperate Housewives, he’d fully occupied what had been up till then my exclusive territory.

But I still had the West Coast. Until now.

When he said he was probably going to Berkeley for a conference, the first thing I thought about was what he could buy and whether I could order some things online for him to bring back via Parental Express. Only when he started planning the trip did it really sink in. Four days at the Berkeley marina, a conference on the campus, a night at the St. Francis, a day in San Francisco, dinner with my our friends and lunch with my parents. He was taking my town. My advice on where to go, eat, drink was politely declined, he already knew where he wanted to go. He’d researched it already. For the first time my guy and my city are alone together, without me.

I can’t help but worry a little that the two of them might cheat on me.


6 responses to “My Kind of Town

  1. After reading this, I had to write a bit of something. First, I agree with O that Rachael Ray is annoying and I hate all the little “sayings” she has – bleck! But she is rich and famous even though she can’t cook (which she admits), so she must appeal to someone. I love Jamie, but he has mellowed. Found him much more real using old pans and makeshift chopping boards than Martha’s perfect kitchenware and manicured everything. I see no American shows here, and if I do, they’re all old and dubbed over in Greek…not quite the same.

    And on O taking the USA, kind of a strange situation, isn’t it? You go to Germany, he goes there and hangs out with your parents (his in laws), your town, your friends (shared or yours?). It’s all mixed up, and the feeling of ownership or dominion gets lost. But there’s always a difference between native and non-native.

    Still, I can understand what you mean.

  2. Yeah, after ten years our worlds are actually overlapping, which will take some getting used to. It’s not all bad, I’m just not used to him having an educated opinion – it was my one niche where he didn’t have an opinion in the past. All gone now.

    Now about Rachel Ray. I realize she’s loved by millions – more importantly making them – but that doesn’t mean she’s a brilliant cook. She’s like the Milli Vanilli of the cooking world. She’s a front. She’s prepackaged and well marketed but when she’s cooking or even talking she sounds like a front man with a factory of ghostchefs behind the scene making her food happen.

    And that “EVOO” thing is like someone just out of college showing up at the office dropping every ten cent word they can conjure up. She’s trying too hard, which leaves me with the impression that she’s a fake. My world is better without her.

    Not that I really have an opinion or anything 😉

  3. I thought of you the other day when Rachael Ray came on TV, and my fiance said, ‘Oh, there’s my girlfriend.” Eh???
    a) When the hell did she get the green light to infect my part of the universe with her spumoni colored kitchen?
    b) Since when is she my fiance’s girlfriend?
    c) Why the hell am I still cooking for him when he’s got her? LOL.

    She is somehow less annoying in Greek, probably because they couldn’t get a non-smoking chirpy Greek girl to emulate her and/or the translator can’t understand her little EVOO and other BS catch phrases.

    But seriously, someone just shoot me now. 😉

  4. Pingback: Exit stage right « Still here, Still foreign

  5. Oh Megan, you have no idea how I’ve been waiting to hear someone b*tch about Rachel Ray. What is America’s obsession with her? Her voice kills my spirit a little bit every time I hear it and I wish I could erase the image of her face along with all of her goofy facial expressions. I’ve had 7 root canals in my lifetime and I’d be happy to get an 8th if they’d just cancel her…from the planet.

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