A while back I encountered an older gentleman at my physical therapist's office. We would often chat while waiting for our appointments.
One day he paused mid conversation, looked at me and said, "Sweetheart, if I were 30 years younger, I would show you a good time, but now all I can offer you is conversation." We both laughed.
And so converse we did.
I came to learn his name was Mitch and that he was a composer, though of what kind of music, I didn't know. He learned that I was a triathlete and liked to play with my food.
Finally, he told me about The Man of La Mancha, Yul Brenner and his real estate ventures. I also learned about his children and family.
When asked how he was feeling by anyone in the office, he would look them squarely in the eye and say, "I'm vertical!" That brightened the moods of everyone in the office.
I adopted the phrase and started saying it all the time. To me, it encapsulated the best reality check. Yes, it might be a shitty day. The music may not be flowing, the legs not going anywhere fast, but I was vertical so, you know, world's smallest violin—the rest is just details.
I only saw him on occasion, but he was always positive, thoughtful and interested in chatting. I began hoping I would run into him during my PT sessions and looked forward to his stories.
My physical therapist texted me today to tell me he had passed away. I felt an odd sadness at the news. Odd because I didn't know him that well, but he had touched my life in a comparatively large way with his outlook.
And so, I dedicate this recipe collection to Mitch Leigh. It's a collection of past recipes that I think fall in line with his theme...staying vertical, remembering what's important in life and being grateful for all that good stuff.
Rest in peace, Mr. Leigh
Potatoes for Rocky
This week contains the wildly controversial holiday: Valentine's Day. For many men, V-Day is often coupled with some sort of negativity. It could be owing to a paralyzing inability to make plans with your honey for fear of underwhelming her expectations. Or maybe it's because you're just not an emotional type of guy. Nothing wrong with that, Clint Eastwood. Perhaps you don't even like your girlfriend/wife/significant other. I've been there, bro. Even still, maybe you are on the other end of the spectrum in that you are single, and Valentine's Day makes you feel lonely, depressed, and susceptible to crying at strange events, like that time over Christmas when you teared up after viewing that awesome Dick's Sporting Goods Commercial.
Fellow men, fear not. Your lady, or lack thereof, may indeed be screwing with your ability to process rational thought, but regardless of your parallels with any of the aforementioned criteria, you indeed have the ability to enjoy this Valentine's Day in some way shape or form. Simply find what/who it is you love, and celebrate the freaking hell out of it. It doesn't need to be a person, per se, just something you can't live without - like Sam Malone's relationship with Cheers. Let me give you an example from my own life.
One thing I love in this world? Pizza. I love it so much that I often google image pictures of melted mozzarella blobs against the brilliant red backdrop of crushed San Marzano tomatoes. I love it so much, I've written poetry about it. And, lately, I love it so much, I'm willing to publicly profess my love for my favorite pizzeria (DiFara's in Brooklyn - previously reviewed on the blog and truly one of the world's greatest pizzerias) by featuring it in a self made imovie-music video to the tune of, what else, "She Drives Me Crazy" by the Fine Young Cannibals. The above video is how I (prematurely) celebrated Valentine's Day, and I could not have been happier. And my date was Elana, so there were no awkward good-byes, or fretting about eating my six slices to her two (true story).
So, Happy Valentine's Day, everybody. Go out and give that special someone or something your emotional "all" - however "crazy" it may be.
There is all kinds of wack-a-doodle weather happening. Funny weather brings out fascinating personal revelations. This happens when you are cooped up at home like a common household appliance. An appliance, like, for instance a COFFEE MAKER.
John does not know how to use the coffee maker at Iaciofano HQ. I just figured this out. It's one of these percolator coffee makers.
So we had to have a tutorial via text about it. Because I was not at Iaciofano HQ. And John wanted coffee. And so here you have it for all of you that don't know how to use percolator coffee makers. And for those of you who DO...this should be entertaining anyway.
* NOTE: By "the Hatch" John refers to the Dharma Swan Station from LOST.