Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dear Mike...

Dear Mike,

When I found out you needed a kidney transplant, I was really scared. I didn't tell you that I was scared at the idea of your no longer being around. But that's the world I live in now. No Michael Hogan.

I wish so much that I had made the time to see you during my visits to the Bay Area this past summer. But with all the family obligations and the other now seemingly trivial plans, I told myself there would be an opportunity to catch you during my next visit. Well, lesson learned. I know that you would tell me not to feel bad. You would say there's no way I could have known what would happen.

I keep thinking about the last time we saw each other. I had just finished running Bay to Breakers in May. As soon as I showered and changed, I took a cab over to UCSF to see you. Mister, I cannot believe you actually thought we could go out to lunch while being hospitalized for post-transplant/kidney-rejection issues! Watching you sitting on your hospital bed, I was stunned by how much weight you had lost. As Eric said, we know you loved that but it was still off-putting. But what amazed me even more was how focused you were on others during your recovery. First off, I didn't bring you anything. But you thought to ask your roommate to go get me a cupcake and cake pop from a local bakery as well as that gift certificate to Baker & Banker Restaurant. I still have no idea why you thought I was the one who deserved gifts. I haven't used that certificate. I had been saving it because it felt only right to take you there for dinner. Sucks that isn't going to happen. Presents aside, I was even more touched when I asked you how Eric was doing after donating his kidney. While Eric had already been out of the hospital and back to daily living for some time, you said you wished everyone would lavish attention on him instead. You said he's the one who made the sacrifice. The best thing people could do for you was to send goodwill and gifts his way.

For all the times you drove me to new levels of exasperation, you never failed to impress me with your kindness, consideration and charm. I remember in 10th grade, we had a joint birthday party at my house for all our friends with November birthdays and I told you that my mom would cook separate food for you because while everyone was OK with pizza, you loved Chinese. So, you thought to show up with a bouquet of flowers for her. Not bad for 16 years old, Mr. Hogan. I also remember during our senior year, it bugged the hell out of you that I was still getting picked up after school by my mom because I had no car of my own. So you took it upon yourself to offer you and Dennis as my personal drivers. I still don't understand that, LOL, but that was one of your quirks that added to the Mike-ness of you.

I know you used to worry too much that if you didn't hear back from a friend -- old or new -- by phone, email, text, etc., it meant they might not want to hang out with you or didn't care about you. I'm not sure if you ever grew out of that completely. But if you saw all the lovely things people have written about you, you would know your concern was for nothing. You may be afraid that with your passing, everyone is going to just forget about you. But I can tell you, I've thought about you every day since your death. That will be true in 10 months and in 10 years.

While I mourn the loss of all the things you didn't get to do or be in your too-short time here, you'll be with me. I know I'll be somewhere and I'll ask "What would Mike think?" Your absence doesn't mean the end of our friendship. I hope you know that I love you very much.


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Recipes--what's your type?


A couple weeks before Valentine's Day, I spotted a link to this recipe in my Facebook feed from Foodista _ bacon chocolate stout cheesecake. For some reason, I became fixated on this recipe and I felt this inexplicable need to make it. I decided to make it for Valentine's Day just because that was the next holiday, meaning excuse, coming up. It got me thinking...dealing with recipes really is like interacting with the opposite sex. 

The way I became so intent on making this cake is comparable to lust. I actually thought about how or if I would make it while lying in bed. But there were so many steps involved in the process. First, you have to glaze and oven-cook the bacon yourself and then chop it into little pieces. Second, you incorporate some of the chopped bacon into the cake batter that includes chocolate stout. Then, you have to make the hot fudge sauce yourself that goes on top. You still have to sprinkle more bacon on top. And for the finale, whip the heavy cream and pipe that around the edge. It's like a guy you've only been on a couple dates with and he's absolutely yummy but you're not sure if he's worth the effort. Yet, you really want to know if he...er...would be pleasant on your palate. You have to ask yourself are you willing to commit and do all the steps in the recipe and find out. 

In the case of this bacon-chocolate cheesecake, I found the end-product to be pleasantly decadent but it helps that I know I enjoy chocolate and bacon. For some of my friends, the experience was actually close to orgasmic. Yet, afterward, I did feel a tinge of regret because of how full one piece can make you, hehe. I suppose remorse is a comparable sentiment as well. If this recipe were a person, I think it would be a tall, dark and sexy "mimbo" that a girl wouldn't pursue as relationship material. Because as delicious as this cake was, I don't want to serial-eat it. It's something I'd eat when I feel self-pitying or indulgent. And it was so much work, another reason I will rarely be eating it. 

I am a foodie at heart but I'm no gourmand. I definitely don't want to be considered a food-snob. Yet...I see foods certain ways. A chili dog would be the guy who's too into sports and doesn't care if he makes a mess in front of you. Pre-packaged ramen is like the bland nerd who stays chained to the TV or the computer so as not to miss a gaming event or an episode of "Battlestar Galactica." Chicken soup is the guy who is just a friend and you lean on him when you want something comfortable. Quiche made with fresh garden herbs, farmer's market cheese and some prosciutto with a gruyere crust, to me, represents the gay best friend _ colorful, tasty and looks great at the table at brunch or any bridal/baby shower. Sardines or liver and onions means you should fake an emergency and leave.

Sometimes, you find a recipe that you really like and it's even healthy yet has a spicy or flavorful kick. It stays with you _ becoming a part of your culinary repertoire forever. In foodie terms, I'm really not sure what that is for me (No, not a cupcake recipe). I am not the greatest in the kitchen. That's why I so enjoy perusing the cookbooks or cooking websites. There's no harm in looking, right?