--> Thoughts from 2012

Eating Sito’s Ka’ak (pronounced ‘cock’): Embarrassing Lebanese Pastry

Posted by Admin

I know this is off-color, and I’m sure there will be comments that require deletion. Read this: it’s G-rated…the entendre is up to you. Everyone loved my husband’s grandmother Sito. With thinning blue-white curls and a faded cotton apron stretched over her small round belly, you might think Sito was a feeble old lady, but she rolled grape leaves so tight they popped…and she played cards like a riverboat shill.

Sito was the queen of a Lebanese pastry with an unfortunate name, ka’ak (pronounced ‘cock’). Every Christmas Sito would pinch off hundreds of ka’aks with her tiny hands, branding each soft mound with a nasty metal tool just before shoving a batch in the gas oven. We’d tear open our annual Holiday shipment of cold ka’ak and let the packing fly, unzipping successively smaller plastic bags to devour the sweet booty inside. Sito packed her ka’ak so tight sometimes we’d need to bang it on a hard surface just to separate ka’ak from box.

It is a family tradition to gorge ourselves on ka’ak to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Now that Sito’s gone I don’t crave ka’ak as much as I used to, which is probably a good thing. Once I start it’s hard to stop. I tell my husband that I must have acquired an unfortunate sensitivity to eating ka’ak, and I often politely decline. These days I only eat ka’ak when I can no longer resist the aroma, once or twice a year. If you don’t eat ka’ak right away it gets too tough to chew, and it loses that faint anise scent that fills the house, letting everyone know that someone is downstairs eating ka’ak. Sito’s ka’ak was pretty big, so it was perfectly acceptable if guests wanted to split a ka’ak with a firm jerk of the wrist. It’s a shame not to try a little, and it’s always interesting to see folks acquire a taste for the stuff. Guests who initially turn up their nose have been heard to politely inquire as they enter my kitchen, “Do I smell ka’ak?”

Our daughter’s friend Jason would down two or three ka’aks in a single sitting. When Jason went away to college, I even sent him a care package with “FRAGILE: Ka’ak” written on the box. By New Year’s Eve though, we all get sick of stuffing our faces with ka’ak and toss what’s left into the freezer. Ka’ak freezes surprisingly well. It’s naturally kind of dry, and thawed ka’ak is even worse, so I always had something juicy around the house to wash it down, especially when the kids were little. It would have been awful to rush a child to the Emergency Room after he choked on ka’ak.

Everyone in my family is kinky about ka’ak. I prefer mine in the morning, served so hot I can barely touch it, lubed up with a little butter. I’ll look at it, bulging and steaming, and I’ll tell myself to take little savoring nibbles, but I’m embarrassed–and just a little boastful–to admit that I often devour an entire ka’ak in a few bites. My husband prefers his ka’ak straight up at night. For our daughter, ka’ak smeared with just about any condiment is a meal in itself.

For our some reason our son never cared much for ka’ak. He’d toast his ka’ak until you could hear it sizzle, and then scoop ice cream on top before wolfing it down, hoping to disguise the taste. After my husband’s grandmother Sito passed away, her only daughter became the Keeper of Ka’ak. Auntie’s ka’ak tastes like Sito’s, but there’s something about the texture that will just never be the same.

Ding! Glenn Beck vs. Keith Olbermann: Health Care on the Ropes

Posted by Admin

Is Real Health Care Reform Down for the Count?The demands of my business have kept me away from blogging. I was heartened to see how many hits I generated in the last week (over 300!) so despite scattered energies, I couldn’t resist posting another rant. House lights dim as the Ref grabs the lowered microphone:

“Ladies and Gentlemen! Ladies and Gentlemen! May I have your attention, please?”

“In ‘The Cable TV Championship for Healthcare Reform’ we have, in the upper left corner, former sportscaster and liberal heavyweight Keith Olbermann. (Keith bashes his blue boxing gloves together, grinning demonically).

“In the FAR right corner, we have Fox News Pundit and LDS spokesperson Glenn Beck (cheers and boos as Beck, still seated, makes a futile attempt at an obscene hand gesture with a huge red glove).

The venue is packed, and just about everyone has a vested interest in the outcome of this Rumble in this Political Jungle. There’s Max Baucus, Senate Finance Committee chair, with an affable lip-licking lisp as promoter Don King; congressional Republicans, waiting lazily with brooms to sweep up votes after the brawl; and that skinny black guy Obama with the microphone in the middle of the ring, trying to dodge premature punches as he explains the rules of a fair fight. If you’re like me, watching the health care fight on ‘Pay per View’, try turning down the volume. It doesn’t matter who says what: like most Americans, Olbermann and Beck hit the canvas with the same obese thud.

Hey, it’s not that these guys are idiots–in my mind, only one is an idiot, and you’ll have to guess—it’s that by the time they got into the ring, it was too late to save either of them. Like 66% of Americans (according to the CDC), Olbermann and Beck are pudgy and pasty and about to die. They can barely raise their gloves. Everyone has overlooked the big reason that health care reform will fail: it’s too late. We are so sick that our entire economy has become dysfunctionally vested in disease.

Genuine reform would gut entire industries: Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Archer Daniels Midland, Frito Lay, Coca Cola, Sonic, TV remote manufacturers, Altria (Philip Morris): bye, bye! What would plus-size clothiers and big Pharma do without the cash cows of obesity and diabetes? We don’t have the courage to admit that we prefer to work at the ass end of health care, rolling up dollar bills and shoving them into that end of the system because real reform means we’d have to work to follow a plant-based diet and walk to work. Can’t someone just give me a friggin’ pill???

We talk about health care reform in this country as if we have a right to plant our widening hineys on the couch and suck down greasy takeout. If aliens from outer space watched prime time TV ads, they might decide to come back in a couple of generations to be spared the trouble of eradicating us from this gift of a planet. By that time our allergies, immune disorders and erectile dysfunctions might have us all down for the count.

Everyone has a right to be treated for what ails them, but many Americans want to cash in on health care without investing in a healthy lifestyle. Keith, Glenn, are you listening? Take off the gloves, boys, skip the ‘Thrilla in Vanilla’ and make your way from the political boxing ring to the salad bar.