...Or Why I Spend Very Little Time at the Grocery Store
Here are 18 reasons to become a member of Trillium Haven Farm: Arugula, Basil, Beets, Broccoli, Carrots, Cantaloupe, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Frisee', Kale, Patty Pan Squash, Peppers, Radishes, Red Onion, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Yellow Squash, and Zucchini. Believe it or not, it tastes even better than it looks!
Precocious 9-year-old Vegan Protagonist Seeking Broader Readership
Noodles and Moles have both recently devoured and raved about Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close--a book about a young boy struggling to deal with the loss of his father in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. I am now on page 46 of the novel myself, and though I am considerably bitter about the fact that its author, three years my junior, already has two best-selling books to his credit, I am nonetheless finding his brainchild, the fictive 9-year-old Oskar Schell, to be entertaining company.
The Inimitable Oskar Schell
Who wouldn't want to spend a little time with a kid whose business card reads as follows? "OSKAR SCHELL: INVENTOR, JEWELRY DESIGNER, JEWELRY FABRICATOR, AMATEUR ENTOMOLOGIST, FRANCOPHILE, VEGAN, ORIGAMIST, PACIFIST, PERCUSSIONIST, AMATEUR ASTRONOMER, COMPUTER CONSULTANT, AMATEUR ARCHAEOLOGIST, COLLECTOR OF: rare coins, butterflies that died natural deaths, miniature cacti, Beatles memorabilia, semi-precious stones, and other things. EMAIL: OSKAR_SCHELL@HOTMAIL.COM; HOME PHONE: PRIVATE/CELL PHONE: PRIVATE; FAX MACHINE: I DON'T HAVE A FAX MACHINE YET."
The Gimmicks Abound, But the Fun's There Too
Foer's "neo-experimentalist" style (replete with sentence fragments, blank pages, stream-of-consciousness narration, and even a flip book) may annoy some readers (for instance, the folks at Yankee Pot Roast). But if you're willing to indulge some vaguely Dave Eggers-ish, somewhat McSweeney's-esque pomo pyrotechnics, and you're intrigued by the prospect of a novel with a young vegan protagonist ("General Tsao's Gluten" makes an appearance as early as the first chapter), then check this one out.
One Last Hurrah Before E.W. Arrives
Our families have been very generous to us on the baby shower front. My sister Megan and her husband Jeff gave birth to their second child and bought their first house less than three months ago, but that didn't stop them from opening their beautiful new home to host one last party for E.W. before the big day. My Mom and sister planned the event together, and Megan cooked, baked, sauced, and frosted a table full of mouthwatering vegan eats.
Farmers' Market Flowers
Together, Megan and I have racked up a combined total of almost 14 years of graduate study in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. For both of us, ready access to fresh, beautiful, inexpensive flowers from the South Bend Farmers' Market has helped to sweeten the cup of sadness that is reading and dissertating on Heidegger in the Michiana area. Luckily, waxing eloquent on Heidegger's understanding of the relation between mythos and logos in Plato's philosophy is not my sister's only talent, as the following smorgasbord of animal-free comestibles clearly attests.
Succulent Summer Melon
Pesto Bruschetta with Fresh Tomato
Tofu Satay with a Trio of Dipping Sauces
(Mini) Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!
Using Isa Chandra Moskowitz's foolproof recipe for global domination, Megan crafted 150 E.W.-sized cupcakes in delectable varieties such as Chocolate Mint, Coconut Heaven, and--Meg's specialty--Creme-filled Chocolate "Fauxstess" Cupcakes (just like the ones Mom reluctantly used to let us buy twice a year for fieldtrips to the Museum of Science and Industry, only smaller, cuter, and without the hydrogenated lard and excessive packaging; they tasted amazing, even unaccompanied by the coal mine exhibit, giant walk-through heart, and Jewel-brand "Red Pop" wrapped in tinfoil. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Meg, Jeff, Mom, and Dad for throwing the party, and to our friends and family who showered us with thoughtful gifts for E.W.! He is one lucky little hombre to have such a warm and generous community awaiting his arrival. Any day now!
Noodles paints a mural for Vegucator Jr.
Our baby boy is scheduled to wrap up his lengthy intrauterine adventure by the end of the month, so we enlisted the multi-talented Noodles to help us make his nursery a more inspiring place to be. One of our many hopes for our son is that he will choose someday to see his own well-being here on the green planet as intimately connected to the flourishing of non-human animals and the earth as well. Until then, we'll do what we can to make a place for him in which the beauty, mystery, and wonder of the world around is as accessible as possible to his impressionable imagination.
A stag stands sentry over the crib.
Feathered friends in flight.
An owl perched above the bookshelves.
A fox guards the door.
Gus and Charlie at the ready for mischief.
Thanks for all your hard work, Noodles! We LOVE the results, and we suspect that E.W. will too!
Homecooked North African cuisine served up with Eritrean hospitality.
It is probably rude to begin a post by issuing an emphatic command to readers, but allow me to be blunt: if you haven't been to the Selam Store, stop what you are doing and proceed immediately to the corner of Michigan and Grand lest you be deprived for a minute longer of the culinary and cultural adventures that await you there. Uncle Juan and Splinters have been raving about this place for months, but a busy summer had thwarted my best intentions to visit until yesterday lunch. I was a fool to wait! Indeed, I was so bowled over that I rounded up Noodles and Moles and went back for dinner less than five hours later!
Update that Rolodex: 654 Michigan Street. 616-242-9089.
You're going to want these numbers on file, because at $5.50 per person for a generously portioned vegan combo of traditional Ethiopian/Eritrean stews served on injera, it's almost cheaper to go out than to cook a meal at home. And the food is just incredible; we had shiro wat, yemiser wat, gomen, vegetable aleecha, and a white lentil and garlic stew, all of which were top notch. The injera is especially exceptional. According to a friend who has ties to the local Ethiopian community, the Selam Store is regarded statewide as the source of the best, most authentic injera available; apparently, people who are in the know come from all over Michigan to get it. That won't surprise you when you taste it.
How do I love thee, Selam Store? Let me count the ways...
Delicious as it is, the food itself is just one of many exciting aspects of the Selam Store experience. It is a store, after all, where one may purchase a variety of dry goods from a quirky assortment including hand-woven Eritrean baskets (such as these), staple ingredients for North African cuisine, household items like toilet paper, detergent, and dishware, and a host of other unpredictables, such as boxes of cartoon-animal-emblazoned band-aids stacked with the candy and a towering display of off-brand cologne ("If you like Drakkar Noir, you'll love...").
A place that lives up to its name.
"Selam" means "peace" or "accord," as in what comes about when two people embrace one another with a heartfelt handshake. The store itself really embodies that spirit, from the placard hanging above the entrance to the family-style seating that makes it near to impossible to avoid befriending the other diners in your midst. Our evening meal opened into a stimulating hour-long conversation with three people we had never met before, all of whom we're now hoping to see again soon. Even when you have the place to yourself (as we did at lunch), the host and proprietor of the store--an older Eritrean gentleman--will win you over with his generous willingness to share recipes and answer questions about North African life and culture.
See you at the Selam Store!
Whether you can't find Eritrea on a map to save your life, or you're fluent in Tigrinya (one of the country's two official languages), you'll feel right at home at 654 Michigan Street. Hope to see you there!
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