It's Getting Hot in Here...

Ladies and gentlemen, summer has arrived in Chicago. While most would probably hail this turn of events as a positive development for the city, I for one, am not a fan, especially when the start of summer is heralded by severe storms, a tornado drill at work, and a power outage in the suburbs on the very same weekend that I was going home. Also add to the mix the failure of my week-old air conditioner, and I think it's safe to say that I'm already counting the days until fall. If it weren't for the joint confluence of Audrey's bridal shower, and Father's Day, I could have remained downtown, where I would have at least had a fan, internet, and television, but alas, it was not meant to be.

The bridal shower fell on Saturday, with nearly all of our high school crew in attendance. Like so many parties of that era, Nikki (also the maid of honor), threw the party at her parents' home. The buffet featured Audrey's favorite foods - pot roast, pizza bagels, and latkes. Bucking tradition, the bride opted to forgo the traditional shower games in favor of a "roast," which I found to be a clever touch. Overall, the party was pleasant enough, but I couldn't shake my normal sense of discomfort with the fact that people my own age are getting married. I can still recall being six years old, and Audrey and I used to sit on her bedroom floor and fight over who got to be Wedding Day Midge, swearing that some day we'd be each other's maids of honor. Obviously, people's relationships change over time. Nevertheless, to me, marriage still feels very much the same -- like a hypothetical event for the very distant future. That doesn't mean it's not right for other people, I just have a difficult time wrapping my head around it.

From left: Stephanie, Nikki, Me, Lindsey, Audrey, Sarah, Claudia, Ashley, and some random chick who got in our picture of high school friends.

After 28 hours, the electricity finally came back in the wee hours of Sunday morning, so I was able to commemorate Father's Day with one of Dad's favorite meals: Lentils a la Brasserie du Theater. In keeping with my assertion that Dad is a complex guy, he also has favorite foods that are almost exclusively complicated to make. The traditional family anise cookies he holds dear require hand-shaping and glazing. The swiss chard he loves so much requires tedious washing and chopping. And the lentils, which were inspired by a meal that we had in Versailles, outside of Paris, require three pots cooking simultaneously on the stove, and a substantial amount of prep work.

Dad and I at the Palace of Versailles, 2007.

The dish consists of imported Puy lentils, incorporated into a mixture of very finely chopped carrot, celery, and shallot fried in bacon fat, in a warm bacon/red wine vinegar vinegrette, garnished with two poached eggs and lardons of bacon. Is it delicious? Yes. Is it worth all the effort? Only to make Dad happy, and to bring back memories from our journey across the north of France, in search of the history of the Allied invasion of occupied Europe. The trip was great, and the food was fantastic, but it takes a certain amount of dedication to replicate the experience at home.

Later in the afternoon, we went as a family to see Up in 3D. It was a good choice for Father's Day, given the themes it touched upon, but, as Pixar films are apt to do, it packed an emotional wallop. I was crying my eyes out in the first ten minutes or so, and I kept tearing up throughout the remainder. Overall, I thought it was pretty great, and I appreciated that the use of 3D was fairly subtle in most of the movie. Instead of packing the films with 3D sight gags, the technology was used to enhance the field of depth in aerial scenes and so forth. Plus, there were two awesome Star Wars references near the end, which put a perfect capstone on the experience for me. I doubt there's anyone left who hasn't seen Up by now, but I highly recommend it.

However, the positive note that Up had placed on my weekend was diminished by returning to the condo to find that the air conditioner wasn't working. It had been malfunctioning on Friday evening, just as the temperature was amping upwards, but Dad thought he had fixed it by restarting the unit, and it seemed to be fine when we left for the suburbs on Saturday morning. By Sunday night, however, it was a sweltering 78 degrees inside, and I've been doing battle with the damn thing ever since. The repairmen came today, and decided that the pitch of the unit was incorrect to promote proper draining (which apparently also explains my recent indoor humidity woes), and their attempts to repair it were unsuccessful. They are supposed to return tomorrow to install a pump to remove the excess water from the unit. Until then, I can only hope that they resolve this problem before the weekend, because I have company coming. More on that later...


  1. Thanks for your kind thoughts, dear. I regret that most of my favorite dishes are so labor-intensive, but it probaby is due to the another my complexities, namely, that I identify myself as an Italian (even though I am only 50% Italian), and it is well established that Italian cuisine is far more sophisticated and subtle than anything the Germans ever produced, which seems to be limited to beer, sausages, schnitzel, and an awful type of chocolate cake.

  2. Even knowing you basically my entire adult life, it still boggles my mind that you consider 78 "sweltering!" No doubt though, broken AC sucks.