I get twitchy if I can’t cook. It’s a centering activity for me. But the first few nights I was in my new apartment, I couldn’t even see the stove and after that, it just didn’t seem to be a good idea to make more work for myself. It’s given me an opportunity to explore some of the takeout around here (highlights: the taco stand at the elementary school at 60th & 4th and the delicious frozen Indian dinners and breads from Patel Grocery on 53rd; low points: Pio Pio Riko being out of chicken and chewy, pale-looking beef and overly peppery wontons from the local Chinese).

So today, I was up near 25th St. returning my cable box when I remembered there was supposed to be a great retail/wholesale produce market around there on 3rd. I found it, after almost getting run over by a truck, and I have to say it really put a smile on my face. I was so starved for real food that I wanted to fill up a cart with everything in sight, all of those gleaming colorful deliverers of vitamins. I could have, too, at those prices. I ended up getting 3 mangoes, 4 lemons, 6 limes, a cucumber, 3 tomatoes, a package of arugula, crimini mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, 2 apples, and a bunch of parsley, all for $17.

And what would I make with all this? Well, I had a very hard end to a loaf of olive bread I’d gotten in the old neighborhood. I’d never made it before, but out of the options for using up stale bread, panzanella seemed to be the most congruous with olives.

So I looked up a few quick recipes online, threw something together, and just ate the entire thing in one sitting even though it was supposed to sit and get moister. I don’t know if it’s because it’s the first real food I’ve made since I’ve been here, but it was DAMN GOOD.  Here’s what I did:

One hard old end of a sourdough olive bread loaf.  One tomato and one-half a giant cucumber, chopped.  Mixed them together, sprinkled s&p, let the juices come out a bit.  Added a generous drizzle of olive oil, a drop of good balsamic vinegar, a splash of cheap red wine vinegar, a lot of chopped parsley and a minute amount (a quarter of a clove) of very finely minced garlic.  Had a bite, left it for 10 minutes, had another bite, then downed the whole thing.  I thought capers would have been nice and sorely regretted throwing out the jar with two tablespoons left when I moved, but (a) my new, smaller but nicer fridge is already completely full just with the condiments I brought from the old place, and (b) it was perfection without them.

No picture of the dish, because I’ve realized not only do I not want to spend the time to make my food look good, I don’t want my food to look good.  So here’s a picture of an empty bowl next to a pile of extension cords:

I thought I’d do a mushroom pasta for the main course.  Will I be hungry?  Who knows.  I’ve been absolutely ravenous the past week from all the physical exertion involved in moving and setting up the new place.  I’ve also been eating at 7 PM, going to sleep at 10, and waking up early.  I know it’s time to eat when I hear the ice cream truck outside, and time to sleep when the baby in the next building stops crying.

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