Tami Weiser
JOK Points: 9
Member Since: 02-19-2014
Favorite Food: anything made with love
Food I Dislike: green bell peppers!
Favorite Gadget: heat resistant tongs
Favorite Cookbook: Gil Marks-Claudia Roden-Paula Wolfert-Mollie O'Neill- so many...
Best Kosher Restaurant: Abigail's
Favorite City: Miami; New Orleans; Jerusalem
Cooking Level: Professional
Cooking Style: global, modernized, classical

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About Chef Tami Weiser


Before starting The Weiser Kitchen.com, I was a cerebral yeshiva student from the Five Towns, an artsy thespian, and a Vassar College girl. I studied anthropology and archeology as an undergraduate, worked on digs and traveled in the Middle East, Western Europe, and the United States. I did graduate work in ethnomusicology and Jewish world studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and then attended Law School in Miami, working as an editor in on the Inter-American Law Review. I have started large non-profit music schools, taught Hebrew School, run adult education programs and taught global Jewish cooking from my travels and studies. I am proudest of my family—my three incredible teenaged kids, my wonderful husband, my parents, sister and muchatunim. After attending the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) and graduating with highest honors and a leadership award, I worked as a recipe editor, writer, and ebook developer. I've staged at numerous restaurants in the New York metro area, ghost-written for high-end chefs (shhh!), and worked in the recreational division at ICE. I've taught private students and at local cooking schools. I've been catering large scale charitable events for many years. Notably, I study with the iconic writer, food editor and my friend, Molly O'Neill.


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  • hi Tami Perhaps you would enjoy the following food chapter from my Isrel set novel (the protagonist is a harpist) "The Critic, the Assistant Critic, and Victoria" (Amazon). Thank you Larry 26 Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon's prescription for good health: Eat like a king in the morning, like a prince at lunch, and like a beggar in the evening. Victoria reversed the process, the evening meal – preferably at a good restaurant (on the rare occasions when she had to "prepare something" for me at home, I had thought of Cleopatra testing poisons on condemned prisoners) – should be eaten like a queen, in her case. Lieberman grumbled about this preference of hers; he was less interested in food (perhaps as part of his ideology – he had been through the austerity in Jerusalem during the War of Independence and also the 'worker's diet' had once been his own; he practiced the army slogan: what there is to eat, eat, what isn’t, don’t eat). He referred to her lavish meals as "Vashti's Banquet", but unlike the Persian queen Victoria did not miss the opportunity to attend. "It gives me strength to pluck the harp strings," was her standard defense. Her attitude to food might be summed up by a paraphrasing of Julius Caesar: “I came, I saw, I gorged.” Once, Walter Benjamin couldn’t decide about dinner; he was overcome with “extreme politness toward the dishes and did not wish to offend any by a refusal.” Victoria favored the opposite approach: she would offend none of the dishes by ingesting all of them. This last is something of an exagegration. Like the Russian masses’s commemoration of the beheading of John the Baptist which proscribed the eating of anything that was red -- the color of blood -- Victoria avoided partaking of certain foods which were red in color (this may explain why she disdained borscht, as well as rhubarb – years later I was to remember that she informed me that its leaves are poisonous). I surmized that she did so because they reminded her, like the Russians, of blood – and her great fear, death. I never voiced this theory to her, of course, lest she take the nearest fare and throw it on my head. Except for the above-mentioned proclivity – and her ironclad rules: if it smelled bad, she would not eat it; if it was improperly cooked, she would not eat it; if it was out of season, she would not eat it -- Victoria's taste in food did not suffer from limitation. French, Hungarian, Greek, what-have-you fare she enjoyed like an international gourmet food aficionado; yet she kept a soft spot in her heart's stomach for traditional Jewish meals (had not the desert –traversing Israelites of the Exodus looked back longingly to Egypt's cuisine: the fish and cucumbers and the melons and leeks and the onions and the garlic?): noodle soup, brisket with tzimmes, chopped herring and onions and chicken fat, chopped liver, cholent, kugel, boscht, kreplach are just some of the cuisine I remember her ingesting at one time or another. Her choices did honor to the delicacies described by Saul Tchernikovsky in ‘The Feast’ section of a poem of his from which I remember only the words spoken by a speaker at the repast, “And red wine, what is it if not the blood of the workers shed and being shed on the fields of Zion and the hills of Judea?” Victoria was a voracious meat eater. At times she seemed bent on sucking out the very marrow of life. Once, I mocked her proclivity for eating well by quoting Max Beerbohm, “The lower one’s vitality, the more sensitive one is to great art.” “Extremely droll,” she dismissed this, adding, “I will only refrain from eating famously when it becomes the greatest of my remaining sins.” This left me speechless – and wondering about the remaining sins. Yet her remark seemed too polished for Victoria – I suspected she had stolen it from whom? – Cleopatra in some American movie or TV version of ‘Caesar and Cleopatra’? This led to the thought that in her after life, Victoria, like an ancient Egyptian queen, would be grateful for the food left in the sepulcher for the deceased’s long journey through eternity. On another occasion, I chided her on her vigorous appetite, so opposite to my tendency toward cuisine maigre (she, like Bloom, enjoyed eating; I, like Molly, dispatched my food without ceremony). Irritated, she called me a bitere tsibele (literally ‘a bitter onion’ but meaning ‘a wet blanket’), and then went on to lump me and Lieberman as "culinary proletarians", the opposite, I suppose, of culinary connoisseurs. (Lieberman once told me when Victoria got on her epicurean high horse, he would reply with a dig at her Galician background, “Every Hungarian recipe begins the same way – First, you steal a potato . . .”) Her attitude to food can be summed up best by the Yiddish morsel Ven ikh ess, hob ikh zey ale drerd (When I eat, they can all go to hell). To turn here from the Jewish to the Greek for a moment (or from Hebraism to Hellenism in the formulation of Matthew Arnold), Tanalus is a mortal favorite of the gods and a guest at their table, who is punished for tasting the heavenly food. Tantalus spends eternity waist deep in water he cannot drink – it recedes whenever he bends to drink it – under a tree whose boughs drift away whenever he reaches up to pick its fruit. Perpetual hunger and perpetual thirst, but not merely that: perpetual hope that one's hunger is about to be satiated, one's thirst about to be quenched. Victoria, I imagine, using all her charms harnessed to her determination, would have overcome the problem. She was used to managing with higher-ups. And impresarios are not so far removed from gods of the Greek variety. (Supposition: the word 'tantalizing' derived from Poor Tantalus; more relevant query: Am I (a Yiddish) Tantalus vis-à-vis Victoria?) George Steiner: “Living and eating are indeed absolute necessities, but also bleak and secondary in the light of the exploration and communication of great and final things.” For Victoria, the shoe was on the other foot. She even favored culinary imagery. One of her favorites: “You can turn chicken soup into borscht, but you can’t turn borscht into chicken soup.” Once she employed this charming axiom when I praised Nitza’s preference for natural foods as enhancing one’s figure. Presumably Victoria’s own (superior) figure was the chicken soup, Nitza’s the borscht. She used the same formulation when I compared myself to Lieberman (in some respect which escapes me). Here Lieberman was evidently the chicken soup, I the borscht. Particularly insulting this, given Victoria’s disdain for the beet soup. Even if Victoria sulked, it no way diminished her gusto for eating. Once I chastised her because of her eating habits. Without batting an eye, she replied, “You’re a voracious reader -- you devour pages faster and more obsessively than I do food.” More than once she would urge me, ‘Eat, Kunzman – if you don’t eat, you’ll be an empty sack that will fall” or “Don’t eat like a bird, Kunzman.” Perhaps these importunings caused me to dream of a painting (which I later established was that of Bernadino Mei) of a young woman breastfeeding a starving prisoner, his hands tied behind his back. Nu. Victoria needed someone to talk to while she ate. Not for mutual conversation (at least not with me). She did most of the talking and most of the eating. But not alone. Never alone. “If I eat alone, the food doesn’t taste as good,” she explained. Why do I mention this food proclivity of Victoria's? Maybe because Nitza was a light eater (essen) whereas Victoria was a vigorous consumer (fressen); Nitza favored vegetarian cuisine, though she was not a complete vegetarian (she liked chicken). I went along with her, food eating being no big deal for me. In fact, given all the things Nitza and I had in common (or which I went along with because they did not matter to me), I wonder why we got divorced. I believe that Lieberman played a part in it. Oh, nothing romantic between Lieberman and Nitza, Lieberman showed no interest in other women all the years I knew him; and his wife would have taken an axe to him if he had or divorced him. (He once observed in connection with what I don't remember: "Hell hath no fury like a Victoria scorned.") And the thought of Nitza 'cheating' was unthinkable; even after our divorce she never remarried, nor did I hear of her going with anyone. She didn't possess the imagination, I sometimes judged her, unfairly really, since one could arrive to the conclusion that she lacked imagination in having married me. Lieberman played a part in our divorce, I believe, because I was always 'on call,' if he needed some obscure bit of literary or other information. Nothing would get on Nitza's nerves more than his calling me on the phone at two o'clock in the morning because he couldn't remember the source of a quotation that had popped into his mind when unable to sleep. My willingness to put up with this led her to call me "Lieberman's poodle." "Better 'Lieberman's poodle' than 'Agnon's dog'," I retorted, though unsure if Nitza was familiar with Agnon's novel sufficiently to appreciate it; moreover, invoking Agnon’s dog, dispite the display of erudition, was hardly relevant. More often, Nitza remained silent in the face of my availability to Lieberman, content with biting her lower lip. When Lieberman died, I wondered about Nitza’s reaction to his death. I remembered mine – mixed with shock, I felt, against my will, a sudden freedom. Freedom from the pathetic, oppressive, demanding, embarrassing, repellant, at times maddening demands of my relationhip with the literary icon (as he thought of himself) Lieberman. But to get back to Nitza’s possible reaction to Leieberman’s death, though Scipture warns against rejoicing at an enemy’s downfall, Nitza’s smiling a bit wouldn’t have surprised me. At once, I felt Nitza’s imagined reprimand at this conjecture, “Such a show of pleasure went beyond the dislikes of this world,” in compliance with the injunction not to speak ill of the dead. Nitza, though not Orthodox, had a grandfather who was a rabbi.. If we had been still married at the time of Lieberman’s death, I could have asked her what she felt; divorced, it seemed picayune and ignoble, a question that could have caused me to look small-minded in her eyes. She might very well reply, “But he took you under his wing and started you on your career. Where might you be now without him?” “Married, maybe,” I might have answered. But Nitza’s reaction to Lieberman’s death might have been less charitable. When we were married, she failed to find anything positive about him. She once described Lieberman as “charmless to a fault.” Oddly enough, Victoria claimed that he possessed “a certain charm.” I could not recall being exposed to it. Was Victoria telling the truth or merely attempting to set this quality off against my lacking the same? True, I did observe him on one occasion kiss a woman’s hand at a literary affair. She was a former fighter in the anti-British resistance. A charming gesture, to be sure, but not lacking a certain irony, perhaps. If I have painted here a picture of Nitza as a drab wife (lacking in some literary knowledge, relevant here perhaps to a husband who was a literary critic, but seemingly not sufficient to "doom" the marriage), I, her husband, could not be said to be lacking in drabness myself. (Were we like the characters in Chekhov's story "Pure Nonsense" who "drank tea, but their lives are not disrupted, since there is nothing to disrupt"?). And yet, drab or not, I did not want to be – as Woodie Allen answered when asked what he wanted to be – "somebody else." I never wanted to be somebody else; neither someone more famous nor wealthier, well, maybe a little bit more thatch on the roof (I had commenced the balding process at the age of thirty). I exemplified the scriptural injunction: 'Happy is the man who is glad with his lot in life'. Well, less 'glad' than 'satisfied', since I had always been burdened with a seriousness that prevented me from taking the advice of the Roman writer Lucian, "The best way to live us to be an ordinary human being. Give up all this metaphysical rubbish. Just live in the present, and go your ways laughing a lot and taking nothing all that seriously." No, not for me Heine's "liberating humor and irreverent joie de vivre." Inwardly, perhaps, I feared I mirrored the “exemplarily unsuccessful” life of Akaky Akakevich in Gogol’s story “the Greatcoat”. On second thought, I would like to have been a bit more like Lieberman: more decisive or, more accurately, more assertive. At least in the early days of working with him when I held in awe (then, then) the supreme critic Lieberman. But, as said, I was, in the main, satisfied. Perhaps Nitza's drabness or routineness and my own led to a losing of interest in one another. Maybe, yet if I hadn't been so tied to Lieberman's will, which meant late hours at work and being wakened at even later hours ("When does the tyrant sleep?" Nitza would exclaim, exasperated), our marriage may have lasted. Sometimes I think I married Nitza because I was in love with the idea of being married – after all, I wasn't getting any younger. Perhaps it was her widely separated eyes and wide mouth which gave her a nymphet look (the same eyes Victoria dismissed in her reference to Nitza as “your cow-eyed ex”). Or maybe I was drugged – walking to her apartment (she rented then with two other young women) – by the perfumed aroma of sage, rosemary and thyme descending from the hills surrounding the city which served as an aphrodisiac to our love. Nitza, I believe, was in love with my knowledge. And I had the advantage in this respect of being able to quote famous words of love from different sources. Apt here the words of the Zohar: "Behold the fragrance of words, see how sweet, how full of love." Maybe the lessening of Nitza's love for words was also a cause of the divorce. Perhaps she became susceptible to 'metaphoric fatigue.'She could have identified with the envoy in Jean Genet's "The Balcony" who says, "We've reached the point at which we can no longer be actuated by human feelings. Our function will be to support, establish and justify metaphors." Or with Madam Flubert who said to her husband, "Your mania for sentences has dried up your heart." Substitute "metaphors" for "sentences" and you might have something here. On the other hand, Lieberman's demands on my writing ability, my sentences, may have left the quotation intact in Nitza's eyes. I do not really believe that my heart had dried up, but that my career influenced our relationship, it's hard to argue with that. Not that I was ambitious for fame, like Lieberman, my mentor. For fame you had to write a novel, the Nobel Prize wasn't awarded for criticism. Yet I feared to write a novel lest it fail ("to write a book," said Stendhal "is to risk being shot in public"). A critic failing to succeed with a novel was a double curse. Nevertheless, it was a canard that writers became critics because they were writers manqué. Once I told Nitza that I would like to write a novel about a scientist who invented a hitherto unknown powerful explosive, safe to use, which revolutionized industrial usages for mining, tunneling, and so forth. Unfortunately, and through no fault of the inventor, the explosive was seized upon for national defense interests (and occasional offensive ones) and used for warfare. The inventor, perhaps conscious stricken, dedicated the bulk of the wealth derived from his invention to be used for peaceful purposes; namely prizes for practitioners in various commendable fields of endeavor, including literature. The prizes, awarded annually, would bear his name. Then, I said to Nitza, I would sit back and wait, using the time to practice a few appreciative words in Swedish. Nitza had replied, "I'd be happy if you got the Fickman Prize." She was right. After the divorce, for a long time I went to sleep early, alone. Only my sense of irony kept me afloat; as on the occasion when I took wry comfort in the poem: Happy is the man who like Odysseus returns after a fine journey overflowing with thoughts and with experience As for Nitza, I needn't have worried about her at all following the divorce; it wasn't a case of "I go to see the shadow that you became" (Mallarme). Unlike myself and Victoria and Lieberman, Nitza was one of those fortunate beings who, to borrow I. L. Peretz's phraseology, lived securely under the eye of the Cosmos. Before leaving the subject of food with which this chapter began -- which subject I will associate to the end of my days with Victoria, who talked about food in the rare moments when she happened not to be eating any -- I will bring in the Freudians to elucidate the nexus between the two. They point to the oral stage ramifications, maintaining that eating and speaking derived from the infant's process of learning to use the voice to mediate the loss of pleasures of ingestion provided by the mother, the infant learning to fill the empty mouth with words. Victoria, I could not help but thinking, managed to hold on to both uses of her fetching orifice. In this she exemplified the manifestation of the "sharing of words and food at mealtimes,"(I herewith add my mischievous contribution to psychoanalytic theory: "also in between"). Keeping in mind the relationship between food and intimate physical relationship (today called sex), relevant here is an incident involving Victoria. At a fancy reception in honor of some visiting Russian harp player (who was a dead ringer for Gorbachev's wife), Victoria swept down, her aubergine dress bellowing behind her suggesting an eggplant in motion, on a table of forshpayzn -- hors-d'oeuvres being a comparatively effete synonym on a Yiddish-speaker's tongue -- , ignored a plate of pickled turnips on crackers (unknowingly offending, perhaps, Egres, the god who first gave turnips to the Finns) and spread a lavish amount of caviar on a cracker, and began to devour it. In order to do so she raised her luscious arm on which she wore an imitation diamond bracelet (rhinestones or something), a heavy thing. (I prefer light jewelry –Nitza had, also, though mostly she preferred not to wear jewelry. Victoria had a large collection of jewelry and necklaces. They helped shape her dramatic appearance; she could not walk on the street without people turning their heads to look at her. I was never comfortable with it.) The chandeliered light struck at a certain angle the stone in her bracelet upon her raising it, producing flashing colors which reminded me, oddly, of the hand-held signal lamps flashing colored messages between tanks during a night exercise on the Golan. To me, her escort (I had to rent a tuxedo for the occasion!) Victoria vouchsafed the fact that "the aphrodisiac I prefer is caviar." Despite my distaste for caviar (I'm a herring aficionado), I picked up on the theme and informed her that the 15th century Arabic poet Nafzavi recommended for use by young men an aphrodisiac recipe consisting of a glass of honey, 20 almonds and 100 pine-nuts; for older men a cocktail of female camel's milk and honey. I added that Scott Fitzgerald was a believer in the use of mandrake for said purposes. Victoria shook her head in impatience, "I'm not surprised that you would bring up a literary aspect even to the subject of aphrodisiacs." Unable to think of a suitable riposte to this, I simply shrugged. But Victoria wasn't finished. "The female camel's milk and honey is for you." I wondered if the husband or partner of the harpist who looked like Gorbachev's wife was on the receiving end of such taunts. Was tartness of tongue endemic to woman harpists? Were there men harp players? I couldn't recall one (other than Harpo Marx) – also an interesting fact. Harpists had to study piano for ten years before 'advancing' to the harp. Men were pianists, just as women were. Could it be that none had decided to advance? Why? I was about to raise the matter with Victoria, but she had, once again, swept down upon the gedekte tishen ("covered tables") laden with food and drink. An action which produced in my mind three thoughts, which followed one another in rapid succession: the first, that when Socrates wanted to condemn a young man for excessive indulgence in luxuries, he called him an opson-eater – someone who ate fancy side-dishes, not bread; his judgment presumably would also encompass young women, or even not-so-young women. In Victoria's defense, however, she favored both the fancy food and the bread. The second thought, less charitable then the first, was that Victoria should be reincarnated as a cow, a creature blessed with four stomachs – what couldn't be digested in the first could be passed on to the second, and so forth. My third thought was of Gombrowicz's observation that the mental exertion of a waiter, who has to remember orders from five tables and not make a mistake, at the same time hurrying about with plates, bottles, sauces, and salads, seemed to him infinitely greater than the exertions of an author trying to arrange the different subtle threads of his plots. (This should put into perspective any reader's complaining: “What is all this going on about food, which has little connection to literature?” Victoria would answer such complaint by emulating a character in Shabtai’s ‘Past continuance’ who, picking up a menu, exclaims, “This is the best literature I know.”) During the time I was engaging in these thoughts, Victoria had speared with one hand a delicacy placed in a salver for this purpose (reminding me of Babel's spearing the goose with a sword in his autobiographical book "Red Cavalry" in order to 'earn his spurs' with the Cossacks he served with), and with the other hand had deftly seized a glass of red wine from the tray of a passing waiter (and there involuntarily came to me the words from a soldier’s song which was a favorite of Lieberman’s When we die bury us In the winery in Rishon Leztion Where there are girls serving glasses Filled with red red wine) and was now noshing vociferously on some pink and blue and green sweetmeat that looked like it had come out of an East Jerusalem bazaar (maybe it had). I was busy trying to eat a cracker with what – caviar? black olive bits? – spread on it. It crumbled at the first bite, falling on my shirt front. Unlike Victoria who ate with gusto but did so neatly, I was a sloppy eater. Spotting my culinary gaffe, Victoria frowned. “You need a bib,” she suggested. There immediately rose in my mind’s eye the gray rakusu, the bib-like garment that symbolizes the robes worn by Siddharta when he set out on his journey of self-discovery. I decided that enlightening Victoria with this fact would do little to restore my honor in the face of her jibe. I said nothing, buoyed slightly by the Zen principle that enjoyment and withdrawal were one and the same. Lieberman would get a kick out of that one, a voice within me added. Victoria left me trying to wipe away the stains with a handkerchief, in favor of returning to the food table from whence I had removed her. I decided that it was best to leave her to her favorite, or second favorite, pastime. And so, cured of the desire to eat for the moment (to end on a low esophageal note), I watched, through the French doors, the creeping shadow moving toward the base of the doors, which caused me to wince as I recalled my once confessing to Victoria that I used to sometimes feel myself but the umbra of Lieberman. “Penumbra,” she corrected me. Mercifully, at that moment, I felt a tug on my sleeve. I turned. A man in a furshlugginer brown suit had apparently spotted me standing alone and wanted to talk to someone. His less than prepossessing attire reminded me that Victoria once quoted Krim (that overdone fashion-plate) as describing my unkempt appearance as “scruffy” (I would have settled for “uncaring”, if “casual” was deemed too flattering). She thereafter employed this description a couple of times when my vestments failed to meet her standards, but seeing my grimace, abandoned it. The gentleman in the brown suit, who looked old enough to have known Stradivarius in person, told me that he was a former violinist. In Philadelphia. "' The City of Brotherly Love'", he added (which upon my later summarizing our subsequent conversation for Victoria's benefit, was to appeal to my ironic sense). He explained that he had been an “orchestral violinist,” but admitted that (for reasons not vouchsafed) he had to settle, at some point, for “providing dinner music,” at which affairs “mastication would slow down and silverware would lie idle as the swallowers were swallowed by the pure power of art”, the last four words uttered in tone of dramatic irony, and then came the coda: “Mine.” There ensued an embarrassed silence on both our parts. I was about to murmur some parting pleasantry; perhaps he sensed this, for he came closer and, almost conspiratorily, lowered his voice, saying that he had something interesting to tell me. Because of our venue and his profession, I thought he was about to lay on me a juicy tidbit such as, that Gustav Mahler’s favorite dessert was marillenknodel, but no, he had more pressing information to impart. To wit, his opinion of orchestra conductors; particularly, the famous conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy. My conversationalist (I never got his name) did not care much for Ormandy. "I remember Eugene Ormandy when he was Eugene Blau," he said, dismissively. "He played the violin." Was his hostility to Ormandy the result of personality conflict? Professional envy? He never revealed this overtly. Their relationship may be summed up in his description of how, once, he met Ormandy after a passage of some time. "Blau," he greeted Ormandy. "Ormandy" the conductor corrected. My acquaintance then proceeded to give his opinion of more famous violinists than himself. Menuin he didn't care for. He liked Stern. Liked Oistrakh. "Heifetz was smart, he made money." He then moved on, or rather back, to conductors, with whom violinists seem forever destined to be joined in a love-hate relationship. (Nu, and authors and critics?) He said that the conductor Krerizer had a habit of criticizing musicians, pointing abruptly at the offender. "A first violinist once told me, 'One day I'm going to stab him –like this!'" and here my raconteur imitated the first violinist's stabbing gesture with his arm which caught Victoria, who at that moment had come between us, in the ribs. She sucked in her breath and gave the offender one from her quiver of murderous looks. This interruption deprived me of asking, admittedly maliciously, the man's opinion of the conducting abilities of Ormandy. Most likely, he would have ignored the question, and answered, "You mean Blau." When he was out of earshot, I related to Victoria our converstion, including the Blau vs. Ormandy dispute. She solved the mystery. "Eugene Ormandy was born Eugene Ormandy Blau," she said. "The old guy really had it in for Ormandy. Who is he, anyhow?" "They came from the same town in Hungary. Ormandy succeeded, he less so. Great artists are often plagued by the jealousy of lesser artists." Oh, oh, I thought, she probably has some upcoming artist in mind. I decided not to pursue the matter, lest her wrath be transformed to someone closer at hand. The combination of Victoria's eating with gusto and the Blau-Ormandy incident synergized into my sudden recall of Victoria's exclaiming ecstatically following a successful harp performance, upon popping one after the other sweetmeats into her sensuous mouth, "Music and chocolate go on forever." On another occasion Victoria's eating with vigour caused me to suddenly recall the engaging grandmother (protagonist of the fantasy novel of one of our modern woman writers) who disdained regular fare in favor of ingesting screenplays written by the wife of her grandson, with which couple the grandmother resided. She preferred to eat the shorter screenplays, the shorter the tastier, in her opinion, and the screenplays had to be "quality ones" (they are revealed in the novel, in humorous subtext, as actually banal). This line of thought caused me to suddenly picture Victoria eating vociferously Lieberman's memorabilia and I broke out in a laugh. Since I was not one given to uproarious laughter, Victoria stopped eating, her fork suspended in mid air, and stared at me amazed and disturbed at the same time. "And what, pray tell, is so amusing?" I told her. She rewarded me with a grave stare, her eyes taking on that special luster that showed she was angry (anger and food combining to resuscitate her once saying, “Nobody likes bad news when they’re eating”), and then resumed eating without saying a word. Stung by her lack of reaction, I added, "And she was 200 years old." "Who?" "The woman who ate manuscripts." "What nonsense," she commented "Yes, nonsense in the best sense – the literarily comic sense." Victoria bestowed on me a look of dismissal and began to eat with even more gusto. "Food for thought," I mumbled, all the time thinking that the book was really a long chizbad (tall story) but one built around screenplay writing and which was extremely funny for the first half of the book before it 'fell off'. Well, I reflected, so did "The Master and Margarita" and a lot of other worthy books, a hazard of the trade. Sometimes it is better to write a good novella instead of a lesser novel. I could see that, once again, I had angered Victoria. Once again, I tried to save the day. "In the book, the old woman is actually a member of some kind of fantasy police and needs to eat the screenplays to enable her to 'fly' to where they exist so she can solve the murder of the police commander." I suspected this gnomic explanation wouldn't help much my cause of trying to 'make up' with Victoria, but I couldn't think of any better ploy. "The kind of literature now popular called 'magic realism'" "I see no magic realism in murder," Victoria opined. "It depends on how it's done," I ventured. "Use of a harp string, for instance," which at that moment had jumped into my head and which I thought would amuse her. She gave me a look whose meaning I could not grasp.

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