Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the performance

okay, i feel like i should address the elephant in the chapel. why do i insist on calling it a performance and not a wedding? who do i think i'm fooling, right? i'm not an idiot. i KNOW i'm getting tied to the hitching post. i know that i'm getting married. i'm not 100% sure what being married means to me. i'm a child of divorce, i'm not kidding myself that anything lasts forever (mortality kind of takes care of those delusions, even if i harbored them), but i know that i've built a pretty high-functioning, continually stimulating, laughter-filled partnership with the dotytron. and i know that i want to throw a party and be surrounded by people we adore. and well, throwing our lot in together seems as good a reason as any, right? (and infinitely more palatable than the other reason people gather - new marxist reading circles)

to me, getting married is quite different from having a WEDDING. people say that they're open to you doing whatever you want to do, that it's "your" day, but in my experience (and as has been evidenced repeatedly in the past few months), that's actually a load of bollocks. some people have VERY SPECIFIC ideas of what a "wedding" has been, is, and should be, and look askance at you for bucking "tradition."

never mind that there's no ONE "tradition" that spans all cultures, times, places. never mind that the wedding industry is a relatively new phenomena, that the stuff we associate with "wedding" (the white dress, the white cake, something borrowed, something blue) is stuff of the last 100 years, if that. never mind that there are people who've gotten hitched jumping out of a plane, scuba diving, caving, by elvis impersonator, etc...no no, tell them that you're getting grillz instead of rings and people get a little weirded out.

first of all, i don't kid myself that we're all THAT original. i'm 100% sure that we're not the first couple to forgo the ring and go the grillz route (paging FLO-RIDA and HOTLANTA!) second of all, me wearing a ring is about as unnatural and uncharacteristic as me suddenly deciding to follow the tragically hip on tour or me treating my contributions into the employee pension plan with any emotion OTHER than dizzying glee. i'm sure in the long and storied history of people getting hitched, what we're doing is going to be pretty standard, by comparison.

so instead, in the face of the anticipated (and experienced) reprobation of others, i call it a performance. to prepare people, ease them into the idea that we're not doing the expected. because when you say wedding, people go bananas. sure, it's a small matter of semantics - it doesn't really mean much at the end of the day. but it's a small step, a reappropriation and rearticulation (and well, people who know me know how much i believe in the malleability of language to re-form and conjure our realities) of what we want this to be. it's a performance of "wedding" and it seems like it's a much more accurate description of what we're doing - which isn't going to be the usual thing.

except that it is. because the usual thing is having people that matter to you surround you on a day when you're kind of being stupid in lurve and drunk with happiness at all the joy in one room. because if there IS any one tradition, the most common denominator might be the impetus to eat and drink and dance and laugh and hug and kiss all the people you care about and to have that energy of them surround you in a maelstrom of human connectivity.

i should say that i personally don't care what you do on your wedding day. if you're someone i know and love and you're going full-tilt martha stewart weddings, then i support you! do whatever you want to do! i don't care if it's a vegan spread, if it's dry, if it's just cookies and milk in the parking lot of a didier IGA, if i know you and love you, i'll be happy no matter what and give myself over to the experience, because you know what? i know that 10 years from now no one is even going to have the foggiest memory of the details - of how it went down, what the invites looked like, what food was served, that it rained, that i didn't do the garter toss (KILL ME), that i didn't slow dance once (I'M NOT SLOW DANCING AND YOU CAN'T MAKE ME)...all they're going to remember is that it happened, they were there, and it was fun.

i should also say that some people are TOTALLY on board. nany dotytron is BEYOND pleased (and really, if we're doing it for anyone, it's the grandparentals - even above and beyond doing it for us.) she thinks that whatever we're going to do is the GREATEST EVER! my dress colour, the location, the menu - she's just beaming with excitement and things everything we decide is just peachy.

it's like amy sedaris says...there are certain responsibilities of you as a guest. the chief one being to be happy that you're invited and to accept people's hospitality with grace, good humour, and sincerity.

anyway, enough of that rant. i just thought that i'd clarify why i doggedly insist on calling it a performance piece. that's why.

tonight i put together a mezes spread. roasted garlic and eggplant dip with tahini. warm chickpea salad with lots of lemon, parsley, and sauteed onions and garlic. baked feta with grape tomatoes, chili oil, rosemary and olives, all served up with warmed torn up pita for sandwiching and dipping. the baked feta was a last minute audible - i wanted haloumi, but a downtown toronto-scour on saturday revealed that the ONE thing i wanted, was nowhere to be found, and at one place in kensington, i was informed that they wouldn't have haloumi until MARCH! wtf?!??? i LOVE mezes meals though.

as promised, here's the pic of the caramel cake (aka my new best friend.) i've included the recipe below. it might become my new go-to recipe for golden cake - i loved the texture, crumb, and flavour of the cake alone that much.

i also did my exercises and yoga today...yay!



caramel cake
adapted from gourmet magazine, january 2008 (i doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9x13 pan for about an hour)

for the cake:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) - i actually went to the trouble and did this...i don't usually
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

for caramel glaze:
1 cup heavy cream (i didn't have heavy cream so i used 50% whipping cream, 50% 2 percent milk)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (i also didn't have corn syrup so i made it up with brown sugar)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

equipment: a candy thermometer

- preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. butter an 8-inch square cake pan and line with a square of parchment paper, then butter parchment.
- stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. at low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture may look curdled). add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
- spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.
- i didn't bother taking the cake out of the pan because that seems like a colossal pain in the butt, and their method for getting the caramel on just dirties more dishes, a big lagerfeld no-no

make glaze:
- bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. boil until glaze registers 210 to 212°F on thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes, then stir in vanilla.
- this took nowhere near as long as 12-14 minutes...closer to 5 from the time it started boiling
- put rack with cake in a shallow baking pan and pour hot glaze over top of cake, allowing it to run down sides. Cool until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.
ignore these instructions. i took the butt end of a wooden spoon, poked it all over the cake to make holes, and slowly poured the glaze all over the cake, taking time to let it seep in.


steph said...

Hey!!! But we were just getting so good at slow dancing together!!! You won't even slow dance with me?

Chris said...

Look I'm here!

Nobody will understand your Didier IGA reference. It's purely a Markham thing.

karl lagerfeld, esquire said...

steph: i'll only slow dance with you. to purple rain.

chris: i've seen didier IGAs all over cottage country (i think)

kitsch:in:sync said...

"wedding"/"performance", what's the différance? either way it's going to be pretty much the best thing since the entire calendar year of 1968

Chris said...

The "Didier" part was from the 2 brothers that owned the IGA's in Markham and Unionville. Kinda like how No Frills does the whole "Gords No Frills", assuming that the person who owns that location answers to the name of Gord.

This will amuse you - a quick google search of "didier iga" turns up your blog post as the first hit, hahaha
putting it on the map!