Don't Do It Yourself or Trayf Sabbath

I've been eating high protein, low fat and have been cooking fish and chicken at home. I was tired to salmon (after having had it twice in a week) and rode my bike to the Food Hole to get some shrimp. That's the only other kind of seafood I know I like. I don't know fish very well. I was allergic as a child, and vegetarian in my crucial learning-to-cook days. At the fish counter I went for the wild-caught shrimp, the smaller, unshelled ones. I brought them home and deveined (a euphemism for pulling the guts out) and shelled (or de-shelled) them. I was grossed out to be dealing with the raw flesh and kept thinking of how my father, who kept kosher, used to shudder when he saw shrimp and say they looked like worms. They do. At the same time I had an atavistic urge tear into them raw. I didn't. This explains the appeal of sushi. I boiled the shrimp and mixed them with organic cucumber in a soy-ginger-garlic sauce. Household hint from my friend D: Peel a ginger root and cut it into chunks and store in refrigerator a jar filled with sherry. They'll last a long time. The shrimp were OK. The cucumbers absorbed too much of the marinade, and the shrimp, too little. The kitchen smelled very very fishy and I was in a hurry and just did a basic, or un-basic clean-up. I had told my friend B I would come by after 8 to go to the Printers' Ball, the third annual festival of literary magazines sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. It was at the Zhou B. Art Center at 1029 W. 35th St., and it seemed like the best way to get there was to take the Halsted bus all the way down. B is in a wheelchair and it's too hard for one person (especially one with cancer) to help him with the transfer from chair to car to chair to car to chair.

We ended up waiting almost an hour for the bus. We were joined temporarily by a tanned woman with scars on her nose who was 58, same age as B, and was wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt commemorating a sorority pledge week, in which I doubt she took part. At first I thought she was drunk but she might have just been friendly and slightly out of it. She seemed like an addict of some kind. She had been given a CTA pass at Thorek Hospital and was going to Diversey, which is just a mile south. She had been married 25 years (as had B) but her spouse died three years ago of lung cancer. He smoked Virginia Slims for 40 years, she said. B still has his wife. She's in Mexico at the moment.

Finally the bus came and it wended it slow way down to 35th Street, the middle of Bridgeport, heavy Daley territory, though Daley the Younger now lives in the South Loop. Young people holding magazines were coming toward us. It seemed like a miniature city, with short buildings. A bank, auto-supply and repair stores, a hot dog place that looked straight of out Central Casting for Small Town 1954 with its hand-painted signs. There were guys carding people at the door, though the Ball had been billed as an all-ages party. We went around back to the ramp. Inside there were tables with what was left of stacks of free magazines. On the wall were the Zhou Brothers' paintings though I didn't get much of a chance to look at them because I was intent on using the bathroom. There was just one in the bar/cafe. I talked to a young woman waiting and at one point she put her hand over her mouth. Did that mean I had fishy-garlic breath? Maybe. (L later told me about an experience he had Friday afternoon on the L. He was sitting next to a woman and saw that she had her sweatshirt held up to her nose. As soon as a seat was available across the aisle, she ran to it and lowered her shirt from her face. He smelled around and smelled himself and came up with nothing. We think it might have been garlic. Once after I'd eaten a lot of garlic we went to the Art Institute for a crowded show and heard a nearby little girl ask her mother, What's garlic? We assume it was what was on pre-Cancer Bitch's breath.)

I went back out the main room and a young man at the mike was saying that everyone had to leave. He said the police wouldn't say why. I found B at the bar and there was a stout blonde cop yelling at everyone, You have to leave, you have to leave. A kid at the bar said to her: Charge card. She said: What? He said: I'm waiting for them to process my charge card. She yelled at him for being so cryptic. No one knew what was going on. It was supposed to last until 2 and it was only 11 or so. As we went back down the ramp, a cop told us there was a minor infraction having to do with the number of people. This made no sense to me. There was plenty of room to move around (87,000 square feet), and the cops were the ones at the door. Didn't they count the number of people coming in? I went to the first Printers' Ball at the Hot House, and someone was keeping count of the crowd, because people were lined up on the street, and were being let in only as others left. C.J. Laity of ChicagoPoetry.com opines about the early closing: "Chicago's finest, what the hell is your problem? Go find some real criminals to torture; and let a few people have some fun once in a while." A more measured report can be found at Chicagoist, which quotes others saying there were "multiple liquor license violations."

The north-bound Halsted bus was right there waiting for us and we had a relatively quick ride home. B had called the helper who normally comes at 10:30 or so get him into bed and told her not to come then. He'd left a message for her to come later, but didn't hear back. So I helped him off with his pants and shirt and socks and helped slide him into bed with a special polished sliding board. It took a while.

I got home around 1. L had cleaned up the kitchen because he couldn't stand the smell. I began to understand the suburban legend about the woman whose husband left her. He got to keep the house, and her last night in it she cooks shrimp, stuffing the shells inside the curtain rods. He can never sell the house because of the terrible smell whose source is never found.

This morning I watched a video on-line about shelling and deveining, and learned that the way I'd done it was correct. Some people say you don't have to devein small shrimp, but I think that even when boiled, shrimp guts are not good for people going through chemo. I spent a very long time with the rest of the shrimp, boiling them then shelling and deveining. It's less slimy and smelling to cook them first. Then I mixed them with more cucumber and marinade. It's not worth it: Buy the shelled and deveined.

I feel slightly achy (This spelling looks strange because I have a friend named Achy, pronounced "ach-y," not "aky") and tired because I couldn't sleep this morning, but nothing like the last two Day 5s after Taxol. Is it the Vitamin B? Yesterday's acetaminophen? Or, as the doctors say, just one of those things?

4 comments:

knicksgrl0917 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan M said...

sounds like a difficult, puzzling, and frustrating evening. And I wasn't sure about whether you enjoyed the shrimp.

a New England Admirer said...

oy vey, tattellah, to not know from fish is a shonda. Get a haddock, skinned. Steam it with a bissel lemon juice and olive oil in aluminum foil. Maybe some dill. 10 - 15 minutes, until it is flaky.
Gesundt.
While it cooks, wash your hands with lemon.

Kath said...

Hi CB - I was at Printer's Ball too and I saw you there for a hot second...I just wanted to say that you looked GORGEOUS for it being a Day 5. I was on Taxotere/Cytoxin through it this time last year and can't forget how it always felt like a truck hit me on Day 5 too. Anyway, you looked great & I am hoping that you are feeling much, much better.