I’m still all disoriented from the election. Eggbeater comes closest to capturing how I’ve been feeling, though I’ve been perhaps a tad less weepy. Weirder still, then, to fly to Arizona—McCain country!—for the weekend to visit my dear old granny.

Fortunately, it’s pretty much all about food from the moment you set foot in her house.

Beauteous fresh turnip cake:

Even better, fried the next day:

Her real obsession is what our family calls rice buddies, aka Chinese tamales. She cranks them out at a fearsome rate, & we schlep home mass quantities of them every trip.

That blur is her hands wrapping up a bottle of chicken juice. No, not soup or broth or stock. It’s essence of chicken, what you get when you shut two chickens (cut up, skinned & de-fatted) in an enclosed ceramic pot, put that pot inside another pot full of water, & simmer it for 12 hours(!) until all the chicken liquid is released into the bottom of the inner pot & the bones crumble between your fingers.

Granny speaks about a hundred words of English & I speak even less Chinese, so our communication is 90% psychic & contextual—not so hard when the main topic is food! But when she saw Obama on the TV, she asked me, “Is he good?”

I turned to her & beamed, “Grandma, he’s very good.”

Satisfied, she nodded, “ok good” & settled back to watch some more. I sat there in baffled wonderment at being able to give her such strange, hopeful news.

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Department of Missed Opportunities, also Novelty Hybrid Chinese Restaurant Department: Chino Bandido in Phoenix. Doh! I was just in Phoenix last month. Too late, found out about this restaurant via email from David Chan. Check out the weird panda sculpture. I think this may be the first time I’ve had a Chinese restaurant offend me with a Mexican stereotype instead of the more usual Chinese stereotypes (yes, the Evil Chinky Font is a typographical stereotype). Further randomness: I notice they have snickerdoodles on the menu. Snickerdoodles?! I don’t think they’re Chinese or Mexican, but snickerdoodle is one of the all-time great cookie names. Obviously a visit is in order next time I go to Phoenix. The things I do in the name of art. Sheesh.

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