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Seven Hills

Boston-area exploration, travel notes, crafty things, and other Somervillainy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Best Breakfast

We found time for another brief Playa del Carmen escape for a nontraditional Thanksgiving this year, and true to form, the majority of the vacation followed this pattern: breakfast at Cueva del Chango, beach, afternoon guacamole and cocktails. Sometimes the secret to happiness is just finding what you like to do and doing it every single day.

In the past I'd never been able to get past la Cueva's glorious egg dishes on the breakfast menu, but this time a touch of gastric distress inspired me to order what turned out to be the most fascinating oatmeal I've ever eaten. Yes, you heard me right: fascinating oatmeal!

Oatmeal was really the least of it -- on top of that humble base were heaped generous helpings of kiwi, melon, banana, and pineapple, plus a bunch of other fruits I could not identify, then darkly toasted homemade granola, some kind of grain that may have been quinoa -- or maybe millet? -- and finally, the creamiest, most subtly, heavenly sweet yogurt on earth. While it didn't actually end up curing my tummy troubles, in the moments that I was eating it, it felt like it would, and like it might just make any other of life's various problems melt away, as well.

A young woman eating the same thing at a table near us was overheard to say, "I wish I could have this breakfast every day." Me too, sister, me too.

This little friend patrolled the patio during most of our Cueva sessions, but despite appearances, that industrious pink tongue had nothing to do with any hand-outs from us. We had a feeling he might have better luck with the nighttime menu though, which generally featured a nice tuna tostada.

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Friday, November 16, 2007


Do you ever start a project just because it's difficult? Like deciding to cook a souffle for the first time, or, on a more timely note, an entire Thanksgiving dinner? That's how I felt about the Debbie Bliss cabled hoodie, the most challenging pattern in a book of baby knits, and by far the yummiest. Something about the combination of that all-over twisting texture, the soft cashmerino yarn, the faded lavender color and the pearly buttons: luscious.

If there's a lesson to be learned from knitting, it's how intricate a creation you can build out of one basic stitch. As long as you know how to read knitting instructions and have a good dictionary of pattern abbreviations by your side, you can make anything, once you know how to knit a single stitch. I recently listened to an interview on NPR with the artist Chuck Close (creator of giant photorealist and pointillist portraits), and was struck by his description of his work style as akin to things like the needle arts, "women's work," things you can work on for awhile, put down, then come back to without worry of having lost your place. (I think this is something writers can relate to, and he likens it to writing, a process where you have to keep the whole in mind, but focus on one particular piece at a time.) He said he works on one grid of a painting per day, so he doesn't have to reinvent the wheel each day, and so he feels a sense of accomplishment as he completes each segment.

So, this sweater took a long time, picking it up while watching television, riding in the car, flying on a plane, putting it down for weeks at a time. Although its intended recipient was born before I finished it, at least she hadn't outgrown it by the time I finally got to meet her.

Turns out, in addition to its many other appealing qualities, it tastes great, too!