Words & Banter

Tied In A Knot … And Love It

Photo by bhofack2 on iStock

They're usually shaped like hearts, which seems appropriate since I'm in love with them. Always have been, always will be. And I'm an equal opportunity pretzel lover, enjoying both soft and hard ones, although I admit I'm partial to a hot, straight out of the oven, pretzel. Which is why when I visited the Farmer's Market in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania is the pretzel-making capital of America) a few years ago, it was like pretzel nirvana, although I refuse to publicly admit how many soft pretzels I ate that day.

So, how do I explain my pretzel obsession? I'm not sure I can, although one of my earliest memories of New York City (Black and I grew up on Long Island, about a 35-minute train ride from the City) is of the soft pretzels sold on almost every street corner. Depending on the vendor, the outside can be soft or crunchy, different amounts of salt, and sometimes cold, sometimes warm, yet rarely hot. But always huge and satisfying. And although I've tried various topping, I prefer mine straight up, hold the mustard. (On the rare occasion Black eats a pretzel, she even rubs off all the salt!)

Black would be more than happy to explain the business reasons behind the introduction of hard pretzels, but I'm more interested in taste testing pretzel shapes such as pretzel crisps, which are perfect for people who prefer thinner pretzels but not sticks. But my all-time favorite hard pretzel was introduced to me by a good friend (thank you, Bernie!) and is aptly named Unique product, Pretzel Shells. They're hollow, light, and extremely crunchy. But be warned! It's almost impossible to have just a handful.

However, I can't think about pretzels without remembering the "pretzels in the pantry" story,

Several years ago, Black and I were working from her beautifully decorated high-rise when I became hungry, so went into her pantry. It's truly magazine-worthy, as everything's in matching clear canisters (it's like an ad for The Container Store) with food artistically displayed based on their colors and textures. (No, I'm not kidding!) And before Black could stop me, I scooped up a handful of pretzels, and as I began munching on them there was a sickening taste and one word immediately came to mind … RANCID! Only Black would think of pretzels as a decorative item.

So why all this reminiscing about pretzels? Well, it's National Pretzel Day! And although I could easily commemorate the day by simply grabbing a bag of pretzels from my pantry or venturing out to my local mall to get a fresh soft pretzel, I'm considering doing something I've never done,

I love pretzels. I love to bake. Yet I've never tried to make soft pretzels. So, what better way to celebrate National Pretzel Day? Although, I admit I'm a little hesitant. Not because they may not turn out good, but because they may turn out too good! Because, to a pretzel lover like me, a tray of freshly baked, hot, soft pretzels that could be devoured in the privacy of my home would be just too much of a temptation to pass up.
Photo by Hillwoman2 on iStock
It’s been two years since President Biden signed the anti-Asian hate crimes bill, but making something illegal doesn’t stop it from happening. Hate crimes, including against Chinese Americas, continue at an alarming rate. But imagine if instead of hating someone for being different, we looked at what we had in common and their contributions to American culture and society? After all, that’s what makes America such a unique and special country.

May is Asian American Pacific Island Month (which prompted our conversation below about Jews and Chinese food), but we should treat all our fellow Americans with respect and kindness every day.

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Have you ever wondered why Jews love Chinese food so much?

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

No, but what prompted that? Did you take in Chinese food this weekend? Or, did President Biden signing the anti-Asian hate crimes bill make you think about how Jews can relate given all the antisemitism in the world?

Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

Only you would connect those dots. I was straightening up papers in the kitchen and noticed how Chinese takeout menus look the same as they did when we were kids, and how we've laughed over the decades about how much Jews love Chinese food. But now you've reminded me about how we've recently talked about the recent increase in hate crimes against the Asian community . I simply don't understand how people can hate an entire group of people based on race or religion.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

You are the history lover. It is not a new phenomenon. And, the reasons have not changed – Ignorance, prejudice, feelings of supremacy; the list has many "reasons". What I find scary is that people form stronger bonds with others based on what they hate than they do on what they love. But, there is no question that the Asian community and Jews have experienced hate for a long time.

Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

I know, but in America of all places, that just shouldn't happen. Ever. We're a country built on immigrants, and the contributions of Asian Americans and American Jews have been so significant. From scientists to doctors, artists to activists, the list goes on and on.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

The lists of contributions can be sliced and diced in so many different ways – gender, race, religion, nationalities. There are not enough months in the years to celebrate them all. However, some groups tend to be forgotten or overlooked, which is why President Carter signed the first proclamation celebrating Asian/Pacific Americans , which eventually led to May becoming Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. But now, with hate crimes increasing against them, celebrating by learning about their cultures is even more critical.

Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

Well, I admit that I personally didn't know any Asians before I lived in Hong Kong, and then Shanghai, several years after getting married. Until then, all I knew was that I loved Chinese food. I know that might sound condescending, but that's not how I mean it.
Keep Reading ...Show less
Photo by Iam Anupong on iStock

I’ve always been a proud redhead, even though I used to wish that I could tan like those glamorous models in fashion magazines. Or maybe I just got tired of Black’s sarcastic comments about my white skin. Except for the one time when we played a rare round of golf together (see below), which ended up becoming one of my favorite memories! Although I do wish I had known back then about how important it is to protect our skin from the sun … So, now I invite everyone (regardless of hair color) to join us in not only observing Skin Cancer Awareness Month but also celebrating National Sunscreen Day.

I'll never forget the day. It was an "almost" ordinary day out on the golf course with my mom and dad during the heat of a Long Island summer. Now, if "Long Island" conjures up images of stately manors on the North Shore (think "Great Gatsby") or beachfront mansions in the Hamptons (think Robin Leach and his popular show "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"), you can put those out of your head. I'm not talking about some fancy country club golf course, just a regular public course.

Keep Reading ...Show less
Photo by Epiximages on iStock
This Mother’s Day, Red will be visiting her best friend from elementary school, both of whom have lost their moms, so they’ll be sharing lots of stories and warm memories. (And since she’ll be in NY, she’ll be “visiting” Mom at the cemetery.) Meanwhile, Red’s youngest daughter is looking forward to having dinner with her second mom … Black!

Mother’s Day is a celebration of moms – those with us and those in our hearts and memories. And that’s why we’re repeating last year’s post (that, and because Black was borderline warm and fuzzy) …

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I appreciate that bullet points may not be the typical approach to Mother’s Day, but it seems appropriate to me …
  • Be sensitive to those people whose mothers may no longer be with us, especially given how many have been lost to COVID
  • If you have lost a mother, remember they are always with you – in your heart and in your memories
  • Remember Mother’s Day also includes all those “unofficial moms” and “mother figures” who are like second (or replacement) moms
  • And, last but not least, If you’re a mom, try to enjoy the day by doing something for yourself, as today may be the one day you can get away with it

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

This year I write about Mother’s Day with a heavy heart and still much raw emotion, as our mom passed in December. My pragmatic side (yes, that’s usually Black’s area although she did sound somewhat warm and fuzzy above) knows that she had been 94 and led a full life, but that really doesn’t make it any less sad or fill the emptiness. But I find myself, when I least expect it and triggered by the most unexpected things, finding comfort in wonderful memories. And although Black’s first bullet point hits too close to home for me, I’ll try my best to focus on the other bullets.

Wishing all moms a very Happy Mother’s Day!