Monday, February 11, 2019

Every Day is Like Sunday

At least I was reassured that I'm a minimalist.

A few years back when I'd first met Beau, Pru had told him I was a minimalist, referring to my small apartment and limited possessions. But on his first visit here, he'd been unconvinced, mainly because I have an entire wall of book shelves.

"How can you be a minimalist with all these books?" he'd challenged me, eyeing my book collection like they were traitors to the cause.

So imagine my satisfaction in going to the Byrd Theater for the Environmental Film Fest screening of "Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things" and hearing Ryan Nicodemus, part of the duo that calls themselves The Minimalists (with attendant website and non-stop speaking engagements) explain that some minimalists do have book collections because those books provide them joy.


The documentary itself did not particularly speak to me (or Mr. Wright), though, because so much of what its talking heads espoused was common sense stuff. Don't buy into the American agenda that more stuff means more happiness. Duh. Consider the ecological affects of buying and discarding short-time purchases. Well, yea. If a high-paying job means all you do is work and not enjoy yourself, you're not fully living. Not news.

Each of the smiling, beatific minimalists interviewed looked to be white and well-off (and, if they were men, bearded) with great teeth. I don't know what the connection is, but maybe minimalism means more time for oral hygiene.

We stayed for the short film "Reefs at Risk" for the simple reason that since being in Islamorada surrounded by reefs, I'm more interested in them than before. What we wound up learning was that Oxybenzone, a common ingredient in sunscreen, is lethal to coral, which is a living animal that gets stressed, just like humans.

And, man, is it stressed right now.

Turns out coral reefs have declined 99% in the Keys, along with 40% in Hawaii and 85% in the Caribbean. How's that for depressing news?

Needless to say, I came home and checked my sunscreen ingredients, ready to toss anything offensive. I mean, what's the point in going to the Environmental Film Fest if not to feel bad about yourself and hopefully bring about small, personal changes?

Don't answer that.

After doing our part to be informed and more mindful of environmental issues, we moved on to conversation and an extended meal at Max's on Broad, where a new menu had been rolled out a few days ago. Never especially attached to the old menu, I figured it was worth a short walk to see what my neighborhood Franco-Belgian restaurant was offering up.

Besides, that is, our favorite seats all the way at the end of the bar, past where it turns, and behind the gigantic espresso machine. You gotta want it to end up there.

The bartender gave her seal of approval to our choice of a Catalonian Cava and let us take all the time we wanted between courses. It probably helped that there were only a couple people at the bar at any given moment, and they were employees.

We both gave high marks to the onion and carrot-laden beef and farro soup we started with, which was hearty, beefy and perfect for dropping hunks of French bread into to absorb that broth. Surely it was our Irish and Polish peasant stock that made us wish for a vat of that soup and a full loaf of crusty bread.

Next came charred broccoli over French onion dip with salted Ricotta and pickled onions, a dish that tickled every taste bud I had and left me wishing for more. Tuna tartare with grapefruit, lime zest and shavings of cured egg yolk rested on a bed of squid ink, making for a very dramatic presentation. A curly kale caesar salad with shrimp was virtuous enough to justify salted caramel apple pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Sitting by the big front windows gave us a panoramic view of the rain falling on Broad Street and the limited foot traffic out in it. My best guess was that everyone was at home watching Kacey Musgraves take claim to two Grammys.

By the time we finished sipping, supping and talking about past, present and future, four hours had elapsed - nine if you count from when we began with Nate's bagels pre-Environmental Film Fest - and my neo-minimalist apartment called.

You know, the one where I'm currently reading the late Jane Juska's eminently readable "A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late Life Adventures in Sex and Romance." Talk about sparking joy, Mac's already asked to read it when I'm finished.

Because, as one of the beards with good teeth told us today, not every good minimalist has to give up her books.

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