Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sausage Making (And Other Italian Things To Do On A Saturday Afternoon)

Upon returning to my grandparents' house after my cousin's bridal shower a few weeks ago, I discovered that my grandfather was not in his armchair watching the Yankees or People's Court as I expected. Instead, he was in the second kitchen making sausage from scratch.

Note my mix of fascination and fear.
There are a couple of things I should probably explain about that statement.

Second Kitchen: All Italians have a second kitchen. It's a given. Just like quick tempers, last names with more vowels than necessary, a penchant for talking with our hands, and Catholicism. This literally means that there is an entire spare kitchen in the basement--kind of like the main kitchen's understudy--usually filled with appliances collected after various relatives' kitchen remodeling. Why do Italians have a second kitchen? I'm not totally positive, but here are my best guesses.
     1. Italians take a great deal of pride in their homes, and a second kitchen ensures that the main kitchen will always look spotless in case neighbors stop by.
     2. Marinara and olive oil are essential ingredients in the Italian diet. Both are extremely messy and splattery and stain-y during the cooking process.
     3. Four burners are simply not enough. If Italians have four guests, they must make enough food for at least 25 starving men. Minimum.

Making Sausage From Scratch: I don't eat sausage, so I'm probably the worst person to describe this process, but here goes. To make sausage, you need pork butts from Canada. Why pork butts? I don't know. What's wrong with American pork butts? I don't know. What I do know is that you bring your butt or butts to the second kitchen and chop away, removing the fat. Mix in various spices, and then put the mixture into the grinder, which clamps onto the 1970s kitchen table that is a preparation surface only. No chairs surround it. After attaching a length of empty intestines to the grinder's spigot, turn the handle, mincing the meat and forcing it into the intestine. Eat immediately or freeze. But if you still want to eat sausage after reading this description, I'm impressed.

So of course when I saw the ridiculousness/wonderfulness/irony of this moment, I had to capture it. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Game of Thrones: The Exhibition...and Me!


I never would have thought those words would come out of my mouth. More often, Time Warner is referenced with phrases like, "highway robbery," "terrible service," "my DVR hates me," and/or, "if only we could get FIOS."

But yesterday, Time Warner came through in a major way. I heard horror stories about waiting seven hours in line to enter the free Game of Thrones exhibit, and I saw this amusing but terrifying video on the subject.

I wasn't expecting much when I strolled by the scene of the chaos ten minutes before the doors opened yesterday. As instructed, I brought my current Time Warner bill, and happily sidestepped the regular line in favor of the much shorter customer line. After my bill was validated and checked against my ID, the lovely people wranglers signed me up for a reserved visit for two at 6pm.

When I returned, the line had snaked its way down that looooong Fifth Avenue block and turned the corner at 6th Avenue. Feeling sort of guilty, I breezed past all the hopefuls, checked in with a people wrangler, and entered the Seven Kingdoms!

I'll let the photos below speak for themselves, but basically, the space was set up with museum-style tableaux of character groupings with costumes and props from the show, as well as bite-sized overviews of each family's turbulent history. Visitors could also play a very brief game of archery in the Battle of Blackwater Bay, and...drumroll, please!...get their pictures taken on the Iron Throne itself! I can't say it would have been worth hours of waiting, but sliding in on the Time Warner fast track was more than worthwhile!

 Exterior calm

Interior chaos

Rob Stark's map

Info and family history

Ned's head


Jon Snow and the Wildlings
Some visitors felt the need to come in costume. Like the lady who is trying to get out of my shot. She was wearing sandals. In 35-degree weather. That's dedication.

Iron Throne photo shoot!

And I'll leave you with this uplifting saying by Arya....