Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
What's Cooking?
2004-08-11 13:54
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

One of the best parts of kitty-sitting for my cousins while they vacation on Cape Cod is using their state-of-the-art kitchen. In New York space matters, so having the luxury of a long, wide chopping block is my idea of a great time. I love to cook, even for myself. Last night I was too tired to deal, but with a six-burner gas stove staring me in the face it was hard to resist. (Having plenty of good ingredients at my disposal doesn't hurt either.) So I cooked myself dinner.

I made a variation of an Amatriciana, a staple pasta dish and one of my favorites. Okay, it was a bastardized version of the very simple dish. I used tortellini instead of bucatini or spaghetti. And I threw in some cracked green olives and beef stock and fresh basil too for kicks. While I was cooking I listened to the Bob Murphy tribute from Shea Stadium that took place before the game. Hearing a montage of some classic Murphy calls brought a smile to my face; without thinking much about it, I will miss him more than I ever thought I would. Then the good people at Shea chose the most ham-handed cheeseball song to accompany a video tribute. It was like a parody right out of "The Simpsons," and was especially amusing on the radio.

After I ate, I was browsing through my cousin's bookshelf. I found two books by Anthony Bourdain, "A Cook's Tour," and "Kitchen Confidential." I had read "KC" a few years back. It is an entertaining and corse memoir of Bourdain's life as a chef in the restaurant business. I thought it was funny, over-bearing and depressing. If you ever want to convince someone that the restaurant business is hell, just give them a copy of "Kitchen Confidential."

Anyhow, the reason I bring it up is because I poked around "A Cook's Tour" and found a baseball-related tidbit in the introduction. And it all comes back to baseball right? Bourdain describes a small, dilapidated village in West Cambodia:

There are no smiles in this town, just glares of naked hostility. The clothing of choice is the moldering remnants of military-issue fatigues. There is a 'karaoke' booth in the lobby, next to the standard pictogram of an AK-47 with a red line through it (NO AUTOMATIC WEAPONS IN THE LOBBY). 'Karaoke' means, presumably, that the bison-sized women lounging around by the front desk with their kids are available for purposes of sexual diversion. The best-looking one is a dead ringer for Hideki Irabu. (We traded that lox to Toronto, didn't we? Or was it Montreal?) My Khmer translator, who has hardly opened his mouth since we entered Khmer Rouge territory, says that the last time he stayed here, during the last coup, he got a terrible skin rash. He intends, he says, to sleep standing up. Now he tells me...

"Yeah, I gotta rash man." Irabu used to remind me of a cross between Jackie Gleason and a Japanese Elvis impersonator. But a Cambodian hooker isn't half-bad either. I wonder if her name was Boo Boo?

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