Saturday, February 5, 2011

My New Dictionary

From time to time, Webster adds words into the dictionary. With our vocabulary constantly changing to accommodate our youth and the way we live, there is a need to add more and more words to the good ol’ dictionary.

But there are words and terms already in there, and have been there a long time, but never were relevant to me. That was until I turned 40something and looked into my address book finding more and more names that had “MD” next to them.

Memory Loss
Searching and searching where I put my glasses, and often finding them on my head.Only to find them, so that I can find where I misplaced my car keys to my car,that I forgot was getting repaired at the shop.

Memory Loss
Oh, I said that already!

When your Chinese food comes to the table and your fried tofu is a whole Peking fish because you ordered M-7 instead of M-4, but the 4 looked like a 7 to you.

Who would think that something the size of a golf ball could be so much trouble,and that golf ball sized organ can become the size of a tennis ball.

I used to think going to the doctor to get a shot was uncomfortable,
but it is nothing to that latex finger!

It used to be what you said when you were younger and someone asked you how old you were going to be after you’re “8”.

PSA score
Isn’t that how well a golfer is doing during a national Golf Tournament?

These days, I do not need any help losing things. The last thing I need help with is my hair.

Laugh Lines
They used to be the part of a joke that made me laugh.
Now they make me cry!

I used to look at a cereal box label to see what special toy was inside, now I look to see how many grams of fiber are in it.

Of all the things that could have been passed down to me from my family, couldn’t it have been a large inheritance or a trust fund!!

I wish I liked to exercise. My doctor recently told me that running could add years to my life. The only thing I like running is my car in the cold weather while I waiting for it to warm up. Also been told I like to run my mouth!

Herniated Discs
Never paid much attention to them, until I found out that it was not something you brought your car into the mechanic to be replaced during a standard tune-up.

But getting older isn’t so bad, sure beats the alternative!!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Do You Know The Muffin Man?

This one is not on Drury Lane, but on Broadway.

My neighbor, Margaret, strolled into my shop yesterday with her kids. As any kid who walks into a gourmet shop, they were drawn to the clear jars of baked cookies and my oven fresh muffins. Their mom, who is an incredible baker herself, insured them that when they got home they would be making some fresh banana bread. And her banana bread is awesome! It didn’t matter; they still wanted a cranberry orange muffin.

It was a slow day. We had just been punished with more snow. As most parents do, when there is a snow day, Margaret encouraged the kids to enjoy outside and to take walk into downtown with her. I had made much too many muffins for the day and was glad that they wouldn’t be wasted, or forcibly made into another bread pudding. So I insisted that she take some home. She put them into her recyclable tote bag and headed home to bake some bread.

When she got home she realized that her bag was gone. The muffins were not the only thing that was in the bag. The bag also had her wallet in it that held her life. Without it, she was lost, or at least it was going to take a while to start canceling cards, stopping checks, reissuing licenses, etc. It was really missed. Margaret had called my wife and asked if I had found the bag at work. But, with much disappointment, I had not found it.

The following day, once again getting punished by snow, and ice this time, I received a call from my friend at the village hall. She asked me if I knew a person named Margaret.
I immediately assumed it was about her bag. I said I did, and was correct in the assumption. Someone found her bag and returned it to the village hall. But I was baffled.
I asked her at the village hall, “how did you know to ask ‘me’ if I knew someone who lost their wallet?” She said, “Cris, I would know your muffins anywhere!!!!”

Well, Margaret was thrilled to no end to not only get her wallet back that held all her info, credit cards and the rest of her life, but the muffins as well!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kina Hora

I woke this morning noting that today was Friday the 13th. I thought about all the superstitions out there. Superstitions are not based on reason or knowledge. Some find these old folk beliefs as being irrational. Some refer to them as old wives' tales. The belief of practicing certain rituals will bring good luck, ward off the evil eye or even prevent death.
Some will give you bad luck like walking under a ladder, a black cat crossing your path, walking onto a crack on the sidewalk, opening an umbrella inside, and breaking a mirror!
Some are done to prevent bad things from happening like throwing salt over your shoulder after a spill, knocking on wood, keeping a rabbit foot in your pocket, and hanging a horseshoe over a doorway.
I used to believe that these ritual actions were silly and ridiculous. But then I converted to Judaism, and find that not a day passes that I am not performing some act or belief to keep my life safer.
In our household, we observe others to prevent “kina hora”. When we first moved in our house we were given bread & salt that was put into a bag and tucked away. We never put a hat on the bed! When writing the name of our creator, never spell out G-d. And it is not uncommon to see any member of my family spit three times into their fingers saying poo, poo, poo after saying something we don’t want to curse. The car is running well now-poo,poo,poo. I haven’t had an ear ache all year-poo,poo,poo.
My mom is doing well-poo,poo,poo.
Do I actually believe that by doing certain actions that hold no rational explanation will have effects on outcome? I’m not quite sure, but it’s working so far…..poo,poo,poo!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Growing up, we learn about death at a young age. It is often the loss of a pet that introduces us to the lesson of mortality. Sometimes it was a short lived carnival goldfish named Goldie, a caged up hamster named Dirt, the beloved feline Milo, or the family’s pure bred basset hound named Barney. We learn that all good things must and will eventually end.
When the lesson of dying becomes more prevalent, it often is due to a loss of a parent. I have lost many people in my life that I love, but when my father passed away from stomach cancer, I did not know the depth of my sorrow. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him and wish that he was here with me to share these very special moments of my life.
I went to a wake last night. A friend had the misfortune of joining a club that another friend refers to as “a club you really don’t want to be part of”. Chris sadly lost his father. The wake was at the same funeral home as my fathers’ was. The open faced coffin was placed in the same exact spot as my dad was. Actually, being from a small town, this funeral home was the final greeting for my aunt, my grandmother and most recently the final goodbye to my incredible, one of a kind sister in law, Katherine.
I stood there looking at a montage of photos of Aldo, his father. There were so many pictures from all facets of his life. From his childhood in what looked like Jersey, to his life in the military, to his life being a proud father. They were joyous and happy memories that spanned over 80 years. As with everyone, his appearance changed with his growing years.
Then it dawned on me. Which one of those pictures of Aldo does Chris see of his dad when he makes reference to him? When Chris closes his eyes, what is the image of his father that he remembers? Is it of him as a young man in the military, of him as a middle aged saxophone player, as a father helping play ball, or as a frail old dying man?
It then occurred to me. What is the image I hold of my father? Many pictures come to mind. Just as I was viewing the array of photos of Aldo’s life at the wake, different images of my dad appeared in my mind. Yes, there is some of him in his military uniform from the Korean War, as a dedicated town football coach, as a young engineer working for Keystone, and yes, as him on his death bed looking thin and ill. But the first picture that comes to mind, and the one I keep dear to my heart, is the image of him as “Reggie” the clown with a large red nose, oversized shoes and a big painted smile running across his face.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Recipe for success

Local Chef Auditions for Food Network

Article written by Terri Kayden for AOL's Patch-Nyack

It wasn't your typical hot, mid-July day for Nyack chef Cris Spezial as he waited on a park bench in the lower East Side of Manhattan for his audition time with the Food Network.

A resident of Nyack for close to 20 years with his wife and two daughters, Spezial has been the owner of Nyack Gourmet for 11 years, and relocated to his new location on Broadway in March. It was around that same time one of his brothers encouraged him to go on the Food Network web site and apply to be a contestant for Chopped, or a new show in development, Killer Dinner Party.

"It was kind of on a whim that I filled out the application," Spezial said in a recent interview with Patch. "And then a few months later, I received a letter requesting my resume and a photo."

Soon after, Spezial was called in for an interview with three members of the talent staff. The staff gave him some brief advice: the only thing he could do wrong was to not be himself. It wasn't a problem for Spezial: an admitted ham by nature, Spezial said he felt very comfortable on camera. He also wore shorts and a shirt that revealed a few of his tattoos, just in case they were going for an edgy look.

For Spezial, a love of food and cooking began at an early age. The second youngest of four boys, Special's mother worked full time—when he and his brothers came home from school they would find notes asking them to make meatloaf, meatballs and sauce.

"What turned out to be a chore for my brothers became a passion for me," Spezial said. "By age eight I loved to cook and by age ten my family and I realized that I was actually very good. I walked into a restaurant's kitchen at age 14 and began as a dishwasher; I was the head line cook by 16."

With a resume that includes collaboration with Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud, Nyack Gourmet also has an unassuming wall of fame including Spezial's certificate from the Culinary Institute of America and an assortment of articles written about him. Another wall includes thank you letters from a variety of his patrons.

The next step in the Food Network process? The 30-minute interview will be pared down to three minutes and sent to the producers for review.

"No cooking was required for this interview," Spezial said. "They really just wanted to get a sense of how you are on camera, if you are passionate about cooking, and what type of competitor you are."

With questions like, "Would you share any of your precious eggs with another contestant who really needed one?" (you'll have to stay tuned for the answer) and, "What would you prepare with one of the shows signature mystery baskets?" Spezial said that he had a great time and hopes to get a call back for any of the shows.

The crew at The Food Network told Spezial that it will be a few months before he hears anything. Filming will not begin until next year, so it's a slow simmer for this even-tempered vegetarian chef who may just be on his way to dazzling us all.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


At 45 years old, and like many people my age, which is still young in my eyes, we are faced with an ever changing language. They call it initialism, words compounded with abbreviated letters. To be very honest, I am not very good at it and would rather spell out the words instead of giving the first letter of each word, g2g, ttyl, omg…..and of course lol.

I often have to ask my daughters what some of these abbreviations mean. An example of my misunderstanding is the most often abbreviation “lol”. I used to believe it stood for lots of love, instead of laugh out loud. But I am not alone in my misunderstanding.

A customer of mine, who often frequents my shop, also thought it stood for something else. When Annie’s cousin had the misfortune of losing her mother,
Annie’s aunt, the family was in mourning. Not being able to be there for the family, in the mid-west, she wanted to keep in contact and express her comfort and love. Along with phone calls, Annie also used texting to keep in contact with her family.

Annie wrote, “So sorry to hear about your mom. She was a great woman and will surely be missed. LOL!” Annie couldn’t understand why, after a warm and loving text, her cousin was offended and found nothing “funny” about it. It wasn’t until later that Annie found out when she was expressing LOL, “ lots of love”, she sent out “laugh out loud”. I think I will start writing out the full words more often!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

some sourpatch kids and that pistol too!

There is something very tranquil about the state of Maine. It is a very unique state where you can be on the rocky coast of the ocean then in the clouds high in the mountains in the matter of a short 10 minute drive from one another. The state is filled with some of the friendliest down to earth people I have ever met. I try to get up north as often as I can. I call it a mental break from the crazy fast pace life I live here in New York.

During my most recent trip, my wife and I went to the Belgrade Lake area to visit our daughters at sleep-away camp. We found ourselves arriving too early for visiting time. So we decided to find somewhere to not only fill some time but fill our hunger as well. We stopped at a cute little country deli to get a cheese sandwich. While waiting for our sandwich to be done, the strangest thing caught my eye. Next to the bags of Cape Cod chips, above the Razzles & lollipops, was a large glass wall shelf of various guns, pistols and shot guns. I had to do a double take, here at the corner deli?

So, intrigued, I had to inquire with the girl behind the counter.
“Along with my cheese sandwich and my sour patch kids, can I buy that hand gun in
that case?”
“Sure, which one?” she asked.
“Wait a second, don’t I need a license?”
“No, we will do a file check on you. The owner can do it for you.”

So, let me get this straight. If I have no previous criminal record, it is clear for me to purchase a pistol with amo from the local deli. That seems frightening to me. I mean, what if someone was so angry and pushed to the limit needing to take his/her anger out. They can walk down to the corner sandwich shop and buy a gun. What if that murder that they may be committing IS their first crime. I guess if they commit that crime, they can at least have a delicious sandwich and some sour patch kids while doing it.