(Pictured: Actual plate of rare rack of lamb with broccoli-cauliflower puree I made for Valentine's dinner.)
Last night, I went to two different grocery stores to purchase the ingredients for the love: herb and pepper encrusted rack of lamb (with broccoli-cauliflower puree). You can tell so much about someone's state of mind, politics, sexual orientation, coupling status, and (gulp) socio-economic station by just peeking into his grocery basket. Since I'm a voyeur by nature, I can never help but look (and stare).
I first went to the Giant grocery store in Columbia Heights, a neighborhood that is on the cusp and is still "turning over." I love this store for all its heterogeneity. It caters to all the disperate contingencies in the neighborhood. The contrast of the large isle full of Goya products, hot bar of fried items, and deli full of artisenal cheese is a sight to behold. They had almost everything that I needed except for the fresh rack of lamb and the wheat baguette. Anyway, while I was in line, I spied despair behind me: twelve Banquet frozen dinners, a bag of pre-rinsed iceberg lettuce (yellowed), Miracle Whip, ranch dressing, and two-liter of Dr. Pepper. He was a young white man, perhaps a graduate student, definitely straight, likely middle of the road politically. (I mean, who else but a poor, single, marginally Republican man would eat this stuff?)
Then I went to Whole Foods in the recently gentrified (for better or worse) neighborhood of Logan Circle to purchase the meat and bread. In line there was a middle aged man, slender, probably gay, obviously liberal. He was sad. I knew this from the single serving tray of prepared summer rolls, bottle of Cab, and pint of butter pecan Hagan Daas. I wanted to wish him a happy Valentine's but realized it would be lame...and self-serving and self-righteous. He was lonely and eager to smile at the indifferent check out girl on her Bluetooth. I should have let him have all that in private. I'm an assh*le for looking and watching and judging.
...But back to my superficial reality: the lamb turned out well. I, however, really messed up the creme brulee. It's just as well--the ramekins were a dumb and gleeful heart shape. No one should eat from something shaped like a heart.