German Cabaret Artists, Cleansing, Pork Fat and Tweak the Bunny…a Week’s Worth of Conversation

Poor lamb. We found her wandering the streets of Stuttgart.

Poor lamb. We found her wandering the streets of Stuttgart.

This is Heather Nanni, taking a break from her role as Tweak the Bunny to bring you this post.  That’s right; I’m Heather, not Tweak Bunny or Dashi Dog or Captain Barnacles the Polar Bear or any other member of the Octonauts.  Problem is, throughout the day, Allegra insists that I assume the role of any number of these characters. As a matter of fact, this evening, as I played Octonauts with Allegra as she took a bath, she informed me that she was “not impwessed” with how I was playing the game and gave me notes for improving my performance as Kwazi Cat. Being that I soon have to return to work (I know. I know.  I only teach two nights a week, but there is a lot of planning and correcting at home-I swear), I am trying to give the kids as much playtime as possible.  Unfortunately, all of this role playing is making me feel a bit schizophrenic, so for the moment, I’m happy to be just plain old weird Heather, writing her weird blog.  I’ve been so looking forward to writing this week, and I’ve tossed around a lot of ideas.  I have also been feeling rather grouchy and peevish, so I thought I would write some snarky, petulant blog about something that’s been annoying me as a way of alleviating some of my general negativity. .  And I reject that!  I want to giggle.  So after some careful deliberation, I have decided  against wading over into the dark side, to ignore its enticements,to forgo dark, brooding, smart ass ramblings in favor of recounting the ridiculous thoughts and conversations I had this week, which may very well only be funny to me, so don’t feel guilt by shutting this down; thus, shutting me up. For those maniacs who wish to stick around, here goes…

In search of lighter, happier material, I reflected upon this past week and to my surprise recalled some rather silly conversations.  There was the one I had with another student’s mother at the dance studio about cleansing. She’s a lovely lady and five days into a cleanse, eating only the healthiest of foods, drinking lots of water… At some point during our conversation, I realized that I did not have the willpower to omit all  dietary pleasures and confessed that I lacked both the discipline and desire to give up martini’s and pork fat.  My admission that the previous night, when cutting my children’s meat, I removed the fat from their chops and ate it for dinner elicited a laugh.  Then there was the conversation I had with the owner of the stables where my son takes riding lessons.  He confessed his beer habit and surveyed all present on their poison.  Of course mine is vodka.  Unfortunately when he asked me my vodka of choice, I found myself recounting the sad tale of how my husband and I started out drinking Grey Goose, but how after our first child we had to downgrade to Skyy and how we now find ourselves drinking Majorska.  I then made myself feel better by stating, “It’s not that bad.  At least it comes in a glass bottle.”  I got some pity laughs for that one.  But the very best and funniest of the week came from my husband.

 On Monday Giorgio tried on a new black v-neck sweater, looked at himself in the mirror and matter of factly informed me that  he looked  like a “cabaret artist from Stuttgart.” What?  On what planet would a cabaret artist from Stuttgart be the first thing to come to mind??  Granted, Giorgio did live in Stuttgart many, many years ago, but cabaret artist?  Why not singer or dancer, or performer even?  There’s just something about his use of the term artist that tickled me. I mean he had me thinking Berlin, the world on the brink of war, a tawdry, smoke filled club and a show being emceed by some sexually ambiguous emaciated person with a pale face and dark red lips sinisterly grinning at a pseudo-grotesque, featureless audience, all faces obscured by smoke and shadows. And he delivered it with such nonchalance that you would assume that German cabaret artist  is a typical reference for those of us who reside on the east coast of the United States. 

Upon further reflection, I think, perhaps, despite his adamant denial, my darling husband kind of digs the whole cabaret thing.  It’s got me thinking.  In the very infancy of our courtship I did sport a jet black, super short, Liza Minnelliesque pixie cut.  I also had a penchant for wearing bright red lipstick and fishnet stockings. And at some point during that time I had Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories on my nightstand. Hmmmm.. 

 Anyway, Giorgio’s description  of himself as a German cabaret artist struck me as so weird and out of place and hysterical that I had to immediately call my brother Sean Crose, another daft kat with an offbeat sense of humour and love of the absurd.  Clearly, my brother and I managed to make our way out of the same gene pool, gasping for air and full of neurosis and weirdness.  When the two of us emerged from the womb, the doctors probably had to beat the shit out of us, not to help us take our first breathes but to get us to snap the fuck out of our first baby panic attacks.  While we nearly killed each other during adolescence, we became the best of friends in early adulthood.  When we weren’t running around the city getting plastered in dive bars, we spent countless hours watching and quoting Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Plan Nine from Outer Space and anything from Mystery Science Theater, Giant Spider Invasion being one of our personal favorites.  So I just knew that he would fully appreciate Giorgio’s referring to himself as a cabaret artist from Stuttgart.  And my brother didn’t disappoint.  He gave me the much desired belly laugh that I had hoped for, and then we got to talking.  We talked about Germany and World War II and Mussolini and Giorgio’s parents who grew up in Italy during the war.  We got to talking about Giorgio’s mother and how she possess a style and sophistication that reminds me of Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita (In addition to being beautiful, she’s a great person). We talked about Giorgio’s dad and how it’s a flipping shame that he was taken from this world too soon and how he was just one of those special people whose very presence made you feel good. Then somehow we moved back to talk about the executions of Mussolini and Clara Petacci and back to Hitler and his stupid mustache, which got us to talking about mustaches and mustache style and handlebar mustaches. We talked about how handlebar mustaches are all the rage with those damn young hipsters, which got my brother going on how ridiculous he would look with such a mustache and how he would bear a closer resemblance to our great, great grandfather who came through Elis Island after emigrating from Ireland than a young James Franco wannabe.  And this talk of the handlebar mustaches brought the conversation full circle and back to Giorgio, who, likely inspired by Kurt Russell in Tombstone, once grew handlebar mustache himself because he really is more cowboy than cabaret artist.  He’s an Italian who as a young boy developed a great love for America. He overdosed on spaghetti westerns and, in a music store in Rome,  discovered Alabama’s Mountain Music which began his love affair with country music.  When he met me, a Norwegian techno music loving east coast girl, he introduced me to country music, which I’ve grown to dig. 

So that’s it.  The story of how a silly remark led to a much needed laugh and a great conversation about evil villains and beautiful people and how a great conversation led to a flood of good memories and my personal conclusion that my husband is one awesome and strange dude.

Hey Kids, Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner. The Easter Bunny! Rabbit Anyone?

In many ways my husband and I are polar opposites. He is organized. I am not. I am terrified to fly. He loves it. I am not a foodie. He is a chef. However, in addition to the great love we share for our children, there is another thing we have in common–our love of the absurd and the irreverent. Thankfully. Giorgio’s job provides us with a significant amount of material to keep us laughing and scratching our heads. So rather than blathering on about the usual stuff I blather on about, I thought it would be cool to do something different this week-interview my husband Piergiorgio Nanni, companion, father and chef. Here goes:

Me: So Giorg, errr Chef, would it be inappropriate if I began this interview by stating that you are a remarkably handsome man?

Chef: No, but this will be the only lie of this interview.

Me: Fair enough.

Me: Chef, tell the readers why in God’s name you would marry a woman who had no idea how to cook?  Go ahead feel free to share the vomit chicken story. 

Chef: Besides being very charming, lovely and beautiful.

Me: Go On

Chef: I was actually really impressed by your vomitacious chicken dish, a dish that consists of chicken breast, broccoli, angel hair and a packet of dehydrated Lipton chicken soup overcooked until it looks like vomit.  You mixed it all up, cooked it for what I’m assuming hours and voila!  And the funny thing is that it was not that bad.  The lesson to learn is: don’t judge a dish by its color. 

Me: Now you must admit that, despite her lack of prowess in the kitchen, your wife did invent some pretty amazing dishes.  Dont you remember…American cheese carpaccio (pronounced car pay see oh not that “fancy and proper” way) and Fudgsicles in Pepsi dip?

Chef: How is it that this interview is all about you?

Me: Please Chef.  Let me ask the questions.

Chef: I think the Fudgsicle in Pepsi dip is pretty self-explanatory.  Just dip a Fudgsicle in Pepsi and eat it.  As for the American Cheese Carpaccio, purposely mispronounced…that’s another gem.  A slice of processed American cheese spread with Gulden’s mustard.  The secret is in the ingredients. 

Me: Do you know how I came up with that one?

Chef: No, but please don’t let me keep you from sharing.

Me: Okay then.  It was 6th grade. I was in the cafeteria.  My friend had a bologna and cheese sandwich with mustard.  She didn’t want the cheese.  So I ate it…with the mustard.  And there you have it. If I may say, genius in its simplicity.

Chef: Genius.  Thank you for sharing

Me: My pleasure.

Me: I’m sure the readers are curious about the title of this blog.  Please explain what it’s all about.

Chef: It was Easter week and a chef colleague informed me that he was going to serve a rabbit special.  Seriously.  He wasn’t kidding.  And, at first I thought it was a nice idea.  Not because of the Easter Bunny/Rabbit connection.  I don’t think either of us even thought of Easter.  It wasn’t until I told my wife and she called us both “sick degenerates” that the lightbulb went off.  I think subconsciously he had rabbit on the brain because of the pictures of the Easter Bunny everywhere. Needless to say, my chef friend didn’t sell a single rabbit special, perhaps made with the same little rabbits used in some of the portrait studios at Easter time. 

Me: Sick

Me: Well we might as well run with the gross theme.  Baring anything that includes any part of the human body as an ingredient (obviously, duh), is the brain of live monkey still the only dish in the entire world that you will not eat?

Chef:  I also won’t eat frog.  I find the idea disgusting.

Me: So, dogs and cats.  They’re free game?

Chef: Well, as you know, they actually are free game in a few countries.  My worry, however, is that I may have eaten cats and dogs before.  I just thought it was rabbit in the stew,

Me: Uggggghhhhh

Me: Switching gears now.  Does it ever offend you that your dog, Ginger Josie Nanni, thumbs her nose at your risotto but eats cat shit with gusto?

Chef: What bothers me is that she kisses me right after.

Me: On the lips?

Chef: Yes

Me: Sick. Again

Me: How does a man who was born and raised in Rome, classically trained in Paris, worked throughout Europe before landing in NYC win a chili competition?

Chef: I had a secret ingredient.

Me: Come on now.  Tell us.  Was your secret ingredient Rabbit?

Chef: That’s what the butcher said.

Me: Finally.  With whom would you say you have more in common, Chef Pisghetti from Curious George or the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show? 

Chef: I am Chef Pisghetti.  A loud, not very bright caricature of every Italian chef in the world.

Me: In a half ass effort to  make this worthwhile for our readers, give them a recipe would you.  But remember, give something for parents like myself.  You know, people with dated 1950’s kitchens and no fancy accoutrements who don’t like to cook.

Chef: Here goes.Roasted Salmon. Sprinkle salmon with salt, pepper and some Old Bay seasoning.  Drizzle with butter and pop in a 350 oven for 20 minutes.  While the salmon is cooking, cut some fresh tomatoes and red onion and toss in a bowl with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and a few drops of balsamic vinegar.  You can add fresh basil if you like.  When salmon is done, top with salad and serve. 

Me:  Delicious

Chef: Thanks

Me: Well thank you Chef.  This was fun.  Want to do it again?

Chef: Yes.  Now, would you like me to make you dinner?

Me: No need. I’ve got a bowl of Cheetos and a Martini waiting for me.

Chef: Great

Me: Love you

Chef: Love you too