DECEMBER 12, 2004
ANTIQUES AND COLLECTIBLES NEWSLETTER #254A
And a wintry day it is in New York City. I suppose I should be grateful - the sun is shining today, an occurrence to which we haven't been treated here for about a week. It is good to be off the road - for now. I hope all Accumulators who celebrate Thanksgiving had a festive one, and that you consumed enough turkey to make you not want to see any until next November.
My own contribution to our large (30 people) Thanksgiving meal was a whole poached salmon. I don't know if you realize what a big fish that is. I ordered a whole salmon, gutted and cleaned (no, I don't do the fish cleaning thing - I haven't touched innards since culinary school), head and tail intact, from an online delivery service. The fish arrived, and He Who Is The Light Of My Life and I struggled to get it into our apartment-size refrigerator, finally wrestling it into the produce drawer.
The next evening, I got it out to poach it, unwrapped it, and noticed immediately that the tail was missing. How could I not notice? - there was blood pouring out of the hole where the tail used to be. Even without the tail, the fish stood about as much chance of fitting into my fish poacher as I do of getting into my wedding dress. I finally poached it in my big roasting pan, and even in that pan I had to sort of stand it up and curve its head and nonexistent tail. It lay there in its bed of vegetable stock and herbs, placidly looking back at me. Or accusingly looking back at me. It depends on whether you were looking at it before or after the second glass of red wine.
As the fish was poaching, I emailed the food company while copiously weeping, and complained bitterly about the no-tail thing. I had been forced to order a 10.15 pound. fish because I wanted one with the head and tail on. This was an important family occasion, and I wanted a great presentation. So, I paid a fortune for a big hunk of fish I didn't want or need, and then it showed up without the tail!
"You have ruined my Thanksgiving!", I wrote.
I went back into the kitchen, and removed the pan from the oven. There it was, the fish, still staring up at me accusingly, albeit with a completely clouded over eye.
"You call this a poacher?", it seemed to be saying. "You think this is a comfortable position? Where's my tail? WHERE'S THE REST OF ME???"
We then lugged the giant roasting pan full of tailless poached salmon to our next door neighbor's much roomier refrigerator to spend the night.
The next morning, Thanksgiving Day, I decorated the fish with sliced cucumber scales, an olive eye, and a tail made of two sprigs of dill. While I was waiting for the flavors in the horseradish dill cream sauce to marry (the flavors have to blend, okay?), I turned on the computer and found an email from the food company. They were crediting my account for the full amount of the fish. Free fish! Suddenly, everything was more than okay. Free fish! This changed everything for me. This fish was worthy of the fine rice crackers and black bread I had purchased to go with it, the festive tray I had bought on which to serve it, which would then become a gift for the hostess, the now-married horseradish dill cream sauce. It was a delicious fish, a festive fish, a FREE FISH! No one actually noticed the tail was missing, unless I pointed it out. Which I did. Many times. It was such a good story, how could I not tell everyone?
Everyone in the family, including Artie and I, got to take some fish home - there were definitely leftovers. Although, to be honest, we did a pretty good job of decimating the fish, which was just an appetizer. Still, 10.15 lbs is a lot of fish.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF LOOK OUT, BRA MANUFACTURERS
Simone Cassola and Jack Ray of Milan, Italy, have started something that may have big repercussions. They are selling shoes one at a time. The men left well-paid accounting and management jobs to set up 'Addicted to Freedom' or ADD and presented their first collection recently in Milan. "People should have the freedom to choose each shoe separately," said Ray, adding: "At first we were a little unsure because the idea does sound pretty absurd." But, their handmade shoes are flying off the shelves - one at a time. And at more than $100 a shoe, that's success! They plan to branch out to gloves and socks as well. Think of it: on hangover mornings, grabbing whichever are the first two socks at the top of the drawer will no longer result in embarrassment at the office.
TEENAGE DREAMS DEPARTMENT
Walter Cavanagh of Shell, California, nicknamed Mr. Plastic Fantastic by the Gains Book of Records, has a collection of 1,497 valid credit cards, with a credit limit of more than 1.7 million dollars. His collection is the result of a bet with a friend in 1969. The party who acquired the most credit cards won a dinner. Cavanagh won, but, as we all know, collector had set in, and he couldn't stop. Aside from his collection of cards, he has a 38 lb. wallet that is 250 ft. long and holds 800 cards. Don't ask me what his pants look like. His collection includes antique cards made of aluminum an paper, and cards from as far away as Spain and Germany. He has one sterling silver card with no credit limit, from the Mapes Hotel, the first casino-hotel in Reno. It closed in 1982. Not much of a surprise there, eh? Cavanagh says he was only denied one card, by the JJ Newberry department store, who said he had too much credit, and, to this day, he doesn't have one of their cards. Before you get any ideas, you should know that Walter doesn't lug that giant wallet around with him. The cards are kept in safe deposit boxes. Not much fun in that.
OKAY, ENOUGH IMAGE-LADEN FOOD!
No, no, no, the grilled cheese sandwich with the "image of the Virgin Mary" on it. That wasn't dumb enough. Now comes the story of a man who found a single grain of breakfast cereal that looked like E.T, the Extraterrestrial. Chris Doyle of Sydney, Australia, was minding his own business and eating breakfast one morning, when he found ET looking up at him from his bowl of cereal. Inspired by the $28,000 sale of the grilled cheese sandwich, he put the cereal grain (lacquered, to protect it, of course) up for sale on eBay, and it got more than 40 bids - most from the same nutcake who ultimately bought it for $804. Jeez, I should have saved the head of that salmon. It looked somewhat like Winston Churchill.
Accumulators, we are off to a warmer clime in a few days, and will not be back until almost the New Year. Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope it is the happiest one ever for you, free of grief, care, fear, and anxiety. Happy Christmahannukwaansakah to all. And, if you're shopping for Christmas gifts, don't forget to look in antiques stores - they have some pretty neat and unusual stuff. Happy hunting!
© 2004 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #254A
U.S. Library of Congress
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