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Yeah I made this up, there's no such thing. Should have olives too but someone thinks he doesn't like olives. Or ginger. Or beans. Or chickpeas. Or, or, or. Sauce/pasta ratio is approximate.

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puttanesca alla siciliana
.

2 good quality anchovy filets
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, chopped small
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced or chopped
2 cans high-quality Italian tomatoes
4 tbsp capers, drained and chopped if large 
zest of one orange, minced fine
pinch smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
450g spaghetti or bucatini

A few leaves of basil, torn
A handful of flat-leaf parsley tops, chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped roughly
1/2 cup Pecorino or Parmesan, grated

Melt the anchovies in the olive oil. Add the carrot and saute for 5 minutes, add chili pepper and garlic and saute for one minute, not burning your garlic. Add tomatoes, capers, orange zest and smoked paprika, simmer for 10 minutes or until carrot is not crunchy. SALT TO TASTE, shit is already salty because of the anchovies and capers. Make pasta. Serve with parsley, basil, hazelnuts and cheese on top. Serves....3? 2?
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Guys, I know what happened: I slowly replaced my hobby of almost talking about my feelings with Texas Hold'Em and Fortnite. And then completely didn't write for 5 months. No wonder I was so fucked up! I'm fine now!!!
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On the other hand, VDuck was always an exercise in how to almost but not quite write about the biggest thing that was going on in your life. Why, I don't know. Balls, probably. Missing balls.

But right, the great thing about this being disguised as a food blog is that we always could rely on the necessary daily inspiration of cooking to force us to emit some sort of something, pointlessly, uncommunicatively oblique or not. At least it would be a record of something, that something happened.

Thus I will start there. Pardon my continuing on as if nothing is amiss.

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So this is something really great that I made that is worth recording for mostly one reason: it's a veganazible cross between tuna noodle casserole and mac and cheese that isn't really trying to be either but gives you the feeling of both. The creaminess comes from the starch from the pasta and from white beans, and the tang comes from lemon. Here's the shorthand notes:

fennel and white bean macaroni.

make one recipe zuppe di sedano
add 400g cooked white beans
boil
add 400g volkoren elbow noodles
leave overnight

roast one bulb fennel with one sweet onion and 3 cloves of garlic
add zest of two lemons
top with grated pecorino and breadcrumbs
bake at 200 for 15 minutes
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But. And. It's really disturbing to feel so foreign and uncomfortable writing here. It seems clear that I Have Lost My Way a bit. I was just at the point where I thought to myself "you used to have hobbies, right? Or, a hobby?"

I guess it was this. Anyway I am now experiencing "conflict", for many reasons but the most immediately germane of which is because this was an important thing I did that kept me me and now it feels impossible, or at the very least not very plausible. So the easiest thing to do would be to keep not doing it. And, yet. Or, but.

Anyway. regardless of all that, I don't think I want it to end like this. This blog. So there will be writing attempts.
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As you can see, it was pretty exciting. Also the weather.










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As if going to an AA meeting didn't feel like enough of a boring, put-me-in-a-box-I'm-done cliche (although, how is this more boring than just continuing to fail at "drinking in moderation" I ask you completely rhetorically), I came back feeling something like buoyancy (oh I thought Formation was shockingly daring, love her), lifted by a surprising, hopeful recession of my usual cynicism about the whole endeavor. I told a couple of people "how it went" (amazing how quotes destroy any honest emotional content), putting some real effort into "conveying the details", etc. 

Then, (surprisingly) somewhat content, I slipped into wondering if I'd had a "normal" experience or not. A little time on the Google revealed that not only was my experience completely "normal", it was "normal" enough to where (thank you Mysterious Higher Power) I didn't even get the opportunity of struggling through writing creatively about the basics in an original way: several hundred other people had already uncynically included all the pertinent hopeful surprises. I guess this is the most representative of them. In terms of the uncynical facts of what happened, my meeting was pretty much exactly like that. Maybe it'll be easier to say something original about my second meeting.

Then another helpful friend sent one of DFW's rather mercilessly bleak summaries of what I guess is "one way to look at" the cliched AA cycle:
“....the Crocodiles say they can't even begin to say how many new guys they've seen Come In and then get sucked back Out There, Come In to AA for a while and Hang In and put together a little sober time and have things start to get better, head-wise and life-quality-wise, and after a while the new guys get cocky, they decide they've gotten `Well,' and they get really busy at the new job sobriety's allowed them to get, or maybe they buy season Celtics tickets, or they rediscover pussy and start chasing pussy (these withered gnarled toothless totally post-sexual old fuckers actually say pussy), but one way or another these poor cocky clueless new bastards start gradually drifting away from rabid Activity In The Group, and then away from their Group itself, and then little by little gradually drift away from any AA meetings at all, and then, without the protection of meetings or a Group, in time--oh there's always plenty of time, the Disease is fiendishly patient--how in time they forget what it was like, the ones that've cockily drifted, they forget who and what they are, they forget about the Disease, until like one day they're at like maybe a Celtics-Sixers game, and the good old Fleet/First Interstate Center's hot, and they think what could just one cold foamer hurt, after all this sober time, now that they've gotten `Well.' Just one cold one. What could it hurt. And after that one it's like they'd never stopped, if they've got the Disease. And how in a month or six months or a year they have to Come Back In, back to the Boston AA halls and their old Group, tottering, D.T.ing, with their faces hanging down around their knees all over again, or maybe it's five or ten years before they can get it up to get back In, beaten to shit again, or else their system isn't ready for the recurred abuse again after some sober time and they die Out There--the Crocodiles are always talking in hushed, 'Nam-like tones about Out There--or else, worse, maybe they kill somebody in a blackout and spend the rest of their lives in MCI-Walpole drinking raisin jack fermented in the seatless toilet and trying to recall what they did to get in there, Out There; or else, worst of all, these cocky new guys drift back Out There and have nothing sufficiently horrible to Finish them happen at all, just go back to drinking 24/7/365, to not-living, behind bars, undead, back in the Disease's cage all over again. The Crocodiles talk about how they can't count the number of guys that've Come In for a while and drifted away and gone back Out There and died, or not gotten to die.” 
Not having gotten past the first 59 pages of IJ myself, it's hard to say how much of that is complete fucking-with-you sarcasm, I mean, is this the author's voice or a character's voice, etc. Devil's advocate and whatnot. Or reverse Devil's advocate. Do I really have to find the book and start over again I ask uncynically.
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Pretty sure I have another post titled this somewhere. For now, some notes on an attempt to refine this into something that looks good on the plate. For starters cut everything raisin-sized. I wonder if you could crust the fish with the almonds. Serve over potatoes?

1 can tomatoes
2 roasted red peppers
2 tsp capers
1/2 cup good green olives
1/4 cup golden raisins
3 cloves garlic
1 red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup toasted almonds
4 pieces cod
or
some grandpa potatoes cooked in butter so they're crisp.
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So I'm trying to build my range, which, for all the normal people who might read this, is the set of hands you will normally play (instead of throwing away) from any of the positions around the table.

This is a critical step for anyone who wants to consider themselves a serious poker player, but it's especially important for me because my biggest weakness as a player is.....wait for it......discipline.

That's right. Amazing? No. I'll play almost any hand, all the time. So by building a range, you're kind putting yourself on a diet, giving yourself rules for what hands you will and won't play. Now, is it really like a diet? Where you give yourself rules for what you will and won't eat, and then constantly either follow or break those rules? Yes, yes, kind of. But this is more important than a diet.

I joke. Anyway, today I was playing, and I was dealt an ace and a deuce of the same suit, which we write as A-2s, "s" signifying "suited". Now A-2 is one of the hands that I have told myself one billion times not to play, and inevitably I play it and it sucks and I say never do that again you stupid fuck.  And then it's dealt to me again and I play it again while saying "never play A-2 again you stupid fuck". Maybe poker is just a semi-harmless way for me to just violently and endlessly berate myself for not listening to my own good advice.

Annnywayyyyy, to bring this fascinating glimpse into my life to a close, today I was dealt A-2, annd I said to myself "never play A-2", and then I went ahead and bet and said (to myself) "OK, now this is why you never play A-2, you dick," and of course I was immediately dealt another ace and another deuce. And I won the hand. Great story Mark, could you tell it again?
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Above: here's the beach my screen saver showed me today. Below: here's the beach I went to today. That is the beach, right there with the backhoes on it, dismantling it completely.


Note the long fence below preventing you from going down there. At least I'd only taken a 38 minute train ride to get there. I saw one family with kids, beach gear in tow. They did not reek of localness, in fact they looked very much like they had traveled very far to get here for some reason, they were actually tearfully clutching the fence in frustration, as if they had no idea the beach was going to be totally destroyed this summer. Seems like their hotel would've told them.


















It wasn't much of a "beach" anyway, about 100 meters of dirty sand leading to thick mud, but it is the closest "beach" to Groningen. I mean, it was bad even for a Dutch beach. Anyone American who is roughly my age who has ever come to visit me in this country has said at some point, "yeah, there's a lot of good stuff here, socialized medicine, legal weed, beautiful womens, good jazz, liberal thinking, a society that tries to be tolerant of and help all peoples, but....yeah, the beaches aren't so good, are they."

It is a bit true I must say. I mean, on a good day Bloemendaal can be a lovely experience. I like Castricum. Even Zandvoort once you drop your expectations accordingly. And the dunes on the islands are serene and severe, in a good way. But if you've grown up with Florida and California, those are just a different kind of beach. Waves.

Anyway, I say all of this to say that Delfzijl, where I was today, was by far the most depressing beach I have ever been to in a country of really mediocre beaches. I am very sorry for you if you live in Delfzijl at this moment, I cannot believe the streets are not littered with suicides. On a tropically hot summer day, someone has decided to tear apart your sad little beach. I can't decide if it was sadder to not have been able to go to the beach there today, or would it have been worse if I'd actually been able to lay my towel down on the rocks and listen to the sucking mud and the highway directly behind me.
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