LETTER FIFTEEN

10 March 2016
Hart House, Toronto

Dear Henry,

Sorry for the gap! Don’t know what came over me. 

I’m looking over your letters and laughing at your trip to the Newark airport. It’s nice to know that, if I were to come to New York like I want to, I would still be able to find a faux English pub, if I ever felt lonely for home. Must be a North American tradition, like Pizzerias and General Tso Chicken in small towns.

Routines are a source of comfort. They really are. And even in a list, they’re interesting. Like the fact you make your bed every morning—That is so you. The long walks, the cooking.

Speaking of cooking, I did something today you would have been ashamed to witness. I have limited monthly budget for food. When I exceed that limit (I’m not scrappy, it isn’t a life or death situation, just I don’t like poaching my roommates’––aka. my adult siblings––food), I tap into my reserves, which consist of mostly dry goods, pasta, black beans, kidney beans and the like. There was a time last summer when I was consuming three meals of boiled black beans a day, which was a bad though delicious diet. Yesterday I boiled rice for breakfast. Spur of the moment, I made rice pudding––damn good. This morning, in the absence of milk, I made a Sal Walker classic: rice and peanut butter, with soy sauce and chili powder. I took it up to my room, ate it straight out of the saucepan while I did some work.

Later, it was time to leave. I wanted to eat something for the road. I had some Vermicelli noodles I bought last week. I found some vegetable stock, but vegetable stock and noodles isn’t good on its own. The key is to find something real fatty to round out the flavour and stave off the hunger. I was going to use margarine, but luckily found some butter instead. I was in a rush. I didn’t want to dirty too many dishes, so I just used the first saucepan. The boiling water really helped to dissolve that hardened peanut butter that sometimes takes a minute or two to scrub out in the sink, that had in the three or four hours between cooking sessions congealed into a brown scum, lining the interior of the pan like a sin that no quantity of CLR will wipe away––not as bad as the first apartment you went to in New York, but pretty gross.  And into the murky boiling depths, I threw my Vermicelli noodles. Five minutes in, I added the vegetable stock, followed by sesame oil and two tablespoons of butter. By the end it settled into a thick vermicelli stew with warm brown tones, the peanut butter having completely dissolved into the broth. I ate it hot, straight out of the pan, on the stove. Delicious.

In other news, last night I was at Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Time magazine launch. As you remember, our friend and peer, Mr. Jack Herdsman, took over the reins this year from yourself It was well attended. The artwork was strong. The submissions were fantastic. Easterly was there, Travis also, and Sophie. It was amazing. But I still missed you and Lysdale a lot.

Remember last year we went to the pub after, the Ossified? I was terrible company. Your friend, Darcy was so nice. I think we played pool, briefly. It was a good night. Anyways, just thought I’d point out that it’s already been a year, and almost seven months, soon to be eight, since you moved to New York. 

Sweetly and affectionately,

Sal Walker