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Last night I watched an episode of a Netflix series Chef’s Table. It had been recommended by a few friends but, as per usual, I was disappointed; an Italian guy who sets out to be a rock star chef becomes a rock star chef.

I wished it had been about the old woman who rolled out the pasta, or the dairy farmers with ear hair. Or even about the chef’s relationship with his handicapped son.


This week as I was sitting in a rustic neighbourhood joint in Montreal I was thinking about our adulatory relationships. An hour with The New York Times Magazine, I find myself furrow-browed trying to understand what this article was about.

It features a woman with a disconcerting face whose name was Kris. After an unspeakable amount of time I get it: this is one of our celebrated cultural heroes, Mrs. Kardashian. Living the monastic life that I do, at first I didn’t even recognize the name.

“Famous for being famous”, but don’t understand what that means.

Obviously I wouldn’t know a Kardashian if I had one in my living room.

I move on to an advice column:

What to Do if your Nanny is a Drunk?

As a parent I wonder; how out of synch with our own power do you have to be to consult an advice column before protecting your kids?

Deferring to would-be-experts is what we do. I knew a woman who was considering surveying everyone she knew about what they honestly thought of her. She planned to re-design her personality with that information.


I deeply understand making everyone else the authority. From about the age of twelve I used interview other people; what is the right thing to do? When did you first have sex? What are the right life decisions?


There comes a point in painting where suddenly I have to put down my paintbrush and fry cumin seeds. Possibly with onions with celery.

I don’t even know what it is I am making.

I turn the soup to simmer and head back into the studio to 12 mixed up paintings. My eye hones in on a particular area that needs a higher tonal contrast, a wider brush stroke or a warmer grey. The answer is suddenly obvious.

Cumin is the path.

I slowly realize that this isn’t about a food obsession, but about tenderly giving the painting a break from me.

Hopefully I wouldn’t seek to fortify someone’s art career by insisting that they fry cumin seeds at regular intervals.

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