Thursday, April 24, 2008

Like Butter on Crack

My dissertation has been turned in! I can hardly believe it. It has been hanging over my head inconspicuously for seven years and aggressively for two months, and now it is done. The word relief doesn’t seem to do my present state justice.

I now have some time to describe my diet of the last two months. In a word: eww. Picture everything and anything that is not nailed down in one’s pantry or refrigerator. Picture those food stuffs consumed in no particular order or ritual, just for the sake of being consumed with the hope of keeping my meager attention span tuned to my work for just another little while longer. Yes, I have eaten everything in my house. I can’t say I enjoyed it because frankly, I can’t remember it. It was like sleep eating. One thing does stand out from this past month of bleary-eyed dissertation hell. It takes a bit of a story to explain fully, so here goes.

I ran away to the Tavern with the supervisor one evening to get a break from the soul-numbing dissertation writing and to get out of the house. Here is what I learned that evening – three drinks in one night are ok, but not if they are red wine, vodka on the rocks, and beer, in that order. That was not smart. It might also explain how we (ok, I) wound up picking up a stray French cook at the bar and bringing him home with the promise of good foie gras. I don’t know how it happened, so don’t ask, although it's fair to assume that it had something to do with my ill-advised booze trifecta.

That's whole duck liver, for the non-Francophiles. The ingredient list is brilliant - Foie, booze, salt and pepper. I don't know what else one needs for complete contentment.

If I ever get a tattoo, it will be of that little duck, somewhere private and personal. Because that's how I feel about foie gras.

And the foie gras? It has been teasing me from the back of my fridge with its yellow duck fat and crack cocaine-like addictive contents. I have had it stashed for over a year - my parents brought it back from Paris for me.
So to make a long and boring story short, we brought the stray Frenchman home and had drunken foie gras at three in the morning. We huddled around my kitchen counter because the rest of my house was covered in an even layer of dirty mugs and papers papers papers, eating big chunks of foie on toasted bread with olives and salty roasted fingerling potatoes and cold beer. It was perfect, drunken, and decadent. The foie was unctuous and melty, supported by the crunch of the bread. Like a pale beige butter with a slightly animal quality to it. I could have easily finished the entire jar by myself. Luckily, I was too drunk to stay up long enough to accomplish that not-at-all-challenging feat.

Yes, I have been living in grad student dissertation squalor for the last month. It wasn't pretty. Didn't smell that great either.

And when all the foie is gone, the yellow duck fat will remain, to make for amazing meals of eggs and potatoes fried in duck fat.
Browned mushrooms sauteed with duck fat and thyme. Toasted bread smeared with duck fat. Oh yes. Duck fat = crack.

Mmmmm... duck fat. Drool.

Chips and salsa after a long night out? I don’t think so.

I really hope I manage to con the Frenchman into cooking for me someday soon. He is suspiciously (perhaps, wisely) not replying to my emails...


Green Armadillo said...

Congrats on being done. Your adventures are clearly more adventurous than mine, but it's a good feeling either way.

Naveen said...

Congratulations!!! I doubt many people in the world have had such an amazing drunken foie gras experience, especially while writing a PhD thesis.

Anna said...

Allen - Thank you! I will congratulate you being done in advance. Life is about to get very interesting, ain't it...

Naveen - Thank you! Yeah, I kind of go all out. If you are going to do it, do it all the way. Why go to grad school for a couple of years when you can stay all seven? Why have one type of booze when you can have all of them, together? Sometimes the logic fails, clearly.

Malen said...

Congrats!! I was thinking of you the other night and this post reminded me... we finally found good food in Bethesda. This place serves, not bread and butter before your meal, oh no, but bread and pate. holy crap. I was in a little bit of heaven! (And I was glad that they didn't serve me greyish brown butter)

One Food Guy said...


Foie, in a jar, in a fridge, for over a's that non-perishable?! Either way, I'm jealous.

My green, animal-friendly, conscious self doesn't want to like foie, but it is just too damn good! Sorry, can't give it up. Just don't like to talk about my love for the foie!

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Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

I'm happy that your tough days of dissertation writing is done.


uma said...

You did it!!! YAHOO!

paintergirl said...

Yay! You did it. Now for a big sigh of relief right?

JC said...

Way to go!!!! It must feel so great to be done. You sure know how to celebrate, too!

aimee said...

Awesome, well done Anna! It's onwards and upwards from here on, for sure. Long may the celebrations last!!!

Anna said...

Malen - That is so completely awesome. What is this place? Totally badass to serve pate.

One Food Guy - The stuff lasts forever in those jars. They are hermetically sealed - really tough to open, in fact. And the foie is sealed in its own fat. There is really no air getting in. I think the official expiration date was something like three years. I know I should feel guilty about liking (and eating) foie gras as much as I do, but I just... don't! I love it so much.

Mehdi - Thank you! Hurdle one is complete. Now I just have to defend!

Uma - Thank you Thank you! Can't wait to be completely finished. It still seems a little unreal, to tell the truth.

Paintergirl - Thank you so much! Yes, a sigh of relief, but a small one. I am still getting ready for my defense on May 6. Reading tons of papers and putting together a presentation. I really can't relax completely (or at all) just yet. Soon though! Soon.... And then.... Sigh.

JC - Almost done. Almost. Not quite. And you better believe that the part I am going to have when I am finished will be epic. My father is bringing two bottles of the super duper Marusya Russian vodka. It's not going to be pretty.

Aimee - Thank you! I think I am going to be celebrating for the rest of my life. I don't mean to sound theatrical, but this has not been an easy 7 (SEVEN, Lord help me) years.

paintergirl said...

Oh and I wanted to ask, is that FLOR carpet you have?

leena! said...

Yayyyyyyyyyyyy! Congrats, lady, on a job well done. And foie? Sounds much better than my dorito taco salad attack I have had several times during my dissertation. Only a few weeks left for myself, and then I can join you and drink too many glasses of whatever! Besides, now that I know you put out (foie), I am totally game,

lara griffiths said...

congrats an oh yummy!
need i say more !?

Anna said...

Paintergirl - I have no idea. I will have to ask my Mom. The carpet was a hand-me-down from her. I looked for tags, but it didn't have any. Sorry! Is FLOR good or bad?

Leena - You, me, foie... It's on. Good luck with the rest of your dissertation pain.

Lara - No need to say anything else. Except maybe that you are going to be visiting Boston sometime soon!