Navel Gazing With ELV

ELV note: What does the following have to do with food writing? Absolutely nothing. Well, maybe a little something. But it’s my damn blog and I’ll write anything I damn well please. ;-) I hope you are mildly amused by it, and perhaps learn something about me in the process.


Indigestion – Even in late middle age, the only things that give me indigestion are (too much) champagne and barbecue. Which is a pity because champagne goes great with barbecue.

Intolerance – There are three things on this earth I can’t stand: 1) intolerance of other cultures, 2) the Dutch, and 3) people talking in movie theaters. Seriously, as my kids say, “Dad, you are both a very tolerant and intolerant guy.” True dat. Slobs, guns, and pets in public drive me nuts, otherwise I don’t care if you’re a neo-fascist, satan-worshipping, wife-swapping, dope-taking, sitcom-loving sado-masochist. But I draw the line if you’re one of these guys.

Alarm clocks – I haven’t used an alarm clock in 30 years. You tell me when I have to get up, I wake up an hour before that.

Answering you back – If you call, I return the call. Text me, you get a text right back. Same with e-mails. The only times I don’t get right back to people is either when I’m traveling, extremely busy at work, or sick.

Attention to detail – Details only count if you’re a scientist, an engineer, or a baker.

Taking yourself too seriously – Has never been a problem. I am as amused at myself as I am at what a fool you are being.

Kitchen timers – I swear to god I have a kitchen timer for a heart. The only thing I use a kitchen timer for is baking cookies.

Forgetting things – I don’t forget anything. I can tell you the song that was playing the first time I kissed a girl (Mason William’s “Classical Gas”); I can tell you where I was standing when I first found out I passed a bar examination (1414 Eastern Parkway, Louisville, Kentucky); I can tell you the names of all of my fraternity brothers at Vanderbilt (most of whom I loathed). A good memory is a double-edged sword, though. There are a thousand things I wish I could forget.

Pickiness about what I eat – The only thing I would never eat is a live bug. If it’s served as food by some culture on this planet, I’ll try it.

Getting drunk – I don’t brag about it, but I can hold my liquor like nobody’s business. Drinking to drunkenness doesn’t interest me anymore, but even when it did, there are probably only a handful of people who have ever seen me really drunk.

Celebrity worship – Famous people (especially actors, athletes, politicians and musicians) are some of the most boring people on earth. Whenever I’m in the company of someone famous, I always wonder why they’re not much more interested in talking to me. The life I’ve led — criminal lawyer, trial lawyer (in four different states), bon vivant, American explorer, world-traveling womanizer, galloping gourmand, avid cook, fashionista, oenophile, pretty good golfer (back in the day), inveterate snob, public servant — is ten times more interesting than anything Donald Trump or Beyonce has to say. People become famous because all they’re interested in is themselves. It’s much more fascinating to talk to someone interested in something other than themself, be it chess, restoring old cars, or the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of 1933. I give comedians a pass, since to be a good comedian, you have to be tuned in to all sorts of things. I don’t worship comedians but I admire them.

Back problems – Never had ’em – unlike every other adult male friend of mine. My dad didn’t have them either, so I’m hoping my DNA stays strong on this one.

Foot problems – Ditto.

Attraction to crowds – The attraction of hanging out with large groups of strangers, for the sake of saying you were “there” has never appealed to me for one second.

Concerts – A boring, uncomfortable way to listen to songs that sound better on your car radio. Surrounded by dullards (see above). If that’s not bad enough: Port-o-Lets.

Attention to service in restaurants – I don’t care if a waiter pours soup on my head, as long as it’s good soup.

Friends – I haven’t hung with a posse since I was a public defender. I haven’t had an entourage since my golfing/lawyer buddies in Danbury, Connecticut in the 80s. I have a few friends that I hook up with in short spurts, but I’m more of a loner than you might imagine.

Money – I don’t give a shit about money. Never have, never will. This is something each of my wives has taken great pains to point out to me over the years.

Kissing ass – I’ve failed at many things in my life, but one thing I’ve never done is kiss anyone’s ass to get anything. When I was a very young lawyer, I once kissed my boss’s ass to keep my job. I didn’t like the taste of it. It’s often occurred to me that I might have gone farther in my legal career if I had sucked up to more people…or even one person. I’m not proud of many things in my life, but this is one of them.

What people think of me – One of my ex-wives lived in mortal fear that people were talking about her, or knew too much about her.  There are less than a dozen people on earth whose opinion of me means anything to me.

Rudeness – The only people I’m rude to are people who accost me on the phone or on the street.





Getting the fuck out of my own way






Keeping my opinions to myself

Shutting the fuck up

Saving money

Doing anything responsible with money

Exercise – I’ve tried; I’m still trying, but this is a body built for comfort, not speed.

Eating less sugar

Eating less bread – Sugar I can do without, but bread? Never.

Writing – I’m a good writer; I can be interesting and clever on occasion. I can even make people laugh. But I’m not a great writer. To be a great writer (to be great at anything, really) you have to do it all the time. If I did it all the time, it would be a job. I love writing too much to make a job out of it. I like to think of myself (Warning: Obscure golf reference coming up!) as the Robert Tyre Jones of food writers. Bobby Jones was an amateur golfer in the 1920s-1930s. He was every bit as good as the pros (and much better than most of them) but he never turned professional. He loved his sport too much to turn it into a paycheck — because, among other things, there was no $$$ to be made in professional golf back then. (Sound familiar?) But he never had any doubt how good he was. I am the Bobby Jones of food writers and I know it. Of this I am quite proud.