We all have friends. Most we meet during that sweet, short life we share on earth, and some, as it is with family and flukes of life, we cannot choose. They are suddenly there in your little existence, regardless of how you wish your best friends to look, to attend in manners, and often confronting us unanticipated with their quirks and irregularities.
This blog is for my wonderful friend Lou. I like sports and Politics; he snares at such habits. We share quite a bit in common on the palate of possibilities: We are unimpressed about the status quo, fancy cars, or any fighting sports. Three key passions of his are mine as well. People watching (and yes, criticizing), dreaming about foreign lands (while Lou’s job is scouting for Hollywood Productions, stuck on the freeways), and foremost, FOOD. Lou is a self-announced food snob, in particular, well-blended chocolates.
Over the last year, my gentle friend Lou would show up regularly at my little flat for dinner gatherings, bringing chocolate, and certainly, there was a story attached to every single piece he’d chosen. Oh, not just chocolates; Cheese stuffed Quince Jelly and Almond paste baked in Olives… Lou discovered the most unique and inventive places, introducing flavors and textures in combination so absurd the entire dinner table would be involved in his discovery. After such debacle and the critical tastings, enduring our snooty critiques about flavors’ we don’t understand or the ingredients he describes as “tongue tickling and live enhancing brilliant…,” he’d simply stated: “If you don’t like it, leave it. I’ll eat it later!”
Even in positive critique, Lou would not hold back. After enjoying a great chocolate-covered caramel pudding at his very regular hang out, the Tango Grill in West Hollywood, he would wave the owner Gene to the table and exclaim: “…fucking delicious!” (again and again, loyally eating the same dish…!)
About five months back, I brought up the idea of visiting South Africa. I heard the restaurant boom praised by friends, and the food was exquisite. Convincing Lou, I explained that they have Cocoa plantations and that standing on the very south tip would be a spectacular life experience. Within days, Lou would find restaurants and places to go to and had a whole three-week culinary tour designed and decided. We finished a project, writing a slapstick comedy, and surely we could film it in Africa. His mom and twin sister Lisa would join from Chicago.
I went on a Thailand cooking assignment in late November 05, promising that March 2006 would be our travel month. I came back in January, and, within the first days, while still jet-legged, ended up chit-chatting with Lou about all the places and culinary events I missed. I found him to be less energetic than usual. He left home early for the next few dinners we had, normally being the last guest to go home, and alarmingly did not touch the chocolate he had brought for Valentine’s Day.
Two weeks later, we went to see the Argentinean Ballet performing at the University in BH, and while waiting in the Canteen, I bought a Palmiere, a puff pastry dipped in cheap chocolate. Although critical about the abuse of the whole cacao bean product, he did not try it. It then downed on me; Lou had become chocolate-abstinent. I could not have a friend like him anymore. This wasn’t very pleasant! He needed instant chocolate resuscitation!
Two days later, we sat at his favorite breakfast niche, the “Conversation” around the corner where he lives, and with great ease, I witnessed him enjoying deliciously baked chocolate croissants.
I broke the news to him about my postponing Africa; I just agreed the night before to take on my current cooking assignment in Thailand again. His response was typical: “Thailand? They are certainly not famous for chocolate! Whereas in Cape Town, I know six places…” Two weeks later, with four huge bags packed, Lou drove me to the airport, shaking his head in disbelief: “This ain’t no short assignment?”
There has not been a day I have worked here in the kitchen without thinking of Lou when melting, grating, or baking chocolate, Instantly smirking. I hope I will always think of Lou when eating, smelling or sharing chocolate. You have left me way too early, my friend.
Lou Rosenblate died
in his sleep peacefully
April 29th 2006