Easter Buffeted

Ham for one, and other celebratory ways to get rid of a pig

Dear Dara;

I moved to the Twin Cities 10 years ago from Seattle, and while I was initially skeptical about the restaurant scene here, my husband, who is from these parts, is now leaving me. For a two-bit, skanky whore.

I will thus be spending my first Easter alone--ever. What do you recommend? (Travel is not an option.) How can I get him back?

Champagne, then rolling in the shards of the bottle.
Tema Stauffer
Champagne, then rolling in the shards of the bottle.

--Miserable & Mired in Minneapolis


Dear Miserable;

I am glad you wrote. As anyone who regularly consults these pages can tell you, the clear response to any of life's events--be they birthdays, quiet Sundays, or paralyzing, coal-black heartbreaks--is to go out to dinner. Or, more rarely, to get takeout.

Of course, in your case, I can see that this response is clearly inadequate. And so I present to you, for you, Dear Dara's menu for surviving heartbreak. Time-tested, critic-approved.


To Eat, on Easter Sunday:

Create your own rituals. It is important to start building a new life for yourself, with new holiday traditions that you can look back on in the future, if not with joy, then with new emotions that are not related to your painful relationship. For Easter, for example, many of our more prestigious supermarkets, such as Lunds, Byerly's, and Kowalski's, will be offering delicious, rich, pink hams. Purchase one (spare no expense! Be nice to yourself!) and serve it to yourself on a platter elaborately decorated with sprigs of fresh herbs.

If, during this meal, thoughts of your beloved and your betrayal spring to mind, then the answer is to simply, easily rinse your fingers in the new-sprung tears of your heartbreak. Then, carefully but forcefully, jam them into any nearby electrical outlet. Soon enough you will lose your taste for ham.


To Drink:

Many have noted the appropriateness of Champagne for both victory and for defeat, as well as for those awkward in-between days of weeping on the phone to the Qwest lady while you get his name off the phone bill.

Strangely, and especially when considering true Champagne from the Champagne region of France, fewer have noted that with Champagne, much of the genius is in the packaging: Champagne bottles are far thicker than common wine bottles, to better withstand the enormous pressures within. Sound familiar?

Yet, this quirk of bottling comes in particularly handy on those days when you can't stop looking at the telephone, and wondering why it won't ring with heartfelt apologies. Or barring that, at least some cheering news from the state coroner.

Here's how: Buy a case of Champagne. Grand Cru if you can afford it! If you don't know your Champagnes, there are many wonderful bottlings available in this market, at every price point. Egly-Ouriet Vieilles Vignes is one, a $40-something bottle with a scent that's a bit biscuity and a bit like apricots, yet is wrapped around an evocative and ghostly spirit that brings to mind nothing so much as heaven and paradise and will make you feel like a shooting star. Haton Rosé, at $25 or so, is the brilliant, bright sunset color the French evocatively refer to as "eye of partridge," has the subtle scents of rose petals and almonds, and makes you feel like a movie star. On more of a budget, at around $9, crisp and zingy Kriter, a true French bubbly with gorgeous clarity and an appealing bit of lemon on the nose, can't be beat.

Once your bubbly is secured, chill it, set out your best glassware, and polish off two bottles. Now, holding one bottle firmly in each hand by the neck, smash them together in front of you with all your strength. Chill and repeat. Chill and repeat! Finally, fall forward upon the thick, glassy shards screaming. Who's watching the phone now? Another victory!


For Dessert:

This is not a time to skip dessert! In times of trouble, many locals swear by B.T. McElrath's artisanal chocolates, made with a chef's sensibility. Did you know he recently debuted his spring trio, in which the main piece is basically a Thai chocolate, the dark ganache center flavored with coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves, the whole of it like a tropical night dance, an unforgettable thing? Find them locally at Lunds, Byerly's, and other locations. The weekend after Easter McElrath will have a table at the Minneapolis Farmers' market, and will start selling his chocolates, as well as the most unbelievable chili-spiced nut brittle I've ever tasted--an absolute carnival of sweet and dusk and profundity.

And yet, you cannot have it until May. Before then, most agree that in times of strife, cake cannot be beat. Especially the wedding cakes of complete strangers. Reception halls today have notoriously lax security, and can be easily invaded by nearly anyone in formalwear. That's a clear invitation! If discovered face-down trembling in someone else's fondant fantasy, shout, "But he said he loved me, he said it last night! This wedding is a sham!" This will flummox and panic all but the most creepily touchy-feely families, providing an easy escape.


Setting the Table:

When living alone, the temptation is large to eat without ceremony, in front of the television for instance, or under a fresh-dug carpet of sod. Do not do this! Set a festive and original table, because you are worth it. Perhaps family heirloom centerpieces will bring up unpleasant memories for you now. If so, be creative!

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