Monday, October 13, 2008


Every October, Boulder artists open their studios to the public. This self-guided tour lasts two weekends, but it was 3 pm on the final day when I joined the parade of people looking for yellow "open studio" signs. And oh, the studios and secret gardens I saw!

Behind one small house, I found painter Elizabeth Black in a trailer. The stone path to her studio opened to a huge garden & grape arbor as well as a Christmas tree orchard. I could buy her art or a jar of her honey (take a jar & leave your money in the box). What a delight to find this magical garden in the middle of town.

The light rain didn't deter me or anyone else for that matter. It was hard to park and the small studios were crowded. But, people were enjoying the day and buying handcrafted items fresh off the shelf. It was a wonderful distraction from the bad economic news.

Artist Linda Faul, one half of the spagetti sisters, lives on a mountain top just outside of town. Linda paints landscapes and buffaloes (Univ. of Colorado mascot) and she's been commissioned to paint the holiday star that shines over Boulder each winter. I buy a small painting to go with the eggplant parmesan that she is serving at her open house. Linda and her sister Claudia come from a big Italian family and their recipes have been handed down from parents and grandparents. Linda's kitchen is filled with comfort food, family and friends. When she calls "mangia," I obediently eat two plates of eggplant parmesan.

This is like the food I ate growing up in N.Y., not far from the town where Linda & Claudia lived. Our neighborhoods were filled with 2nd generation Italians and Jews, and the Nanas and Bubbes still cooked for their families. My grandma would arrive with jars of stuffed cabbage & borscht and squares of rice pudding that my dad pretended to like. For me and my sister, there were treats like rugelach, Barton's chocolates and apple pie-cake.

My sister, Iris, is amazed that I remember the name of my grandparents' apartment building (the Mira Mar) in Brighton Beach. She finds a picture in the Brooklyn Library archives. The building, adjacent to the wide boardwalk that leads to Coney Island, had two small shops where my dad bought us Italian ices and steaming hot knishes: potato, kasha and his favorite, cherry cheese, wrapped in white paper. They were almost too hot to hold and when you did take a bite, the flaky strudel-like outside broke apart releasing a sweet or savory filling that I haven't tasted in 40 years. No wonder I remember the building so well.

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