My wife asked me to buy a compact multi-cooker so that when we stayed in a Houston hotel en route to San Antonio, we could heat homemade lentil soup for dinner and make slow-cooked oatmeal in the morning.

Bringing one’s own food and equipment on trips can save time and money but can also enable isolation. For example, when I traveled alone to my 12-step program’s state assemblies in Alexandria (La.), I would bring an electric tea kettle and toaster so I could eat dinner and breakfast in my room. I could have eaten out with other members, but I preferred solitude and homemade chicken salad to companionship and pizza.

Eventually, however, two men and I started eating at a Vietnamese restaurant on Saturday nights. The two men—one a gadfly, the other his sparring partner— amused me with their badinage. In the end, I enjoyed those outings more than eating alone, and I made two friends in the process.

2 thoughts on “Cooker

  1. Thanks for this and your pungent response to the Fresh Air program about Woodrow Wilson and the Adam Hochschild book. Not sure I understand where and why you went to Alexandria (La.?) but I think I would only carry a slow cooker on the road if I were to join the caravan in “Nomadland.” For the reasons you spell out.

    Unrelated, but I was tweaking the Brown chapters in my long aborning personal history (working title “Accidental Texan,” and maybe the point is never to finish it) when I was reminded that I once jammed in my fraternity late at night with the unlikely trio of piano, guitar and trombone (and sufficient amounts of cannabis). Michael Hahn died recently of a blood cancer, and I’m not in touch with Doug Gillespie, who lives in Chicago. Fortunately I have no recordings of those sessions, though I’m curious about how my acoustic guitar blended with Doug’s trombone. (There are two Dougs mentioned.) There was music at Sigma Nu. After home football games, our own jazz trio would play in the lounge – brother Carter on piano, Tony Lioce on bass and Bill Hart on drums. Bill Griffiths, a future New York lawyer from Houston, composed the scores for original undergraduate musicals; Al Basile, a de facto member of the house (who was also in Cassill’s class), wrote the lyrics. Al was a horn player who would later tour with the group Roomful of Blues. Though I continued to sing and play with Doug – his fraternity wasn’t far away, on the same lower quad – some nights I jammed in our lounge with Michael Hahn, a keyboardist who had grown up in Rome, wore a beret and would go to work for the State Department as a cultural attache. We were often joined by Doug Gillespie, a future architect who was in the Brown marching band, played trombone and could power us through Chicago’s signature tune “Beginnings.”



    1. Thanks for the suggestion to specify which Alexandria I’m referring to. I added an (La.).

      I didn’t know you were so involved with music—and improvised music at that—at Brown. I should have guessed based on your performances at St. Mark’s.


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