food making is an act of love. i only cook for the people i like. the amount of time i spent researching the recipes, assembling the ingredients, then finally creating the meal, it's something that comes from the heart. so it is with great fondness that i spent the day cooking for renata, sunday's recipient of my culinary affection.

i made some scrambled eggs with chives to give me enough fuel to get through the day. at the same time i was boiling a bag of colored tapioca balls for the bubble ice tea i wanted to make. they sank when i first put them into a pot of boiling water but then floated to the top. they don't have any taste and they're very soft and chewy, like gum. i drained them and put them in a container for the fridge.

after lunch, i cleaned the house a little bit, vacuuming the floors and scrubbing the bathroom tiles with an used toothbrush and some bleach spray to get at the mildew between the cracks. i took a shower immediately afterwards, which was a bad idea in hindsight as the chlorine odor was very strong in the bathroom. i ended up having to light a scented candle in order to get rid of the smell. while drying off, i burned a cd of the proper mood music, to be played during the food preparation, soft jazzy stuff, easy on the palate.

after some television came the next round of preparation. i boiled some water and made red tea, steeping two tea bags per glass of boiling water (there was enough to make 3 glasses worth). after they had some time to cool off, i poured them into an empty plastic juice container and let it refrigerate. i made some mango flavored gelatin, pouring it into a small round bowl.

via email (she was at her parents), i was able to communicate to renata her two possible choices for tonight's dinner: tacos or lasagna. she opted for tacos, so with that in mind, i went across the street to star market to gather up some groceries. it was daylight when i left, but starting to get dark when i came back. a well-dressed woman with a child was paying for her groceries. she seemed out of place, like she usually doesn't shop for groceries, since she didn't even know how to work the credit card box. she turned to look at me, and i stared right back, and she gave me the up and down, finally remarking, "i like your shoes." "thanks," i said rather humorlessly.

fresh from rhode island, renata arrived a little bit after 7pm, bringing with her a small birthday cake and a present, a jade plant bonsai. originally we scheduled for saturday, then it was moved to friday, and now sunday night. last year on my 29th birthday i spent it with renata by coincidence (at the time she didn't even realize it was my birthday, i told her afterwards). i made some bubble ice tea while i was preparing the tacos. half a glass of that tea i had brewed earlier, mixed in a blender with an ice cube and some fructose syrup and non-diary creamer (to make it frothy), added back to the glass with some ice cubes and tapioca balls. i didn't find it sweet enough and the tapioca balls were starting to get hard (i should've heated it up a little bit in the microwave), but renata seemed to like it and she was fascinated by the tapioca balls.

we watched some special on animal planet about the most extreme animal lover. i forgot what the number one most extreme animal lover was, but i did learn that there are transvestite garter snakes. we also saw some surreal life, one of those shows that's so bad you can't stop watching.

when it came time for dessert, i popped the mango jello out of the "mold" and onto a plate. renata said it looked like a breast and we decorated it with the tapioca balls, "the boob cake". besides the jello, there was also the real birthday cake, which renata added three candles, one per decade. as i blew them out, the idea of making a birthday wish hadn't even entered my mind until now, but it's probably no secret what i'd wish for.