Monday, June 22, 2009

inside the box

You could say that I am not an inside-the-box type. It’s not that I don’t adhere to convention (Ed more properly sees himslef as being outside the box of conventional etiquette). It’s just that I often clutter my palette with an odd mix of things. I never worry if I am a little unpredictable. Out of step with the rest of the pack.


For instance, within one travel month, I’ll sleep on a New York upstate floor, in a crisp white room of a lovely hotel in Rome, in a tent along the Great Glen Way in Scotland. That’s not so unusual? Okay, try this: in the course of my adult (American) life, I have rarely taken on just one job. Sure, there’s the parenting plus teaching thing (two jobs right there!), but in addition and without interruption to the principals, I’ve run a travel business, sold photographs, worked in restaurants, started a Great Writing Project, etc etc. And of course – blogged.

It could happen that I will eventually slow down. But, my life has always been chaotic in this way. Cluttered. Something to do with healthy energy levels and not much love for TV.

So it should come as no surprise that I am considering a week-end/evening moonlighting stint once again. As state budgets sag, I want to believe that I wont sag as well. Travel is expensive. Selling photos is fabulous, but it wont purchase a railfare across France let alone an airplane ticket across the ocean.

I’ll say more once I make decisions as to what and where. But I've already learned this much in my years of multiple work: when I do more than one full time job, only one can be cerebral. The other, therefore, has to be reasonably mindless.

I view it as my obligation to row my own boat to financial stability. Relying on someone to do it for me is not the way to get to where I want to be (even as it does appear to work for some).


But here’s the real reason for the post title which, after all, is about things inside the box. Because sometimes, what’s inside the box is better than outside the box. And the moral of my (brief) story is that, now and then, revisiting old ideas is a good thing. They may show off something quite fresh.

So here is my comment on real boxes:

It took me a while to believe that wine could be a delicious accompaniment to a meal. As a new immigrant, I moved from a country that had horrible stuff on the shelves – Bulgarian wines of the lowest quality where common. They could turn a healthy stomach into a jungle of pain in no time. Other wines? Rare and expensive.

In the States, I initially sampled wines sold at a Chicago Walgreens (or some such convenience store). They came in boxes. I learned to like beer.

Eventually, married and therefore significantly more sophisticated (at the ripe age of 23), I discovered a wonderful cheese and wine store in Hyde Park. It was uphill to bliss thereafter.

Since those years, I have never seriously considered purchasing a boxed wine.

Until this year. In Paris. I had already purchased four bottles to take home with me. Things were getting heavy and pricey. Ed asks – why aren’t you taking this home – pointing to a box of rosé.
You will never get me to pour wine from a box. Ever.
Why not?
It can’t be good.

It’s the same one you just put in your shopping cart. See the bottle? Same domaine, same wine.

And so I brought the box home. Once open to the idea, I began to look around. At my local supermarket, a whole stack of boxed wines came with favorable reviews from the Wine Spectator.

All this to say that now, my refrigerator contains these:


I’ll not dismiss boxed wines again. For the summer dinner table, they are a heavenly solution to the shrinking budget and growing appetite for something other than what you would pick up at Trader Joe’s. Or "Walgreen's."


  1. The attitude is changing in France as well! I was like you at first too: I will NEVER buy wine in a box! But I find that it's especially nice if you're not a habitual wine drinker, like me. This way you can have a glass from time to time without worrying that the wine in the bottle will go bad. à votre santé!

  2. When I lived in Germany and worked for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, we had people from Wisconsin trying to convince German wine-makers to leave corks behind and go the way of wax sealant with screw tops for wine. From what I understand, that trend too has taken off. It's very interesting to see such an old process change.

    And, your boxed wine looks nothing like "Franzia" or some other such nonsense, which to me always tasted a bit like adult Kool-Aid. Cheers!

  3. I enjoy the Black Box wine. Had it recently and it was surprisingly good.

  4. "I view it as my obligation to row my own boat to financial stability. Relying on someone to do it for me is not the way to get to where I want to be."

    Me toooooooo.

  5. You can get some nice Californian wines in boxes. Australian, too. It's hard to break the hate barrier when it comes to box wine, but once on the other side love flows freely from a little plastic spigot. They're great for the occasional glass here and there. And you can drop them off your counter.


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