Adam Gopnik on Race and White Rage

April 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker Magazine is the best essayist in America. He is the author of many illuminating books (his book on his family’s days in Paris is HG’s favorite) and contributes to the musical theater as a lyricist and librettist. His latest New Yorker essay is titled “The Takeback.” Using a positive review of a new book by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow,” Gopnik analyzes the failure of Reconstruction after the Civil War to provide true black citizenship. Gopnik refers to the late, great African-American intellectual and historian, W.E.B. Du Bois, who said the interests of poor southerners were ideological and tribal rather than economic. Du Bois noted that poor southern whites “would rather have low wages than see colored labor with a decent wage” and “every advance of the Negro is a threat to their white racial prerogatives.” Gopnik writes “It is the same sort of formula of feeling that makes today’s ‘white working class’ angrier at the thought that Obamacare might be subsidizing shiftless people of color than receptive to the advantages of having medical coverage for itself. Du Bois called it a ‘psychological wage,’ but this is to give a Marxist-sounding name to a non-Marxist phenomenon: ethnic resentment and clan consciousness are more powerful than economic class. It reflects the permanent truth that all people, including poor people, follow their values, however perverted, rather than their interests, however plain.” HG believes this is the American dilemma that makes a Trump possible.

New Mexicans

April 15th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s Sunday and HG is seated in Sopaipilla Factory, an excellent Mexican restaurant minutes from HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. On the table is a chicken enchilada served “Christmas style” smothered by both red and green chile. This is topped with chopped onions. Some chile de arbol on the side for added heat. The jolly atmosphere in the restaurant adds to the dining pleasure. Every table is filled with Latino (mainly Mexican-American) families. There are as many as 20 persons at a table (infants, young children, teenagers, parents, grandparents and, HG presumes, some great-grandparents). Family love is palpable. Much laughter. Old and infirm people are helped to bathrooms by the young. The families have gone to church in the morning. Their faith is important to them. Every aspect of HG/BSK’s home is handled by Latinos. Construction, Plumbing. Electricity. Well. Septic tank. Painting. House cleaning. Handyman services. Landscaping. Only HG/BSK’s indoor pool is serviced by Anglos. So, here you have the American ideal in HG/BSK’s Latino neighbors. Honest. Hard working. Church going. Family loving. Yes, there are some problems as there are in communities throughout the US. Lots of drugs in some New Mexican towns. But, this effects only a minority. So, why the hatred of Mexican emigrants expressed by Trump?

Friends, Asparagus and Parisian Memories

April 14th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Karen K. and David F. came to dinner last night and BSK created a lavish feast. It started with plump in-season asparagus. BSK steamed them to firm perfection and gilded them with butter and lemon juice. They were the best asparagus HG ever tasted since a Paris dining event some 52 years ago. Two-year-old daughter, Lesley, was watched over by a baby sitter and HG/BSK lunched in a chic restaurant on Boulevard St. Germain. The meal started with fat white asparagus in a mousseline sauce (the ultimate until last night). After the asperges, HG/BSK enjoyed slices of leg of lamb (rare) accompanied by French fries. Finale was strawberries with creme fraiche. Last night BSK replicated the spirit of that meal by serving a rack of lamb with grilled tomatoes. Instead of fried potatoes, BSK made an Indian fusion dish of turmeric potatoes. The dish is made with chopped onions browned in vegetable oil. Sliced new potatoes are added to the pan with turmeric, cayenne, stock and baby spinach leaves. Cooked until the potatoes soften. Meal ended with sweet black grapes, Belgian butter waffle cookies and glasses of Gruet Blanc et Noir sparkling wine (a New Mexico treasure). This was a meal created by BSK that had international influences. All delicious.

HG’s Perfect Night

April 13th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG flanked the living room Eames lounge chair with nesting tables in order to eat and drink while watching Virginia beat Texas Tech for the NCAA National Championship. This was basketball at its best. Great defense by both teams. Very few easy shots. Everything had to be earned. A startling play by Virginia that sent the game into overtime was, with seconds to play and behind by three points, Virginia didn’t settle for an easy two but moved the ball to De’Andre who drained a three. And, what did HG eat and drink during this hoops epic? HG heated Bueno brand green chile and pork stew. Added a pint of El Parasol menudo (with extra chile). The mix created a savory but muy caliente pot of New Mexican goodness. HG topped a steaming bowl with chopped onions, lime juice and slices of ripe avocado and crumbled Saltine crackers. Beverage was bottles of Anchor Steam IPA and Duvel Triple Hops. Overtime treat was BSK’s blood orange, sweet onion and avocado salad. Post game, HG reveled in Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Gelato. The night was a peek into HG’s visualization of heaven.

Scrambled Eggs

April 9th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

This morning HG picked up a Paderno non-stick pan (purchased by BSK in Prince Edward Island some years ago). The small, rectangular pan is perfect for making soft (very soft) scrambled eggs. Using a wooden spoon, HG coaxed the eggs into the delicate curds HG desires. Malden Sea Salt; ground black pepper; a warmed onion roll; large cups of cafe latte. That’s the perfect breakfast. HG mused about the difficulty of getting these kinds of eggs in a restaurant. There are some pleasant exceptions. Tecolote Cafe in Santa Fe (mentioned in a previous post) makes great scrambles topped with fiery green chile sauce (Hey, it’s New Mexico where everything but ice cream is topped with green chile). When on the road, HG gets softly scrambled eggs topping grits at the Waffle House chain. It used be easy to get proper scrambled eggs in New York. No more. The real estate monster has removed most of the Greek-owned coffee shops that usually served them to perfection.

Kylie Kwong

April 7th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

That’s the name of the author of a very useful cookbook, “Simple Chinese Cooking” (photo of attractive Ms. Kwong is on the book jacket). The book is well organized. The recipes are foolproof (of course, BSK always adds a tasty tweak). Last night, BSK used a well-seasoned wok to cook “Mum’s Stir-Fried Chicken Fillets”. Sliced skinless, boneless chicken thighs were marinated in a mix of mirin, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and grated ginger. Then stir fried in vegetable oil, stock, onions, scallions and plenty of Szechuan pepper. Bowls of jasmine rice. Delicious meal. Thanks, Kylie.

Healthy Comfort

April 4th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Chilly New Mexico night. Bright sun during the day but temperature drops in the eve. HG desired a comforting dinner and that’s what HG got through the culinary mastery of BSK. “Comfort food” is usually fat filled, high carbo dishes. Health conscious BSK will have none of that. BSK knows how to combine low cal ingredients with judicious use of spices to create tasty dishes that satisfy. Witness BSK’s “green soup” that soothed and comforted HG last night as logs burned in the fireplace. BSK simmered spring onions, carrots, garlic, parsley, broccoli (florets and stems) and spinach in chicken stock. Grated lemon peel into the mix. Spices were nutmeg and cardamom. Salt and black pepper plus a dash of Aleppo pepper for some heat. All was smoothed into a puree with an immersion blender. The steaming bowls of green soup were adorned with swirls of Mexican crema (and a dusting of more Aleppo for HG). Ahhh!! Comfort, indeed. And, healthy.

Coffee Shops

April 3rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is not fond of Starbucks or its egocentric founder. HG misses the old fashioned coffee shops of HG’s New York years. No, not the arty Greenwich Village espresso joints where the espresso was bitter, the girls were lovely and the poetry execrable. HG refers to the coffee shops (often Greek owned) that dispensed tunafish sandwiches, pancakes, scrambled eggs, soup (and endless cups of coffee). When HG/BSK lived in a spacious rent controlled ($275 a month for a four bedroom, three bath, separate formal dining room, 30-foot living room with Hudson River and Palisades views) on W. 79th Street, HG would often skip breakfast at home. Instead, HG would pick up the New York Times on the Broadway corner and settle into the smoke-filled adjacent coffee shop for HG’s usual healthy morning repast of black coffee and numerous Marlboro cigarettes. Other favorites were the coffee shop at 57th (near Broadway) for the ultimate BLT; Fourth Avenue and 25th Street for a great tuna fish sandwich on pumpernickel) 55th Street east of Madison for perfect softly scrambled eggs with a warmed buttered bialy. HG misses these joints and the New York of yesteryear.

Franny’s Recipes

April 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Franny’s was (closed 2017) a Brooklyn restaurant that received acclaim from dining critics and discerning New Yorkers. Best pizzas. (Only one to match those delights were the grilled pizzas served at Al Forno in Providence, R.I.). Franny’s also gave pleasure with inventive pasta dishes and house-made cured meats. The Franny’s cookbook is packed with good recipes. Even though the restaurant no longer exists, a creative cook like BSK can still bring Franny’s flavors to the table. Last night was an example. The Franny’s recipe was entitled “Farro Spaghetti With Anchovies, Garlic and Chillies.” No farro spaghetti available so BSK used a wheat germ pasta from Morelli’s, an Italian firm from Pisa. The pasta was part of a big gift package from BSK’s Colorado nephew, Matthew, and his beautiful companion, Allison. The cooked pasta was mixed with, you guessed it, anchovies, garlic, red pepper flakes and a half cup of parsley. An additional half cup of olive oil was used to make the sauce. At table, the pasta received a drizzle of more olive oil plus grated pecorino Romana. A squeeze of lemon made this dish sing. Thanks, Matt, Allie, and Franny’s.

March (Culinary) Madness Finale A La Meyer.

March 31st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Vicki Freeman and Marc Meyer, the husband/wife duo who own and operate four great New York restaurants, Cookshop, Vic’s, Shuka and Rosie’s, have had a delightful (but, as always, too brief) visit with HG/BSK before taking off for Los Angeles. Vicki (HG’s daughter) told her Dad that a fifth restaurant is underway. Miracle to be a successful restaurateur in murderously competitive New York. Vicki supervises “front of the house” operations in the restaurants while Marc is the supervising chef. For the last meal of their New Mexican visit, Marc took over the HG/BSK kitchen and prepared an extraordinary, creative, delicious meal. It was a meal that totally satisfied while leaving HG/BSK light in feeling rather than stuffed. The materials were supplied by Whole Foods and were choice. Marc roasted a fresh Bronzino and flavored the fish with lemon, olive oil, garlic and a bit of Mexican oregano. This was accompanied by a stir fry of tiny potatoes and broccoli (both steamed briefly before hitting the saucepan). The sauce for the fish (and slathered on slices of baguette) was Marc’s riff on a Provencal Anchoiade. The Provencal sauce (or spread) is a version of tapenade, a mix of anchovies, garlic, butter, and olive oil. Marc eliminated the butter but added chopped dried fruit, slivers of black olives and toasted pignolia nuts. What emerged was layer upon layer of flavors: sweet, salty, spicy, etc. No dessert. Just a refreshing Greek salad. This was cooking and meal planning of the highest standard. Marc made poetry of simple fish and vegetables.