Republicans and Latinos

November 12th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

HG and BSK live in an environment heavily influenced by Latinos. Their neighbors in the Pojoaque Valley (15 minutes north of Santa Fe) are — for the most part — Latino farmers, many of whom have been farming here for countless generations. Their banker is Latino. So is their insurance agent. And, their gardener, plumber, carpenter, electrician, etc., etc. The super market where HG shops for daily necessities is staffed entirely by Latinos. At least three times a week, HG lunches at El Parasol, the splendid restaurant presided over by the delightful Jose and Alicia Atencio. HG does not believe in sweeping generalizations, but it is obvious to anyone with eyes that Latinos are among the nation’s hardest working people. And, their work ethic has been profoundly beneficial to the United States. Without them, the United States could not function. The Republican Party has behaved disgracefully to Latinos, characterizing them as lazy, affirmative action moochers; and a prominent conservative intellectual had the audacity to compare Latino activists to radical, Middle Eastern Islamists.The election confirmed the dismal GOP record as regards the Latino vote. This was summed up best by a recent comment to The Economist Magazine: “Latinos should be Republicans. Most are socially conservative and decry abortion and gay marriage. They come to the United States to work and better their lives and the lives of their families. But, Republicans will not get their vote until Republicans stop being condescending at best and racist at worst. I am a Latino and I hate the current Republican Party.” The election results indicate that millions of Latinos share this opinion.

Telling the Story

November 11th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Basking in post-election euphoria, HG celebrated the HG birthday (Nov. 9) by tucking into some rare lamb chops, fingerling potatoes, sauteed Shishito peppers and grilled baby eggplant. A mighty feast heightened by a super-robust bottle of Amarone. Warmed by the many birthday greetings from friends and family, HG sipped an after dinner port and contemplated how rapidly Karl Rove has morphed from Evil Genius to Silly Windbag. Karl, who seems to have blown some $400 million of other people’s dough, is now telling the story. Examples of The Story: Romney lost because Obama maligned Romney’s business career at Bain. Romney would have won but Hurricane Sandy blunted his momentum. Etc, etc., ad nauseum. What does HG mean by telling the story ? Back in the distant past, HG was a Broadway press agent. When HG failed to get a client the amount of publicity the client believed he or she deserved, HG always had an excuse: It was Lent (or Passover). Rainy weather. Heat wave. Snow. Big murder case dominating the news. All media attention was focused on a championship prize fight. Among HG’s fellow press agents, this was known as telling the story. HG was a creative master. Rove is a maladroit amateur.

More Election Thoughts

November 10th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

Post election dinner was relatively spartan — tomato and mozzarella salad; some very good mortadella and a baguette. (Okay, HG had a celebratory “tin roof”: vanilla ice cream smothered in Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup and topped with salty Planters Cocktail Peanuts. Hey, got to do something piggy after a wonderful win). HG continued to muse about the election. HG liked the comment of an African-American voter: “I watched the Republican Convention. It looked like a Klan meeting. I watched the Democratic Convention. It looked like America.” (HG felt the morose Romney Boston headquarters on election night resembled the membership of a midwest country club that had just learned the greens fees had doubled). HG liked Rachel Maddow’s overview of the election. The woman is super-super smart. If you missed it do your best to source it. Very rewarding.

As an old fogey, HG thought about his days as a New York journalist and the political analysis he received from an Irish big shot in the Democratic Party who said: “The Micks vote. They all want civil service jobs so they want to be on the good side of me. Jews vote, 100%. (The big shot knew HG was Jewish or he would have referred to the Chosen People with a denigrating term). Can’t rely on Italians unless an Italian is running. (Referred to Italians with a denigrating term). African-Americans don’t count. They don’t vote. (Of course, he referred to African-Americans with a traditional denigrating term). Hispanics? Fuhgeddabout it!! (Yes, he used another denigrating term).” This pol expressed the political wisdom of the mid-1950’s. It seems more than a half-century has gone by but the Republicans seem to be trapped in a time warp,still sharing — to a considerable extent — the racist and ethnic cliches of that disgusting old pol. Yes, Republicans. African-Americans vote. Yes, Hispanics vote. And, they are willing to face all the voting machine hazards you have created and have their say about the future of this country. Hooray, says HG.

The Election

November 8th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Election night was fun and frolic. Our great friends, Polly B. and David F. joined HG and BSK before the TV. Naturally, there was plenty of vodka, wine, garlicky chicken, fried potatoes and other good things. Strong Obama supporters, the group’s joy kept mounting as the results came in. Now, the morning after, HG is in a contemplative and cerebral mood. Some observations. The American elections are mad, bloated, excessive. (Funny, the Europeans who disdain us often use these words to describe Americans). However, how else can one describe an election process that costs billions, goes on endlessly and is unable to efficiently handle the process of voting? No other industrialized nation has such an irrational system.

Another observation. Plutocrats must seem frustrated today. What’s the of having billions if you can’t buy an election? After all, you can eat just so much caviar.

Observation three. Republican party leaders must make it mandatory that rape cannot be discussed and all mention of women’s reproductive processes be banned.

Observation four: Republicans would be better served if they stopped listening to Limbaugh and Rove and spent more time reading Nate Silver, The New York Times’ extraordinary polling prognosticator. As usual, he was 100% accurate in his forecasts.

Observation five. It is time for civility and consensus. The present division in our country is dangerous and unproductive. One or two mishaps could trigger violence — and that would be terrible. HG spent time this morning talking to two saddened Republicans: HG’s long time (almost 40 years) accountant and the banker who, for some eight months, has been trying to refinance HG and BSK’s home mortgage. The accountant felt that our federal deficit is a true danger and Mitt Romney, a sophisticated financier, was best qualified to reduce it. The banker pointed out that Obama regulations governing bank mortgage policies were an overreaction to previous excesses. He said that HG and BSK’s refinance had been approved (good news). He added that the Obama regulations had made mortgage financing unwieldy and cut off financing for many credit worthy applicants. Perhaps, mused HG. This is being mentioned because the two Republicans are not mad right wingers but decent people who have differing views on taxes and economics. There is a middle ground. Let’s hope that it is reached in the next four years. Republican leaders have to realize that demonization and intransigence don’t work. Obama’s triumph proves it.

Tramezzini: An Italian Indulgence

November 7th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

A Tramezzino is a modest in size, but rich in taste, little Italian sandwich with origins in the city of Turin. In Britain it would be referred to as a “tea sandwich” — those thin sandwiches served with afternoon tea. In Italy, these sandwiches scale creative heights. The bread is always thin white bread (crusts removed). If you want to make Tramezzini at home, try Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Sliced White. At bars in Venice, there are a variety of Tramezzini fillings. All start with lots of mayonnaise (home chefs make sure to use Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise). Here are some fillings: chopped egg; sliced egg with asparagus spears; arugula and bresaola (air cured beef); tuna and sliced onion; tuna and white beans; ham and provolone. When HG makes Tramezzini at home, he adds to this list rare roast beef with slices of cornichons; bacon and turkey; sardines and sliced onion; Piquillo peppers and anchovies; smoked salmon and capers (no mayonnaise on this one– just brush the bread with a bit of olive oil). Tips: Do not stint on the mayonnaise. Do not use tomatoes — you don’t want mushy bread. Use your imagination in terms of additions and garnishes and always slice the sandwich diagonally to create 2 attractive triangles. In Italy, Tramezzini are a favorite of teenagers, businessmen in a hurry and ladies who like them with a bracing cup of tea. If you enjoy Tramezzini you will be in good company. HG’s distinguished son-in-law, Profesore/Dottore Massimo and Guido Brunetti, the detective protagonist of Donna Leon’s Venetian novels, fancy these morsels. HG favors a tray of Tramezzin with chilled Prosecco while watching his NBA heroes performing their wonders on television. Nice way to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon.

Film and Food

November 5th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

HG and BSK often settle down after dinner around the warming fireplace and watch a film courtesy of Netflix. A few nights ago the duo watched films on successive nights that were set in India. The films were Gandhi (overlong, talky, simplistic — but saved by Ben Kingsley’s remarkable performance in the title role) and The Man Who Would Be King (a rousing John Huston version of the Kipling tale with Sean Connery and Michael Caine — a critical success but, surprisingly, a box office failure). For fun, HG and BSK thought they’d preface each film with Indian food. So, a peek through two favorite cook books Vij’s Indian Cuisine and Vij’s At Home, revealed two splendid vegetable dishes Cauliflower Steaks and Eggplant, Tomato and Green Onion Curry. Lots of cumin and turmeric in the cauliflower dish. Cayenne and Mexican chile powder gave the eggplant dish heated zip. Warm naan, fluffy rice plus mango chutney and lime pickle were part of the meal. Good eating. Had some leftovers for the next Indian meal (and film). This time BSK grilled a juicy chicken breast rubbed with cumin, garlic and garam masala. Worthy addition. (If in Vancouver, B.C., do not miss the two famed Indian fusion restaurants, Vij’s and Rangoli.)

A few nights later Netflix delivered Under The Volcano, a film set in Mexico The novel by Malcolm Lowry is riveting but the film, despite a virtuoso performance by Albert Finney, is a fallure. With John Huston directing, the fillm, of course has some rewards — the eerie cantina-hell that dominates the last part of the film, Anthony Andrews’ plaintive singing of a Spanish Loyalist song about Madrid and the beautifully photographed Day of the Dead holiday. HG and BSK are unsympathetic to self destructive drunks and after watching Finney’s bravura self destructing they could only murmur: “We don’t care.” The duo had thought about Mexican food before the film but opted for pasta with broccoli di rabe and grilled Italian sausage. HG and BSK will save the Mexican dishes for a more rousing film set in Mexico — possibly Viva Zapata.

The Dumpling Explosion

November 4th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

Years ago there was only one New York restaurant specializing in steamed Chinese dumplings and other staples of the delightful dim sum menu. The eatery was Nom Wah Tea Parlor, tucked away on Doyers Street in Chinatown. It was refurbished recently and is very good. Now, Nom Wah is but one of scores of restaurants in Chinatown, Flushing and Sunset Park specializing in dim sum. There are modest little joints and sumptuous, vast Hong Kong dim sum palaces. HG is delighted. There are few things better than sharing dim sum with a table of friends. Also heartening is the explosive growth of small Beijing-style dumpling restaurants (many also offering soups and basic noodle dishes) along Eldrige Street, East Broadway and Henry Street. Cheap and tasty. Two or three dollars buys a filling, delicious meal. HG also likes the fact that many Chinatown places are offering Fuzhou hand pulled and peeled noodles. Winter is fast approaching and these joints are poised to offer steaming bowls to the chilled and hungry folks on strict budgets. They deserve applause.

Why We Stay…

November 1st, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

The election is a nail biter. Sandy has assaulted New York (wiped out the Rockaway boardwalk among other landmarks). Silver lining is that HG and BSK’s Brooklyn, Manhattan and Rhode Island family is safe (though facing some economic damage). Here in New Mexico the days are sunny, bright and clear with temperatures in the 60’s. Cools off at night so a blaze in the fireplace is welcome. Fortunate HG lunched with beautiful Sarah N., the multi-talented and adventurous woman who directs the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. Lunch was at Shohko Cafe in Santa Fe. Excellent array of sushi. Highlights were delectable unagi (eel) and remarkable salmon eggs. This was followed by a platter of shrimp and vegetable sushi. Good food in a pretty room. Sarah gave HG a gift — a big bag of red New Mexico chile peppers. It is common in these Southwestern parts to see wreaths of dried red chiles tied together in clusters called ristras. Very colorful. When reconstituted they are the basis for fabulous sauces and moles. HG’s gift came from Matt Romero — known in the Farmers’ Market as “the chile guy.” Matt is very visible during the fall as he roasts green chiles, filling the market with their fragrance. His Romero Farms in Alcalde and Dixon grow many varieties of peppers as well as eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. All are extraordinary’ Check Matt Romero out on Youtube and get his recipe for a great eggplant sandwich on realsimple.com . Discussing his red chile peppers, Romero says: “We come to New Mexico for green chile. We stay because of red.” Sarah sent over Romero’s red chile sauce recipe. Generous HG shares it with you: Here’s what Matt has to say:

MATT ROMERO’S RED CHILE SAUCE (for Frito Pies, Eggs, Etc.)

What you need:
6 dried red chiles, a blender or food processor, 4 or 5 cloves of garlic (diced), salt, 1 1/2 pounds of ground chicken, pork or beef, a little flour for a roux

Boil 5 cups water. Rinse the dried chiles and break open one end and shake the seeds out.Rehydrate the Chile pods in the boiling water for about 15-20 minutes. Put the softened pods into a food processor or blender. Add some fresh water (not the water used for rehydrating the pods, as it will be bitter) and blend until it makes a thick sauce. Depending on how finely you process it, you may want to strain it to get the skins out of the sauce.

For meat eaters: In a cast iron skillet (my fave) brown the meat of your choice. Add your diced garlic in while browning the meat. Drain off the fat. a In a separate pan make a roux using some oil and flour. Add it to the ground meat with some water to make a “gravy.” Add the chile sauce. Cook it all together for a bit (30 mins) on very low heat and stirring a lot so the chile won’t burn. Add salt, which will bring out the flavor of the chile.

Non meat version:

Put olive oil in the pan. Add a bunch of garlic, but don’t brown it, just get it translucent. Make a roux with olive oil and flour. Add water to make it gravy-ish. Add the chile . Cook it for about 30 mins. Salt.

To make a frito pie follow the order of this recipe to keep the chips crispy (important!): First make a layer of pinto or black beans, then Fritos, then add your red chile, then grated cheddar cheese, top it with diced tomatoes, diced onions or scallions and chopped lettuce.

Drink a lot of Margaritas and enjoy!!!