January 2011 Archives

It was hugely important yesterday that Secretary of State Clinton told the Mubarak government not to "block communications, including on social media."

Non-government-non-corporate-controlled Internet is simiilar to the protections for community radio stations, a fight that is ongoing here in the US. I'm reminded of the role that community radio stations played in the 1980's overthrow of the Marcos regime in the Philippines. oustgloriademo050907.jpgMarcos recognized the importance of community radio and began to bomb many of the Catholic church's radio stations. He was unable to get to all of them and it was through these small radio stations that the streets were organized towards the successful overthrow of Marcos.

The bombs that governments use today to stop grassroots Internet communications are called "DPI," Deep Packet Inspection." Built by NARUS, it is a type of web filtering system that allows governments to monitor where all emails, web posts and phone calls come from -- what is being said -- and who is listening.

It can also be used to shut down traffic at the main routers or servers people use to connect to the Internet -- a so-called kill switch.

I'm adding my name to a letter authored by Free Press telling Congress to investigate DPI and surveillance and control technologies.

Walt Whitman and Opera

I had no dinner last night but did drink Chilean wine and learned a lot about opera from two friends, opera music makers. Jenni Stephenson of Spacetaker and Viswa Subbaraman of Opera Vista
Recalling their conversation this morning I'm actually gleeful. I ended up reading Walt Whitman's, " Proud Music of the Storm"
Give me to hold all sounds, (I madly struggling cry)
Fill me with all the voices of the universe,
Endow me... with their throbbings, Nature's also
The tempests, waters, winds, operas and chants, marches and
Utter, pour in, for I would take them all!
--Walt Whitman

Caldo, a vegetable soup made with no fat and hardly any salt due to the aromatics in the broth (oregano, rosemary, black pepper, bay leaf), garlic and a sliver of serrano pepper.caldopandemaiz.jpg

Finish with a dash of fresh lime. The pan de maíz is not the Northern cornbread that is sweet and cake-like. The ratio of corn meal to wheat flour is higher and there is only a slight amount of sugar to help with moisture retention. pandemaizslice.jpgBoth regular and coarse stone-ground corn meal are used to give the slices pandemaizrd.jpga strong crunchy taste and texture.

Breaded and Baked Sliced Acorn Squash

Tonight's post-salad entree was small and compact, breadedacornsml.jpgslices of baked breaded acorn squash on a bed of spinach wilted with shallots and garlic. Steamed corn complements the sweetness of the acorn squash.

The breading is a combination of panko and corn bread seasoned with fennel, thyme and white pepper.

Mazapán is native to Latin America

Last night I made this Mexican candy, mazapán, which will be shown and eaten at the upcoming "The Candy Shop." A cousin of marzipan (made with almonds and sugar) which originates in Asia and/or the Middle East, mazapán is distinctly Mexican in that it replaces the almonds with peanuts which are of Latin American origin and adds corn starch which is of course native to Mexico. To maintain the "cacahuate" flavor, it is not cooked.
Adapting, changing and creating something new is a constant in cooking, as it is with culture in general. Making candy is a way of re-making our identity, staying current while deeply rooted.

Alexandra Cuesta, "Piensa en Mí"

Because it's difficult to put into words, I've waited two days to write about my experience seeing a film (not digital video) by Alexandra Cuesta. "Piensa en Mí" runs for 15 minutes and 6 seconds, and it is shot mainly from inside buses but also on bus stops, and on a freeway. We see latinos and latinas riding the bus in LA, waiting on bus stops, walking, playing. With no words, no narrative plot, this short 16 mm film says more, and more deeply, about contemporary Latino life in LA than any long format documentary or news report that I have seen.
hombre HR.jpg

There is a strong formal structure to the film. Doors closing and opening in controlled succession, foregrounded screens and windows (shadows of screens) enveloping persons as in a prison. These give a strong sense of life in LA. What struck was the filmmaker's style, a belief that people are worth photographing. All people. The camera lingers on girls, fathers, children, people just riding the bus, and lingers, and lingers, in the belief that there is interest and life in just waiting and riding the bus.

The film is richly and completely visual (I guess all film has to be) so it's hard to say more. I recommend that you see it, really.


Tonight's dinner was winter stuff. Roasted acorn squash, scooped out the sweet buttery center and combined it with not sweet southern corn bread, dried cranberries, sauteed onion/celery and a bit of cranberry juice.roastacornB.jpg
Quinoa with aromatic herbs atop leaf lettuce drizzled with a cranberry/black currant dressing.

My guests ate up the plates before I could take the picture so missing are the deep-fried Anaheim Pepper strips standing to the left of the acorn squash in a pool of puree of sweet corn sauce. (You can see the bowl of sauce in background). Paired with a white Côtes du Rhône . We had a great time.

Grief with the families in Tucson

moosesunset.jpgWhy We Are Truly a Nation

by William Matthews

Because we rage inside
the old boundaries,
like a young girl leaving the Church,
scared of her parents.

Because we all dream of saving
the shaggy, dung-caked buffalo,
shielding the herd with our bodies.

Because grief unites us,
like the locked antlers of moose
who die on their knees in pairs.


During my school days at the CIA we had an all too brief discussion about what is Tex-Mex cuisine. My view is to start with the peoples who were first settlers in the region that is generally recognized as the font of Tex-Mex cuisine: central, southwestern and southern Texas. The first settlers arrived in Texas, according to David La Vere, 12,000 years ago. Over time the geographic region around San Antonio, Texas and about 150 miles south of the Rio Grande River became the Coahuilteca region: a communicative place where variouis peoples traded, married, communicated, harvested food and developed a relatively homogenous cuisine. That cuisine is the origin of what we now call Tex-Mex. Some of the elements in this cuisine are pecans, mesquite beans, cactus paddles, prickly pears, river fish, some wild game, beans and corn.
Over time the characteristics of this regional Coahuiltecan cuisine came to be ascribed incorrectly to Texas and Mexico: Tex-Mex. Although it is true that the Coahuiltecan region includes southern Texas and Mexico (northeastern Coahuila, and much of Nuevo León and Tamaulipas), it's orgins pre-date both Texas and Mexico. Yes, before there was Texas, before there was Mexico, there was this region of Coahuiltecan peoples.RioGrandRvrB.gif
Looking at the cuisine in this way gives us a more authentic tracing of the flavors, a more appreciative use of the charring and roasting techniques and a better use of local products. This because ours is a native and cohesive cuisine, not a hyphenated one. So I ask my Tex-Mex chef friends, "what do you think?"


Rajas Poblanas

Rajassquare.JPGMade this for lunch today: Rajas Poblanas, a recipe from Chef Iliana De La Vega of the CIA. Poblano peppers are roasted then deveined, seeded and peeled. White onion slices are lightly sauteed in just a hint of Canola oil. Then both peppers and onions are combined in a hot skillet, adding Crema Mexicana (delicious!) and little cubes of Panela cheese. Served immediately with freshly griddled corn tortillas.

The Reality of Art and Imagination

I'm taken aback by how clearly Robert Louis Stevenson describes the art process, be it a book, film, video, casserole, sculpture or other:

To Any Reader

As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear; he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.

--Robert Louis Stevenson

Film Makers Should also Cook

The Edible Metaphor is the title of a lecture given by Peter Kubelka at the Berlin Talent Campus. An avant-garde filmmaker, Peter Kubelka explores the relationship between food and film. According to Kubelka, "...everybody who makes films should also cook. Cooking is performing art, and a meal is the ancestral sculpture of mankind. Cooking is the origin of culture, as the mother of all arts. Food, exactly like popular art, constitutes a means of communication. Prepared food is a medium to express thoughts and feelings."

His lecture is here: http://altfoodtv.blogspot.com/2007/12/episode-61-edible-metaphor-by-peter.html

Photography and Eating

In his paper, "Embodied Photography and Touring Food," Sung-Yueh Perng makes the connection between taking digital pictures of food during a trip and then being able to taste that food again afterwards by viewing the pictures taken. He associates embodiment with visuality. "With the affordances of digital
cameras, bodily senses can be further connected through capturing various elements that enact viewers' imagination and experiences which relate to their bodily senses."

If I understand the paper correctly, Perng describes the experience of viewing photographs of food as the sharing of embodied knowledge, adding further that intimacy is enhanced.

The paper is here: http://www.mecon.nomadit.co.uk/pub/conference_epaper_download.php5?PaperID=1329&MIMEType=application/pdf

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2010 is the previous archive.

February 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.