Wednesday, March 13, 2019

"it me"

Jill Mulleady, Boeuf, 2017, oil on canvas, 44 x 41 x 2 cm
(image courtesy of the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin. Photo: Stefan Korte)

Jill Mulleady, Still life on ice, 2018, oil on canvas, 92 x 122 cm
(image courtesy of the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin. Photo: Stefan Korte)

my new obsession, girl crush, it-girl, whatever it's called. the Uruguayan-American Jill Mulleady has a great many paintings of fish and some extremely suggestive portraits of unabashed oysters (note: I will not touch an oyster with a ten foot pole, for reference see this post and my general feelings about mollusks, but I do think they're very pretty and shiny.) You know how shrimp cocktail is kind of gross but also slick and sexy and slightly saucy? That's how Jill's paintings are. 

also I'm back and will try to write in this more often. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Nicolas Party @ Karma

“I like Italian food: you just need some pasta and tomato sauce. But, as every Italian will tell you, it’s actually very difficult to find a place where you can eat a good bowl of pasta with tomato sauce. A portrait or a picture of a tree is the same: it’s easy to make a bad one.” 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

gazpacho in october, slow-roasted salmon, and other curveballs

Is this cold avocado soup gazpacho? The Internet can't decide. Apparently chopped vegetables have to be involved and it's got to have a kick for it to earn the appellation. For the record, this did have hot sauce (Valentina instead of tabasco like the recipe suggests), and there were at some point chopped zucchinis (rather than cucumbers; again, improvising here), but you wouldn't know it. Infinitely more variations are possible. Opting for Greek yogurt instead of the coconut milk I used would make this a more significant appetizer, and with a generous, slightly charcoaled piece of flatbread it could even make a main course.

The real question, of course, is why I'm having gazpacho or cold soup in the middle of autumn. Is the increasingly unpredictable nature of the weather changing the way we eat? Hannah brought over a bottle of white Friday night, and despite my initial protestations—"it's peak cozy red wine season!"—I have to admit that it didn't feel entirely inapropos. (By the way, and in a complete non sequitur, Hannah just wrote a wonderful fiction for the New Inquiry, here, well worth the paywall.) Unseasonable as avocado gazpacho two weeks before Halloween might be, I like the thought that roller coaster weather calls for good transition dishes—plates that help us get from watermelon salads to cast-iron bolognese, the culinary equivalent of cashmere. Sprinkle your gazpacho with toasted pepitas and you have enough of a pumpkin reference to placate your perplexed dinner guests until mid-December (but after that, they'll start asking questions.)

After the soup comes the afterparty, in the form of this slow-roasted salmon. I hadn't slow-cooked a fish in a long time. My guilty pleasure is super salty, shriveled up, skin-on fish, so crispy you can barely believe it used to be a living organism, which I understand is not the most adult way to eat anything. Letting this salmon warm up slowly in a 275 degree oven on a bed of sliced Meyer lemons and blood oranges, chili peppers, and fennel, was an experiment in patience, and well worth it. In a world where suffocating in a subway car is preferable to waiting 30 seconds for the next train, take your time with your fish, you know? Slow burn.

Receipes: soup is from Green Kitchen Stories, my new favorite food blog, with the aforementioned zucchini/hot sauce substitutes. And the slow-roasted salmon is from Bon Appetit—personally I would use more chili than what was suggested here, or one whole chili and then just the seeds from another, if you can handle it.

In case you're curious, the potatoes are purple Amarosa fingerlings, and the trick to the perfectly crisped skin is less olive oil. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

the dabney, D.C.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

pepita pesto (alliteration!)

Pour over roasted carrots for bliss, pictured above; but I also plan on slathering it on roasted salmon and tossing with fresh kale for lunch tomorrow. And I could also imagine eating a bowl of it with a spoon.

In a food processor, or however else you work your pesto magic:

1 cup pepitas, toasted and cooled
1 1/2 cup kale
1 clove garlic
Rind and juice of a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt

(taken with respect and admiration from Naturally Ella)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Gertrude Stein, "Roastbeef"


In the inside there is sleeping, in the outside there is reddening, in the morning there is meaning, in the evening there is feeling. In the evening there is feeling. In feeling anything is resting, in feeling anything is mounting, in feeling there is resignation, in feeling there is recognition, in feeling there is recurrence and entirely mistaken there is pinching. All the standards have steamers and all the curtains have bed linen and all the yellow has discrimination and all the circle has circling. This makes sand. 

Very well. Certainly the length is thinner and the rest, the round rest has a longer summer. To shine, why not shine, to shine, to station, to enlarge, to hurry the measure all this means nothing if there is singing, if there is singing then there is the resumption. 

The change the dirt, not to change dirt means that there is no beefsteak and not to have that is no obstruction, it is so easy to exchange meaning, it is so easy to see the difference. The difference is that a plain resource is not entangled with thickness and it does not mean that thickness shows such cutting, it does mean that a meadow is useful and a cow absurd. It does not mean that there are tears, it does not mean that exudation is cumbersome, it means no more than a memory, a choice and a reëstablishment, it means more than any escape from a surrounding extra. All the time that there is use there is use and any time there is a surface there is a surface, and every time there is an exception there is an exception and every time there is a division there is a dividing. Any time there is a surface there is a surface and every time there is a suggestion there is a suggestion and every time there is silence there is silence and every time that is languid there is that there then and not oftener, not always, not particular, tender and changing and external and central and surrounded and singular and simple and the same and the surface and the circle and the shine and the succor and the white and the same and the better and the red and the same and the centre and the yellow and the tender and the better, and altogether. 

(from Tender Buttons, 1914)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Como agua para chocolate (on mole and melancholia)

The idea that we can use cooking to transmit an intangible thing is not a novel one. I'm thinking of Laura Esquivel's Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate)—the book is practically required reading if you're any kind of Latin American—, in which Tita is cruelly forbidden from marrying the man she loves, Pedro, as part of a family tradition in which the youngest daughter must remain unmarried and commit her life to caring for her mother. In a desperate effort to stay close to Tita, Pedro decides to marry one of her sisters, and as luck would cruelly have it Tita is responsible for baking their wedding cake. This is, as you can imagine, a harrowing experience. Tita's heartache overwhelms her, and in what has become the most memorable passage from the book (and scene from the not terrible film adaptation), her inconsolable tears make their way into the batter, and the wedding guests become impossibly lovesick at their first taste of the cake. This is pure magical realism: it seems possible enough (though still unlikely) that someone's salty tears could spoil raw batter, but could they be charged with sorrow and make us sick with longing? Can grief withstand the heat of an oven, can it be licked off a spoon, can it lead to such collective katabasis as experienced by Pedro's unsuspecting guests?

Mole has hundreds of ingredients, many different chiles and crazy things like fresh epazote leaves which I like to pretend don't exist in the United States to keep the magic going, which is in full disclosure why I have not (yet) attempted to make it myself. But I have learned that if you can get your hands on mole in Mexico (not just from Mexico) it is as good as homemade. In fact, I enjoy this distance between myself and the multitudinously concocted mole. I imagine it being imbued with a kind of unrivaled Aztec wisdom in the same way Tita's cake is teeming with melancholia. 

There are as many stories about mole's origins as the dish has ingredients, and they are not all pre-hispanic. In one of these legends, a cook is asked to prepare a grand banquet for his diocese's visiting archbishop. Nervous at the prospect of a man so close to God sitting at his table, he trips and knocks all the ingredients in his kitchen into the simmering pot: chiles, cacao, spices, and more. This late in the game, he can only resort to the heavens, and kneels down to pray that the meal will turn out somewhat edible. The result of this holy episode in the kitchen is a satisfied archbishop and the birth of mole.

To my relief, I do not regularly summon the divine or weep for love as I cook, but I do believe wholly in the transmission, the role of cook as messenger of a moment or feeling, even if fleeting. Tita was born in the kitchen, and she lives and loves there too. For those of us who cook not just to eat or to feed but to create, to escape, or to become more real, she represents the inevitable way in which we bring our emotions to the kitchen. If "every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter," the same rule applies to food. When we are at our most vulnerable and open as we cook, our sensitivities translate very viscerally to the final dish, like in Esquivel's text. I don't think that's too romantic, is it?

"The moment they took their first bite of the cake, everyone was flooded with a great wave of longing. Even Pedro, usually so proper, was having trouble holding back his tears. Mama Elena, who hadn't shed a single tear over her husband's death, was sobbing silently. But the weeping was just the first symptom of a strange intoxication - an acute attack of pain and frustration - that seized the guests and scattered them across the patio and the grounds and in the bathrooms, all of them wailing over lost love." 
                                            — Laura Esquivel, Like Water For Chocolate

"Una inmensa nostalgia se adueñaba de todos los presentes en cuanto le daban el primer bocado al pastel. Inclusive Pedro, siempre tan propio, hacía un esfuerzo tremendo por contener las lágrimas. Y Mamá Elena, que ni cuando su esposo murió había derramado una infeliz lágrima, lloraba silenciosamente. Y eso no fue todo, el llanto fue el primer síntoma de una intoxicación rara que tenía algo que ver con una gran melancolía y frustración que hizo presa de todos los invitados y los hizo terminar en el patio, los corrales y los baños añorando cada uno al amor de su vida." 
— Laura Esquivel, Como agua para chocolate

© valentina citadina Maira Gall.