Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year
Photo by Fortune, c. 2012

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Food for the Soul, Pt II

In this season of great food it is indeed special to happen across truly inspired food. This was my good fortune last night when I happened by Paco's studio where Damian Moseley, food scholar and partner in Black Sauce Kitchen Catering, had laid out an amazing array of extraordinary food in celebration of jazz singer Ethel Ennis' Birthday Celebration Concert taking place down in The Patterson Theater.

With the assistance of his lovely wife Regan, Damian treated the guests to delectably smooth Plantain and Black Bean Tamales neatly wrapped and bowed with corn husk. They were a delicate sweet blending of ground bean and corn. The Roasted Pumpkin and Beef Short Rib Empanadas were pocketed in baked envelops of crust that was crunchy on the outside and a little chewy on the inside. Very satisfying, especially with the Tomato Salsa. There were mounds of sweet potatoes, the familiar dark orange ones and the surprising Korean sweet potatoes that were a creamy ivory color grilled with fine herbs offered with wonderfully tart tomatoes. The menu was completed with Pumpkin Biscuits, Buttermilk Cornbread with Molasses Butter, Spicy Wildflower Honey, and Black Bean Puree. But the biggest treat of the night was the AMAZING Garlic Mojo, a hot spicy garlic salsa. Talk about magic in the mouth. Every bite was better than the last. Mojo, indeed.

Baltimore is blessed to have Damian Mosley as a resident. Not only does he create gastronomic wonders, he is also moving the scholarship of food forward. A Ph.D candidate in Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University, his writing has appeared in the journals Gastronomica and Food Culture & Society and the on-line magazine TheRoot.com. His food explorations have taken him as far away as Dakar, Senegal to cook. So, not only can he prepare The Food but he can put it into nutritional, historical and cultural context, as well. And to that end, here is an article by Mosley on the complex problem of obesity in our urban centers:

For decades soul food, as we know it, has nurtured and comforted us in times of celebrations and times of sorrow. It has brought us together and, as many can attest, has kept us together. Black Sauce Kitchen's food illuminates another culinary dynamic that I am always searching for in food - this was food for the soul, food that elevated eating and self-nurturing to a deeply profound level. With each bite it was as though I could feel the cells of my body electrified with the healing flowing from my taste buds.

Mosley's food is a joyful celebration of the ritual partaking and sharing of nourishment. His combinations were adventurous and creative. With the intoxicating flavors of well-seasoned, healthy ingredients prepared with a love of purpose, he reminds us that this is the way to eat and how we should embrace the food we put into our bodies....and our souls.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Day to Give

Like many, I have tired of bombastic politicians who play roulette with our lives for power, influence and privilege. Instead I train my eye on those things that bring us together, that bind us in shared aspirations and goals. If there is any
positive outcome for the painful situation our country is living, it is the awareness that we are all in this madness together and we have to help one another. We have to offer a hand.

Through a series of unpredictable circumstances I find myself alone for this day of gratitude and thanks giving. Being free of the weight of mounds of food and overeating released me to consider other options. So, I walked less than a mile to the Patterson Park Recreational Center where Bea Gaddy Family Center was set to serve turkey dinner to 50,000 people and volunteered my time in service to others in need.

Tall, short, young, teen-aged, carmel-colored, ebony black, grey-haired, pink hair, skinny and then not so much, Goth, and urban, fraternity brothers, ex-military, pink cheeks, nappy hair, curled, pressed, and dyed, dread-locked, uncles, aunts, grandmas and grandpas and cousins, neighbors. And these were just the volunteers, so many that we worked in shifts to give everyone a chance to help. The mass of humanity crammed into the gymnasium was humbling and witnessing the number of hungry Americans on this day, in this one city, at this one location was overwhelming. Especially considering the many times this picture is repeated throughout America.

Patterson Park was home to a soccer game and vendors
to feed easily 1,000 observers and their families. Syncopated salsa rhythms pulsated through the frigid fall air. I passed a food stand with a little, round-faced grandmother pressing and cupping ground cassava into the palm of her hand. She stuffed it with some delicious looking mixture and once it was nice and evenly round she slapped it onto a sizzling hot griddle to brown. I couldn't resist. It was served with a cabbage slaw and a sinewy slice of grilled beef. Yummmm.

I sauntered home through the piles of fallen leaves, happy and grateful for this Thanksgiving Day Holiday.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Innocence, Love, Wisdom

"Innocence, Love, Wisdom"
Baltimore c. 2010

I continue to marvel at the wonders I am blessed to witness.