Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pasta Purgatory

I’m the queen of making the same damn mistakes. I always forget to salt the water while it’s boiling before I add the pasta. I’m very impatient while waiting for the onions to caramelize in the olive oil-butter bath before adding the protein. And so usually my pasta is, well, okay. It has good flavor and worse case scenario, I will douse the angel hair or penne with Parmigiano-Reggiano and all will be right in the world. But I want to get it right. Know what I mean? I want the pasta to be perfectly al dente like Rachael Ray’s. I want the garlic and onion to be perfectly caramelized. I want perfection. Perfection is accessible and yet, we settle on the lap of mediocrity, surrendering to that lesser existence, that lesser pasta.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I come from generations of fasters. Fasting is a ritual where one gives up a meal or meals in order to draw closer to God. Whenever I have this conversation with people who view fasting as some strange, Eastern, Ghandi-esque tradition, they always ask this very valid question: How does not eating draw you closer to God? It’s not about the food; it’s about the sacrifice attached to it. It’s about pushing through the desire to consume with your physical being in order to feed your spiritual being with the strength it needs to overcome those unbearable obstacles and release blessings into your life. I belong to a prayer circle of women between the ages of 30-something to 84, and we fast on Wednesdays. I usually start off by reading scripture, thanking God for all the prayers that have been answered in and out of the circle and stating my petitions. The more specific the petition, the more effective the result. It’s not enough to ask God for a job. What kind of job do you want? Where? How much do you want to make? I have observed amazing breakthroughs in this circle—from healing from brain cancer to deliverance from a huge financial burden. I cherish the old school fasters, who have transformed fasting into a sacred, prayerful art. As I reflect on Trayvon Martin and the Trayvon Martins-to-come, I’m fasting for the divine covering of our young men who dare wander the streets uncovered.    

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Carvel Consummated

It’s a beautiful, breezy night in Miami, the kind of weather that leads to lonely hearts tripping and falling into each other. My neighborhood sky bursts with salsa and reggae as young people wander down these sidewalk-less streets.  I spent the evening with Carrie Bradshaw, enviously watching her Russian “lovah” make her pancakes. Then I got the itch. Lately, I’ve been going to Carvel more than usual. I grew up on Carvel ice cream cakes and still go to the same spot for my fix. I’m addicted to those chocolate crunchies. And what used to be a once-in-a-while treat has evolved into a habit. And it’s getting worse. Now, I dress up for the occasion. Tonight I wore a pink leopard print pencil skirt, raggedy, gray tank and paisley print-pashmina with black, Gucci pumps. The guys at the counter know me very well. “The usual,” they asked coquettishly. “Yes, filler up.” The young, black guy with bifocals rushed to the back and emerged with the 12 ounce cup of chocolate crunchies. “Why don’t you get ice cream?,” he asked.        

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Curry Chameleon (Cricket Player, Not Included)

If my soul had a smell, it would be curry. I grew up in a curry kitchen—evenings scented with the bright Jamaican curry powder that bathed everything from kosher chicken to fresh goat meat. As I got older, I realized that curry had many attitudes. In Madras, India, it’s an earthy, sweet opus of coriander, turmeric, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices. Trinidad’s interpretation of curry is very similar to India’s. However, cooking curry takes patience and skill. The more complex and authentic the curry powder, the more you literally have to cook the powder. If not, the flavor is insipid. The Jamaican curry powders that are on most grocery shelves are easy to work with it and don’t require much cooking, but they also lack that depth of complexity you find in Indian curry. Pairing up wine with curry is an adventurous feat. The 2009 Macchia Bodacious Petite Sirah is perfect for Indian-style curry. Chilled it in the fridge for about fifteen minutes and a tall, dark and handsome cricket player emerged from the bottle with its brawny, blueberry jam aromas. There also flavors of blackberry chutney, anise and cloves that are ideal for curry goat (Jamaica) and lamb curry (India). Unfortunately, the cricket player was not included lol   

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Song Picker’s Barbecue

Today someone asked me how I came to write about food. I always struggle with this question and so my answers are usually silly and unsubstantial. I love food is usually my go-to response. But the question I ask myself on those frustrated, ink-constipated nights is: Why am I still writing about food?  Aren’t there more important stories to tell?  Is this what God called me to do—to chat about foie gras and Pinot Noir? Then I walk through Carol City, The Song of Solomon chapter of Miami barbecue. I watch  those fiery rhythms wind up to the sky as slabs of old southern recipes straddle pits the way they always have and always will. And I get to tell those old stories that begin with some great, great grandmother who can recall history’s history—the song pickers who made damn good barbecue with trees on their backs. Then I’m relieved for a moment.