21 October 2008

Check, please...

How do you know when it's time to let a blog go?

I don't know, but I think it's got something to do with whether you've posted in a month. Or whether the blog still comes up in conversation. Or whether you dream about your next post.

I started this blog some two years ago with the intention of writing about food and the people who eat it. I wanted to explore my voice and get away from the poetic and burn the mysterious and just write plain and natural and honestly. I've done a bit of that.

Now it's time to move on into different things. Not that I'm gonna stop eating or thinking about eating any time soon. Just that I've done most of what I wanted to do here. Or maybe I'm just burnt out. One way or the other, it's time.

I'd like to thank all the folks who helped with this endeavor, including MJ and all the folks who worked on videos, docs, and general food gossip.

And as a last thought...

Last weekend, my grandfather died. He was 92 years old and in bad shape. When I last saw him, a few days before he passed, he had stopped eating. I fed him some iron and water through a straw. But it was obvious he wasn't going to make it.

He'd stopped eating.

Stopped eating.

And that's when you know someone is ready to move on.

And in this final LTSRP post, as I move on to new things to do and write about, I think about him moving on from his food-loving earthly body to a form I can't yet understand, but one which I think is probably sustained by a food unlike any other. And here's to hoping that all of you find your sustenance and that you learn to cherish it.

Because in the end, it's all just the stuff on the end of your fork.

Eat well,
Shelly

02 October 2008

Eat It

Watched the VP debates this eve, and this is really the only thing that came to mind.

22 September 2008

Jenny Graf Sheppard Throws a Feast at High Zero

Spent all week here.

Now I feel like I've re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. Headed towards the ocean. Ah, the cool of the ocean.

Surprisingly, ironically, (not really, not around here anyway), I think the best -- really really the best as in one of the best concert experiences I've ever had (and I've had a few) -- was Jenny Sheppard's second performance on Sat afternoon:

2. Threshold for Action and Sound

threshold-
1 A level, point, or value above which something is true or will take place and below which it is not or will not.
2 The point that must be exceeded to begin producing a given effect or result or to elicit a response.

This piece transforms the audience into creators and the creators into audience. All are involved in the live production of a sound score to which the High Zero musicians respond. Building the piece together, the audience and performers are co-dependent in this improvised composition of sound and activity.

The consumption of a nutritious meal will be central to this composition for sound, instigating action by the group. Those in attendance will be given several menus to choose from. A vegan option will be provided.

Musicians:
Tetuzi Akiyama: acoustic guitar
John Berndt: electronics, reeds, inventions
Tom Boram: synthesizer, voice
Alessandro Bosetti: electronics, voice
Tony Buck: drums
G. Lucas Crane: tapes
John Eaton: alto saxophone, voice
Camel Zekri: oud, guitar, electronics



Basically, Jenny turned the stage into a big dinner for the audience. And in short order it turned as rowdy as a Bad Brains show. There will surely be video coming out documenting this soon, but to put it in perspective, the performance turned into a sort of surreal manifestation of the sort of spirit evoked in the sorted stories of the infamous dinner Picasso and his friends threw in honor of H. Rousseau in 1908, I believe. This is most wonderfully described in Richardson's biography (I think in the first volume). Apparently everyone in attendance -- including Gertrude Stein and Max Jacob and the like -- got completely nuts and by the end of the party, Rousseau wound up sleeping on a makeshift throne wearing a crown of candles dripping down his forehead.

Richardson called it something along the lines of the last optimistic thing to happen in the 20th century. I think Jenny just brought optimism back.

14 September 2008

Ceres

Thinking about Aeneas.

I've mentioned before on this blog that when Aeneas leaves Troy, the last thing he sees in the flames is the Temple of Ceres, goddess of the grain. When he finally washes up on some godforsaken beach, it is what is left of his crew's meager grain supply that Vergil describes floating up onto the beach and mingling with the sand.

Grain in fire and death; grain in water with potential of life, if not gone to rot.

The ancients understood that at the edges of experience lies sustenance.Everything else flows therein.

10 September 2008

Carmina Burana -- The Tavern Song

Went down to the Maryland Renaissance Festival last weekend. Two day pass - Saturday and Sunday.

Hurricane Hanna hit us on Saturday. It was sublime.

The only folks at the festival are the people who work there, the absolutely freakish die-hards, and MJ and I. So there we are, sitting in a tavern with a few dozen folks tapping feet and mugs and pounding on tables and ladies dancing jigs and men hooting and bagpipes and bass drum blaring out a beat as the clouds circle and wind and rain rip holes in the dirt paths. We are in the 1530's. We are in the tavern.

In taberna quando sumus,
non curamus, quid sit humus,
sed ad ludum properamus,
cui semper insudamus.

When we are in the tavern,
we have no cares, whatever the earth may be,
but let us be hasty to the games,
which always make us break a sweat.

This snippet of a tavern song from the Carmina Burana is an excellent indication that our Medieval forebears knew where to find a little respite from the sludge of life. Written sometime in the 13th century, the Burana manuscript contains love songs as well as admonishing moralistic lyrics, but it's the drinking songs that really bring the period to life.

In the tavern, there's playing and drinking and living indiscreetly...

Quidam ludunt, quidam bibunt,
quidam indiscrete vivunt...


It's a place where nobody's afraid of death because everybody's on the side of good ol' Bacchus.

Ibi nullus timet mortem,
sed pro Baccho mittunt sortem.

This isn't the scary, judgmental Middle Ages... this is the Age of the Gothic -- party time and prep for the coming Renaissance!

This is an age in which tavern goers will raise a glass and sing together:

Bibit hera, bibit herus,
bibit miles, bibit clerus,
bibit ille, bibit illa,
bibit servus cum ancilla,
bibit velox, bibit piger,
bibit albus, bibit niger,
bibit constans, bibit vagus,
bibit rudis, bibit magus.
Bibit pauper et egrotus,
bibit exul et ignotus,
bibit puer, bibit canus,
bibit presul et decanus,
bibit soror, bibit frater,
bibit anus, bibit mater,
bibit ista, bibit ille,
bibunt centum, bibunt mille.

What a night that must have been all those years ago. Drink poor man and rich man, known and unknown, boy and dog, sister and brother, old woman and young mother, this one that one, a hundred, a thousand...

I think it is the sense of being together -- the physicality of community -- that we've steadily been losing to Internets and Skype and iPhones that bodes poorly on our future. Facebook is not a tavern. Of course this has all been said before. But even as I write this post and consider the silliness of what I type, some Gothic or Renaissance DNA-thingie somewhere in my spine compels me to long for song and dance and spitting in the face of a hurricane -- a bunch of friends and strangers alike all bundled together with nowhere else to go. And because there is no where else to go, no webpage to turn to, no text to answer, we turn to one another and address the truth of the short time we all have together.

09 September 2008

Freshening Up the Produce

Just realized that I've been keeping this blog now for some sixteen months. That's like seven years in dog years. Or maybe the half-life of a 15 bean salad.

Anyhow, I am feeling that this blog needs some direction. Been all over the kitchen lately from the presidential campaign to the Olympics to the usual mush I serve here. So it's time to shake loose the hairnet, open up the spice rack, and let it all fly.

And that's why I'm starting here anew.

Let's take a look at food from the historical and literary perspective. See where that gets us, dear readers. Oh, yes, there will still be the Monty Python and Muppet Show songs, the rants about meat-eaters, and the occasional story about a dog eaten by a shark, but let's up the ante a bit. Go big. Make it obvious that our brains serve more purpose than merely a doorstop.

Enter Shakespeare. He, after all, is the guy who put the title of this blog into the mouth of Falstaff. Grumio's "oats have eaten the horses" and Queen Mab drives an empty hazelnut; his Dukes eat venison and his Clowns compare fair maidens to sweet majoram in a salad. The guy knew his food.

And thus a plan becomes obvious. For the next sixteen months or so, it will be my goal several times a week to take into consideration and to discuss food as represented in literature and food as an object of historical significance. I hope I do this job justice. And I hope this blog is renewed with new vigor (or may I live with cheese and garlic in a windmill...)

05 September 2008

MSNBC Countdown : Mousse or Moose?

OK. So, it comes at 2:57 in the clip.

Conspiracy theory: Was this an early Palin hint?!?

And 'Passion-fruit'. Wow.

30 August 2008

Alaska... really?


I don't care who you are, I ain't eating moose.

- Shelly

26 August 2008

Super Villain Vegetable Challange



Beware the Zucchini Moose! Look into his eyes and you may fall under his infamous summer squash spell!

(Now it's your turn to create your own vegetable-related super villain).

Be creative. Post away.

20 August 2008

Little Swim

This has nothing to do with food. Ironically given the last few posts, it has everything to do with swimming.

Four or five weeks ago I joined the Y. Besides just getting on a regular exercise regimen, I had an express purpose for shelling out the dough. I wanted to teach the kids to swim.

Not pay for swim lessons.

Not hire some guy to teach the tykes.

I wanted to do it myself.

Well, today my 5 year old daughter swam unassisted and without any flotation devices three time back and forth from the diving wall to the 8' mark in the center of the lane.

Awesome.

18 August 2008

You Just Dominated the Olympics, What's Next?

Ok. So much for my dream of Michael Phelps dissing McDonalds:

The first thing he craved after becoming the greatest Olympian ever?

"A big, fat cheeseburger and some fries," he said, smiling at the memory.


Heck, why not... we're only talking about 300 calories. Heck, have four or five of 'em, Michael! And supersize those fries... another 500 or so calories (and only 220 'from fat'!).

Oh well. At least now fat-cheeseburger eating kids across the nation know that if they just put their minds to it, they too can win in the Olympics. Here's a nutrition guide from Mickey D's to chart your progress.

16 August 2008

Big Swim

I don't think I could even afford to eat 12,000 calories a day. Of course, I'm not exactly Michael Phelps.

Did discover that 3,500 fat calories can put three pounds on the average male. That's more than it's weight in Doritos.

Hmm. Wonder what Michael Phelps would swim like if he ate 12,000 calories of Doritos a day...

15 August 2008

O-Blymp-ic Coverage

NBC's coverage of the 2008 Olympics is horrible.

We're almost a week in and I haven't seen a damned thing besides swimming, gymnastics, and volleyball. Meanwhile, weightlifting, boxing, and even basketball (!) are getting little coverage.

When I was a kid, I thought the cool thing about the Olympics was all the sports I learned about that I'd known nothing about. Archery! Judo! Fencing! Handball! You know, something different.

I had thought in the beginning of these games that the coverage of the bicycle race was a sign that coverage was gonna be more varied. Alas. They've spent so much time in the pool, my television is wet.

I understand all the hype around Michael Phelps, sure. But do we really need second by second coverage of fifteen-minute long prelim swims?

The Ancient Greeks didn't even swim, did they?

Nor did they eat hamburgers. Which brings me to my second point.

What's with McDonalds and the Olympics? Do you really think ANY Olympic athlete would dare put that grease into their systems? They'd probably fail the drug test!

Yet, every other commercial is a McDonalds commercial.

I recently heard on NPR that McDonalds was updating its image. In the face of economic decline, McDonalds is capitalizing on the T.G.I.F. crowd not being able to afford T.G.I.F. So you know what they did? They've been installing lamps over tables.

Lamps!

Mood lighting and supersized heart-attack fries. How sophisticated. Before you know it, they'll be hanging license-plates on the walls. Radical.

I wish health food stores could afford commercial coverage during the Olympics. What would be even better is if after winning his 78th gold medal of this Games, someone offers Michael Phelps a Big Mac during the post-swim interview and he just said, "Are you crazy?!? I'm not eating that crap!"

13 August 2008

12 August 2008

Local Chef goes for the Gold in Beijing


Wonder what the world thinks about Crab Cakes and Boh?

11 August 2008

This one won't make sense unless you follow the link, but then it suddenly becomes hilarious...

I have no idea how people keep their blogs going. Especially during the Olympics.

I've got Olympic fever so bad, it makes food poisoning look like the sniffles.

So what about those Olympic games? And what about those Olympic tastebuds? Well, how about goose liver and a 'thousand-layer' beancurd cake? Yum.

Yum?

Well, if it's good enough for a handful of diplomats, it's good enough for thousands of Tibetans, no? Well... no.

86 the melon cup for the peasants.

31 July 2008

Shelly Blake-Plock gets Food Poisoning... Again.


I am the perfect guy to ask about food poisoning. So, some of you know about the notorious bout of E. Coli that got me laid up in St. Agnes Hospital a few years back. Well, guess what happens last weekend?

SALMONELLA!

I have to admit, Salmonella (so named because the man who discovered it was one Dr. Salmon) can't hold a finger to E. Coli. Yes, there's much more on the vomiting end (16 times in two hours...), but the diarrhea is weak and stomach cramps can't touch dehydration-hallucinations.

So what's left to catch? Any more good food-borne illnesses out there?

BTW, here's a short film we made a ways back inspired by my first bout. Enjoy.

21 July 2008

$4 dollar pretzel, my ass

What is it about a four-dollar soft pretzel that makes me nauseous?

This weekend was Artscape in Baltimore. Billed as the 'Largest Public Arts Festival in America', the festival draws something like a half-million visitors to the city over four days. Beings that Baltimore only has a population of around 750,000 city dwellers, this extra half-million makes quite a mark both on parking and the local economy.

But fear not, those of you concerned about the children of Baltimore's pretzel-sellers. Because this year they were lining up in the 98 degree heat to buy $4 pretzels.

Don't get me wrong. I love pretzels. I buy a big bag of Utz on a weekly basis. But I've got issues when it comes to vendors totally taking advantage of the public and the public being too short-sighted to come to the festival prepared (with snacks in pocket, as it were).

Isn't it illegal for individual service stations to raise the price of gas to absurd levels during a gas crunch or a catastrophe? Isn't that called 'price-gouging'? So what's the difference between that and charging heat-exhausted customers five dollars for a lemonade?

Art-Festival-Goers-of-the-World (TM) Unite!

Refuse to pay more than a reasonable price for your food. If you refuse to pay $4 for a pretzel, sooner or later the vendor is gonna realize that they are gonna have to charge less or wind up with a whole lot of excess dough on their hands.

I suggest a slogan for our movement: '$4 pretzel, my ass'.

10 July 2008

A Senseless Waste of Human Life... and Cheese?

Speaking from an entirely cheesy point-of-view, I do think that this may be the greatest bit of food-related comedy/theatre/art ever created. That probably says a great deal about me.

Anyhow, we here at LTSRP are taking suggestions for contenders. Have you any?

08 July 2008

Scooby Doo Doo?


This is the kind of question that pops into your head when you spend the morning driving around with two seven year olds and a five year old in the back seat: With all those Scooby Snacks having been chowed down, how come no one ever has to take Scooby Doo for a walk?