28 November 2007

The Dirty Fork

I'm one of those people who gets a headache and within five minutes I'm absolutely convinced I'm having an aneurysm. Just today I convinced myself I had hepatitis; it was indigestion. So when it comes to restaurant-ing, let's just say that business ain't for me – see video to understand what I mean.

26 November 2007

Stupid Me: a vegetarian rant

Ok, so I'm not like the militant vegetarian type, but when some guy comes off and tells me I'm "stupid" for carrying on the diet I've assumed, all I gotta say is: "You eat dead rotting carcass and baked flesh and you call me 'stupid'? Go visit a slaughterhouse. Better yet, here's a hatchet -- go catch yr own animal and butcher it."

With all due respect to all of my meat-eating friends, the butchery in yr local supermarket is proof that marketing works. They sell you dead animals for you to eat. We've all just gotten used to it because it no longer resembles the animal it once was. Nuggets are the ultimate example of marketed amnesia.

Butcher dogs and cats and see how long those lines at the deli would be.

Go veggie. Take yr vitamins. Live healthy and try your best not to kill things or do things that result in the death of other things. Sometimes there's a little killing that needs to be done around the barn. But, sparingly folks... please.

I'll tell you this, I stopped eating mammals back in my teens and I quit poultry and fish three years ago. With the exception of one crab feast, I haven't knowingly eaten a dead animal in that time. And I didn't go veggie for some political or ethical reason; I went veggie because I thought it might help me get back to a reasonable weight and because folks laughed at me and said I'd never be able to give up chicken. I considered that a great challenge.

But since going on what some folks refer to as a 'strict' diet, I've noticed something peculiar. In fact it was a lot like giving up smoking back when I was in my early twenties. Once I did it, I started to realize that the whole thing was a matter of marketed mind-control. I wonder how many people would choose to eat cattle if they had to be present at the time of death to do it. I wonder how many people would eat beef if it came with the head attached. And those big, beautiful eyes.

That said, I'm no saint. Still wear a leather belt and use a leather guitar strap and I'm not making any excuses. I'm a hypocrite; this I know. Trust me, I know. Listen, I'm not trying to preach; I just don't like to eat dead animals. And please pardon my insouciance and suffer me this moment to rant because I take great exception to being insulted on account of my diet.

Now go eat some tripe. I've got to polish my boots.

24 November 2007

23 November 2007

T-day Round-up

Three Thanksgivings and plenty to be thankful for.

On Weds, MJ and I had the neighbors along our old country main street over for a pre-Thanksgiving get-together. Talked Matisse with the potter who lives across the road and got into a debate over the nature of Indo-European sound-shift with my next-door neighbor's mom who is up here from Texas. If anyone in this country should understand sound-shift it should be folks from Texas.

Last night, we had T-day dinner over at the in-laws' house. My death-metal buddy Carmen and his wife and son came over, as did my mom and sisters and Dave. Jules and Emily stopped in with the baby, too. We spent the night eating and talking and listening to Carmen's son bang away on the old parlor piano. The boy needs a piano in his life. Or a drum set.

The best dish to grace the table was MJ's baked cornucopia pastries stuffed with sage-marinated squash, purple cauliflowers, and zucchini. Quite possibly -- in fact probably -- the tastiest Thanksgiving dish I've ever had the pleasure to devour.

Thanksgiving is funny. In elementary school you learn all the hooey about pilgrims and Indians getting together, but what it really comes down to now is just a day set aside to enjoy the family. In that way, everyday should be Thanksgiving -- indians and pilgrims and supersales and football be damned.

This evening, MJ and the kids and I went over to Melissa and Andrea's for a post-Thanksgiving dinner with a handful of friends. The kids hung out in the basement decorating gourds and watching West Side Story (watched as far as 'Maria...'; probably a good thing...) while the adults feasted on an amazing variety of tastes wile listening to Mississippi John Hurt chirp away on the hi-fi.

The holidays can be a really stressful time; and when stressors are already hitting at full-blast, it can easily become overwhelming. But I realize here as this Thanksgiving weekend morphs into the march to Christmas, that the most important thing is to recognize those people who without whom thanks would be but an empty word.

20 November 2007

Is Leonard Cohen a Vegetable?



I am listening to Leonard Cohen over the stereo in the adjoining room. This is not an uncommon evening event.

As I'm here by the keyboard in the kitchen listening to Lenny in the other room singing about 'Dear Heather', the thought popped into my mind to figure what sort of vegetable Leonard Cohen would be if Leonard Cohen happened to be a vegetable -- which he is not.

First thing that came to mind was a radish. Looks attractive, but pretty straightforward; like, you'd perhaps consider asking it for directions. But then you bite into it and -- boom! Avalanche. You didn't even know there was a war between the radish and the human.

Second thing that came to mind was a Savoy cabbage. Strong cabbage flavor, but let it sit for a while in the juices of a potato-stew and you've got yrself one vegetable difficult to evict come Closing Time.

So what veggie is Leonard? This is up to you to decide, fair reader.

19 November 2007

An Allegory of Sorts

I'm about to go to bed. But I just had to tell the world that I just ate a fantastic tomato.

A big red and green organic plum tomato. And it makes me wonder just how in the hell in this great big universe of ours me and this beautiful tomato ever came together. And I'm not talking about who planted the seed or who watered it or who picked it or who drove it to the store or who sold it to my wife who left it in the fridge for me to find and eat. I'm talking about how the molecules that made up that tomato now reside in my belly and how the nutrients which that tomato ate from the ground now mix with my blood.

That kind of universe thing, man.

And it all gives me a great feeling of security knowing the little I do about the Law of Conservation of Mass and the tenents of Karma. Look at us: me and the tomato. We shall always be.

(Mary Jean, thanks for the tomato).

18 November 2007

Spam

Nothing quite like canned meat by-product.

Fortunately, this fact was recognized in time for it to evolve into both a tasty dish and a weapon of mass destruction.

Thank You

Thank you to EVERYBODY who came out tonight. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

15 November 2007

Dada Food Review -- inspired by Jaap Blonk

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13 November 2007

Gathering on Saturday!

Thinking of the perfect chip / salsa combination to serve for nibbling... in the meantime, check it out. If you are in Baltimore on Saturday, here's the place you should be!


Stockholm's Umlaut Records and Baltimore's Fall Records
invite you out to a gathering celebrating the release of

'The Violencestring'

the new CD produced by Shelly Blake-Plock and Matthew H. Welch

7PM doors
Performance starts promptly at 7:30;
live music runs until 10:30PM followed by DJ music.

Saturday, November 17th, 2007
This show is being held at a private residence; contact me for directions!

Introductions: Shelly Blake-Plock
First Set: Susan Alcorn and Eve Risser
Second Set: Joel Grip and Ryan Dorsey
Third Set: Matthew H. Welch and Craig Bowen
Fourth Set: Nathan Bell, Jenny Graf Sheppard, and Shelly Blake-Plock
Fifth Set: The Violencestring
Epilogue: Susan Alcorn, Joel Grip, and Shelly Blake-Plock

$5 suggested donation; $12 gets you in with a copy of the new CD.
All profit from the sale of the CD goes to the non-profits Chesapeake
Habitat for Humanity and Public Health Music.

12 November 2007

Deadly Turnips!

I’m pretty sure my last post made no sense at all.

Speaking of things that make no sense at all: what about jícama, the Mexican turnip? This is an edible root I just can’t get my mind around.

I ate this yam-bean for the first time two weekends ago and I just can’t get it out of my mind. I think it had something to do with the fact that sitting on the plate there it looked like potato, but in my mouth it tasted NOTHING like potato. Pretty spooky.

I also come to find out that the root is the only part of the jícama you’d want to eat: because the rest of it is DEADLY!

Wow. Turns out that the seeds contain Rotenone -- which is used as a pesticide.

I need a t-shirt: “I survived eating a pesticidal Mexican turnip”.

Blowfish is next.

I am trying to understand food humor

"I-am-dying-and-I-need-your-help".

I Googled this about fifteen minutes ago, and apparently no one in the history of recorded humanity has ever spoken these words in English one after the other (or at least as was ever reported to the Internet) ...

I wonder why this is.

I would think that, perhaps, this is one of the more common requests by people who are dying and need help.

That said, I'm very surprised that this phrase has apparently NEVER been uttered on or across the Internet.

In English, at least.

Perhaps Huns, Icelanders, and the Swiss are constantly asking for help, or not asking for help. Don't know. I'm handling a limited run here.

Perhaps this says something about the real value of Internet friends. I mean, could you imagine a MySpace comment that reads: "I am dying and I need your help"?

The response would be like: "So what?" or "I'm sure you'll love our new song!" [typed 15 hours later and in hopes to pick up more 'friends' from the return post as if the former statement would make the stiff feel more or less inclined to return a congeniality volley essentially].

So, let's try to fit this into a post that has something to do with food...

What if the person were dying of... spoiled cabbage?!?

Nah.

No, it really ain't that funny and it actually has nothing to do with food. Unless in fact it were darn funny and had anything to do with food. Like in "he's dying of gluttonous epicurean sea-urchin intake". And even then... well... yeah, though that would be relatively funny, it would still be... Well, it would actually be kinda funny.

10 November 2007

Local College Hoops Has Chickened Out

Went to a basketball game this evening. Season opener for the local America East Conference team.

So, MJ and I tow Granddad and the kids to the game. Took our bleacher seats and dug in trying to remember how basketball worked enough that I at least seemed to know what I was talking about explaining the game to the kids. That's really my style of fathering.

It's not that I don't know the rules and whatnot... basketball was one of the only things we had to do around here as kids. I just don't understand why they spend so much time calling fouls and taking time-outs. That said, at least all the stoppage in play gives the pep band a good amount of time to jam.

So what's this got to do with food? I'm glad you asked.

Now the mascot for the local team is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. That's a dog. A big, loyal, brown dog. Sort of like a Golden Retriever, but less dumb. Nothing against Golden Retrievers; Bay Retrievers make me look dumb too. They're smart dogs. One named Cookie saved my life once. I was walking him through an alley in Washington, D.C. when a mean-ass Doberman burst through a hole in a wooden fence and came up on me. The Bay Retriever leaned into the Dobby and gave it such a snarl the dog retreated in a whimper. So, I have a thing for Bay dogs.

Anyhow, I'm there at the game with the kids looking for the mascot because that's what you do at a basketball game with kids. And I don't see the Retriever. But I do see a giant cow.

A cow. White with black spots.

Huh?

Turns out, this was a guy in a cow suit there to promote a big chain fast-food chicken restaurant. What's up with that? You mean to tell me, I have to explain to my six year-old that the guy in the cow suit isn't really a sports mascot: he's there to sell you chicken.

And this at an Atlantic East Conference game? I mean, we're not talking Big Ten here. We're not talking ACC money. We're talking a commuter school.

Yet more proof that athletics (and the wonder they used to inspire in little boys and girls who went home to play hoops on the back of a bedroom door after seeing a game) have been even further sold-out than one could think possible.

What's next? Tattooing advertisements on the players?

09 November 2007

Show Tonight / Is a Berry a Fruit?... I'm Rambling

Just got back from a show.

Joel has been in town for a few weeks. He, Eve, and I played a set together two weekends back. This evening it was just he and I. This was actually our first duo performance since the 48 Hour Show. For those of you who didn't catch that one, that was a 48 hour long continuous traveling performance as a duo. For 48 hours we neither slept nor stopped playing music. We traveled from Baltimore to Philadelphia and back again playing everywhere from record stores to public parks to inside office buildings to a rest stop on I-95. And yes, we had the VW retrofitted with amplifiers and synths so that we could actually play in transit at all times as well.

Tonight was a little different than that.

Tonight we played for 22 minutes. And it was 22 minutes of real improvisation. I started on piano and moved to drumkit; Joel played doublebass and a little piano. 22 minutes to discuss musically all that's happened to each of us over the last year and a half. 22 minutes of life.

Tonight was a benefit for University of Maryland Children’s' Cancer Center. There's some brave kids over there. Brave, brave, brave.

So after the show, Joel and I stopped at a WaWa. For our international readers, WaWa is like the Quickie Mart on the Simpsons. I picked out an orange Gatorade and Joel a blue one. In line, we debated whether or not a blueberry was a fruit. I insisted it was. Joel said berries aren't fruits. I said that's ridiculous.

So what of it, friends? Is a berry a fruit?

(These are the thoughts that go through one's mind late on a Friday after a gig and a long drive home).

06 November 2007

Veggie Thanksgiving Ideas

Ok. So inquiring minds wanna know: What makes for a hearty Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner? And I don't mean Tofurky.

Give me ideas.

05 November 2007

Afhgan Yum

Wow.

It's been a while since I've tasted my buds at the Helmand. Named after one of the southwestern provinces of Afghanistan, this is a neighborhood restaurant that specializes in FANTASTIC.

Started off with a bit of the Kaddo Borawni which has become my new favorite Halloween treat (despite the fact that... ok... yes... you are smarter than the average troll... go with it...). Something about garlic-pumpkin just makes perfect sense to me.

Jeez. I'm so egotistical. Especially around the holidays. I apologize in advance.

But when it comes down to it, I want food that makes sense to me. In fact, I'd rather just make it myself. Me = Chef (x4). And that's pretty much what I'm looking for in a chef: someone who channels me but who makes food that tastes better.

Luckily, the Helmand chefs are wired to my brain. It's like an unlikely '80s movie.

Bowlawni batted second. A bit too thick, but sort of referencing my beloved potato pancakes in a weird way, these worked pretty well with the house sauce. Definitely an appetizer.

Took the Mushroom Lawand as my entree. I'm a sucker for the 'Choose Yr Own Adventure' dishes. This one came in three parts and required the completion of a telephone-survey to put together.

Not true, actually.

The mushrooms were served in a yogurt sauce. Yummy stuff; tomato and green accompanied. Silky spinach accompanied. All of this over a bed of dreamy challow. Served expertly.

In a way, I hate going to a restaurant that makes it happen so well. The one big suggestion: "Hey waiters and waitresses! We notice you. Perhaps as much as you notice us. Some of us were waiters and waitresses at some point; in fact we may be again real soon. We know you are having to deal with the kitchen. But dig: We're spending $30 for you to uncork a bottle of wine... so look happy. We tip 20%.

I must say, it had been at least a decade since MJ and I had set bottom to Afghan chair, and perhaps because of this the food -- and perhaps the realization of what the cuisine represents -- went down like the savory bits of political gossip. But I must say, Helmand of Baltimore -- right there off Charles and Monument -- continues to impress.

03 November 2007

Dolma Murch for Two!


Going to the Helmand tonight.

Yaa-hoo! The best Afghan restaurant in Baltimore and MJ and I are headed there on a double-date with Dwight and Jenny. Dwight of diner-cuisine fame. I wonder if there are diners in Afghanistan?

Expect a review next post.