— From EF —

In Praise of Garlic

On the day I got back from my glorious Milwaukee visit, I cooked two wonderfully tasty dishes that didn’t have any garlic in them at all. That was a first for me. The night before, at Flora’s, I’d baked tilapia basted with olive oil, squirted with lemon juice, and covered with a thick sprinkling of finely-diced garlic sautéed to a crunchy gold. I like garlic.

I started thinking about garlic’s reputation. If you need to ward off vampires, it’s alleged to be a good choice. If you pick up an intestinal hitchhiker, it’s an effective vermifuge. People in ancient India thought it was an aphrodisiac, which makes you wonder why we’re advised to avoid it at all costs on hot dates.

And I place great value on my front-line remedy for a cold: a steaming bowl of chicken broth heavily laced with raw fresh-pressed garlic, grated ginger, and cayenne pepper. Works for us.

This is my third year of growing my own garlic. The first harvest was startling. I hadn’t expected it to taste any different from what I’d bought in the store and planted in the raised bed. Wrong: way better. The second year’s yield was even tastier, maybe because I allowed it more time to cure before trimming its roots and leaves. Whatever, the first pesto from each year was totally intoxicating.

One reason I love living here is that I can grow stuff to eat, and there’s a good weekly farmers’ market and several stores that sell actual food. I have spent an entire lifetime fixing good meals made from scratch, and I always thought that was just about pinching pennies and getting the best bang for the buck. Well, now I know there’s more to it than that.

So let’s hear it for green garlic and spring onions and leeks, the brassy trio of the first rude green pizzazz of spring. Have the courage to reek.

— From CB —

Thursday, Elizabeth flew back from visiting a friend, and I picked her up at the airport after 2.5 grueling hours in traffic. Then we spent 2.5 more hours in traffic homeward, took a quick 20 minutes at home, and went off to a sumptuous evening.

A friend invited a group of people to share a dinner, starting with the preparation. He suggested a menu and recipes, and each participant brought the ingredients for a dish and then prepared it. There were seven of us, so the kitchen was busy. As a rank culinary klutz, I served as sous-chef for Elizabeth’s two preparations. At last we came to the table and ate and drank and ate and talked and ate.

The food itself was great, but its value was as a catalyst. The process of preparation was rife with conversation, and unlike a party, where you never know if serious discussion is keeping someone from escaping you, you’re all there doing your job on the asparagus or whatever. And so there’s time to cycle through opinions on the death of the planet, musings on mutual friends, local scandals and wines, the hostess’s new enterprise, and lots of politics mixed into the chicken and dumplings.

Our host is involved in the Slow Food movement — Google it to learn more. He’s not part of the magickal/pagan subculture, as far as I know, but he’s stirring a potent cauldron. Food, if we’re lucky, is a daily companion. But food shared is much more. It’s the glue of family and tribe, or it can be, and the magic isn’t so much in its Michelin rating as in the sharing of preparation and presence over the pot.

When we do a play with a larger cast than the two of us, our first rehearsal is this: we share a meal. The read-thru, the director’s speech, the blocking comes next, but the start is the meal. In Christian tradition, much is made of the Last Supper. I’ve never heard mention of the First Supper that this gang of misfits shared, but it must have been profound to have shifted history.

We didn’t shift history the other night, but at least we stood witness to the spirit that humans can bring to the table. Lest we forget.

 — From the Fool —

I told my friend Joe what I’d read in the paper. He’s not a reader because he already knows his opinions. He saves time that way.

But I wondered about his take on what some scientist said. It was in the news, about the constellations. My uncle used to point at all the constellations and say, “There’s Orion, there’s the Big Dipper or the Big Bear, there’s Libra and Taurus and Cancer,” and I thought, I better know that when I grow up or I can’t get a job.

It scared me. It was a bear and a crab and a bull, but it just looked like stars to me. So I thought the beasts must be hiding behind the sky and they’d jump out and roar.

But what the scientists said, it was in the news, was that the constellations aren’t anything at all.

Sure, they’re stars. But the stars in Cassio-whatsis are a million miles apart and they don’t even know each other’s names. They wouldn’t know if each other blew up. There aren’t any bears or crabs or bulls. People just made that up to scare little kids or something.

So I asked Joe what he thought about that.

“Scientists are crooked,” he said. “They get paid to say stuff like that. They can’t prove a thing. It’s all theories. They’re just trying to get their names in the papers and tear stuff down. It’s all a con game.”

Joe sells used cars, so he should know.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2014



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