Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Slightly south of the border (reprise).

Thanks to my next-door neighbor who graciously shared her fresh and piquant Basil earlier 2nite which got the mental juices flowin'!

I created Mexi-terrean Pollo Peasant Pesto Pasta a la Provençal

Microwave Tysons Fajita chicken boil Lemon Pepper Linguine 2 minutes to al dente, saute diced Vidalia onions in Olio Santo Roasted Garlic Olive Oil. Add fresh pesto and fajita chicken and saute another minute or two. Assemble in a pot. Season with sea salt, red pepper flakes, oregano flakes and herbs de Provence. Serve with Pinot Grigio and San Pelligrino. The peasant life sure can be good.

An homage to Francesca who a decade ago shared her >native expertise in all things pasta and because she, Tom, and the kids just had a great weekend away from Liguria in Provence and to Susan who gave me my pasta stuff and the cookbook which taught me not to oversauce ala Américain!

Plain and simple and yes delish, if I do say so myself.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The yummi yummi yummi song.

As promised, My 3 Favorite Cookbooks

The Obvious One

A very special gift from Donna. You can't take THAT away from me now! Can you?

I generally think it's the best broad spectrum introductory cookbook currently available—sorry Rombauer clan.

The Other Two Quirky Picks

Harvey Steiman's California Kitchen

Great no-nonsense advice from KCBS radio personality. Favorite recipe Harvey's "OJ Fish"

Susan Bradley Pacific Northwest Palate

A great early proponents of seasonal cooking from one of the few areas that offers wildly variant foodstuffs throughout the calendar year. favorite recipe is a surprisingly easy Salmon in Parchment with Walla Walla Corn, Tomatoes and Rice
Steaming in parchment ona grill is really healthy. Plus its such a show-offy presentation to plop the thing down on a plate and the snip it open with kitchen shears. Trust me she'll be impressed, guys.

No scans of the latter 2 because like spawning salmon they have returned to their roots or at least Lake Oswego, OR. I suspect after the move in is complete JK Landrum will put them in a box and send 'em back! having harvested their roe . . .

Lagniappe: Best Single Topic Cookbook

Another gift from one of my oldest friends: Susan P. Morgan! I still also have the glass pasta container and white plastic pasta ladle that came with it one Christmas as below.

Note the Caribbean bus hanger was also courtesy of Susan on another day.

Rat in mi kitchen.

So yeah I am kinda an über geeky Foodie despite a lack of any real training. Training Schmaining I do declare! I did get Alton Brown on my "Which Food Network Star are You?" quiz. I did take 2 one day hands-on classes at the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood, MS: Thai Dinner Party and Basic Knife Skills. I watched every episode of Cooking at the Academy on KQED and Tape thrice! Greatest Cooking Show ever. Brilliant and simple conceit: each show does a menu based around one "la technique." So yeah they buggin' on Pepin. My favorite: "Sauteeing" & Red Snapper Franciscan over Leeks with Mushroom Potatoes. 1st complete meal I ever cooked for Mom. Score!

Despite what Julia Reed claims, many Southerners really do enjoy eating out and count those meals amongst their most favorite ever, as we don't have household help any longer (it no longer being the 1960s and all) and really don't believe that frozen tomato juice is all that. Snap! Thus,

My Five Most Memorable Meals

1) August 21, 1977 (the summer of punk)

My Father had a second sabbatical and a Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to do research at the Max Planck Institüt in Freiburg-im-Briesgau, Germany.

For my mother's birthday we splurged at Auberge d'Ille in Illehausern, France, just over the Rhine and ostensible border. The only 3 star Michelin in Alsace/Lorraine at the time. No vino for me a rising high school frosh, but WHAT A MEAL and what a beautiful setting. Between courses I wandered the grounds beside the little brook; still the most amazing setting for a restaurant I have ever experienced. And believe me I've been to a lot of restaurants in my 45 years. This would be a TOP meal regardless of the food for the setting alone. That the food was basically as perfect as man and woman can make it assures this meal will never be supplanted from #1 on this list, despite whatever Thomas Keller pulls off next!

2) 11 June 1994 The night before I was hooded at Stanford

Fleur de Lys, San Francisco with my parents, my treat. FYI Genius chef Hubert Keller was the patisserie chef at Auberege d'Ille back in 1977, as he grew up there; kinda alpha and omega ain't it. Forget his Vegas digs; the pink tented room is still the bomb, even after the fire.

3) Any meal I ever had at the late lamented and far too short-lived Alain Rondelli off Clement.

And yes Jean-Luc was the greatest maître d' I have ever met. On my second visit there with grad school cohortmate Jeffery Erickson, he remembered our names, gave us the same window table, and brought our pre-dinner drink orders without so much as asking what we wanted. Plus his wine pairing suggestions were always so challengingly unique yet delicious. Not every Parisian is an asshole.

4) Any and Every Hot Fresh Lobster Roll at pretty much any roadside stand on the Atlantic between Boston and Portland, Maine

It's way way cheaper, wicked easier to eat, and there's a lot more lobster meat! D'Oh!

5) BBQ from Morris BBQ and Steakhouse, 16th Section Road, Oktibbeha County, MS!

Every pictures tells a story and these are mine.

Honorable Mention: A memorably late evening at Chez Panisse with my Harvard Noho "roommate", Chuck Forbes. Yeah we were late for the second seating, which meant we got a kitchen tour after dinner because no one else was around and they knew we appreciated the cuisine!

Next time My 3 favorite cookbooks ever. No, this well worn classic doesn't break into our Top 3, but I do live in Starkville and I will honor the amazing legacy of Mr. CC.

In the future, for better or worse, two photographic essays on recent meal preparations.

This post is dedicated to my new friend, John T. Edge. Someday we'll be together at Taylor Grocery in catfish and hush puppy heaven. It WILL be a doozie, I do declare.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Grits ain't groceries.

In honor of its republication in a new and improved version, I would like to reconsider John T. Edge's 2000 Hill Street publication Southern Belly, almost a decade on. I haven't seen the new one yet and do hope that it both expands upon the original as well as corrects some major oversights like Appalachian Southern Food dude! Just because they are poor WASPs doesn't mean they don't exist. Ask Evans and Agee.

I mean c'mon Fresh Mountain Rainbow Trout: Fried, Smoked, Pan Seared, Sauteed, or Oven Roast. Surely Frank Stitt said something about this to you as well! I suspect you spent too much time listening to Chapel Hill Sociologists and their marketing map of the New South. Fine, but they snobby flatlanders who don't understand 'dem 'dar hills. Just sayin'.

I take your introductory "it's my book" (xii) to heart. But Bro you can't have it both ways! Either's it's my idiosyncratically personal view of food in the South or it really is "The Ulitmate Food Lover's Guide to the South." They definitely t'ain't the same thing. But I will give you a pass since you did at the least visit Roanoke and mention the Texas Tavern (242–43). My Mom told me tales of dropping by there after school for takeout through the window. Proper young ladies did not enter such establishments in the Fifties. But they also preferred Perry Como to Elvis Aron Presley. Can't win 'em all!

While this books in an important part of Edge's culinary legacy. it is but one leg of a tripos. Lest we forget, Edge is also an accomplished journalist/editor working with such diverse publications as Gourmet, Southern Living, The Oxford American (out of Little Rock strangely enough) and The New York Times. Finally and most importantly he is a scholar visionary, who brought forth the Southern Foodways Alliance as its first employee and long-time Director and who regularly holds court on the Square in Oxford: upstairs at City Grocery Bar or jawing with Currence downstairs over the classic Shrimp and Grits preparation. THIS will be his major legacy, especially all the good work folks did helping the Katrina recovery efforts vis-a-vis local NOLA restaurants like Willie Mae's Scotch House.

Veni, vidi, omnivori.

Party out of bounds.

T-minus 11 hours and say 3 minutes until The Three Estates Do: Town/Gown/FPCS Handbells & Choir kicks it here at 119 Edgey. It's all brought to you by us:

Still got a few last items to set up for cooking this afternoon. Have to sweep the patio and carport again. But otherwise, we're good to go. A big photo album of the event will mount sometime Sunday.

Our Party Music

Hour 1 Music from 1909 (honoring Elizabeth Gwinn who turned 100 last month)
"The Whiffenpoof Song" and "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" both written in 1909 plus performances by artists born in 1909 like Benny Goodman, Ruby Keeler, Victor Borge, Carmen Miranda, and Gene Krupa.

Hour 2 Reich Re-Mixed

Hour 3 My 1980s v. 4.1.a

Hour 4 Son[y]a's Sisters Solidarity Mix v 2.0.a Getting to Happiness

After that who knows? Maybe Sonic Youth, The Eternal, Japandroids, Post-Nothing, Telekinesis, Telekinesis!, or The Thermals, Now We Can See

and so it goes . . .

Monday, June 22, 2009

I call out her name.

In the toughest title battle yet, The Thermals emerge champs as usually happens: 'cuz when you're hot, you're smokin'. They took down an extremely quality field: The Clash, "What's My Name," Guided by Voices, "Your Name Is Wild," The Kinks, "Did You See His Name","Lynyrd Skynyrd, "What's Your Name", Terence Trent D'Arby, "Sign Your Name," The Velvet Underground, "I Heard Her Call My Name," and The White Stripes, "Sister, Do You Know My Name?"

Q: What's this all about then?
A: My "second" book was to have been called “WHAT’S IN A NAME?”: IDENTITY, PROPERTY, AND THE EARLY MODERN NAMING FUNCTION 1485–1832 and should have been entering post-production about now. This book project modeled on David Cressy's magisterial Birth, Marriage & Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England was at once much more focused in topic while also diachronically much wider in scope. The book concept spun out of an unpublished essay entitled “Tom, Dick, and Francis”; or, The Trouble with Harry: Status Anxiety amongst the Gentry in Early Modern England. This essay itself served as a bridge away from dissertation work on alehouses and theaters. We still visit the world of the Boar's Head Tavern in the second tetralogy but more with an eye to Hal and his many concerns about class, status, and patrilineage. Following from a seemingly toss-away neologism, "Tom, Dick and Francis" we ask the Hitchcockian question of Hal just what is The Trouble with Harry?

Central to the answer was my theorization after Foucault of an early modern naming function. And that's why this post exists at all. My "first" book is still in the works. My own academic status is rather ambiguous, but I continue to be a publishing scholar.

My latest work in collaboration with Bryan Reynolds is a melding of my "naming function" with his transversal poetics providing we hope through "investigative-expansive modes"
to show that certain signature theoretical contributions of structuralism and poststructuralism have definite precursors in the early modern English understanding of the proper name with respect both to semiotic-semantic systems and subject formation. Moreover, another aim of this book is to establish more explicitly the historical trajectory of this book . . . between the premodern and the modern . . . to graph the various lines of critical inquiry into subjects, subjectivity, and subject matters. (51)

So we pursue a basic question, "What's in a name?"

One of my very smartest friends asked "what is your naming function?" And he is not alone, though many of my grad school buddies already hipped to the Foucaultplay at work in my neologism. In short from our "Glossary of Transversal Terms":
the naming-function replaces the problematic term "name" to emphasize the many uses of proper naming. . . . The naming-function reveals that proper naming need not operate simply in one direction, from sociopolitical conductors of state power to subjects, but also in reverse, differently, multi-directionally, and multi-dimensionally. (280)
Focusing on a class bias "the naming-function encodes, eludes, and scrambles power relationships among the aristocracy, much as the the author-function admits ownership of texts, yet obscures the state's punishment of their transgressions" (61). For more, read the book. Thanks!

Thus we come to my Declaration of Scholarly Principles (with a wink of the eye to CFK and JL).

1) I promise never to follow a trend out of a desire for publication or advancement. In fact, I steadfastly promise to actively ignore trends in my own work regardless of the affects on my so-called career.

2) I vow to continue doing cutting edge interdisciplinary work in both the fields of early modern studies and popular culture of the twentieth century. I shall follow the questions and interesting bugaboos wherever they lead me: be it to the creation of 90s noise rock as a non-generic cultural phenomenon, the role of hops in the production of English national identity, a minor neologism which tinkers with a common adage but plainly hides deeper cultural anxieties about status, a re-reading and re-reading of the phrase "Out of sack" until every possible meaning has been parsed and squeezed from the literary shepherd's bag or The Mekon's interest in traditional country, disavowal of Alt-Country, and creation of a more politicized "Insurgent Country."

3) I vow to use theory as it was intended as a useful explanatory tool not as a system for living or some kind of ideological purity test.

4) I vow to write in clear and concise modern English that attempts to be both witty and wise.

5) I vow to live the life of the mind to the full, joyously and with all the vigor I can produce.

Desunt nonulla.

Works Cited

Bryan Reynolds et al., Transversal Subjects: From Montaigne to Deleuze after Derrida. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Where is my mind?

Been a very busy pre-Father's Day week what with a lot of projects just starting up. Here''s tidbits and links on some stuff I'm doing now.

Perfect Sound Forever
As always, my Kevin Shields interview is in the latest issue. I've got a really long interview with Robert Ellis Orrall forthcoming maybe next issue maybe the one after. I'm working on pieces on Sonny Boy Williamson II myths and truths, the Dust-to-Digital label, and most intriguingly a new label Bifrost Arts founded by a former student of mine, now an RUF minister at UConn.

Pop Matters
I'm writing a few things specifically for this online zine. More about them later perhaps.

Mississippi Musicians
I'm pitching in to help Nancy Jacobs with this labor of love site by updating some of the web pages (Garrison Starr and Blind Melon should be up by the end of the week) & writing some new pages esp. for blues artists like Eddie Cusic and Willie McTell as well as a brand new page for Starkville's own composer, Albert Oppenheimer, a recent graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music!

Beer and The Bard
That whole book project is rewriting itself as we speak. But seriously major rethink and revision on-going. Thanks to Tom and Bryan for four extra eyes and three and a half extra brains!

Some Girls.

Now—that we've got Father's Day safely behind us—for something completely different . . .

Her: "It just has to be blue!"
Him: (under his breath) "Damn!"