Boisen Euskal Bizitza or Basque Life Style in Boise

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March 19th, 2016: St. Joseph’s day. I am not christian, but still a special day for me since it is was my beloved grand-father’s name after whom I named my older son.  On that day Pierre & I were very honored to be invited by Argia Beristain & Chef Jesus Alcelay to the monthly Basque dinner at the Boise Basque Center. Three hundred diners are scheduled to attend. We arrive a little early & wait at the bar before filing into the banquet room.  I look around &, without the sound track surrounding me I could be anywhere in the Pyrenees, with the sound track anywhere in the Basque country. The conversations are mostly in Basque & there is almost nothing to remind me that I am in Boise, Idaho. Not only are the conversations in Basque, but most of the faces look familiar. It is clear that Pyrenean people share the same ancestry. Native Pyreneans are Vascons, a people of ancient Iberia & undoubtedly facial as well as cultural features remain & I definitely belong to this tribe.  A few years back I had my DNA tested & besides having a high percentile of Neanderthal variants — I am not kidding: I am more Neanderthal than 89% of 23andMe customers, & have 307 variants when 400 is the max!  I am also 70% Southern European, with 60% Iberian…. Thus not so French, & it delights me to feel the cave ladies of the Pyrenees in me!

Even the aromas escaping from the downstairs kitchen are familiar. Argia invites me to sneak down to say hello to Chef Jesus Alcelay. We are just in time to capture Jesus in full action before the dishes are hoisted up to the dinning hall. We catch him putting the finishing touches to the Oriotorra, a technique I must say I have never done in this order, but will try soon. See Jesus demonstrating:

Here is the delicious, copious & generous menu, served buffet style:
Oriotarra — Cod the way they make it in the town of Orio — see video
Tripacallos — Honeycomb beef tripe in tomato sauce
Arroza Txirlekin — Clams & Rice (same as the one Jesus made for our class on Monday)
Txingarretan Saiheskiak — Slowly roasted garlicky ribs
Green Salad & Cake

So, yes! being in Boise is great on many accounts, but the history, gastronomy & solidarity of the Basque that impregnate the town helped me feel at home right away.
Both my Food & Culture classes celebrated Basque culture in Boise. Chef Jesus Alcelay hosted the Monday night class & on Friday basque scholar Argia Beristain shared her family recipe—see details here.

We sat we Argia & her husband Keenan. To my right, two families of first generation immigrants who both came as shepherds, & one told me that he was the last shepherd to have come from the Basque country. It was moving to hear their stories. As I said on this blog, I read John Bieter’s (B.S.U History Professor) & Mark Bieter’s excellent book :  An Enduring Legacy : The History of basque in Idaho, but hearing stories first hand is very special. I wish I had written down their names to thank them for their hospitality & sharing. Please contact to me if you read this blog so I can add your names.  (Addendum: Thank you Argia! to my right Miguel Angel Azpitarte)

. Voilà! meanwhile here is video to give you a taste & a sound bite of the evening. A happy Saint Joseph’s day & a heart felt eskerrik asko!

 

En Route to Idaho — Day 2 : Maumee – Des Moines

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Day #2  Maumee, Ohio – Des Moines, Iowa: 558 Miles or 898 Kms

After drinking Pierre’s prepared cup of warm water with lemon & cayenne pepper water & our travelling green magic juice we hopped in the car at 7:50am to resume our journey West on I-80.

When we stopped for gas in Greenfield, Indiana we were reminded that if we wanted a soda, we should ask for “pop”! The lady at the Hardee’s was eager to take our order but we had our solid breakfast of pumpernickel bread, butter & cheese & we made coffee in the car.


Second stop was in Morris, Illinois & the R-Place Restaurant with its collection of antique toy displays, including a wonderful puppet show kept me busy filming & photographing for a while. I did ask for 4 quarters to play the puppet show. The clerk was proud to tell me that the puppet show grossed $80 per month, that was 320 plays.

Again we didn’t get any food though I considered the Strawberry Pillows for a solid minute — but by looking at the thing intensely I could almost taste it & that was enough to feel the sugar rush!

We left Illinois, crossed the Mississippi, & drove into Iowa.

I had noticed on the Waze app that the World’s Largest Truckstop was coming up on I-80 at the Walcott Exit. We stopped there & lunched on Romaine lettuce with carrots, celery, left-over pork roast, sardines, cheddar dressed with Pierre’s delicious Meyer lemon & olive oil vinaigrette & concluded with our usual plain yogurt with cinnamon, stevia & grilled seeds.

Then we had molto fun visiting the amazing World’s Largest Truckstop. We didn’t make it to the adjacent truck museum but we had a lovely time talking to several truckers who were trying new truck seats. Pierre joined them for a tryout of new-fangled special rubber seating. We exchanged our destinations & they advised us that road conditions between Cheyenne & Idaho can be very bad & told us to make sure to have a full tank of gas when starting this portion of the trip. Another trucker & his wife from New Orleans gave us the price of some of the chromes on display. “A $1000 for that apron. I’m gonna put some on my truck soon”. The sword & knife window display was open & a family was deciding what kind of knife to buy; a lady bought a mini gun. Pierre checked out the library section & considered buying a Louis L’amour Western audio book but since we had just started listening to the Lewis & Clark journal diaries  available free here,  we decided to pass.

Settled into our comfy Sterling Hotel suite —with terrible internet, after a quick trip to the Wholefood to pick up a salad & some cheese (a chunk of excellent! Iowa Maytag Blue — same family making blue cheese since 1941!) we had dinner, i.e. yesterday’s lentil salad turned into a stew to which I added some grains (farro & oats), followed by apples, nuts & cheese — the Iowa maytag, of course. & now some zzzz before heading to Wyoming. From here on out the route is new, for Pierre too who had driven this part of I-80 only to turn south here in Des Moines to visit with Ken Irby in Lawrence, Kansas. But that was in 1987, & this is today. Onwards! Let the wagons roll…

 

 

Our Inauguration LG Extravaganzas

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Celebrating the second inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama, requires some festive foods. Our menu might not be as lavish as the Inaugural Luncheon but I am not about to loose focus from our low glycemic diet.

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No, we didn’t start the day with dessert, as the heading picture might suggest, but by a healthy juice inspired by Dr. Ali’s breakfast protocole. Juicing is now part of our daily routine & due to a low glycemic diet I rarely include fruits; but today being a festive day I included a red grapefruit —25 on GI scale when banana scores 45 & watermelon 76— accompanied by bok choy, celery, parsley, fresh turmeric & ginger roots, dandelions. And after our 5K walk the Tasty Pearl Barley Pabulum hit the spot:

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1 cup of cooked barley
1/4 green apple
cinnamon, roasted pumpkin seeds
moisten with home made almond milk.
Almond Milk:
Don’t get put off by homemade almond milk, it is actually quite simple & will serve two purpose here. To make the milk, soak 1/2 lb of organic almond in filtered water overnight. In the morning pour out the water, rinse almonds until the water runs clear. Add 1 quart of filtered water to the almond then process one ladle full of almonds & water at a time into the top of the juicer —I use a Vert VRT350 Juice & I am pretty happy with it. Reserve in bottle and save in the fridge. I do save  the meal that comes out on the other side. I dry it and use for many other recipe.

Inaugural Dunch

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Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast with Organic NYS Red Merlot Beans

Preheat the oven to 320°.  Grate 2 cloves of garlic, add olive oil, salt & pepper. Rub this paste thoroughly all over the turkey breast. Put a ramequin of water into the oven; it will keep the meat moist. Roast the turkey breast in the oven until thermometer reaches 160°.

To mirror the many New York State items on the Inaugural Luncheon I cooked NYS Red Merlot beans —available at the Park Slope foodcoop. These wonderful beans have a thin skin, are creamy though stay firm throughout. 

1/2 lb of  Org. NYS Merlot beans (or other red bean) soaked over night, then brought to a  boil in fresh water once and let sit for one hour before using in stew (for some reason I think it makes them more digestible).

1 onion finely chopped, goldened in the pan with olive oil
2 ribs celery
Lightly toast pumpkin & cumin seeds in a cast iron pan, then grind in a coffee grinder — I have one that I use only for spices —& add to the beans .

Add 1 seeded jalapeño pepper & 2 cloves of chopped garlic
Salt & Pepper
Bring to a gentle boil, turn it down & let simmer for 2/3 hours.

Lemon Cheesecake Mousse with Coconut Almond cookies

The cookies are essentiel to make this tart, festive, deconstructed Low Glycemic cheesecake work.
The custard:
Ben’s Cream cheese
Warm the juice of 2 lemon (Meyer if possible) in a pan
add 1/2 packet plain gelatine
Stevia to taste
Blend cream cheese,  juice w/ melted gelatin/ stevia

The cookies:
1 1/2 cup of almond meal —saved form several batches of making almond milk
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
Stevia to taste.
Mix, make the paste in a roll. Cut & bake  at 300° for about 25 minutes .


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 Supper Time:

And while watching —& dancing to— the Presidential Inauguration Ball, we had Pierre’s delicious Belgium endive salad with Humbolt Fog goat creamy cheese & walnuts, dressed with a light mustard & olive oil vinaigrette.  And to finish on a sweet note we had a small serving of goat cheese yogurt with fresh ginger, walnut, stevia & a few blueberries. Now, if we did our calculation right it looks like our glycemic load for the day is about 52 —under 55 considered low. But please correct me if I am wrong, I am still in training!

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Fresh Turmeric has Arrived

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The Fresh Organic Turmeric from Pinner Creek Organics in Hawaï has arrived! It is beautiful.
I previous posted several blogs on Turmeric & it is a good time to refresh your memory -& mine!

General info plus Miso Turmeric Soup Recipe : here
Turmeric Synchronicity: The Case of the Antioxidant Curcumin: here
Bright Yellow Yummy Pears:  here
A Refreshing Turmeric Beverage: here

More recipe to come. But meanwhile enjoy & Thank you Pinner Creek family!

Solstice Delight

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It seems to me that the most à propos food to take in on this solstice night is : Theobroma cacao—”food of the gods.”
I don’t know if the Mayans got their calendar from the Olmecs too, but it looks like they got they got the Kakawa, that is chocolate, from Olmec.

“The Maya derived a lot of their high culture from the Olmec,” said Coe, also professor emeritus of anthropology at Yale. “Even the word ‘cacao’ is not a native Maya word—it’s Olmec.” The Olmec lived in the southern Gulf of Mexico between 1500 and 500 B.C., and their influence extended to Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica, and El Salvador.

“The new find is hard chemical evidence that the Mayans were drinking chocolate in 500 B.C.,” said Coe, suggesting that people were cultivating the cacao tree long before the Maya civilization, which flourished in southern Mexico, the Yucatán, and the highlands of Belize between 500 B.C. and A.D. 1500. source

& this is how I made our heavenly solstice Xocalatl —the original hot chocolate in Aztec culture:

1/2 bar of  organic 80% cacao
1 cup of home made almond milk
1 tbsp arrowroot
Raw agave nectar to taste
1 cup of whole milk

Melt cocoa with almond milk, add arrowroot & bring to a boil & whisk. It will thicken, add the milk, bring to a boil again. Whisk again. Strain and serve.
Happy Solstice everyone!

 

 

29000 years ago…and Paleo Lunch


It is humbling and powerful to walk through the entry arch of the Gargas Cave. For thousands upon thousands of years humans have entered the cave through this very opening. The Cave of Gargas is situated in the central Pyrenees, 40 minutes away from my hometown. Though mostly famous for its panels of stenciled hands dating from the Gravettian period (between 28,000 and 22,000 years ago) Yoan Rumeau, curator of the cave, explains that the cave has seen traffic for way longer than that, and even though the hands are the more dramatic artifacts, the engravings —probably from the Magdalenian period— are extremely complex and deserve serious attention and studies. Tribes of nomad people moved around the “Perigord triangle” and came to visit this cave periodically. This theory is supported by the similarity of tools found in the archeological digs.

Gargas

Personally, I was mostly interested in looking at  feminine representations and Yoan Rumeau was extremely kind to tailor the visit according to my interests.  All of these representations are incredible, but the most breathtaking for me was a 5 inch natural vertical opening in the rock that has been reddened with  iron oxyde pigment. It looks exactly like a vulva: from the texture, to the wetness, to the bulging, to the color, it was intensely “real.” I will expand on this visit at another time but the  energy it gave off, plus the visual and scholarly information gathered fed my research & concerns about the Vulvic Space/Knowledge.  This project is inspired by the work of Carolee Schneemann and will include a manisfesto, paintings, texts & performance. Hopefully there will be more on this later. I want to thank Yoan Rumeau for his explanations and the way he so generously gave of his time.

High from the visit I stopped at my brother Pierre’s — he and his partner Christine live quite close to the cave. In fact, Christine ran the cave’s restaurant  for years, though she is now retired and the restaurant is defunct. The photo with the Gargas painted sign is taken from their home. As it was 3:30PM when I arrived, Christine and Pierre had lunched already. I was really hungry and Pierre offered to cook me a palombe (ringdove or wild pigeon) in his fireplace. The birds had been shot on Sunday and brought as a present by his friend Henry Christophe, hunter and journalist. Pierre trussed the bird with a nice slice of lard, brushed it with some oil and piment d’Espelette —chili from the basque country—, salted it and then hung it in front of a roaring fire.

While we had some red wine we occasionally tapped the bird to make sure all sides cooked evenly.  25/30 minutes later we judged it done,  Pierre cut it in a half and said “all yours!” Christine took the pan that had collected the drippings, reduced the juices on the stove for a few minutes and poured it over my bird.

The cooking was simply perfect, moist, gamy but not too strong. I took my time, savored each bite and left the bones clean. I also had to be careful not to break my teeth on the tiny bullet. What a delight!

For dessert I had Christine’s scrumptious  home made quince jelly with fresh walnuts and then tea and a piece of local tourte —a kind of fragrant pound cake. I left the village of Aventignan (where the caves are) fully satiated with images, smells and tastes that made me feel like I had traveled through time. I was an ancient woman driving through the narrow valley where the white peaks defied the Prussian blue sky.

Photos by Pierre Peyrafitte

Troy-Ithaca: Quelle Journey!


I am not sure what is the final mileage the 21st century Odysseus,  A.K.A. Douglas Rothschild, ended up walking along small roads between Troy (N.Y) & Ithaca (N.Y) but it should be pretty close to 170 miles in 8 days! Congratulations to Douglas & to Anna Moschovakis & Matvei Yankelevitch (both active members of the Ugly Duckling Press Collective).  This is how it all began for Pierre Joris & I, but it had been in the brew for a quite a while when Anna Moschovakis sent out this email in June :

A few years back, Matvei Yankelevich and I had some idle idea that it would be fun to make a film of Douglas walking from Troy to Ithaca. It just seemed obviously like a good thing to do. This summer — soon, in fact — we’re going through with it.

We’re calling it an Experiment in Potential Documentary. But you could also call it a Constraint-Based Happening. In any case, the basics are simple:

— Douglas takes one week at the end of July to walk from Troy to Ithaca, on backroads determined primarily by the “walk” function on a GPS mapping software.
— Douglas wears a mic the whole time, so that all of his speech — including talking to himself, if there’s any of that — is recorded.
— Friends of Douglas’ join him for portions of the walk. He will know which people have been invited (though we will add some surprises too), but he won’t know which people to actually expect or when.
— People who can’t join in person can indulge instead in a desultory phone conversation with Dug as he walks.
— Much of the proceedings are filmed in HD video and with a variety of other means. Douglas, too, has a camera. Visitors, too, are handed a point-and-shoot video camera to employ as they wish while with Dug.
— The journey culminates at a Banquet and Poetry Reading in Ithaca, co-hosted by Catherine Taylor and Stephen Cope at an arts venue, to which the local community will be invited.
— Homeric overtones may be explicit, implicit, or cast aside altogether — though certain episodes dear to Douglas (e.g., the trip to the underworld) will be incorporated and we will ask each person who joins Douglas to bring a copy of the Odyssey (in any translation, or in the original) and to read a portion of it to the camera.

We hope YOU can participate in some way!

With many others Pierre Joris and I did. I will not tell you about the details of what happened because that is Anna & Matvei’s potential-in-the-making documentary project: they have 58 hours of audio and 11 hours of video recorded. Let’s hope they can gather all the necessary resources to play with it.  Meanwhile I just wanted to share the menu and pictures of the banquet — for the Chanterelles episode click here. The Banquet took place at the house of Wylie Schwartz, overlooking Cayuga lake and food was coordinated by Catherine Taylor, Stephen Cope, Anna, Trevor and myself, while many others helped with logistics and goodies.

At around 6:30pm —& after shooting his bow-oar through a dozen  axe head— Odysseus arrived at the banquet dressed in fine clothes, oar still in hand. A lovely band (sorry was busy cooking didn’t catch their name) greeted him and played throughout the banquet. As the sun went down Odysseus Rothschild (or Dugysseus, as Pierre called him) told us the tales of the journey. Hermes read beautiful messages from far away lands like Brooklyn, we also heard Homer’s writing in Greek, songs and passages of Charles Stein translation of  The Odyssey until deep into the night & after moving the party twice with our last being the harbor of Catherine & Stephen, until the wee hours, I don’t remember what time we left!


Menu:
Cheese platter: Syrian cheese, brie, local cows milk hard cheese, grapes, hummus & pita, lamb burgers, marinated olives, garden greens, feta salad, cucumbers, white & purple carrots, (from Anna & Trevor’s garden), artisans breads, baklava and plenty of ouzo, wine & other liquids to wash it down!

Eric Paul brought an amazing sausage from a local Ithaca’s charcuterie. We owe thanks to Lori & Tom who let us take over their kitchen to prepare the lamb burgers.

Epilogue:
The poets have decreed that Odysseus can now rest. He met enough people and told them all about oar & sea. A shrine has been built & sacrifice have been  performed. He is all done & can now return safely home, write more poetry and travel for pleasure as it pleases him!


Sangría Brava!

In order to fully support Spain during the The World Cup Final I decided to make sangría. It was very  à propos as we were invited to the home of Spanish friends and neighbors. They had made a delicious buffet of empanadas, calamari, arroz negro (black rice, made with sepia ink), chorizo, queso manchego. They had decorated their entire living room red & gold & I think my sangría matched the intensity of the event!

Most sangría recipes call for sweetening ingredients—sugar, honey, ginger ale, seven up…etc. These ingredients are the main reason why sangría hang-overs are dreadful. I worked out a recipe that requires none of the above and and will save you from a terrible headache. I usually drink the first round straight, then I add a few ice cubes and if I sense it is going to be a long drinking stretch I cut it with  seltzer  — always in my glass never in the main container. Needless to say,  this is a sangría con conjones! —meaning strong— so use in moderation, not like I did, though no headache this morning!

Recipe:
4 bottles of wine (Tempranillo)
1 cup Cointreau
1/2 cup Spiced rum (I add a vanilla bean to the bottle)
1/2 cup Spanish brandy
3 oranges
1 Lemon
2  apples
4 peaches
Marinate overnight in the fridge

I marinate the fruits overnight which means that they will loose they original color but will have flavored the wine that much more! Salud!

Viva España & congrats to “La Roja” for a beautiful World Cup!


Crunchy Farro Salad

Faro, farro, emmer, triticum dicocum or simply put: wheat! Supposedly one of the first wheat domesticated in the Near East. No time to get into its history but it makes a nice crunchy salad. I soaked it for a few hours, cooks it in water, drained it when soft, and added the above ingredients. The ingredients were chosen by default, that is what was available in my fridge. You can get as creative as you want and add  things like: nuts, raisins, onions, radishes, peppers, shrimp, chicken, duck — o, yes, duck would be excellent! Just try it.

This is a great dish to take along at pot luck and picnics because it doesn’t get soggy. Bon Appetit! I’ll be back sooner that later with more! I have been busy. Merci to stick around.


Charles Bernstein Poetic Birthday Buffet

This month is taken over, not to say consumed, by my dear 19th century comrade, Augustus Saint Gaudens. The deadline for the French project is due in a few weeks  — thus very little time to do anything else.  Fortunately our good friend Charles Bernstein had an important birthday, so I got to take a break and travel to Philadelphia where on 8 April the Kelly Writers House at UPenn had a superb party for the occasion.  The readings were great and you can read & hear more about it on Pierre Joris’ blog and except for the performance by Felix Bernstein and Sherry Bernstein I focused on the food, are you surprised?

They are complete foodies at the KWH and it was splendid! Program Coordinator Erin Gautsche has her own food blog, Veggicurious.com, and  director Al Filreis looks like a gourmand to me! I wanted to record a very nice detail about the party: All the dishes on the buffet were references to Charles Bernstein poems! As noticed by the director, Charles’ poetry doesn’t include a lot of food elements so it wasn’t easy. They dug deep enough into the poems of All the Whiskey in Heaven to create a beautiful, festive, delicious & poetic buffet! See for yourself and click on the photo to enlarge.  Sorry for the poor quality of the video recording.