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Archive for the ‘Humane Food’

Dear Mom: The Glorious Craft of Silence

March 05, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Family, Food, Happiness, Health, Humane Food, Living, Love, Michael, Mom, Valet Battleship Parking

Dear Mom,

First of all let me say that I know you’re dead and that if you were in some way able to read this know also that you’d find it annoying and silly. Well, this is my process, something I’d like to try, and so I ask for your patience and kindness. You know how slowly I come to things, so just let me do it. It’ll likely work itself out in a reasonable amount of time so there’s no call to go batshit at this stage, okay? Thank you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, I’m writing today because there’s someone I want you to meet. She’s amazing, and we’ve been seeing each other for a little while now, although scheduling has made any regular gettings-together a challenge. She’s younger than me-surprise, surprise-and also in the film business. If you saw her you’d be struck first by her beauty and then by her fitness, but you’d also want to feed her. Due to her open spirit, joie de vivre, ease around others, HUGE sweet eyes, and general soulful attractiveness you’d be compelled to hug her and that’s when you’d have a teeny-tiny meltdown. “You’re too skinny!” You’d yell, and then would look at me accusingly, as if I was somehow responsible. I’d give you The Hand and say we were off to the beach. You’d take a breath and respond in that mock-threatening way that’s always made scarier by your accent, “Okay, but when you get back I’ll have a BIG LUNCH ready.” Then you’d wink at her and turn back to baking bread.

Later, while she was in the shower after the beach you’d whisper questions to me. “How old is she? Where does she come from? Her eyes are so beautiful, but there’s a sadness in her. Is she alright?” Your instant concern would be genuine and so I’d know I’d chosen well. When you care that early I know someone is special. I’d answer all your questions and allay your fears, and then would tell you that Michael liked her a lot too, even though he’d only met her twice and then not for very long. We’d talk then about how perceptive the three of us are when it comes to people and then, a bit satisfied, you’d get up and finish making her lunch.

When she sat down, after a nice, long, hot soaking in the outdoor shower, you’d place before her The Largest Sandwich In All The World and would respond to her shocked look with one of your own stern ones that said, in no uncertain terms, “You’re going to eat ALL of that.” You have a way of wielding all your Latin energy, Mom, that I’m hoping I’m learning. It’s a powerful and fun skill to have… ๐Ÿ˜‰

During lunch you’d want to know about her past, because those big, soft, gentle eyes that show everything would be breaking your heart. For reasons she couldn’t completely express, she’d tell you everything and in the course of the conversation the two of you would fall head over heels for each other. The ease created would allow the conversation to shift from family and history to gardening and food and flowers. That’s when I’d lose you both and would just be hanging on for dear life, hoping to understand something, anything before the day was out. She’d tell you what she knew about growing things in the shade and you’d tell her how finicky some of your favorite plants were. You’d bond on tulips, and prepare herb gardens in your imaginations. You’d laugh like schoolgirls when something resonated, and each make promises to connect in the Fall to dig in the dirt.

And I’d watch it all, finally, for once in my life, at ease from not needing to say anything whatsoever…

ala Nilda

February 03, 2010 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Coal, Cooking, Family, Food, Happiness, Health, House, Humane Food, India, Love, Michael, Molly, Mom, Recipes

Before I go another back-breaking minute of transcribing a long interview for my coal film, I’ll pause to tell you about a treasure I just found…

When Mom died I did three things: gathered all her clothes and jewelry and farmed them out to family, friends, and charities; brought home my third of her ashes (morbid, I know, but I really wanted “her” near me); and collected as many of her cookbooks as I could find. Specifically, I searched for books that had her writing in the notes and margins. Mom thought in recipes all the time and when she had an idea, she’d write it down. Everywhere. There are bits of loose paper, newspaper articles, notecards, and books written all over in Spanish and English. Names of spices and proteins, temperatures, and cook times.

BLURREDcandy-peanut-brittle

Today, as a break from the transcribing and in the name of finding something yummy to make for dinner, I pulled out one of her stacks of random recipes clipped together with a metal binder and looked through them. What I found are recipes and memories:

“Chicken Curry, Juthica.” Juthica is an old family friend and a good one to begin this list with. Mom and Juthica met through their Yale connections in New Haven, CT in the 60s and became good friends. Mom always liked strong, independent, and smart people and Juthica was certainly that. One day while I was in my sophomore year in college in NYC, I got a call from Mom telling me to come home immediately, that she had someone she wanted me to meet. It was in the middle of the week and so I reminded my usually VERY academically-minded mother that I’d be missing a day of COLLEGE if I came home. “I know. It’s worth it. Come tonight,” is all she said. I got on the commuter train early the next day and met Juthica that afternoon. Like my mother before me, I was instantly entranced by charismatic Juthica–a native Bengali of Calcutta–and resolved to help her with the humanitarian aid project she’s started only a few years before. Little did I know that this would be the first spark in a film career that would have it’s first international accolade (“Soma Girls”) because of Juthica.

“Alfajores.” These are basically the cookies to end all cookies. Think of an oreo where the chocolate cookie-part is a butter cookie and the middle squishy part is half-hardened caramel spread. My brother would beg for these.

“Roast Pork ala Nilda.” Nilda was my mother’s name and almost nothing in her repertoire of savory dishes would exclude cumin. That’s where the “ala Nilda” bit comes in, I think. Not surprisingly, therefore, this dish has a bunch of fun spices as well as cumin and on the notecard includes the instruction: “Let sit for ten minutes, then serve with the pan juices.” Neither my mother nor I have ever met a pan of juices we didn’t like. The theory is that if it’s slurpable with bread, it’s “FOOD.”

When I was much older and had only a modest number of recipes that I could cook well, my mother bemoaned her former strictness in the kitchen. Even though she came from a traditional culture where women were suppose to learn the “domestic arts,” she hated having me underfoot when she cooked. True, I did have an annoying habit of grazing as things got prepared (something I also plagued Molly–another fabulous cook–with), but that wasn’t it. I think she just needed her space clear. The kitchen was her church, her fiefdom, her production studio and she needed it controlled in order to create her masterpieces. Thankfully, I have a very good sense of smell and memory for the flavors and dished she created and so even though she made me stand at arm’s length, I saw most of what she did and how she did it.

Today I still cook only a few of my mother’s dishes–I’m slowly building up the amount that I memorize–but the ones I know have their impact. Recently, I made Mom’s Bolognese sauce for Michael and Laura. Michael flipped when he tasted it. I saw the memories and joy fly across his face. It must have been almost ten years since he’d last had it with pasta. That sauce has a Molly memory too: her family loved it so much that they used to commission it. Or, sometimes, when I was making it for just Molly and me word would get around that “Alexia is making meatsauce,” and before we knew it we’d have many more at the table for dinner. :)

Mom’s meals used to feed armies of children in New Haven, mostly Michael’s friends who, if they became “regulars” soon saw themselves being cooked-for specifically. “I’m making the pie for David,” Mom would say of Michael’s best friend. I’d have to have children in order to have those kinds of numbers of people climbing through my house, but when there’s a group event that I’m either hosting or contributing too, I always make something of Mom’s. It’s an easy way to make people happy and introduce a whole new crop of devotees to “ala Nilda.”

Happy Monday

January 18, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Blogging Dinner, Body, Cooking, Faith, Family, Fatblogging, Food, Happiness, Health, Humane Food, Living, Love, Molly, Valet Battleship Parking

This morning it’s hard to tell why I feel so good. Was it the reasonable and delicious “all food groups represented” dinner; the fact that we went to bed fairly early; the sex; the exceptional comfort and relief that comes from the feeling of our skins together in sleep; homemade French toast for breakfast? Or is it the combination of all of these things as well as the talking honestly in the middle of the night when she got scared that’s making such a difference?

holding hands

I used to be able to tell so much about my emotional state from the reactions of my body. Time was if I was bloated or constipated I was likely overwhelmed and needing some time to relax and center so I could eat properly again. That would also have been a sign of unaddressed depression or fear because when I get ahead of myself I tend to reach for any old meal instead of what I know is good for me. The phrase “we are what we eat” is sooooo true for me, but now that in concert with the settling of this honest, raw and beautiful new thing results in a greater ease than I’ve ever felt before, and so I feel somewhat compelled to identify it’s details lest I lose the ability to repeat it. That said, I also appreciate the mystery of “letting it happen,” so don’t you all flip out that I’m being overly analytical. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The simple fact that she and I can be confident about living our own lives without the classic dyke drama of needing to micromanage each other brings a relief I can’t describe. But sometimes I think it’s her big, brown eyes that make me so happy. Her eyes can’t hide anything and so when I look at them I know exactly where I stand and that’s new and wonderful for me. It’s been this way with her since the beginning: me learning all the ways in which my last relationship was deficient, the ways I was hurtfully neglected. This new squeeze is so open and attentive and loving and respectful that she is showing me to myself–HOW BITCHIN’ IS THAT????? I get to see the very good and very bad of me and, moreover, have a chance to correct the bad before it gets worse.

When it comes to just about any kind of relationship, it’s amazing the kind of shit we’ll let happen to us, the red flags we’ll ignore. If we’re lucky we get out of those situations before too much damage has been done, and if we’re really, really lucky we’ll have friends and family around to help us rebuild and tell us the truth so we don’t ignore any warnings the next time around. And if we’re really, really, really lucky we are sent someone like my new squeeze who shows us that our instincts are intact and that we deserve all the love we’ve been wanting for so long… :)

Happy Monday, everyone. :)

The Stripped-Down, Common Sense Genius of Michael Pollan

October 23, 2008 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Body, Cooking, Food, Health, Humane Food

“Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot.” This is Michael Pollan’s best advice so far. It comes on the heels of “Stay on the perimeter of the grocery store,” which was preceded by the subtitle of his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “Eat Food. Not to much. Mostly plants.”

I watched a 1-hour talk on YouTube (below) Pollan gave at a symposium for authors sponsored by Google. He was pimping his latest book, In Defense of Food, but spoke at length about food as a whole and why he chose to write this last book. Mostly, he said, it was because people kept approaching me saying they couldn’t finish The Omnivore’s Dilemma because they were afraid that they’d starve after reading about all the foods they couldn’t eat anymore.

I encourage everyone to carve out an hour to watch this. You’ll feel very glad that you did. Reawakening our perspectives is healthy, and, with built-in “information overload” systemsย  we can’t really get too much of it…

One Hour In Defense of Discipline

October 14, 2008 By: admin Category: "Nice Boy", Food, General, Happiness, Health, Humane Food, Living, Meditation, Running, sustainability, Video, Yoga

books.jpg

So many books, so little time… It’s a popular sentiment for the Western busyness-obsessed. I’ve never been one of those people who has to have every second of the day filled or I’ll go insane thinking about my life, but I do admit that reading pathologically slowly has hamstrung my success. The good news is I don’t have to let it do that any more… cuz girlfriend’s got a little thing called discipline…

For the next few projects I’ve got on my plate I need to read a lot. Thinking In Pictures and The Omnivore’s Dilemma are at the top of the list. The problem is how to choose which to begin with. As I read so slowly I won’t likely be done with one before the mojo on the project requiring ingestion of the other has come and gone! What to do!??? Well, read them both, silly. Isn’t that obvious…. ? ๐Ÿ˜‰

As my reading comprehension is actually pretty good when I’m researching, I’m taking advantage of that skill by focusing on each subject for a couple of hours each day. I read for one hour then make notes for an hour. I do the same for each book. Sometimes the “notes” portion of the day is just me thinking, but that’s time well spent. Back in 9th grade Mr. Sandine (the most genius English teacher of all time) assigned Wednesday homework like this: “Think.” Cool, huh? Well, I did. And, if nothing else, such exercises taught me how to think. That coupled with my video research work has morphed over the years into an ability to quickly visualize solutions to problems. I can place myself into an imagined situation very easily and therefore be much better prepared for the real-world counterpart when it finally develops.

So, when do I do all this great reading & focusing? After breakfast, after meditation, and after my run…

I know what you’re thinking… not enough hours in the day… I know… But there are enough hours IF you get up early and STICK TO YOUR SCHEDULE. Once that alarm rings telling you it’s time to do something else, you can’t procrastinate. Period. Check out this cool video of the late Randy Parse telling you how to be more efficient in your day-to-day.

I’ll see how this schedule goes and will report back here.ย  What I imagine I’ll discover at the beginning is that I’ll have to tweak certain times within the day such as getting up at 6:30am rather than 7:30am and allowing myself some emailing/blogging/news-reading downtime after I stretch. I’ll time myself for this first week to see how much I actually do this for, and I’ll also have to be careful about not working too late. I love making a nice dinner and sitting down to watch a movie or a show.This should be challenging…

The End of A Short-Assed Era OR Please Don’t Call Me A Vegetarian

July 21, 2008 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Body, Fatblogging, Food, Humane Food

bacon.jpg

So… it happened. I broke down for bacon. But here’s the thing… I didn’t need it, I just wanted it. It wasn’t a craving thing as much it was a “oh holy god I haven’t eaten bacon for months” thing. Also, bacon isn’t like other meats. it’s BACON. It has special powers. And so I’ll eat it as much as I can while I’m dancing through this landscape called “pescatarian.”

Seriously, though, this whole “fish only” thing isn’t by choice. It’s just happening. I LOVE beef. I LOVE chicken. I LOVE pork… and, ohmygod, LAMB???? I live for lamb; except for recently I can’t help thinking about living lambs. Itty-bitty baby sheep being slaughtered for my enjoyment. I get the whole “survival of the fittest” thing, I really do — I’m the fuckin’ poster child for survival of the fittest! — but lambs are SO CUTE! So, consequently, those have been off my plate as well.

Let me reiterate…. let me, as Aaron Sorkin would say, “spread it out for you in a nutshell”: I. AM. NOT. A VEGETARIAN. And, unlike a bisexual, am not confused about my gastric identity, for I am also not a pescatarian. I identify as a bloodthirsty, grease-loving, CARNIVORE and am completely at peace with that!!!! Except, notsomuch when it comes to the teeny-tiny lambies…

Just Salt Your Arm And Pass It Over To me

July 11, 2008 By: admin Category: Fatblogging, Health, Humane Food, sustainability

Grass Fed Beef burger from Alexia Prichard on Vimeo.
(This is my friend Diedre eating a grass-fed beef burger. I could kill her right now.)

Vegetarianism could turn me into a cannibal. Like THAT *snaps fingers.*

After only one day and one morning of not eating meat-meat (I don’t consider fish meat-meat, I consider it fish), I’m craving burgers. Bloody ones. Lots of them. Gooey, juicy, half-cooked, jumbo, buffalo, grass-fed, I don’t give a shit. Just smash it on the head and drag it over here.

This is why I could never be an activist. I don’t really give enough of a flying fuck about anything to change the way I live to improve the lots of others. So, there. I’m a capitalist pig. YOU CAUGHT ME. Now, for the love of god, would you PLEASE hand over that stick of pepperoni!

Free Range Chickens by SNL ;)

June 06, 2008 By: admin Category: Humane Food, sustainability, Video

I’m not a bad person for doing this, but the video below is C.L.A.S.S.I.C. Seriously…god bless America. :)

FYI, I found this from my good pals at AOL’s Green Daily blog. These folks are doing The Work and if you have any questions about greenity, go there first. I’m also repackaging my Sustainability Series vids for them, and am filming some new material that will end up here, so check it out!!!!

Food: The Lies and The Hope

February 27, 2008 By: admin Category: Food, Humane Food, sustainability

I’ve just seen one of the most disturbing videos I’ve ever seen in my life. It appears in the middle of a speech being given by Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey a couple of years ago. He is responding to Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which criticizes Whole Foods in certain sections.

The two have actually become good friends and have taken their disagreements and agreements to the public in the spirit of educating. It is a perfect marriage and one of the greatest examples of productive democracy that I’ve seen. You can see all of their correspondence to each other on both Michael’s website as well as the Whole Foods website…

angus-cow.jpg

Mr. Mackey’s talk includes a video narrated by celebrity actor Alec Baldwin and shows in graphic details how chickens, cows, calves, and pigs are raised and slaughtered in industrial food manufacturing companies. I assure you, this is not a bleeding heart liberal message I’m giving you. What I saw happen to these animals is nothing short of holocaust-level horror. It should not be ignored and it should be stopped immediately. NO ONE would be immune from the images I saw except, perhaps, farmers, who have lived with the realities of survival-as-a-business for a long time and have had, I’m sure, to steel themselves against certain things they saw so they could do their jobs.

Anyway, as a result of seeing this video I am officially not going to eat any animal products that I know are from such manufacturers. I am fortunate enough to have been born in the age of consciousness about such things, and I am seeking out producers who treat their animals humanely. As I find them I will post their website on this blog. Please look for updates on this topic under the tag “Humane Food.”

I know this will sound extreme to many of you, but watching this video I felt the same way I felt when I watched Mom being “revived” from an apparent near-drug-induced-coma. A very kind and thorough resident pressed hard on the cuticle area of her thumb to invoke a pain response. He got his response and I had to be held back by another young doctor as I screamed “STOOOOOP!!!!” It is, to date, my most horrifying memory.

Watching these animals being treated so grotesquely, I felt the same urge to scream “stop.” But in this case there is nothing I can do except change the way I eat.

Thanks for reading…

HUMANE FOODS
Amazing PBS website from Frontline show “Modern Meat,” with details about beef production.

PS: I am deliberately not including a link to the video here, but if you want to see it send me an email or if I get a critical mass of comments on the blog I’ll post it. These are just incredibly difficult images to see and I guarantee that you won’t be the same afterward.