OCTOBER 2, 2016

FOOD

So anyway, the summer let us go after a punishing heat wave, to allow the fog advance in legion through the Golden Gate and over the hills, pushed by an insistent wind, eager to be on its way. As dusk fell, the Bann Se madly stirred the tree branches and the buckeye leaves left withered by the long summer drought.

the obvious rapaciousness of a coyote

Sensing a change coming up, wildlife has been on the move, and all down Snoffish Valley Road the raccoons have been advancing in packs which disappear by magic as the coyotes gallop quickly up and over the ridge. A solitary hare sniffs before bounding away into the high grass, silvered by moonlight. Then come the deer, stepping with curiosity along this way with some inexperienced indecision regarding the occasional automobile. An automobile seldom possesses the obvious rapaciousness of a coyote, so automobiles remain problems that need some deliberation from the perspective of the deer. And so they will stand there in the middle of the intersection looking at you with some objectivity and scientific detachment.

Now is the time of gray advancement, of subtle changes. Trees turn color, but retain their leaves. Days remain bright, but sweaters come out in the evening. Mosquitos have not been nearly so pestiferous of late. Kids are in school all the time and work chugs along with the regular rhythm of set things from morning to night. Pumpkins started appearing on doorsteps. The smells of baked cardemom, cinnamon, cloves, and apples waft from open windows.

a cholesterol-building casserole

It's getting time to make cream soups and stuffed squash and hot dish casseroles. These things are the only things that have ever required bizarre ingredients like cheddar cheese soup, a canned thing that seemingly has no purpose other than to be put into a substantially unhealthy, fattening, cholesterol-building casserole loaded with a half stick of butter and oily tuna in a bowl that often is leavened by canned peas, gluten pasta and topped with crushed potato chips, perhaps so as to deliberately insult the memory of Julia Childs and every lactose-intolerant vegan in Northern Marin.

If you think about it, our parents ate stuff that certainly cut years off of their lives what with all the trans fats and sugars, carcinogenic emulsifiers, and old country habits. Certainly a miracle they lived, despite the doctor's best advice, into their 90's drinking whiskey and smoking like fiends, while you, yes you, sad sack of unfit lard whipped by a personal trainer who knows better than you, you struggle with acid reflux, paunchy gut, poor momentum, atrial fibrillation, cirrhosis, gallstones, arterial plaque, lousy circulation, gluten poisoning, and GMO confusions to top it all . . . .

She modified this recipe by adding jalapenos

Juanita stood in the kitchen wringing her hands. Someone had made off with that recipe she had concocted for the time when the Norwegian Bachelor Farmers had come looking for their lost Pastor Inquist. She had modified this recipe by adding jalapenos, which had resulted in a somewhat greenish tint, but the men had thanked her and taken off back to their homelands, each bearing a waxed box of the stuff, which somehow began to appear all over town in the darndest places, as if many of those Norwegians had inadvertently left their take-away behind. Behind, as behind bushes, behind statues, behind fountains . . .

She saw herself delivering this casserole

Now this fellow from Detroit, a Mr. Jack Peppermint of the rock group, the Peppermint Stripes, was coming to town and she wanted to impress. She had never been to Detroit before, but she had heard it was just like her own hometown of Sineloa, a place which had seen better times and which hosted a people who worked with their hands in factories and where people lived simply and well enough when they could, a place without airs about itself and she thought she would make something along the lines of what she imagined they had up there or over there in that part of the country. She saw herself delivering this casserole to the back doors where they admitted the caterers to such important venues like the Fitzgerald Theatre in famous Minneapolis and just leaving there with a note. Por los amigos; please share.

Now the recipe had gone dios mio anywhere and that Jose was all to blame with his running around and mixing with that malo hombre Javier.

"Jose!" Juanita shouted. "Tu pinche malo joven . . . !" Juanita began, using the sweetest affectionate endearments of which she could conceive, for of course although a factory girl by birth, she was well brought up by her honest and decent abuelita.

Denby made his way past the Jim Kitson Park with its bronze statue dedicated to Corrupted Endeavor, to the Old Same Place Bar where he earned a few pesos a night playing Old School to an indifferent crowd of boozers. In the back room, Dawn sat peeling the potatoes and he stood there for a moment watching her.

"Well boy, have you never seen someone peeling the potatoes? Grab a peeler then and pitch in if you aint so dainty."

"My Oma used to peel the potatoes," Denby said.

"Did she now?" Dawn said.

"That's right. And I wondered why she peeled the best part off, the part they say has all the nutrients now, but it was for the folks in the Big House to have potatoes with no skins on them. Because they were fine."

"That is the way it is among those people," Dawn said.

"She used to sit there and peel the potatoes and she would eat the peels as she went along."

"I know this story, my boy." Dawn said.

"During the War . . . there was not enough. During the War she had to peel for the Big House and for her and the family not enough to live . . .".

"Aye me laddie. That is called the Way of the World. It has always been so. Come on now, let's get everything ready for the show tonight."

"Such a 'show'. It is only another night of drinks and some music for people to forget their troubles for a while."

"It may be there is no other life," Dawn said. "Come along now . . ." .

Just then the howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights, quavered across the starlit waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the moon-silvered grasses of the Buena Vista flats and over the open spaces of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

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