Monday, September 27, 2010

Michael's Mexican Candy Hot Wings

Mexican candy. I never liked it too much but my daughter was addicted to it as a child. Saladaritos, hot mango chili suckers with worms in the middle, anything that was so tart upon first lick and then super lip burning hot and then sweet and chewy. Tonight, my brother went out of the box and concocted a chicken wing creation that made me rethink the value of a three-flavor bite that leaves the face tingling while the body burns with sweat. Not too bad, just a slow simmering delivered prior to a nice skin flush. At first bite it's sweet, then spicy, then carmelized crunchy through diced chunks of crispy jalapeno and garlic, and then the meat, succulent and moist. Good job brother, I will be making this healthy, candy dish many times in my future. But for now, I will just continue to go raid the fridge over the course of the next hour, reveling in the way they taste when cold as well.

Michael's Mexican Candy Hot Wings

Package of chicken wings
1/4 c. Frank's Hot Sauce
1/4 c. A second cayenne based hot sauce
5 garlic
5 jalapenos
Brown sugar

Take about twelve chicken wings, put in a bag. Pour in the Frank's hot sauce and the cayenne based hot sauce. Dice the jalapenos and the garlic. Throw it in the bag. Shake shake shake it. Heat oven to 400 degrees and place wings on a shallow pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over the wings and place the pan in the oven for ten minutes. Take out, flip the wings and sprinkle more brown sugar over the top and bake for ten more minutes till carmelized. Enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Meditating With Mahi Mahi

There are some foods in life that are enhanced by the environment in which they are eaten. Fish and chips is one of these meals. On a recent trip to Dana Point with good fiends, we happened upon the marina that reminded us all of a place stuck back in time; a more innocent time when men walked down to the docks in the morning to throw a line in the sea, sitting for hours waiting for a bite but there for the meditative experience of staring out into the deep blue more than for the hope of actually catching anything. The marina was dotted with restaurants with names like Jolly Rogers and Proud Mary's where the hard wood floors were darkened with age and many layers of hardened wax; the smells of brine embedded deeply into the plush vinyl booths and old patterned wallpapers. Places where the sound of silverware clinking and bar glass being swooshed across thick wood mingled with the sounds of patrons eating eggs benedict breakfasts and waiting for whale watching cruises or their sailors to come in from the sea. We opted to dine al fresco at the Wind and Sea grill, pulling our plastic outdoor chairs close together in the cool air to enjoy rock salted bloody marys and mahi mahi fish and chips. Doused with copious amounts of tangy malt vinegar, lemon and salt, and a perfectly thin and crispy beer batter, we enjoyed our own fruits of the sea while reading the names of the sailboats in the dock and watching groups of people head off upon the water hoping to catch some of the light tailwinds coming in that day under a sky streaked with grey clouds. Belly content, we sat there for hours contemplating the water-a therapeutic escape from the everyday, where stratas of blues over the horizon washed every stress and care away.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Post Burn Fuel

We brought trail mix, pistachios, almonds, coconut water, and wine.

We also brought plenty of whiskey for our canteens that we would sip periodically through the harsh and cold evenings. Just one or two sips would cure our frigid bones for the evening, going quite nicely with the fire that burned in various places across the stark desert. I learned that whiskey was the drink of choice on the playa for this reason. Everywhere we would go and flash our canteens, people would ask, "Is that whiskey?" and we were expected to share a drink. It was like the calling card of friendship for the burn.

We subsisted on a gallon and a half of water a day, fed each morning into the camelbacks that dressed our shoulders.

There was no produce nor anything else that needed refrigeration. We were down to bare minimum during this exercise in radical self survival.

The only sustenance we could count on were the daily offerings from other camps in this gift economy, camps that offered chorizo burritos on a Monday morning, or pancakes at center camp, or the three vegetarian meals a day that were made with love by the Hare Krishnas where we were staying.

The vegetarian meals were iffy at best. Because we had no clocks or technology or cell phones, we depended on the good old sun to relate the time of the day, which meant arriving at the meal tent for breakfast, lunch or dinner hoping we weren't too late to dip our recycled spoons into curried rices, sweet potato and spinach mashes, and other meals that tasted good but all blurred together under the heat.

It didn't matter though, that our food was slim pickings or unpredictable, because we were on another planet where food was just the fuel to let you go back on the playa, bicycle wheels whipping the dust and icy yellow light, until your thighs burnt so bad you were forced to go back to the tent to lie down and recuperate for the evening ahead. An evening that would consist of walking the landscape at night, gallons of water disappearing and food nowhere near the mind.

After we left, food was heavy on the mind. My camp mate Sonia told us about an Indian food taco truck that was usually parked at the exit to Burning Man and sure enough, there it was offering wraps and other goodies to a crowd with a big portion of attendees in the healthful eating genre. Cars were lined up to get an order of richness back in the world of the hungry.

As I drove home to the desert the next morning, my gut was aching for Indian food but as I suspected there were only signs along the highway for the usual fast food restaurants, offering puffy fats and chemical tastes, and my week had somehow made me averse to even the smell emanating from these places. Then, like a mirage an Indian food restaurant arose on the side of the highway in Sacramento and I quickly took a turn when I saw the banner exclaiming "Wraps to Go". Piryani with extra vegetables, curry sauce and a sweet mango lassi later and I was on a new food mission back home.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rosh Hashana Challah Manna

On the Jewish New Year I honor my Jewish tribe with a toast via a piece of moist, raisin studded challah bread, drizzled with honey, chewy and slightly sweet. Jewish fare is another in a long string of my cultural favorites that begins in the Mediterraean with lamb, feta and dolmadas, whips through India with eye watering samosas, tamarind, paneers and rice puddings, then leans to the Persian with coriander (it's American cousin being cilantro) and chick peas, buttery pomegranate piled, scented, burnt rices and then the middle eastern falafels, tangy lemony cous cous and hummus dipped into with pita tears (as in rips not drops of sadness).

This year I tore and drizzled and savored the bread chunks with my best friend Lisa.

L'Chaim! to all my Jewish friends who have sustained me with your warts and all wisdoms, your simplicity, foods, sensuality, mysticism, adherence and discipline, I love you all!