ALONE/COYOTE/ZEN GIRL


ALONE(SCHOOLTOWN, DOWNTOWN)
Lying in bed with the sound of rain on a tin rooftop,
space heater churning blue flame and little heat,
the sour smell of night sweats on a paisley bathrobe,
Chopin nocturnes escorting Night into her bedchamber.
Dawn sleepily moves across the landscape, and with this
the day breaks upon the city, day breaks upon the already
melting snows. Blue sky and cardinals, green pines shrugging
the cracked ice off, and bend, bend, bend, creaking,
seems it’s me not the trees creaking, leaning towards
the kitchen and all the ways of waking that are waiting there.
Funny, the way the voice shakes in a hushed stage whisper
as it moves in pitch towards the bellow and shout,
towards the un-muffled, the hallelujah yeah that says
this is the moment: a place I’d like to stay.
Step outside on the warped pine front porch, well, well,
the eyes start to focus through espresso steam and Camel smoke,
and it seems out here all the roads connect
on a downtown trek that’s ever and always leading somewhere,
and I look and look and look at the streak of wires
suspended and swaying beneath the weight of winter winds,
they too are going and they’re not coming here…
And for this minute the dawn tastes good, it tastes like life.
Yellow sun rests on the wet roofs and lawns, gleaming, awake.
A car door slams, a car shifts gears and slides to a stop,
a car rushes round the curve and hill, sounds a whole lot
like late for work and I’m glad I’m not, then a truck rumbles,
a train howls and grinds, screams through birdsong
and soft morning thought, and reawakens the knowing
that commerce has no home or heart, it just roars,
tears down wall and reconstructs, full throttle, full throated.
These are the sounds when the city wakes up, with sounds
like this, with iron gates crashing. Sleeping,
the beast is beautiful with it’s neon crown,
it’s candent towers, fuzzy halo and steady hum. And then,
the city wakes up with all the subtlety,
vulgarity and calm of Moloch rising after the feast.

COYOTE

Yeah, and the night limped around like it was trying to go somewhere,
like out of Carrol County, but it didn’t and neither did I…
so it’s just me and the street lamps downtown cowtown 1 a.m.
Not a star in sight and nothing’s open all night but there’s some
eggs at Casa Huddle, been waiting all day by the week-old bacon
by the grease geyser and a tarnished Maxwell pump.
Home is sounding better by the minute, out there, self bound,
out there by the pines where the stars always shine
and the insects call and chant to the night.
Yeah, like this never happened before and the phone rings on time.
Let the darkness rain down on the rascals and rogues, on the land,
on the caverns of the coyote prince; I have tasted the clay,
chewed upon the sunrise in a dozen cities and found nothing
so sweet as the southern summer moon.
As though baptisms were not pure ritual,
as though I’ve lived this course in southern mysticism past,
yet past the prime of indecision into action and desire.
Me, alone with my solipsism and a thousand constellations,
where animal heart is an echo growing stronger in my lungs,
growing out of the chronic dreams of misalliance and master races,
seeds sown in the groves of neophytes and fisher kings, suicide kings
where the world is nothing but reflections and fear…fear…
yeah, fear keep’em all from climbing.
In the black hour those owl wise swoop down on the bell ropes
and burn in the light of the dying mirror sun. Better to burn on
the wing than stooped upon the ladder with some Moloch prince
in a three piece suit, better to screech in the storms
with a new vision of life, alive with all that lives in the treetops
and shadows, in gulf stream and prairie, forest and hill, yeah,
dreams of the beasts on the edge of extinction, they come.
They cry. Dreams of the coyote prince seconds before the snare snaps.
Naturalist, rattling the cages of a language that’s forgotten salvation,
when animal rhythm passes so shall we,
asphalt concrete glass and steel…poof! memories of the land…
a getaway from the lights, from engines’ rhythms, blood in the sand
for a moment before the buildings rise and it’s all just city,
but never open all night. And the dirt roads shine.
Well, the night limps around kinda faded and gone,
bird calls in the dawn and the distant combustion howls,
cities rise and fall in the dust, but out here,
out here in the backroads, my heart, all red clay, pines and springfed
really is open all night, is the one direction unadorned with death.
Loving the land and the hammer that nails it down.
Loving the Rising when our own mortality strains,
pulls upon the bellropes and begs for mercy.

ZEN GIRL

Late arrival,
window shakes as the front door slams,
covers pull up against the coming light,
then a sweet voice flows across the dust…
and in your little room you squint and shake,
see a world alive with breath and whispers,
there’s a woman there you know you love…
yeah, she’s the spice of life.
Like a tickle in your ear:
hello? hello?
And she says:
No lucky charm bounces on my chest,
no crucifix, no ankh or star,
just a flash of red, a hearts fire contained.

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Gluten Free “Flour” mix list


Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000191 EndHTML:0000032251 StartFragment:0000003062 EndFragment:0000032215 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/hlamarthomas/coyote/ewb%202008/glutenfreebaking.doc

General Baking Mixes
Simple Substitute makes 1 cup 1 cup brown rice flour
General Baking Mix #1 makes 2 cups 1 cup rice flour

1/2-3/4 cup potato starch

¼ cup tapioca starch/flour

General Baking Mix #2 makes 9 cups 3 cups garfava bean flour

2 cups potato starch

2 cups cornstarch

1 cup tapioca flour

1 cup sorghum flour

Original formula makes 3 cups 2 cups rice flour

2/3 cup potato starch

1/3 cup tapioca starch/flour

Four Flour Bean makes 3 cups 2/3 cup garfava bean flour

1/3 cup sorghum flour

1 cup cornstarch

1 cup tapioca starch/flour

Featherlight makes 4 cups 1 cup rice flour

1 cup cornstarch

1 cup tapioca starch/flour

1 Tbsp. potato flour

Specialty Mixes
Pastry mix makes 1 cup 1/8 cup potato flour

7/8 cup Ener-G Foods©

rice flour

Cookie mix makes 2 cups ¼ cup chickpea flour

1¾ cup sorghum flour

¼ cup sweet rice flour

Bread mix makes 2 cups 1 cup brown rice flour

½ cup potato starch

½ cup sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin

Raw And Vulgar (poem, passage and eulogy)


RAW AND VULGAR (for Dan S Hart and Bruce Sehorne)
I
One by one hundred I just keep on singing, chewing time and killing meters,
Piling stars across the night, stripping pieces of this intolerant flesh
And laying it all down into an American song, a suburban pastoral
Of eulogy …
Counting stars and humming along as best I can. The night is a sonnet.
Yeah, song strummed on vapor trails, beaten through granite dust,
Sung along tree lines, blackberry patches, creekside in the rhododendrons,
Where up by the road this hydra headed plantation just keeps on building,
Keeps on killing all in the name of beauty and the South
And keeps on killing every beautiful thing about the South
The land that I see embedded in my skin in my voice and in my eyes
This land that is me that is falling bit by bit to the torture called
Subdivision, mixed used and expansion, this land that is dying
To be saved but nonetheless succumbs, that is the verse on my lips
A creation eulogy, a moment grasped on the dark walkway,
A stab at cityscapes and visions of malls and shopping districts,
So why is it all poetry is eulogy, why is that I walk not for me
But for sake of preserving a conversation or two shared between friends,
Ah hell, rip language sausages and fry me a river, this ain’t the South,
All dried up and filled with constructions that represent nothing
But bad architecture and childish business models, where a pure
Vowel stretched is an unrecognized dialect, a voice of nature
That is Georgia by the hills, but a suit can’t hear it and dollar
Can’t buy it, but there it is, spoken, sentences, long dipthongs
Uncorrupted by politics or northern aggression, I speak this, proudly.
It is my dream: My dream to be completely who I am.
II
Turn back and read, a day later it all looks childish.
I see the English ivy crawl up, devouring, eating pine and oak,
The suburb dies a little and the county tells me that easement damage
Is cost from my pocket book, my money county thief, mine.
Here is the test of the phrase “sins of the father” cause none of this
Is my doing, none of this is because of me, in fact it is in spite of.
III
Symbolic emails and one sided conversations collide and repose
As roadmarks to my evolution, pen-wise and keyboard enabled.
I want to forget who I am and drive the devil down. I love narcissism.
IV
A rain shower stands on plateaus west of here; steady, wanting to feed,
rain down on this water absent region, mighty and thick it sits and wails,
The Middle Oconee River limps currents below and then turns creek,
Just a creek where the bridge crosses beside a forest and a field. Just a creek.
Open land. Forest. Twin beauties. Heavy. Twins marked to be crushed.
And then end of the year floods came, tricky dead wood gathers,
Water, wind and a leaky roof cut smiles off my face like falling razors.
The development begins. Orange flags map and mark,
Signifying ends, and beginnings. I hate these things.
I hear the thistle weeping.
V
Muffled, trying to walk like light on mist without touching a thing in sight,
Without even being here I walk around the narrow dark path,
Steam pounds upon the beech bark, deer breath, crow, hawk and crazy squirrel,
Even my own clean lungs expire like oil into the pristine world around me.
Songs from Don Chambers tangled in the ferns and dangling in the magnolias,
His voice captures the mossy breath that lumbers over a cemetery, lumbers
The same way that it glides through song poems Falling Off The Edge Of The World, Strange Faith,
And I’m singing this elegy, singing Conjuring A Dead Rabbit,
In the song, in the moment here, in this moment now I see the veins
Entering my wrist, pumping, infused with this life and mystery forest.
Fear. Desire. Lust. Danger lurks. Passion speaks and I can’t hesitate.
And the horseman comes back around again beneath the eaves
Of a two trunked chinaberry, this again the pale green white vapor
Imitating form, horse high shadow and a vengeful snort laugh to anger,
I’ve never been less a man; I’ve never crumbled so fast under pressure,
But fall you bet, and I fall harder, fallen, a horse hoof rises between
Burgundy red wide eyes, “why’ve you come back, why did you come again?”
Circle me. Hooves, ‘chush, shushck, shush’ on pinecones and needles.
Circle trees and trample tender blue Sweet William, barely rising through the soil,
Lost country flower torn between barnyards and cornrows, around stoops
And front porches, lost in a stand of condemned trees, trying to find a way
Out into sunlight and hedgerows, and then it’s gone. I gotta fight.
WELL OF COURSE IT’S SCRATCH at the crossroads. The name is life and death.
That we live is the miracle and that we live on in question is the anti-miracle.
And in the garden of Southern mysticism a mirror is the answer to everything.
Break.
VI
3 a.m. the dogs leave the room to guard in a quieter night.
Talking about Elvis, the albums and the photographs,
The way his records were all picked up and auctioned off by RCA.
Raked through and sold by a thousand hungry hands,
Greedy hands, an iron broom separating songs
That should have never been released, the Kings throwaways
Bringing down the dollars, more in death than his voice ever could alive,
A living set of lungs and two walking legs. This man never sleeps.
Uneasy in death, unable to stay down, looking for other
Southern souls to wake and to warn from danger and wrath,
Yes, even Elvis still courses through dreams. holds his hand
To the heart and mind, sing a bit, even frighten and shake,
“Veer away from death old soul, veer away, AWAKE!”
And the unsteady 3 a.m. howls and gurgles up from my throat,
I lay sleeping and choking on the night itself, shake, shake,
Shake awake out of the shadows and I lay there waiting,
Really being pulled to the end of the bed, a shade laughs.
Trying to untie the muscles in my throat to scream, but I cannot,
Just a howl, just a prayer on the mist, just a man closer to god.
Pulling down an eleventh veil in the three o’clock hour.
Wandering spirit just wants to be known again and not lost,
When a wandering Southern heart just wants to rest awhile
And leave a message, “don’t let them forget, don’t let them hurt”…
3 a.m. this crazy 3 a.m. will never let go will always come back
And tell me yes there are passings here in the early morning,
Here where icon and a lilith fight it, tussle out over flesh
And leave me sweating over what does it mean. I hope it’s over.
What does it mean? What?
V
Uncomfortable. The sweet lonely swell of wind,
A scent of old coffee, charred and bitter,
But I can’t name it now, can I? Coffee.
There isn’t a better lament than the one
Of reaching for the pot and finding it burned,
Useless,
Bastard dark water gone into the morning,
My darling sultry tonic out of the dawn is gone, going, gone.
And you know, I wanted the warmth, the palm sugar oiled,
Taste the black rush of Costa Rican shady grove. Ah, what the hell.
Is this what the day brings? After haunts and haints fight
Over my pale night heart and dreams, me, is this it, me?
The mirror fades.
Why can’t I pass over and just say Hello to the day?
The mirror is gone.
Windows open.
VI
Salsa smooth salsa swinging in on the stereo
And I wish I could climb down off the ladder and dance.
Dance
That step forward forward sideways back sideways forward
And shimmy shimmy push and shake head bobbing down up up.
Dance little sister dance sings magic Santana band.
Aztec lizard gods descend and shoot smoke epistles to the land.
Corn grows and the tomato crops are looking healthy.
A strawberry bursts in the heat.
Language and growth,
So this is what dance is all about, huh, so I’ve been doing
It wrong all along, like so many other things, wrong all along.
Growing older much past the rebellion age,
Much past the point when I should know better
This thing about the dance hits me,
I never passed the stage where excuses were no longer necessary,
I never came to see that what I say and do announces,
That I do not need to always justify.
Just like the dance, learn the steps, learn the body language
And then the movement is enough.
The body always spoke in ways that I could not.
Salsa breathes.
Salsa and samba, the old Hustle and Pony, poems alive,
And the long passion of epics is realized in Tango and Waltz.
I can’t get past the Twist. Mash Potato, do this Patti Smith, boney maroney.
Do this thing where the emotions stagnate and yet fight to grow.
VII
Static snow on the clover and dandelions,
A clear, cold stream races over black slate and fools gold,
Jarred and smacked against the car door,
Jumping water and hitting the black tar once again,
This little truck of mine does OK some of the time.
Buddha on the dashboard, Mickey Mouse in the ashtray,
Goofy and a stegosaurus wrangle for shotgun,
And behind the wheel I sing and drive on,
Singing in the car, singing alone, fun Southern drive
Singing off key singing nothing like the song on the stereo,
Singing “it ain’t me babe, no no no, it ain’t me…”
“It ain’t me…so I break on through to the other side
day becomes the night night becomes the day week to weak
hour to hour break on through to…American girl raised on
Dreams and promises…break down and give it to me now it’s alright,
It’s alright…running down a dream runnning down a light”,
“in the shadow of the cage around the 40 watt light”
And after Dylan, Doors, Tom Petty and Drive By Truckers
The static claw finger hits a sharp banjo:
“I can waltz though my hands are tied I can hold you close
And whisper lies”, and so D. Chamber chants down the moon.
And by the time I’m at the service it’s obvious to me
That something is breaking, something is breaking inside of me.
Snow ices up on the window and I can’t see a thing.
VIII
I’m sick of all the killing and death. Sick of all the theft.
God gives and takes. Buddha laughs.
Great gods of murder, calamity and sorrow all come together
And have a laugh on us. Thanks for nothing sister Shiva,
Thanks for nothing, you Ego freeing beast, thanks for nothing.
Friendships become harder the older I grow. I want to capture
Daylight and hold them all close a little longer,
But that’s not gonna happen.
Looking out past tear and salt drowned eyes,
Hugs and handshakes don’t compensate,
And yeah, I march around all tall and red faced, the ground my bulls eye,
The brakes in my mind get lost on trails of tales of wild spotted deer,
Of nights driving home through fog and mist, through sweet alfalfa,
Through fields laced with yellow wheat, with rolled bales of tall rye grass.
The road to Oglethorpe County was a lot of woods and pasture,
Horse fence and dirt roads, roads pine lined and blackberry guarded,
These pulsating roads were the ones we raced,
The ones we drove every night,
Home from the rock and roll mecca, Athens, Georgia.
And home we drove in Dan’s beat up maroon Volvo.
To the dark, dark inner country roads, part pebble, part asphalt,
Where a Church stood, where three tattered white crosses guarded the lawn,
This church dedicated to snake gods and white flowers,
To dogwoods and the book of Jeremiah, to marching into glory with a song.
How many girls stood in the crossroads at 1 a.m and promised lazy love
Into legend, who promised to each steady standing star that poem was all
And we were just a stanza.
That’s the story I want to tell. The one I try to set loose
And yet every second I breathe an ocean bursting,
Call it what you will I call it emotion.
Not a dry cheek in the amphitheater.
We hold each other now to hold onto Now.
When a mother loses a son and a wife her husband, a daughter her father
And the rest of us just stand and wonder, someone tell me
what of mother, husband and father? So I have to speak……..
I must but I can’t I have to speak to eulogize to say something that will comfort.
“When Napoleon met Goethe he paused and held up a hand and said:
Here is man.” (in French of course but here it is the importance of phrase)
Not here is a man or here is some man or the man, no, he said Here Is Man.
This is how I feel when I speak of my friend, that here is man,
An example of the life lived for us all. Daniel S. Hart truly was Man.
But this is the thing, the Kantian thing that is there, the thing is that,
And that is us, we are each man and woman,
and we are each A man and A woman.
And we are as well as are not.
I am. You are. We are.
I. You. We.
I am.
I against I? Hell no. I am.
Water spirits leave.
I know this ice melts and all love evolves.
IX
So tell me why when dark clouds know my name and the crows know my name
That with each wind and crackling loud ka kaw!
I am not comforted I am not calm. Call my name!
Shadows press into the window, up against the wall,
Shadows even know my name,
Yeah, marching straight time down wet and hilly streets,
Marching so I can find me, find me a maze to circle in and around,
Go down by the water in the gulley by my house,
Go down like Moses to the slow and sludgy ripples, go down and dig the bones,
Dig under the stones, dig under the fallen leaves,
Dig at the base of dogwood and maple; dig ‘til you can tell me
I’ve dug down far enough, dig until the answers stand taller than the sun,
And then, then tell me that the crows don’t know,
That the crows and thunderbirds have forgotten who I am, I have.
I have given up the hunt, handed over desire,
I want to know so I can be calm so I can sleep.
So who will comfort when the herd stampedes and all you can see is dust and sun?
Will the rains really do this, will the rains wash away or just push,
Push the trash Deeper in? I want a bucket to throw up in.
I want a Western saddle and a gun. I want to ride.
GO!
“Open up the gates, I’m coming home” sang the goat.
X
And I wrote. In sadness and loss the page becomes me.
There were many things including this, and the one that was carved in stone,
The poem that was born from his death, as memorial for his wife, Beth,
His daughter, Zoe and to his parents Marvin and Orlene, to any who
Would see in the Brandywine Valley this six foot tall polished and gray
With arched top stone, granite, so hard and ever lasting, granite,
And it was there, and I was humbled more than ever, G-d looks upon us,
And we read the Kaddish and I wore his bar mitzvah cap,
We held hands and read these words, so Southern yet Jewish, so Universal,
Words to praise a life, words to grant peace, words, adoration and comfort,
This is the eulogy, my last song to friendship, to my dear friend, Dan:
My life lived so fast, full and pure,
Brimming with energy, desire, curious for more,
One dream to become completely who I am,
One love and one child my heart became alive,
And with all these things I was happy,
Happy to be amongst you, happy to be a man,
Happy to have flown, fished and found,
To have found this life just what I wanted
Just what I loved: To be a man,
A father, son and husband to the world.
H Lamar Thomas

DANIEL S. HART
AUGUST 27, 1967 to December 4, 2007

Oh damn, yes that’s my name on the marker,
My name before my calling, that’s my name on the stone in the Brandywine Valley.
I am not ready.
Unblinking green eyed stare.
This land is so beautiful.
I want to create.
I am ready.
And it like this, it is this, knowing friendship and love,
Beloved and warm, chaotic and embraced for all the right reasons,
A better man for my wife, a better friend and a better life.
I am not ready.
Open sesame dammit! Open up and stop being so vain.
Wish I could meet the author of the Song of Songs, of Ecclesiastes and Isaiah.

XI
Bang Bang! The night, bang the cracking limbs in the storms,
Bang! burn down the ragged barns, put up new fences and plant bamboo,
And it does not help to fear or to attack, it does not help to ever give up.
Shouts and shouts and that recurrent Bang! of silence burning down,
And memories run away, inspiration dies at the Bang! but Bang!
It does and I will not give up.
I remember standing beneath the water tower at my house
On the Star Highway, Hiway 1 of the California legends,
Standing by my Malibu station wagon, stand in the night, tired,
Leaning and looking out on the wild succulent grove, moon bright,
Moon alive and smooth, an easy wind curling down the mountainside,
Traveling to my house here near the sea, and then as on cue an owl flies by,
Yes, swoops and hoots, clicks a few times and crawls into the tower.
Native Americans there said the owl is a death message,
Bang! it scared me, but there is always death, just the same as life,
So each night it became a ritual of me standing and loving the stars,
And sister owl just hanging out, raising a family, living the owl life,
Living in a way that makes a mockery of metaphor and fairy tale.
But any way, I hang onto to both legend and truth.
Both have meaning.
I am glad.
The buzz of gnats and a passing choir of dogs howling,
Power and knowledge, acceptance and atonement,
Creation expands from silence,
Creation pops bubbles and smiles Peace inside inferno,
And I know I love. And this is what I know,
In deep water and in dry summer, all thanks, all hands,
There are no more metaphors.
Embrace. I am glad. Glad for all that I have known.

XII

I look on the face of a thirty-year-old pocket watch,
It reads 10:10 and the horses on the silver cover stand in place running,
One nipping the neck of the front steed, left legs rose, poised, racing.
There’s no race.
The engraving says: ONE STEP UP.
Pale etching in old metal; oak leaves and vines on the back, almost filigree,
Kinda cool, it feels soothing on the tips of my heat ravaged fingers;
The wages of a life in the kitchen, delicate yet worn and scratchy engravings
On my own speckled hands, freckle shining, bright blue veins pulsing,
This is a race in itself, isn’t it? The shot of blood always moving, in and out,
A few pints here, a few pints there, paused in the heart holds and parlors,
My own wind up is the wind pushing over Pacific waves, over sand and saw grass,
Cleansing thing, a very nice cleansing thing these bastard lonely waves crashing
Over inside and over again into each other, and then the break, the rush over rock
And cliff side, this is the way the heart must be, bashing and pushing, holding
Buckets of molecules for a moment long enough to shove it back down,
Tick tock, it goes again gaining speed and building momentum, tick tock,
This isn’t it, Wendy, but the crocodile follows all of us, doesn’t it? Tick tock.
Captain Hook isn’t even the problem; the darkness can’t have a name,
The dark stabs and penetrates smiles and hope; the dark is a sharp knife
Held at minute hand’s tip, ticking, stupid tick, not a rhythm not a beat
Just this horrid shining set of angers and discord slung from clocks’ end
Into the world around us.
I want to take one step up.
I want to evolve.
And these crazed Pan references are Freudian old, dead Id old, moldy dead
Vacant slabs of thick paint old, so old I know there is no forgiveness,
No more turning back clocks and memory, I can’t bounce from rock to rock
Or over dunes like I did in the Mendocino days, I kinda walk and wander,
Skip rocks over kudzu patches and wish they were the sea, I wish it was the sea.
XIII
Ballads and bad lads, a slice of night on the specials board, long days hawking
Fresh food for the masses, long hours sweating, living on a nerves edge alive
I press on, cutting, slicing, portioning, thinking, rotating, cleaning, directing,
A shout here and there but mostly speaking, speaking works wonders
When the crew is all love, love and hate for the food. A Chef’s life.
Some days I feel like food, as if I were the garlic, the ginger, the cinnamon stick,
Yeah, like a clove of garlic squeaking, watching Chinese steel
Come down on the bamboo board, being torn apart and then thinly sliced.
Being a part of the picture, a piece in the puzzle or best of all, an ingredient,
True, oxygen kills and gives life, and we fight against oxygen sometimes,
Working fast, getting the ingredients together just in time, just in that moment
Before aging starts to take away flavor, we do it for the flavor, chop and run.
Fresh means something; it means something grand.
XIV
Nightlines breaking like beech trees falling in sudden snowstorms,
Tulip maples and magnolias felled in the roads and backyards of my home,
Fences break, roads succumb and power lines flare up like cherry bombs.
Staring up in the scattering snow, so thick, no form, just a shotgun blast
From 10 p.m. March 1, 2009. Hear the forest killing itself.
The crush of stupid drivers coming down the hill, the spinning desperation,
A slip and a crash. Just go to sleep big Suburban, just go to sleep and stay
Awhile beneath the pines, stay a while and leave your passengers to go,
Let the land drink in this cold display, let the land rest and regenerate.
I got a Huskavara chainsaw chewing it’s way out of the garage,
16 inches of blade, hungry to get going, oiled and gassed,
This is one angry machine, and I am one cold driver, one cold man
In one cold white night, one rich night into an icy dawn, grey dawn.
I am Lonely in the snow. My shoes wet, my toes cold from sweat and melting ice.
Shadow lays itself down upon a broken and dead dogwood.
Lifting the breathing carcass of Rose Of Sharon, or was it Camellia?
To me it’s all pink blooms in winter, and it comes back to life,
Frozen flowers and all, this tender but feisty tree comes back to life.
“I wish I had the power over judgment day”, wish I could resurrect
These few fallen friends, good people downed just like the pines.
I know my heart is sleeping in these ponderosa pines, and I know
My thoughts are tangled like Ledbelly’s heartless love,
I sense a train is coming, I hear the grave stones crack.
No dust rises around my feet and the food I eat is salty and raw,
Man, I want a press pot coffee, Columbian, black as hell and burning.
And the snows take another tree down, down across a roof out back,
A woman comes out screaming, this tree just killed her house.
Death has mercy. I think. I hear the songs my friends used to love,
I hear them laughing as I chug along, I wish dear Bruce and Dan
Were here today, I want to tell them they are loved, I want those
Spirits to be free, the river howls down in the distance and I sing louder,
Louder than the cry of all the birds around me hunting.
I sing loud. I want the devil to know that I am coming for him.
XV
I am the guy in the graveyard holding his breath
Till mortality stops being mortal.
Chinks of stone embed in my palms from holding broken Jesus statues.
I call down stupid demon history and swear these angels
Are nothing but jokes against all things that I believed.
Come down and hold me.
Tell me something is cherished.
I am not done. Am I? I am. . . . NOT DONE.
Quick poet chained with bracelets and charms.
See the alarming happiness and hope silenced.
See this? What does anything matter if it just
Means that again this is tossed out into the wind,
Friends dying and killed, blood, booze, explosions and heroin.
My own vanity can’t even justify this thing that I call me.
This, this life that I believed was beloved.
It is not.
Is it?
It’s all about me. I’m all I know.
The mirror never takes a holiday.
Fuck!
There’s a spray of barbed wire behind every birth.
Mystery slams a hand down and ushers up a smile.
Anyone can do better. Anyone can be more.
We have a choice, to create or to destroy; it always comes around to this,
Around and around, the need is not the question; the want is not the desire,
I have chosen that no matter what I will create and I will build,
I do it all in reverence and love, from laughter to a scream, I do it all with love.
Pure heart comes from a wild life lived.
Justice comes from doing these things in spite of the hate that madness brings.
And yes, as surely as the round Buddha touches earth,
As surely as the Prophet fed the masses,
There is a car waiting to take it all away. Death drive. Life drive.
Just drive on. Drive on. Drive.
This thing that’s on my lips? Beloved goes on, she goes on and says
She wants to get away, it is all she wants, she wants to go away.
She does.

Where The Wild Meats Roam (food, article, A Romance With Food)


WHERE THE WILD MEATS ROAM
A Story About Why Roast Pork Butt With Persimmon And Plum

Rod Stewart And Faces had an album, Every Picture Tells A Story, well, for me, so does a recipe. Born of a family going back to the 17oo’s on the same soil, in the same tracts of Georgia land, sharing the same names, church and graveyard, there are tales and legends as deep as any pecan root, and yet also as shallow as the creeks running all around the suburbanized and cemented maze that now stands on that once fertile ground. I will be buried in the same common earth as my first Irish American ancestor, Finn or Sinn, Cofer and Thomas, off of First Street in once tree lined and pasture rich Tucker, Georgia. Before I die I will have to eat a last meal, I hope, and that involves pork. Some want fried chicken, veal chops or carbonara, fat scallops or fried crappie, me, I want pork roast with persimmon and root vegetables.
The Finns, Englands and Cofers settled and fought, farmed and built railroads, general stores and family neighborhoods. The ground gave a lot of produce and tobacco, and then in the Depression it was all taken away, even my grandfather served time for throwing sacks of corn and wheat off the railroad cars as they mounted the hill that was Tucker. The Robin Hood thing was real. When a nation hungers, it hungers for real. The food that arose from these times became legendary, as they were then lost in the era of canned and frozen convenience foods. The Great Depression changed the way that people shopped and cooked. In my hometown we had two butchers, a couple of grocery stores, lots of vegetable stands, and of course Matthews Cafeteria.
Food dominated the cultural landscape. This is the South. This is the Deep South. Ethiopian and Irish, French and German, our foods developed from their kitchens and from their tilled ground. All cultures have “their” food that is often delicious in the place of origin. Learning how to approach indigenous or ethnic cuisines is challenging, and even moreso if it is the food of one’s own ancestors. Many times I’ve coaxed Chinese Chefs to trade the “good stuff” with me by eating Hunan style sweet and sour intestines. Cracks me up, Soul food is soul food all over the world. Wild and fresh killed meat is always good for no matter what part of the body, it is always good.
Plum trees were all over my neighborhood by a nameless creek and the small bream, perch and crappie filled lake below. Maypops, blackberry, pecan, peach, persimmons, muscadines and gone wild watermelons showed up here and there. Our own small yard had three purple plum trees. They were toys to me, things to throw around, to toss at rabbits and squirrels, and of course to play fetch with mix breed beagles that my father raised for rabbit hunting.
My Mother married without the slightest idea of how to cook. She was the bobby sockser, the pretty girl, The Southern Belle of the Cofer/England family. So, my grandmothers and aunts would fix dinner for her and then bring it over before my wild Thomas father came home from the hard labor brick mason jobs he held all over Dekalb and Fulton counties. We ate everything that my grandparents and their grandparents ate. And Mother, well, she became to me the best cook in the world; she learned and she handed it down. We loved her Sunday suppers of beef pot roast, and the yeast rolls that rose by the heater vents while we were at church were the best. But pork, the rest of the week, pork was a food of the people, affordable, high yield, fatty and adapts to just about any kind of preparation.
Buffets were the best part of births, deaths, new homes and marriages, of church socials and Tucker Days celebrations. It was an elaborate and tasty youth. These gatherings are now called “Taste of (insert city name)” where restaurants display their foods. I still envy the ways they handed down, yet much was lost in a land overpopulated and built up to the extent that town halls and mainstreets were to become the “Make believe” property of developers and sell out relatives. I miss the South of community and closeness, safety, and of course great fresh food.
I miss the foods the most. Great thing is that we are now bringing these foods back home in the home as more natural meats and local produce become available. Who would have ever thought that fried green tomatoes would be a restaurant dish? This was something we cooked at home when there were just too many tomatoes growing. Today this is tapas or amuses bouche in restaurants, and that’s cool. You gotta love the food. I keep trying to work out a fried green tomato bruschetta that can pass as a nod to Mediterranean or Pan Asian styles.
Today our South foods come close to what gave the food so much flavor, and I mean outside the family farm, the fresh killed meats, the iron skillets and 200 year old bbq pits, I mean the good love between us all, the setting aside of grief and anger, the lifting up of the love and the song that is a long family history, the worship in the only church around, the Tucker First Baptist (land donated by my maternal Grandfather), the only High School around, Tucker High (some of the land donated by my paternal Grandfather), the whole thing, the hanging out at my Grandfather Thomas’ general store, butcher shop, gas station and lunch counter, going to Matthews Cafeteria because that is where we went to eat out and socialize, not because it was charming and kitschy, but because that was where we went out to eat, period. Well, except for the Dairy Queen or Fountain’s Drugs. We ate together. We lived. The mention that we were quaint or kitschy can piss off landed gentry or two, and sometimes even me. That was the life before Atlanta was again the Phoenix in the late 70s and 80s.
The food has been revived and that’s the beautiful thing, our bloodline lives, our accents live and our food is being revived. Now if only the love and comradery could be resurrected. How can I touch this? By food cooked at home. My wife learned to cook collard greens with ham hock from my niece! Yeah, the family meals follow a twisted path but they always lead back to the family. Rough economies push us back to the family table, a place of conversations and true adoration of the food.
As an American Chef my foods have traveled the globe, my culinary path is the World, but my history, my training and much of my style belongs to what I saw in my Mamaw England’s and Mother’s kitchen, and of course from what Daddy Bill and Gertrud Thomas cooked one strange Sunday in the long ago. Long ago before appropriating the magic and hardships of dirt and clay, pine tree and pecan hard luck life became a marketable influence, long ago when it was real and it was now, when it tasted so warm and sweet. Warm and sweet, cold and sweet, that’s how I remember, that is the South I adore. Fusion began in the South. This stands as a kind of culinary confessional, doesn’t it? But it’s richer than this; the world of food unites us all beyond boundaries and beyond languages.
Why this long introduction to one dish built in so many ways for three hundred years? Why do all these New South restaurants get on my nerves? There is no ‘New’ South; we’ve always been here, welcoming everyone home. The ingredients have changed a lot now that the world is drawn in so close with modern farming, even for the small local there is modernity, this is how we survived, by change, by adaptation, and yet the main thing about the food never changed, the cooking style and the pork.
The variations are many, but persimmon, plums and sweet potato are what it takes for this roast pork butt to be the best Sunday dinner of the month, that’s for sure. And always remember that slow food is not our invention nor is it a novelty act for a hundred same menu farms to table restaurants to espouse. The only places not cooking fresh or natural are the big box chains that tell you they are cooking fresh and natural.
The pig itself is of importance. I use the breed known as Duroc. Berkshire and Ossabow are very popular among pork connoisseurs and rightly so for the rich, fatty flavor, but I like an in between kind of pig and Thomas Jefferson’s pig is a perfect fit for me. If you want Ossabow pork there is a ranch in Georgia that is now producing them so you don’t have to sign up for hunts in South Georgia and the islands there. The name of the ranch is Nature’s Harmony.
Fuyu persimmons work best for this recipe. If you have a persimmon tree then that’s just even more value to the meal. They can be found at Super H and many of the Farmer’s Market’s, organic grocers and Whole Foods.
Plums? What is there to say other than “alright, plums in a savory dish”.
Use the big dark firm slightly sweet ‘n sour Damson ones. If not fresh then just pass this over and use apricots or nectarines, and apples or pears.
PERSIMMON AND PLUM PORK BUTT ROAST
The flavor in a pig is always in the butt, leg, shoulder, bacon and country ribs. Since we cook with electricity and natural gas now instead of propane and whatever wood would fit in the stove some of the details are lost. I was finally able to cook my Mamaw’s fried chicken while cooking on a wood burning stove on the wild Mendocino Coast one home sick lonely long rainy winter. I am forever thankful for a Big Green Egg that my brother, Gary Lyle, gave to me last Christmas. I have learned again how to cook more natural, more to the heart of what I love about food.
Same for this butt recipe except that I was cooking wild boar. Northern California wild boars tend to be Berkshire, good stuff. Something about being away from home that brings home all the more close. So, I learned to cook the foods of my home by being away from home. I love this life, I really do.

6 pound butt
2 large yellow onions, or vidalia if available
3 carrots, chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
½ cup fresh mint, or a handful of stems and leaves
2 sweet potatoes cut into medium sized cubes (1 x1 inch)
1 pound plums, Damson, cut in half, remove stone
1 pound ripe persimmons, washed, peeled and cut in quarters
1 ½ tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup peach moonshine or light rum
1/2 cup sugar, light brown
½ cup molasses
2 tablespoons lard
Day before cooking chop the herbs. Rub the pork down with the salt, pepper and sugar. Mix the herbs with the molasses and rub this over the pork. Refrigerate overnight. The day of cooking preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat a deep iron roasting pan or clay Dutch oven on the stove top on medium heat. Add the lard. Add the onions and carrots. Stir and let them cook for a minute. Add the pork butt and sear on all sides for a minute each turn. Add the sweet potatoes, plums, persimmons and heat for three minutes. Be careful not to let the herbs and sugars burn. Add the liquids. Simmer for three minutes.
Cover the pot and put it into the oven. Cook two hours. Remove the lid and cook for fifteen minutes. The pork should have a temperature of 150 to 160 degrees. Remove from oven. Take the butt out of the pot and set aside. Put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. From here you will adjust the seasonings. Add more Damson plums if you need it to be richer and thicker. Simmer to a thin sauce. Strain and pour sauce into serving bowl.
Slice the pork. Serve persimmons, plums, sweet potatoes on the same tray and the sliced pork. Best eaten with yeast rolls, brunswick stew and any kind of cabbage or slow cooked collards or turnip greens.

ROSCOE HOLCOMB ON THE STEREO

So…Did I really think
the sun would shine down in my house out on hillbilly row?
When the rains flowed and fed great fields of kudzu and honeysuckle
I watched my gardens fade and fall, dry and die in the granite mothered

barren soil, and all the bream and bark in the world just wouldn’t
fertilize, wouldn’t hold the sands long enough to seed, but still I believe,
still I try. And when it’s good, on the front porch above the haze

it’s a vision of green mountains and steaming thin rivers cutting
through the gorge, beautiful. And when it’s corn and bean shucking time
I still have the heart to whistle “In the Pines”,

and I hope someone can hear me, I hope someone will shout back
through the woods, maybe even cross over to this plot of land.

Dried flowers, a dusty letter, Japanese figurine, yellow light on the brick
mantel shines, wipe my eyes, look again, and still it shines a cracked
and dingy pastel, and the morning itself seems like a postcard,

a loved memento of the life I’ve had. But waking always brings this pause,
this gaze into the past…wish it was easier to shake away the dreams,
just set them on the shelf beside the light, turn around and go my way.

Sitting in the kitchen staring at the rusty well water in my James Joyce mug,
have a smoke, try to forget those other warmer mornings and fonder beds,
sip and think about how with today I begin again, yes again, yes.

Daybreak walking down the hill, chestnut and red clover line the path,
wild strawberries and may pop vines perk up beneath the early dew,
think about it: this is my life? Here, earthsongs grew and flourished,

and I knew all the talk about whispers on the wind and the life of the wee
folk was more than legend, it simply was. It simply was the way of things.
River rock and Cherokee rose lead the way creekside to the barbwire line
that marked the place grandfather had his still, and there today I see
the blue tagged stake for the county tax man, fresh, deep, weak nonetheless,

and there today I just kick it down and keep on walking, glad this is a place
where I feel and feel, and feel so much the today of it all, just the today.
Strange water, this mountain blood: Black bear heart and Appalachian spirit,

Van Gogh hands given to the land, knowing the light is sweet and giving,
yet the Adam in me still curses anyway, and I pace in and out of the creek
and moss like this here is the one true baptistery, and I do dare it all

to come to pass……….yeah, these Ecclesiastic days will surely pass,
but until then there’s another song waiting, another blues, another hymn
to hard work and struggle, another reason to stomp and wail,
and then another day to fight the silence on the hill.

Pompano Steamed In Banana Leaf (food, article, Lily)


POMPANO STEAMED IN BANANA LEAF OVER VEGETABLES
The first time I had this dish was at the Thai Cafe on California Street in San Francisco in 1980. I literally shed a tear of happiness over this dish. I had never had anything better before in my life. There are several variations of this dish. It is kin to a fish mousse in French cuisine, but, then again it’s not.
4 dried chilies
1 stalk lemon grass
6 large leaves basil, use holy or purple basil
if it is available, for a slight cinnamon or anise taste
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped=2 cloves
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon soy sauce
10 Sichwan peppercorns crushed
4 tablespoons coconut cream: get this by scooping
the cream off the top when you open the can.
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces pompano, cut in thin 1 inch pieces
1 banana leaf. Buy more if you’re nervous and it’s the first time.
2 limes, zested on grater, use the zest.
10 medium leaves spinach
Cut and discard the seeds from the chilies. Chop and soak the chilies in hot water.
Use the bottom three inches of the lemon grass, peel away the tough outer skin and slice crosswise as thin as you can.
In your mortar, or food processor, make a paste from the drained chilies, garlic, shallot, lemon grass, turmeric, soy and peppercorns. Remove to mixing bowl.
Add coconut cream, sugar, and the fish. Stir so that it is well mixed and pasty. Set aside.
Cut the banana leaves into 8 X 11 inch rectangles. Cut two more rectangles at 3 X 5 inches. Cut six long thin, string-like strips of banana leaf for tying the packets. Set the large leaves on a cutting board, shiny side down. Place small leaves inside large leaves. Divide and stack spinach on each, then stack basil leaves on top of spinach.
Go back to the fish mix (it is a curry). Stir in the lime zest. Divide the mix between the banana leaves. Fold the edges of the leaves over so that each overlaps in the center.
You will have a tube shape. Now, fold the ends over to close it. Turn each over. Lay the strings down, three per pack on the cutting board. Set the packets on top of the strings.
Tie it up. Not too thick, you don’t want to squeeze out the mix.
Fill the bottom of the wok with water, set the steamer of top of the water. Bring to furious, propulsive boil. Place packets in steamer rack. Cover. Cook ten minutes. No more, no less. At the end of that time, lift the steamer off of the pan and set it aside. With a spatula, and be careful, lift the packets off of the steamer and place on vegetables.

It is also very easy to just lay this on the rack in a high heat ceramic smoker grill like a Big Green Egg.

A Whisper In My Life

Everything is poetry,
there is nothing before
and there is nothing after,
every kiss and every shout,
even when I walk across the dining room floor,
even when I don’t know what It’s all about,
like the waking and the snores,
like a hot shower or hot at work,
everything is poetry
and nothing bores.

There Really Is Only This [poem; passion; Suburban Pastorals]


THERE REALLY IS ONLY THIS
Roaming, running errands in the grey winter afternoon,
thinking of better moments, of more loving faces
than all the frowns in the cars around me.
And the radio plays “It’s A Beautiful Day” and I sing along,
ah yes, it is a beautiful day in it’s own way…..
but it could be better still, and my memories tumble,
roll and materialize with images of heaven, of all beloved.

Warm daylight, she moves across the room
with a bounce in her step,
and her loose black robe falls back an inch
to show her perfect firm tan and welcoming breast,
she turns her head and smiles,
and as she turns her mass of black hair follows,
and cape like it wraps around her shoulders
and rests on her right arm, and she brushes it back.
And me, I sit and idolize her.
And all the lands and loves and places of my past
dissappear in an instant as I see that she is all there is.

I jump to follow her, to hold her in my arms,
to breath her in, to taste the sweat on her neck and cheeks.
And my head fills with the smells of crushed allspice and lemon,
of salt and the aromas of sea winds at night.
In this moment lingering, in this eternity before we kiss
I see the flashing lights behind my eyelids,
and as I open them to see if this is real, if this is true,
I look into her deep sensual, almond brown eyes,
and slowly merge into her vision, into her body.

Soft caress of lips, a touch of our teeth,
and I feel what can only be called an elegance,
an elegant curl of her tongue around mine.
And as we hold and explore, pass our hands over each
others body, press harder and harder our mouths together,
I move her away, so slight and dear,
and with three fingers lift the edge of her gown
to move it down and around her curving waist,
shifting her weight, dropping her arms,
her clothing drifts like feathers to the floor around her feet.

Thin, long and silky, she stands amid the crumpled cotton
around her ankles and folds her arms around my head
to grasp the hair at the back of my neck,
she bends her own head back, and as I twine her around
my wrist she leans into me and nibbles on my Adams apple,
with tiny snapping, and then quick breathing in my ears,
she leads me as she kisses me into the gauze lighted
and intoxicated atmospheres of our bed room.
And as I disrobe with her hands guiding mine
I feel this way, this way of so long ago when love was new,
and the body was unknown, I shiver and tremble
just a little bit, and press her into the mass of blankets
on our unmade bed, press her into the pillows with a force
that exposes my lust and love for her,
and as she lays back and looks up at me, I see her as laughing,
sexy, inviting, mysterious and sensual all at once,
I see her with all my body and spirit,
and her touch, her smells, her tastes and hugs and kisses
rush in and shake me from the foundation up into my heart.
And I think, so this is love, this is really love,
and I feel this is the body this i s the only body,
the only love for me from this day forward for all my life.

Not enough, no it’s never enough, we wrestle and we melt,
and she rolls over to show me the watery curves of her thighs
and hips as they effortlessly flow upwards into her back.
She tosses her head and catches me adoring her,
she catches me smiling at her grace and her beauty,
at her slim hips, at her tight skinned ginger hot flesh
that I so love and that I so cherish with abandon,
and as I lower my head between her legs and kiss her vagina,
and inhale the sweetness of her from all over,
she hums, she quietly giggles, and she fills the room
with a beauty only captured in the lights of the Milky Way,
with a beauty only seen in the form of the mythic Helen,
and so drunk on her flesh, so high on her spirit,
I rise up on my knees and enter her moist world of love and sex.
And as we move I have this feeling that I never want to come,
that I want to be inside her forever, that I just want to feel
her for this moment as a divine moment held in time,
in this place in this green room in this womans grasp,
and she rears up and bounces like a wild mare on the plains,
and I lose myself inside her, inside her where I belong,
where I long to be……………..shoutin

g, heavy breath,
I charge into her, I leap into her, and she just opens and lets
me in, and as I relax and once again press my self onto her,
she exhales, she laughs, she touches me so tender,
my shining loving Taiwaness, and we roll over
into each others arms and hold like there really is no tomorrow,
like there really is no other place to be.
And you know, there isn’t.
There is no place to be but in her arms, her in mine.

And I drive on home from the grocery store,
smiling at the other cars passing around me.
I don’t give a damn. My spirit is full with this woman
of the Song of Songs with this woman of my life.

Fried Mango Chevre With Basil Poblano Vinaigrette [food, article, Lily And Sweet Fire]


FRIED CHEVRE AND BASIL POBLANO VINAIGRETTE

MANGO CHEVRE
4 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces montrachet goat cheese
½ mango peeled and pureed=3 tablespoons puree
Mix it by hand until smooth. Don’t over mix, stop when smooth and light yellow. Refrigerate for one hour. Pat into 8, one ounce little cakes.
The next stage is flour, eggwash and roll in breadcrumbs. Use the dry hand-wet hand method when breading. One hand for dry ingredients and one hand for wet ingredients, this way you never cross over from batter to flour and your hands aren’t caked up with the breading.
In three separate pans:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon water, whisked into egg
½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
Cover with flour and then place into the egg wash pan. Coat with egg and then roll cakes in the breadcrumbs, then egg and breadcrumb them again to make sure they are completely encrusted with the breading.

FRY
1 cup corn or peanut oil
Heat to 350 degrees in iron skillet. Fry for 90 seconds per side. Turn again and remove when crust begins to brown.

BASIL POBLANO VINAIGRETTE
1 poblano pepper
1 ounce fresh basil
1 tablespoon grain mustard
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup corn oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper
Roast the peppers until the skin blisters and turns black. Wrap and chill. Peel them in cold water and remove seeds. Use the flesh for the vinaigrette. This is also how you roast red bell peppers to get that smooth sweet and slight heat from them.
In food processor: peppers, basil, mustard. Slowly add olive oil, corn oil, vinegar, sugar, and then salt and pepper. Chill.

H Lamar Thomas, Executive Chef
East West Bistro
This recipe is for the restaurant section of the August Southern Distinction magazine. If you use it just remember where it came from and give me a kind word. Food is for everyone, there are no boundaries or limits to what can happen when science and love combine!

In Every Way [poem; passion; Suburban Pastorals]


IN EVERY WAY
Behind the hedges in the backyard
We kissed.
In the kitchen by the stove we kissed.
After work in the grocery store
We lingered by the boxes
Of ripening guava.
Thick tropical scent griped us,
And yes, we kissed.
What else are we here for?
It seemed the fruit was turning to wine.
I remember every place we’ve been
By the times we touched,
By the love when you pressed your
Hand into mine,
By the meals we prepared;
By the idle moments sitting.
The months and years shine
When we are together.
It’s too sweet, I know,
But I really don’t care
Life tastes better with this to share:
A simple kiss for you: my love.
My beloved.

Cooking Mussels in the Shell [article, food, Ginger]


THERE ARE THINGS WE CANNOT TELL,
BUT WE ARE COOKING MUSSELS IN THE SHELL
Discovering love in the cold months takes a little imagination. The use of aphrodisiacal foods helps. A Puccini opera and an open fire can’t hurt either. Romance and love are two different things, related, but different. Mediterranean and Pan Asian may seem as distant as planets, but this is one earth and many seas, seas that were traveled in the 15th and 16th centuries by Spanish and Portuguese sailing ships. They landed and made their imprint from St. Augustine, Florida to Argentina, Hawaii to Singapore and back again. We will experience this connection by cooking fresh black mussels and the frozen New Zealand green lipped mussel.
Black mussels simmered in coconut water with cilantro, ginger, bird chili peppers, seafood broth, lime and glass noodle is our Pan Asian dish. Steamed with tomato, lemon, garlic, scallions, Pinot Noir and oregano with a garnish of fried shoestring sized potatoes is our Western recipe. Green lipped mussels baked with crabmeat and mascarpone cheese, topped with panko breadcrumbs and baked is our third and last recipe. You can accompany these dishes with rice, couscous, linguini, quinoa and any variety of french fry potatoes.
The Latin influence not only touched the architecture, language and culture but the food and romance as well. When we see similarities between the foods of different cultures we experience also the Romantic nature of the human spirit. Food crosses barriers first; language and romance then follow in like kind. This is why we always seem to set the stage for romantic love with exquisite foods. Love, as in the deeper sense of romance and friendship, needs a little help from time to time to find its way back into the heart. Food is the bridge. Mussels are our way across that bridge today.
When we watch travel cooking shows it is always through the food that the culture speaks. The narrator will give an American perspective first and then taste the food as a native to that country. “Tasting as” is the key. Put yourself into their perspective and then fully entertain the flavors. Experience new foods and cultures as prejudice free as you can. This culture speaks similarity and vast difference.
We will explore this duality by cooking black mussels two different ways and then baking the green lipped mussels. I’ve never seen fresh green mussels in America. In restaurants we use farmed Prince Edward Island mussels (PEI mussels) or white water mussels, which are wild, saltier and larger than PEI mussels. The wild are often called Mediterranean mussels. It is easier to find frozen green than fresh PEI in regular grocery stores. Call to various Farmer’s Markets and specialty grocers to see if they have what you need before planning or setting a date for your dinner.
ALIVE: check to see that your mussels are alive by gently tapping the base on a cutting board. The base is the smaller section where each shell meets. Mussels are “bivalves”, two shells. If they do not close then they are dead. Throw the dead ones away. Rinse them under very cold water and then put in a slotted colander. Cover with ice cubes and then refrigerate until time to cook. Don’t take them out ahead of time and DO NOT put a tight lid over the container, as they will die if deprived of oxygen. They will keep for 14 days from the date that they are harvested. You can plan on keeping them for 2 to 3 days.
Besides being food mussels purify the water. Cleaning the water is the function of bivalves as they clutch to rocks, boats, piers and the bottom of the sea; they purify the water. Most all seafood falls into the category of aphrodisiacs. For the mussel it is because of their shape, and the fact that they are all protein. Mussels have been found, along with shrimp, crab and sea worms alongside deep water volcanoes and chimneys. The temperatures here are over 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Something with that kind of versatility has to be an aphrodisiac.
BLACK MUSSELS VIA SHANGHAI
As the title suggests these are mussels as I had them in a Cantonese restaurant in an ancient, multicultural and sleepless city on the river. Infused with British, Japanese, Shanghainese, Sichuan, Cantonese and Han/Mandarin Chinese, and then Dutch and Swiss influences it is no surprise that some restaurants will have several different takes on a dish. Shanghai has it all. When I first had this one the broth included chopped duck tongue with a bit of beak in for good measure. I just ate away at it crunching from spoonful to spoonful.
Saving the gentle cook from Sichuan specialties like duck tongue and chili pepper tapanade we will forego the genuine for the restrained. Adding it to a mussels and glass noodle dish is purely modern Shanghai; the only thing missing was a dumpling in the dish. You won’t find this in The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook.
I have an option of wheat free or aged tamari for this recipe. If you are on a gluten free diet then use the wheat free tamari. Aged tamari will give you a deeper soy flavor with a hint of oak.

36 mussels, rinsed, cold and alive
1.5 ounces cilantro, leaves, stalk and roots, chopped
1 ounce ginger, shaved thin
4 Thai bird chili peppers or serrano
6 ounces young coconut juice with pulp
4 ounces clam juice
1 lime, juiced and zest
1 ounce Sake
1 ounce wheat free tamari sauce or aged tamari
6 ounces (wet) glass/cellophane/mung bean noodles
soaked in the clam juice

Use a large wok or clay Dutch oven. Put everything except the mussels into the pot and bring to a boil. Keep it boiling for two minutes. Add the mussels and put a cover over the pot/wok/dutch oven. Let it cook for three minutes at a boil. Turn it off. Let it set for two minutes with the lid on.
Divide the mussels between two large serving bowls and then spoon the noodles and broth over the mussels. This is very country style that is very enjoyable with sour dough bread, sesame bread or french bread.
MUSSELS GEORGE GORE
I call these “Mussels George Gore” out of respect for a man whose palate and leadership helped to place Atlanta on the culinary map. He was General Manager for the Abbey and Mansion, two of Atlanta’s premier restaurants along with The Midnight Sun, La Versailles, Pano and Paul’s, and Nikolai’s Roof, which was at one time THE best restaurant in Atlanta. They were devoted to Russian style service that is the basis for Michelin stars. It was all before the next generation of chefs and their restaurants: Gunter Seegar, Linton Hopkins, Michael Touhy, Shaun Doty, David Larksworthy, Hector Santiago, Richard Blaise, Muss and Turner, Nicholas Bour, Scott Peacock, Kevin Rathbun and not so great, myself. That is a strong group of Chefs and they took Atlanta the rest of the way to becoming the expanse culinary landmark that it is today. George Gore sounded like James Earl Jones; he had that forceful presence and always seemed to stand taller than anyone in the room. All were humble before him, really. George loved to charm people and that is the stuff that makes for a superior restaurateur. And his daughter is a UGA graduate.
George was the man behind the helicopters bringing in first vintage Beaujolais from France for banquets celebrating this great wine. He fronted many a Chaines de Rotisseire banquet, the reception for Ronald Reagan’s second term in office and innumerable culinary functions in Atlanta. He really and truly was one of the most influential people in my career. Mussels were a favorite of his.
He commanded a restaurant with an enviable ease and yet could turn around and send the mightiest chef quivering to the kitchen battery. His wine lists are legendary. He was the force that for twenty years kept The Abbey and The Mansion at the top any list. He once told me that when he retired all he wanted to do was be a gentle maitre d’ for a country French restaurant. He has now simply retired but his stamp upon the food industry in Georgia will always be present. I can only hope that this recipe makes it way to him so that he fully understands the beauty of his way with wine and food. Louis Osteen was the inspiration to my career but it was George Gore that made me respect what is at the heart of cuisine and service. (The Mansion property is now the site of luxury condos and the Abbey has been turned back into a church.)
36 mussels, rinsed, chilled
4 ounces Pinot noir
12 stamens saffron, simmered in the wine
½ cup tomato, chopped and seeded
2 lemon, juice and zest
10 scallions, chopped white to light green only
24 fresh oregano, leaves only
4 cloves garlic, slices as thin as possible
Combine all of the above and bring to boil. Cover and simmer for five minutes
Divide into serving bowls and spray with the vodka:
½ ounce Peppercorn vodka in spray bottle
FRITES
1 pound russet potato cut into very thin strips
1 cup peanut oil, heat to 350 degrees
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seafood seasoning
Fry the shoestring cut potatoes to crispy, drain and sprinkle with the Old Bay. Set fries on top of the mussels.
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated fine
Sprinkle over the mussels and frites.

NEW ZEALAND GREEN LIPPED MUSSELS EAST WEST
The New Zealand green lipped mussel is a major export. The green lipped mussel is so called because the shell is green and there is a green tinge around the edge of the inner shell. It has only one section so when you hold it up the meat does not open slightly like black mussels. I love these things and used to have them on the menu waaaaaayyyy back in 1995-98. Only reason I took them off was because the black mussels were coming in as a better overall fresh product. The only frozen these days are calamari and some of the shrimp. There is nothing wrong with the green lipped frozen product. It is plump, full flavor of the clean waters and easy to manage.
They are so high in antioxidants that green lipped mussel extract and powder is used for arthritis pain. The naturally occurring anti-inflammatory lipids make this a valuable tidal crop. Imagine that, all the reasons you are told that seafood is good for you are true. Of course we are here to enjoy their flavor, the energy that they produce and for the exalted joy of sharing a romantic meal.
2 ounces backfin crabmeat
2 ounces crab claw meat
2 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon madras curry powder
4 ounces panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
Gently combine and set aside.
16 green lipped mussels, thawed in the refrigerator
Put teaspoon of the mix on top of each mussel. Set mussels on baking pan.
Turn oven onto 450 degrees, or cook them on the grill with light smoke like apple wood. Cook 10 minutes. Remove from pan using a pair tongs because they will be hot.

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Between The Sea And The Sweat [poem, Later Coyote]


BETWEEN THE SEA AND THE SWEAT

In another summer with another sweating night,
my Georgia steams and I steam along also from
too much coffee and too many Camels, and my life tries
to rise, tries to hover above the wilting mimosa.
And I daydream away into August fogs on Manchester Beach,
feel my shoes start to sink in the stones and ice plants
of the Mendocino coast, and it’s so seductive now,
like a curved finger calling me over,
over to vistas of two story waves and whale spout fountains,
scenes of a sparkling sea of St. John’s fire racing
on the limbs of midnight tossed runaway redwoods,
these great ancients dare another rampage,
another cut of the saw, another rogue current…
And I start to feel the memories rocking, rocking,
rising with white flash of moon on the ridge,
on tide heavy winds that smell of evolution and urchin.
The far Pacific in my opium years of mist and storm
is always captured in these dreams, in these green house days.
Shaking my head, salt crusts on my lips,
and I walk out into the bamboo woods behind my broken,
depression era home, smell the Broad River,
cherokee rose and honeysuckle, slap a mosquito,
a gnat and a sweat bee, watch the slow crawl
of grass thick humidity slide up the spine
of thirsting pecan and cracked bull pine.
And I walk with the woman of black halters
and ginger scented skin, and she touches my arm
and asks where I am…and I don’t know how to say
I am between the sea and the sweat,
so I tell her I am here dreaming this and that,
this and that more now than ever before in my life.

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