Quick, quick, (one month later...) I better get this blog up about the Fry Baby affair before it's forgotten, (like that BP affair :( this past summer....)

Culinary oil, essential oil and oil oil was the topic de jour... so much fun sliding between concerns about fossil fuels, carbon footprints and the health-giving/detracting qualities of different fats, and then getting to taste a variety of nut oils (Almond, Hazelnut, Sesame, Peanut and Walnut) and cocktails flavored with essential oils. Julianne Zaleta from Herbal Alchemy Apothecary http://www.herbalalchemy.net/ brought a set of essential oils (concentrated distillations made from herbs, barks, seeds, etc. One tiny drop will distinctly flavor several ounces of vodka!) Everyone mixed and matched a vodka concoction to their tastes to take home... (I made black pepper and blood orange.) Julianne also made a delicious cocktail: Fig infused vodka mixed with pear nectar and cardamon essential oil... We were off to a good start!

Our menu featured small plates from a bevy of crude producing nations: Homemade fresh-from-the-griddle Pita with Middle-Eastern Dukkah: a 'dip' of toasted seeds, nuts and spices... tear a piece of bread, dip in olive oil, then dip in the nut mixture. Venezuelan Areapas con Queso, Russian Borscht "shots," Gulf Coast Catfish Po' boys, Canadian cheeses (Canadian oil reserves if you include the 'sands' are 2nd in the world to Saudi Arabia! O how the US must envy our sisters to the North and South!) Alaskan Salmon Mousse and an assortment of Persian deserts. As folks were chowing, Sean Naughton from Bowery Lane Bicycles http://bowerylanebicycles.com and Jeff Prant from Transportation Alternatives http://www.transalt.org lead a brief albeit intense discussion about positive ways we can impact our local environment by using less fossil fuel (hmmm, what about those crazy new bike lanes?) And then... my favorite always: we skid into storytelling. Deena gave a great rendition of the seasonally appropriate Chanukah tale- accompanied by hot from the fry pan potato latkes served with dual dollops of apple sauce and sour cream. Rodney followed with a fantastic original Koan about finding Buddha in the every day- a wild tale of Buddha's journey from fossil fuel to bicycle chain oil... I can't do justice... you have to read it yourself... it's posted at the end of this blg... Our resident poet Pat followed reading a beautiful poem by Elisabeth Bishop called Filling Station. http://poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=182897 and BTW- Pat's poetry blog can be found at: http://notinthenewstoday.com All this pleasure was in the amazingly comfortable, gracious home of Katherine and Don and their sons, here in Bklyn. They have a fantastic open kitchen, a beautiful yard, working fire places and great music! Thanks for opening your home to Communal Table!

We're excited to let you know in addition to our (near) monthly salon suppers- we'll be launching a once a month Sunday evening cooking salon starting at Don and Katherine's in mid-February. We've plans for a Bento making workshop- a celebration of all things pie- a dumpling fest... Deena and I'll provide the ingredients and some recipe ideas... and we can all work together making enough to enjoy some while we cook- and some to take some home. Keep posted for updates... Our first scheduled date is Feb 13th- we'll be playing with chocolate in honor of St. V... truffles and Mole and tamales too!

Diatom Buddha
by Musho Rodney Alan Greenblat
Once many long ages ago, in a time beyond all reckoning the Buddha was born in the form of an primordial sea organism called a diatom. He was single celled but lived in a massive colony of billions of other phytoplankton. He was a wise diatom, and while others of his kind swam about aimlessly, floating though their lives and becoming ocean floor sediment, the Buddha Diatom taught a path of simple awareness and joy in being a diatom. Of course, one day, the Buddha’s life as a diatom came to an end, and he became sediment buried on the ancient sea floor.
Over millions of years he was buried deeper and deeper. This was a long period of profound meditation and quiet. As even more millions of years went by he was compressed by enormous heat and pressure. Eventually he had become a thick brown flammable liquid. It was a dark existence, but as all different kinds of existences come to an end, the Buddha Crude was pumped up by men who had drilled a deep well. He splashed momentarily into the sunlight and then was put into a secure tank to be transported to a refinery. At the refinery the Buddha Crude was progressively heated and separated by distillation. After traveling through a complex system of processes he emerged at the end of a pipe as lubricating oil, and was placed in a can. The can was placed in a box in a warehouse, and eventually shipped to a distributor. The can that the Buddha Oil happened to be in was sold to a bicycle shop.
One day a young woman named Kimberly brought her bright peach pink bike with a wicker basket to the bicycle shop. The chain was squeaking and she thought it might have come out of alignment. The repair man looked carefully and said “It looks OK. Let’s try a little oil.” Unknowingly the oil that he dripped onto the chain was the Buddha. Immediately the chain stopped squeaking, and Kimberly’s bicycle rolled smoothy down the street.