Last week I went to a workshop in Hoboken to learn how to make this fancy sushi. The top picture is supposed to look like a rose and the squiggly yellow line that outlines the flower was made with a flat sheet of omelet (something Deena's really good at making (she has a special square shaped pan) and it happens, years ago, to be one of the first things she made that I tasted, which really impressed me and subsequently led to our working together.) The green frog faces were colored with some kinda seaweed powder and the pink... some kinda dried fishy substance. The eyes are cheese sticks. You make a log of this stuff and slice it to make individual pieces of sushi. It was fun fun fun learning the patterns for these "chara ben" but my delicate palate burned after too much MSG (the colorings were full of it.) The challenge for Communal Table will be how to make these cheerful taste treats w/o the chemically taste.
Bento is something we'll be exploring in our new Cooking Club (though not till April.) Our first cooking club event is chocolate for Valentine's Day. We'll be making Mole and tamales and peanut butter cups and truffles... and the next one after that will be a Pie Party! (Sunday 3/13... the next day is 3:14, the expression of the ratio between circumference and diameter... or something- ya know, pie!) The idea of cooking club is to make things you might not do yourself- but is fun with a bunch of friends... Deena and I'll get the ingredients and you bring wine... and then we sip and cook and tell stories and taste and make enough of whatever it is to take some home too.
Another thing were up to is working with Derek Denkla and FarmCity.US again-(last fall we did a pickle making, urban farmer event.) This time it's a series of events that explores ways food and cooking create community. It'll be at a bar called Local 61 http://farmcity.us/chautauqua-events-61-local/ All the events are cool- but the one I'm so excited about I can hardly wait is called Counter Culture... a riff off the MOMA show Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen (well worth a visit.. http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1062) We're gonna set up a whole bunch of kitchen gadget 'stations' and everyone'll move from gadget to gadget to make parts of our meal... mortar and pestle, toaster oven, blender... we even have a recipe for a microwaved cake-in-a-mug for dessert! It'll be a crazy dance and cacophonous concert turned delicious tasty chaos!
And another thing... we're working to figure out how Communal Table can go to street fairs and markets and do workshops in school, etc. Excited to develop the hands=on aspect of what we do, so we can bring our blend of stories and food to a wider variety of audience/participants. For this we need to navigate the Dept. of Health and food vendors licensing and make the rounds of rental kitchen space too- 'cause to sell food in public it has to have been made by properly sanctioned hands in a proper place. It's an interesting path to explore, though it kinda makes me want to run and hide or pull out the stops and just make wild edible art... commerce be damned! The flip side: getting to talk about food with all sorts of people- to make and take and share our brand of mindful thoughtful tastes... well- maybe it's worth it after all. Moving in this direction has got Deena and I talking- we're locking horns on the veg. vs. meat debate- and struggling to define our overriding philosophies of food making and feeding people and art. I tend towards complication and messes and D. towards streamlining and elegant simplicity... Can we make this work?
It's fascinating to become conscious of the philosophical, cultural, and social aspects of food practice. Cooking and eating is wonderfully rich when you peel down the layers- every aspect speaks of ethics and dreams.