Monday, April 9, 2007

Karma Chef Cook-a-thon

(This post will be updated with photos soon. I was so distracted I forgot to take them, but others did and I will get them to send them to me).

Cook-a-thon last Saturday was a hoot and a half. Had the folks from the Phoenix Office of Arts & Culture over: mostly artists or the art-inclined, creative people and lovers of food and fun. I had warned them Indian cooking is not pretty - not “add a dash of freshly ground pepper and stick a sprig of parsley” kind of deal. It is a robust and messy affair. Indian spices are heady enough to send your senses careening and can seriously dislocate your brain - I kid you not. Spices also have a mystical quality about them and can stir up emotions subliminal and sublime, which is why they are so tantalizing. We cooked up a storm – chopped, stirred, sizzled spices in ghee and stank up the kitchen. Everybody stuck their noses and fingers into everything. I must have confused the heck out of everyone – my cooking is too erratic and unconventional – I keep throwing in this or that and am horrible at explaining things. If you are trying to take notes (as poor Vivian was, being the very serious person she is) I guarantee, you will chew your pencil to shreds. Ed was an excellent sous-chef, and a diligent fire tender. Doug came prepared to get turmeric flung on him (having taken my invite to heart). Dora bought her famous Cuban rice pudding and told us her “soupy “ little secret after we had gobbled it down. Sharon tossed up an excellent fruit salad and showed us her "ooolulooloo" (calm down folks, it's not what you think) others bought interesting wines, tons of fun, enthusiasm and laughter. We served out of cooking pots on the counter and managed to squeeze everyone around the patio table. It was a beautiful starlit night, perfect outdoor weather. Such a joy to see people talk about food - faces light up like little children - one of the few times we shed our defenses and inhibitions and reveal our authentic selves. Sharing a meal with friends is got to be one of life’s most enjoyable experiences.

The Spice-a-ronie challenge had a 4-way tie (for folks who got 4 out of 7 right) and the grand prize was awarded to Sharon (who got 5 right) until Johnney-come-lately’s Dora and Donna acted miffed because nobody had told them about the Challenge and they got a shot at it and ended up scoring 5 out of 7 as well. Since I could not snatch away the Grand Prize from Sharon, D&D got what the other Spice-a-ronies got – a little glass good luck Ganesha. I had zip-lock baggies for folks to take samples of the blended spices home - I am sure there will be lots of questions.

It was a a soul-uplifting and joyful evening. Thanks all for making it so!

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