My first job after college was with the Immigration Service at Kennedy International Airport. The hours were ridiculously long, but it was a fantasy job. I met movie stars, heads of state, & royalty. The best part of the job was meeting people from all over the world. It was like traveling while sleeping in my own bed every night. Along the way, I made lots of friends who shared their cultures’ food with me. On Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican Day of Independence, I gravitate to the ultimate Mexican comfort food, Chile Verde. It represents a universal type of staple that probably dates back thousands of years. I grew up on the Mississippi River Delta with a constant pot of Pinto Beans & Ham, but my family’s anglophile roots meant a frequent pot of Irish Stew. My wife’s German heritage added a staple of Navy Beans & Pork. Leave it to the French to dress it up and call it Cassoulet. Whatever culture you go to, their aboriginal antecedents have a meat stew that exists in some form to this day.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
As a teenager, I had dreams of moving to New York and living the life of Nick Charles of The Thin Man fame. I blame William Powell with my obsession with doing things with a reverence for tradition. While most young men of my era wanted to be Ian Fleming’s James Bond, I aspired to be Dashiell Hammett’s Nick Charles, the ultimate New York bon vivant. Bond’s heavy handed approach to cocktails, “A Martini, shaken, not stirred.” could not be compared to Charles' precise directions for using a cocktail shaker, “The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a Dry Martini you always shake to waltz time. “ (Today I follow Auntie Mame's advice, "Always stir, never shake. You'll bruise the Gin.)