Green Plum Cooking School - Sat., Jan 9th, 2010
NOTE: The recipes used in my Green Plum Cooking School classes can be found in my online cookbook, “Eat Where Your Food Lives,” available for purchase at http://www.ChefMonicaPope.com)
So, I admit it, things got a little, shall we say, off-color in this class.
I don’t know how it happened but I’d like to blame it on the SUV I’m using to drive off Alice Waters’ yellow brick road and onto Monica Pope Parkway. I told you it was going to be a bumpy (and sometimes dangerous ride!).
During class, I told a very disturbing story about me in my little Mini Cooper, in my own parking lot, instigating a very large West Indies woman in an even larger SUV. I know what I did was wrong and I won’t ever do it again but, suffice to say, things turned ugly quickly and my encounter with this woman soon became one of white vs. black. Or so I thought. One audience member came up to me and said that maybe it was more of an SUV-related incident and not so much a race-related incident. “You know how those SUV owners are,” she said.
In any case, that story got me talking about race and acceptance and who’s whiter and who’s really black and who’s not and the cultural differences between what you eat and what you like to eat and that somehow got me on the Culinary Tour I’m doing with Marcus Davis from The Breakfast Klub next door. These tours (sold out already – http://www.visithoustontexas.com/culinarytours ) are hosted by the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau; Marcus and I are going to take 20 people on a bus to “people’s mama’s houses” — my mama’s house, Marcus’s mama’s house and then other people’s mama’s houses — to eat good food and drink St. Arnold’s beer and have lots of discussion, I’m sure, about food and community and race and sex and all sorts of taboo subjects, I guess. One of my friends – who is black – (some of my best friends are black and possibly some family members from San Diego, but that’s another story I told to the class) was eating in my kitchen at t’afia and he said, “I love eating in the kitchen with you. Maybe your mantra should be “eat where your food is cooked.” For him, that’s mama’s kitchen…well, Moni’s kitchen.
A few days after this class, I’m watching CNN and there are three panelists — two black and one white — talking about Harry Reid’s remarks about President Obama. I didn’t even get all the details, but I loved one panelist saying that his own experience is that the darker the skin (he’s dark-skinned), the angrier the man (he’s perceived as angry) and that lighter- skinned people are more acceptable; he said that we often talk about these things, meaning how blacks and whites are treated, we just don’t do it in the same room and finally, if we don’t talk about it, we can’t learn from it.
In the midst of this race ruckus, we’re cooking…sort of. Today I made Portobello Carpaccio, which is just a fancy, Italian word for raw. On the menu at t’afia, I have an Avocado Sashimi — that’s just a fancy word for raw, too. For the Carpaccio, I used a Japanese mandoline to slice the mushrooms thinly, but with some bite still left to them. I choose to leave the gills on.