Afternoon, Spider Rock © Robert Sommers 2023

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Culture Vulture

I have been getting a healthy dose of culture this week, starting in the Bay Area and not slowing down a peep since my return.

Thursday night I stopped off at the monthly Fallbrook Writer's Read, a gathering of poets and writers that I believe was organized by my friend Kit Bacon Gressitt. A cynic's first inclination would be to belittle the  group as a bunch of serious and bitter english lit majors with corduroy jackets sporting leather patches on the elbows. You know, spouting self congratulatory paeans to Tolstoy and spring.

The reality was that they were all really good. It would take a bit of polishing for me to read in front of this group, not that I couldn't do it if I got my shit together and kept a straight face. The guest writer this month was an émigré from Chicago, Terry Spohn, whose bio shows publication in Ascent, Grub Street, Mississippi Review, North American Review, Oyster Boy Quarterly, Eclectica, and other magazines, and his poems have appeared in three anthologies.

His offerings seemed to reflect a youth spent participating in assorted acts of violence and anger, some of it courtesy of the Catholic church. I liked his stuff as well as the original work later read by his wife, also a writer with serious chops.

A few others spoke, a woman on her inaugural read offered up a piece describing the joy of her father's passing, the mercy of death to the infirm. This is one of two regular reads in Fallbrook, I believe that the library has one as well, and maybe cafe primo?

My guess is that these people spend a lot of time in the solitary pursuit of writing, massaging their craniums for the perfect turn of a phrase or perhaps a word that crystallizes their feelings in the most sublime way. The elocution and meter is apparently as important as the squiggles on the page and I noticed that some of the dynamics lagged towards the end of their pieces, like the air coming out of a flaccid balloon.

You people would tear my ass up if I ever tried that stuff but that is another matter.


Last night Doug and Retha invited me to an Indian cooking class in Cardiff. It was taught by Kamlesh Israni, the owner of KC's Tandoor in Encinitas. The gregarious and affable Israni taught the class at her lovely modern home, with her outdoor tandoori oven. Retha is a great boss and bought the class for her employees and allowed me to tag along.

We learned how to make two different curries, adjudicating proper amounts of turmeric, cumin, coriander and garam masala. Kamlesh cooks by feel and sound and showed us how to listen to the poppy seed pop in the oil at the exact proper moment.  She taught a lot of general techniques for all types of cooking, the importance of adding hot to hot, and described the differences in adding salt to cooking with meat and vegetables. Not big on proper measurement, the type of natural cook that throws a dash here and there and is more motivated by feel.

We were served two wonderful types of margaritas, a pomegranate and a tea based version, as well as wine.

I must confess that indian cuisine is not at the top of my chart, preferring thai and vietnamese for asian cooking. I have trouble digesting one of the spices, perhaps the garam masala. But this food was very, very tasty and I learned a lot.

We had both a shrimp curry and a vegetable curry, mung bean salad, chicken tikka masala and naan. Dessert was cherry ice cream. I make no bones about my deficiencies as a cook, but still enjoyed the evening and the ease with which Kamlesh moved around her kitchen. Thank you, Doug and Retha.


Tomorrow I am invited to a brunch where a professor will talk about his studies and thoughts on the famous Persian poet Rumi.

از جمادی مُردم و نامی شدم — وز نما مُردم بحیوان سرزدم
مُردم از حیوانی و آدم شدم — پس چه ترسم کی ز مردن کم شدم
حملهء دیگر بمیرم از بشر — تا برآرم از ملایک بال و پر
وز ملک هم بایدم جستن ز جو — کل شییء هالک الاوجهه
بار دیگر از ملک پران شوم — آنچه اندر وهم ناید آن شوم
پس عدم گردم عدم چو ارغنون — گویدم کانا الیه راجعون

So as you can see, I am positively bursting at the seams with culture and urbane sophistication. Will definitely need a trip to the Moose Lodge for a beer and a shot when this is all over.

1 comment:

grumpy said...

...or a visit to Fallbrook Cafe, that'll set you right again; order the meat loaf sandwich, it's the definition of bland.