For the Autumnal Equinox, the Gluten-free Chicano traveled to his favorite part of the country, the Coachella Valley desert. Not that the Palm Springs area has as much desert these days as when he was a kid in the 1950s.
Development has ravaged the once-open fields teeming with creosote and chia bush, dotted regularly with jumping cholla, fish hook and golden barrel cacti, horizons highlighted by stands of gorgeous blue-grey smoke trees, the even-then rare sight of ironwood trees.
|A constant flow of freight trains rumble slowly up the grade|
carrying full containers from Asia to market in the midwest and East Coast,
or dead-head empties downhill toward the Ports of LA and Long Beach.
Today, the horizon in San Gorgonio Pass has sprouted windmills, and more recently, solar farms, changing the ambiente of that entry to the valley.
Over time, miles-long stretches of citrus groves replaced that desert from Indio to the Salton Sea. The Gluten-free Chicano’s grandfather, Victor, grafted fruit on a citrus ranch bordering the Salton Sea. One visit, grampa handed us a wondrously sweet and easily-peeled Tangelo variety he’d developed. It’s in all the markets now, credited to someone else. As grampa would say, pos si.
|Now an isolated oasis surrounded by development, a visit to Shields Date Garden|
rewards with rare varieties of dates, assorted dried fruit, local honey,
and for barley-malt eaters, delicious date milkshakes.
Today, many of those citrus ranches have been leveled. The drive from Palm Springs to Shields Date Garden on the outskirts of Indio once coursed through miles of naranja and toronja. The highway now runs past shopping centers, more shopping centers, and condo projects. And restaurants galore, from the fast-food usual suspects to fine dining.
Passing Las Casuelas Nuevas restaurant in Rancho Mirage always sets off a twinge of shoulda woulda coulda.
“Delgado started a food stand in Colton,” my Dad announced in his "I'll be darned" voice. In the 1950s, Dad and Delgado were aircraft sheetmetal workers at Norton Air Force Base. One weekend my Dad drove us over to a tiny hut near the railroad tracks on Mt. Vernon, one of those tiny burger shacks some entrepreneur had failed in.
Delgado welcomed us with open arms and a meal, a ravishingly delicious carne guisado on a paper plate with frijoles, arroz, and hand-made tortillas de harina. My gosh that food was a wonder. How I wish I could recreate that sabor. I remember licking the wax paper and the tin foil Delgado covered the plates with.
We never went back, though, because Delgado wouldn’t let my dad pay for the food, and that wasn’t our way, to take anything free.
Free. Delgado wanted my dad to partner with him in that restaurant. That also wasn’t our way—business. So Dad passed on what has become a Mexican dining institution in the Palm Springs area. Shoulda woulda coulda.
Clearly, The Gluten-free Chicano is no spring chicken and has lots of stories about that desert and the Inland Empire. Nowadays, when meal time approaches, he hangs his head in anticipated disappointment, knowing even Delgado’s food will have wheat. The enchiladas suizas at Las Casuelas Terraza were the only safe entrée.
Then, wonder of wonders, The Gluten-free Chicano discovered Giuseppe’s.
Normally, a pizza and pasta joint is out of the question, pero sabes que? Giuseppe’s makes its own gluten-free pizza crust and take it from a man who misses pizza almost more than any other food but won’t eat most gf pizzas because the crust sucks, Giuseppe’s gluten-free pizza is the eighth wonder of the modern world.
|A "small" gluten-free pizza is dinner and tomorrow's breakfast and lunch.|
Thin, crunchy on the edges, not soggy where it’s covered with fresh tomatoes, rich cheeses, generous servings of pepperoni, sausage, and onions. Más mejor, the crust lacks the grainy texture of rice or potato flour that ruins most pizza bread, nor is there the slimy feel on the tongue, and sickening aftertaste of guar gum. Ay, Giuseppe’s, you make my heart sing!
Next visit, gluten-free pasta carbonara because that was Mrs. The Gluten-free Chicano’s order, on wheat pasta. For the wheat-eaters, Mrs. GfC says the hot, freshly-baked bread served to accompany our salad (beets, garbanzos, baby lettuce) is delightfully light and fluffy.
|Giuseppe's is a small house but hugely satisfying. The waitstaff are warmly welcoming.|
Giuseppe's Pizza and Pasta
1775 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264
Leading Ladies at Glendale Forest Lawn Museum
La Bloga friend Margaret Garcia invited me to attend the opening of a spectacular exhibition chronicling an array of prominent women—from heroines of legend to real-world leaders, influential authors, and courageous trailblazers, Leading Ladies—from Fantasy to Reality.
The museum, at the crest of Glendale CA’s Forest Lawn, showcases more than 75 works including paintings, bronzes, photographs, and maquettes of luminary women like Frida Kahlo, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hilary Clinton, Michele Obama, Mulan, Georgia O’Keefe, Maria Guardado, Beverly Sills, Marian Anderson.
The exhibition marks the culmination of curator Joan Adan’s tenure at the museum. Adan’s shows have been spectacular gifts to the community. La Bloga sends best wishes to Ms. Adan for a glorious retirement!
Adan’s final exhibition runs through March 2016 so there’s plenty of time to take in the arte. Admission and parking are free.
|Sandra Cornejo and Margaret Garcia strike a pose in front of their work.|
Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm (closed Mondays)
1712 S Glendale Ave, Glendale, CA 91205
UC Merced Reading Thursday 10/1
UCM's Merritt Writing Program and Write! Look! Listen! present a reading by La Bloga friends and poets Meg Withers and Odilia Galván Rodríguez.
This event is supported by Poets & Writers through a grant it has received from the James Irvine foundation.
Thursday, October 1st, 2015, 7:00 PM
University of California, Merced
Kolligian Library 355 (Green Room)
Pay for parking in yellow permit dispensers.
From Philadelphia's Al Dia
Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera Casa de Colores Project
Every poet laureate commits to undertake a public project during the year he or she is designated poet laureate. "La Familia" is only one part of Herrera's project which was outlined in full at the Library of Congress National Book Festival, Sept. 5. The full project "La Casa de Colores" (the house of colors) will focus on the resources of the Library of Congress in a monthly feature; "El Jardín" (the garden) will have Herrera interacting with items at the library through videos, poems and blog posts.
"The House of Colors is a house for all voices," Herrera said. "In this house we will feed the hearth and heart of our communities with creativity and imagination ... if it is a 'casa,' a grand house for all of us, we must be a 'familia,' a family. A family cannot flourish without a 'jardín,' a garden to care for, to create. Our garden is our luminous Library of Congress with inspirations nestled inside for more than 200 years."
More information at the Library of Congress, here.