Tuesday, July 25, 2017

40 Years. Gluten-free Summer Soup. On-line Floricanto

Movimiento Couple in 40 Year Retrospective
Michael Sedano

Now that headline’s a fancy way of saying what Oscar Castillo’s portrait gives away nonverbally: Diane and Sergio Hernandez celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on Saturday evening, surrounded by immediate and extended familia at San Fernando’s American Legion hall.

Courtesy Oscar Castillo

Artists of diverse media--writers, painters, performance, musicians—arrived to a taco cart in the Legion's front patio. Rude boor whom I am, I lined up for a plato before going inside to abrazar the hosts and sundry compañeras compañeros.

Margaret Garcia and Rhett Beavers were in the taco line ahead of us, so we got our chow together and went inside. Physicist Manuel Urrutia had already arrived, seated with his wife, Maria, and my compadres Mercedes and Hugo Garcia. Mario Trillo stepped to the table, decked out in a light tan sportjacket and vintage bow tie. Carlos Callejo came in, wow, I hadn’t seen Carlos in ages. In-between mural commissions, Carlos is doing small projects while holding art workshops for middle school kids. “They make good paintings,” Carlos relates.

Serge, cartoonist for the seminal movimiento magazine Con Safos: Life in the Barrio, (link) introduced Art Flores, founding editor of C/S magazine. “This is Michael Sedano from La Bloga” Serge noted. Art made me, and all blogueras blogueros happy when he advised me, “La Bloga! Keep up the good work.” Órale, you know it.

I had been feeling the damned fool earlier. I forgot my camera, one of the consequences of CPT-fueled age. I sat framing imaginary crowd fotos when photographer extraordinaire Oscar Castillo caught my eye. I nodded back and Oscar walked over. We chatted a bit then he shared with me, and now youse, the wedding party print he’d brought for La Bloga.

Tempus not only fugits, it brings good stuff. In this case, 40 years ago, youngsters Velarde and Hernandez have their wedding photographed by equally young friend Oscar Castillo. All of them worked together on C/S. Now, los Hernandez’ spacious estate in the desert echoes with the music of three beautiful daughters, two adorable granddaughters, and a lifetime of good memories for the retired from the world-of-work couple. El picket sign in their hands, as needed.

As for Oscar, his work today resides in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Obviously, the wedding photographer and the couple in that foto have made every second count in these 40 years. Carpe diem, gente.

One of the major highlights of the highlight-packed event came from a horny swain in the bar. As I took a seat at their table, Angel, Mercy, and an unidentified woman—I will call her Judy--were all a-titter, repeating his lines with glee. There was an amused flush to Judy’s complexion and electric energy flowed between the three laughing women. A forty-something youngster in the bar had made a move on Judy. She ignored him twice until he lay his head on her shoulder and called her “beautiful.” Judy split to go find her husband. Although the swain’s piropos went unrewarded, he was undeterred. He crashed the party and danced alone near Judy’s table not catching her attention. Hours later, as Judy left with her loquacious husband, he found friends at the exit and stopped to platicar. Rumor has it Judy hung back near the door, where curious eyes might have glanced into the darkened bar.

Happiest anniversary to Diane and Serge!

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Gazpacho: Fast, No-Cook, No-Gluten Summer Soup

Without warning the overhead fluorescent tubes went dark. The muscular circular fan moaned to a stop. We knew what came next.

Across Camp Page and the lower parts of Chuncheon, Korea, a  P.A. crackled the announcement, “This is a wet bulb alert. The wet bulb temperature is twenty-three degrees celsius. Cease all physical activity and wait for the all-clear.”

Happened every time the generators went down. Dead fan, alert. Summer too hot and too humid for the U.S. Army to work. We endured the frequent half hours in silence, staring at walls in the one-windowed room, typewriter silent, the 32” fan inert in its corner, the Quonset hut an oven. Heat wraps itself around every muscle, humidity rubs against skin, the air seems to move when we stir. In the dark, no cooling breath of air no respite from the oppressive heat, the mind rambles.

It would be good to be back on top of the mountain. A constant breeze keeps a man comfortable and motivated to explore, take in the view from a mile above this battalion office and the dark and the heat and the assigned indolence of wet bulb alerts.

It would be better to be back home at UCSB. In the library, the air-conditioned library so spacious so cool. Or lounging in the shade at the Enchanted Forest at Isla Vista beach, waves crashing unseen.

On second thought, forget Isla Vista. What wouldn’t that G.I. give to fast forward in time to a summer afternoon in 2017? The Army a remote past, the day's oppressive heat and penetrating humidity still enervating the old man. He stares down into a chilled bowl of freshly-made, naturally gluten-free, Gazpacho.

Call me a time traveler because that’s exactly what took place in The Gluten-free Chicano’s chante the other day. Summer’s heat had me listless two days in a row. Totally unmotivated to cook. But my daughter’s farm had produced beautiful burpless Persian cucumbers. My own cosecha included tarragon and basil, chile huero, and chile piquin in abundance. Thanks to cursed squirrels, I’m between tomato crops right now, so the grocery store provided tomatoes and bell peppers. The larder supplied the rest of the ingredients.

not shown: fresh basil leaves

Fresh Ingredients for a zesty Gazpacho
Green and red bell peppers, de-stemmed and seeded
Cucumber, peeled
Chile huero
Chile piquín
Tomato juice

Cuisineart/Food Processor Method
Rough chop all the vegetables and put them into the processor bowl: tarragon, basil, garlic, onions, chiles, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes. For a blender, fine-chop the vegetables and blend them one at a time.

Food Process for thirty seconds or several pulses. Taste. Adjust chile and salt.

The size of the rough chop makes a difference. Know your machine. If your cuisineart's motor and blade usually perform unsatisfactorily, pulse each vegetable one at a time.

In a few seconds, the veggies all reduce into a bubbly pulverized liqud that expands to fill the bowl nearly to the top. If there's too generous a result, ladle off a quantity and store it in the serving bowl.

Add a half cup or more tomato juice and pulse to thin. A big pinch of sea salt now will bring up flavors.

Stirring in chopped vegetables to the processed vegetable mélange adds texture and flavor explosion
If you like it hot
Empty the processor bowl into a large vessel. Return a quantity of the soup to the Cuisineart, chop several chiles more, and whiz them into this “special” batch of soup.

Nearly ready to ring the dinner bell.

A cook’s head might be spinning just about now, thinking of all sorts of modifications and additions. "Why don't I just chop some vegetables into tomato juice and save this work?" Maybe add Bay shrimp; crisped gallego ham; aguacate; a curl of toasted carrot…forget it. The pure simplicity of this Gazpacho sings its flavor medley unimpeded by unnecessarily complex flavors. Let it be. It’s time for the finishing touch.

Chop or mince a tomato, half an onion, half a bell pepper, a third of a cucumber. Stir these into the Gazpacho to add texture and tiny explosions of individual flavor when that spoon hits the mouth.

Serve a generous ladle to each diner, and bring the tureen to the table for seconds. You can eat straight from the food processor, or chill it and dig in at your convenience.

A bowl or two makes an elegant lunch. For dinner, I served antipasto salad loaded with olives, mushrooms, salami, and cheeses for protein and contrast. My wheat-eating wife had a fresh bolillo.

A cold soup lunch or dinner, tasty and naturally gluten-free

Calculations, mouths and take-home.
How many mouths will eat and how much do you want left over? What volume can my processor hold? These issues define the quantities of vegetables to use.

For one dinner for two and generous left-overs, 4 medium-size tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 3 bell peppers, 1 large brown onion, 4 cloves garlic, 2 chile huero, 1 chile piquin, and a stalk of celery were just right. I amended a second batch with 3 piquín and another huero.

I suspect many people enjoy a hint of bite to their Gazpacho, but not killer hot. I like a lot of picoso, that’s why I pour off a generous bowl of the semi-finished soup and put it back in the Cuisineart to whiz in all the chiles at hand.

Gazpacho that sits for several hours builds marvelous flavors. You can eat it immediately, room temperature, and it's wonderful. If you can make it then let it chill for a day, you'll find your Gazpacho world-quality.


Wrapping July With Floricanto
James Downs, Joe Navarro, Txai Frye, Ralph Haskins, Pharr Texas Barrio Writers

“Haiku: massive military might.” By James Downs
“Revolutionary Love” By Joe Navarro
“Mitochondrial Memories” By Ralph Haskins
“Nuestra Historia / Our Story” A Collective Poem – Pharr Texas Barrio Writers

Haiku: massive military might.
By James Downs

huddled in tiny
....places...arms around arms...faces...
hope bombs miss spaces

Revolutionary Love
By Joe Navarro

Here I am
Bleeding again
A bleeding heart
And sweating
Through the point
Of a pen
First I capture suffering
Then resentment
And rebellion
Leading up to Revolution
But it's all Romantic, you see
Es puro amor
Yo amo a mi esposa
Y a mi familia,
Pero tambien
Quiero a mi gente
La Raza
My revolution is love
Of all people, all ethnic groups
Who suffer at the whim
Of violence, greed
Class, race and gender
Love of freedom
Love of democracy
Love of justice
Love of self-determination
Love for human dignity
And self-respect
Mi revolución es por
El amor de la dignidad
De toda la humanidad
Yes my blood and sweat
Flow freely onto paper
En declaraciones
Por la justicia
Paz e igualdad
Palabras libres
Pintando el cielo
Con esperanzas de
Liberación, sin opresión
You see, my weapon in
The revolution is
Word murals, armed
With allusions, similes,
Metaphors, and hope
Poems that explode
With pride and promise
For a bright new day

By Txai Frye

Like a moth to a flame
She was drawn to her calling
And they watched her
From an interested onlooker
To a full-fledged participant
Her message was birthed
Like a silkworm…who is destined…
To spin words like fine silk
Metamorphosing from a plain caterpillar
Into a beautiful silk moth
While nibbling on metaphors
And similes that floated listlessly
From the amped-up microphone
…that beckoned to her…
As if they were white mulberry leaves
And the famine became a feast
As her whispers turned into a roar
And she steps forward from the sidelines
To unfurl her still evolving wings
Like a brightly colored silk taffeta gown
So that her voice can rise up and take flight

Txai Frye - is a poet/open mic artist, whose passion is to write and read his poetry at various open forum venues. He is unpublished but currently working on a collection of poetry entitled, “Funk Epiphanosis.” Some of his poems have been featured on online poetry sites, and he was included in an anthology, “The Bronx Files, Contemporary Poetry from the Bronx,” with other poets whose lives were affected by growing up in the Bronx.

He has been involved with Green Earth Poets Café, a Brooklyn, NYC based nonprofit poetry organization promoting literacy, self-confidence, communication, community, and educational development among young people since its inception in 2013. h. Txai Frye has also participated in panel discussions involving unjust incarceration of our youth and other minorities. He is currently counseling a small group of aspiring poets on performance techniques in association with the NYC Queens Library – Lefrak City branch.

Mitochondrial Memories
By Ralph Haskins Elizondo

Reaching down my long maternal line,
my mother and grandmother,
and hers as well,
within the scents of tomate y cebolla,
chile y cilantro, the burning smell
of tortillas toasting en el comal,
memories of long kitchens
connecting us
for thirty-five thousand years
across the sea,
thank you ancestral mother.

Ralph Haskins Elizondo was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. His family moved to South Texas during the social turmoil of the 60’s. The new cultural challenges he experienced led him to express himself through poetry. Many of his poems touch the cultural and political issues of our times. His works have appeared in Puhnk And Miscellany Magazine, The Best Unrequired Reading In American Literature 2011 (Harcourt), Poesía En Vuelo, La Bloga (Poets Responding To SB 1070), and Poetry Of Resistance Anthology. Today, Ralph lives in McAllen, Texas where he supplements his poet’s income by moonlighting as a science teacher at a local high school.

Nuestra Historia / Our Story
By Pharr Texas Barrio Writers

A Collective Poem – Student Writing Workshop ~12 June 2017 – Pharr, Texas

Mí tío
una buena influencia
No water
Baby boy
From Mexico
She came here at three
Worked very hard
Su hijo
Cambio su Vida
Helped change him
High school
a struggle
A baby
Drogas aleja uno de la familia
Primo falleció
Por estar en malos pasos
Madre fallece
Had to depend on the streets
Separates families
Distant from mother
Did drugs at ten years old
But recovered
Mother of a baby girl
Life changed
Becoming a mother
Father at an early age
Changed his life
From Reynosa to here
Un choque cultural
Ayuda hijas
Con muchos planes
Y perdió
El miedo
Un club de Español
¿Me Entiendes?

Our summer creative writing workshop for youth is taking place at Sonia Sotomayor High School in Pharr, TX June 12-June 16, 2017. The workshop is co-sponsored by Red Earth Productions & Cultural Work, The Center for Mexican American Studies at UTRGV, and the Creative Writing Program at UTRGV, in collaboration with Sonia Sotomayor High School, Buell Central High School, and Ballew High School in the PSJA school district. The workshop is an affiliate program of Barrio Writers.

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