Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Overheard At Vroman's. The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks Fish. UNAM telecourses.

Reyna Grande In Conversation With Alex Espinoza

Friday night's is an audience of readers, gente who have come on Friday night to the independent bookseller, Vroman's, in Pasadena CA because reading matters to them. They want to hear Reyna Grande, whose stories to them mattered.

Reyna Grande has five books; two novels, three memoirs (one the YA Distance Between Us) and not including translations. She's the kind of writer a passerby would want to sit and hear. But there's SRO. And still they stand. She's that kind of speaker.

The audience has read Grande's books. They need to read stories like this and have, a story like the author's that inspires, encourages them, as she relates in a recent radio interview with Norma Martinez (link). Grande told the audience of being invited to elementary schools and meeting not with the kids but their mothers, who had to abandon their children like Grande's mother.

The memoirs tell the readers' own stories, too, though thankfully not exactly. Their abuelas were unlikely to be the species of mean that takes away ice cream from children and places it to melt in the sun, to make a point. 

Forgiving that is perspective, Grande admits. Writing freezes that personality into that image. A dozen years after, senescence laid waste to that vicious entity. Nothing remains to hate.

As a mom, that little kid licking her lips over melted nieve, is a push-over. Discipline is not mom's strong suit. Con razón.

Grande's familia are here. The author introduces her brother, who's standing off to the side all proud of his big sister, his kids smiling at tía on that stool right-center stage. 

Left-center sits Alex Espinoza, amiably engaging. What a double delight for these readers, eavesdropping on the conversation.

Espinoza, author of Stillwater Saints and The Five Acts of Diego León plays the muse eliciting nuggets and gems from the storyteller’s repertoire of memories, along with inside information and writing advice. 

Vroman's doesn't share videos of events. I hope someone had their video running start to finish because this was an interesting evening both for the insights into Grande's novels and the writing of memoir as opposed to writing autobiography.

If I kept a commonplace book, the colloquy would have filled several pages of frantically scribbled gems, turns of phrases, inspired moments. I keep a camera.

Vroman's is a tough place to book, so I've heard. Grande arrives amid a major tour for A Dream Called Home. The full house, and afterward the long line of people at the cash register bearing multiple copies of the $26.00 hardcover A Dream Called Home, confirms the bookseller's confidence in Reyna Grande's work. Grande reads from a paperback.

Grande says she's returning to writing novels with the completion of her second memoir. Vroman's marketing people will remember that when Reyna's agent comes calling. I hope Vroman's booking tipas remember, too, those lines of buyers. Raza doesn't buy books, so Vroman's doesn't book 'em, Dano. 

I heard that, at any rate, the last time I inquired why so few brown faces had a table up front in that busy room.

YA author Daniel Acosta held the dais a few weeks ago, and in 2017, Luis J. Rodriguez embedded his handprints into the Vroman's Walk of Fame in the big time ceremony. So there's evidence Vroman's is growing. A ver, as my grampa used to declare.

The author shared the most important element of a writer's life. Reflecting on her local start at Pasadena City College--not her first plan--and looking back at critical acclaim and community one-read adoptions, she observes how writing the books, that's the easier part.

Marketing. This tour for this book, for example. And all those adoptions. After getting published, getting out the word is what defines a title's, and the next one's, life.

Tonight, Grande's home. Her familia over there, these admiring faces, the local big time. Her conversation with the Cal State LA English Full Professor, another community college kid, sounds like home. A couple of grizzled writers sitting around the lumbre while we listen, they toss leña into the sparks raising sparks of their own with stories, accounts, memories, dreams.

Alex Espinoza told me before the event started he had a plan, where he'd lead the conversation. He figured the script wouldn't last long and he knew he'd pick up on something, and she'd pick up on something, and together they'd wend their way to the big pile of books that need signing.

And that was the last Q&A. Some tributes, "thank you for writing that!"--a couple of professors and teachers said that--only one rambling huh? participant. Alex Espinoza looks out knowing his audience shares his satisfaction.

The Gluten-free Chicano Bakes Parmesan Crusted Cod

Eating fish with frequency is one way to eat yourself to stable health.  Keeping an eye on sustainable fishing practices contributes to global health, too.

The Gluten-free Chicano is cooking for a light eater who will consume more food when the food has a bit of flair. Like chicken, I make schnitzel or piccata style. La Chickenada gets no left-overs tonight. Non-standard chicken salads benefit from texture and sweet from added fresh and dried fruit and nuts; savory from sharp cheese, olives, chips.

For Sunday Dinner just the two of us, I wanted fork-tender flaky fish,  crispy bits of papa with a creamy surprise of sour cream, and the sweet luxury of tomatoes and black aguacate. The ever-forgetful Gluten-free Chicano forgot to pick a calabaza to make steamed fresh squash.

400º oven
Greased baking dish

Ingredients / carbohydrate count per lookup (link) 
Frozen cod, partially defrosted 0g
1 Egg, medium .34g
2 Tbs soft bacon grease 0g
Parmesan cheese ~½ cup 2g
Gluten-free flour ~½ cup 50g (King Arthur all-purpose gf flour)
¾ cup Frozen hash brown potatoes 18g
Olive oil 0g
1 small black-skinned Avocado 17g
Tomato 1g per slice
Carbohydrate count: ~89 g. Divide by 2-4 servings.

Pacific Cod in bulk frozen packages offers value and lots of fish meals. Baked or broiled as an entrée, braised, chilled, and flaked for a salad, chunked into a caldo de pescado, fish is good for your heart and health. 

Regrettably, Kroeger hasn’t caught up to the Responsibly Fished Certification movement, but Pacific Cod is a “recommended” food on the Seafoodwatch website (link).

Defrost the fish, towel dry with gentle pressure. This makes a better crust. Broiling at the end crisps and toasts, but do so watchfully.
For crispy coating, add gluten-free panko crumbs or broil for 3 minutes at end.
Egg froth: add mayonnaise, sour cream, olive oil, anchovy paste, mustard.
Super egg froth: molcahete or Cuisinart several toasted chile pods and soak for an hour in egg froth. Slather a thick coat of crushed chiles all over defrosted, drained, fish. Bake hot. The chile cracks off. It adds flavor but not chiloso.
More aguacate.

The Coating
Grab a small handful of flour and pour several shakes of dried parmesan cheese into a flat vessel. Equal flour to cheese. You can fry this, too, for exceptional flavor.

Mix the flour and cheese completely, add coarsely ground black pepper. Distribute evenly in the flat bottom.

Whip the heck out of a medium egg. Add a big tablespoon of soft bacon grease. If you don't collect your bacon fat, use olive oil. See the "modifications" for options..

Dip the fish in the egg froth. Place the wet fish on the dry flour-cheese mix. Have a dish towel handy to keep your fingers clean.

Turn the fish systematically, coat the edges then the other side. The egg wets the powdered egg-oil and will crust in the oven. This is a soft blanket not a crispy coat. Fry the fish for a great crispy treat.

Scrape the egg-flour left in the vessel and place add atop the fish. 

Use a flat spatula to slip the coated fish portions into a greased baking pan. Bake uncovered 15 minutes.


Hollywood Inglés From UNAM

Lots of new housing with more space
Lots of doors slamming in our face
I'll get a terrace apartment
Better get rid of your accent

$160 registration fee gets enrollment to the entirely online course (link).

UNAM is definitely in the distance learning business. There's another course in test preparation for much-needed certified teachers.

That UNAM, but its LA clone.

1 comment:

Daniel Acosta said...

Thank you for mentioning my September 27 reading from my debut novel, "Iron River," in stores and online October 16.