Duck Fat and Politics

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Updated: 53 min 36 sec ago

1945 Chateau Clos de Sarpe, St-Emilion Grand Cru

Tue, 11/12/2019 - 9:41am
Like a prayer that rises from the quiet lips of an old penitent, there is no beauty as elegant as old wine, resurrecting the glory of the Caryatids on the Acropolis and sunlight shining through high windows of St John Lateran onto hymn singing incense swinging priests, and although in the nose of this wine we inherit those relics whose memories are wrapped in the passage of time, we notice too in a swoon the fragrance of plum blossoms when you fall in love for the first time and your senses vibrate and expand to feel all that can be felt at once, dissolving the boundary of everything you thought you knew but just learned is only the smallest fraction of what can be known because until now you didn’t know love, didn’t know the smell of her skin just below her ear on that soft spot where your own breath mixes with hers and you can taste the commingling in the very air she inhabits, and when we breathe the skin of our loved one and inhale this beauty through our pores, each soft fragrance delineated along the touch of her lips, her neck, the almost impossible space between our skin and souls and in that inhalation we remember a memory of this love right now, and if we are fortunate to fall in love when the earth has moved past the sun and begins its long reflection back into itself we remember the earth radiating its stored heat, the pulse of an almost forgotten summer whose bass notes reverberate through our hands limbs and everything else all entwined and warm with wool and smoke and crystal clear breath and we wonder how anyone could forget this feeling, this full embrace of the world we live in. And how is it that seventy years ago when the scourge of war gashed raw this earth, killing and rupturing so much of itself from each other and a now irretrievable past, how did it come to be in those first months of peace, when the sun without judgment still poured across the land and the wind and the rain blew and fell without discriminating on who or what received its beneficence, how is it that on a field that was worked by farmers long since dead, whose hands are unknown to us today, how is it that they picked these grapes and crushed them with a memory of a tomorrow that just arrived. Seven decades ago, after the fermentation and resting in barrels, these grapes were put into bottles and laid in their caves only to lie there day after day after week after year after decade and my parents were young and they died more than a decade ago and still this wine sat in its cave untouched by light or heat or vibrations and the only thing that touched it was time, unforgiving linear time that softens things that once were sharp and brings down democracies and dictatorships and my almost six decades are enveloped and held in that time and still there is nothing but long silent memories until today when a protester in Hong Kong was shot and dozens injured and meetings were canceled because roads were blocked and still I made it to this restaurant in this quiet hush of an early evening in fall when the sky is washed with a breeze and the tear gas has dissipated and a relic from the past is remembered and poured into a glass and how does time express itself over time, a simple grape whose merest flaws or imperfections could have destroyed it years ago, how does it manage with such elegance to layer itself upon this long arc and still hold within it the lightest blush of strawberries and a bed of earth deep mushrooms and roots that draw up from rocks as old as life their nutrient remains and hold these twin remembories of spring and fall together in balance, weaving the many summers and winters together with this one small vineyard, one single harvest at the beginning of a long peace? How?
Categories: Citizens

Khlong Toie Market - Bangkok, Thailand

Mon, 11/11/2019 - 3:43am
Almost everywhere the ground is wet, and dirty grey puddles with debris dissolve any semblance of hygiene as wave after wave of people, motorbikes, dollies, styrofoam containers and woven bamboo baskets stream though this massive market in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. Crossing the khlong – or canal – over a small bridge whose damp thick planks are saturated with the accretion of quantity, and entering the market whose boundary is loosely defined by a brackish canal that shames the Cuyahoga River with a viscous liquid that now fills its channeled, hardened banks, visitors find it hard not to be awakened by the intense smells of rot, filthy water, row after row of crammed caged chickens ducks geese and other fowl, the squawks and bleets obliterated by the regular thump of heavy cleavers dispatching birds on huge wood cutting boards – slices of tree trunks actually, where bird after bird is killed plucked singed gutted and prepared for sale, and just past them are the rows under red plastic awnings of every cut and piece of animal that can be eaten, between the stalls crammed tight with people and carts, the voices of women young and old calling out the prices for a kilo of limes, squash, beans, bunches of basil and lemon grass, bottles of honey from fertile Phetchabun Province, curry pastes and mangoes, watermelon, garlic, turmeric, bitter herbs and gourds, lumps of liver and mounds of gizzards, heaps of feet cleaned and ready for stews and curries and soups, and all this before you come to the tubs of eels turtles catfish and shrimp of every size, fresh dried and salted, piled over ice and fat white-fleshed fish with scales as thick as fingernails being scraped off by men in rubber boots who smoke and cough and talk all the while, girls sitting in a circle de-veining shrimp one after one after another for hours at a time, their wrists tattooed and hard as their weathered fingers fly through shrimp like an old nun’s fingers run through rosary beads, habit and meditation built into the repetition, and cats prowling the aisles thin and tattered, tails mostly missing and eyes alert ready to pounce on the rat that runs between stacks of crates, across the child’s feet who plays with a toy gun as the other children clamber on empty tables used earlier in the day for trimming roots and pulling off dead leaves, tidying up the produce before the rush of another day, hour after hour of noise and people and everything for sale, the coming and going from the far provinces of Thailand to feed the hungry capital. Old men lie asleep on a low platform surrounded by piles of dried noodles or bags of rice, a tired mother snores in a small chair with a television showing soap operas playing only for the toddler who lies curled up next to her, looking at the TV as well as her phone, and a young woman sits among stacks of plastic mixing bowls, wire baskets for frying fish and cooking noodles, charcoal braziers and hand-forged knives, soup bowls and metal spoons, enough goods to let a small town feed, and where does she find love and friends and a breath of fresh air, sitting long hours and when the rain falls and the mishmash of tin roofs and thick plastic sheeting fray or give way or end between two rows of goods, the aisle splashes with a steady stream of water, flip flops and rubber boots the only useful footwear, the pyramids of limes of all sizes splashed with rain and fresher looking than ever, and rough young men moving small loads of wholesale goods from one end of the market to the next, filling the rows with the urgency of the day’s wages, the bags of ice to be delivered up and down the rows to sellers of almost living things that depend upon the cold to keep them fresh, and sitting here and there in dark nooks are middle aged women and men with hand calculators and clipboards tallying purchases and sales, chainsmoking cigarettes in anticipation of the next day’s business, the floods in Trang or relentless heat in Roi Et, the sacks of rice secure and dry under the high corrugated roof, and another motorcycle delivering whatever is was they needed next, and he stops for a bite of grilled fish, the fish coated in a snowy layer of salt pure and simple grilled over charcoal, the sizzle and smoke and smell mixing with salted squid and crispy chicken legs, plumes of smoke sanctifying the hard and endless work of these huge numbers of people whose lives are spent in this labyrinth of life death and sustenance.
Categories: Citizens

Guan Kee - Stall 53, Newton Food Centre, Singapore

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 7:45am
Yes. It is worth traveling 10,000 miles to eat this $37.00 dinner. The night is hot and sticky and I’m sitting underneath an awning that stifles the breeze and keeps the drifting air in place, hot smells of spice and the constant ding of woks being
stirred with high heat below, the spatula scraping and turning vegetables meat fish and sauces into each other, friends, couples, families and the occasional loner like me, times when we bend over the food and say nothing or fuck for the thousandth time, marveling swooning that tastes textures like these exist on styrofoam plates for $10.00, smears of oil, chilis, dried little fish and spice, a crunch and savage raw flavor of some place I ought to call home on a Monday evening like this.

Categories: Citizens