Psycho Kaler…. Qu’est-ce que c’est

kale

Despite my age I remain for the most part in touch with the fads and fancies of the young. I engage in most of the social media sites and no, I’m not a stalker, just like to stay in touch with the youth because quite frankly for me they are no loner the future, but the present. One way I accomplish this is to listen to the popular music of the day in an attempt to shed a light of understanding their concerns. Music reflects each generation and much of it is born of anger or frustration and by design sound like crap to the older generations. I can relate to that sentiment and like most generations believe mine even invented it. I remind myself how I was as a youngster the media dictated much of my emotions and how I felt, for me the Viet Nam war the defining event. So I get how much of an impact media events can seem monumental while young. Crisis today such as Solange vrs. Jay Z in elevator UFC or the marriage of Kanye and Kim, (a figurative and literal big ass wedding) can have lasting effects on the physiological status of the young and hip. So I dig fads and try to remain aware of what is “hip” or popular.
In my days as a chef in New York City it was essential to be keenly aware of any and all food trends and to follow their lifeline. As an example I’ll chart the course of the darling of the dairy industry through the eighties, goat cheese. What could possibly sound more delicious than curds of aged smelly goat’s milk? But it was tasty and it hit the culinary world balls out. (Or should I say it was a Hella hit?) Prior to its mainstream culinary popularity it was consumed mostly in posh (or arrogant, depending on your view) French fromageries by intelligent beret wearing cheese lovers. But in the early eighties it made appearances in many fine NYC restaurants over salads, such as Aged goat cheese coated in crushed philberts, sautéed and served over a bed of mesclun lettuce with a warm raspberry hazelnut dressing. Many upper eastside bistros served a similar dish and eventually goat cheese made its way downtown to some of the more trendy restaurant, grapes, pear, and goat cheese sautéed over fresh baby spinach with walnut vinaigrette. Not long after that it settled into Greenwich Village where it cemented its place in hip culinary culture by becoming a cheese choice on burgers and as a pizza topping. These days its found its way into the family chain restaurant industry at TGI’s and the like. It was one of the food trends that successfully made the transition to culinary fame.
I supported the goat cheese movement the moment I tasted it, stigma of nanny goats gruff aside. There is another new trending food though I am having difficulty getting behind. Kale! Kale is nothing more than a spinach imposter that even gets snubbed by Brussel sprouts. Touted as the worlds healthiest food and despite its attractive purple variety kale tastes like bitter angry collard greens dipped in ipecac and sautéed with fine metal shavings. While I will admit to its health benefits and its outstanding array of vitamins I come from a time when kale was considered urban seaweed. And I also admit it had a rough upbringing, it could not have been easy in a family consisting of broccoli, cauliflower, and collar greens, between the constant harassment of children who despise the entire family as early as its pabulum eating stage, and then the horrible George Bush moment when a sitting American president admitted openly to not liking broccoli, kale had to live in some pretty dark shadows. And yes the cute curly leafed veggie held prominent status in the middle ages, but at that time chastity belts were all the rage as well, and well… when’s the last time you hear of anyone wearing one of those things? Hell I’ll even cop to have used purple kale in many a crudite display in my career, but for me kale has a special dark spot in my heart, I once confused it for spinach in a high pressure moment.
I was in culinary school, our chef instructor was know for handing out reports when he caught you off guard. Its well documented the times he had students scratching their heads trying to guess at the height of a curry bush while most of the other students chuckled. Many a student was given an assignment of listing the 16 essential ingredients in curry or the genetic difference between fruits and vegetables and so on. With only two days left in his kitchen I had so far escaped being given a report an was certain I could finish the last two days without consequence. I experienced a minor lapse of attention during the height of service the chef handed me a pan of braised kale an yelled “JT, take this spinach over to the veg kitchen right away” I obediently grabbed the pan and offered a smug “yes chef”….. That’s when he stopped me. “Oh so this is spinach huh? Suppose you bring me four page report tomorrow on difference between spinach and kale?” Busted! Caught off guard that sneaky premeditating chef had me cold. I have never forgotten that stupid report. I was up until after midnight working on the damn thing without the benefit of Google or Wikipedia!. Perhaps that’s why I know so much about this new and hip uber-healthy bitter star of a veggie, and maybe, just maybe its why I harbor some degree of anger as well. Perhaps the bad taste in my mouth is not the result of this leafy wonder cooked incorrectly but the taste of a memory scar from my school days. That’s it, its time to forgive and show what a big person I am so right this minute I’m gonna cook up some braised kale with caramelized leeks. Wait, I almost forgot, no hip new dish is complete with a tried and true food fad, so I’ll top it off with some broiled, ash covered aged goat cheese…

Bang Bang He Shot Me Down

bang

Same old same
Waitin’ on the train
Its where I hear all the latest news
Neighbor comes to sit
So we can shoot the shit
Maybe even exchange political views
He said
Hey did you hear about the plight
In Arizona late last night?
Another lunatic carrying a gun
Got off about 20 round
People were fallin’ to the ground
He murdered everyone that wouldn’t run
I cried
My god not again
What will it take and when
For our lawmakers to do more than just discuss
They should help us feel secure
All they ever do is ignore
Seems like bullets have more rights than us
He said
Well there ain’t much we can do about, guess We’ll just have to cry move on
Talk about mental health and new laws, pretend that the problem is gone

Lets all scream and yell for a week
Hope that makes the problem go away
Blame mental health but not a gun
Protect the sales for the NRA

Blood and bullets litter our streets
hope dies once a politician arrives
Is it really too much for us to believe
That the killings won’t split up our lives

What’s happened to out priorities
When we emphasize our rights
We care less about the one we should
Like our woman or equal marriage fights

The new oath
We promise to protect and serve the NRA
Because we are living in the USA
Where every citizen should have the right
To arm themselves for the ultimate fight
Not just a handgun or hunting machine
But an arsenal to make us lean and mean
We want a cache of automatic killing tools
So we can murder multiple fools
Assault weapons with a hundred round
So we can legally stand our ground

epilogue
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people
Quite often with guns
And grenades don’t kill people, people kill people
So lets legalize grenades
So we can kill people
Because corporations are people
And we won’t be safe until we kill corporations
Like the NRA
peace

Belushi Ball

bell

Belushi ball such a dangerous game
To play it seems so intense
John said it felt like kissing god
And that makes perfect sense

One brings you up, one takes you down
The mixture is off the chain
The ultimate rush before the ultimate zone
And brother you feel no pain

But its also the way his movie ended
Eyes shut in a speeding hotel
Spinning round on a powdered horse
A life knocked off the carousel

Getting there seems safe and fun
It can seem like such a blast
Once your there you head downhill
The top becomes the bottom fast

Then its really not a happy game
If you’ve never played don’t start
When you mess with powder drugs
It’ll eventually stop your heart

When drugs take hold of someone’s life there are many more casualties than just the user, the family and friends suffer intense consequences as well. If you are or know someone who is addicted get educated about addictions, don’t give up give love. The addicts problems are often very deep an not easy to deal with, but every life is worth an effort. Peace

The Existential Bakers guide to breakfast (and other food related nonsense)

exiguide

What is The Breakfast of Champions, Wheaties or the philosophy of Kilgore trout? Wheaties, the breakfast of champions is a crispy wheat and bran flake that was the result of an accidental spill, much safer than the spills of Exxon, BP, or Chernobyl, but more in line with the legend of “Hey, you got chocolate in my peanut butter.” With Wheaties, the self proclaimed champion, some wheat bran mixture fell onto a hot stove and formed a handful crispy flakes that eventually was converted into a recipe. Unlike the chocolate peanut butter legend this Battle Creek legend is true. But that’s about as exciting as it gets though, a rather non descript cereal flake, not frosted, puffed, honey nutted, or multi-grain, just a simple boring flake that floats in milk an cries out for sugar. Not much of a champion! Kilgore Trout on the other hand is a incredibly interesting character developed by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. in many books, most notably The Breakfast Of Champions. Kilgore is a profound thinking science fiction writer of such nail biters a s “Venus On The Half Shell“; which alone makes him more worthy of the title IMHO. Much more interesting than the boring bran but unfortunately Kilgore can’t cook very well and half shells are about the extent of his culinary knowledge. Not a single thing to do with food. So where does that leave me? To this unrelated and frankly unnecessary quest for some of the most fundamental culinary queries such as which came first the chicken or the egg, are cucumbers really cool, can man live by bread alone, and most importantly, are we what we eat?
As it applies to food EB is the self crowned clown prince of cupcakery. Ergo, the Existential Baker’s answer to most queries is let them eat cupcakes. But that would be a self fulfilling and stomach filling prophecy. There are far more profound question at play here so let me get started. So which really did come first from an existentialist bakers point of view? In an attempt to avoid questioning the intentions of the chicken crossing the road or putting all the eggs in the same basket I developed an experiment. While at brunch this past weekend with a friend I gulped down my first mimosa then ordered a chicken salad for myself, and and egg salad for my guest. Now I wait to see which comes first. To my dismay, they arrive at our table simultaneously on the same tray, so I could only conclude that neither the chicken nor the egg arrived first.
How is this possible you ask? Well if instead of messing around with salads if I had ordered a bowl of primordial soup instead I would have found my answer. Primordial Soup is a delicacy in this era an a recipe passed down from more generations than one could imagine. The very first bowl of Primordial Soup, depending on which book you consult, was served up some three and a half billion years ago. At that time solar cooking was all the rage, and quite frankly the only available form of cooking. Not to get too technical, like most soups it begins with a mirepoix, the basic onion, celery, carrot, except this soup has a base of carbon .nitrogen, and potassium, lightly sautéed in ultraviolet and seasoned with various forms of sodium. Once these elements are translucent copious amounts of hydrogen is added and its allowed to simmer for a few million years. Once the soup is done its serve on a warm tectonic plate and served hot, much unlike revenge. The key to the significance of primordial soup is that during the simmer process an egg gets formed, and by the time the soup is fully done the egg is hatched and come out a fully cooked chicken. So from a strictly technical standpoint, it was the egg that came first, however it was the chicken that was the firt to leave the soup and walk out on its own. Whew, glad that’s out of the way, now on to the coolness of the cucumber.
Cucumbers are by nature a phallic shaped vegetable and the butt of many jokes. Joy toy look alike aside even before it had sexual reputation it was known for its coolness. Before it was cool it was used strictly by hipsters but only ironically. But what exactly made the cumber of cue cool? Well to begin with, its in the gourd family, infamous for their lack of sanity as in “Out of ones gourd”. How cool is that? But there’s more, the cool cucumber hangs out with the veggies but is in fact a fruit. Yea the sneaky cucumber has fooled grocers for generations who insist on placing them with the lettuces. These luscious garden favorites have been around since ancient Egypt and used as an anti swelling agent by early Roman soldiers. Not cool enough? Well what else do you know that gets sliced then placed on supermodels eyes to just hang out? Yes indeed, the cucumber has been cool ever since its mention in a poem from the 1700’s that stated, I am as cool as a cucumber, could see the rest of womankind. Cool!
So two myths explained, time to explore mans (or woman’s) ability to live on bread alone. While bread is indeed a food often eaten at Staples as well as being a staple food its nutritional value is relatively limited. If one opts to live only on the bottom of the food pyramid then one would survive for a period of time, but bear in min a pyramid is actually an ancient tomb and the antagonist of not too good schemes. But if you insist you will perish from malnutrition and all the carbs and gluten would make you unpopular in modern culture. Of course its not physically possible to live on bread alone but that’s taking it out of its original context anyway. The question arises in the bible when Jesus states man cannot in fact live on bread alone, but the J man always spoke in metaphors and was not a nutritional expert. Can one live without spiritual guidance? That’s the jist of the phrase as it was meant in the Bible and on that note I would have to answer no, man cannot live on staples alone he or she needs some form of profundity in their lives but not necessarily religion. If its religion you want there are a plethora of choices ranging from downright bizarre (cannibalistic or exo-planatery rituals) to the chanting monks with nothing to say. But organized religion is not needed, you merely need to use your imagination. Mediate, pray, or just communicate with life and you will have something of substance to go along with your emotional bread. Or bread an chocolate, that works too.
This brings me to my final culinary query for today, are we in fact what we eat? Well I’d imagine if it could reason a dung beetle would object to a simple yes and it’s a bit more profound than saying something ridiculous like “What am chopped liver” because that’s what you had for lunch. We are what we eat to a degree, without proper nourishment we would perish so by extension the healthier our food choice are the healthier our bodies will be. But as expressed previously we do not live on bread alone, and nourishing our bodies is essential but so as well is nourishing our minds, our souls. Eat healthy and go to the gym and your body will look good, but learn and experience, enjoy and smile, and you will feel good inside and out. Imagination is exercise for the mind and the more exercise you get the more muscular your brain will become, and the opposite sex digs big brain muscles.
Feeling good is one of the reasons we have foods that aren’t the healthiest choices but taste so damn good, like bacon, French fries, Doritos, or yes, chocolate cupcakes. What they lack in nutrients they make up for in endorphins that come rushing out of our pickled pituitary glands when food makes us feel happy. Foods such as cupcakes (shameless plug) release hormones in our brain that just make us feel good all over. But keep it in moderation, we should balance our feel good with our look good.
Beyond food there are things we ingest mentally that hold just as much significance as food. Take music for example. For me, rock and roll I like the powerful multi-vitamin of the brain. I personally love classic rock, which I suppose is like taking Centrum Silver, but it makes me feel good. Music is like soul aerobics, it makes us dance, or sway, it gives us words to think about, or draw emotion from, and it just plain feels great. Music nourishes the soul. Along with music, poetry, books, theater, and education are some other metaphysical foods that make us what we are. Digest as much as you can, read, feel, experience. They may not give you the body you want but a consistent diet of culture (no not yogurt culture) will help you attain the brain you’ve always dreamed of. Maybe that will be my next Niche. I’ll make a video called “A Healthy Brain In Three Weeks With The Existential Bakers Mind Diet” Maybe even spin off into “Brainweight Watchers” or “Cortex90 Hippocampus Fitness Workout”
So to review existentially, it doesn’t really matter which came first you still need to break some eggs to make a chicken omelet, if you keep chill you will be as cool as a cucumber, don’t put all your bread in one loaf, and if you really want to be healthy feed your mind and your body. Above all, excersize your imagination and challenge your mind always. Peace

Soul Tattoo

soul tattoo

Deep behind my eyes
Beneath the plastic smile
Deep into the abyss
Down to my soul
A mural of pains
And pleasure internal
Scar tissue streak the walls
Etched in emotions of color
Retelling the travesty
Of life trails
Tattoos on my body
Whisper tales of honor
And carefree times
Tattoos in my soul
Scratched deep underneath
Speak fabled lessons
Learned at hard knocks
The scars tell my tale
But they’re my scars
My soul tattoos
And I show them with pride
Before the fall

Tattoos of my soul
When you look into my eyes
Deep in the black hole
Images of torment and ecstasy
Mark the tattoos of my soul

Memories good or bad
Happy or sad
Etched into my soul with life ink
Scars day to day
Proudly on display
Pain and elation amassed at the brink

With every wrinkle that haunts my face
The crows feet and the tracks of my tears
A painting emerges from all the crying
A mosaic drawn from my strength and my fears

Torment has a certain style
Bliss can be vile
Together in a rainbow of commotions
Moments of triumph
laughing defiant
An endless mural of jumbled emotions

I’m the sum of my past
From first to last
Bearing the scars of lessons learned
At times I’m nefarious
Others gregarious
Each an every tattoo has been honestly earned
With every wrinkle that haunts my face
The crows feet and the tracks of my tears
A painting emerges from all the crying
A mosaic drawn from my strength and my fears

When you look into my eyes
Deep in the black hole
Images of torment and ecstasy
Expressed by the tattoos of my soul

The Cretaceous Prophecy

dino

The sand holds close the secrets of desert
While sirocco winds sing all its tunes
Accounting for gargantuan relics of life
Laid dispassionate amongst the ruins

Before the panorama was filled with drills
Monopolizing the landscape of the Easts
Stood a stupendous super massive continent
Home to astronomic super massive beasts

Enormous gardens green and healthy
A world of moisture, warmth, and air
In the majestic continent of Pangaea
Kingdoms of creatures living everywhere

Prey and hunter sought out life’s survival
Developed evolving strategies to procreate
The awesome and mammoth reptilian lords
Ruled all the world with their massive weight

One hundred eight million years or so
Dominion throughout the Mesozoic
Until earth was shattered by asteroid rain
In mass extinction the giants fell stoic

Mighty beasts crushed the smoldering arbor
Air thick of acrid smoke and smashed iridium
Very few species survived to tell their tales
Abundance of life was thrown into oblivion

Before they cried away their final breaths
Slipping into cretaceous extermination
They laid their vengeance upon the earth
Future mammals will bear condemnation

The Lizard Prophecy

Here then is the prophecy of the dinosaurs
Giving a warning to all future creatures
Once the dust from the harsh impact settles
And time erodes away all of their features

You’ll be spilling blood to fill your tanks
Confrontations will evolve into seditious fires
Wars will be waged to scour their remnants
Cultures will burn from power and desires

In holding true to the dinosaurian prophecy
Humans claimed dominion over all things
Scarred the earth with rapturous drilling
Without any reverence to what else may fall

The ginourmous dinosaur had once ruled the land
Every creature feared crocodilian abduction
Today there’s a newer dispassionate threat
Deranged Homo Sapiens bent on destruction

Too many people suffered to ply their remains
Many million murders we’ve allowed slip by
To suck fossil essences from beneath the sand
Until the thick power of petroleum runs dry

The sands are now spotted with oil and blood
Everlasting onslaughts waged to yield top power
The winds sing silent the pebbles just cry
Anticipating death from the next cosmic shower

Crumbs from the table

crumb

Golden crosses and a silver chalice
Sanctimony at the highest palace
Who will save them who will care
Poor and wretched everywhere
Why should I
Even try?
They won’t even help themselves

They not poor just a lazy lot
Why should I give them what I’ve got
They can work hard, they are able
They can eat crumbs from my table
Why should I
Share my pie
They won’t even help themselves

I worked hard for what I’ve earned
I’m sorry they feel they’ve been burned
I’m no charity and its not my job
Let’s lock away the entire mob
Why should I
Care they die?
They won’t even help themselves

Because gratitude is a natural high
I share my bread with head held high
Go then hide behind your cross
Not sharing love will be your loss
Why should you
Cry or rue
You only care about yourself