Posted May 15, 2020. To settle a pandemic-related financial crisis at UMass Dartmouth, law faculty are not receiving research compensation in summer 2020. I will be away from my desk, May 16 to August 15. Blog posts will be sparse, and I will not receive email. On the upside, summer 🌞! If you need to reach me, please send a message through the faculty assistants’ office (Ms. Cain and Ms. Rittenhouse). Stay thirsty.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Report from a Social Distance Week 6: Chilled goslings stir spicy Creole squall on murderous Mamajuana lakes

Geese with chilly goslings on the East Bay Bike Path
A below-average cold April on WJAR NBC TurnTo10
It’s been a cold week.  One day, Providence, Rhode Island, set a record-low high at 42°F (5.5°C), and that was before wind chill.  My local meteorologist made a graphic (inset) showing it to be one of our coldest latter-halves of April on record.  Like the stay-at-home order, winter drags on.

A first sign of spring that I always eagerly anticipate happened: the appearance of goslings at Brickyard Pond.  They must be freezing their fuzzy down off, wondering how they hatched into such a dreary realm.  The gosling stage is the only time that the geese are adorable.  Soon they grow up to be grimy, hissing fiends, churning out green excretions that coat shoes and bike tires.

Yet they look delicious.  If the chicken runs out, be warned….  ̚ – ̚

It’s come to this.

Week 6.


What I’m Reading

John DeMers, Arnaud’s Creole Cookbook: Memoirs and Recipes from the Historic New Orleans Restaurant (1988) (Amazon), and The Food of New Orleans (Periplus World Cookbooks 1998) (Amazon).  My mom-in-law gifted these books to my wife for her birthday, and I was delighted to discover that they both feature generous narratives about New Orleans history and culture, as well as cuisine.  Once upon a time, John DeMers (Delicious Mischief) was a UPI reporter.  He made the jump from hard news to world food and in time became a highly regarded food writer about his native New Orleans and home south Texas.

Arnaud's in 2009 (Infrogmation of New Orleans CC BY-SA 2.0)
In Arnaud’s, DeMers recounted the history of the famous French Quarter restaurant and its original owner, the larger-than-life, namesake “Count” Arnaud Cazenave.  When, on the occasion of his 70th birthday, high-living, nightlife-loving, cigar-toting Arnaud was confronted with the inevitability of his own demise, DeMers recounted, Arnaud answered, “‘It is possibly a fact…. But it is my secretary who usually informs me of such things.’”  DeMers then traced Arnaud's history through the latter 20th century, from the coarse, colorful, and gifted, yet ultimately tragic figure of Arnaud's daughter, Germaine Cazenave, to a renaissance for the restaurant under the management and ownership of Archie Casbarian and family.  At times, the story is curiously newly relevant to the contemporary threat of coronavirus to our family-owned institutions, especially restaurants.

In the Periplus cookbook, DeMers compiled essays from NOLA personalities in food culture.  My favorite entry comes from writer Paul A. Greenburg, U. Mo. journalism alum and Tulane lecturer, who, in “This Ethnic Gumbo Pot,” beautifully describes the kaleidoscope of contributions to New Orleans cuisine from Africa, Ireland, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific Rim.  The only problem with this book is that it will make your mouth water before you even get to the recipes.  By the time I finished DeMers’s restaurant roll call in “A New Orleans Dine Around,” I was hungry enough to strangle a goose.

I’m a periodic online reader of The Guardian, the U.K. daily news source, and a regular downloader of The Blizzard, a U.K.-based electronic quarterly about football (soccer).  I mention this because while I’ve previously urged you, dear reader, to #Save­Our­Restaurants, I’ve overlooked our journalistic institutions that also are suffering in this crisis.  If we lose our independent Fourth Estate, we lose a democratic prerequisite, more than mere dietary diversity.  A Guardian pop-up this week observed that I’d recently read six Guardian stories without making a contribution.  Da*n those tracking cookies.  I was appropriately shamed into giving something small, and you can too, whether to The Guardian or your preferred investigative reporting enterprise.

Meanwhile, The Blizzard launched The Squall, “The Blizzard’s breezy brother,” a shorter and more frequent dispatch designed to help The Blizzard’s brilliant freelance writers, illustrators, and photographers make ends meet during the crisis.  Apparently, the creative juices were well pent-up, as the first Squall comprises 78 pages of illuminated rumination on right-back footballers, all at a “pay what you can” price point.

Isaiah (ProvidenceLithograph Co.)
Our church's Bible reading continues into the Book of Isaiah.   The BibleProject has a video that examines the first 39 chapters.  Those are the ones consistently attributed to the original prophet Isaiah, the "Proto-Isaiah," probably in the 8th century B.C.  There are different opinions about the book's mortal authorship thereafter.  Everyone is welcome to join our church for online worship on Sunday at 0930 US EDT.  Geared to "times like these," the message will be on James 4.

What I’m Watching

Red Riding Hood (2011).  We canceled HBO Now one day after our monthly renewal, so we felt like we should work at getting our money’s worth.  Red Riding Hood was better than its Rotten Tomatoes 10% portends.  Famous for big grosser Twilight (2008) and her ouster from the franchise before poorer performer New Moon (2009), Catherine Hardwicke went on to direct Red, which has a similar dark fantasy feel.  The story retold is a murder mystery, like an Orient Express whodunnit set in a fairy-tale village under siege by a monstrous werewolf.  Then fresh from the finale of Big Love, Amanda Seyfried starred.  She’ll be the voice of Daphne in the shortly forthcoming Scoob!.

Dexter s5-8 (2010-13).  Quarantine is the time to catch up, and it had been years since my Dexter viewing lagged after season 4.  Maybe I wasn’t sure the show could get better after “Trinity Killer” John Lithgow’s creepy villainy.  But I found that Dexter’s second series half was up to snuff.  Jonny Lee Miller—whom, I will never fail to remind you, I saw on stage in New York last year—was killer as my now-favorite Dexter nemesis, Jordan Chase, in season 5.  Season 6 was a bit weak; Edward James Olmos deserved a role better befitting his acting admiralty.  But seasons 7 and 8 picked the pace back up with a spicy romantic arc featuring Yvonne Strahovski of Handmaid’s Tale (Serena) fame.  Critics whinged about the series finale, but I thought it was great.  Sometimes things end the way they have to end, not the way we wish they would.  No spoilers.

What I'm Eating

We were neglectful of our #Save­Our­Restaurants agenda this week.  We’ve had goose eggs wrapped and roasted in toilet paper every night. Seriously, we've been cooking at home, using up what's in the fridge, and enjoying it.  My wife whipped up a Southern-style chicken'n'grits with roasted carrots just last night.  It looks like we'll be here for a while, so we'll double down on supporting local establishments this coming week.  No goose was harmed in the making of this dish.

What I’m Drinking

Pecan Praline Coffee.  From storied Louisiana purveyor Community, this shout-out to southern hickory lets us escape the dreary wet cold of a New England morning and for a few minutes imagine ourselves munching candy-coated drupes under the sizzling sunlight of a Natchitoches summer.

Mamajuana Spicy.  I brought this Chez & Brug product back from the Dominican Republic.  Mamajuana is a liquor made from a maceration of “endemic tree bark, leaves, and spices.”  The label describes this Caribbean staple as “reminiscen[t] of wood and anise,” and that’s about right.  Its flavor is similar to chicory, but without the bitter edge, and the concoction goes down with a warm smoothness, a perfect respite before or after dinner.

The Lakes Gin.  This is a workmanlike gin from the holiday-friendly Lakes District of Britain.  The gin comes in an exquisite blue-glass bottle boasting a lace-like diamonded texture.  The Lakes Distillery sits on a renovated Victorian farmstead, lakeside of course, in Cumbria County, and welcomes visitors in normal times.  The gin is made with water drawn from UNESCO World Heritage Lakes District National Park.  The distillery lists botanicals as principally juniper, coriander, and angelica, and secondly, orris root, cassia bark, liquorice, and orange and lemon peel.  The Gin Foundry described the result as “clean” and “polished,” if a “little too manicured.”

Company of the Daughters of Charity
of Saint Vincent de Paul
(Photo by or Eugenio Hansen, OFS
CC BY-SA 3.0)
What Else We Can Do To Help

Our friend Sister Catherine (mentioned here a few weeks ago), who works on the Navajo and Zuni reservations, sent along an alarming story from Today about the rampage of coronavirus there.  Healthcare and hygienic conditions already are subpar—to a shocking point in our developed country—inviting the virus to devastate the Navajo Nation.  Nary a notion of bureaucracy separates the sisters from the people they serve, so not a penny is wasted.  If you want to help, donations may be earmarked for the Navajo Nation, payable to the Daughters of Charity, and sent to: Sr. Patricia Miguel, DC, Provincial Treasurer; Seton Provincialate Administration; 26000 Altamont Rd.; Los Altos Hills, CA 94022-4317.

Happy May Day.

(Photos in introduction, "Eating," and "Drinking"
by RJ Peltz-Steele (CC BY-SA 4.0); no claim to underlying works)

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