Wednesday, March 28, 2018

MY NEW BOOK: FAMISHED, A FOOD MEMOIR

LET'S EAT!




FAMISHED:
A FOOD MEMOIR, WITH RECIPES

Heather King


We dream about food, plan around food, fetishize food.

We have books about cooking food. We have books about growing food. We have books about nutrition, local sourcing, and becoming a celebrity chef. We have Michael Pollan earnestly giving us food rules.

But we have few books about the spiritual dimension of food that also have a sense of humor. We have few books exploring the way our relationship to—and neuroses around—food shape our relationships to money, sex, love, and the search for meaning. Famished treats of the Eucharistic overtones of food: food as an echo of our longing for transcendence and communion; food as a manifestation of our fears, our obsessive-compulsions, our quirks; food—ordinary, everyday food—as a sacrament, a mystery, and a source of unending delight.

In a series of loosely-related, loosely narrative essays, I tell my story—one of eight kids in a blue-collar family in which the overriding emotion was financial anxiety; twenty years of hard-core drinking; a move from Boston to L.A.; a marriage that bore fruit but didn’t last; the lawyering job I quit to embark on the perilous vocation of writing; my conversion to Catholicism; cancer; divorce; cross-country road trips; unrequited love. With food the connecting thread, I write of the discovery that the human condition is not a sickness to be healed but a paradox to be pondered, mystified by, patiently endured, and rejoiced over.

Through the essays runs the story of my love affair with food: foraged food, street food, my tendency to hoard food, dinner parties I’ve thrown, the shared meal as perhaps the highest form of human communion.

There are several COLOR PLATES of my apartment, garden, and tchotchkes. 

Plus, folks, there are recipes!

INA’S GRILLED GRUYÈRE, RED CABBAGE AND APPLE SANDWICH
JEFF DIETRICH'S BREAD PUDDING WITH WHISKEY SAUCE
ROSEMARY CORNCAKES
CHEWY CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD COOKIES
CHICKEN LEGS WITH KUMQUATS, GREEN OLIVES AND PRUNES
SLOW-ROASTED SHOULDER OF PORK
PASTA WITH GOAT CHEESE, RADICCHIO, KALE AND PINE NUTS
PEACH KUCHEN

AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!

So come into my kitchen and pull up a chair. 

BUY FAMISHED HERE!

Monday, March 26, 2018

DREAMS DEFERRED: LORRAINE HANSBERRY'S A RAISIN IN THE SUN



LORRAINE HANSBERRY
1930-1965


This week's arts and culture column begins like this:

“Reading with Patrick” is a wonderful memoir.

Author Michelle Kuo, Harvard-educated and the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, volunteered after graduation to teach high school in a small town in the Arkansas Delta.

Initially, she thought to energize her black students, to educate them to the way their race has been so cruelly bowed down, to rouse them to action.

She showed them photos of lynchings, which were passed around in horrified silence until one boy put his head down on his desk and mumbled, “Nobody want to see that.” She introduced them to Malcolm X — they were bored. Obama likewise elicited yawns.

Deciding to try one last time, she introduced Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play, “A Raisin in the Sun.”

“It was a hit,” she wrote. “The angry banter between Walter and Ruth, husband and wife, got laughs. Their complaints about living in a crowded house got nods. Ruth’s despair over discovering she’s pregnant made the room go silent. And the students universally loved the grandmother. All seemed to know her.

“Born in Mississippi and religious, she scolded her son for wanting to start a liquor store, slapped her daughter for saying there is no God, and yelled at her daughter-in-law for wanting an abortion. As I assigned parts, the students clamored to be cast in her role. ‘She don’t play,’ they said admiringly.”

Through April 8, Pasadena’s The Noise Within (“Classic Theater, Modern Magic”) is staging a stellar production of this American classic.

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

WAITING FOR THE SWALLOWS TO RETURN TO SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO


THE OLD TRAIN STATION SIGN, NOW HALF-HIDDEN IN A COPSE OF TREES

This week's arts and culture column begins:

March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph. Only many years after coming into the Church did I learn that it’s a day, for Italians at least, upon which Lenten fasting is (perhaps unofficially) lifted (except for meat).

Such is the fate of converts, sweating tears of blood as we refrain from, say, sugar, while real Catholics are laying out a feast.

But for those of us in Southern California, St. Joseph’s feast day has a deeper significance. March 19 is the day upon which, tradition has it, the swallows return to the mission at San Juan Capistrano.

The swallows migrate 6,000 miles each year from Goya, Argentina. Their scientific name, “Petrochelidon pyrrhonota,” refers in part to the rich red, “flame-colored” feathers on their necks and lower backs.

Legend has it that the tradition was started by Father St. John O’Sullivan, pastor of the mission from 1910 to 1933. Walking through the village one day, he came upon a shopkeeper angrily knocking swallows’ nests from beneath his eaves with a broom. Appalled at the birds’ evident agitation, Father spoke to them on the spot. “Come on swallows,” he invited, “I’ll give you shelter. Come to the mission. There’s room enough there for all.”

Supposedly, the very next morning the swallows began building their nests outside the Serra chapel. Father O’Sullivan went on to write a booklet, intended to raise preservation funds, entitled “The Little Chapters about San Juan Capistrano,” and to co-author “Capistrano Nights.”

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

ALTAR OF THE NEWLY RENOVATED MISSION BASILICA,
A WORKING PARISH

ST. FRANCIS IN A NICHE



 


PICTURESQUE, NO?



Thursday, March 15, 2018

CAMERA OR MIRROR?


BROOKLYN, CIRCA 1960
PHOTO: WILLIAM GEDNEY

"It is a continuously amazing thing that this impersonal machine, the camera, should render not only the surface of the visible world, but is capable of rendering so sensitively the personality of the photographer."

--William Gedney, quoted in Geoff Dyer's afterword, "A Long Patience," to What Was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney




HEATHER D. KING,
LOS ANGELES SOMEWHERE
YEAR UNKNOWN

Monday, March 12, 2018

THE TOPOGRAPHY OF TEARS



This week's arts and culture column begins like this:

“We do not know the worth of one single drop of blood, one single tear.”
— François Mauriac, Catholic novelist

LA photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher has made a study of tears in her new book, “The Topography of Tears” (Bellevue Literary Press, $20). By gazing through an optical microscope and capturing images that are magnified 100 times, she reveals part of what she calls the “emotional terrain” of the human condition.

The sheer strangeness, variety and beauty of her “photomicrographs” are stunning. What also fascinates is to discover that the topography isn’t entirely foreign. Whether the tears are of sadness or joy, regret or elation, to pore over them is to enter a half-remembered kingdom, a dreamscape.

Fisher was born in Minnesota. “I grew up with snowfall. We lived near a pond. We’d hunt agates and feed ducks in summer and ice skate in winter,” she said.

Her family moved to LA when she was 8. “But certain patterns and geometries impress themselves upon us as children and mark us. The magic of a snowflake and the urge to contemplate the shapes of things have stayed with me.”

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

Friday, March 9, 2018

SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES


ST. ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY,
ALTADENA CA

Most of us live in a world where more and more things are signposted, labelled and officially ‘interpreted’. There is something about all this that is turning the reality of things into virtual reality. It is the reason why walking, cycling and swimming will always be subversive activities. They allow us to regain a sense of what is old and wild…, by getting off the beaten track and breaking free of the official version of things.

--Roger Deakin, Waterlog


POST-RAIN DUSK
IN THE SHADOW OF THE SAN GABRIELS
FROM A PARKING LOT ON ATCHISON AND N. LAKE AVE.










Friday, March 2, 2018

NEW PHONE ADVENTURES





Well, I had an exciting week. Tuesday I had a colonoscopy, my first and perhaps only--I won't go into the trauma except to say I don't consider myself overly babyish or squeamish but I found the whole really two-day affair to be so seriously invasive that I marvel so many people undergo the procedure again and again!

Wednesday morning I recovered. And Wednesday afternoon I dropped my trusty iphone 5s in the toilet.

Though I instantly fished it out I could see and sense that its time had come. It had been dying for years, severe battery drain, did not work with USB in car so, e.g. could not hear Siri (map directions, Pandora, etc) if phone was charging, and it always had to be charging because in five seconds it could go from 70% to 1% for no apparent reason. And I am going to Oxford, that's right Oxford, UK, in the spring. So I knew I needed to get a new phone anyway.

That wasn't so much the drag as was the fact that it turned out I didn't have icloud or whatever it is turned on so there was no backup. I went and purchased an iphone 8 Thursday morn and began rebuilding my contact list and installing my apps. Which are not insanely plentiful as an iphone5s has 15gb of space which is not much--though I had dealt!

No, none of that was what took up the rest of my day until 12:30 in the morning.

What did was my figuring out how to make customized wallpaper that wasn't fuzzy.

And moreso, my insistence on downloading a number of bird ringtones to "Sounds & Haptics." I absolutely cannot function without 1) an aesthetically pleasing home and lock screen and 2) the sound of a Blackbird, Loon, Least Tern or Natal Spurfowl emanating from my "device" to signal an incoming call. Is that too much to ask?

What I learned was that you have to and how to convert an image to hi-res in order for the iphone not to insanely enlarge and thus blur it.

Also for complex and murky reasons known only to God, apple has decreed--well, basically, that you cannot download a customized bird ringtone, or customized ringtone of any kind, without about nine hours of intense work and a crapload of serendipitous luck. (In larger part because when you plug your phone into your laptop and go to itunes 12.7, to which I of course was prompted to upgrade the instant I logged on), apple will now for the most part not open the supposedly shared apps. Somehow after downloading about 8 birdsong apps, a couple of them snuck through. (I also learned how to convert an mp3 to an m4a with the ACC file converter, etc. though in fact that wasn't much help).

It is really somewhat of a miracle, I must say, and I would have no idea how to repeat the feat, that I now have a number of bird calls on my phone I can choose from, including but not limited to the Lapwing, Merganser, Northern Flicker and Owl Hoot.  I just can't bear the corporate, hokey, robotic, etiolated sounds installed on the device and that they expect us to suffer for the life of the phone. My God, people, let's have some class!

Anyway, PSA, in the course of my research, I also found a wonderful app called Dawn Chorus. This is put out by  Pittsburgh's Carnegie Musuem of Natural History and allow you to make a customized alarm of up to five of the provided birdcalls. "As the melodies gently wake you, the app displays softly painted renditions of the birds by Sam Ticknor, an artist with The Studio." Now we're talking! The whole thing has a soothing, old-timey Audabon feel to it that couldn't be more decent, just, appropriate, true, and right.

If only the whole world were run along such lines.

Meanwhile my home and lock screens again now both feature paintings by Ralph Albert Blakelock (1847-1919) who was known for his "recognizable silhouettes of lace-like trees against a silvery, glowing moonlit sky" and died in an insane asylum.




MAY YOU REST IN PEACE,
RALPH A. BLAKELOCK

LMU'S CASA DE LA MATEADA


JUST LOOK AT THESE DEAR STUDENTS,
STUDYING ABROAD AND MINGLING WITH LA GENTE OF ARGENTINA!

This week's arts and culture column begins like this:

A unique study-abroad program that brings students into contact not only with the needy but with God

Casa de la Mateada is a study-abroad experience, offered by our own Loyola Marymount University, which takes place over the course of a semester in Córdoba, Argentina.

The program is built on four “pillars”: Community, Accompaniment, Spirituality and Academics. Its name derives from “the beloved Argentinian drink, mate, often shared among families, friends and communities in a space of friendship and solidarity.”

Three days a week the students take classes at their Argentinian partner school, the Universidad Católica de Córdoba (UCC), a Jesuit university, like LMU.

The curriculum is mostly the same for everyone, and includes such courses as “Global Poverty,” “Sacred Place,” “Philosophy from the Periphery” and “Argentina: Language, Culture, and Literature.”



READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.