Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cafe Nordo

Had a great time with Dean and friends at the finale performance of Cafe Nordo's "To Savor Tomorrow." We had never been to one of their dinner shows before, and it was quite a delight. The setting was retro-futuristic, on an airliner traveling from Hawaii to Seattle for the 1962 World's Fair. The plot was all cold-war era spying and espionage, with agents and double agents from US, USSR, China and Great Britain in search of a secret food weapon (a drunken twinkie?), with interludes from a food scientist recounting the history of food and new inventions in genetics and fertilizer that were leading us into a new, too-good-to-be-true era of convenience.

It was all really funny -- especially the silly spy thriller plot -- I LOVED Svetlana, the Soviet spy/stewardess, and Ping/Arthur, the Chinese/British double agent. But it was also thought provoking, in terms of getting us to think about where our food comes from, what all the "progress" in food science is leading too, etc -- I remember the scientist quoting "a man with bread has many problems, but a man with no bread has one problem;" and her malaprop about "American ingenue-ity."

Unfortunately the menu did not really live up to the press -- favorites were the blini with beet caviar, and the deconstructed won ton noodle soup; but the meat loaf dish was a bit of a let-down. Portions were small, and the presentation minimal, but maybe that was the intent -- this was the "food of tomorrow," for er . . . 1962. Still everybody seemed to be having a great time. The play was a hoot and the series of themed cocktails kept us loose and laughing.

Their next show is due this spring:

Coming Spring 2012: Café Nordo's Cabinet of Wonders
Enter a surreal gallery inspired by the Victorian Cabinets of Curiosity. Chef Nordo Lefesczki concocts a recipe that is one part museum, one part fun house, and one part five-course dinner. Explore the real and fantastic history, science, and mythology of food.
Opens May 5th, 2012 at Washington Hall (14th and Yesler). Don't miss out!


In the NY Times Book Review today, a great essay-review of Daniel Kahneman's new book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. The reviewer, Jim Holt, talks about Kahneman's theory of the two parts of our brain: the quick, irrational, that uses association and metaphor; and the slow, calculating rational, that measures and counts and uses logic -- and how the irrational part is the one that calls the shots, often to our peril! (No wonder such a large part of the Republican base so often votes against their best interests!) Also, I was very intrigued by the concept of the "experiencing self" and the "remembering self," and how our awareness of our selves, our lives, our sense of happiness, and what we bases our decisions on, is primarily the work of the remembering self (vacations, and colonoscopies, are always better in retrospect). And that the experiencing self, in a large part, really hardly exists. Fascinating. I may actually have to get the book, and read about it all a little more in depth.


Monday, November 21, 2011

I love this poem from today's American Life in Poetry:

Believe This

All morning, doing the hard, root-wrestling
work of turning a yard from the wild
to a gardener’s will, I heard a bird singing
from a hidden, though not distant, perch;
a song of swift, syncopated syllables sounding
like, Can you believe this, believe this, believe?
Can you believe this, believe this, believe?
And all morning, I did believe. All morning,
between break-even bouts with the unwanted,
I wanted to see that bird, and looked up so
I might later recognize it in a guide, and know
and call its name, but even more, I wanted
to join its church. For all morning, and many
a time in my life, I have wondered who, beyond
this plot I work, has called the order of being,
that givers of food are deemed lesser
than are the receivers. All morning,
muscling my will against that of the wild,
to claim a place in the bounty of earth,
seed, root, sun and rain, I offered my labor
as a kind of grace, and gave thanks even
for the aching in my body, which reached
beyond this work and this gift of struggle.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2010 by Richard Levine, from his most recent book of poetry, That Country’s Soul, Finishing Line Press, 2010, by permission of Richard Levine and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2011 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD: POETRY announced. I heard the story on NPR this morning, and loved the exerpt from Nikky Finney's acceptance speech. Log on to the NBA site to read/hear interviews and video and such.

WINNER: Nikky Finney, Head Off & Split
(TriQuarterly, an imprint of Northwestern University Press) - Interview


Yusef Komunyakaa, The Chameleon Couch
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux) - Interview coming soon.

Carl Phillips, Double Shadow
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux) - Interview

Adrienne Rich, Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010
(W.W. Norton & Company) - Interview

Bruce Smith, Devotions
(University of Chicago Press) - Interview

Poetry Judges: Elizabeth Alexander (Panel Chair), Thomas Sayers Ellis,
Amy Gerstler, Kathleen Graber, Roberto Tejada