Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Cooking and Killing

Talking about food. I do a lot of that. And I do it in a world that is filled with anger, hatred, selfishness, fear, cruelty, pain, anguish, and every other word you can use to describe people being hopeless and helpless against marching armies, over-armed police forces, entrenched enemies, insane ideologies, natural disasters, and a host of other pests and biblical pestilence.
Why do I talk about cooking dead animals and dead vegetables and tearing fruits apart in the midst of all that tragedy? I ask myself that. It's a recurring theme in my life. How can I take such joy in inflicting pain on animals, fruits, vegetables while railing against the pain inflicted on humans. I don't know if I have a good answer. I'm 66. Maybe I will have one when I'm 70, or 75, if I last that long. What I do know is that I love the food I cook. I know I'm responsible for it's death, whether it's a cow or a goat or a carrot or a cucumber. None of those wanted to be grown to die for me. And so I know to try to honor them as best I can: To use sparingly, to sing, to apologize because I don't know how to live, how to stay alive, without killing those things. I do not know how to keep my friends and family from starvation without feeding them, yet I know that every thing I cook is sentient, has a soul, has a personality, has desires, has fears, just like we humans do. No carrot ever jumped onto my table and asked me to cut them. But I know that every cut hurt. So I try, and have always tried, to cut swiftly and with assurance, so that the pain did not last too long, nor linger, nor was scoffed at.
Idiotic as it is, cooking, killing, is a meditation for me. It starts with getting into the car to go to the store. What will make my family and friends healthy? What should I prepare? I might run through 20 things in the 20 minutes it takes to get to the store. And once there, I might go through 20 other meals based on what is available and what I can afford.
Tonight I planned on making shrimp and salmon, because I had both. I thought I'd make them simply, with a Chinese bent, and bought bok choy, scallions, red pepper, some hot peppers, green beans, broccoli, daikon radish. I already have cilantro and a organic zucchini and yellow squash and spinach and garlic and ginger and the right spices. So I thought I'd make the fish and shrimp I had killed at my behest and put them on a bed of vegetables I'd killed. I would sing to them while I worked. I would thank them, not for the sacrifice they never volunteered for but for the pain they endured at my hand, and still ask them to make me and my family strong--if that would be possible, because it would demand a lot of forgiveness on their part.
And I bought those things, then got home and discovered that Madeleina would not be here for dinner because she has a class 60 miles away that won't end till 10 PM, and so I veered off course and decided to make hot sausages in a tomato sauce and serve a couple of them simply, over sauted spinach with a side salad. The other veggies were happy, the salad was not. So I've sung to try to ameliorate the pain, but I know I can never really do that. Nobody, nothing wants to suffer.
I will enjoy a couple of hot sausages that were once fantastic pigs with bright eyes and wonderful smiles and who trusted humans till we killed them. I will enjoy sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, oregano, majoram, vegetable stock, and a bit of cow milk parmesan cheese. I will keep singing and try to make that simple dish the best it can be so that I will be able to sleep despite the killing I caused and did.
I will try not to make it needless death and pain. And that is the difference between cooking and war: In war, the aggressors kill and do not have to care. I am sure that some do and I'm pretty sure--though I never had the courage to go to war so I cannot say for certain--that a lot of people who have killed in war have suffered for that later. But there is a difference, somehow, though it's pretty subtle, in killing to stay alive and killing to kill because someone said those people are your enemies. At the time, there cannot be much thought: You either kill or die. But the puppet masters are the ones deciding the fates of millions, whether it be the civil war, ww1, ww2, vietnam, syria, iraq, the upcoming war with Iran or North Korea or both.
I don't know if I'm making any sense here. I hate that we need to kill to stay alive. At the same time I hate it more that we live in a world where people kill and hurt other humans not to stay alive, but for selfish reasons. Somewhere in there there is a difference. I think, anyway.
PS: For those who want to know: I get really good hot and mild sausages. I poke about 10 holes with a sharp knife in each sausage, both sides, then put in water and boil to eliminate a lot of fat, which comes out as thick white scum. Then I drain and put them in the oven in a heavy skillet at low temp to brown. While I do that I make my tomato sauce: Fresh garlic, onions, scallions, tomatoes in olive oil. To that I add, when ready, a 32 ounce jar of organic tomato sauce--Just a marinara--then add my salt/pep/spices and cook. When the sausage is done in the oven--45 minutes at 250, very low, the tomato sauce is coming together (sorry to all the Italian grandmas out there who slaved for 5 hours!!!!! I've done that too but I'm just cooking for myself here!!!!), and I put the sausages in the tomato sauce. I add good quality parmesan cheese, and let it simmer half-an-hour. Then I will pull it off the fire, saute spinach in garlic and olive oil (just a touch), put that like a bed on the plate, pull two sausages and put them on that spinach, then put a couple of good spoonfuls of tomato sauce on that. Top with more parm and serve with a salad with simple lime juice--fresh--and I think you're done!
It's still killing things, no matter how good I make it sound and taste. Damnit!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Finally Alone, but not gonna love it

First off, I hope the people of Houston and Rockport and the other affected areas are okay. That is the major concern of the day. Along with other natural and man-made tragedies around the world. God, I wish you would fix this shit. You're all powerful, well, then show it, goddamn it! Cause if you are not all powerful, or if you just like seeing us suffer, then a big FU cause you are not helping here. We have anger and hatred. We are bombing civilians with my money, and I don't want to bomb anyone. I don't want limbs taken off babies or teens or grownups or grandmas. I do not want people suffering and starving and dying of dehydration. I want us all to share, like the story of the loaves and fishes, just share what we have and we will discover we have more than enough for everyone if we do not hoard, do not keep extra for ourselves because we fear we won't get more. Damn, I am so tired of human greed!!!!!!
Now second, I am alone. I came back from Peru a month ago, nearly to the day. Since then I had one client in for a 10 day course in being a Sapo (the Matsés frog sweat medicine0 practitioner, and she, Corey D. was great. She has a real gift of giving if she will work to bring it to potential. It was my pleasure to be her teacher in that medicine and in the sister Matsés medicine, nü-nü, a snuff. It is a short, hard, intense, difficult course and Corey was not only game but wonderful. She's going to heal a lot of people.
On about her eighth day here, my friend Dave came in from Australia and he stayed 10 days, just left 30 minutes ago. What a great guest he was. The pleasure was all mine and my daughter Madeleina's.
During their time here, my wife/ex-wife Chepa came over almost daily with her new kids Sierra and Alexa. My son Italo brought his daughter Taylor Rain. My son Marco came over for a visit. So we all ate well, all did medicines. all had a wonderful time.
And now Dave is gone and I am finally alone. I am fine now, but with Madeleina going back to college tomorrow it's gonna get lonesome around here.
Ah, Gorman, quit yer bitchin. You just had lots and lots of company, and in about 6 weeks you have nearly a dozen people coming over for several days.
Okay, I'll quit. Life is generous to me. I hope you are all having a wonderful day. And for those caught in the horrible natural or man-made crossfire, I hope your lives ease up and allow you go get past the suffering.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Differences Between Sapo and Kambo

Sapo and Kambo are medicines used by indigenous groups in some areas of the northwest Amazon. Both are the collected secretions from the Phyllomedusa bicolor tree frog, or the Giant Waxy Tree Frog. Those secretions are what the frogs puts out through its skin when frightened/attacked by a predator. They have the ability to "freeze" a predator who tries to eat the frog, giving the frog a chance to back out of the predator's mouth--generally constrictor tree snakes--and make its escape. In human use, the secretions are collected and dried on a hardwood stick. When it's time for use, the material is liquified with either saliva or water, and placed on the subcutaneous layers of skin which has been burned with a piece of vine. The medicine quickly enters the blood stream and the user goes into a 15 minute period of a kind of agony, during which the peptides in the medicine clean out toxins from the body that have been stored, sometimes for years. The 15 minutes is painful and agonizing; the aftermath is wonderful: Your senses are heightened, and your strength and stamina improved. Regular use of the medicine can prevent disease, improve organ function, clear out arterial plaque and do a host of other positive things for the body.
   But there are subtle differences between the use of Sapo and the use of Kambo that should be noted. It should also be noted that the use of Sapo originates, as far as we can tell, with the indigenous Matses of Peru, while the use of Kambo originates with Brazilian indigenous.
     There are a couple of differences between sapo and kambo. While Kambo is liquified with water, Sapo is liquified with the server's saliva, which not only imparts the spirit of the server with the medicine, but the enzymes in the saliva quickly break down the peptides in the medicine, making them more available, so that the effect is generally stronger. Sapo is also generally given in larger points (burn marks), so that 2-3 points is a full serving, while Kambo is used on very tiny burn marks, allowing for a much higher number of points to be used.
   The second primary difference is while most Kambo users ascribe to the theory that you should drink a liter or two of water a half-an-hour or so prior to Kambo use, you don't drink water prior to sapo. You might have a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, but that would be incidental. (Yes, you can have it 10 minutes after eating lunch as well). The Matses, in my experience, did it when it was time to do it: Sometimes that was in the middle of eating, sometimes in the morning, often in the morning, afternoon and evening of several days in succession. By NOT drinking a lot of water, as is generally done with Kambo, the medicine does not concentrate on the stomach, but rather roams more throughout the body. Which I think gives a more well-rounded body reset. (My opinion only).
    A third difference, though new, is the edict about only doing Kambo three times during a moon cycle and then waiting a few more moon cycles prior to doing it again. I think this has only appeared in the last year or two.
    With Sapo, if you just do it once, that's okay; three days in a row goes much deeper; seven or 10 days in a row goes much deeper than three. I've never been able to do more than 10 but I'm sure it would be great. In the Sapo course that I teach, people do Sapo 7 days in succession, during the last three of which they do it twice a day.
   Small but important differences between Kambo and Sapo use, despite it being the same medicine.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017


Well, I might have been missing my mom today, or my family, or friends who passed on. Maybe I was just missing the Mooch, or Spicer. Hell, I don't know, but I felt like a little kid and so I wanted to eat like I was a little kid. You know, when we were poor and the best dirt to eat was always the cool dirt under the parked car. Man, and grub worms they told us were tiny fish, and mice on a stick they said went so well with marshmallows....if only we had marshmallows....
With those emotions running through me--and realizing that nobody has called me a Mik as a curse word since that guinea Antonio did it nearly 54 years ago, well, I was melancholy. So I decided to make franks and beans.
Took a head-and-a-half of chopped garlic in olive oil and started to saute that. Added three slices of salt pork, diced, a red onion, diced, three sticks of celery, diced, then let it steep for a few minutes. Then added 10 Ballpark beef franks, sliced to 1/2 inch pieces and three good Roma tomatoes, also diced. Fifteen minutes later, added good cracked black pepper.
About a glass of wine later, I added two cans of Bush's original baked beans and two cups of organic vegetable broth. I'm letting that cook for a while, letting the flavors get to know each other for at least another glass of wine, then add Heinz ketchup and let it sit another hour. Then I'll add a head of minced cilantro, serve it over good rice, top it with shredded smoked cheddar and stone ground mustard.
Won't be as good as dirt, but then it's hard for me to crawl under cars these days. Bon Appetite!