Monday, March 21, 2011


The shots above are from the Lorraine/Civil Rights Museum which was a chilly and moving experience. I felt the same as when I went to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. It seemed wrong to be there poking around such tragedy and yet I wanted to understand, to know for myself all the textures. I got into a long conversation with my brother Kemp about this. How it makes so much sense to me that there are protesters against the museum and the money spent preserving such a tragic location. Still, I am one of the many who went through the doors of not just the Lorraine but also the boarding house across the street where James Earl Ray "allegedly" shot Martin Luther King, Jr. As I've heard with the Holocaust, another violent tragedy of course, these rooms, scraps of clothing, and letters are preserved so we don't forget the end of any violent act. For those of you reading my book, you know how much violence and assassination weigh in (much less civil rights) and so it was a service to me to actually recall the fact that some people just aren't ever going to get it. "It" being not to harm another. That this museum does only so much but hopes to reverse negative conditioning and rage, well, it's money well spent. So, here I am, confessing that the protesters have missed part of the point. This is just my voice, of course.

I couldn't take photos or video anywhere inside but this is truly a well designed and comprehensive museum that I could not encourage visiting enough! The video at the link toward the end of this blog (via the website) shows some interior footage. My favorite design touch was a ramp constructed to be a portion of the Selma, Alabama bridge where many marches were held. The museum does a wonderful job of making the experience as if one is moving through the past be it a bridge, a bus, or a lunch counter. The bus had amazing advertisements such as "Lupis - Join Us And Learn How To Live With It." The boarding house is honestly the hardest part because no matter what one believes about the shooter, the space is both presented as and feels rather horrific. From the bleak lighting and the glass platform where you stand and view the balcony, I found myself utterly disturbed and moving much more quickly. As stated, it was challenging for me but could have such an effect on another that it halts a terrible idea.

One last anecdote, I love museum gift shops and nearly always buy, broke or not. I almost bought a vintage keychain that the Lorraine used in the late '60's but I literally felt my palms sweat holding it and decided it was in my eyes, sick. I wanted to see, to know, to remember but there was nothing material to take. The keychain just made me want to cry. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew that what he was doing would lead to his death. Who, with children and wife, is that willing to risk it all for everyone (because let's be honest, he never got to see much of what he accomplished)? Below is a video of his last speech, which Atheist or spiritual one may be, knowing all this and hearing his voice further shows he was and is an inspiration. His courage was without bounds.

Learn more about the museum here.

en papilliote - a recipe

"En Papilliote" is French for "in parchment," a method for steaming meats and veggies that's easy, healthy, and so savory because the flavor doesn't get carried away on the steam! French restaurants in Savannah are all competing with their own variations these days but I've also included a cajun, greek, and asian-variation that are all spectacular.

The traditional French method involves cutting the parchment paper into a heart shape, folding it in half, and then crimping the rounded edges but I like to work with a square piece of parchment so somewhere around 15 inches (depending on the width of your parchment roll.) Place the fish in the center of the parchment. Place your ingredients on top of the fish. Grab the side nearest you and the side farthest from you and bring them together. Fold them over by about an inch and keep folding until you've come close to meeting the fish. You want there to be some air around the fish, so don't make it too snug. Grab one of the open ends and fold it in 1" segments until it comes close to meeting the fish. If it will stay folded on its own when you let go, that's great. You now have a pouch of food ready to be popped into an oven set at 400° F. It takes about 12-15 minutes for the fish to cook depending on the size of your fillet and how well done you want it. The first time, I'd suggest cooking for 12 minutes opening the pouch and seeing if the fish flakes apart easily; if it doesn't, return it to the oven for another 1-3 minutes. The parchment will brown somewhat with cooking, an easy indicator of progress.

I'd highly suggest NOT using foil since the acid will react and make your fish and veggies taste somewhat like aluminum.

I know a lot of folks who don't cook fish because of the after-smell alone. Since the steam (aka scent) isn't slowly released into your home for the duration of the cooking time, you get one burst of fishiness and then it's mostly gone.

It's also great because you can use a softer piece of fish that you can't really flip while it's cooking in a skillet, which opens up your options to types of fish that you might not otherwise cook with. And as long as you make your folds tight you're spared an ugly clean-up. The parchment pouch makes a nice presentation as well for dinner parties.

Since you're essentially steaming food in your oven, you can even add some thinly-sliced vegetables to the pouch.

Here are three I've tried to great success. The shots above are the Greek recipe with cod. All of these are single servings (so double, triple depending on guests). Oven - 400. Cook Time - 12-15 minutes.

Provencial, the traditional recipe:
1 6-ounce fillet of fish (cod, sole or orange roughy)
4 skinny asparagus stalks, cut into 2-inch segments
2 ounces of thinly sliced button mushrooms
1/2 of a chopped Roma tomato
1 teaspoon of minced onion
a small clove of minced garlic
large pinch of dried tarragon
large pinch of dried parsley
1 thin lemon slice
1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice

This with a large enough portion can be its own meal which makes it so popular for one. It leaves time and space to focus on baking a dessert.

Greek Fish:
1 6-ounce fillet of grouper, tilapia, flounder or cod (highly recommend with these flavors)
1/2 of a chopped Roma tomato
5 kalamata olives with the pits removed and chopped
large pinch of dried parsley
large pinch of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of smashed capers
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 ounce of crumbled feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of dry white wine, or juice from 1/4 of a lemon

The side options here are rather flexible: rice, steamed artichokes, and roasted asparagus or brussel sprouts would be lovely.

Non-Blackened Cajun Catfish:
1 6-ounce fillet of catfish
1 tablespoon of minced yellow onion
1 clove of minced garlic
large pinch of Hungarian paprika
small pinch of cayenne pepper
sprinkle of black pepper
large pinch of dried thyme
large pinch of dried basil
pinch of salt
2 thin slices of lemon
1/2 teaspoon of olive oil

This would be great with a side of red beans and rice or creamed spinach.

Sesame Salmon (with shitake mushrooms and pea shoots!):
1 5-ounce fillet of salmon
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 cup of thinly sliced shitake mushrooms
A pinch of coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
A pinch of black sesame seeds (prettier than the brown)
1 cup of pea shoots (top with after cooking)

This is so wonderful and ideal with edamame or rice.

fragmented narratives

Above is a stand-out shot from Todd Hido's show Fragmented Narratives at the Bruce Silverstein Gallery in New York City.

This is also how I partially envision a character in my book...


“Why couldn’t she get drunk quietly, with her legs curled up in the cushions like Edna Wilson?”

From Easter Parade, Richard Yates