Thursday, October 3, 2013

2nd Chance Enchiladas - I gather the limbs of Osiris

So Osiris was ripped asunder, and scattered to the winds. Or your man Abel was cut down like so much wheat by your man Caine. Or likewise that nice French lady with short hair, the Joannie who did not so much love ChaChi, was set to fire. Nasty work, all of it. But such is the nature of linear time, and how the Sun sets always in the West. We are all of us, in some way, riding towards the sunset.

Osiris changed job descriptions when his Brother Set UPS’d him into the Nile which would flood the low plains of Northern Africa every year w/ his lament. He set himself up as Lord of the Underworld, which is the say the ambassador to the next life. The Sun sets in the West, and Osiris is there waiting for you. There is life, you see, and then there is afterlife. Osiris, who had been split into 14 pieces, by 26 pieces, by his brother’s blind rage, denied numerology in effect and was, in effect, whole.

Granted, it was the help of his sister Isis and a small matter of sculpting that physically brought him back together. But that reincarnation did not deny the life before it, or the life in between. Or, maybe, there’s linear and then there’s linear.

The wheat that grows every spring must endure the cold ground of Winter. The tulips in level, wet Dutch low lands are fed and nourished by the harsh grey light of the Northern Sky and bloom in ridiculous Technicolor. There is nothing like dusk, when the Moon and the Sun actually share the sky for a moment. We non-gods are in that space and in that time balanced on this globe not unlike some elephant in some circus. We are there held safely by Osiris, who is neither here nor there.

That is what my refrigerator is always like. My refrigerator is where Osiris resides. I stare into it the way I think I would stare at an Egyptian horizon, sort of dazed and lost. This happens whenever I open the refrigerator door.  It is in this kind of dream state, this sort of fugue, that left-overs become that thing that is so deeply satisfying.  While I do love the kind of knock-kneed and speedy lust of laying into a fresh recipe, while I love the alchemy of transformation in cooking a dish from raw ingredient to plate, I love nothing more than cooking leftovers.

Leftovers have history, and know the price of romance. Their glory has faded into a past, and can only be recalled, remembered, imagined. But the left over grilled chicken has more possibility on its second day than the raw chicken did on the day of it’s inception. The unprepared ingredient knows only the through line, knows only lusty intent. It will become a set piece, there among side dishes and entrees. But that same ingredient once it has been shuffled out of the dining room, compartmentalized and refrigerated, it can become anything, everything. It gets a second chance, and second chances are better.

The Grilled Chicken was the Simon to the Macaroni and Cheese’s Garfunkel the day before. It was a satisfying meal, comforting and rich w/ harmony and nostalgia. I cubed it small with the knife that came from my childhood home.

The tomatoes, the stock, the hot peppers, the sweet onions. All are orphans moored into stasis in my kitchen’s refrigerator. Each is held with the respect one should have for an atom that is about to split. The tomato's skin peels back and is forgotten. The body’s raw red flesh is present, immediate. This tomato, which did not make it’s way to the borscht, sizzles appreciatively, hissing like Bob Fosse.  The stock is the perfect story that we retell, re-invent with every retelling. The stock is the origin of myth, the crucible. It is memory, after all, that shadows and gives depth.  The peppers are so individual, so anarchistic and punk. It does not matter that each carries the same Mohawk, the same gangsta lean in Doc Marten’s. If anything lives for the moment it is the pepper. It carpe’s the fuck out of the diem. The sweet onions are so, so sad. But who among us are complete without some sadness? Do not hate the onion for its sadness; cut yourself some slack while you’re at it.

And then there is sauce. There is this deep and lush cauldron of manifest spells and incantations. The memories and histories give way to the moment, the still point, when the sun is neither rising or setting, and the moon is at home in her brother’s gaze. Then there is sauce.

There is no such thing as “left-over-cheese”. Cheese is a constant. It is an end within itself. But cheese is, after all, left-over milk. It is what happens when Milk stops calling itself that, stops returning your calls. It's what happens when it’s brother Set, with his Swiss Watch, comes to town.

The tortillas are fresh, as fresh as you can find. The tortillas are corn, which once grew tall and strong. Corn, which ruled the prairies before mankind got all grab ass with the planet. Scarecrows planted like flags through Nebraska. The tall stalks that fall to the ground make a sound. The ears are Van Gogh yellow under their silks and sheaves. The grist mill, again the crucible, decimates each kernel until it is dust, no bigger than ash. Osiris is there in those Diego Rivera paintings of the women making tortillas.

Each enchiladas is rolled. Each enchilada a sarcophagus. Each bundled, swaddled. One end or the other. Here Osiris is reassembled, come together.  The Sauce is poured over the row, finding its level. This is the great wash. This is the rising levee. This is the baptism of sauce. The cheese, shredded and light, falls through my fingers the way I wish regret would. It falls like snow, crisp and curious, sharp and wet. 


I keep my oven hot. This is no surprise to anyone who knows me.  The dish of enchiladas is transformed inside of a half an hour. The sauce bubbles, screaming. The cheese has blistered and yet is soft and seductive, sounding like Kathleen Turner. 

And Avocados are just hilarious. Louis CK, in a previous life (or maybe this one) was an avocado. Tell me I'm wrong.

Beans are hope. This is the best left over of all. After everything, there is always hope. 

Each day is born with a trajectory for the horizon. Each life towards infinity. 

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