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Sunday, January 29, 2012

last night's catering!

Last night was one of the most fun catering gigs in a while. For one, it was a surprise 50th birthday party for someone i have known for many years, a brilliant environmental lawyer who works hard to keep California's water's safe(r). Roger's wife, Paula, asked me to prepare finger foods and small plates for 50 of Roger's friends and co-workers in their beautiful home in Oakland.
Great kitchen to work in! Lots of space, beautiful wood, nice old stove. We had a fairly easy and comfortable menu and did almost all the preparations before arriving.
I know Roger and Paula through my great friend Matthew Sperry! (http://matthewsperry.org)
For obvious reasons, Matthew left a HUGE impact on a great number of people in his brief period on the planet. Always a joy to be around others who understand the loss i feel, 8 years later. Stacia, Matt's wife and my old friend was of course in attendance as was Scott Hacker and other's who i would not know if not for my connection via Matt.

One of Roger's colleague's kept him at a conference in Sacamento and around 7:30 Roger came home and looked rather overwhelmed. From that point on, a large grin on his face was apparent all evening. His second surprise, however was that i and my team were about to lay out a spread of beautiful Spanish and Latin inspired cuisine. Roger has often tasted my food and talked about having me come and use his kitchen so i was rather pleased to be part of his birthday celebration. It was an incredibly festive evening, with non stop raves about the food. Of the 50 people, only 2 were vegetarian or vegan, yet everyone left full, satisfied and content. Many were commenting and asking questions about ingredients that were new to them such as lotus root or tempeh.

At the same time as the festivities, the fact we now live in a police state was evident. When i would go on the balcony to get fresh air, i heard the choppers overhead. We knew something was going on and at least 1000 people were marching to go try to take over a large, abandoned building. Word was not out which building it would be but all along i suspected the Kaiser auditorium, by the end of the Lake. It is huge, unused and a great location and can house a 1000 people and be used for an incredible amount of good. I have very mixed feelings about this idea of occupying "private" space. There are a great deal of complications involved, obviously. At the same time, unused space and homeless people and need for space for so many needs is something that needs to be addressed.  Imagine the kitchens and serving spaces that can be done in some of the empty spaces in Oakland.
Overhearing many conversations at the party about what some people saw on the way over or heard from people there spoke of lot of police action but no specifics.
On the way home, we headed to the Trappist to get a beer,  a small token to Cori and Sincere for their great work, there was tremendous police presence all over downtown Oakland. Alameda sherriff, oakland PD, Berekeley PD, San Franciso PD, were in full sight, most with batons out, ready to rock. Windows were down so i did not smell the lingering tear gas of what went down earlier. City Hall was surrounded by cops and this is midnight! What went down or was going down? But noone to be seen except a few homeless and a ton of cops. Get to the Trappist and it is surprisingly quiet, get a table and order a round of Leifmans Oud Brun, a delightful slightly tart Flemish brown ale. Head home and turn on the live feeds. All is quiet at 1:30 on the live feeds. Look at replays from throughout the day, oh my.
Once again, the city of Oakland is the center of whatever this is, that is brewing in the USA, these days. And once again, many arrests were made in a mostly peaceful protest. 1000 or so marchers went to try to take over the kaiser building, of course were not allowed to do so and were gassed in the process. and that was only the beginning. Look at the live feeds for yourself, do not read what i or anyone else has to say. Look at the kettling with no escape route given and then see the crowd gassed and then see a door at the Y opened to help people escape!

these are crazy times! i want to cook the finest ingredients grown by the finest of our area's farmers. Unfortunately, what the occupation represents and what may emerge from it, may be the last chance to fight against the total corporate control of our world, and that includes the complete takeover of our food system by Monsanto, ADM, Conagra, Dupont, etc.   As i type this at noon, helicopters are now overhead my neighborhood. Oakland is a war zone. Hopping on the bike to head out and see today's action for myself.

Thank you Paula for last night! Thank you Roger's office for funding the joyous occasion and also for the great environmental law work you do. Cooking for you was a true delight!!

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