Financial Crisis Chicken Dinner

by Mandy Blake
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potluck-table.jpgI do not consider myself a political person.  I listen to NPR because the voices are soothing and it keeps me company while I cook.  Try as I might, I often don't really hear what they are saying.

My husband and I have hosted potluck dinner parties for the first two debates and while I watched most of them, I was more interested in the food and our friends.  Having said that, it is impossible to ignore the fact that our country is on the verge of inevitable, significant change, and none of us know what it is going to look like, and that is frightening.  My friends and I have found the best remedy is to be together!

A new friend and renowned chef, Thor Christenson, had a small group of us over for a "financial crisis chicken dinner".  He lives in Echo Park and made more than one gentle jab at "Westsiders" (that would be me and my husband) and how precious our food talk is (everything organic, sustainable, raw, green, local...).  I cannot tell you how relieved I was to hear this.  I expressed my initial love of the weekly trip to the Farmer's market which quickly turned to panicky dread once I settled in to the 2 hour project of driving, parking, having enough cash, trying to carry what seemed like 25 pounds of produce, or navigating a cart so as not to have to carry what seemed
like 25 pounds of produce.  Now I'm back to buying organic at the regular grocery store.  Sorry.

Everything about his home and the menu was warm, simple and delicious: artisan breads with hummus to dip or sweet butter to spread, sweet peppers, olives and edamame to start.  Dinner was a shockingly good yellow beet Caesar salad, which reminded me how transformative a homemade dressing can be (see recipe below), roasted chicken with a light curry sauce, buttered haricots verts and jasmine rice.  Nothing about the food smacked of financial stress, although when someone
inquired where the haricot verts (baby green beans) were purchased, Thor replied "Costco".  Love it.

potlucktable2.jpgOver various chocolate confections, conversation turned to how we feel the current state of our Nation has affected us on a personal level. I was ready for anger, distress and panic. Instead I heard we are feeling tender, vulnerable, and mostly grateful that we weren't alone. Experiencing community in this candlelit room made us feel as a collective group that we can weather any crisis, and potentially thrive as a result, provided that we have each other.

I realized how isolation and preoccupation with myself is when possessions, financial status and "getting ahead" become overly important.  Sitting at the table with these beautiful, emotionally exposed people made me hopeful and even grateful for these uncertain times, as they have helped me reach out and seek the comfort of friends.

The great irony was that there were a number of us who are starting new business ventures, and although there is some trepidation, we are all choosing to move forward and keep dreaming big.  As we said goodnight, we agreed that we are all operating from faith at this point, both personally and globally, with happy bellies, open eyes and hopeful hearts.

Yellow Beet Caesar Dressing

1 small roasted yellow beet chopped
1 clove of chopped garlic
2 anchovies chopped
1 tablespoon Sushi Ginger chopped
3 tablespoon of fine Parmesan
Blend all in a minichop or regular food processor then add
Juice of 1 lemon
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
1 egg
salt, pepper, cayenne optional

Add olive oil (not extra virgin) while running processor about 1/2 cup, more to taste if inspired.
Dressing will be a thick liquid yielding 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups. Perfect for 8 to 10 big salads add more Parmesan to garnish.



#1 mark hobbs 2008-11-02 23:50
Wasn't it a fun evening! As a participant I echo your experience of sharing anxiety over good food. I did feel I shared a sense of community with a few people I knew, and others I got to know. It did make the impending economic slowdown less intimidating, and I am following through on starting my business. Thanks for recording and illuminating the event!

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