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Living With What I Do

October 4, 2016

Living in New York we forget a few simple mathematical realities. Only about two percent of people in the country celebrated the new year yesterday. And globally, that number is less than a fraction of a percent. If you were rounding, it would round down to zero.

But happy new year, anyway.

Never turn down an opportunity for celebration. Life is hard. Still, every so often we are presented with joyful moments. Grab them. Embrace them. And drink them to the lees. Of course, the Jewish New Year isn’t quite as festive as the secular New Year. There’s no Champagne or feasts of lobster bisque and standing rib roast. If you are very lucky, there is brisket. We had roast chicken and apples with honey. To really cut loose we got challah with raisins in it. Woo hoo.

The point of the Jewish New Year isn’t to party. It’s a wake up call about the passage of time. The holiday is a reminder to correct the wrongs of the past year. And to try and do better in the year moving forward.

Hopefully, regularity readers know that writing a daily food blog is a struggle, but maybe not perhaps for the reasons one might think.

Food is a huge subject. There is always something to write about. However, when the world is in pain, it’s hard to focus on matters that seem so trivial. And that can vary day to day. It could be the bombing of hospitals in Aleppo, kids shooting up schools, Native Americans protesting the desecration of their tribal lands, police shooting unarmed civilians, police being ambushed by snipers, the growing drumbeat of Islamophobia, the ongoing killings of the US drone program, veterans needlessly dying at home from lack of timely medical care, the failure of our government to act on major issues of the day, or the political rhetoric that would send each major party’s nominee to jail for crimes against humanity.

So in the face of all this, how do I write about food?

Well, I try to make it matter. And one way I do this is my ongoing support of The Food Pantries for the Capital District. I’m keenly aware how lucky I am to get to fuss about how thinly my prosciutto is sliced, when neighbors in my community are living under the specter of food insecurity. Which is why I make a point to shine a light on this cause.

It’s not too late to grab a ticket for this Thursday’s Harvest Evening Celebration.

Here’s what I love about the affair. Chefs from around the area are challenged to come up with a delicious recipe that relies upon a staple ingredient supplied by The Food Pantries to its clients. This can be anything from bread, to peanut butter, to ground turkey, to frozen vegetables.

You get the picture. It’s nothing fancy.

But these talented local chefs then try to create something not just delicious out of pantry staples, but also something relatively easy to make. I think perhaps the high water mark was two years ago when the Honest Weight Food Co-op took a jar of peanut butter and turned it into a vegetable soup. It was brilliant and packed full of flavor.

This year I’m a double duty participant. I’ll be there on behalf of the FLB. However, I’ve also facilitated a promotional arrangement between The Food Pantries for the Capital District and Yelp.

So, I’ll be serving as a judge for this event, as will Anna K. who is one of the area’s few Gold Yelp Elites. William Harris, local chapter president of Chaine des Rotisseurs is back for another year. Steve Barnes of Table Hopping fame will be there too. I’m also looking forward to my first occasion to be on a judging panel with Donna Purnomo of Yono’s Restaurant.

Chef Jennifer Hewes of The Point has been a long time supporter of The Food Pantries. Whole Foods Market had some difficulties last year, but hopefully Chef Sainabou Jatta and Chef Amanda Bussing will get a chance to strut their stuff. Chef Paul Perez of Barcelona Restaurant has stepped up and I can’t wait to see what he prepares. Chef Melissa Sheridan (as seen on TV) joins Chef Nigel Peters of Brown’s Brewing. Nigel was a force to be reckoned with last year, and I can’t wait to see what happens with some more talent being thrown at this project by Brown’s. Also Chef Kizzy Williams of Allie B’s Cozy Kitchen will be there, and soul food is all about making cheap ingredients sing.

There are a lot of players, with some serious strengths, and some serious motivations to bring home the honor. So expectations are high.

$65 will get you into Revolution Hall on Thursday evening at 6 o’clock. Not only will you walk out full of great food, but you’ll have supported a great cause. And I’ll be there with some Yelp people. Steve will be there, maybe with some newspaper people. It should be a blast.

If you do come, please drop by the judges table and say hi.

And if Thursday just doesn’t work for you, there are just a couple last spots open for Wednesday’s Yelp event. And there’s even more stuff coming up in the near future. But we’ll talk about that later this week. That said, Thursday’s event is the only one where you can eat like a pig and still feel good about yourself in the morning.

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