Sunday, March 02, 2008

I am working on edits for an article about a local neighborhood here in the Chi that I have always loved.  I've wanted to write about food, in Humboldt Park since I moved back, because Puerto Rican food is the shit.  While my editor is providing neither adequate direction nor time in which to get things done, I still relish the assignment.  

So, I am hard at work this evening, after she told me on Friday to include three more restaurants in my piece that would boost my word count from the 900 she originally told me to use as a cap up to probably 1500.  

I spent the afternoon going from place to place and met the owner of a really great place called La Bruquena.  I didn't include it originally, but I'm glad I went, because now, after a long conversation about Caribbean food, food of the African Diaspora, and gentrification, excitement about a project (actually an idea that's been floating in my head for ages) has been renewed. I've wanted to write something about food of the Diaspora and I have notes and research like crazy that I have not compiled or organized.  I am fascinated at the ways in which Africa has manifested itself in cuisine outside the continent.  I have been working at a Brazilian place and researching (and of course, eating) Puerto Rican and Dominican food lately, all of which has served to heighten my interest and reflection on the subject.  Dominican food, by the way, is surprisingly refined with diverse elements one would not expect.  At least I didn't expect it--I suppose I lumped it in with Puerto Rican food.  I never thought before about how its proximity to Haiti with its French and African influences might be reflected in the DR and vice versa with the Spanish.

Anyway, all of this, coupled with my knowledge of and experience cooking African American food (I still can't quite get down with the term soul food, although African American bothers me too, and southern doesn't quite do what I need it to either) whipped me into a frenzy today while talking to the owner of the restaurant who agreed to meet and talk about food and perhaps show me a few things in the kitchen. 

I love it when this happens.  It's like being on a diet and finally seeing those first few pounds fall off.  That's what keeps you motivated to press on. (I haven't had that happen.  Ever.  So, I am only imagining this.)  I have been working so much, laboring under the stress of poverty, rejection, and general fatigue only to find out that my efforts are paying off in the most unexpected of ways.

There's so much to do.

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