Wednesday, November 14, 2012

HUELE, OYE, Y JAMA, is that simple.

I feel very lucky lately.
Some how my obsession with food and its ability to act as a disguised vessel for story telling is giving me so much faith. I feel clarity in what I want to do and how I can pursue that. Finally.
Two weeks ago I "performed" in San Francisco as part of the current exhibition Circular Motion: Subverting Circumscription curated by the ever so lovely Cuban art enthusiast Sheeka Arbuthnot.
The evening was in honor of my recently deceased grandfather, Jorge Victor. (What a name right?)
When Sheeka approached me, without knowing it, I was in need of a way of finding some closure about this loss. I was not in Miami when he passed and there is something very profound about loosing the patriarch of the family, regardless of how flawed, reclusive and complicated of a man he was.
He is a huge reason I love food. He taught me to eat ugly things and not be scared to make them.
After his passing, my father and I did what many people do when you suffer a loss like this,.....we drank tequila till we couldn't anymore and talked about my abuelo/ his father. To my surprise, my grandfather was in charge of one of the busiest ports in Cuba before the revolution. Once in exile in Miami, he owned a small welding company then a hardware store called Victor's Hardware, in Little Havana. I had no idea because well, he wasn't the best husband and aside from that and the delicious seafood dishes and liver and onions he made...I apparently knew very little about him except that he always smelled like beer and old spice and that music and me were the only things that triggered his sense of humor.
Humble as his existence and departure was, I wanted to honor him by cooking something he would appreciate and share it even if the audience/guests had little to no connection to the premise other than myself. When he passed, I asked my father to send me his record collection. Abuelo had them haphazardly stacked on his couch, knowing very well he would spend his days listening to them, smoking his hundreds and drinking his tall boys, alone.
So on November 3rd, with the help of the amazingly devout Meridian Gallery volunteers, we set up tables. One for the cases of beer Lagunitas brewery graciously donated to the event. One for Abuelo's records along with a record player for attendees to engage with and play and a third for the cooking!
Over 50 people attended. I made fresh seafood stew in batches from a hot plate in my trusty pressure cooker.
We had toasted cuban bread from my favorite bakery in Los Angeles, Gigi's Bakery in Echo Park and I had my grandfather's picture tucked in my shirt over my heart.
The event was so well attended by my amazing friends and strangers as well. To my surprise, I did not get too choked up or emotional. Quite the contrary, I was comfortable and floating easily between hugs,  introductions and cooking.
It confirmed for me how healing and integral food is to the everyday.
While in San Francisco, I was contacted by an artist residency I had applied for in Los Angeles informing me I now get the opportunity to cook and perform for the month of December!!! More to come on that.

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