That is because the same day the paper is coming off the press on its new erratic every other Monday or Thursday schedule, we are also having our first open house in our new gallery/event space.
There is a lot going on in our local neighborhood, and now it is officially international in scope, with the opening of the Cuban art exhibition sponsored by the Birmingham Weekly in our Avondale Bricks Gallery. That was the reason for the reception, free and open to the public.
And the name of the exhibition, appropriately enough (unless you are wedded to the status quo for all purposes, like a country girl with Sutter Home in the fridge), is EN CADA BARRIO REVOLUCIÓN. In every neighborhood, revolution! That describes what is going on around here, for sure.
You take our open house-receptionparty, for example. Of course we did invite Ildefonso Ramirez, proprietor of the Kool Korner sandwich shop which has a clandestine alter ego (see Now Eat This)--who originally hails from Matanzas, Cuba--as honored guest and co-host of our party. And we should have Cuban food at a Cuban art exhibition, right? Of course we should. But are we going to ask our honored guest to put on an apron and cook? Not hardly. Enter George Sarris, amiable owner and chef at the Fish Market (the one on the Southside that is so fabulous— I can’t vouch for the others). The Athenian style snapper at George’s Fish Market is so good I named my wine import company after it. I’m serious about that, as usual. I’m so Greek I didn’t even belong to a fraternity (ever heard of the Ivy Club?).
So we got George Sarris to do the food. But George, who really is Greek, born in the Peloponnese, asked the pertinent question, “Do I know how to cook Cuban?” So George and I sat at the bar at the Fish Market, aided by Kim and Deano, and made revolutionary culinary history. The result: Greek- Cuban fusion cuisine.
It took India and Persia centuries to create cross-cultural influences on each other, along with a Mongol invasion or two, in order to produce restaurants like Silver Coin, Taj India, Mughal, and Ali Baba (see link http://npaperwehaa. com/bhamweekly/2011/12/15/#?art icle=1471822). The Persians got rice from India. The Indians got Biryani back from Persia, via Kublai Khan (who was the first public official to get frustrated enough to raze Baghdad to the ground on his travels through the region), etc., etc.
It took George and I about twenty minutes and a lot less bloodshed and burning down cities to derive Aegean- Caribbean Shrimp and Cuban-Athenian Sandwiches, not exactly like Ann Rose ate as a kid in Tampa’s Ybor City, but with a Greek-rosemary influence on the slow-roasted pork Mojo and topped with melted Feta. Next thing you know, they will be eating them and calling them Sandwich Cubano-Atenas in trendier paladares in Havana. Yes, Sandwich is Spanish for Sandwich, but if you are a lingual purist you can say Bocadilla, and they will know what you mean when you order it at the Hotel Nacional overlooking the Malecón with a Bucanero or a Mojito.
And we enlisted Señor Ildefonso Ramirez to oversee the actual food preparation, because he is quite particular about the right way to do things.
But he did indulge us in our flights of Greek-Cuban fancy. Well I bet they had some sponge divers somewhere in Cuba, too, so we will authenticate the hybrid cuisine ex post facto. I know such gathering of evidence after judgment has already been rendered is not allowed in criminal courtrooms, but even Eliot Ness can’t tell us what to do in our own kitchens. This is America, where our freedom to create geographical as well as genetic mutations is untouchable.
And the same thing is true with art. I asked Dick Jemison to include some of his painted wooden toteminspired sculptures with our Cuban art exhibition, because they remind me of some of the Afro-Cuban influences in the paintings. So what if Dick was actually inspired by aboriginal rituals in Northern Australia. There is still a spiritual connection between the art of the Cubans in Havana and Dick Jemison right here in Birmingham, Alabama. And nothing transfers or is as rapidly transmitted as spirits. But that is a matter for further consideration in our Inspire section.
And in case you are reading this in time, which probably means you are at our party right now, this is the first anyone will know the identity of our special musical guest. You may not have heard of her yet, not that she does not deserve to be famous already, because she is still a student at Mountain Brook High School. I understand she still does her homework, too, though she needn’t bother, because I don’t think she’s going to need to fall back on going to law school like most people I know. You are going to hear a lot more from singer-songwriter Catherine Shepard Smith.
Well, back to our schedule, a couple of bleary-eyed bloggers did take us to task on their Facebook pages for failing to cooperate with people stuck in a rut, perhaps sleepwalking by day, who have to set their clocks by when the paper comes out, and those bloggers and tweeters claimed without asking them about their prior assent that we breached our trust with our advertisers—oh, you say the negative bloggers and tweeters work for and with a competitor? Well so much for objective and unbiased journalism these days. We will continue to mind our own business and take ourselves just as seriously as ever. You can be the judge of that for yourself.
If you missed the open house you will have other opportunities. This Saturday, for example, Slow Art is coming to Avondale Bricks to spend an hour discussing a single painting. Anyone can come at 12:30, and afterwards you can still go to Slow Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art in its regular time slot. Of course you can see the entire exhibition on display at Avondale Bricks in the meantime. It may take a few trips to the Museum, but you can get started--and we do have some artists in common, in both collections. But you can buy art at Avondale Bricks. I doubt they will sell you any at the Museum.
And we will come up with other reasons to invite you into our space--or you can come up with your own, and we can get George Sarris to cook for you too, and you can invite your own friends. When it comes to that, you might want to stick to people you have actually met and spoken to, but maybe not. Maybe you need to get out of your rut and run with a new crowd. So put away those Che Guevara t-shirts that are so bourgeois and faux-subversive, and come help us revolutionize Avondale over a beer, or otherwise.