Saturday, June 27, 2015

Yenyere Bruca Manigua

Yes for me the truth has always been found in the mountains as this song goes.  Bruca Manigua was written in 1937 by Arsenio Rodriguez.  It is written in a creolized version of Spanish called "bozal."  For Rodriguez the song was a form of "afrocubanismo," helping to illustrate the African cultural influences within Cuba.  The chorus repeats the phrase "yenyere bruca manigua" over and over which loosely translates to "in the mountains lies the answer."  Specifically, the answer for many Africans in colonial Cuba was to escape to the island's inland mountainous regions.  On the surface the song is wonderfully light and pleasant to listen to, yet dig deep and the composition in total is a beautifully evocative fusion of so many themes and cultural experiences.

My favorite interpretation of the song is by the Buena Vista Social Club.  The Buena Vista Social Club is a group formed in the early 1990's out of a collection of Cuban musicians, many of whom had played at the group's namesake club in the 1940's.  The group, along with their American benefactor, Ry Cooder, helped develop an Afro-Cuban renaissance of music after a documentary, also called Buena Vista Social Club, received world-wide critical acclaim.

Now, the name Buena Vista Social Club creates an image of classic Cuban culture of the 1940's and 50's, a Godfather'esque time of flavorful intrigue when Cuba was an open melting pot of many cultures.

Shannon has lately taken to playing the Buena Vista Social club on many a Saturday night when we have the time to prepare dinner from scratch.  We purchased a wonderful cookbook during our trip to Arizona and have been working our way through the dishes.  Shannon gives the directions and I do the chopping of veggies for that fresh mole (that's a Mexican sauce not a critter, I don't know how to do that accent thing in this editor).  Those dishes are mostly pan-Southwestern, influenced by Mexican, native American, and cowboy tastes.  But it is that fusion that I love.

As much as I love Southwestern cuisine, though, I love Cuban or rather Floribbean cuisine even more.  Recently we found our way down to Miami.  Anticipating our trip I had only one destination in mind - Puerto Sagua.  Puerto Sagua is a unremarkable looking diner/restaurant on the edge of the Art Deco district in Miami's South Beach somewhat metaphorically fused between the craziness of Ocean Dr. and the touristy "Little Havana."  Walking up to it you would expect to see Mel behind the counter yelling at some floozie waitress serving greasy food.  But don't walk past!  Inside is one of the best restaurants I've ever visited.  I assume the owner's took the name from their home in Sagua La Grande on Cuba's north coast, the Venice of Cuba.

The best thing to say here is OMG!
The restaurant's signature dish is Seafood Paella.  Paella is the signature dish of Spain and thus it often finds it's way onto the menus of any Spanish influenced restaurant and the palettes of their patrons throughout the Southeast and into the Caribbean.  To paraphrase a Spanish food historian, paella symbolizes the union and heritage of cultures.  As Spain was at the crossroads of Western European and African cultures throughout time, she then passed that culture and cuisine throughout the Caribbean once again mixed with African culinary influences at a different place and time.

All that comes together at Puerto Sagua when one sits in front of a pot of that wonderful Seafood Paella.  If you come to Puerto Sagua for paella, plan on ordering a carafe of Sangria while you wait; the dish will take 45 minutes to prepare to order.  But it is worth it once it comes to your table.  The ingredients are a wonderful fusion of a variety of tastes.  The saffron rice is a warm and nutty base and a contrast to the soft rings of calamari, sweet peppers, yuca, and onion.  Within the dish comes muscles, a clam, and a lobster tale not to mention chunks of white fish and, just for good measure, chicken legs to add flavor.  Do make sure to save your appetite as it's a monster portion and truly enough for two.  Of course saving your appetite is difficult when the waitress hands out plates of delightfully crusty Cuban bread and you order a steaming cup of Sopa de Pescado (fish soup) and oh btw you want to try an appetizer of Platanos or Yuca Frito!

I wish I could give you the exact Puerto Sagua recipe but I could not pilfer it.  I did however find a recipe for another one of the restaurant's signature menu items, the Cuban Sandwich.  I love Cuban sandwiches.  Looking at the recipe I find once again how Spanish culture and influence weaves it's way into so many regional cuisines.  In Miami it's a Cuban sandwich but drive A1A around the horn of Florida and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans and you find that same influence in a Muffuletta.

Puerto Sagua Cuban Sandwich Ingredients:

1 Tbs       Unsalted Butter
1 Loaf     12" Cuban baguette
1 Tbs       Yellow Mustard
3 oz          Sliced Ham
3 oz          Sliced/pressed pork loin
2 oz          Swiss Cheese
3               Dill Pickle slices


*     Melt small amount of butter in large skillet over medium heat on stove top burner.
*     Slice baguette in half, lengthwise.  Spread 1 Tbs of butter evenly over half of bread.
*     Spread mustard over half of bread on top of butter.
*     Layer ham, pork, and cheese on bottom half of bread and place other half over.
*     Place sandwich on skillet and press down with spatula.
*     Cook for 30 seconds, flip over, and cook on other side until golden brown and cheese is melted.

At the end don't forget dessert, the flan at Puerto Sagua is spot on!

Just for good measure, Puerto Sagua is great for breakfast or just a hangover helper as well along with a Cafe con Leche!

Enjoy and pretend you are Michael Corlioni in 1955 Cuba or perhaps Antonio Bandaras in the Mambo Kings!  :)

And think about that line "in the mountains lies the answer."  For me the answer often does lie in my beloved Appalachians.  For you it will perhaps lie somewhere else.  But for most and with me as well the answer can be found in food as food and cuisine so often binds us together and thus releases us from any real or imagined boundaries we live within.

Now click below and enjoy the Buena Vista Social Club and think about Miami or the mountains.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Don't Give Up on Us, Baby

OMG Ryan, no you didn't!

Oh yes I did, and don't give me that look!  You know that smooth David Soul song sounds just as sweet today as it ever did; just like all sweet things we once cherished and I guess always will!

Anyway, that's not my point today; or maybe it is.

You know my dad used to say "Ryan, buy good clothes and take care of them; they always come back in style."  He is a wise man.  I have always tried to take his advice.  Let's face it, on clothes I have to; Shannon damn sure doesn't leave any money for me to spend on tailored suits, don't you know!

But I was just thinking, you know what Simon Cowell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Don Draper, and Ryan all have in common?

It's the new 6 pack abs!
Leo has bigger tits than me; I'm way more like Don!
Well it's not quite the clothes, those dudes all dress considerably better than Ryan does.  But the other thing Ryan has taken care of, just a little bit (but not too much) is his body.  Well just enough to be about a 24-25 BMI.  And because of that I have officially come back in style!  Apparently, (according to the massive liberal media or maybe just a cute college hottie blogger) ladies are not all into George Clooney and 50 Cent; they want DAD BODs!  And that is exactly what I have.  See dad was right, take care of your stuff and eventually it will come back in style!  Thanks Dad!

So what is "Dad Bod?"

According to Mackenzie Pearson (viral blogger) - the Odyssey Dad Bod relates to the following characteristics:

*     That former athlete's body.  Still some muscle tone but filled out from a few beers and a lot of pepperoni pizza.  But not completely given over to Dunlop's Disease.  As in your gut has "Dun lop'ed over your belt!"  So kind of like that day old pizza, a little soft but still tasty and a satisfying next day meal for those in need!!!
Not Dad Bod!

*     Enough muscularity and definition to look good in a Brooks Brother's shirt but not so much as to have that maximum security penitentiary sculpted scary ripped physique in orange exercise attire (when it comes to men's fashion Orange jumpsuits are not the new Don Draper)!

More attractive, not scary!
*     For an average male height of 5'10" you weigh between 175# and 200#.  But let's face it if you are 200# you better be as funny as Seth Rogan!

Psst..., Ryan is 6'0" and about 185
And why is this so appealing.  To paraphrase Mackenzie (rather than come up with my own concepts), girls like it 'cause:

Keira looks smashing in Dad Bod!
*     It doesn't give girls body insecurity.  But really, let's face it, us guys are really just an accessory for you anyway.  Aren't you really just looking for a guy who's car and eyes match your favorite cocktail dress.  You know, too much bling makes a girl look trashy.  Likewise, showing up with Magic Mike says "I'm Kesha;" showing up with a guy whose extra inch is hidden by a well fitted Banana Republic cardigan says "I'm confident enough to carry him off just like an Emma Watson or Keira Knightley."  Show up with Magic Mike they see your tits, show up with Ryan and they notice your style (cause who's wants to notice that vacant confused Ryan look anyway).  At least I like to think Shannon looks at it that way.

That boy ass shows off cellulite!
*     "What's good for the goose is good for the gander," or vice versa.  How many of us guys have said "more cushion for the pushin'!"  Well according to Mackenzie that goes for girls as well.  But really I know what this means, girls are always cold and on that January night who wants to be curled up to a Matthew (Dallas Buyers Club) McConaughey.  Matthew may look good next to you for that selfie at the shoot for his stupid Lincoln commercial, but he'll do you no good later that night when it's too fricken' cold to get out of bed to turn the thermostat up to 80.

Now that's a Dad Bod!
*     A guy with a 25 BMI is not a pig but he ain't missed too many meals either.  Chances are you can eat wings with him and drink a brew and not feel self conscious.  He's good looking enough to be interesting but not so good looking as to temp that 22 year old waitress named Kennedy.  It's not really so out of touch with history.  Back in Victorian times ladies liked the Price Albert look, paunchy with a pasty complexion that said "I'm rich enough to never have to work outside."  Yet I've notice over the years that "farmer's tan" has morphed into a "golf tan."  A "golf tan" with a 25 BMI says "I'm ambitious enough and my career affords me the leisure time to dedicate at least two golf/tennis games a week and my earnings capacity affords me that family gym membership."  However, if you live your life in a tank top, ripped muscles, and carrying a gallon of protein shake it says I'm too busy working on my physique to have a 401K.

*     You know what you are getting.  On the one hand he is not a thick linebacker whose muscles today may turn into a spare tire 10 years from now.  Look at his dad, chances are his dad has "dad bod" as well.  If his dad still has his "dad bod" at 65 chances are your guy will stay in the ballgame through life.  He may not be Brad Pitt but when you close your eyes the feel of Jabba the Hut won't interfere with any fantasies that may be playing out in your head about you and Ryan Gosling.

Of course this is all relative as Mackenzie goes to Clemson, which is not a real school anyway!

But do you realize Dad Bods are so popular now they have their own Instagram!  College Dad Bods

This really all hearkens back to those age old adages such as "clothes make the man."  Let's face it women love to drape things.  In the Beaumont home we have more pillows per couch/love seat than the Republicans have scientists at debates.  And let's not get started about women and bathroom towels and soap dishes.  A naked guy is fine in bed but when you go out you are going to want to drape him with some stuff anyway.  Once you decide that you'll want to throw a Brooks Brothers white collared shirt, power red tie, and maybe that Banana Republic Euro looking sweater on him muscles don't matter quite as much.  You want a stylish guy who looks good in clothes.  For that you need Don Draper not Magic Mike!  Banana Republic clothes are tapered well anyway and they make Ryan's 25 BMI body look like a 24.  And Don (and Ryan) is more likely to know what you are talking about if you mention you want a rich yet fruity North Coast Pinot for dinner.  And Magic Mike is just going to smell like the gym and I've know some body builders before and all that fiber loading can have a powerful after-burning affect that is not pleasant to be around.  Trust me, Don and I will smell better!  And admit it ladies along with draping things you love for things to be soft and smelly-good!  :)

So while we are on the subject of fathers you may be wanting to ask me "hey Ryan after your dad gave you such great advice, what sage advice do you give your daughters?"  Well first of all you have to understand I'm the guy who writes a sex blog with barely any sex so I'm a little bass backwards.  Ryan's best advice to his daughters was when I recently said to my eldest "******* never be the girl some rap guy writes a song about!  And never date a guy who's name starts with 'lil!"   :)

So moms "don't give up on us baby, we're still worth one more try..."

And for all those Dad's and Dad Bods out there,

And kids, take Samuel's advice here - 

And here is that David Soul/Hutch guy singing that mellow classic that feels as good today as that old flannel shirt in my closet or that old 25 BMI dad you have sitting on your couch!  :)