You and I meet
with Café con Leche and a vow of silence.
We are old Lovers
who became old Friends too.
You and this dark brew
fire my engines
as I conjure the next recipe
to life lived in your warm arms… of
so many, many colors.
I hunt and gather…
through your markets and mercados
forming the dreams and the means…
on Asopaos, Paellas, Adobos and Barbacoas.
with a mid-morning Guanabana-Sugarcane Batido and Columbian-Venezuelan Arepa
(We hyphenate like nobody’s business, don’t we girl?)
and carry on to my kitchen where, with
Books & Books…
strewn around me
haunting and taunting me to wander more, learn more, taste more, imagine more…
I dip back into time from long ago days in Cayo Hueso and then slide forth
to this new wonder of a reborn Biscayne.
becoming vital with
hipster bistros, mystical botánicas, artisanal cheese shops, enotecas and farmer’s markets.
My stove bubbles
and the scents spiral with
Abuela’s Black Beans,
Auntie’s Haitian Grits & Griots,
Maduro Plantains, Bahamian Callaloo and Arroz con Pollo
the very things that I found in your evolving DNA in the early 1970’s
with my arrival from faraway Illinois cornfields
and your arrival from the world beyond
to the 305… a number that
circles us all.
the oceanfront, the riverfront.
and smell the waters and want
your Camarones, your Rabirubias, Spiny Lobsters, Leches de Tigre, Black Groupers,
Red Snappers, your (once upon a time) Conch,
your Stone Crab sweetness
this Life with Ají, Mojo, Dendé, Ajo, Habaneros, Achiote, Pico de Gallo, Rocoto, Ancho, Tamarindo, Old Sour, Curries, Sofrito, Key Limes, Sea Salt, Pimentón, Chimichurri, Almíbar, and…Passion
this body with Moros y Cristianos, Buss-Up-Shut Roti, Latkes, Midnight Sandwiches, Tortillas, Gandules, Frijoles, Cornbread, Papas, Boniato, Congrí, Garbanzos, Malanga, Piononos, Muñeta, Mofongo and Yuca.
your Jamón Serrano, Carne Asada, Matambres, Jerked Chicken, Palomilla Steaks and Lechón!
I am besotted and bedazzled
by your Mangos, Guavas, Bananas, Sugar Apples, Coconuts, Mameys, Papayas and
countless other fruits
on this trip to bountiful
I glide juicily along.
my love of other cultures
who call Miami home too…with
our secret (shhhh) Sushi Deli, Mexican Tamale Hideaways, British Invasion Gastropubs, Puerto Rican Bodegas, D.R. Lunch Counters, Nicaraguan Nacatamales, Tropical Asian,
New Wave Ramen, Honduran Refried Beans, Brazilian Feijoada, Argentine Asodars, Peruvian Cevicherías, American Smokehouses on the edges of neighborhoods…
but still smokin‘…
low and slow
all night long.
Give me a Tres Leches please…
or a Churros with Chocolate
or a Key Lime Pie
I’m going to cook now.
Norman Van Aken ©2013