Big Night Book and Photo Journal
Big Night Introduction
Big Night has been the best poetry reading to happen to me, ever. Michael Kelleher wanted to do something different with the standard poetry reading as they became formulaic and never as much fun as the going-out after the event. He asked me if I would cook for a reading series in which they would provide a modest budget for food. There would be film and or music to accompany the reader so it would be a whole evening of fun. I agreed and it has been a wonderful experience ever since. Now in it’s third year, we have the pattern down and it is a very popular, well attended reading series in Buffalo. There is food and a comfortable room in which one can experience poetry in a light, entertaining atmosphere, not the solemn, church-like environment one comes to think of when one draws on memories of dreadful poetry readings one has attended in the past. Along with the series co-curator, Aaron Lowinger Buffalo has had a wonderful time of poetry.
Gathered in this book is just about everything Big Night; that is, as far as the food is concerned. To accompany this book of menus, news stories that appeared online and recipes is a photo journal. I took several images at each of the Big Nights for fun. It is not a direct representation of anything as these pictures selected are snapshots I took as a way to remember the food. I am a sloppy photographer and that will show. I even dropped a brand new camera, breaking it beyond repair after slipping on the ice in my chef clogs. So as food is enjoyed with the eyes and less on text, I do hope you enjoy. Hurray!
There is a section of all of the full menus of every Big Night events in which I cooked and presented food. Unfortunately, due to a move in the middle of February, I missed out on Christian Bok’s magnificent reading. But all other Big Nights are included up until, as of this writing, Kent Johnson’s reading, Saturday October 22, 2011.
Also included are recipes of some of the favorite dishes at Big Night. I had envisioned a longer book with recipes of all the items of all the menus. This proved to be too time consuming and then frustrating. These dishes are composed of spur of the moment ideas of what is fresh at the markets. And that whim seems to want to take over how one captures these dishes on paper. So instead, I have included basic recipes of spice mixes, syrups, dressings and vinaigrettes and flavored oils. Also included are techniques on how to cook these dishes. Mainly the Big Night food are ve getable based salads with all of the ingredients cooked separately and brought together right before serving. And example of this is Autumn Medley, a warm fall dish of root beets, crispy mushrooms and ginger syrup. Each vegetable is cooked by itself and then brought together at the end, right before serving. Included in this section are techniques for making delicious aromatics. Happy cooking!
To conclude, I want to thank everyone for enjoying the food. It makes me very happy to cook for the poetry community. But it is also a wonderful puzzle for me to play with. Since I left cooking professionally, there are times I miss having my hands in the pot. There are technical successes in making large meals that one cannot feel in cooking for two. But it is also a great way for me to stay active as a cook. I can keep skills alive that I, in no other way, could keep sharp. Thank you!
Friday October 28, 2011