We humans are, on the whole, a bunch of dumbbells.
Bucketheads, if you will.
I count myself part of the buckethead crowd.
I am a buckethead for no other reason than, the other night, I am driving to the store from work and I tune the radio to a public station.
Sometimes this is a good idea.
Other times …
On this occasion, it is a profoundly wrong move because I tune to a show I should know better than to listen to: a show out of Boulder, featuring extraordinarily self-satisfied hosts and guests, frequently commendable musical acts (until the participants are interviewed) and an audience whose members seem to be recruited on the basis of an IQ test. As in: You score in single digits, you get in.
I am sure if there is a tie among audience wannabes, the white, upper middle-class kid with the dreadlocks gets preference.
This night (and here is where I am a major-league idiot, since, if I were anything other than a fool, I would have turned the radio off) the broadcast features a less-than-unique, less-than-interesting musical group led by a decidedly less-than-talented, or interesting, female singer and “composer.”
Of course, the self-satisfied and condescending host has to interview the gal. Why, I don’t know. What with the sound of his hand hitting his own back, the host makes it nearly impossible to hear anything or anyone else on the show. I suppose he has to conduct an interview to let us know, once again, how painfully sensitive he is to the most politically correct, up-to-date trends and issues.
The singer “composer” introduces the members of her band — a collection of fellows from a variety of cities, and countries.
When a third-world country is announced, the audience members go berserk, whooping and clapping wildly. Boulder is a college town, you know, so an accident of birth has great significance. The guy from Chicago gets a round of polite applause; the guy from Cuba gets a chorus of whistles and wild “woo hoos.”
The ever-smug host asks the singer/”composer” about her new album and she proceeds to inform everyone she and her “composer” husband wrote the songs on the new CD as a tribute to “native” and “indigenous healers.”
A goof in the audience hoots and whoops when he hears the words “native healers.”
“Woo hooooooooo. Yeah.”
What kind of moron is this?
Are we referring to “healers” of the kind who tended to folks back when the average lifespan was 25 years? Is this what we are whooping about?
It seems logical to assume the pinhead in the audience would also whoop and cheer loudly if someone mentioned “aboriginal necromancers,” “Cro-Magnon trepanners” or “medieval barber/bleeders.”
Let’s hear it for the restorative powers of an elixir made of lead and arsenic while we’re at it.
How about the healing power of crystals?
I drive on. I seethe.
One thing is for sure: the bozo in the audience cheering for native and indigenous healers (I suppose, this does not include a member of the Kiowa Tribe who holds an M.D. from Harvard) does so as part of a feebleminded show of reverence for a stereotyped tradition not his own. And, more important, he has probably never suffered a truly serious disease, nor witnessed up close and personal the effects of such a disaster on a friend, family or loved one.
In the off chance he has been leveled by such a disease, and recovered from it, and believes he recovered with the aid of massive doses of echinacea, chiropractic treatment, Chinese herbs, a macrobiotic diet and regular exposure to sage smoke — he does so without tangible evidence of a repeatable cure. He is, rather, a rare example of extraordinary luck, the big winner following a graceful shuffle of the genetic deck.
If, say, he recovered from a ferocious cancer that, in most cases, eradicates the host in short order, he did not do so because he had his aura adjusted or received a visitation by a channeled physician from another dimension. He is much more likely to have remained alive by virtue of, say, production of an extraordinary number of NK cells — a particularly effective little lymphocyte. He probably had the great and undeserved fortune to be blessed with a host of these little rascals, which swooped in on cancer cells, wreaked havoc and left the debris to other white blood cells and phagocytes to tidy up.
We are such dumbbells.
I am in a rage by the time I get to the store to shop.
So, I decide to mitigate my bias against faux Rastas and self-congratulatory radio show hosts with a culinary nod to “native, indigenous cultures.” (As though every “culture” is not, for all intents and purposes, “native.”)
I ponder some possibilities, given my geographical location.
Corn. Beans. Wild onions. Berries.
Yes, game: a prime element in the indigenous diet.
In particular, in this part of the world … elk.
Funniest coincidence: My son-in-law, Jon, bagged an elk last week.
I figure a couple big hunks of tenderloin will do, if not the entire backstrap. I envision a tribute to indigenous cuisine in the form of thick filets, cooked simply, seasoned and grilled briefly on each side, medium rare.
Let’s see: Surely “native” cooks had access to grapes. So, I find it no stretch to jump from grapes to a wonderfully rich Cabernet reduction for the elk filets. I’ll need to add demi-glace to the cab reduction. Thankfully, buckethead that I am, I can convince myself a baby elk was rendered down to produce the demi-glace.
I decide to request the backstrap from Jon. After all, why would he want it when he has all that other meat to make into sausage?
Better yet, I figure I will ask my daughter, Ivy, to give me the meat while Jon is at work. She is, after all, the fruit of my loins, and there is no reason to disturb Jon.
I make the phone all. I make the request.
So … corn and beans it will be.
I decide on a version of succotash, (“native” word) using kernels of corn as the primary element, jazzing a blend up with other vegetable matter available, in one form or another, to indigenous cultures in this hemisphere hundreds of years ago. Beans, onion, tomato, squash.
Yes. They milked elk.
Since corn is out of season, I purchase a pack of frozen kernels. Since Lima beans are out of season, I purchase a pack of frozen beans (produced by the Lima Tribe).
I snatch a zucchini or two (it’s squash, after all) a white onion and a carton of elk cream.
I cook the beans according to directions on the package. I drain them.
I cook the kernels of corn in gently boiling water, briefly. I want them a bit raw.
I finely dice the onion. I halve a batch of grape tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds then chop the tomatoes. I slice the squash into half rounds.
What the heck: I mash up a clove of garlic. Who hasn’t heard of wild garlic?
I heat up a large skillet (not the cast iron skillet, since there will be some acid in the mix). I splash some olive oil into the pan (from the Lucca Tribe) and, over medium high heat, I sauté the onion, tomatoes and squash.
When the first round of material is soft, I throw in the corn. I cook for three or four minutes, stirring all the while, then I add the beans. And some butter (churned from elk cream).
In goes a healthy measure of elk cream. I season with herbes de Provence (from the Aix tribe). I taste, reduce the liquid over the heat, reseason if necessary and serve as a side.
Good with pan roasted salmon (native as all get-out) or pan roasted bird (birds are common to indigenous cuisines).
Perhaps, I’ll invite guests to dinner.
Someone from Honduras who practices Mayan medicine, or a Haitian who can bring on a mess of mojo.