NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 17

“Yeah… yeah, ok,” Miles concurred. That goes to show our perceptual bias due to heavy marketing of that brand at the time... “In the valley of the jolly… ‘Ho-ho-ho Green Giant” being the all too familiar jingle for their tv commercial. Anything on television had to be better, right? Besides, at home, corn was the only canned item I used, so if there were fresh corn, I would have overlooked it, but never again. “The pots and skillets in the cabinet next to the stove,” Miles explained pointing to the door. “I’m gonna need the big one though, for the bouillabaisse.” Until that moment, I didn’t know that Miles had planned to cook with me. He reached into the upper left cabinet for a fifth of Jack Daniels whiskey. Since it was late in the afternoon, I figured he was escalating up from a beer buzz to a hard liquor blam. He pulled out a large glass bowl, opened the fifth, and poured in the entire remaining contents. I thought: OK, he’s going to make a whisky punch with fruit and ice… Hmm, this is bound to be interesting. “Well, I like good food and so, when I have an idea I try it out. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t… just like improvising on the bandstand. But if it works… then—oh shit, it’s on!” “Man I’m… I’m speechless,” I told him. “And don’t worry I’m not gonna tell anyone about this! I mean I never, ever could have imagined anything like this. How long does it need to marinate?” “Wow, like cooking with jazz!” “Oh an hour or so… oh yeah, let me put some fennel seed in there to tweak the flavor. Go ahead… fire up that skillet Bobby.” I didn’t understand why we needed the skillet hot when the fish wouldn’t be cooked for at least another hour. Miles broke open a few bulbs of garlic, swiftly halved the cloves with a butcher knife, tossing them into the skillet without removing the skins. This alone, for me, kindled thoughts of a wild, funky jazz-rock tune like some of the music from Bitches Brew re-entitled, “Fried Garlic Skins.” He then added a half-bottle of the peanut oil. He warmed all this up for about a minute, then told me: “You can turn it off now. See now, I’ll add a little cayenne pepper in there. Let the flavors seep into the oil. Hot oil helps to break down the flavors of the garlic and cayenne. When the fish is done marinating it should be just right.” “Damn Miles, you’re like a gourmet food master chemist!” “That’s right Bobby.” Miles completely blew me away with his gourmet-cooking prowess. My grandma, “Muh,” had set high standards as my prototype of the consummate cook. But Miles raised the bar with his astounding, unique and unorthodox culinary techniques. I now knew that Miles’ creative freedom in the kitchen reflected his ability to cook on his horn… and vice versa. I boiled the brown rice and chopped veggies for my dirty rice. He asked if he could use some of the vegetables for his bouillabaisse. I donated some onions, garlic, red bell pepper and celery for his simmering gourmet pot, into which he poured some white wine. He did an occasional taste test and made adjustments accordingly with various spices and additional wine. “You ever try bouillabaisse Bobby?” he asked, not looking up from his pot? “Unfortunately, I can only eat shell-fish if served by paramedics.” “Haha,” he laughed, “you’re funny. Well, I guess there’ll be more for us. So you’re allergic, huh?” 15 Next Miles rinsed and patted the fish dry with napkins, and one by one dipped the fillets in the liquor, turning them to saturate both sides, and finally letting them sit to marinate. “This is my secret recipe Bobby,’ he said, turning to look at me with a half-smile on his face, “now, you can’t tell nobody about this… it’s gotta be our secret. But just wait until you taste it!” BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE “There was no corn on the cob there, but at least it’s Green Giant corn.” BRN-FALL-2013.indb 15 9/13/13 12:47 AM