On Flesh

Some thoughts on what it means to have a body:

One: All the good street art faces east. We are riding the train north, passing one of the Red Line burning men—long-faced, suited men engulfed in pink and green flames—when the suited middle-aged lady beside me extracts a roll of toilet paper from her large straw bag. She begins to blow her nose, emitting this percussive, unrelenting, glottal-sounding sound, the relentlessness and percussiveness of which I am powerless to describe.

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Roast Chicken

I made a wrong turn somewhere.

Somehow in my life I have managed to know only a couple real sensualists, despite being an enthusiastic one myself. There have been moments in the last four years–many of them, and vivid–of walking into rooms full of people, all of them supposedly having fun, while a single sad mantra runs through my head, almost insane in its insistence: Where are my people? Where are they?

There is something more than joyless about this: you walk into a party, and find no one at home. I mean, there are people. Kind of. There are bodies, and some of them smell, and most of them are too drunk. There’s beer pong. The beer is warm and flat and tasteless and has bits of carpet fiber and crumbs of Cheetos floating in it. The music is loud and misguided. The whole thing is thoughtless–supposedly fun, but designed in no way to induce pleasure. For you, for the sensualist, who loves to drink well and eat well and laugh with good companions, it is worse than walking into an empty house. What you do is, you feel alone.  

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Superbowl Chili Throwdown

When my father told me he was putting a turkey chili up against our chicken one, I became concerned about the legitimacy of our competition.

Some would argue that a recipe without beef can scarcely be labeled as chili. This debate is immaterial to me, but I do have some advice for the poultry-chili-is-chili camp: give it up.

Why would a delicious chicken, turkey, or bean stew want to call itself chili? Chili is the most bastardized stew there is. It is routinely reduced to a mere condiment—spooned in all its greasy ignominy atop fries, hotdogs, nachos, and even pasta. Its near relatives include the sloppy joe and beef macaroni. More often than not, home cooks season it from a pouch.

Don’t get me wrong, beef chili done right is delicious. But sometimes the specter of chili’s various permutations makes even the best bowl hard to handle.

Our chicken concoction is flavorful, healthy and satisfying. It won’t go well with fries or hot dogs, but pair it with a baking soda biscuit and you’ll be sitting pretty.

-Catherine M.

Holy Mole Chicken Chili

Serves: 6-8

– 2 lbs. chicken breast
– 2 cans great northern beans, drained (not rinsed)
– 1 can black beans, drained (not rinsed)
– 1 can diced tomatoes
– 14 oz. mild or medium salsa
– 1 bottle beer
– 1 onion
– 2 poblano peppers
– 1 tbsp. minced garlic (4-8 cloves)
– 1 tbsp. tomato paste
– 2 tbsp. dried oregano
– 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
– 1 tbsp. ground cumin
– 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– Salt and pepper
– Extra virgin olive oil

Poach chicken breasts for 15-20 minutes in salted water. Shred chicken into bite-size pieces, set aside. Sauté onions and peppers in extra virgin olive oil until tender. Stir in tomato paste until combined. Add chicken, garlic, oregano, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, cocoa powder, and ground cinnamon. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until flavors are well combined. Add 3 cans beans, diced tomatoes, salsa, and beer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until chili thickens. Salt and pepper to taste.