Happy Capitalism Gone Wild Day!

Black Friday. When Americans are not just encouraged but expected to go out and shop till they drop. Or till they trample their fellow Americans in pursuit of a cheaper flat screen TV.

“Black Friday. Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.”

“Black Friday combines every great American pastime into one: camping, shopping, standing in line, rioting and fist fighting.”

“Stop buying shit you don’t need.”

The new says 45 million people will shop on Black Friday. I love to shop, too, but not in regular retail stores. Where’s the challenge in seeing everything all brand new and perfect? I prefer thrift stores, consignment shops and flea markets, where finding something I love — or fit into — isn’t a given but a happy coincidence. Or a fuckin’ miracle, depending on the place.

So today, I decided to spotlight two friends who create the feeling of home and hearth — where there is no home or hearth — through the food they serve. I’m admitted non-cook. Almost an anti-cook. If I can’t heat it up in the microwave in three minutes or pour it out of a bag and toss some salad dressing on it, I ain’t makin’ it. But these women not only cook for themselves, their friends and family; they cook for complete strangers! Now that, in my book, is a real talent! Love expressed through food is a whole different ballgame.

Image.jpgRoseann Rostoker and I have been friends since she was a regular at Click + Drag. When Mother closed and I started promoting at True, “Madame Cole” was my partner in Gomorrah. We had four different teams who each took one Wednesday a month; Madame and I were a team. I’ve experienced some of the wildest nights of my life with this woman. And you know that is saying a whole lot! Seriously. Stuff I can’t even write about. I’ll let your imagination wander with that one! Anyway, as Roseann she would invite me to her home and one Thanksgiving I stuffed myself with so much amazing Italian food she’d prepared I thought I’d never eat again. Now “Roe” lives in New Orleans, where she runs a restaurant called Red Gravy. (Please read her little bio in the About section. If it doesn’t make you want to fly down there and dine with her, you’re a heartless fool!) Five years ago, she moved to a new city, started a new business and has become an active, valuable member of a whole new community. I’m not surprised. If you find yourself in the Big Easy, stop by and say hi!

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Sylkia and her crew, 2012 – Photo by Vertumus

Sylvia Sanchez feeds the motley Playa Restoration crew, the 150-or-so dusty, wind-battered folks who stay on till the bitter end of Burning Man, picking up the event’s final tiny remains. As she said in an interview with Ignite, “Very simply, I love to cook for my friends and family, and yes, after three months of living and working together, these people are part of your chosen family. Feeding people well and then having them tell you that they eat better out there than they do at home is the highest compliment a chef can get. Of course, I couldn’t do this without the amazing crew I have. I tip my hat at them for everything they do to help me make this happen.” I can attest that she makes me feel like family! Every year I weep with gratitude when we start eating back in the Saloon and Sylvia makes sure we have real coffee. Reeeeealllll cooofffeeeeeeee. Sylkia has served up delicious food in Austin, TX and is currently plating amazing grilled cheese in San Francisco.

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