Pineapple Chicken And Food For Thought

Recipe: Pineapple Chicken with Kale and Barley

It’s cold this morning. Today was my first dog walk wearing a heavy coat and gloves. And how nice it was to return to a warm, dry house, electricity, plumbing, and privacy; all the comforts of middle class infrastructure.

Just a few of the things that many of those hit hardest by Sandy last week are still doing without. When Barbara at Creative Culinary and Jenn at Jenn Cuisine sent out a call last week for the food blogging community to step up for Sandy’s victims, donate to the Red Cross, and to blog about comfort food, I knew I had to be a part of it.  Join us – read the posts, follow the hashtag #FBS4Sandy on twitter, and most importantly of all, please give to the Red Cross.  Last night a nor’easter rolled into the tri-state area. It wasn’t as severe as originally predicted, thankfully, but imagine facing a winter storm a week after your home and life washed away. Or even just without power.

You’d need something warm to eat. Something that reminds you of the power of love.

For me, that something is Pineapple Chicken with Kale and Barley. The dish itself descends from a recipe printed on the back of a box of Minute Rice (Polynesian Chicken) probably printed in the ‘60s. I’ve been eating it for as long as I can remember. It’s the thing I make for myself both in times of stress, and sometimes, just because I want to taste it.  A dinner my mother made just to please me. It’s what she left out for me the night she plunged into a dark place in her mind for a few weeks when I was 11, where she couldn’t ever remember she had a daughter. And it was one of the first things she made when she was well again.

It’s different now of course – now it’s my own recipe and a way I share myself with the people in my life. It seemed like the perfect dish for the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. I’ve only been on Staten Island once – to visit the Tibetian Museum there as a college student.  But I can’t get the image of those suburban streets, inundated with water, and tragedy out of my head. And all the echos of Katrina, and Hati, and so many other recent storms.

Global warming isn’t a threat anymore – it’s a consequence which we, and those who follow us are going to have to learn to live with. Or not. Our planet has changed, and it is time to own up to that change. Read Bill Mckibben’s book Eaarth. It’s going to take more than driving and flying less, more than fixing our food system, to tackle this problem. It’s going to take policy change – hard change that can’t be dictated from the top, but that must come from the ground up. We need to be willing to step up for each other, in politics and policy, every day, not just when the worst happens.

Today, let’s all give to the Red Cross and help the victims of Sandy. But let’s also think about what we can do now, before the next superstorm.  It’s coming.

Mervyn Bunter: Oh yes, my lord. My old mother always used to say that facts are like cows. If you stare them in the face hard enough, and they generally run away.
Lord Peter Wimsey: By Jove, that’s courageous, Bunter. What a splendid person she must be.
Mervyn Bunter: I think so, my lord.” – Dorothy L. Sayers, Clouds of Witness.

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