Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dances of Life

This past weekend I attended BOCA Fest, the annual Memorial Day bellydance expo put on by Dr. Sunyatta Amen and the Bellydancers of Color Association. Teachers and dancers from all over the country and the world come in for it, and the weekend is amazing and so very healing.

I took classes in prop use (danced with a sword on my hand - VERY cool), zils (the fab little finger symbols), gypsy choreography (who doesn't want to fling a skirt around like Carmen?), isolations, and shimmies. I ended up taking three classes from Kaeshi Chai, an amazing dancer who embodied a wonderfully peaceful and sacred presence. You can learn more about her here.

Once again, third gendered experience came to the foreground for me. I was one of two bio-boys taking classes (the other being my fabulous sister Dane Figueroa Edidi), and while it was clear to many of the women there that we were "men" taking these classes, my perception was, of course, different.

I don't subscribe to a rigid gender expression, and in line with beliefs dating back to antiquity in cultures around the world, I see myself as both man and woman. The biological evidence of my body is only one part of my gender experience. While some people see this as simply "Oh, yes, we all have man and woman in us," it goes beyond that in profound and sometimes inexplicable ways.

I would love to see more queer people learning sacred dance forms that allow us to fully unveil and stand in our power - Bellydance, Tarantella, Orisha Dances, Hula, Dances of the First Nations. I think that our dancing of these holy steps will truly help heal the world.

For people in the area interested in taking classes, head over to Mamasita, the studio where I've taken classes for two years. It's an amazing, sacred, and deeply joyful place to be!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

'Tis the Season

Oh, yes, baby. Pound it! More oil! More nuts! Put it all together! Pound it harder!!! Yes! Yes! YES!

That's right, dear readers. It's pesto time.

I'm a freak about a good pesto, and after reading Sophia Loren's cookbook years ago, I realized the only way to make the perfect pesto is with a mortar and pestle. Luckily, we got a gorgeous one for our wedding three years ago, and it works beautifully, giving the pesto a body that clings nicely to pasta and createss a divine texture in the mouth.

Plus, there's something delightfully sensual/sexual about that mortar and pestle, and sometimes, I add a little energetic bump to the process. Who can't use a little more healthy sexual delight, right?

Since the basil is still growing away on the balcony, yesterday's concoction was a mint variety - mint, pine nuts, a little bit of garlic, lemon juice, and some grated romano. I plan to use it as a sandwich spread for lunch today.

Lunch yesterday was a creative-license Nicoise salad. I had Boston Lettuce from the CSA, so I blanched asparagus and peas in the pod. Potatoes were cooked up and put in the center, surrounded by the blanched veggies, oil-cured black olives and salt-packed capers. It was topped with pole-caught tuna (the most sustainable variety according to Seafood Watch), a hard-boiled egg, and a garlic dijon vinaigrette.

On a side note, the great yogi Pattabhi Jois died earlier this week. He's the founder of the Ashtanga school of asana practice, which is one of the roots of all modern yoga practices. Do a few sun salutations in honor of him this week, and may his next journey be one of peace and love. Jai, Jai, Guruji!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Very Good Italian Day

So, it's been a long time since I've written, because the last few months have been full of wonderful blossomings and delights - mostly through a really sweet reception from people and the Multiverse about my being a yoga teacher. I continue to be profoundly grateful for the resonances and gifts present in my life around all of this. (Big shout-out to Kali, Elavin, and the other Mysterious Ones and Ancestors supporting this!!!)

Now that things have settled a bit, I plan to be back here regularly. And, of course, what better way to start than with food and Italianate delights!

I went to Baltimore's Little Italy today to visit some purveyors of Italian goods and to descend upon Vaccaro's, the best Italian bakery I've ever encountered. Consequently, today's lunch was composed of cookies - amaretti (divine), almond cookies (equally lovely), and the confectioner's famed pignoli cookies (downright orgasmic - less messy than dick and equally satisfying!). I topped all that off with a San Pellegrino Aranciata (that's Guido for "orange soda," but happily it's devoid of corn syrup and other weird shit).

Next, I visited Isabella's, where the cheeses and meats are to die-for, and apparently, the men are even more exquisite. What could be better than asking for a pound of Italian sausage and having it served up by a really cute Italian guy in tight jeans and a tank top? I got some Fontina cheese, plus a cheese I've never had before - Prima Donna (no snickering, please). I'm anxious to try it.

Tonight, I made a dish from one of my favorite magazines, La Cucina Italiana. I used the grain farro, which has graced Italian kitchens since the Bronze Age. It's wonderfully textured and has a heartiness to it that provided a great base for seared scallops and asparagus atop a saffron cream sauce. While saffron might surprise people unfamiliar with Italian history, remember that Southern Italy and its islands of Sicily and Sardinia were crossroads (through benevolence or force) of many, many cultures.

Dinner was downright amazing and served with a blessedly light, but not wimpy, 1995 French Chardonnay given to me by a friend.

Dessert? Ah, well, there's no photo yet, because I have yet to assemble it, but there are strawberries lightly heated with sugar and balsamic vinegar (a favorite Italian treat) spooned over homemade lemon pastry cream, all nestled into a tart crust.

The strawberries and asparagus come from the CSA that I joined, which started last Saturday. It's so exciting and a wonderful way to stay deeply connected with the rhythms of the world around us.

May everyone's upcoming week be one of integration, where the maya of sacred vs. profane is dissolved and every act - from cooking dinner to practicing yoga to casting spells to walking to the subway - is one of divine love.