What I Learned This Week: #103

Monday, May 13 – Sunday, May 19

The Week in Opera Geeks: In the run up to the 2019 Opera season, the Cincinnati Opera presents a series of talks. I went to a discussion with the author of Black Opera, Naomi Andre. The discussion was a preamble to Porgy and Bess and Blind Injustice, two African American-centered operas. The Opera world has biases that reflect the world at large when it comes to casting African American singers in major roles. The panel, which included the Opera’s Artistic Director Evans Mirageas and Artistic Advisor Morris Robinson (who will play Porgy in the July production) talked about the ground-breaking opera performances of African Americans Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price.

The highlight of the talk for me was watching the three panel members, serious opera lovers, listen to recordings of Anderson and Price. Robinson in particular was animated in his appreciation of the performances, waving his hands in time with the music, mouthing the words, and exclaiming “nailed it” at the end of the pieces. I may be listening to opera wrong!

The Week in a Plate of Food: You don’t go to Arlin’s Bar for the dining experience. If you’re eating there at all, you’ve gone for serviceable, functional food. Their menu of deep fried items, burgers, simple sandwiches and quesadillas isn’t meant to inspire, it’s meant to provide sustenance. And for what it is, it’s fine. On Tuesdays though, the kitchen gets a little wild and serves up the Meatloaf special. It is a feast of a slab of simple meatloaf (with ketchup topping), mashed potatoes, green beans and a roll. There is no doubt that the least amount of effort available went into the meal, but at $6.50 (yes, six dollars and 50 cents), and after over-spending on small plates on a regular basis, I felt like I was really getting my money’s worth. I cleaned the plate.


The joy of not having to make 3 “small plate” choices. The thrill of paying $6.50 for a complete meal.

The Week in Novice Drinking: There is a lot of alcohol out there. And when you’re 21, that is a fact you are just beginning to deal with, both in figuring out what to drink as well as learning how to consume it responsibly. While I was eating my meatloaf at Arlin’s, a young couple came in – the bartender id’d them at 21 – and asked if the bar had Jameson. Yes. The bar has Jameson. The girl confidently ordered a Jameson and coke. The boy, nearly as confident ordered “the same,” then quickly backtracked and way less confidently asked, “Jameson is whiskey? Right?” Yes. Jameson is whiskey. He switched his order to Jameson and Ginger ale. He’ll do it better next time. #adorable.

Unsteady ordering of a Jameson and Ginger today….Shots of Jameson and a wicked hangover in the near future.

The Week in a Book and a Beer: Just a Thursday at Che, eatin’ a burger, drinkin’ a beer, and readin’ a book. The novel is very British. Che is faux Argentinian. I felt faux international.

Burger turned upside down.

The Week in Nostalgia Part 1: Doris Day’s death this week reminded me that her romantic comedy movies of the sixties were among my Mom’s favorite films and Que Sera Sera was one of her favorite songs. Mom still sings Que Sera Sera out loud every now and then. I remember when Rock Hudson finally was outed as gay in the mid 1980’s the first thing my Mom and many of her friends talked about was him and Doris Day. The ladies thought Doris Day was part of gay-cover-up-conspiracy. “She had to have known,” they said. Well, Que Sera Sera.

The Week in Nostalgia Part 2: Two guys at Lowe’s helped me get my item off a high shelf. I said “Thanks Fellas” like I’m a femme fatale trapped in a 1940’s film.  When is the last time anyone has referred to a group of men as Fellas? #SometimesMyRealAgeBetraysMe

The Week in Actual Jam: This week I listened to a podcast where chef Jessica Koslow talked about how difficult it is to make the food (technique and time-wise) for her renowned breakfast /lunch restaurant in Los Angeles called Squirl. She talked about how hard is was for her and her staff to keep up production of jam. It made me think that her jam was probably something wonderful and that it would be tough to get a hold of (at a local level) it to see for myself.

With that in my head as I walked through the first 2019 installment of City Flea, I came across  Prospect Jams where the owner and jam maker talked about making organic jams, without pectins, in small batches, in small brass jam pots. Sign me up! I bought the strawberry with pink peppercorn specifically to serve with some jalepeno-cheddar corn muffins I’d made. The pairing worked beautifully. The jam itself had a more complex flavor than what I’m used to. The peppercorns balanced with the sweetness of the fruit. A truly delicious find.


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