Those who know M know that, in addition to being a great help in the kitchen, an ace cocktail maker, and a wonderful support, he also happens to be an incredible writer. His first book, Horse Latitudes, just recently hit the shelves, an event that understandably necessitated a bit of celebration.
Celebrations are kinda my thing. I do them when there’s absolutely no need to. You might think that would dilute some of the fun, but I find that, like so many things, they only get better with practice. And there was ample opportunity to practice throughout the writing, editing, submission and publication processes of Horse Latitudes. There was hiking with champagne at the third-round-of-edits-completion, a bottle of ’67 Sauternes upon the announcement of its acceptance at MP Publishing (thanks to his Dad – I’m not that good), scotches at the launch, and much more. I’m noticing that my celebrations generally involve food and drink. Oh well, this time was no different.
Horse Latitudes is a dark, and often darkly comedic, thriller. It follows Ethan, a photographer from New York, as he flees to Central America following a particularly traumatic event, and—through a pact made with a life-saving prostitute—tries to rescue a young mystic from slave traffickers. As much a commentary on post-colonialism and an exploration of loss and redemption as it is a traditional thriller, the book is chock full of strange and incredible characters and images—opera singing dwarves, shadowy villains, parrot-headed virgin mothers, and shifty-eyed colonels—just to name a few. It’s a fabulous book and a huge accomplishment and I couldn’t be prouder.
And what does every proud girly do fer her man? She makes steak. Given the locale, it made sense to whip up something with a Latin flair, food that I love to eat and never cook (so, so many kinds of peppers, you see). So, as one should, I turned to Saveur and found a terrific looking recipe for Ropa Vieja, which I thought would go nicely with the little bottle of Kah tequila that reminded M of the book cover.
I followed Saveur’s recipe to a T and ended up with an aromatic, decadent, flavorful masterpiece, perfect not only for our celebration but also a totally welcome respite from all the deep, nutty, sugary flavors of the season. I served it with Spanish rice, a bottle of bright vino verde, the tequila, and plenty of limes and salt.
The cooking process is pretty simple, render some bacon, brown the meat, sauté the veggies, add the spices and liquids, throw it all together and let it cook for a few hours. Obviously the recipe will provide you with more specific instructions should you choose to make it, and you really should, but it’s pretty much that easy. Plus, it makes enough to eat for days, a lure I find helpful on days when M is hard to pull away from his second book.
What about you guys? Do you have celebration traditions, or do you just eat and drink like me?
Drink: Vino Verde and/or tequila
Listen to: some deep eeriness by Leonard Cohen