Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fly in Korean

Being fly translates into any language. It doesn't matter if you rock an edgy salwar kameez in Mumbai or a hot samba skirt in Sao Paulo, fly is fly.  And right now I'm fly in Korean because my current fave t-shirt showcases a cool chick with a Korean phrase, above. Besides the vivid cornflower blue hue and the beautifully hand drawn illustration, what really sold me on this tee was the meaning of that phrase. It says, "everyone's entitled to my opinion"! I had to have it.  But Chicago designer Anna Hovet creates a tempting slew of culturally clever, signature tees that had me dizzy with the possibilities. I  seriously considered snatching up all of these $30 t-shirts.

This innocent-looking tee above, says "looking for trouble" in Haitian Kreyol.  I contemplated this one but since I really don't like attracting trouble, I decided against it.

This one called out to me first. The attitude and the fact that it's in Italian was enough  for me.When I found it it says "not all bad girls wear black," it was all over.  I wasn't the only one that loved this shirt because it' sold out before I could grab the last one.

This one reminds me of  an old school True Romance photo. But that's misleading because the phrase is much cheekier than what you'd find in those magazines. It says "I should come with a warning label" in Portuguese. I love the whole idea behind these culturally diverse designs. I like to think of it as having a truly worldly wardrobe. Have any cultural styles caught your eye recently?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taste Trippin' Part Seven

It's that time again. No matter that the sun is still shining in Chicago and the temps haven't dipped to their customarily frigid levels, it's the season to travel to one of my favorite islands. There are very few places that can match Jamaica's stunning beauty but what I love most of all is the island's unparalleled culture. Music and food are the hallmark's of genuine Jamaica culture and I like to envelop myself in both at Chicago's Ja Grill. No, there's no palm trees and there's no lyrical patois floating everywhere but there is ackee and saltfish.  The national dish of Jamaica is a savory blend of salted cod and mild ackee fruit, traditionally served for breakfast. The ackee is a  delicate, pale yellow,West African fruit that is poisonous until it's fully ripe, which is why I leave it to the experts to cook up one of my favorite dishes in the world. So I grabbed my friends and flew over to Jamaica via JA Grill and spent three hours at their legendary Sunday brunch. With vintage ska music pumping through the color-splashed walls, I immediately ordered the ackee and saltfish, above. Rice and peas, cabbage and plantains round out this meal and you would think that's all I'd need but you would be wrong.

By the time the music switched to Bob Marley classics, Sheila the Bajan Beach Bunny had ordered a plate of curried goat, above. The buffet is all you can eat and requires well-conditioned stamina and pacing. I sampled a bowl of fruit before I started my ackee and saltfish, as well as festival, a slightly sweet cornmeal and flour fritter.

The next dish that we ordered was the curried chicken, with heaping sides of callaloo, a leafy green vegetable also called amaranth and the requisite rice and peas and plantains. I really didn't have any room for any of the curry so I rested and lounged until I regained my energy.

The ital stew pictured above, a creamy mixture of vegetables simmered in coconut milk was tempting so I took two whole spoonfuls before I had to retire eating for the rest of the day. The Beach Bunny wouldn't hear of that until I had ended our munching marathon on the expected sweet note.

The sweetness arrived in the form of  fluffy waffles and butter rum syrup.  The actual dish consisted of jerk chicken and waffles but there's no way we'd survive that so we settled for a small taste of the waffles with divine butter rum syrup that was strong enough to make me woozy. We stumbled out of the brunch stuffed and satisfied, the only thing missing was a hammock to catch a quick cat nap under the beaming (Chicago) sun.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Homage To Honeyboy

Last week, the world lost a wonderfully illuminating spirit and the last living link to the Delta blues. David "Honeyboy" Edwards was a legendary musician and beloved Chicago blues icon. There was such wisdom and skill that flowed through his sharply dressed, 96-year-old frame that I felt like he was divinely guided. He is mourned as the last Delta bluesman and the last connection to Robert Johnson, Honeyboy witnessed the "King of the Delta Blues" sip his last drop of poisoned whiskey but he represents so much more than that. I'm still struggling to articulate this devastating loss and what it means to blues in particular and American music in general. As the blues community battles for our heritage and birthright, I believe that Honeyboy will be assisting us.  Here is my favorite Honeyboy quote:

"Blues ain’t never going anywhere. It can get slow, but it ain’t going nowhere. You play a low-down dirty shame slow and lonesome, my mama dead, my papa across the sea I ain’t dead but I’m just supposed to be blues. You can take that same blues, make it up-tempo, a shuffle blues, that’s what rock ‘n roll did with it. So blues ain’t going nowhere."
David "Honeyboy" Edwards 1915-2011