Food for Thought
A Drinkable Feast
A beery Bloomsday
First, an explanation:
One tremendous ancillary benefit of reading and art is, simply, a greater humanity. In fact, our charge as humans is to keep moving forward—not just chronologically or technologically but spiritually. We're supposed to be teaching ourselves and each other how to be better—better people, better citizens, better humans. Ah, but how? One fine way is to become culture warriors, and proudly celebrate all that's best about our haunts and stomping grounds. So A Drinkable Feast will aspire to do just that. By focusing on our fantastic local beers, our armada of under-appreciated food trucks, then throwing in a great book this monthly column hopes to alchemize it all into a flashbulb-snapshot of some of the best we have to offer, and maybe—just maybe—invite us all to live more deliberately, more poetically here in the Land of Enchantment.
Or, if not, it’ll at least give us a damn fine excuse to eat, drink, and be literary!
Every June 16, fans of James Joyce and his widely heralded (and largely unread) novel, Ulysses, celebrate the man and his work by recreating the novel’s events. Taking place in a single day like the novel, Bloomsday features revelers traveling through Dublin’s pubs and back alleys dressed as characters and recreating events. And while we’re 4,699 miles away, the Irish need no excuse to indulge, so here’s a celebration all our own.
Taking place in a single day like the novel, Bloomsday features revelers traveling through Dublin’s pubs and back alleys dressed as characters and recreating events. And while we’re 4,699 miles away, the Irish need no excuse to indulge, so here’s a celebration all our own.
The beer: Malpais Stout from La Cumbre
Now that the dust has settled from ABQ Beer Week, it's time to get back on that horse ... and what a horse it is! Malpais is to Albuquerque as Guinness is to Dublin. This ass-kicker of a beer is ferociously creamy and deceptively smooth for such a big, mealy pint. Carbonation keeps it light in the mouth, before a hearty, rock-solid finish grounds it. It’s a flagship Albuquerque pint—one that every native and every tourist alike should drink and know. Malpais for strength! Malpais for health!
Our good read: James Joyce’s “The Dead”
Yes, Bloomsday celebrates Ulysses—but I’m not so Irish or so proud to admit that the book isn't exactly light reading. It’s a thick, daunting novel, wild-scribbled in the stream-of-consciousness approach that only later came to define the early 20th century’s “modern” novels. So we’ll read “The Dead” instead. The final story in Joyce's collection The Dubliners, “The Dead” is a densely layered look at Ireland in microcosm, and it’s a more manageable, more approachable introduction to Joyce. It centers on a holiday party and the stilted marriage of Gabriel Conroy to his wife Gretta, and the revelation of her long-ago love of a boy named Michael Furey—her memory brought back after hearing a song they once shared played again. Joyce delivers his requisite drunken, religious and political blather, but the passions of youth vs. the haunting pragmatism of middle age is where the yarn finds its true emotional core. At only $7, I suggest the gorgeous stand-alone paperback put out as part of Melville House's Art of the Novella Series.
The food: The “Butt It’s So Good!” Pulled Pork sandwich from S’wich It Up
Just as we won't be reading Ulysses, we also won't be enjoying Leopold Bloom's beloved "grilled mutton kidneys which gave his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine." Um ... not only “no,” but “hell no.” Instead we'll be eating something delicious from S’wich It Up. On the surface, the “Butt It's So Good!” begins as a fairly workman-like pulled pork sandwich. But bite after bite the pork is tender and flavorful, the BBQ sauce balanced, the slaw crisp and the mango habanero jam—dear God man—it’s nothing short of tremendous. Think haute cuisine for the everyman—with a name even Leopold Bloom could love. It's not part of S'wich It Up's standard menu, so you'll have to get lucky to catch it. Better still, if you like it as much as I do, tell them to make it a staple.
There you go: a glorious June afternoon, 110 years in the making—and one worthy of a drunken poet. Sláinte!