Monday, July 25, 2011

Turkish Hospitality

My friend Lisa shared this video of a Turkish ice cream vendor having some fun with a tourist. The scoop-smith’s talents bridge the gap between Cocktail bartender and vaudeville clown. Really quite impressive! Give it a watch.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Literacy, Music and Ice Cream

I believe I’ve discovered the unified theorem:
826CHI + Pitchfork Music Festival = Free Ice Cream

What makes this a unified theorem? Quite simply, if we all united in doing good and good tunes, we would be rewarded with ice cream. What other solution do you need? Though some scientists will miss working with variables, I’m sure most will be very relieved to learn that the unified theorem requires very little math at all. Plus, the unified theorem is delicious.

Perhaps you’re wondering how I discovered this equation. The back story is that 826CHI, a free after-school tutoring and creative writing center, offered a music journalism workshop in which fifth-through-seventh graders were given VIP access at the Pitchfork Music Festival. The students were granted interviews with Neko Case [editor's note: Swoon!], Battles, Das Racist, James Blake, Woods, OFF!, Fleet Foxes, Juliana Barwick, Cold Cave, Sun Airway, HEALTH, Kurt Vile, Zola Jesus, DJ Chrissy Murderbot, No Age, Shabazz Palaces and GSide. And then the students and instructors were visited by the Ice Cream Man, a touring ice cream truck with the simple goals of giving away free ice cream and motivating people to fulfill their dreams. Needless to say, this particular workshop got rave reviews. (This workshop evaluation is particularly amazing.)

I look forward to taking cone in hand and reading the zine that these young journalists produce.

826CHI is a chapter of 826 National, co-founded by writer/publisher Dave Eggers. As of this writing there are eight chapters of 826 nation-wide. So far I have volunteered with 826 Seattle and 826CHI. Methinks 826 Boston will be next.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Best Horchata on the Chicago Northside

32 oz. is never enough at The Famous Taco Burrito.
The first time I tasted horchata was when my dad, an adventurous eater, and my mom, his comic foil in this regard, took us to a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place in Pilsen, Chicago’s southside home for visual artists that seek low rent. When he ordered it and I asked about it, he explained with the efficient mastery he usually employs: “It’s good. You should try it!”

Being that I was still in college at VCU and far away from authentic Mexican food, there were no opportunities to have horchata again until I returned to Chicago with my theatre class senior year. Between the L and my first destination, I stopped in a Mexican place (#3 below) and filled up on grub. I shared some horchata with Boren, offering more explanation than my dad had given me: “It’s like a milky rice drink that has cinnamon and almond flavors.” (Note: most horchata contains no milk or lactose.). As his thoughtful tasting went underway, his eyes grew to Muppet size.

Through the duration of our stay in Chicago, Boren and I stopped for horchata at every opportunity we could, which amounted to twice or more a day. Doing this we concluded that not all horchatas were mixed equal and that one should be aware of a few things:

• As with most Mexican food, the best comes from hole-in-the-wall tacquerias.
• Ice only waters it down, so request no ice. The drink is kept cold and doesn’t need it anyway.
• If you are being charged more than $2.50 (for a 44 oz.), you are being ripped off by people who likely don’t even know how to make a good horchata. (Signs of bad horchata include: chalkiness, plastic or Styrofoam taste, flecks of poorly mixed ingredients.)

While horchata was available a few places in Seattle, it was not until I moved to Chicago that it was elevated from beverage choice to lifestyle choice. Horchata is the sermon I preach to any willing stomach. I have tasted it here, there and everywhere (if “everywhere” were “Chicago’s northside”). And with this knowledge, I can pass on to you, beloved reader, my list of the best horchata on the Chicago northside.

(1) The Famous Taco Burrito – NE corner of Western and Addison
(2) La Pasadita – South of Division on Ashland
(3) Taco Burrito House – South of Irving Park & Broadway

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Some pictures leave us without any words.

I think it’s fair to say that I wear my heart on my sleeve. That being said, I have never felt the need to have it tattooed on my arm or, to an even lesser degree, tattooed on my face. Unsurprisingly, Gucci Mane, processes life differently than I.

Back in January, the rapper, who famously wears a chain around his neck with an ice cream cone on it, celebrated his release from a mental institution by getting a brand new tattoo. On his face. Of an ice cream cone. With lightning bolts coming out from it. Someone may have had too many sprinkles on his sundae.

Along with the now infamous Twitter photo (linked above), an artist’s recreation of Mr. Mane (and his ink) serves as cover art for his latest release, The Return of Mr. Zone 6. The lyrics of “Mouth Full of Gold” give us a little insight: “Ice cream on my face and chain ‘cause that's the life that I live, shawty."