By Ernest Barteldes
Anyone who knows me is aware that I hear music all the time, and that happens even when I am not actually listening to anything – music naturally plays in my head during the entire day. I am often reminded of a song when I’m teaching English – and sometimes belt out part of a lyric connected to whatever I’m teaching at the time, and music is also part of my lessons.
The other day, I was walking to the Staten Island Ferry and had a song in my head. I was completely distracted while humming the melody of Caetano Veloso’s “Sampa,” a song he wrote in the late 70s in honor of the city of Sao Paulo (it has since become a standard, and it is among the tunes we play in my Brazilian band).
I was completely distracted and didn’t notice a metallic sign right in front of me and hit my forehead hard on one of its corners. I didn’t even notice that I had a cut and kept walking until a girl at the Subway restaurant inside the terminal pointed out that I’d been bleeding. She gracefully offered me a few napkins and then I walked into the ferry’s bathroom to wash the wound and stanch the bleeding.
With so much music in my life, it is little wonder that I always have music blasting when I am cooking dinner or other meals. If you ask me what kind of songs I hear, I should say it varies a lot on the mood of the day. I went through a phase of listening to international broadcast stations via the Tune In Radio app, a very interesting application for phone and tablet that reaches radio stations all over the world – I have various stations in France, Poland, Brazil and other countries, and am often checking out what they are playing there.
I did listen to Pandora for a while, but I got tired of their limited selection of songs per genre. Also, I like the element of surprise that comes when you listen to a completely unfamiliar tune. Lately, however, I have just docked my iPhone to my system letting the songs play on shuffle – which is to me one of the best ways to experience the music I have in my pocket.
I am always updating the content on my phone, so I never have the same songs there – but there are the favorites that are always playing – for instance, I have a large selection of Brazilian songs, going from old Joao Gilberto recordings, Marisa Monte, Maria Rita, Veloso, Chico Buarque and others. Also always there are Queen, The Beatles (also lots of their solo stuff) and jazz artists like Dave Brubeck, Donald Harrison, Stan Getz, Eliane Elias and Miles Davis.
I have my favorite Sinatra albums (the ones he did with Jobim), soul and world music from Iran, Africa and South America.
The music rarely had any relation with what I’m cooking. For instance, the other day I was making enchiladas but the music was Miles Davis’s A Kind of Blue and some Italian folk music. Renata sometimes asks me to switch an album she’s getting tired of hearing – the other day I had Sgt, Pepper’s on and she asked me to play something else – she is not exactly a Beatle fan.
Chickpea & Okra Stir-Fry
Source: Linda McCartney -On Tour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 green chili pepper, seeded and chopped finely
1/2 inch fresh ginger grated
1 lb. okra
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro
1 16 oz canned chickpeas
salt and pepper to taste
In large frying pan heat oil with the butter. Sauté the onion and garlic 4-5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the tomatoes, chili pepper, and ginger and stir well, then add the okra, cumin, and cilantro. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, and then stir in the chickpeas and s/p to taste. Cook gently for a few minutes longer heat through. Serve with rice
(Note: for those who don’t like Okra substitute with diced zucchini – it works the same.)