Daydream Believer

mise en place


Friends 

For millennia mankind has searched for meaning behind our dreams. Mystics, shamans, theologians and psychiatrists have delved deep into the bizarre scenes and disjointed scenarios that play out as alternative lives all occurring while we appear to be unconscious. 

Since we who dream truly have no idea what is going on or why we see the images we do, having someone see meaning in our nighttime mental excursions can be enlightening. It may also be a way for some to control others by saying only they know what is going on in our heads. Only they have the gift of insight and only they, through a divine gift, can decipher what we cannot understand and thus offer predictions of our fate and reasons for the current state of our lives.

That information inevitably comes with consequences and, of course, a price.  

Civilizations have been ruled by the interpretations of dreams. Religions and medical disciplines have been created with dreams being the genesis. Those that say they can interpret dreams and their origins have used that bogus power usually to the dreamer’s disadvantage. 

I tend to see my dreams a bit more pragmatically. The late Oliver Sacks, author and neurosurgeon, wrote an article a while ago that tended to put dreams in a different light. He explained that as a brain goes to rest mode and begins the process of shutting down its circuits, it does so randomly and the areas that store memory and emotions dont always close down in order. Also, a person’s stress level and environmental situation can affect how the brain shuts itself down, all contributing to our nightly mental events. He went on to say that dreams can be seen as a brain dump. A metaphoric clearing out of storage space that can be both enjoyable or terrifying, but an inseparable part of our being, That makes more sense to me than planning my future based on how someone deciphered my dream of being lost in a dense forest foretells that I should not travel or I am unhappy with my life. Oh, and that will be $100, please. 

Anyone in the hospitality industry reading this is immediately thinking of their last traumatic restaurant dream.  Here is one of mine: 

The ticket printer is pouring out orders faster than I  can tear them from the printer. The kitchen is huge and I am the only one there. There is no food in the cold top when I open the cover and I can hear loud voices coming from somewhere. There is a crowd outside of my vision and  I am so panicked I am motionless. Then I wake up panting. Who wants to go to work after that? 

Claudia has a recurring dream where she is waiting tables on multiple floors of a restaurant and the kitchen is miles away. She tells me she is running up to rooms that have large groups and she has no food or drinks in her hand. She is flying up and down stairs looking for the kitchen but can’t find it. Then she wakes up. All we have to do is look at each other and intuitively we know where each of us has been. I am sure that every profession has a panic scenario specific to itself and I hope I did not trigger one of them.

There have been many times when Claudia or I woke up laughing or simply shaking our heads and then attempting to describe what deranged or hilarious scene we were involved in while we slept.  We often wish that a mystic, shaman or even a shrink was sitting in the chair next to the bed to tell us what in hell just happened. 

Dreams can enhance and even change our lives. I try to keep some dreams with me throughout the day but, inevitably, and probably because they are not wired to stick around, they fade. I am no scholar but I can’t imagine life without them as they are a part of us and I am grateful for them. I do wonder, however, when I look down at Rico, our cat, moving his legs and making low rumbling noises as he sleeps what he is seeing. Finding that out would be worth the cash. 


FOOD

The LEVANT has been recognized as the birthplace of civilization. It is in a sad state these days. The city of Aleppo was for centuries a commercial and cultural hub. It is a bombed-out ruin now. The reasons for all the destruction and mayhem are complicated, but if the food culture survives maybe there is hope for the people. 

MARINADE:

3 cups whole milk yogurt

1½ tablespoons Aleppo pepper (readily available at both middle eastern groceries) 

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

⅓ cup olive oil

Kosher salt 

Mix the ingredients and coat 1½ pounds chicken thighs. Let sit for 3 hours. Preheat the oven to 375°. Remove the chicken but do not remove the marinade. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (makes clean up easier) bake for 40 minutes or until the skin is crisp. (the skin will turn deep brown, that is good) 

TURKISH PILAF

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup long-grain basmati rice 

1 cup orzo

1 large onion diced small  

1 tablespoon chopped mint

4 cups chicken stock (if using as vegetarian side use vegetable stock or water) 

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper 

In a preheated pan add the butter. When the butter begins to turn brown but not burnt add the onions and coat. Add the orzo and toast until the pasta turns gold. Add the rice and toss with the orzo and onions. Add the mint and the stock. . When it comes to a boil cover and turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer for twelve minutes then remove from the heat. Leave the cover on while cooling. 

Serve the chicken over the rice.  Thinly sliced cucumber makes a wonderful garnish.