Tuesday, January 12, 2010
In the old town part of Portland, near the train station, there are about five square blocks that are frequently occupied by down-on-their-luck homeless adults. On a particular corner on Glisan Street, I am accustomed to seeing a queue of bundled up cold-looking people waiting in line. This saturday I found out that the line was for Blanchet House, a "hospitality house" as I was told, that serves three square meals a day to anyone looking for something to eat. A friend from a lawyer group that I'm in suggested that we go and volunteer and help serve a dinner shift. So that's what happened (and I took my mom). I think we turned out about 250 plates of bread, stew, salad, fruit and really good looking cookies donated by Zupans.
There's something very satisfying to me about feeding people, whether it be to friends out of my own kitchen, or strangers in someone else's kitchen. That the Blanchet House was serving pretty decent healthy fare made it all the nicer. Later that night, completely unrelated, I was treated to a great dinner in the home of a local french chef. He is the honest to goodness real thing, and even apprenticed in a Michelin-starred Parisian restaurant many years ago. Thank you karma. Everything was good, but the basque beans are what I'm still thinking about. In September, he threw a huge party at his restaurant in honor of the basque chile that goes in the recipe. As he explained, every fall in the small village of Espelette in the French Basque country, over 20,000 chile fanatics meet to celebrate the Piment d’Espelette. I politely asked the chef for seconds because the beans were so good.