Make Merry

Casual Friday

So today is Friday. Though my work has no official nor specific dress code (of which I’ve checked and stretched in many ways from wearing short, pleated skirts with knee socks–my hot for teacher look–to cashmere wife-beaters to tight-fitting button down shirts with just a few extra buttons undone. . .), I still use Friday as an excuse to dress in corduroys and thermals and whatever happens to be almost-dirty-but-not-enough-to-put-in-the-laundry-basket lying on my bedroom floor. This Friday is no exception.

My lackadaisical dressing habits have even rubbed off on my fellow professor friend. Currently, she works two jobs: at the university and at a consulting firm. The consulting firm has a very official and specific dress code of business formal; however, she has now taken to wearing what loosely might be considered “business casual” if you work at a business that allows you to wear sequined jeans and strappy heels. I must humbly admit: we are probably the most sassy dressers at our little private Christian university.

This Friday, I went to see The Bacchae at a little theater in San Diego called 6th@Penn (yes, they have the little sign instead of the word in their name. Go ahead and check the website if you don’t believe me). The venue is very cool: small and intimate, near fun bars and restaurants, tickets won’t break you.

According to the email I received from the theater, this play “continues its Greek tradition. Dionysus, god of wine ecstatic god of orgies, is the leader of this dance. Come spy on the frolicking Bacchantes and see the mysteries of the god – and the shock in store for you. Your life may be changed forever- witness this great masterpiece by Euripides.”

Hmmm, shock and life-changing might be right.

Because this was a Greek play, the actors wore little loin skirts which revealed much more than I ever wanted to see of any stranger, and this revealing was done in positions that were not flattering to say the least. The actor playing Dionysus was stiff and either overdone or not quite done enough (I can’t really tell). He wore some horrible little horns on his head and “walked,” as my husband pointed out, “like he had two trick knees, while holding a broom stick up his butt.” And of course the other details of a low-budget theater: bad lighting, sound, costumes, etc . . .

However, there were some very redeeming factors that will entice me to come back. The actor who played Pentheus was both surprising and perfect for that role. When a skinny little kid came on stage and threw his first fit, I didn’t think this Pentheus would fly. He certainly wasn’t what I thought Pentheus would look or act like. This guy was young, scrawny, and petulant; my imagined Pentheus is in his 30’s, buff, and (though dense) masterful. However, this actor played the part perfectly: he reinvented an old and cliched role and did a very good job doing so. Also, the theater itself is actually very nice. It has potential to be a venue that produces very powerful plays.

To fortify ourselves for this night of theater, I made a spicy tomato soup. Serve this with grilled cheese and pickles, and you have the perfect casual Friday menu:

Spicy Tomato Soup adapted from epicurious.com:

  • 7 tomatoes, coarsely chopped with an attempt to get out the seeds
  • 1 28-oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped (2 1/4 cups)
  • finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh jalapeño chile including seeds
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Partially drain the can of tomatoes. Puree it and the fresh tomatoes.

Cook onion, garlic, chile, and ginger in oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy nonreactive pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in puréed tomatoes, broth, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 2 teaspoons salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Use your new and amazing immersion blender to puree the stuff.

Stir in salt to taste.

Makes 4 servings. Gourmet Quick Kitchen December 2004

Oh, and in the excitement of my theater-going evening, I forgot to mention my latest CSA shipment:

  • 6 Apples
  • 3 beets
  • butternut squash
  • 2 leeks
  • 7 carrots
  • 4 limes
  • 2 heads lettuce
  • parsley
  • 5 radishes

The weekend stretches before me. Time to get cooking.

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