Saturday, March 28, 2020

Going the Distance


 “Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.” - Henry David Thoreau

Skunk Attack! by Yoh Kakuda

I often plan ahead and have a few ideas in the works about what I’d like to feature each week here on my blog. But inspiration strikes when you least expect and it’s good to let the ideas flow. There just happens to be a global crisis going on right now which is pretty hard to ignore, and very few of us are “immune” to it. Hopefully we’ve all been practicing the fine art of staying away from one another as much as possible. I’ve let the changes influence a few of my offerings here, starting with the Escalating Box, and continuing with this and next week’s posts, at least. I don’t think this trend will last forever; I’m just trying to keep my “spirits” up, and I hope the only thing I infect you with is my enjoyment of boxes and booze.

Warning! Things are about to get tricky ...

“What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself” – Abraham Lincoln

With all that in mind, we turn to one of my favorite Karakuri Creation Group artists, Yoh Kakuda, whose work is always full of stories, told in evocative ways. Kakuda’s creations most often take the form of an animal, like a cat, or a frog, or a dog. Occasionally, an actual person makes an appearance too, contemplating something evocative, such as the moon. So what kind of animal might be appropriate for these trying times, when everyone is asked to stay inside, and keep their distance? Why, a skunk, of course. The humble skunk is the hero of the day, an instant reminder to stay away. Skunks can do a little trick with their peri-anal glands that gives any sneeze a run for its money. If you get too close and forget to maintain a polite social distance, our fearless friend will lift his tail and aim a precise anal spray of foul toxins at you from ten feet away. It’s an enviable skill that would do wonders in the supermarket line. Kakuda relates that the poor skunk is misunderstood by most. It can take an entire month for one to regenerate those potent secretions, so they only use them as the very last resort, when truly threatened. Then they must hide away, defenseless, for a month, a thought that appealed to Kakuda’s sense of melancholy. Kakuda’s skunk is truly charming and amusing, beautifully rendered in contrasting Wenge and Magnolia wood. He protects his treasures (undoubtedly some toilet paper these days) in a cherry wood box he is standing on, and beware to anyone who gets too close. This sly fellow kept me guessing for longer than I expected, and a lot longer than I could hold my breath.

Social Distancing

“One sees qualities at a distance and defects at close range.” - Victor Hugo

To toast this feisty fellow I created a cocktail that is perfectly apropos for the period and one that our malodorous mate would appreciate. Drinking cocktails and spirits in general is traditionally a social affair. Indeed there is a stigma to drinking alone. But that is just what we must do now, while we raise our collective glasses in tribute to one another from our isolation. This potion should encourage everyone to enjoy drinking alone. It lends itself to that pursuit. Indeed, no one will want to be around you after you imbibe even one of these, and you’ll probably want two, because they are so tasty.

Good for everyone but vampires

"It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.” - Aesop

“Savory” cocktails are nothing new, mind you. Some prefer them greatly over the sweeter variety. Tasty tipples you will possibly have tried include the “Dirty” Martini, with its dose of satisfying olive juice, or the Bloody Mary, full of robust tomato juice and an umami hit of Worchester. Here I present a rum based drink, a daiquiri for the day, which features an incredibly delicious “gastrique” of roasted garlic. Gastriques are technically made by deglazing the savory bits from a pan with vinegar, but can refer to a shrub-like syrup which goes lighter on the vinegar than a typical shrub. It’s incredibly easy to make and you can cook with it too after you finish making the drink. I’ve split the white rum with some deep, rich Blackstrap as well, to add more bold flavors that hold up against the garlic. The cocktail is sensational, and you’ll have no fear of the neighbors wanting to drop in for a sip. Here’s to keeping our distance, together. Cheers!

This pair is keeping their distance

Social Distancing

1 ½  oz white rum
½ oz Blackstrap rum
¾ oz lime
¾ oz roasted garlic gastrique*

*Roasted garlic gastrique: puree 4 cloves roasted garlic, ½ cup Demerera syrup (1:1 sugar : water) and 1 tsp Balsamic vinegar, strain out any remaining solids

Shake together with ice and strain into a favorite glass. Lime wedge garnish (w/ facemask)

For more from Yoh Kakuda:
What has life Tortoise?
Shell Game
Wizard of Awes

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