Yesterday, I woke up at 5 a.m. and I kinda felt weak and my head was in a surreal state.
Within the last few days I had crashed a bread truck, squabbled with insurance agents.... and was subjected to scientific experimentations.
If that wasn't enough stress to top off some kind of nervous cocktail....there was always the knowledge that at 11 a.m. I would be opening the doors to the bakery, and would be sponsoring.....
"THE KITCHEN POET'S VAULT - POETRY AND PIZZA BAKE OFF."
Basically how this works is you get 6 acts, bring them into the bakery, invite Slow Food Minnesota, The Saint Paul Bread Club, the Twin Cities literary scene, and anybody else that is hard up enough to endure 75 minutes of poems to get the opportunity to design their own pizza, and have it baked by a professional in a huge brick oven.
This day meant so much to me, not just because it symbolized what I love so much, as much as that this event represents the people who I adore, and w/o their involvement or participation.....there just wouldn't be any way for me to pull this off.
I've been involved in this event for years, but this year was different......last year we created some buzz, so this year the media really supported us.
So I guess it's not so much that I wanted to conquer the world as much as make certain that this event wouldn't be lightly attended...I simply didn't want to let my comrades down.
Every detail had been attended to, but there still was the matter of transforming a production plant into a kitchen / theater.
Kim Ode was the first person to show up.
Her car was packed to the hilt because she brought our P.A. system, but it was wedged between all kinds of cardboard boxes, so I just kinda furled a brow.....she grinned and opened one and pulled free a book as if she were a magician pulling a rabbits out of a hat.
"Rhubarb Renaissance" was the title.....this was Kim's newest cookbook, and I could see how good the final product made her feel. (Minnesota Historical Press)
Next came Mike Finley, he was gracious enough to act as master of ceremony's....so while our band of literary raodies began increasing rapidly....Mike paced the bakery like a caged lion.
So now there's 20ish people scurrying around the bakery, everybody doing their own assignment, then it occurred to me how Gilson wouldn't be attending. She had a shift of pastry baking at Heartland and with all this anticipation of this being the grandest of all events.....I missed her - alot, in many ways she kinda launchpadded what was about to take place, for years she and I would meet at different restaurants, bars and coffee shops and discuss writing.
Gilson has always been an inspiration to me.
15 minutes before the event started, there was about 30, maybe 35 people there.....Finley and I just kinda looked at each other with a...."We're gonna have to at least double this within 10 minutes or we might become the laughing stocks of not only the literary world....but the hospitality scene too.
But the Saint of Warsaw rewarded somebody for deeds unknown, it turns out that well over 100 people came.
As the show began.......I just thought how limitless life can be, we were surrounded by some of the most beautiful people our city had to offer.
Literature and Food.....fused together.
As many of you know, the highlight of this event is when the K.P.V. hands out is Jack Kerouac award.
This honor can't be bought, its recipient has to have a life time body of work that is honest and unbridled.
If you've won grants or academic awards...this trophy probably won't find its way into your hands, it only goes to peeps who exemplify Kerouac's mantra of....
"If you own a rug...you have to much."
Basically.....you just have to Rock & Roll and be a Rebel Poet.
I suppose for posterity sake, I should list the presenters........
Kevin O'Rourke (Kerouac Winner)
Gary Lee Joyner
Mike Finley (Master Of Ceremonies)
I know that in a baking blog many of you might want me to add recipes or baking instructions in all of my posts, but in fairness to me...being me, I just think that there is so much more to my craft than just putting food into peoples mouth.....
I think there is an added value in sharing the observations that a Master Bread Baker witnesses over the course of a year, and I gotta tell ya......what I saw yesterday was glorious.
THE OVEN BUMS
When Kerouac and Japhy
Climbed a mountain to find Buddha
A universal truth became unveiled
At the bottom of the trail
They barked out orders to each other
It was thought this would help them navigate
But the altitude increased
And the peak pressed down upon them
Their preconceived notions were cast aside
Silence was the compass
That would steer them towards enlightenment
Since words are wasted on what is already known
So welcome to the Oven Room
A space that nourishes your city
It to is traveled by the silent
Knowing labor will bear fruit
Only when a crew realizes
To be a cog
Is a place of honor
(END OF POEM)
B.T.W.....for those of you keep stats, we made up 86 pizza pies.
See Ya Next Year -