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Things Unseen

Roast chicken with orange 3

By Tim Hazell

States of daydreaming have potent implications for great art. In his 1932 portrait of Marie Thérèse Walter, Girl Before a Mirror, Picasso’s Corn Goddess dreamily expresses an underlying eroticism. His mistress appears sleeping, head melding into the crook of one arm, hair cascading in spirals of Mediterranean light.

Art is kept vibrant by our reinterpretation of its narratives and values. We see ourselves as “beleaguered actors” at times, boldly navigating the labyrinth of the world, yet remaining in disequilibrium. Eccentric people and objects surround us without consequence, leaving us to our own contemplations. A genuine masterpiece can become a powerful vortex, adding to our feelings of discomfort and anxiety. Aficionados may be cast adrift to struggle on their own, drawn inexorably towards its elusive message while oblivious of their own well-being.

In his process of forgetting and remembering things unseen, Argentinian poet Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) was free to listen to voices from other constellations. “Adam Cast Forth” shimmers like an oasis retreating before a traveler:

 

Was there a Garden or was the Garden a dream?

Amid the fleeting light, I have slowed myself and queried,

Almost for consolation, if the bygone period

Over which this Adam, wretched now, once reigned supreme

 

Gertrude Stein (1874 -1946) was an American writer of novels, poetry, and plays. A literary innovator, Stein moved to Paris in 1903 and settled there for life. She became famous as a collector of Modernist art and a patron of artists. Stein’s lifetime companion, Alice B. Toklas, was an astute observer of the early twentieth-century Montmartre atelier scene, and a great cook. James Beard called her “one of the really great cooks of all time.” Picasso regarded her chicken dishes as especially magnificent!

 

Alice’s Roast Chicken with Port and Orange

Ingredients:

3-1/2 lb. chicken

Salt

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup ruby port

1/2 cup orange juice

3 tbsp. heavy cream

Zest of 1 orange, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Rub chicken with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. Preheat oven to 400F. Bring chicken to room temperature. Warm butter and oil in a large oven-proof roasting pan over medium heat. Brown the chicken, breast side down, for 5 minutes, then turn over and brown back for 5 minutes. Place pan in the oven and roast the chicken for 45 minutes. Pour port over the bird and baste. Reduce heat to 350̊F. Roast 25 minutes, then add orange juice and baste again. Roast 25 minutes more or until juices of the thigh run clear when pierced. Remove chicken and keep warm. Skim excess fat off pan juices. Place over medium heat, add cream and stir up crisp bits on the bottom. Add half the orange zest. Reduce the sauce, stirring constantly. Season to taste. Transfer chicken to a serving platter. Pour over some of the sauce. Reserve the rest for the gravy boat. Sprinkle remaining orange zest over the chicken, and serve with the sauce.

 

 

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