Thursday, February 13, 2014

Написаните думи


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Днес стават точно три години от последната ми публикация тук. Три години, които сякаш се изплъзнха измежду пръстите ми. Три години, през които, струва ми се, основното, което свърших бе да търся себе си. Дали се намерих? Това тепърва ще има да откривам.
Целта на този текст, обаче, не е да правя публични равносметки за неща, които са лични и, които имат стойност и смисъл само ако останат лични. Целта на този текст е да затвори един цикъл и да постави началото на нов. И тъй като аз вярвам в силата на звездите, планетите, знаците, енергииите и всички техни производни, днешният ден ми се струва направо белязан за тази цел – да приключа нещо и да започна нещо ново.
Знам, че имам какво да споделя. Аз всъщност никога не съм спирала да споделям, а по-скоро в разлчните моменти от живота си, предпочитам различни форми на споделяне. Най-любимата ми форма, разбира се, са изговорените думи. Думите, които са заредени с енергията на въздуха, който издишам, за да ги изговоря. Думи, които са като фоерверките – изригват за миг, изрисуват някаква картина, на която вдъхват мимолетен, но ярък живот, и след това изгасват в тъмното небе, за да освободят място за спомена. Обичам изречените думи точно заради тази тяхна експлозивност. Заради силата им да вдъхват живот в един миг и да изчезват безвъзвратно в следващия. Изговорените думи са думите на младостта – буйни, необуздани, хаотични, зареждащи, но и изконсумирващи.
Друг е светът на написаните думи и връзката ми с тях е доста по-сложна. Аз обичам изказаните думи, но винаги съм се стремяла към написаните думи. Те ме предизвикват, понякога (всъщност доста често) ме измъчват, ядосват ме и дори ме отблъскват. Но независимо от това, или по-скоро именно заради това, техният плод винаги ми носи наслада. Наслада, която трае дълго, която се разкрива малко по малко, и най-важното – наслада, към която можеш да се връщаш.
В този нов период ще дам път на написаните думи като форма на споделяне. За съдържанието засега мога да кажа, че ще бъде разнообразно. Това разнообразие ще е естествено следствие от моите интереси и търсения, които покриват доста широк диапазон – от силната ми привързаност към арабския свят, през удоволствето да работя с деца, към неизчерпаемото ми любопитство към всякакви нови култури, хора и места, до насладата от приготвянето (и яденето) на хубава храна и всичко друго, което по някакъв начин е привлякло вниманието ми или е изкушило мисълта ми. Едно нещо обаче ще бъде постоянно – страстта, с която живея и, с която ще пиша за всяко едно нещо, което си струва да бъде споделено.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The World of Hossam Sakr - a World of Finite Number of Touches and Colours


I met Hossam Sakr for the first time in the autumn of 2003. Our first meeting was very much Cairo-style. One warm busy evening I ended up at a party in his studio in Dokki district not knowing neither the host nor any of the other guests (apart from my boyfriend at the time who had brought me to the party). The studio was packed with people, it had high ceilings, dim lighting, was furnished with antique furniture and had the most peculiar paintings spread all over the place. All this was new to me – I was still discovering the secrets of Cairo and little had I known that such colourful and vibrant space could exist behind the plain, dirty, grey-yellow façade of the run down building where the studio was located.
I got myself a drink, walked a bit around, examined the people all of whom were busy having conversations, saw a little child sleeping on the bed in one of the rooms in complete peace, undisturbed by the noise.
I felt almost immediate attraction to the paintings, especially to those that were painted directly on the walls. The dark colours, the roughness of their rich texture – a combination of paints and sand, the strange faces and symbols, all looked fascinating to me. As I was walking slowly around, I started touching them following an urge to feel them with as many senses as possible. A moment later, someone removed gently my hand away from the painting, and I heard my boyfriend telling me that I was not supposed to be touching pieces of art. As I began disagreeing with him quietly, I heard a warm voice saying from behind our backs: “Of course, she can touch them!”. We turned around and my boyfriend introduced me to a tall man with dark complexions and a charming smile. “Dani, this is the artist Hossam Sakr – our host.”. Hossam looked at me and took my hand away from the hand of my boyfriend and placed it back on the painting: “Dani, please, touch them as much as you wish. I want you to feel them”.
_________

This was the beginning of my friendship with Hossam, which led to many more visits to his studio on different occasions where I had the chance to get to know well both him and his art.
One such occasion was during my mother’s visits to Cairo in the winter of 2005. I wanted to introduce her to Hossam. I had a feeling that they have to meet. And as it always happens, the best things in life come unexpectedly. Out of the 3 weeks that my mom spent with me, the only date on which we all had free time coincided with my mother’s birthday and it turned out to be a very special one. What follows is a beautiful and inspired tale written by my mother on the occasion of her meeting with Hossam and his art. I hope you enjoy it:


The World of Hosam Sakr – a World of Finite Number of Touches and Colours

Mixed media on paper, 2008, Paris

The First Meeting

You enter a snug studio. There are friends on a visit. The host’s little girl is sleeping in the other room. His wife is offering a snack and a glass of beer. Everything seems to be clear, easy and familiar.

What is the thing we often define as magic or originality? Does it exist in the creator’s everyday world or does it stay somewhere in secret?

The Works of Art

They are in the other room. Two of them have been painted directly on the wall. Why so?
An easel and a few piles of pictures on the floor are. There is dim light in the room but the easel is well lit up. The pictures start “filing” one by one from the piles, reflected by the light at the easel. One after the other, one after the other they take their places on the easel and each of them seems to leave a trace, so that it can prepare room for the next one or complement it, and why not also support it. An hour passes, two, three…
The child is sleeping in the other room. I wonder what she is dreaming.

The Talk

At first it goes on slowly and seems to be groping for what is happening deep inside everybody’s soul. The pictures dictate the emotions. They gradually entice and allow you into their world and at the same time questions begin to arise. They well up, press each other and overlap, without waiting for one another – religion, science, the yang and yin, the creator’s perception… An interesting thing happens – we seem to have known each other for years. I wonder what might have brought to these mutually shared sensations. Perhaps the trace left by a picture and passing over to another has shifted to the conversation, too. The canvases passing before our eyes unlocked commensurable feelings and perceptions, ages and cultures…

 The Sensation

In the time going by we seemed to have seen all the elements building the awesome concept of civilisation pass one after the other. Is this possible? Yes and no. That reminded us of a thought expressed by a Borhes’s character, which says that in his lifetime man strives to discover what has already been discovered. Then, in the trace of ideas left by the pictures, it is possible to rediscover the whole human knowledge. Yet another enigma is still to be solved: how is it possible to achieve this in the form of knowledge that can turn into an idea. It is impossible! It is impossible if you follow the logic of formalised knowledge! But this is absolutely possible if you follow the logic of seeking and trying to know the world surrounding and embracing every one.
This is where the magic of Hosam’s genius lies – in reaching what has been achieved and opening the unexplored space of the civilisation brain. Who is this for? For Hosam himself? No, it is hardly likely. The world he has made for himself has its own endless depths and it would hardly be within its power to look in at what is new and still unperceived. Then wouldn’t that opening of the unexplored space create the feeling of a gap, of an impossibility to reach? Yes, it would, if the little girl weren’t sleeping peacefully in the other room, carrying the perception of future.

The Words

They do not come immediately. The imprint left by the consecutive images is so deep that it is difficult to nominate what has been seen.
Hosam’s world re-created in images is finite. It is a world of faces, bodies and space. There is no outline limiting the pictured world of images. Everything is open. Everything, though long dried up on the canvas, is in motion. Isn’t it possible to repeat the same interpretation of one and the same picture twice? It is hardly probable! The painted images maintain their own peculiar dynamics and every time they look different, as it is in life – everything is irreversible, unique and always developing.
Where is the magic of the image hiding – in the soul, in the thought, in the sensation of tomorrow? No! Where in the sensation of afterwards, of future, of eternity…?
The colours are weird and wonderful, changeable and seemingly blurred. Perhaps these are the colours of creation, containing the essence, the mental attitude to harmony. What will harmony come from – from the theory of the density of matter and the refraction of light, from the technology of making paints, no! There is no other moderator between an idea and the moment of its materialisation but the soul. The soul and the insight into the world are the elements building the harmony in the world, and in particular the colours.
If you have left your soul behind, don’t touch Hosam’s pictures with your gaze. They burn the empty eyes.
The details are clear and distinct. The man and his senses of the world. The details passing quickly from a picture over to another one are the same, yet they look different – strict and soft together, cold and warm, clear and blurred, mundane and philosophical, specific and universal…

The Spaces

Mixed media on paper,2005, Bahrain


There is a sense of reality – the warmth of the earth, the crumbling walls of the home, the warmth of the tree, the last vibration of wrought metal, the strength of the fiery vibration that is burning to ashes and the enveloping force of the mildness of water. The spiral-like vibration of the universe enhances the all-absorbing world of pictures. The world is the creation… called human.
Where is man, then? He is everywhere, but alone!
Steady, confident, evil, loving and thoughtful, he has made an attempt to find his opposite half and reproduce the world through himself. A large part of our perception of the human – the social – is missing in the pictures.
Where is it? As a matter of fact, is it necessary? Where is this power coming from then, this fascinating mutualness, which is conquering the heart of everybody all evening? Where is the magic key to human relationships such as love, hatred and indifference, provided man is alone?
In the boundless expanse of the soul, yes! I asked Hosam’s wife: “Do you find it easy to live with this man?” She lifted her big warm eyes and both the sadness of life and the flame of love could be seen flashing in their corners – eyes that you can’t forget. I wonder what these eyes fill the little sleeping girl’s everyday life with? – With patience, generosity, trivial round…

Silence

The world of pictures is silent. Absorbed by the eyes and by all the senses the world seems to be sinking into the man. The man takes it in, together with all its diversity, burden, absurdity and light.
Some of the pictures show clearly this inward movement towards the depths of the soul. It seems as if everything that surrounds us is piling up in layers within and onto the human soul. The eyes sweep with a glance the canvas and feel the roughness resulting from the ups and downs of human existence. The movement gets slower because the glance seems to stumble over the gaps formed by the real and all-absorbing happiness and sadness that is missing from life. Will humanity have enough time to cope with this mental insufficiency?
Still other pictures are illuminated by the light of everything re-created in life. This light is calm and balanced, yet the feeling remains that creation is the result of the seeking soul’s volcanic eruption. And again has the canvas sunk into the roughness of the overflowing lava of feelings and thoughts of the creating man. What has been achieved is a fact, but it is still to find its place in the order of the world. It is like a newly born baby stunned with horror, but determined to be.
I wonder what the sleeping little girl in the other room might be dreaming? Her mother says that the child is afraid of her father’s pictures. Why? I am asking myself what the child’ soul might be grasping when sweeping with a glance the canvases? The tender child’s consciousness must find it difficult to go over the “bumps” called life.

Bounds in the Boundlessness

Sakr’s world is absolutely clear. However this does not blaze a trail for the idle and lethargic mentality. The world is clear because it belongs to a man whose heart is open, strong, honest and reverberating the desire to live. In his clarity a word seems to be shouting silently from the canvases – Must!
Must – Clearly, precisely and strictly because the world is for those who live. As for the rest – they are to be found in the missing outlines. If some day they have the will and wish to finish writing their moment and leave their imprint on the canvas of life, let them do it. Otherwise the world will go on without them, but will feel the disadvantage of the gap ensuing from their human lack of firmness.
Must – clearly, precisely and strictly because the world belongs to those who are able to create. Actually, the moment of creation is the only time in the whole human existence when man is not alone. Man and human existence are interwoven and re-create the world through them. This is a state of and a zeal for weaving into the spiral of Universe. This is a state of flowing of the one into the other for the re-creation of Eternity. This is a state of balance of opposites – earth and sky, fire and water, light and darkness – which are devoted to one another and reach the unity named Homo sapiens. The rest is just silence along the road called for brevity Life.
Isn’t it that the child is startled by this gushing popularity? I wonder if the child’s fear does not express an essential feature of every one of us – the childishness born by the cognoscibility of life and the responsibility we bear for its existence. Is it not precisely our common fear that the world is knowable, which gives rise to nothing else but the need to create a mystery often called fate, magic, prophecy…

The Unknown in the Known

Mix media on paper, 2005, Germany


The pictures are coming one by one. The traces they leave in our minds are alive. Something makes the thought fly to the landmarks of civilisation and muse on whether the world of man is destructive or whether the world as such is immense, which makes man create and build knowable strongholds. However these strongholds are temporary, so the purpose for their existence is soon served and exhausted. Then the need for destruction comes. On his long, complex and difficult road to cognising the vast life, man tends to destroy only within the confines he has set to himself.

Sakr’s pictures are an attempt to begin to understand the unknown.
The pictures follow one after the other and what is happening in our hearts is the appearance of confidence in tomorrow, in my own self, in the meaning of the life of the child sleeping in the other room.
The world has to be seen in its essence, without the self-restricting complacency arising from what the human genius has achieved and created. This is what Hosam Sakr makes us do through his philosophy.

Time Goes by

Day after day passes by. The pragmatism of the day makes you feel engrossed it its eloquence and tries to fully absorb you. Is the brief moment spent in the cosy Sakr’s space enough to awaken and strengthen the soul? One day Hosam’s little girl will go to school and will find out that there are people born with a mission. Will she be brave enough to confess that her father is one of them?


10th January 2005 
Cairo 

Emilia Evgenieva
Yordanka Evgenieva










Monday, January 03, 2011

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Най-накрая успях да се добера до вкъщи. Пак беше един от тези горещи задушни дни, в които усещаш как прахта от замърсения въздух на града прониква през всяка пора на тялото ти, подпомагана от потта, която те облива цял ден. Тези дни вече 4 месеца не са се променяли. Работа не липсваше и днес – деца, учители, посетители. Обичайната доза артисти, турско кафе с кардамон и лимов сок с мента. Беше четвъртък и лудницата, както в галерията, така и на улицата, беше по-голяма от останалите дни на седмицата. Привечер (макар че само часовникът показваше, че вечерта наближава, тъй като навън все още напичаше, като че ли е обед) най-накрая приключих със задачите за деня, събрах си нещата и се изнесох много по-бързо от обичайното. Днес нямах много време за мотаене и социализиране, защото най-накрая бях успяла да организирам уроците си по видео монтаж и не ми се искаше поне малко да си почина и освежа преди тях. Руби, млад и много талантлив видео артист, с когото работих по един проект и, който често се мотае при нас в галерията, щеше да дойде вкъщи след вечерната молитва, което беше след малко по-малко от два часа, за първия ми урок.
Гмурнах се в морето от хора навън и съжалих за пореден път всички, на които им се налагаше да се предвижват с кола в тая лудница. И ходенето не беше лесно, но поне се движех и по-лесно успявах да си прокарвам път през тълпата. Днес обаче нищо не можеше да ме впечатли, защото бях погълната от мисълта за краткото видео, което най-накрая щях да монтирам. Бях изгледала суровия материал безброй пъти и нямах търпение да му дам формата, която аз исках.
Успях да се добера до вкъщи. Малък оазис на спокойствието и тишината в този неуморен град. Съкваритрантът ми го нямаше – беше заминал на юг за една седмица и оазисът беше почти като рай. Съблякох се на мига – трябваше да ги махна тези лепкави, прашни дрехи. Сапунената вода, която се стичаше от ръцете ми си беше направо черна. Влязох под душа. Студената вода ме освежи. Не се облякох, защото още умирах от жега, а и това беше един от малкото дни, когато можех да се мотая гола на воля. Имах нужда от малко тишина и не пуснах музика. Продължавах да мисля за видето.
Чух изана за вечерната молитва и в същия момент се звънна на вратата. Руби беше подранил. Облякох първото, което видях – къса памучена рокля на цветя, с която обичайно стоя вкъщи и, с която обичайно не бих се облякла, когато вкъщи щеше да има мъж, който не беше от близките ми приятели. Но не беше кой знае каква драма. Облякох се и отворих вратата.
Монтажът ми харесва. Харесва ми възможността да мога да манипулирам историята и да я подреждам, така както аз сметна за добре. Беше ми за първи път и не спирах с въпросите. Руби каза, че имам усет за правене на добър монтаж. Каза и, че косата ми ухае приятно. Не бях обърнала внимание, колко близо един до друг бяхме седнали. Комплиментът ме поласка – Руби всъщност беше много привлекателен и доста загадъчен млад мъж. В един момент осъзнах, че единственият звук в стаята беше топлият му глас. Хареса ми и ме възбуди. Но не беше, както преди. Преди да мина през онзи ужасен кошмар.
Работихме, докато не спря тока и после не умря и батерията на лаптопа. Беше станало време за вечеря и поканих Руби да остане. Сготвих кускус с риба – беше забавно да готвя без светлина – трябваше да използвам само обонянието си, за да разбера какво правя. Беше станало много тъмно навън, ток все още нямаше, а малкото свтлина идваше от пламъка на газовия котлон и едната свещ, която бях запалила. А когато не виждаш, ароматите са много по-силни.
Разтопено масло, малко джинджифил, шафран, лют пипер; кускусът, който прилича на пясъка на Сахара... малко вода – толкова, колкото да поддържа живота в пустинята; усещам влажните зрънца по пръстите си, заравям длани, така че влагат да достигне до всяко зрънце. Готвих неговото ядене. Отново.
Руби ми помагаше и пожела да прочете дланта ми – научила го някаква стара бедуинка. Не съм била особено щастлива на 10 години, живея във въображем свят. Не винаги, но понякога. Никакъв въпрос не ми идваше наум. “Ще бъда ли отново щастлива?”, попитах най-накрая. “Да, ще бъдеш, но ще минеш през голяма депресия. Всъщност минаваш през нея сега”...
Дръпнах си леко ръката. Руби ме гледаша с любопитство, искаше той да ме попита нещо. Но тази тема не ми харесваше. Не искам да говоря за това отново. Не искам да говоря за това никога вече. “Обичаш ли зеленчукова супа?" – го попитах с лека усмивка и без да дочакам отговор побързах да сменя темата.
Руби беше първият мъж, когото допусках близо до себе си след онова, което се случи. Нямах сили, нямах желание, но трябваше да се преборя. Не можех вечно да стоя в черупката си. Флиртуваше с мен елегантно – “Никога не съм знаел, че имаш толкова красива коса, изглеждаш чудесно в рокля, в галерията си винаги толкова дистанцирана, някак си строга и студена, а всъщност си съвсем различна”. Сипах яденето в чинии и седнахме на възглваниците на пода. Нахранихме се в мълчание. Чувах дишането му, усещах миризмата му. Но него не го усещах. Остави чинията си. “Може ли да погаля косата ти?”. Не казах нищо, а само леко наклоних главата си към него. Усетих как отмества леко косата ми и допира устни в шията ми. Хареса ми – беше нежен и внимателен. “Защо правиш това” го попитах. “Защото ме привличаш”... Хареса ми, но празнината в мен беше твърде голяма, за да го усетя истински. Тялото ми се стегна и Руби разбра, че не можех да приема това, което ми даваше. Но поне успях да направя първата крачка. Да оставя някой друг да ме докосне.
И тогава разбрах - бях готова да бъда сама. Най-накрая.
Кайро, 2008

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back to my Natural Habitat

Over the last four days I was in Koprivshtitza to take part in a training/team building for a group of young people who have volunteered to work in a project organized by Theatre Tsvete – Bulgaria. The aim of the project is to develop a methodology for social-art therapy for children with different disabilities. We’ll work during the course of nine months with three different groups of children playing, learning, having fun with the hope that this will give the kids strength to face with more ease the obstacles ahead. 
For those who know me, there is no need to mention how extremely happy I am to be again part of something like this. I am already beginning to learn a lot (about the others and about myself) and this makes me very excited. For a start I played my first clown role last night and I did make people laugh!
The training itself has been a very enriching experience, which was made even better by the extremely well chosen location. Koproivshtitza is stunningly beautiful town in the Balkan Mountain, which every Bulgarian associates with the heroic revolutionaries who have fought for the liberation of our country. This feeling of heroism and patriotism can’t escape anyone, but for me it’ll also be the town with the most beautiful blue house facades that I’ve seen.











Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Punch-Drunk Love or is love really that simple?


Often the best things in life happen when less expected. One can argue at length what can be qualified as “best” in that context, but I’ll cut the list short and say that this time I’m simply speaking of an encounter with a film.

Two nights ago I was in a dare need to watch a film. But being the type of person that never keeps a movie list, or any movies stored on my hard drive for that reason, I started to look randomly for titles. In my despair to find something worth watching, I skyped a friend and asked for a recommendation. It took him some 15 minutes to check his own hard-drive encompassed in his skull before I got the message with a link to Punch-Drunk Love. Fifteen more minutes and I had a copy of it on my hard-drive (the one encompassed in the thin white plastic box in front of me), loaded it, pressed cmd+F, turned off the lights, cuddled comfortably underneath my blanket and the story began.

What began as a strange story of a man who was sitting on a lonely desk in the corner of a big garage space, dressed in the most awkward blue suit imaginable, and having a shy and nervous conversation on the phone about a frequent flyer miles promotion on healthy food products, turned out to be one of the most delicately told love stories that I have seen on the big screen (or the smaller laptop screen). And when I say a “love story”, don’t automatically image any of the thousands insipid tales of a boy-meets-girl and boy-marries-girl-at-the-end, and all told in a painfully predictable manner. It wasn’t this.

Well, to begin with, this story was not really told in the sense of narrated through action. It was rather painted on the screen. The motion was so minimal that almost every frame looked liked a frozen section of a big three-dimensional canvas, at first very zoomed in, showing only a small initial detail of the picture, but then slowly zooming out to show the whole picture. The colours used were also minimal – blue and white, blue and red, some black, but just enough to underline the brightness of the rest. And think the classical shades of these colours – basic but vibrant, simple but powerful. There was also this incredible motion in the stillness – an illusion that makes you see the movement of the hand that was painting all this. To add up to the beauty of it all, this sense of motion was mostly conveyed through sound – also very minimal, isolated and often un-tuned tones at the beginning, that slowly built up to a harmonious crisp clear melody towards the end.

Now the story – in this format the girl meets the boy, or to be more accurate – the woman meets the man. A powerful version of something that we are used to watch in the reverse order. A mysterious woman likes a man from a picture. A man who is considered by his seven sisters to be a freak. A man who feels isolated by the society, a man who “meets” people through the phone. The man is Barry and the woman Leena. Barry appears to be the lead character, but it’s Leena who directs it all. She meets him “coincidentally”, then invites him for dinner. We see little of her and her red dress directly on the screen, but her effect on Barry is present all along. For me, her beauty and strenght is hidden in the fact that she is actively looking for love and she isn’t stopped by social predjudices of any sort. By a standart rating, Leena could easily find a better match than Barry, but she likes him for reason or another, and quietly but steadfastly shows him her love, and makes him love her. End of the story: her love helps him come out of his shell and be his better self.

I need to note here that the word “love” isn’t present except for once in the movie. It is never uttered, but only mysteriously written on the knuckles of Barry after he hits a wall in one of his aggression outburst. That is how delicate this whole movie is – a love story without the overly boring usage of the word itself or any related cliché phrases. The love isn’t spoken, but shown in the small things - as it should be. I will quote here the final monologue of Barry when he apologizes to Leena for leaving her at the hospital after a car accident they had, to illustrate how masterfully a love can be revealed through seemingly funny and maybe a bit absurd words:

"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I left you at the hospital. I called a phone-sex line... I called a phone-sex line before I met you, and four blond brothers came after me and they hurt you, and I'm sorry. Then I had to leave again because I wanted to make sure you never got hurt again. And I have a lot of puddings, and in six to eight weeks it can be redeemed. So if you could just give me that much time, I think I can get enough mileage to go with you wherever you go if you have to travel for your work. Because I don't ever want to be anywhere without you. So could you just let me redeem the mileage?"

There are many more layers to this film, as it is a highly symbolic peace of art. However I won’t discuss them here, as there is a whole website dedicated to it that describes and sums up its artistic attainments quite well. I would only recommend a closer look at Jeremy Blake’s digital artwork created specially for the film, which I find stunning and which gives a beautiful final touch to the whole image.

On an ending note, I would like to mention and the very few shortcomings the movie has for me. As universal as this love story may seem, it is done in a very culturally specific manner. I don’t know if this could and should be avoided, having in mind that every artist is usually influenced by his cultural milieu, but it might be good to just keep in mind that this is an American story. The cultural context needs to be extracted in order for the universality of the story to come to the surface, and if this isn’t done, one risks considering as universal something that isn’t. In this line of thoughts, there is this bit of the movie where a trip to Hawaii is made which is the beginning of the denouement in the plot. Even though I am aware of the meaning that Hawaii has within the American culture, it just has never worked for me as the place where love takes place in every other Hollywood movie. And precisely because Punch-Drunk Love isn’t an average movie, it highly irritated me that Hawaii was in it knowing how many more other exciting destinations there were to choose from. But then again, this is a very minor flaw, which I mention only to balance a bit my eulogy of the film.

Punch-Drunk Love is a simple story of the complexity of love. A story that left me with the question: Isn’t love actually that simple?











Thursday, August 20, 2009

Soufflé au chocolat noir

The soufflé au chocolat noir experiment was successfully conducted, and I am happy to share that the result was great! After overcoming the intimidation of its secrecy and the respect I've always felt for this desert, I fully agree with the cooking engineer that "the difficulty in preparing a soufflé has been somewhat exaggerated over time". I think that the French have conspired to make it look so difficult to prepare, so that they (and the big chefs around the world) have the monopoly over it:). But believe me - it is as easy as pie! It's even easier than making an ordinary tea cake (which I never can get quite right). It's also times easier to cook than a good creme caramel, which is another desert I've cooked several times.

I followed step by step the cooking engineer's recipe, and it is foolproof. I only skipped the cream of tartar because it is not available on the Bulgarian market. The whites got firm without it though, so if you don't have it at hand, do not worry about it (just add a pinch of salt instead). I also beat everything with a whisk, so a mixer is not a must. Well, you have to be aware though, that your hand will hurt a bit after beating the whites for 5-7 minutes (and you can't stop in the middle to rest). The other alteration I made was the chocolate - I used 80% cocoa instead of 70% (that's the one I found in the supermarket). It made the chocolate mixture a bit dry and to compensate the missing fat I added just a bit more butter and a bit more cream. And finally - the recipe says that this amount will serve two, but I found out that it was enough for 3 or even 4 if you don't fill the cups to the top. The first two I baked immediately for 15 min. They rose beautifully, and tasted great, but for me were a bit overcooked. The other two I refrigerated, to check if the taste changes if you bake them on the next day - and surprise, surprise - it was as good! These two I baked for 10 min and they were just perfect:) I attach pictures of the first and the second trial.

The two weak points where the cooking can go wrong are the beating of the whites and their folding (I love this term!) into the chocolate mixture. If you get those right, there is nothing else to worry about. And of course never open the oven during the ten minutes the little buddies are inside. 

Mom and I enjoyed them with a scope of vanilla and lemon ice-cream this afternoon and I still have their lovely taste in my mouth.

Here again is the link to the recipe I used:
http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/160/Dark-Chocolate-Souffle

Now that I've conquered the souffle with the assistance of an American engineer, I decided to take a look at what the French actually have to say about it. They had to say a lot!... The variety of recipes was overwhelming but didn't find a single one with so specific and easy to follow instructions. I'll go back to them when I master the basic one. I want to share however a video of a French chéf showing "la meilleure recette du soufflé au chocolat" (the best recipe for a chocolate sufflé). Well - he is unique and so Frrrrench... enjoy:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8hao7_souffle-au-chocolat_lifestyle

Next time you visit me, be sure that you'll be treated to a real French soufflé.


Day 2


Day 1