A “Fiery” Evening

I was walking with my friend TJ over to his place to make dinner the other day, when we both saw it: a towering cloud of black smoke billowing into the sky (see photo at the end of this post). We walked closer towards Boylston Street and realized said cloud was the coming from the Prudential Center…we later learned that an 115,000-volt transformer had caught on fire at the adjacent HIlton Hotel. With the cacophony of sirens and a dark, smoky sky just outside our window, we prepared a spicy Asian meal that was all too fitting for the “fiery” event we had just witnessed: Spicy Chicken Chop Suey and Sesame Green Beans.
Chop suey is believed to have originated in Taishan (a coastal city in the souther Guangdong province), and was introduced to the United States by Chinese immigrants during the early 19th-century. It’s literal translation means “assorted pieces.” The traditional preparation includes a meat with chopped vegetables and aromatics, which are all cooked in a starch-thickened sauce and served over rice or noodles.
This dish was a definite winner – though the ingredient list seems substantial, most are pantry items you will have on-hand for the repeats you will guaranteed be making of this dish. Wanting a spicy kick, I decided gave it an extra dose of pepper flakes. Feel free to substitute any meat for the chicken, and any other vegetables for that matter (carrots and sugar snap peas would be excellent!) It can ultimately be an “assortment”  to your liking – click HERE to see how to make this spicy dish. For the side, I just blanched the green beans, then pan-seared the heck out of them in a bit of olive before tossing in some cloves of garlic, sesame oil, (lots of) red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Delicious!
Unable to shake the “fire” theme, my musical pairing for this meal is Manuel de Falla’s “Danza ritual del fuego,” from El Amor Bruj0 (Love, the Magician) – 35 minutes in length, this Gitanería (gypsy ballet) was originally scored for an “assortment” of performers: cantaora voice, actors, ballet dancers, and chamber orchestra. It was adapted the following year for orchestra and mezzo-soprano. In the work, our heroine Candela is desperate to drive away the ghost of her dead lover, and appeals to the fire-god in hopes of vanishing his haunting spirit. The “Danza ritual del fuego” marks her attempt to do so, in which she seduces her lover and pushes his spirit into the flames. The work has a bohemian flair, yet maintains de Falla’s Spanish touch. The recording below is with the Chicago Symphony and Daniel Barenboim, enjoy!


Sources Cited:
“Chop Suey,” Wikipedia.com
“Ritual Fire Dance (Falla)” Wikipedia.com

(taken on my phone while walking with TJ)

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