Public Republic random header image

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 29, 2012 by · 30 comments

Zlatko Anguelov


The house is full of people, and the mood is celebratory. I’m baking a turkey for dinner (see recipe at the end). I have to leave the crowd to be able to sit at my computer and type my diary.

Well, I’m sipping a Manhattan: four measures of bourbon plus one measure of red Martini (from Martini di Rossi), and twists of orange skin, all shaken with ice. I take it on the rocks. Some prefer it stirred, as they say bourbon is a gentle liquor and should not be shaken. I’m still not convinced. The flavor is heavenly, no matter shaken or stirred. And, since I live in the U.S., I consider bourbon the best hard booze, superior to even the finest malt whiskey, the drink that was at the top of my ranking of drinks before 2008, when my wife and I went on the bourbon trail in Kentucky.

My daughter came with her companion, an American from Illinois, and he asked me about the people on the oil portraits that hang on the walls in our living room. I told him a few stories about those and then, decided to show him old pictures. I keep all family pictures taken before the digital era in albums. So, everybody photographed before 2004-5 – by me or my ancestors – is in the albums, everybody and everything after that is in my Picassa folders.

There is a story behind every picture. The most fascinating thing about looking at old pictures is the realization how young people have turned into old individuals. Gosh, we had so many friends and husbands who have crossed paths with this family and gone: all my daughters but the youngest one were married and divorced twice, neither of the sons has ever been married. And I had friends in my young years whom I trusted and who later turned to be plainclothes officers of the state security – Russian and Bulgarian. I had friends who betrayed me in some moments of my life, others who have always given me their love in return to mine. There are also people who have distanced themselves from me for one reason or another, friends who disliked my love life, for example, or my public activities. I have new friends who both appreciate my past and share my current state of mind. People come and go, like cars on a long road that pass one another, exit the highway at some points, then enter again, along with other cars, from another side road.

I keep the pictures of all of them, along with pictures of my former wives and dates as young girls. This way, I keep the stories of life that are an inexhaustible source of inspiration for fiction. Interestingly, in those years I had shot faces most of all. Now, in the first and second decade of this century, I started shooting buildings and landscapes or seascapes. I’m especially fascinated by the human-made beauty that is embedded in the natural environment. Architecture became my preferred art, although I can talk hours and hours about paintings and music. The best combination of art and architecture that I have been privileged to contemplate several times is the Bilbao Museum of Fine Arts designed by Frank Gerrhy.

So, talking while browsing through the albums filled with old pictures, most of them black and white, is a wonderful way to draw the past in our present and enliven it. Photography is the best trigger of memories, perhaps even better than the Proust madeleine dipped in a cup of hot tea.

And now, it’s time to go cut the turkey. Everybody looks hungry. It’s dinner time. Well, if you want to roast a real good turkey, you have to choose a free range one, from a local farm, not from the local grocery store. I salt it, then put it in the big baking pan with a little water on the bottom. I fill it with a mix of prunes, pears, leek, and pieces of lemon and orange skin, and poor about a pint of rum on and around the bird. Then, I put small chunks of butter over the entire surface and finally, I cover it with slices of bacon – one package of commercial bacon is just enough. I keep the turkey in the oven as per the formula 20 minutes of roasting per pound of turkey. Potatoes or sauerkraut are preferably baked in separate pans and served with the turkey. Anything that is marinated should not have been kept in vinegar as is the American tradition, just natural fermentation. So, the only good side dish to such a turkey, besides the potatoes and the sauerkraut, are cucumbers pickled the Balkan way.

French wine goes perfectly with our dinner, and I’m going to open a bottle of red from the Rhone region right now. Cheers!

Related posts ↓

30 comments so far ↓

  • Nobody has commented yet. Be the first!