Editor's note: C.M. Redding's musings on food and dating will continue unabated — but "Spooning" now has a new name: "Forking."
I ventured out on a recent First Friday, looking for inspiration. I met my friend Cindy at MADE art boutique on the corner of Fifth and Roosevelt — the epicenter of cool downtown.
We hit up Conspire (Fifth and Garfield streets) for a killer iced latte and roamed streets overflowing with every type of freak that Phoenix has to offer. The colorful bazaar of vendor booths gave way to a pulsating throng of folks with large, tribal-style instruments. In the eye of this human hurricane I saw four figures weaving and dodging, shadowing each other in a sensual and physical way. I was intrigued and asked Cindy over the thumping beat what the hell was going on.
She looked at me, surprised, and said, "It's capoeira, it's a form of Brazilian dancing — a mix between martial arts games and music." WTF? I told her I drank enough caipirinha once to move like that.
I had to laugh about the dancing. I mean, it was cool and sexy and all but, ultimately, I found it funny what people do to get laid. Yes, I'm reducing all the dancing and art as nothing more than an attempt to hook up. Maybe it's my skewed view, but it goes along with this column; people do things like cook and make art and dance not just because they love it, but because it will get them some sexy time.
As I thought about the dancing, I thought about the cheesy line "Dance like no one's watching." I hate that quote almost as much as I hate the people who use it. Whoever thought of that line can't fucking dance. Anyone who can dance worth a damn surely tries his or her best to look good for others watching — shit, everyone is watching! I guarantee all those mediocre capoeira dancers with killer bodies weren't dancing "like no one's watching."
Okay, this is going somewhere . . . I always cook like someone is watching. Cooking can be a dance, in its way, from the kitchen to the fridge to the stove. Cooking is a sensual dance, a creative performance, and if done right, it can get you laid. Towel over shoulder, flare of the flashing knife, date at the table watching you — get it?
Along these lines, I can't help but think of salsa. I'm talking about the food and the dance, and both work for getting into the bedroom. I, for one, can't dance and have even tried lessons. For example, I was in Chicago last summer for a wedding. It was the night before the wedding and, after four martinis, I was told by my buddy's wife/Zumba instructor that she could teach me some moves. I took her up on the offer.
For the record, four martinis will make you dance like no one's watching.
After another martini and almost ending up in the laps of a couple at a neighboring table, I figured out the "figure-8 hip swivel" — but that was about it. Lucky for me, Steph is a charismatic beauty of supermodel proportions. It wouldn't have mattered if I'd had one arm and the dangling cock of a walrus, because all eyes were watching Steph, not me. She stopped the lesson before I permanently injured myself or someone else.
I bring up the Chicago dancing story because the main component of the dance I was learning was salsa. If you can't get a girl by dancing, then create some salsa in the kitchen. I usually throw together a fresh mango salsa with fish or chicken, especially because it's so refreshing during the summer. It consists of fresh diced mango, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, onions, jalapeño, and lime juice.
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Mango salsa is beautiful and easy to prepare. Once, while under the influence of powerful mushrooms, I held a gorgeous mango in my hand at a grocery store and cried over its unique beauty. Yes, that was the psilocybin talking, but I'm still in awe at a mango's beauty. (BTW, if on mushrooms at the grocery store, check out the laundry detergent aisle. Trust me on this: The colors are amazing.)
Instead of inviting a date over and saying, "We're having grilled chicken and rice," tell her you're going to make grilled chicken and rice with a fresh mango salsa. She'll be dancing in anticipation.
I did end up dancing at that wedding in Chicago, and my date wasn't too happy with me by the end of the night. I had downed my fair share of bitter Presbyterians (bourbon and soda with a splash of bitters) at the bar and then tried to dance the salsa I had just learned, but it probably looked more like I was air-humping myself. Out of frustration, I took off my pants and tried some breakdancing moves. Needless to say, I went home alone.
So if you dance anything like me, make mango salsa. Maybe your date will take your pants off for you.