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Picnics!

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By Chef Joey

(editor’s note: yum yums pictured here made or grown and photographed by Chef Joey!)

Spring is finally here and, after the thaw, our thoughts race to outdoor activities. Of course, like holiday-time, many of those activities revolve around food.

If you go to a park, most likely there is grilling apparatus, and food can be cooked there.  Not always the case, the modern day cooler replaces the romantic baskets set in many a turn of the century paintings.

So who really started this picnicking tradition?

Well, it appears to be the French again!  The original concept was each person brought a food contribution to the meal.  Sort of our “Pot Luck” meals when everyone contributes.  Over time, it shifted to outdoors, and nowadays thanks to the 1950s and “Pick nick Tables” we tend to accept it as a casual meal outdoors, preferably in a pastoral setting vs the way it was originally planned in the 1700s as an indoor dinner provided by everyone.

Modern picnics are usually prepared by one person, and that’s a given; what matters now is the food needs to be eaten outdoors.

The word picnic first appeared in English in a letter of the Gallicized Lord Chesterfield in 1748 (OED), who associates it with card-playing, drinking and conversation, and may have entered the English language from this French word “Pique” which translates to pick – the Niqué part is probably a sing song rhyme to go with “Pique.” The practice of an elegant al fresco meal, rather than a farmer’s or “field worker’s” dinner while harvesting, and it was also connected with respite from hunting from the Middle Ages.

Some picnics are still potluck, with each person contributing from an organized list a dish to a common table for all to enjoy.

When the picnic is not also a cookout, the food eaten is rarely hot, instead taking the form of  sandwiches, easy finger food, fresh fruit, salad, cold meats and accompanied by the romantic chilled wine or champagne _ and for the young ones – soft drinks.

We are blessed with a plethora of pre-made, easy to scramble foods that can be tossed into a cooler or basket and so the fun begins! When I was younger man, we would get cheese, fresh Baguettes, tomatoes, and roasted chickens at the open market.  We then took the boat from Cannes to the Îles de Lérins (Islands of Lerins, namely St Marguerite –  home to the count of Monte Christo and the Man in the Iron Mask).  We would walk on this pedestrian Island to our vista point and have our lunch, swim and relax.  There was a group of us and it never grew old.

Now, an older man, I require a proper folding seat and a table, or some raised surface to eat at so I can potentially get up and walk off my lunch! The idea is still there and the concept has moved to “Tail Gating” and other festivities for many others out there. 

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Good bread makes for good picnicking!

So what is the recipe for a wonderful picnic?  None. This is your own creative self that takes what you like, your partner or guests like, and surprise everyone with a nifty meal that once it is eaten, can be discarded easily.  Zip lock bags are a wonder for this.  Small ones filled with condiments can have a tiny snip in the corner to dispense on the food items, such as Dijon Mustard on a pre-portioned roasted chicken.  Pre grilled Ham steaks are great.  Simple Hummus, Baba Ghanoosh

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Fresh herbs are a delight in sauces!

Tabbouleh all work great and transport well. Cheese and crackers are awesome sides, deluxe mixed nuts, trail mix and Yogurt all equal to a great time!

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Dessert, anyone? (Deluxe trail mix may “travel” more easily in your picnic sack!)

We love it when you love us!

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This lovely lady at George’s Middle Eastern Bakery on Grafton Street couldn’t wait to grab her new issue of InCity Times yesterday. She said she makes sure to pick up EVERY ISSUE of ICT at George’s! Every issue!!

It blows me away to see – after 14 years! –  your undying enthusiasm for my rag! WOW. Thank you for making us a part of your lives!   – R. Tirella

May Day Worcester – 2015

By Gordon Davis (photos by Bill Coleman)

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The Worcester Community Labor Coalition held May Day on the steps of the old Worcester Auditorium (AUD) yesterday, May 1.

The organizers said the celebration of the International Workers’ Day was intended to ensure good jobs for the City of Worcester.

More than 50 groups endorsed the event, including Local 107 of the Carpenters Union, Neighbor to Neighbor, EPOCA, CUC WUAG, NAACP, Progressive Labor Party, Socialist Alternative and Stone Soup.

There were about 200 people of all races, ages and affiliations. Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, Worcester City Councillor Sarai Rivera, State Representative Dan Donahue and State Representative Mary Keefe attended the rally.

There were 15 speakers.  Gloria from Neighbor to Neighbor spoke of the need for jobs for immigrants. Cassandra from EPOCA spoke of the need for jobs for ex prisoners. Nick from CUC spoke of the history of May Day and the connection of racism and sexism to unemployment.

A Clark University student said he and other Clark students were chanting before the rally about police brutality from Ferguson to Worcester. He said one of the union organizers told the group to stop the chant. He, according to the Clark student, said the issues of jobs and police brutality were not connected.  There was some disagreement on this issue, as a few people at the rally held signs saying “Jobs – Yes, Racists cops – No!”

The organizers of the rally hoped the event would put pressure on city officials to make sure the jobs created by the former Worcester County Court House project would go to Worcester workers.

From Baltimore to Worcester

Text and photos by Gordon Davis

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This week a coalition of Worcester State University and Clark University students, local residents and others held a rally and march in solidarity with the people in Baltimore who are protesting the killing of Freddie Gray by the Baltimore police.

Rally at WSU

The day started for one of the organizers when at 8:30 AM the principal of May Street School called. The principal was concerned that the rally at Worcester State would somehow be disruptive.  The rally, which stated at 2 PM at Worcester State University, was covered by the media which also wanted to know about any disruption that would take place. The organizer s assured everyone that no disruption was planned.

A small crowd of about fifteen people stood with signs reading “Black (all) Lives Matter.” Nick, one of the organizers talked about how racism must end and of solidarity with the protests in Baltimore. He reminded the group that the event was to be non violent.

The group then marched down May Street to Park Ave. and met up with about twenty more people, seemingly from Clark University. The enlarged group then marched down Park Ave. chanting slogans such as “No justice, no peace, no racist police!”

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Upon reaching Elm Park, at the corner of Park Ave. and Highland St., the protesters displayed their signs to the heavy traffic which travels that intersection around 3 PM on a week day. About ten more protesters were waiting in the park and joined the group.

Some of the passing motorists were supportive and waved or sounded their horns. A couple of motorists were annoyed. Most of the drivers did not express any explicit interest.

The Worcester City Council meeting of the previous night was condemned by one of the speaker who chanted “City Council, you can’t hide; we charge you with genocide!”

The rally broke up around 3:45 PM. Some of the protesters said that they intended to go and support the anti-police brutality rally in Boston at 6 PM.

Hooray for our Piedmont kids!!!!!!!

This winter we asked for a play scape to be built on the empty, ugly cement lot of a school yard behind Chandler Elementary School, on Chandler Street, in Piedmont. Piedmont is as urban as our Worcester neighborhoods come. The neighborhood kids who attend Chandler are poor, cut off from so many experiences and opportunities our West Side kids take for granted. LIKE TREES, FLOWERS, GREEN SPACE, HUGE BACKYARDS, PLACES TO RUN AND PLAY AND FEEL FREE AND SAFE! Just look at their school yard (below – I took the pic this past winter)!!!

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Well, I wrote about it, and we got results: Brandy new slides, soft mulch, repaved school yard … .

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 Hopefully, this is just the beginning, and we’ll see some additions: A few benches around that play scape for parents so they can chat together while watching their kids play, flower beds for the kids so they can see something beautiful grow day by day (like them!), another slide or two because there are a ton of children in the neighborhood, and a basketball hoop or two for the teens. Maybe a picnic table or two so people can enjoy meals and snacks outdoors – so many Piedmont families live in three deckers with crappy/no yards and don’t have the $$ to buy a cool, old fashioned, stained, wooden picnic table of their own. I love a cool, old fashioned, stained, wooden picnic table! Don’t you?

It’s a really big school yard! All of the above can fit into that space!!

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BUT FOR TODAY: I say, THANK YOU, Worcester Mayor Joe Petty and Worcester School Committee member Brian O’Connell for caring about our littlest citizens! Making it happen for Piedmont kids this spring was the cool and COMPASSIONATE thing to do! 

– Rosalie Tirella

The dilemma (or: the pizza kids)

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By Rosalie Tirella

There they were – no taller than my waist, together weighing around 70 lbs – standing on the sidewalk outside a busy pizza joint that’s located on one of Worcester’s craziest streets. The cutest, teeniest brother and sister team this side of our Blackstone River!

He was maybe 6 years old. She was pushing 4.

Holding hands, walking with small baby steps, they made their way to this pizza parlor jammed into this inner-city neighborhood, cars whoosh-whoosing by, big kids loping by. Purposefully. Like they were on a mission.

Customers boomed in and out of the pizza joint, the entrance  door swinging open and shut fast and hard. A screen door slammed shut on the first floor of the three decker next door. A car screeched as it turned a nearby corner without slowing down much … Chaotic city scape for this duo? No way! They made their way to the pizza joint swinging!! their clasped hands, the little girl smiling to beat the band, as if she could not physically contain all her happiness.

The brother, a little black boy, was wearing jeans and tee shirt, but his sister, a little black girl, stole the show in the teeniest pink leggings and a shirt covered in pink lady bugs. Her little sneakers had those twinkly red lights that flash on and off as you walk.  Adorable pink plastic barrettes were set at the end of her corn rows. The children were both skinny.

I was in my car with Jett, getting my ICTs ready to deliver inside the pizza parlor, when I looked up to see the kids walking by my parked vehicle and panicked.

They were so small! So young! And there was no accompanying adult or older sibling in sight! I’m all over Worcester’s neighborhoods and I HAD NEVER SEEN SUCH BLATANT VULNERABILITY. My heart aches when I see the dads walking across Chandler Street, holding the hand of their four year old but walking so fast that the child is running behind dad to keep up. The traffic is brutal. Everyone’s on their horn. Sometimes you’ll see the little kid clap his free hand over one of his ears. And the trusting/fearful look that the children rivet onto their distracted dads as they are being half dragged to the Family Health Center or Chandler Elementary School ….

But these two babes were happy! Serene almost! To me they seemed a throwback to the 1950s or maybe the subjects of a nostalgic/ idealized Norman Rockwell painting. The boy held his little sisters hand the entire trek. He stopped once to pull  his little wallet out of his pants back pocket, letting his sister’s hand drop for a few seconds. He looked as if he were checking for money. Satisfied, he took his sister’s hand again and they continued. While her big brother checked his wallet, little sis stood next to him, watching his every move, a look of shy, happy pride on her pretty face. Once in impatience she shook one of her teeny pink little legs out, as if to say Come On!!! But she never said a word … didn’t whine … didn’t pester her big brother.  She waited quietly, patiently. He was in charge. Of her! She trusted him implicitly! 

I opened my car door so I could rush out and shepherd them to safety … but then I remembered: Several years ago, in another Worcester neighborhood, I saw four little boys playing together. One of the boys, 12 or so, grabbed his little brother, about 6, and threw him into the trunk of their father’s car and slammed the rear hood down good and tight.

I ran out of my flat and said: Let him out! He can suffocate in there!

The boys let him out … and I got a tongue lashing from my landlord who later said the boy’s dad had called him, enraged, ENRAGED!, that I had been so bold as to stick my nose where it didn’t belong … parent his kid! Don’t ever do that again! my landlord said. He’s not your son!

Gone are the days where we adults all felt (and on many levels WERE) responsible for all the children of our community and, acting as responsible, smart adults, we could intervene when kids were in trouble.

Today parents will sue you if you intervene on their kid’s behalf! Or sock you! You’ll be called a racist!  You’ll be called an interloper!  No matter what you see, no matter how dysfunctional that family may be. You’ll be called judgmental, or worse, culturally insensitive.  Mean and rotten things can happen to a kid – or an adult – and the behavior is given a pass these days … What bull shit.

So I stopped short and waited for a parent or older sibling to arrive at the scene.

No one ever showed.

As I sat there in my car I came to this conclusion: THE ADULTS IN THESE TWO INNOCENT BABIES’ LIVES SENT THEM TO PICK UP A PIZZA ORDER. FOR THEM! … IT’S CHEAPER THAN DELIVERY!

I debated whether or not to call the police.

What if someone molests them? I thought. What if someone kidnaps THEM?!

But I didn’t make the call because then I’d be accused of over reacting. A  hysterical white lady, probably racist, to boot!

So I sat in my car and waited and waited and waited and watched in agony. I tried to watch over the teeny ones from my car, like God up in heaven. I was closer to them than God, being here on earth, in Worcester. He could do his work through me …

But no one ever came to be with them. No one hurt them either. The brother, stretching to the door handle, opened the pizza parlor door for his sister. She sidled in, her eyes wide with anticipation! PIZZA!! Her brother followed her.

Then they were gone.

This Saturday! May 2! Downtown Worcester comes alive!

CAM00180InCity Times editor Rosalie T. will be there with her pink camera and red hair! (Pic taken a few days ago, after a not-so-successful home dye job!) Rose would love to bring Jett, her beloved husky mix, to the festivities, but dogs aren’t allowed on the Worcester Common. They’re not allowed in our city parks … Hey! What happened to the city DOG PARK we were all talking about last fall? The issue was to be STUDIED – ha ha – and revisited in February, after city officials chewed the canine cud yet again!  Come on, Worcester! We’ve been talking the dog park issue to death for 10 years! Easier to get a civilian review board for the WPD in this town!

Nonetheless, Rose may try to sneak her bratty little Jett-ski into the celebration. It’ll be a disaster, she just knows it …

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Spring onto the Worcester Common!

This Saturday, May 2

noon to 3 pm

FREE!

The Worcester Common will host the 1st Annual Spring onto the Common!

… to prepare everyone for warm weather and healthy living!

on the Worcester Common Oval, behind Worcester City Hall, Main Street

Join the City of Worcester, City Manager Ed Augustus and dozens of local organizations on the Worcester Common for a day of springtime fun!

Bring the kids and let’s celebrate everything spring, with garden demonstrations … plant swaps, scavenger hunts for kids, composting demonstrations, tree plantings, giveaways and more!

KWC!

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Keep Worcester Clean!

If you see mattresses, TV’s, sofas, garbage, etc dumped in our neighborhoods, like I did earlier in the week (garbage pictured above), call:

City of Worcester Complaint Line  508-929-1300.

Report the trash, they will give you a record/ ticket number. If trash isn’t picked up in a few days, call again and tell the clerk you have seen ZERO results and give her/him your ticket number!

If there is still no improvement, call your city councilor and ASK THAT THE TRASH BE REMOVED because it makes Worcester dumpsville in springtime. (I called Worcester Mayor Joe Petty.)     – R. T.