Happy Sunday with grilled salchicha, kielbasa, potatoes and veggies alla Maria W.

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon and Happy Sunday. Yesterday we confided to you that we were hoping to serve a delicious soup to our crew that we had prepared in the morning. Fat chance. They demanded a loaded sandwich for a TV dinner. Today the weather was sunny in the morning but the weather progressively degraded into dampness and obscurity. -“How about if we have that soup?” we said to the gang. “Forget it, Dad…Fix us something to lift our spirits.” Alas.

There fore we decided to use some salchicha parrillera (a long, thin strand of chorizo that gets coiled for the grill) and garlic smoked kielbasa that we had purposefully saved for a time when we had to boost our family’s morale. First of all we grilled the potatoes and sweet potatoes in the Nuwave Air Fryer (a great acquisition indeed) Look.

After 15 minutes of cooking at medium-high temperature, we took them out and laid the cut carrots and ginger.

After 8 minutes at the same temperature, we added the onions and peppers to complete a cycle of 15 minutes.

After the sides, it was time for the big boys at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius for aprox.10 minutes. One of the more contested issues in barbecue grilling in the River Plate is whether you should pinch the sausages halfway through the grilling to let the juice drain out and have a more “dry”, “less greasy” product or not. We do.

After we finished grilling, we set everything aside and we start to prepare the cheese sauce. This is our seasoning.

As you can see we did not include the salt. Why? Because the cheese has enough salt to impregnate the whole dish. If you add it along the way, the dish will reek of the marshy salt-waters where they collect the product. No good.

Maybe you are wondering why we dubbed this sauce alla Maria W. Are you? Well, it is in honor of a gorgeous Polish girl that I loved madly in my youth and, sadly, I never dared to tell her about my feelings. A lost opportunity.

After shedding a few tears for Maria W. (buh…buh) we will put all this together in a Pyrex glass container. Voilà!

Do you think that Maria W. might have liked it? Well, it might serve as a consolation of sorts for my broken heart…

Smacznego!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

The best transgressions always come au pair

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good evening. After a long, productive day, writing at our desk, we decided to prepare some supper for the crew. Honestly, we were hoping that they would be satisfied with the delicious soup that we prepared in the morning. Moreover, we had already made a transgression with the loaded burgers we had prepared earlier. Remember them?

But Life is never quite that easy, isn’t it? They adamantly refused to even consider it and demanded a nice TV snack.

Therefore we prepared these sandwiches of River Plate-inspired veal scalopini (milanesas) with plenty of veggies, ham and mozzarella cheese in a freshly baked loaf of peasant’s bread (we can’t escape our down-to-Earth origins)

However, we have a terrible doubt that gnaws at our self-confidence…Do you think they’ll like these contents, eh?

Ladies and gentlemen, dinner is served in front of the TV for a change. Let’s watch Tehran on Apple TV together.

Bon apétit!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Symbology in Tarot –  Movement, Subconscious and Collective Memory

As we have already discussed in our previous article titled Introduction to Tarot, the traditional deck is divided into two types of cards, which are basically different:

  1. Major Arcana: these special cards represent the major milestones and critical junctions of our life cycle: birth, education, work, love, death, etc.
  2. Minor Arcana: these cards represent the multiple vicissitudes in our lives.

In this article, before we address the significance of the combinations, we would like to discuss some basic concepts, which are of critical importance for novices like us. Let us first recommend the excellent book Truly Easy Tarot by Mantis, which has clarified many concepts and turned out to be a springboard in our Mystical Quest. The Major Arcana are the trump cards of a tarot pack and they were initially used in the 17th century as a special deck for gambling. There are 22 of these in a traditional 78-card pack; they are numbered with Roman numerals from 0 to 21. Each one depicts a scene with one or more individuals, with a clearly defined symbology.

According to the experts, each trump card has a divine interpretation, which appears to the sensitive individual when it is laid on the table in a straightforward manner. However, when the cards show up inverted, it means that the particular feature alluded by the symbology is, at the present time, “blocked” or “restrained” in that life. Some experts never read in the reverse mode, but others consider that reading to be highly complementary in our lives, similar to the Ying and Yang of the I Ching. The concept of matching of the opposites is fundamental to our understanding of it.

The flourishing of esoteric endeavors and secret societies in 19th century Europe did propel Tarot to a greater diffusion in the popular classes and its use as a divination tool. But there was a pioneer in Psychology that valued it as a good tool to explore the tenebrous depths of our Subconscious and Collective Memory. According to Mary K. Greer, Karl Jung said in a 1933 lecture that the Tarot deck was “really the origin of our pack of cards, in which the red and black symbolize the opposites, and the division of the four—clubs, spades, diamonds and hearts—also belongs to the individual symbolism.” He believed that the different combinations of scenes are in fact archetypal ideas related to “the playful development of mankind.” He daringly claimed that if we understand how we evolved from our past (collective and personal) into our present coordinates, we might be able to “grasp the flow of life” and, hopefully, predict part of our future. He instructed his pupils to study esoteric disciplines but warned them to approach them, not with the arrogance of the Cartesian discourse, but with the raw intuition that our ancestors used to great advantage in those dangerous times in dark caves.

We would like to humbly recommend two tactics that have eased our learning process of Tarot. They are:

  1. The importance of Movement in the interpretation of the combinations.
  2. We should tap into our Subconscious and Collective Memory.

Movement

For many, many years we have cavalierly disdained Tarot in general because, as a physician long trained in scientific certainty and aversion to quackery, we suspected that, besides any intrinsic values, it had been used by charlatans to reap easy money. Indeed it has, and still is, manipulated by callous individuals that prey on innocents. However, the preparation of this blogging series—the necessary scaffolding for a book—prodded us to seriously tackle all these esoteric activities with an open mind.

The various combinations of the deck can be considered as a snapshot of an ongoing motion in the life of an individual (or a group of them) that started in the past, arrives at our present and will project into the future. The Major Arcana cards depict a scene where someone is doing something or being the subject of somebody else’s actions. Let’s look at the example of Card Number 0 The Fool. What is he doing? Find the meaning of movement.

He is a young man that, holding a walking stick with a small knapsack in his right hand and a white rose symbolizing innocence in his left one, is perilously standing at the edge of the precipice, with the company of a loyal little dog. Is it warning him of great danger if he makes another move forward? Or is it perhaps pushing him to quickly grab the big opportunity he has been waiting for? The answer is that both interpretations can be valid at some time.

The Upright Wisdom interprets the appearance of this card as a signal of a new start, in the labor, professional, financial, family or love realms; it also implies that the individual must take a leap of faith if he/she/ihr wants to have a radical change.

The Wisdom in Reverse interprets it as warning to pause in a specific endeavor or relationship. Danger lies eerily ahead, and the individual must re-evaluate options. If the individual stubbornly insists on moving forward, dire consequences will come.

Are you slowly getting the drift of what we are, perhaps rather clumsily, trying to convey in our words?

Subconscious and Collective Memory

Since we sought refuge in those dark caves in the beginning of Mankind’s presence on Planet Earth, we have cozied up to our loved ones besides a crackling fire and fallen asleep to give a necessary pause to our Conscious minds. That is precisely when the Subconscious takes over center stage in the theater of our lives to act upon. Slowly, we play past experiences, our present fears, our hidden traumas, our hopes. The Subconscious is the reservoir of all the experiences that are deemed to be part of the hidden human experience— good ones, bad ones, and the ones in between. Moreover, ever since we start our life in the depths of our dear mothers’ wombs, we are already receiving their filtrations. Every minute of our lives, we are hoarding many souvenirs and interpretations that we will readily re-transmit to our kindred, for better or worse. It is never a choice. We get them, like it or not…Can’t escape it.

In order to shut off the tremendous bombardment of noise and unsolicited messages that our excessively digitalized society throws at our senses, we must take a pause. After carefully looking at the cards laid on the table, we should close our eyes for a few seconds and seek the help of our Subconscious mind. Toc. Toc. Toc. Need help.

Take the necessary time to sit down at the majestic library of our accumulated Human Knowledge and calmly pore over the dusty manuscripts and manuals of the ones that preceded us. They are still talking to us through them. Then you may find some critical clues of what is happening today and, hopefully, what will happen tomorrow.

In the next installment of this series, we will start to analyze those scenes together. Do not panic. We can do this.

Note. The featured image is the painting Fortune teller by Albert Anker, 1880. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fortune_teller,_Albert_Anker,_1880.png

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Good day with a soup of potatoes, veggies, angel hair pasta and shredded cheese

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Today we woke up with the firm resolution to start our day like our ancestors had done at dawn in those humble dwellings in the mountains of the Basque Country, Piemonte and Campania: with a peasant’s soup. They had to get ready for an unusually long day ahead, toiling in the fields with almost no breaks, until the sunset. Their devoted wives made sure that they had enough calories in their bodies to fend off exhaustion and bitter cold. They fixed this minestrone with potatoes, veggies, angel hair pasta and shredded cheese. No meat (could not afford it)

Therefore we hit the kitchen and in less than half an hour we prepared this simple dish. It did help that we had some spare broth from a past Sunday’s cooking adventure (remember that potage?) So here it is, for your critique.

Is it thick enough to satisfy your yearning for some comfort food like you grandmother used to prepare you? In that case, please join us at our humble table for a good bowl of it. It is never too early for a good soup. Bon apétit!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

A little transgression now and then keeps us happy

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Today we woke up with an extremely acute syndrome of Transgression Now (have you ever felt those symptoms?) and we decided to forgo our traditional simple breakfast of some bread with a little cream cheese plus some fruits to really, really hit it hard in the kitchen, we decided to prepare the “perfect burger.” So this marvel of grilled burger plus onion, tomatoes, peppers, mozzarella cheese and a fried egg on top came into being.

Alas, as always, we have tried to encompass more with our eyes than our mouth could ever accept. Our dear father Mario always called us ojo grande, which translated literally into Spanish means “big eye”, referring to that habit of trying to hoard much more food on the plate than we could possible eat ( we always saved it for later in the fridge)

We ate only half of it and we washed it down with a lot of mate amargo: the other half went straight to the fridge. Moreover, we have to gracefully acknowledge the passage of time and include this “big-time eatery” in the long list of earthly pleasures that we have been obliged to give up: grilled meats, red wine and the company of fair women.

C’est la vie!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Thank you, Edgar Allan

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Today is the 171st anniversary of the untimely demise of one of the greatest writers and influencers of modern times, Edgar Allan Poe. He was born on January 19, 1809 to David and Eliza Poe in Boston; his father abandoned his family in 1810 and his mother passes away a year later. Orphaned, he was taken by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia, who never officially adopted him. He remained in their household until early youth. He first attended the University of Virginia and then the United States Army Cadet School in West Point. Due to his unrepentant gambling and drunkenness, he was expelled from West Point and started his full time literary career.

He is considered the father of the detective fiction genre and one of the pioneers of science fiction; he wrote poems, short stories, novels and his complete works fill the pages of five humongous volumes. In 1845 he published The Raven, which was an instant commercial success. He married Virginia Clemm, his younger cousin, in 1836 and they had a happy marriage until she passed away due to tuberculosis in 1846. He worked for several literary journals, which gave him the chance to live in New York City, Baltimore and Philadelphia. While he was planning his own literary journal, initially called The Penn and then The Stylus, he unexpectedly died of unknown causes on October 7, 1849, of unknown causes; he was found dead in a bench of a Baltimore city park. Mystery shrouded his departure.

Charles Baudelaire, another “écrivain maudit”, was a great enthusiast of his prose and he translated his works to the French language; Alberto Cortázar, the Argentine star of the New Latin American literature, was in charge of his translation into the Spanish language. His work influenced the popular culture in literature, music, films and TV. As a fiction writer, we are deeply indebted to the daring ideas and magisterial prose of this tortured and prolific writer.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

Inborn errors of Immunity determine lethality of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed the life of more than a million human beings worldwide and the terrible human, social, labor, and economic consequences have not abated at all, changing our daily lives forever. The clinical manifestations range from an innocuous “cold syndrome” to the grave respiratory cases; the infection fatality rate ranges from 0.1% to 0.9% and the risk factors seem to be old  age, being male and co-morbid conditions like hypertension and diabetes.

However some patients, including younger people that do not carry the risk factors, seem to be especially susceptible to the infection, which has baffled the clinicians. Considering that some other grave respiratory diseases like Influenza pneumonia were shown to prey on some clearly defined genetic abnormalities of humans, several scientists and clinicians from many countries have established a virtual space called the COVID Human Genetic Effort to test the hypothesis that the lethality of the SARS-CoV-2 virus might be enabled by monogenic inborn errors of immunity.

In an article recently published in Science, Quian Zang, from Rockefeller University in New York City, Paul Bastard, from the Necker Hospital for Sick Children in Paris, and a long list of collaborators, genetically tested 659 patients with life-threatening COVID-19 pneumonia to find out if they showed the “rare variants of loss-of-function (LOF) at the 13 human loci known to govern TLR-3 and IRF7-dependent type I interferon (IFN) immunity to influenza virus.” First the investigators tested the hypothesis that the same genetic abnormalities that determine the increased lethality of Influenza Pneumonia might have a similar effect in grave COVID-19. They recruited 659 patients—74.55men and 25,5% women, 13.9% of whom died—from various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, aged between one month and 99 years; they had all been hospitalized due to life-threatening pneumonia.

They initially studied three loci—TLR3(6), IRF7 (7), and IRF9 (8)—that had been already shown to be mutated in patients with symptoms of Influenza pneumonia. They also studied 10 loci that had shown mutations in other grave viral infections. “We showed that PHA-driven T-cell blasts (PHA=-T cells) from patients with AR or AD IRF7 deficiency had low levels of IRF7 expression. We then isolated circulating plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) from a patient with IRF7 deficiency. These cells were present in normal proportions, but they did produce any detectable type I or III IFNs in response to SARS-CoV-2…” They found a relatively higher importance of the deficiency in the type I IFN production compared to type III IFN. They found the presence of neutralizing auto-antibodies against type I, but not type III IFNs in other patients with life-threatening COVID-19 pneumonia. Their studies suggest that “there might be type I IFN-related genes in other patients with life-threatening COVID-19 pneumonia. They also suggest that the administration of type I IFN may be of therapeutic benefit in selected patients, at least early in the course of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

The tragic pandemic has spurred the creative imagination of thousands of scientists and clinicians across the world, which will bring innovative therapies to cure it. The addition of genetic based – therapies looks promising enough to foster their study.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Buona domenica con una pastaciutta alla Dotta Rossa

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

As we said in our previous article, we are preparing today a pasta with a mixed Bechamela-Pomodoro sauce, which we will dub as Dotta Rossa because the addition of meat (turkey in this case) qualifies it as a Bolognese sauce. You surely already know that the city of Bologna is known as “La Dotta” in Italy due to its prestigious university, which is the second oldest in the Western Hemisphere, after La Sorbonne in Paris. Moreover, for many decades. almost all the local administration was dominated by leftist parties, which added the “Rossa” (red) soubriquet to the name.

Very important concept – This simple utensil is perhaps the most important one for healthy cooking: the colander. Early on in our cooking adventures, we learned that many residues of cooking oil tend to accumulate in sautéeing. We try to use only olive oil , which has the lowest proportion of polyunsaturated fats (the good guys) However, after they reach the cooking point, all oils start to degrade and produce toxic residuals. Therefore, you must get rid of it.

The choice of turkey (tacchino in Italian) instead of beef was done because it has less calories with a lot of proteins. The first step is to cut all the veggies, including the ginger, on our cooking board and have it ready for sautéeing.  Put a dollop of olive oil on the skillet and dump the veggies; carefully stir the whole mixture with a wooden spoon.

In order to counteract the acidity of the juice coming out of onions, we recommend adding a little sugar or honey.

After the onions turn slightly brown, it is time to dump all the veggies on our loyal colander to drain the residues.

Now we repeat the same procedure with the minced turkey. This is the roster of seasoning we use. Little or no salt.

After putting a thin film of olive oil on the frying pan, we put the meat; we season it and stir with a wooden spoon.

Once it is well cooked, we repeat the same cleansing procedure with our loyal colander. Do not cut any corners!

Set aside the veggie and the turkey meat in different bowls and proceed to prepare the sauce. We already carefully explained how to prepare a Bechamel sauce (salsa blanca) in a previous article and we encourage you to review it. In order to jazz our sauce a little bit more, we added some of a dehydrated mix with four cheeses made in Argentina.

Don’t forget to grate a little bit of nutmeg on top of it (this is a Brazilian brand I love) which gives it a unique flavor.

Once the Bechamel sauce is ready (fluid and without any lumps) it is time to add the tomato sauce. Slowly!

Once you add the tomato sauce, you will have a white sauce “laced with red streaks”. Just like this picture shows.

Slowly whisk the mixture until you arrive at a nice, uniform pinkish color like this picture shows.

Once you feel confident that the sauce does not have any lumps, you can add the veggies, like this picture shows.

And finally it is time for the meat of the precious birds that fed those hardy Pilgrims in the harsh winter season.

You can add nuts on top of it; we chose to add shaved almonds. Do you like the looks of our Dotta Rossa sauce?

Now we will cook the pasta separately (always) and once it is ready, we will start layering everything on The Beast.

Note– There is nothing than enrages us so much than watching cooking TV programs and videos where the cook nonchalantly dumps all the elements of a pasta dish on the pan, without taking the time to use the colander. They claim it’s “the tradition.” Of course Italians used to cook like that. But thankfully, they (specially the ladies) are slowly changing their habits to take into consideration the toll that Atherosclerosis and Heart Disease take on their health. Altri tempi!

Now it is time to turn the heat at medium intensity and to prep the ball of Burrata by slicing it cross-like so it melts. Once the Burrata cheese melts and you mix everything well, turn the heat off and let it stand for a few minutes.

Ladies and gentlemen, dinner is served. Please join us at our humble table for a nice dish and plenty of chit chat.

Buon apetitto!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

La mejor Mamá del Mundo

Queridos lectores y compañeros blogeros:

Buenas tardes. Gracias a que tenemos una Mamá cariñosa, dedicada a su familia y emprendedora, hemos aprendido a desempeñarnos en forma independiente, incluyendo manejarnos bien en la cocina para prepar platos deliciosos. Desde Mar del Plata, María Tomasa (así se llama ella) sigue muy de cerca los detalles de nuestras vidas y nos cuida.

Gracias a tus enseñanzas, me acabo de preparar este plato de pollo saltado con vegetales y frijoles negros. Yumi!

Respuesta de Mamá enviada por Whatsapp – Felicitaciones, hijito querido. Me alegro que sigas nuestra tradición familiar de cocinar en casa los domingos y compartir una mesa con buena conversación y mucho afecto nuestro. Hoy preparé este rico y saludable risotto con muchos vegetales y lo muestro sobre uno de los manteles que bordé.

Muchas gracias Mamita querida por darnos la vida, cuidarnos con tanto amor y enseñarnos a ser personas de bien.

Muchos besos de parte de tus dos hijos que, a pesar de estar un poco lejos, te siguen adorando y extrañando mucho.

Muchas gracias Mamma querida!

 

 

Once a pirate, always a pirate

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. This picture was taken by my Dad when we were having lunch in a pit barbecue grill along the route that straddles the coast, between Mar del Plata and Miramar in Buenos Aires state, in 2000. My Mom found it recently and shared it with all of us, remembering those times together, even with the Social Distancing limitations.

I treasure that joyous pirate’s spirit to give enthusiasm and excitement to my present and future artistic endeavors. I am presently preparing my first stand-up comedy script, which I hope to share it with you, once the pandemic ends. Let us prepare our minds and spirits to go to the New World with a daring and imaginative predisposition to create.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.