Three months of Zoom

It all started for our family on Friday, March 13. We should have known by the date that something ominous was happening. It was the “clopening,” the opening and closing of A Wonderful World, Miami New Drama’s spring production where I am an usher. After two weeks in previews, we finally reached opening night only to close because of the quickly spreading novel coronavirus and impending shelter-in-place, stay-at-home isolation.

A Wonderful World - A World Premiere Musical About Louis Armstrong ...

Quickly, so many institutions rallied their forces and transformed some of their operations to on-line platforms. The variety is endless. I know I’ve only taken advantage of the tip of the iceberg from exercise, lectures, films, performances, cooking, and more. I’ve steered away from the busman’s holiday, virtual exhibits; I find the few that I’ve skimmed through to be superficial and slapdash. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve enjoyed, what I learned from, and how I and the members of the household have reached outside of the walls of our home without wearing masks.

Miami New Drama offered their MasterMind series, free online sessions with award-winning artists, many of whom were associated with the ill-fated Wonderful World. The author, director, set designers, and some of the actors speak about their work. All sessions are archived at http://www.colonymb.org/post/mastermind-archival.

MasterMiND Class - Writing

Local history has been provided thanks to our shuttered history museum and the Jewish Museum of Florida. HistoryMiami’s history savant Paul George lectures on the museum’s on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pg/HistoryMiami360/videos/ along with all sorts of other interesting programs (too bad he did not master the medium and add photos). Once the audience was hooked, however, fees were added to the programs. The Jewish Museum’s engaging walking tour guide, Howard Brayer, posted a few of his walks virtually, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=926EAAmHw40, for all that want to learn about our Jewish history.

Films, another escape … The Miami Jewish Film Festival posted several weeks of shorts on their website and two new documentary films (Seders and Cigars and Mamaliga Blues) and interviews with film makers, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCblasrKpeMmr5FO1jpSvMbg/featured. Constant Companion even joined me for Mamaliga Blues. I tried to watch only a few every day to avoid sensory overload.

Miami Jewish Film Festival launching streaming platform - South ...

I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed films posted by New York’s Korean Cultural Foundation, http://www.koreanculture.org/films/kmovieathome. If you read this, they are up only until the end of June. Despite his reticence, Constant Companion really enjoyed the historical movie The Throne, thrilling.

Food … Lots of food on-line. I’ll share more in upcoming posts as I try out some recipes .

A while ago, I found and subscribed to the Culinary Historians of Chicago, , and received notices of their monthly meetings in far-away Chicago, https://culinaryhistorians.org/. For the past few months, they meet virtually and it’s been so very interesting. The first lecture was a talk about potatoes, yes potatoes, by Raghavan Iyer, author of Smashed, Mashed, Boiled and Baked. What an interesting presentation. This week Cynthia Clampitt’s presented the intertwined history of rum, including a sampling of recipes using rum; I enjoyed a tot of Flor de Cana while listening. https://www.facebook.com/CulinaryHistoriansOfChicago/videos/675519189969023/. What a great group to be part of, thanks to them.

The shuttered Betsy Hotel on South Beach extended their reach with a Culinary Series, https://www.thebetsyhotel.com/journal/the-betsy-culinary-series (all programs are posted). This is one series that Constant Companion does not miss; we enjoyed their frequent literary salons with artists-in-residence in days past. The first “field trip” we joined was with Chef Andrew Zarzosa to Harpke Family Farm, a local supplier of fresh produce, very interesting to learn about their growing philosophy and practices of this local enterprise. Next was an exploration of Pommery Champagne, the Betsy’s house champagne. Sarah Tritant hosted this lesson about champagne production.

From France we were taken to northern Spain to learn about the production of Bodegas Emilio Moro. It’s really interesting to learn how so many wine makers have taken on social responsibility in the real face of climate change.

The most recent Betsy Culinary program was by Michael Ortiz, the founder and owner of JoJo Tea, a local company. He explained the history and cult of fine teas. I have enjoyed many of their herbal infusions at programs I’ve attended in person at the Betsy in times past …

Along with these interesting, informative online programs, I’ve immersed myself in Jewish learning. Temple Emanu_El Streicker Center’s amazing series of programs covers a wide variety of topics, https://www.emanuelnyc.org/streickercenter/video-library/. One of them featured Israeli-American chef du jour, Michael Solomonov, in his Philadelphia kitchen. I have yet to try his Yeminite Beef Soup. Solomonov and a number of the chefs, have generously appeared repeatedly in the other online series.

Two other organizations that include cooking demonstrations in their zoom programs are The Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood’s Sephardic Digital Academy, https://www.sephardicbrotherhood.com/sephardicdigitalacademy and Harif Lockdown Lectures, http://harif.org/. In the first one, Washington, D.C.-based writer Susan Barocas has hosted a few demonstrations of unique Sephardic food traditions. Harif, which focuses on a variety of topics on Jews primarily from Arab lands, recently hosted a mouthwatering demo of Iraqi Jewish food traditions with author and artist Linda Dangoor.

Two notable food programs were the Great Big Jewish Food Fest, a ten-day digital food fest, https://www.jewishfoodfest.org/archives, and A Seat at the Table, A Journey into Jewish Food. The latter was a seven week course organized by the YIVO in New York (https://learnonline.yivo.org/courses, might be available on-line). I’ll be sharing more about what I learned and cooked from these programs.

Funny, I was wondering this past week of isolation (I do get out for the weekly food foraging) why my hips were creaking and stiff. Perhaps, I am spending too much time in front of the compooper. But it’s all been so much more enjoyable than the pabulum of reruns on tv.

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