Magical Realism : A Comparison of Gabriel Garcia Marquez + Carmen Naranjo

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An impossible experience is had by all of the women in a village, they are certain to be pregnant at the exact same time.  Unbelievably, even Old Lady Refugio, grandmother to seventy-five grandchildren and young women, “some of them almost children” join them in this astonishing reality (Narnajo 96). Ordinary village life is transformed with the arrival of a teacher and a farm worker in Carmen Naranjo’s short story “When New Flowers Bloom”.  Written over thirty years after One Hundred Years of Solitude, this work of fiction has strong similarities to the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and winks at a segment of the famous novel’s chapter three. In this chapter, following the arrival of a mysterious child, another unexplained medical condition plagues the population of Macondo, insomnia. In both narrations, societal change and the introduction of a new character(s) disrupts the lives of traditional, isolated towns and magical outcomes are felt by all.

The small town of Macondo, submitted to us by Marquez is still in its infancy but shows signs of modernization. Town founder and patriarch, José Buendía, has installed mechanized clocks, the town has zinc roofs and wife, Ursúla, has adopted the artisan craft of candy making for profit. The primitive agricultural town that Naranjo writes about has also seen their share of changes. Young people have emigrated in search of work and mostly elders remain, “Some had stayed: the old ones, old grandparents and great-grandparents a couple of great-great-grandmothers totally committed to God, and the parents who were aged prematurely and disconnectedly by the accelerated changes of the telegraph, the telephone, radio, and television” (Naranjo 92-93). Both towns weighed down with tradition and routine welcome new members to their societies who unknowingly thrust them out of their comfort zones. 

The tone and language used by the writers to describe the newcomers hints at the effects they will have on the villages.Rebecca’s arrival is predicted by Buendía son, Aureliano.  Her introduction to Macondo is mysterious – the child of an unknown, distant relative, she is surrendered to the care of the Buendía family.  She has “greenish skin”, eats dirt, doesn’t sleep and is accompanied by a bag of bones belonging to her deceased parents. Her strangeness borders dark magic or a bad omen, hauling bones around a town that has not yet experienced death (Marquez 45). Rebecca’s entrance is confusing, clouded by death and unusual habits.

  In Naranjo’s story, young teacher, Eugenia Maria and José Luis’s arrival is prophesied by the mountain: “And in the summer two very young and ingenuous people will come; however, you’ll never have such an incredible opportunity to rely on such excellent teachers, who will teach you what had been forgotten a long time ago and its necessary to remember so that new flowers can bloom” (Naranjo 92).  The lovers installation into Naranjo’s town is presented as an opportunity quite literally perfumed by flowers.

The entire town and the nature that surrounds them becomes influenced by the youthful and passionate love that this new couple shares. “For them the birds were singing, the flowers open, the eucalyptus perfumed, and the day and night began, the clouds filmed a chalky white, the twilights lengthened” (Naranjo 94). The people become obsessed with the displays of love they witness and strange things begin to occur, “The potatoes tasted like yams, the yams like papaya, the papaya like turnips and the turnips like tomatoes, the coffee bean while it was still green smelled of orange blossoms, daisies bloomed from the rosebushes, gladiolus from tulips and bougainvilleas from the Lillies” (Naranjo 95). Disoriented by bizarre flavors and intoxicating flowers the town blossoms “with true passion after years and years of dormancy” (Naranjo 94).

The mountain’s prophecy of new blooms is fulfilled with the arrival of new flowers and a town full of baffling pregnancies.

Rebecca, now adopted by the Buendía family is diagnosed with the Insomnia Plague, “…the Indian woman explained that the most fearsome part of the sickness of insomnia was not the impossibility of sleeping, for the body did no feel any fatigue at all, but it’s inexorable evolution toward a more critical manifestation; a loss of memory” (Marquez 48). Three days later, the entire family contracts the illness. They begin to “dream on their feet” and hallucinate images of deceased visitors. Macondo, becomes infected by candy made in the Buendía home and embraces their new reality. “No one was alarmed at first. On the contrary, they were happy at not sleeping because there was so much to do in Macondo in those days that there was barely enough time. They worked so hard that soon they had nothing else to do…” (Marquez 50). Macondo uses these endless waking hours to improve the town and their relationships. 

Both towns under a magical influence are infected with new ideas about life and how they spend their time.  Accepting these new conditions without alarm, the societies experience an awakening and transformation. The future is inevitably affected and life cannot return to what it once was. The young Buendía family member and the unborn babies of the mountain town represent the arrival of a new generation for these villages. There is a veiled message about the responsibilities and anxieties that come with parenthood and fresh beginnings.

In Naranjo’s aging mountain town, the elderly realize that their time for romantic passion and carnal love has not expired. As a consequence of this renewed interest in lovemaking, the aging town now becomes too busy caring for babies to notice that the couple and the flowers have disappeared.  After being challenged to accept what would ordinarily be biologically impossible, this god-fearing town must impart understanding for the unwed mothers in this new chapter of town life. 

In Macondo, facing memory loss as a symptom of the insomnia plague, they must label absolutely everything in order to preserve their names/designations. At the founding of this town “The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point (Marquez 1)”. Macondo’s impending memory loss has made it feasible that they could again live in a world without names/labels for the things around them if they do not act fast with the classification of every item in town. 

Naranjo writes “She left as if shutting a door, he as if opening one” (Naranjo 96) The two lovers in the mountain town inspired change but also surrendered to it in their own relationship when their relationship had run its course. All of these outcomes remind me of the life cycle, the temporariness of seasons and our adaptive human spirit. Both towns collective consciousness is challenged and they can either embrace these modern realities or deteriorate into their original state. Change is inevitable and the towns will continually open and shut doors to new chapters allowing themselves to be injected with new life/new ideas that will alter the rituals and motivations in their lives, forever and ever. 

Work Cited 

García, Márquez G. One Hundred Years of Solitude. New York : HarperCollins, 1998. 

Naranjo, Carmen. “When New Flowers Bloom”. Sudden Fiction Latino: Short Stories from the United States and Latin America. Edited by Robert Shapard, James Thomas & Ray Gonzalez. W.W.Norton & Co, 2010, pp 91-97.

Love Songs & Gender Norms

Essay, journal, Uncategorized, Writing Samples

Darwin observed that songs originated as a tool for courtship for birds and noted that

“Love is still the commonest theme of our songs,”

A societies shared values and rules of behavior (culture) are often expressed in popular music, especially in songs about romantic love. “Love has been a dominant theme for popular song for at least a thousand years”. “A recent study of commercial recordings finds that 90% (of love songs) are attributed to men—and most often men in their peak years of sexual activity.” (Gioia) Romantic courtship and the gender roles performed by the sexes has noticeably changed over time. I will briefly analyze songs from different generations and interpret some of the cultural clues found in lyrics.

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Winter themed love song, “Baby, It’s Cold outside” was composed in 1944 and first released in 1949. A playful, call and response love song about a man wanting more time with his date during extreme winter weather. This song was considered romantic for many years, now the lyrics are described as “boundary-crossing sexual coercion”. The lyrics, “There’s bound to be talk tomorrow, think of my life long sorrow” bring up the social consequences of spending an unchaperoned night with a man.

“Women were expected to make sure men didn’t cross the line. Her personal reputation and her family’s reputation was on the line. Abortion was criminalized, and contraception was illegal in most states.” (McDonnel)

Rules for dating and consent weren’t solidly established during this time. Preventing unwanted sexual advances was a regular occurrence for single women. “The song is an important historical document because it does represent these constant negotiations. It’s describing an everyday encounter.”(TIME) This song doesn’t stand up in todays #metoo1 climate. These blurred lines of consent has gotten this song banned on some radio stations despite it being a Christmas time classic.

After the Free Love and Feminist movements of the 1960s and 70s, sexuality was much more openly explored and discussed in popular culture. People dated more casually and had sexual experiences before marriage. Cutting edge music in the 1980s included androgynous artists like David Bowie and Prince. Men more frequently show sensitivity and express romantic feelings, opposite of the masculinity performed in previous generations. Traditional gender roles are challenged with fashion; men wearing long hair, makeup and women’s clothing and accessories.

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One of the top Love songs of 1983 was by London rock band – The Police, “Every Breath You Take”. Written during a marriage separation, song writer, Sting described it as being a songs about “jealousy, surveillance and ownership”. A celebrated love song, the lyrics excessively depict obsessive stalker behavior (Nguyen) that would warrant a restraining order today. Domestic violence and intimate partner abuse during the 1980s was still considered a private matter. Stalking, a form of emotional abuse is an example of irrational love is romanticized in the lyrics. (Brogaard) “Lust, Infatuation and dependency represent orientations that are often confused with love.” (Scheff 105). Obsessive surveillance from an ex romantic partner would likely decrease a persons overall happiness or well-being. (Broggard)

Neo Soul artist, D’Angelo is one of the best-known sexual icons in U.S. popular culture after “Untitled (How does it Feel)” is released in 2000. (Watson) “The opening lyrics provide a picture of foreplay and seduction that rely on a fairly predictable performance of black male sexuality in contemporary black popular music and culture. Confidently declaring his ability to satisfy his lover’s needs, D’Angelo states that he “can provide everything that u desire.” (Eilis) “Hailed a musical genius of his generation by music critics and his peers for bringing out hip hop soul’s brooding complexity and melancholic sensuality”.

“The video is a display of black masculinity that’s affectionate but confident, and delicate but strong. A middle ground between Tupac’s infamous bathtub photos and the first 30 seconds of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” music video.” (Watson).

The song and accompanying music video challenged traditional black male masculinity. Instantly turning him into a sex symbol, the music video sexually objectifies the recording artist during a time when music videos were primarily made to satisfy a male gaze.

The first two songs I analyzed reveal a power struggle in their lyrics. In The Police song, the woman is described as his property and even though she is released from the relationship she is subject to surveillance. In the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, the man won’t take NO for an answer. “In sum, the man gets the girl drunk amid her protestations so he can take advantage of her” (McDonnel) In both songs, the man expresses authority and power over the relationship. These are contrasted by the D’Angelos song lyrics that focus on female pleasure.

Progress in gender equality has normalized casual dating. Financially independent women feel less urgency when it comes to finding a husband or life long partner. This is expressed by women artists regularly through popular music, exposing the new cultural norms. 2019 Grammy Winner, Lizzo sings about women’s freedom and body positivity. In her song “Cuz I love You” she sings; 

“Never been in love before, What the fuck are fucking feelings yo? Once upon a time, I was a ho, I don’t even wanna ho no mo’. Got you something from the liquor store, Little bit of Lizzo and some Mo, Tryna open up a little more” –

Lizzo is in control of the intimacy, she’s buying the gift and is the gift. These lyrics expose a sexually dominant woman and the rejection and reversal of traditional dating roles.

My preference is to listen to love songs from the 1990s, artists like Mariah Carey and TLC. I find that as a collection of music, there is a nice balance to the messages found in the lyrics of 90s R&B. Women are allowed to be both powerful and feminine. I appreciate that today younger populations are more accepting of different artists and different kinds of relationships. Artists like Lizzo sing about self love and challenge the western ideal of feminine beauty by loving and flaunting her plus size figure. Queer love is mainstream thanks to singers like non binary artists, Sam Smith and Lil Nas X. New Zealand band, Tame Impala sings about lovers from previous lives – implying reincarnation. We are so lucky that ideas about love and relationships have transformed in such a positive way and been channeled into a more inclusive spectrum of music.

 


 

Cited Work

Brogaard, Berit. On Romantic Love : Simple Truths about a Complex Emotion, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/ lib/pccol/detail.action?docID=1865700.
Created from pccol on 2020-02-21 12:21:41.

Ellis, Aime J. “Singing Love Songs to Mr. Death’: Racial Terror and the State of Erection in D’Angelo’s ‘(Untitled) How Does It Feel?” African American Review, vol. 43, no. 2-3, 2009, p. 295+. Gale OneFile: Fine Arts, https://link-gale-com.libproxy.pcc.edu/apps/doc/A253059561/ PPFA?u=pcc&sid=PPFA&xid=8c5c7a6a. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

Gioia, Ted. Love Songs : The Hidden History, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/pccol/detail.action? docID=1896213.

McDonell-Parry, A. and McDonell-Parry, A. (2020). ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’: A Brief History of the Holiday Song Controversy. [online] Rolling Stone, https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/ culture-news/baby-its-cold-outside-controversy-holiday-song-history-768183/ Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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Nguyen, San. “Why ‘Every Breath You Take’ Is the Most Misinterpreted Song.” Medium, Medium, 21 Jan. 2020, medium.com/@sannguyen/rethinking-the-surveillance-through-every- breath-you-take-c80326fd5b58.

Scheff, Thomas J.. What’s Love Got to Do with It? : Emotions and Relationships in Pop Songs, Routledge, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/pccol/ detail.action?docID=4185932.

WATSON, ELIJAH C. “There Will Never Be Another Music Video Like D’Angelo’s ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)”.” Okayplayer, 24 Jan. 2020, http://www.okayplayer.com/music/dangelo-untitled- how-does-it-feel-video.html.

Blackwell 6

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Tribeca and Bushwick : An Ethnographic Comparison of Two NYC Neighborhoods

Essay, journal, travel, Uncategorized, Writing Samples

While visiting New York City for the Winter Jazz Festival I was able to get to know two very distinct neighborhoods. Tribeca, located in Lower Manhattan and Bushwick in the Brooklyn borough.  Tribeca is where my hotel was located and most of my entertainment was planned during this trip. A desirable location with celebrity residents and rent averaging about $6,000 a month for a two bedroom apartment.  I am comparing this high end, commercially developed neighborhood with rapidly the gentrifying Bushwick, Brooklyn – an area we visited four different times during this trip. 

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Tribeca stands for “Triangle below Canal Street”, coined by city planners in the 1960’s. We chose to stay in this neighborhood because of the proximity to the night clubs where our entertainment was scheduled.  Architecture included gorgeous historic stone buildings and warehouses developed into luxury condos, commercial office spaces, upscale retail and restaurants. 

The 2010 United States census recorded that 66% of Tribeca’s residents are white.  Bordering China Town it has a 22% Asian population.  This Asian population is still visible in the neighborhood with some remaining independent restaurants and family owned store fronts. A major McDonalds location sign is partially written with Chinese Characters (hanzi).  One of the most expensive neighborhoods to live in, apartments are priced at an average of 4 million dollars on the low end and up to 22 million dollars. The Tribeca population is considered high income, most earning over $100,000 per year. 

Bushwick comes from the dutch word Boswijck meaning ‘neighborhood in the woods’.  Affordable rents has attracted persons with creative professions as well as food service industry workers and low income families.  Apartment rent averages about $2,000, condos can sell for $600,000 and up (Zillow).  Although this area is often described as becoming ‘white washed’ and  ‘gentrifying’-  it still has about a 70% hispanic population.  Once a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood, there is now a Mexican, El Salvadorian and Dominican presence.  Walking around this neighborhood you still see Hispanic Grocers, Bodegas and dueling Mexican Food trucks next to the natural wine bars and small batch coffee roasters.  One of the most noticeable physical features of Bushwick are the large murals and street art. Organized and celebrated by the community, the murals are updated regularly.  Tourist visit Bushwick often to be photographed in front of this public art. 

I let my friends know in advance that I was preparing a short paper about NYC neighborhoods. Without having to ask, they flooded me with information about Bushwick during one of our walks.  Dominique is a professional Tailor, through an agent she is contracted to work with designers during events such as NY Fashion week and with major celebrities for things like award season and magazine commissions.  She introduced me to two other creative freelancers who were unaware of my school project.  Sarah, a professional backdrop artist, who lives in Tribeca but works in Bushwick and Helen, a fashion stylist who lives in Bushwick and works all over NYC.

In casual conversation I was able to learn about their politics and socio economic status. While driving past a beautiful hispanic child on the street, Sarah volunteered information about cultural makeup of Bushwick. Helen in her early thirties had just returned from a trip to NZ and invited us to see her apartment and shared about what it was like to live and work in Brooklyn.  People are excited to talk about where they live.  In this instance, everyone I spoke to had genuine love for their communities and planned on staying put.  Without using interview style or discussion prompts I was able to uncover much of the information needed for this paper. 

The high rents in Tribeca make it nearly impossible for many to work and live in the same neighborhood.  Especially persons working office and service related jobs.  Often unrelated adults share homes to help with the cost of housing but most commute from other areas of NYC.  Tribeca has priced out the average person but still provides employment to many.  Bushwick is affordable and attracts both the average and the affluent but raising rents are pushing out lower income, long time residents.  Getting to see physical home and work spaces in relation to the areas rent average was interesting.  Sarah, a Tribeca residents, art studio was more than three times the size of Helen’s Bushwick apartment.  Famously, NYC has always been known for small apartments and intimate restaurants.  Upscale Tribeca restaurants were noticeably larger then some of the trendy Bushwick eateries that we visited.  Visually, Tribeca with its historic and modern architecture is sterile compared to the colorful spray painted buildings of Bushwick.  

A 2009 study found that 75% of Bushwick children were born into poverty, while Tribeca is home to some of the most affluent families in the country.  There is an undeniable class difference between the residents of the two neighborhoods.  It is easy to conclude that New York City is one of the most diverse and one of the most expensive places in the United States to live.  Comparing the two neighborhoods I am convinced that Bushwick’s changing demographics has put the original immigrant community at risk, Tribeca will likely remain the same.

 

Snout to tail

Photo Journal, Uncategorized

We took a butchery class.

Recipes for Pork Butt, Belly and tenderloin after a few gruesome photos. Apologies to vegetarian/vegan friends.

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Just this half of the pig weighed over 75 lbs

Portland Culinary workshop in North Portland has hands on culinary classes.  Very knowledgeable and qualified teacher/chef instructs on a variety of subjects.  Our class size was only three people.

IMG_2832I felt really comfortable with the knife and still managed to cut myself while removing pig skin (it gets slippery).

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Pork Explosion

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We were sent home with two large Pork Butts, a ham round, large slab of pork belly and a huge pork tenderloin.

I made carnitas with the pork butts, slow roasted the pork belly with sage for another meal. We cut two large pork chops off of the loin and froze the ham.  Find recipes below.

Recipe Links 

Carnitas – Pork Butt

Maple Brined Pork

Carnitas

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Easy carnitas recipe, lots of room to improvise.  We used pork butt we brought home from a butchery class and made double this amount.  Be sure to cut off excess fat or remove large sections after roasting.

Ingredients

  • 4 pound boneless pork butt cut into cubes

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

  • 3/4 tsp pepper

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 2 Tb fresh lime juice

  • 2 C water, to cover

  • 1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

Instructions

  1.  Heat oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven.

  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered.

  4. Cover pot and transfer to the oven, about 2 hours.

  5. Remove the pot from the oven and turn on the broiler.

  6. Remove the meat from the pan and place it on a large foil-lined pan.

  7. Remove and discard bay leaves & onion from dutch oven, keep the cooking liquid.

  8. Place pot over high heat on the stove and boil until it thickens and syrupy, about 20 minutes. You should have about 1 C of liquid remaining at the end.

  9.  Use two forks to pull each cube of pork into three equal sized pieces. Once the liquid has reduced, gently fold in the pieces of pork into the pot.  Add additional salt and pepper if necessary.

  10. Spread the pork back onto the foil lined pan and evenly spread the meat around so there is a single layer of meat. Place in oven to broil until the top of the meat is well browned and edges are slightly crisp. Keep a close eye on the meat during this stage. Flip the carnitas to crisp further.  Serve with tortillas or over rice

Secret Chapel

Photo Journal, travel, Uncategorized

Earlier this year we went to Amsterdam for a few nights and stayed in a hidden chapel.  Built in 1751, this unique air bnb was converted from a secret church into a romantic hideaway. I hope you enjoy the photos.

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Tiny door between buildings takes you to a private alley.  I Love the way the old architecture sways,

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The most beautiful ceiling I’ve slept under.

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Spooky illuminati eye on the room centerpiece.  I’ve never stayed in a more beautiful room.

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Centerpiece above the bed, photographs do not do this justice.

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Salted Honey Pie

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This is an awesome early spring dessert and uses 3/4 cup honey, you can use store bought but I highly recommend going to your local honey purveyors and finding out what sort of variety is available in your area. For example, a buckwheat honey is dark brown in color, thick in consistency and tastes similar to molasses.  No matter what honey you use, know that this pie is very, very, sweet and basically a sugar pie or heavy custard.  You can use your own butter crust recipe for the shell.  I like to garnish with great big hand harvested salt flakes.

Preheat 350°

Ingredients:

  • Butter, 1/2 cup, melted
  • White Sugar, 3/4 cup
  • White Cornmeal, 2 tbs.
  • Salt, 1/4 tsp
  • Honey, 3/4 cup
  • Eggs, 3 large
  • Heavy Cream, 1/2 cup
  • White Vinegar, 2 tsp
  • Vanilla Paste, 1 tsp
  • Maldon or Hand Harvested Salt Flakes for garnish

  1. Using a mixer, combine Sugar, Salt, Cornmeal and butter to make paste.
  2. Add honey, Vanilla Paste and Vinegar – mix
  3. Fold in eggs and blend in cream
  4. Pour into shell
  5. Bake 45-60 minutes
  6. Chill in refrigerator 1 hour

Squash with Balsamic, Honey & Feta

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This dish was an instant favorite at a Canadian Friends-giving a few years back.  James and I get TWO Thanksgivings every year, we are SO lucky! This is an easy vegetarian side to make that can be served hot or cold, brings color to the table and travels well so it is perfect for potlucks and family style sharing.  It has well balanced sweet and savory components that you find in Sweet Potato casseroles and Bread puddings.

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Ingredients:

  • Butternut or Acorn Squash, peeled and cubed
  • Olive Oil, 1 tbs
  • Sesame seeds, 2 tbs
  • Honey, 3 tbs
  • Balsamic, 1 tbs
  • Chili Flake, 1/2 tsp
  • Feta, 2 ounces, crumbled
  • S & P, to taste

  1. Toss cubed Squash in Olive Oil and distribute evenly on sheet tray
  2. Bake 20 minutes at 410°, remove and toss with sesame seeds.
  3. Bake additional 10 minutes
  4. In a serving dish drizzle Honey, Balsamic, Feta and Chili flakes over roasted Squash
  5. S & P, serve hot or cold.