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Ballads and runes: An evening of ancient tales and medieval ballads

Johanna Hongell-Darsee and Scott Darsee, musicians and storytellers, will take you on a journey of Scandinavian ballads, runes, myths, and legends. Johanna and Scott say, “We have traveled far and wide to find the most beautiful, enthralling, and mysterious songs, melodies, and stories to take you on a journey to far away islands, deep forests, and magical gardens.”

Johanna translates and arranges medieval ballads and tells stories based on them and other traditional myths and tales. Born in Helsinki, Finland, she started to create performances comprised of dance, mime, and storytelling in 1986. She studied mime and theater at the Lecoq School in Paris, France, and classical East Indian dance and mime in Chennai, India, training with Savithri Jagannatha-Rao and Kalanidhi Narayanan. Prior to 2001, she led a dance and theater company, Theater Bava, in Sweden and has performed at festivals in France, Switzerland, Finland, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, and Pennsylvania.

Scott creates original music for their performances and arranges traditional songs and melodies. He was born in Iowa and spent 15 years in Europe. He has worked as a therapist for Dance Theatre of Harlem, the English National Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, and the Hamburg Ballet. He taught at Denmark’s State School of Modern Dance and worked with Theater Bava.

This program will be held January 31 from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. at the Loma Colorado Main Library auditorium at 755 Loma Colorado Drive NE in Rio Rancho. The evening is free, with no registration required.

For information, call the library at (505) 891-5013, extension 3033. To learn more about the performers, go to their Web site at http://johanna.itgo.com.


Esther Bone Memorial Library events

The documentary film, Who Does She Think She Is, will be shown on January 8 at 10 a.m. Paula Scott, local artist, blogger, businesswoman, and Rio Rancho resident, will moderate the discussion following the film presentation.

On January 11 at 6:30 p.m., the Watermelon Mountain Jug Band (WMJB) will perform live and in concert. It will be a rollicking evening of jug band and bluegrass music, with foot tappin’ and hollerin’ courtesy of the WMJB. The band has been together since 1975, features washboard, jug, kazoo, spoons, guitar, washboard bass, and song stylings, and is recognized as one of “New Mexico’s treasured natural resources.”


Valentine’s dinner and dancing

The St. Vincent DePaul Society of Our Lady of Sorrow’s Church will sponsor a Valentine Dinner Dance on Saturday, February 12. There will be a Mexican menu, live music, and a silent auction. Cost will be $15 for singles and $25 for couples. Proceeds will be used to help families in Bernalillo and surrounding areas who need assistance with food and/or utilities. Everyone from the community is welcome. Advance ticket sales only. For further information or tickets, please call (505) 867-1786.


Famed Jewish cookbook author Joan Nathan to attend Solomon Schechter Day School fundraiser in February

Two-time James Beard award-winning cookbook author and featured New York Times food columnist Joan Nathan is coming to Albuquerque on February 5 for a very special fundraising event to benefit Solomon Schechter Day School. The fundraiser, taking place at a private home, will include dinner and drinks with Nathan, as well as a short discussion of her research and a demo of her most famous recipe. Additionally, she will sign copies of her newest book, Quiches, Kugels, and Coucous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France.

Perhaps best known for her PBS television series, Jewish Cooking in America with Joan Nathan, Nathan is the award-winning author of 10 cookbooks. She is a regular contributor to the New York Times Food Arts Magazine and Tablet Magazine, among other publications. Her book Jewish Cooking in America (1995) won both the James Beard Award and the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Award. The New American Cooking (2005) won the James Beard and IACP awards as best American cookbook published that year.

“We are very excited about this unique opportunity to bring Joan Nathan to Albuquerque,” said Solomon Schechter’s Head of School Kathryn Weil. “I’ve heard Joan referred to as the Julia Child of Jewish cooking, and I’m looking forward to the inspiration and spirit she’ll bring to us through her talk and cookbooks. Please join us to welcome Joan Nathan to our community and to raise much needed funds for Solomon Schechter.”

In a journey that was a labor of love, Nathan traveled throughout France to discover the fascinating evolution of Jewish-French gastronomy and to unearth the secrets of this hidden cuisine. In her book, Quiches, Kugels, and Coucous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, Nathan gives us the fruits of her quest, chronicling her culinary expedition through the cities, towns, and back roads of France to share the treasure trove of delectable kosher recipes and the often moving stories behind them, interlaced with the tumultuous 2,000-year history of the Jewish presence in France.

Nathan takes readers into kitchens in Paris, Alsace, and the Loire Valley; she visits the bustling Belleville market in Little Tunis in Paris; she breaks bread around the observation of the Sabbath and the celebration of special holidays. All across France, she finds that Jewish cooking is more alive than ever.

Q: Why the name Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous?

A: Since most people think there aren’t so many Jews in France, I used the title as a metaphor. France happens to be the country with the third largest Jewish community in the world—about 600,000, a presence that has gone back at least 2,000 years, so they are, in fact, very French. Thus Quiche, representing Jewish cooking as assimilated into mainstream French cuisine. Kugel is a symbol of the true origins of Ashkenazic cooking in Alsace and southern Germany, where dishes like knoedel, chopped liver, and, of course, kugel were developed. And Couscous, as North African Jews comprise almost half the population of Jews in France today and love to eat couscous on the Sabbath.

Q: You describe Jewish cooking in France as a “hidden cuisine.” Why?

A: With terrorism threats on the Eiffel Tower, it is not a surprise. Jews have always lived a little under the radar in France. Names are not dead giveaways. Who knew that Sonja Rykiel, Anouk Aimee, Camille Pissarro, Nostradamus, Michel Montaigne, and even President Nicholas Sarkozy were of Jewish ancestry? Even though there is a long history of Jews being very much part of French culture in the arts, theater, and, of course, as merchants in the food industry, there is also a long history of being a persecuted minority, not the least during World War II, where about 83,000 Jews were taken away, with the majority “disappearing” in the camps. France is still essentially a Catholic country, and so everyone not Catholic is a minority. Jews might look like everyone else in France, but they eat and pray differently. Consequently, they are just a bit quieter about their faith than Jews in the United States, where everyone is comfortable with being different and more overt about this difference.

Solomon Schechter Day School of Albuquerque is a Jewish day school that offers an excellent academic education along with Jewish Studies, Hebrew language, and the arts to Jewish children in kindergarten through fifth grades. The school is fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico.

This fundraising event will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 5 at a private home. Tickets are $130 and will include dinner and drinks with Nathan, a short discussion and demo, and will include a cookbook for all participants. Limited space is available; please call Solomon Schechter Day School at (505) 232-2325 to reserve space now.
     

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