Though the show was billed to start at 7:00pm, Mero Cocinero Karimi—aka Guatemalan-Iranian performance artist Robert Karimi—wasted no time in serving up his blend of nutritious locally grown produce, subversive common sense politics, and engaging thought provoking theatre to the hungry audience who arrived early at the SomArts Cultural Center.
A half-hour before show time a lucky mom, randomly pulled from the audience, played sous-chef on stage helping Mero Cocinero prepare a preliminary appetizer. In return, Mero Cocinero gave her tips on how she could find inner calm and balance through the act of cross-dicing white onions: a fitting start to “The Cooking Show con Karimi y Castro.”
The actual start of the show brought Mero Cocinero and Comrade Cocinero Castro, played by Filipino writer/director/master chef John Manal Castro, out to welcome the audience and break down how we can seek to combat rice-ism and the diabetes of democracy afflicting our world through locally grown and lovingly prepared fresh meals shared with friends and family.
I would love to tell you more but it would be giving away too much; plus, it wouldn’t do any good to write about the flavors and textures of the appetizers when they should be enjoyed live.
The lure of free delicious food is not lost on Karimi y Castro who are able to exchange a refreshing Mast-o Khiyar for some great audience participation, some hummus bi tahini con chile de arbol for an impromptu Q&A, and lumpia campesina for a group tour of SomArts’ gallery. (Recipes from the show are here on the Cooking Show’s blog.)
A shout out to John Manal Castro for being the perfect fall-guy: self-deprecating but well meaning with the right comeback line and bounce back attitude that keeps the show moving. And mad props to Robert Karimi for putting on another wonderful theater experience (his last show in the Bay, a one-man exploration of his Iranian heritage, man/mardaan: farid to freddie mercury, was a highlight of the ’06 USAAF) that lives up to its promise of “serving up stories (and) healthy political discussion combined with delicious culinary samples, guaranteeing every audience member their own satisfying taste.”