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La Condesa and Alton Brown at Austin City Limits

by davesandel on November 7th, 2021

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 7, 2021        (today’s lectionary)

La Condesa and Alton Brown at Austin City Limits

Well, first of all, among our acquaintances only one had ever been to the Austin City Limits Theater in downtown Austin on Second Street. All those shows at 9 or 10 pm back in Urbana, and everywhere else around the country, and no one in Austin ever gets there? Once in their lifetime, on a Friday or a Saturday night? I think we talked to the wrong people.

And truth be told, we didn’t go this time for the music, so I guess technically we haven’t been there either, not to hear Willie Nelson or Alison Krauss or Kacey Musgraves or any of the other amazing musicians past and present who were invited to play. Like the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, ACL’s invitation is precious. It goes in a fancy frame on the musician’s wall.

Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

We chose a show, “Beyond the Eats,” staged by Alton Brown of Good Eats’ fame, one of the three or four heroes that made the Food Network work back in the old days (1999). Alton will be 60 next year, and this is his last of three go-rounds on the show circuit. We’re 12 years older than he is, and we ignored the intimidating endless steps up to the ACL theater and took the elevator. As is often said, every seat in the theater is a good seat. We had good seats, two rows down from the top.

The Lord gives sight to the blind. The Lord raises up those who were bowed down; the Lord loves the just. The Lord protects strangers.

There was music. How could there not be music in that theater? Alton writes songs, like “Airport Shrimp Cocktail” and “Guacamole” (think of the Eagles’ song “Desperado), and he sang them, dueting with his wife Elizabeth. Not quite the ACL standard, but he stood up there like Peter Frampton and played his electric guitar. What fun Alton had, and so we did too. Not afraid to make lots of fun of himself, he worked his way through acknowledged mistakes past and present, using a Rolodex (he explained what a Rolodex was) of Regrets. His very bad lasagna recipe, his unintended use of ex-lax chocolate on s’mores for his extended family … well, that one was too funny, and too gross, to bear.

We were surrounded by people like us, who maybe hadn’t been to see the Austin City Limits music shows either. The seats were not wide enough for us getting-heavier old folks, of course. We squeezed in anyway.

Elijah asked the widow, “Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink. She left to get it, and he called out after her, “Please bring along a bit of bread.” But she answered, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. After my son and I have eaten what I prepare, we shall die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid.” And she did as Elijah said. Then for a year she and her son ate, as the jar of flour did not go empty, and the jug of oil did not run dry.

Just so we could say we did, we ate grasshoppers before the show at La Condesa, a couple doors down from the theater. Since we parked at the City Hall Parking Lot across the street for a $10 all night fee, we could better afford the James Beard nominated spot with turquoise tables. We sat outside as the evening cooled down to 65 or so. Margaret only had one of those little goblins, so I got the rest. Chapulines are Oaxacan fried grasshoppers with toasted garlic, guacamole, and salsa tomatillo (just a little spicy!). We also shared a tiradito with tuna, lime, ginger, avocado, cilantro microgreens, and charred onion oil, served with a couple of dark corn tostadas. Everything was gluten free.

The tostadas came from Dripping Springs and the cilantro from Joe’s Microgreens in East Austin – the farm to table thing is alive and well. I did wonder whether the grasshoppers (a “vital source of protein”) were grown on an Oaxacan farm or simply caught by kids learning the trade out in the fields. I decided on the farm option. Too many for the kids to catch.

Friday night in Austin was a good time for us. Driving back there was no traffic on the streets. We were back inside our apartment in 20 minutes. I wonder if we’ll get to the ACL Theater for some music one of these weekends. We do live here, after all. Now that we know our way around that little bit of downtown, especially where to park, maybe we’ll make our way into those a-little-too-small seats again, for some music this time.

(1 Kings 17, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9, Matthew 5, Mark 12)

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