Many of us read weekly in the Point Reyes Light a column written by Laura Riley called the Coastal Cook of West Marin. Interviewing the different characters along our coast, Laura pens a short story about their lives and then ends with one of their favorite recipes. It's great fun reading especially when you know the people interviewed and you can say to yourself, "Good gravy, I know Bob Cooney rents an office right above me at the Old Western Hotel, but I didn't know he was a walking encyclopedia of the women's suffrage movement, let alone could cook." Or, "Oh, here's my good buddy Terri Elaine Thorton. I've known her for over 25 years and she's never made me roasted eggplant with chilis."
While breakfasting a few months ago with my friend and bartender Helen Skinner at Cafe Reyes, I spied a very captivating book entitled The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon by Laura Riley. I browsed through it quickly and showed it to Helen. We both walked out with our new treasure. Once inside the Old Western Saloon, I had to remind Helen we had duties to perform, she was so engrossed in the delightful verbal portraits of some of the people she knew in the book. The duties were performed amiably in between outbursts of, "Oh, look, here's David Cook! Did you know he cooked for George Lucas at Skywalker Ranch for years? He wrote up a great recipe for my most favorite dish, crab cakes!"
Well, we got through the day pointing out our friends, laughing and salivating over the spicy delectables in Laura's book. One biographical portrait really interested me even though I had never met this gentleman artist, Moises Quesada. Hailing from El Salvador originally, he has lived in Mexico, Bolinas, and now Pt. Reyes Station.
When reading about him in the book, I learned that all of his family painted; he remembers his grandmother grinding pigments to make her own colors. Friends would encourage Moises to go the to the capitol, San Salvador, and show his work.
The year was 1979, and neighboring Nicaragua was in a revolutionary upheaval when Moises traveled to the capital and visited with the curator of the national Gallery. He brought with him four good paintings; the curator loved what he saw and wanted more. A stunned Moises found himself with a solo exhibition in the most prestigious gallery in his country.
The day of his opening, however, proved to be one of explosive political unrest. In spite of machine guns rattling and shootings, people lined up outside the gallery. "There was a lot of risk," Moises remarked proudly. "I was surprised." His work was purchased by ambassadors from around the world.
After reading all this about Moises in Laura's book, I thought wouldn't it be nice someday to meet this wandering artist? One fine day my El Salvadoran friend Julio Cortez Cisneros took me over to Moises' and Eve's humble abode on Third Street in Pt. Reyes Station. I was treated to a private viewing of his art work. The colors were so vivid and the landscapes of our area so romantically detailed, I thought of the saying, "Nature abhors a vacuum." Moises paintings are full of life from one end of the canvas to the other. Lush vegetation, beautiful, wondrous stuff! If any of you get a chance to see Moises' work around town, take time to really enjoy it.
You can order the cookbook from: The Coastal Cook, Riley and Company Publishing Company, POB 925, Bolinas 94924.