Excerpted from The Art of Gay Cooking by Daniel Isengart
In 2010, New York was teeming with burlesque performers, every girl moving to the city seemed to want to be a burlesque performer. I worked with a great many of them, performing in clubs and theaters and sometimes at private parties. It was at about that time that I was asked to perform with a group of circus artists at the opening of the Playboy Casino in Cancun, Mexico. It was a strange experience. After my opening number, a group of acrobats began twirling around a rotating pole in the great gaming hall, filled with slot machines. Suddenly, the producer of the show asked me to please follow him to the back, something had happened. The two hired parcours dancers had had accidents on the red carpet in front of the casino, having been blinded by the photographers’ flashbulbs as they ran up the walls and jumped off the roof, as was their wont. They had not anticipated the flashes and, miscalculating their landing, broke or twisted their ankles. Could I help get them out of the building without the guests noticing, through to the backdoor to a waiting ambulance. When I got back to the casino floor the pretty Mexican playboy bunnies were serving excellent
(Yes, that is what they called them)
Take a small pumpkin or acorn squash, peel it, cut it in half, scrape out its seeds and cut the halves into sections. Peel a red onion, cut it half and slice it into sections. Coat the vegetables with a restrained splash of olive oil and a bit of ground allspice, cinnamon, coarsely crushed black peppercorns and coriander seeds and spread them out on a parchment-paper-lined sheet pan. Roast them at 425º F until tender and caramelized.
Remove the stems of a few sprigs of cilantro. Thinly slice the stems and reserve the leaves. Brush a halibut steak or a piece of halibut filet with olive oil and season it with salt, white pepper and the chopped cilantro stems. Loosely fold the fish into a sheet of parchment paper and bake it at 350º F for about 10-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into its thickest part meets no resistance. Remove any skin and bones and break up the fish into pieces. Warm corn tortillas on a griddle and arrange on each a little heap of roasted onion, pumpkin chunks and some halibut. Drizzle some whipped, lightly salted sour cream over it and top it with thinly shredded red cabbage, sliced fresh jalapeños, and the cilantro leaves. Serve with lime wedges. ///
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Photos by Steve Viksjo