Eric & Mike’s Christmas Carp Migration


There’s noth­ing more whole­some than a fish”

Eric & Mike are out here to reassess how we look an invader in the eye, find a com­pro­mise, and recu­per­ate their bad name. That name is carp and Mike’s peo­ple grilled it up on the shores of the Tigris River and my peo­ple fried it up for a Christ­mas feast. But this is Amer­ica, and for one thing we don’t eat bot­tom feed­ers, nor do we ~often enough~ revere our own cul­tural tra­di­tions. Hold up, let’s cor­rect that. For our Christ­mas Carp Migra­tion we spun a loose culi­nary nar­ra­tive that cel­e­brated the move­ment of the lowly carp, both geo­graphic and cultural.

There are at least a half a dozen species of carp that are har­vested, cul­ti­vated, and cooked from Dong­bei to Vienna. And those species have been shuf­fled around– intro­duced, by us, as food and as aquatic jan­i­tors only to be scorned as an alien pest. The com­mon carp– which we got our hands on for this meal– is ances­tor of the gold­fish and inva­sive in this coun­try since 1831. It is native to water­ways tra­vers­ing all of Eura­sia, but con­ve­niently for our nar­ra­tive, first popped up in human his­tory in the Danube, the heart of Christ­mas carp coun­try. But you know what, fried fish has its place and all, but let’s look the sucker in the eye before we eat it and infuse deep aro­mat­ics like they would in Guangzhou. So we stuffed our piscine friends with scal­lions and coins of gin­ger that we tucked into slits in its torso. Michael astutely pointed out that these rhi­zomatic coins mimic the real thing hid­den in Pol­ish Christ­mas carp scales. Good luck, indeed, and for­tu­nately in our new tra­di­tion there were enough coins for everyone.

Through­out this meal, we hop­scotch­ing through a culi­nar­ily poly­glot patch­work of cul­tural tra­di­tions. For an appe­tizer we took a cue from the Greek play­book, the culi­nary gate­keep­ers of the Mediter­ranean. That creamy tart fish dip tara­masalata, it turns out, is made with carp roe! The grand Pol­ish tra­di­tion of the 12 course carp din­ner lent us piero­gies and mush­room soup made with for­aged mush­rooms and fin­ished with sour cream and dill. Michael worked his alchem­i­cal magic on an Iraqi rice dish stud­ded with pine nuts, almonds, and raisins which was the per­fect foil to a com­fort­ing Armen­ian dish of chick peas and greens that rep­re­sented a Christ­mas tra­di­tion from the Mid­dle East. Finally, our own two cul­tures met serendip­i­tously for dessert, which in a stroke of carp-inspired luck was a per­fect pair­ing of spicy, cit­ron infused, choco­late– dipped Ger­man liebekuchen co-habitating with kay­mak clot­ted cream driz­zled in Michael’s fabled Iraqi date syrup served on repli­cas of Sad­dam Hussein’s per­sonal china.

عيد ميلاد مجيد
Sliced hen and chicken of the woods mushrooms for soup. Foraged by myself and my dad, respectively in the fall.

Sliced hen and chicken of the woods mush­rooms for soup. For­aged by myself and my dad, respec­tively in the fall.

Handmade sauerkraut & mushroom pierogies

Hand­made sauer­kraut & mush­room pierogies



Nevik- an Armenian Christmas dish of greens and garbanzo beans

Nevik– an Armen­ian Christ­mas dish of greens and gar­banzo beans

Our babies, about to go into the steamer

Our babies, about to go into the steamer

Jessica's festive-as-always table design

Jessica’s festive-as-always table design

The main event

The main event

Good looking plate

Good look­ing plate

Ger­many meets Iraq

Iraqi date syrup

Iraqi date syrup



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12/12: Piranha Club X Enemy Kitchen present: Eric & Mike’s Christmas Carp Migration


Fri­day, Decem­ber 12th, 7PM

1034 N Mil­wau­kee Ave.

Through­out Cen­tral & East­ern Europe, carp is king of the Christ­mas din­ner table, whether sauteed with a dark beer in Berlin, fried crisp and served with potato salad in Prague, or pre­sented as the cen­ter piece of a 12 course, meat­less spread in War­saw. In old school Pol­ish homes you might even find said main course swim­ming about in the bath­tub until its call to duty. A lucky diner will find a coin tucked under­neath the whole fishes’ scales. From Japan to Ger­many, the carp is a sym­bol of good luck and the per­fect offer­ing to cel­e­brate the end­ing of the year and look ahead to good tid­ings for the next.

Carp has been cel­e­brated both for its for­tu­itous rep­u­ta­tion and its sweet white flesh for mil­len­nia, fished from native waters such as the Danube and Amur River. As cul­tures have spread, as they inevitably do, breeds such as the grass carp and the big­head have been intro­duced and cul­ti­vated in other great water­ways such as the Tigris and the Mis­sis­sippi. And this is where the carp’s recent his­tory enters the Amer­i­can imag­i­na­tion– with a rep­u­ta­tion as an alien invader. Even before it was sin­is­terly dubbed “inva­sive”, it has long been dis­dained as a bot­tom feeder, a garbage fish. Chefs Eric & Mike will chal­lenge this dubi­ous Amer­i­can food pho­bia and will call on the great carp eat­ing tra­di­tions of the old world dur­ing this cel­e­bra­tory time of year. The carp migrated here long ago and now its time for its rich cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance to follow.


Din­ner includes a fes­tive buf­fet of veg­e­tar­ian or pescatar­ian offer­ings + wine and beer.
24 seats available.
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The Piranhas Do The Sopranos

The good lady

The good lady

Red sauce fantasies

Red sauce fantasies

Sunday gravy, hour 2/4

Sun­day gravy, hour 2/4







Da ziti

Da ziti

Coupla wiseguys

Cou­pla wiseguys


Shfooyadell, courtesy D'Amatos Italian Bakery

Shfooy­adell, cour­tesy D’Amatos Ital­ian Bakery

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10/26: The Piranhas Do The Sopranos


Sun­day Octo­ber 26th, 6PM
at Roots & Cul­ture 1034 N Mil­wau­kee Ave.

From 5th Cen­tury Rome to late 90’s New Jer­sey, the Pira­nhas have been on a bit of Ital­ian kick in 2014. With the recent announce­ment that Tony Soprano is still alive, we’d argue that this leg­endary show has never left our col­lec­tive imag­i­na­tion. And how could you not crave the manigot, riga­tone, or any one of the ubiq­ui­tous cheese smoth­ered Ital­ian Amer­i­can casseroles that seem to be paraded around in just about every other scene. Join us on Octo­ber 26th to tuck into Carmella’s baked ziti and Artie Bucco’s bra­jol for a Soprano’s Sun­day dinner!

$30 fam­ily style din­ner with wine and dessert.

Buy tick­ets HERE
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I Dine Al Trunko: Eric May for Trunk Show


Al Trunko was a hoot! I’d like to thank every­body that joined us on a beau­ti­ful Indian Summer’s after­noon and braved the gas­tro­nom­i­cal odd­i­ties that I curated for our tour. Big thanks to Trunk Show, Raven and Jesse for cre­at­ing this oppor­tu­nity, its a won­der­ful project that lit­er­ally takes the art to the streets, how could I not be thrilled and flat­tered to par­tic­i­pate! Mostly I was just stoked to show off the south­west side of Chicago, which was unchar­tered ter­ri­tory for many of the guests. Not only did we sam­ple the native culi­naria, but the culture/ history/ architecture/ sig­nage of this part of the city offered a lot more to chew on.


The house card­board sound system!


Al Trunko sur­vival kit



Mighty dog” a mother in law + a dog + cheese sauce

AT6 AT7 AT8 AT9 AT10 AT11 AT12 AT13


Jim Show totem pole, from top: crispy Jim Shoe, two large Jim Shoes, Jim Shoe Super Taco


Crispy Jim Shoe


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Dionysiac Rising

“Man is no longer an artist, he has become a work of art: the artis­tic power of the whole of nature reveals itself to the supreme grat­i­fi­ca­tion of the pri­mal One­ness amidst the parox­ysms of intoxication”

I left my mak­ing com­fort zone a lit­tle bit this sum­mer. For the past two years, for Shan­non Stratton’s “Party as Form” class, I’ve been invited to lec­ture about the Fri­day night cos­tume par­ties at Ox-Bow and I’ve taken the oppor­tu­nity to unpack my his­tory with par­ty­ing (rav­ing, cos­tum­ing, gen­eral rag­ing) in these talks. I’ve felt that as an artist work­ing with social strate­gies that par­ty­ing is one of the most inclu­sive, par­tic­i­pa­tory acts of social inter­ac­tion and could be a per­fect form for this type of work. Also, I feel that plea­sure is cen­tral to my work and what is more plea­sur­able than par­ty­ing? As boy Niet­zsche so suc­cinctly puts it above, par­ty­ing is a self­less, col­lec­tive activ­ity. So par­ty­ing might have a hard time jiv­ing with the authorship-obsessed endeavor that is art mak­ing. Social prac­ti­tion­ers might be too hung up on try­ing to prove that their work is pro­duc­tive and func­tional and mak­ing an argu­ment, when maybe, the form of socia­bil­ity is organic and messy and based in desire. Dionysian rather than Apollinarian.

So I made a shrine to my own party world, which you could say is a rather insu­lar exer­cise. Though Ox-Bow, as a tiny com­mu­nity, has the inher­ent nature of being inclu­sive and col­lec­tive. And much of the pop­u­la­tion enjoys the Fri­day night par­ties, so I felt like I had a cap­tive, party lit­er­ate audi­ence that would rec­og­nize my sig­ni­fiers. I wanted to make a rit­u­al­ized space for peo­ple to party in, a shrine to the Dionysiac at Ox-Bow. I started to see ele­ments of cos­tumes as objects embed­ded with activ­ity, a liv­ing record of their very active his­tory. This piece (doc­u­mented here in video) is a jump­ing off spot, an inves­ti­ga­tion into shared expe­ri­ence, fetishized activ­ity, an attempt to find party as form.

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I’m a Raver Baby, So Why Don’t Ya Kill Me

20 years ago today I went to my first rave, the flyer for that party + fly­ers for (nearly all) of the par­ties I ever went to are below:

eRave1 eRave2 eRave3 eRave4 eRave5 eRave6 eRave7 eRave8 eRave9 eRave10 eRave11 eRave12 eRave14 eRave15 eRave16 eRave18

We’d been col­lect­ing these trippy dig­i­tally designed fly­ers at our favorite record shops. With proper con­di­tions– driver’s licenses and the per­fect alibi of sleep­ing over at each other’s houses on Sat­ur­day nights before our 9 am Early Col­lege Pro­gram ceram­ics class at the School of the Art Insti­tute– we were able to make this a real­ity. We called the hot­line on the back of the flyer, which I believe led us to Wax Trax on Damen to buy tick­ets and get the address for a sec­ond check­point where we’d pick up a map to the actual loca­tion of the party. I can­not tell you where this party was– (though a post on this mes­sage board recounts it being a sub­ur­ban loca­tion and that it got busted, nei­ther details I recall) we pulled up on a des­o­lated stretch of an indus­trial cor­ri­dor and were hur­riedly waved down a dark alley by a shad­owy fig­ure, the tell­tale thump, thump, thump sig­nal­ing to us that we were headed on the right course and not about to get jumped.

Once inside the ware­house, there was some famil­iar ambiance from our already-growing-up-too-fast-in-the-suburbs lifestyle– nitrous oxide tanks hiss­ing, inflat­ing giant punchy bal­loons and Lawn­mower Man being pro­jected onto a white sheet. The deeper we pen­e­trated the thick crowd, things got con­sid­er­ably more exotic– club kids in three foot tall plat­form shoes, naked flesh, chill out rooms drip­ping with sex and out-in-the-open drug use. The main dance floor was a wall to wall throb of too loud bass and jack­ing bod­ies. This was an urban crowd and there were all kinds of peo­ple los­ing them­selves in the orgias­tic rhythm. I remem­ber not being intim­i­dated, not like my first indus­trial con­cert a few years before, but feel­ing exhil­a­rated and a lit­tle bit jit­tery. This was a safe space to get freaky. We let our­selves go and joined the pul­sat­ing hive.

Unfor­tu­nately, the sub­se­quent 20 or so raves we attended were not quite as idyl­lic. At our sec­ond party, who did we run into within a half hour of step­ping foot into the ware­house, but the same ass­holes who were push­ing us down the stairs at school a few years ear­lier. The same kids that were cop­ping our Min­istry and Red Hot Chili Pep­per t-shirts, co-opting all of the sub­cul­tural expres­sions that we had to work so hard to dis­cover and estab­lish our­selves as dif­fer­ent from them and proud of it. Those were the times– Loll­palooza, alter­na­tive rock radio, recre­ational drugs– it was cool to be weird. At least we really were weird, and onto cool stuff a year or two before those jocks. There was a sea change in the rave scene. We’d been the first wave of sub­ur­ban kids gen­tri­fy­ing a vital urban cul­ture and it just kept going that way come 1995. The par­ties even moved to the sub­urbs, I remem­ber one in a park­ing lot of a truck­ing com­pany like a mile from my high school. I’m stoked we got to see a party like Lady­bug– to have a taste of the hal­cyon era of the early 90s that seemed to be the nat­ural pro­gres­sion of the utopia of House. Sure there were other good nights– the right con­coc­tion of a good buzz, cute looks, and com­mu­nal vibes focused on the dance. But for the most part, when these par­ties weren’t get­ting shut down by the cops, they looked like open air drug mar­kets with zomb­i­fied sub­ur­ban kids, dress­ing the part with the over­sized polos and visors, becom­ing prey to dope ped­dlers (per­haps con­nected with the pro­mot­ers) who scammed their parent’s cash in exchange for god-knows-what (the ecstasy was also very expen­sive, we could never afford designer drugs after shelling out $20– $25 at the door. My only cash flow at the time was sell­ing Fimo beads at school). This was not PLUR, kids.

But I’m glad I was there. I took pride in pulling together out­ra­geous out­fits– the over­sized plas­tic wal­let chains, GIANT pants, tiny tops repur­posed from stuffed ani­mals, all sorts of home made jew­elry. Inclu­siv­ity and indi­vid­u­al­ity were high pri­or­ity val­ues for me through­out my teens and early twen­ties and I con­stantly desired sup­port­ive scenes. These ideals were cer­tainly a major appeal of Ox-Bow for me. There’s some­thing prag­matic about the utopia of the rave– for one night, no mat­ter who you were, you could dress up, get high, and dance and every­one around you was a part of this whole. In the morn­ing, you’d drive home, go to bed, wake up and go back to work or school. The one nighter.

And of course, the music. After many years of liv­ing in the city, I’ve come to savor the imper­sonal, some­times harsh qual­ity of elec­tronic music, it reflects the land­scape. Herein lies the other dystopic/utopic flip of rave– an embrace of the urban sit­u­a­tion. Redi­rect­ing the iso­lat­ing hos­til­ity of city life and mak­ing a party of it.

Back then it was nearly impos­si­ble to fig­ure out what we were danc­ing to. I was too shy to approach the DJ booth (and back then in the white label era, DJs guarded their tracks) so mix­tapes were the only access to tak­ing the jams home. In my two years rav­ing, the music changed a lot as well. At Lady­bug and my other favorite par­ties, the DJs were play­ing hard, min­i­mal house sounds and some­times nudg­ing into faster Euro­pean techno. If you look at the fly­ers and know these DJ names, it will make sense as you scroll, I pre­ferred the Chicago vets like Der­rick Carter and Mys­tic Bill. Terry Mullen and Hyper­ac­tive were the two we fol­lowed most closely and they were very pro­lific at the time. I col­lected all of the Hyper­ac­tive mixes, which were a mix of old school Chicago acid house and more con­tem­po­rary hard­core. By 95 every­thing was get­ting faster and harder and there were more and more Euro­pean DJs fly­ing in from the Dutch, Bel­gian, and Ger­man hard­core scenes. And then jun­gle hap­pened which seemed to divide the scene fur­ther by 96. I like a lot these styles, but the old school Chicago will always be close to my heart. I could lis­ten to Acid Tracks every­day and it would sound dif­fer­ent every time– cold and alien, yet seduc­tively organic. We are Phuture you can’t defeat us.

Seem­ingly a life­long quest, I am still hunt­ing down the uniden­ti­fied ear worms that are fos­silized deep in my mem­ory banks. I started DJing about 10 years ago and have col­lected a lot of old school Chicago stuff by dig­ging through every­thing I can find on labels like Trax, Dance­ma­nia, and Relief/ Cajual. Also, for­tu­nately, on web­sites like you can down­load many of these clas­sic mix tapes and with the handy tech­nol­ogy of Shazam, I’ve been able to track down a bunch of the clas­sic dance floor bangers of the era. Here’s a list of my favorite rave jams:

Phuture– Acid Tracks

And of course the flyer art. If you scroll up and down this blog, you will see the last­ing impres­sion bad old dig­i­tal design will always have on my work.

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9/27: Eric May for Trunk Show: “I Dine Al Trunko”


Sat­ur­day Sep­tem­ber 27th, 12pm– 3pm

Meet at Eck­hart Park on Noble St., just north of Chicago. Tour will depart from there. Car­pool­ing is encour­aged. Please bring $15– $20 for chow.

To dine “Al Trunko” sim­ply means to dine off the trunk (or hood) of one’s car. Typ­i­cally this is a means of neces­sity when din­ing at estab­lish­ments that do not pro­vide appro­pri­ate accom­mo­da­tions (though noth­ing is stop­ping you from eat­ing off your car if its a sunny day or you are just not in the mood to pay gra­tu­ity). The term “Al Trunko” was coined some­time in the mid-2000s– likely over sty­ro­foam trays of South Side BBQ– by the com­mu­nity of Chicago– based food chat site,, of which Eric (screen name “Jefe”) is an active member.

Join us on Sat­ur­day, Sep­tem­ber 27th for a tour of native South Side del­i­ca­cies, enjoyed Al Trunko in their nat­ural habi­tat. The tour will meet on the near north­west side and head down panoramic S West­ern Ave. to kick off the day right with a Mother-in-law at Fat John­nies (as seen on “Anthony Bordain’s” No Reser­va­tions). We will then head to the pic­turesque Mount Green­wood neigh­bor­hood on the city’s far south­west side for a taste of Eric’s favorite child­hood Ital­ian Beef at Pop’s. The tour will con­clude over­look­ing scenic Mar­quette Park for a sam­ple of the fabled Jim Shoe from the neighborhood’s fine Super Sub establishment.

Please note: it is highly advised to pack an Al Trunko Sur­vival Kit as detailed in the schematic above.

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WHAT: Eric’s Ger­many Kitchen presents: OKTOBERFEST

WHEN: Sat­ur­day Sep­tem­ber 20th, 5– 8 PM

WHERE: Roots & Cul­ture 1034 N Mil­wau­kee Ave.

WHY: Chef Eric needs an occa­sion to address his cul­tural her­itage. Also, you will be par­ty­ing all week­end because of the art fair any­way and will need some cheap, greasy food + more drinks. ALSO, it hap­pens to be real OKTOBERFEST weekend.

WHAT ELSE: $10 gets you: bratwurst, Ger­man potato salad, home­made pret­zel, kraut, + 1 beer. $20 gets you din­ner + a lim­ited edi­tion stein with free refills.

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