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The Grateful Dead… The band that started “it all” for me… The band that brought me deep into a culture of love, freedom, and musical expression through meaningful lyrics and creative jams. I remember one fateful evening hanging out in my friend Brian’s basement at the ripe age of 14 when I first heard the song “Me and My Uncle,” a song originally written by John Phillips but popularized by the Grateful Dead throughout their career (it was the most played song by the band in totality!)– that was the moment it all began. We jammed to the Dead throughout the night and I continued to explore the band’s music and culture in more depth for years to come (and I’m still exploring!). Although the Grateful Dead’s “ringleader” and lead guitarist Jerry Garcia died in 1995 when I was a mere 3 and a half years old (thus I couldn’t see the band live with Jerry), I became obsessed with listening to the band’s live shows and studio albums. I was able to live vicariously through these recordings. It wasn’t just their music I was in love with either– it was the entire Grateful Dead culture– from the community of Deadheads to the imaginative dress to road tripping the U.S.A… to the parking lots and Shakedown Streets that have forever shaped the scene. As the Grateful Dead would say (or the lyricist Robert Hunter), “once in awhile you get shown the light, in the strangest places, if you look at it right.” And man, I was shown the light!
During my junior year of high school I finally got to see the remaining members of the Grateful Dead live playing as “The Dead” on Cinco de Mayo at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois (previously known as the Rosemont Horizon when the Grateful Dead used to play there back in the day). The lineup included the the Core Four (Bobby Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart), Warren Haynes (The Allman Brothers Band), and Jeff Chimenti (Bob Weir’s RatDog). They played some of my favorite tunes, including “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion),” “Tennessee Jed,” “I Know You Rider,” “Mr. Charlie,” and much more… Then they encored with “Brokedown Palace!”~ “Fare you well, fare you well… I love you more than words can tell!” What a night to remember. It was also the first time I took a limo to a concert with people nearly 6 years my senior… that was a cool school night 😉 I was then lucky enough to attend the second (and last) Rothbury Music Festival in the Michigan woods the first weekend of July 2009 and catch the Dead’s Fourth of July performance. What a blessing… I was in love.
Throughout the following years, I caught more Grateful Dead side projects featuring the original members, most notably Furthur, Bob Weir & Ratdog, Phil Lesh & Friends, and the 7 Walkers, that kept my love for GD true.
Then there was Chicago this past weekend, where I was blessed to experience the final shows of the Grateful Dead also known as the “Fare Thee Well” shows featuring the Core Four, Phish’s Trey Anastasio (sooo happy about Trey playing with GD), Jeff Chimenti, and Bruce Hornsby. Taking place at my favorite hometown sports venue, Soldier Field, the shows represented an official end to an era. In my mind, the era will never end, but the Core Four performing together under the name the “Grateful Dead” has. As the last show ever played by the Grateful Dead on July 9th, 1995 was at Soldier Field, the weekend brought back many memories for those who attended that show and for those who toured with the Dead back when Jerry was alive. And for me, it brought back memories of all of those years I spent getting to know the Grateful Dead through their recordings and side project performances. It was a uniting weekend– bringing together young and old, from seas apart– to celebrate 50 years of the Grateful Dead, the band that forever changed history. I was blessed to be able to attend Friday and Saturday nights’ shows.
From Friday’s opener “Box of Rain” to Saturday’s “U.S. Blues” 4th of July encore, these songs and the music in between evoked feelings of joy, love, celebration, friendship, and bittersweet happiness, all wrapped up in knowing that this was “the end.” My favorites of both nights included “Deal,” “Tennessee Jed,” “Jack Straw,” “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion),” “Bertha,” “The Music Never Stopped,” “Help on the Way> Slipknot,” “Foolish Heart,” “West L.A. Fadeaway,” “Liberty,” “Standing on the Moon”… and the list could go on… And everyone I was with got to hear at least one song they wanted to hear (including my rockin’ mother who hadn’t seen the Dead since the ‘80s! she got her “Box of Rain”). And it all comes back to “Me and My Uncle” and that one fateful evening in Brian’s basement… the first song I ever heard by the Grateful Dead… and rocking out 9 years later in section 336 singing “I love those cowboys, I love their gold, I loved my uncle, God rest his soul, Taught me good, Lord, Taught me all I know, Taught me so well, I grabbed that gold, And I left his dead ass there by the side of the road” on the 4th of July in my home city Chicago.
Fare Thee Well left me in a state of shock for the days to follow. I’m still thinking about what happened last weekend. I want to give gratitude for this band, for the people and lifestyle that followed them (aka us!!), and for the beautiful music that has forever rocked our souls. The Jerry Mary recipe is deadicated to the Grateful Dead– I just wanted to say thanks for showing me the way.
The Jerry Mary recipe brings together a few favorite dishes you would find on Shakedown Street– garlic grilled cheese with pickles, Jerry rolls, falafel, chili, and vegetarian delights– in an effort to recreate the tastes of the good old days (and the tastes of last weekend). If you are interested in making some Grateful Dead “lot” recipes, be sure to check out Cooking With the Dead: Recipes and Stories from Fans on the Road. The book has over 65 vegetarian recipes and stories of days touring with the Dead. For the garlic grilled cheese, I infused the mix with fresh garlic and added half a grilled cheese sandwich as a garnish (oh yeah and a pickle spear too!). Jerry rolls are pretty much giant deep fried egg rolls filled with lots of veggies sliced julienne style (sometimes they have falafel inside); for the Jerry rolls, I infused the mix with bell pepper, onion, carrot, and cucumber. I tossed some falafel in for the garnish. Other things people like on lot? Corn on the cob. I placed a baby corn on the garnish. I also read somewhere that hippies like the tastes of dill, ginger, and cumin, so those spices were all used in the mix. I also threw some tofu on the skewer for the garnish (for all the veg-heads out there), a sundried tomato, a marinated artichoke, and a marinated mushroom (no, not a magic mushroom this time!). And lastly, I used vegetarian chili in the mix. I think this may be my new favorite Bloody Mary mix ingredient. The resulting taste of this mix was astoundingly out of this world and the entire recipe is vegetarian. And I’m “singing THANK YOU, FOR A REAL GOOD TIME!!!”
Mix (makes roughly 2 pint glass Bloody Marys)
- 10-14 oz. tomato juice (depending on how much tomato flavor you want)
- ½ lemon squeezed
- dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbs vegetarian chili (I used good ol’Hormel Vegetarian Chili)
- squirts of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (to your desired heat level)
- 1 tbs dill (I used dill paste– you can also use fresh or dried dill)
- ½ tbs cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ginger
- ½ tbs cumin
- 1 tbs black pepper
- ½ tbs celery salt
- ¼ green bell pepper sliced into small pieces-
- ¼ white onion sliced into small pieces
- 1 large carrot sliced into small pieces
- ⅓ cucumber sliced into small pieces
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- ½ grilled cheese
- 1 pc sauteed tofu
- 1 falafel
- 1 baby corn
- 1 marinated artichoke
- 1 marinated mushroom
- 1 marinated sundried tomato
- 1 pickle spear
- 1 lemon wedge (to rim the glass)
- celery salt (to rim the the glass)
1.5-2 oz vodka for each Bloody
Preparing the Mix
- Pour tomato juice into sealable container. I used an old tomato juice bottle.
- Add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, vegetarian chili, and Sriracha. Mix together.
- Toss in the dill paste (or fresh/dried), cayenne pepper, ginger, cumin, black pepper, and celery salt. Shake well.
- Add the green bell pepper, white onion, garlic, carrot, and cucumber. Mix together.
- Seal the container and let sit overnight (or two nights if you want a stronger infusion).
Day Two (or Three)
Constructing the Garnish & Crafting the Jerry Mary
- Place all of the garnishes except the pickle spear on a large wooden skewer.
- Rim the glass with a lemon wedge.
- Coat the rim of the glass with celery salt.
- Fill the glass halfway with ice.
- Pour 1.5-2 oz of vodka in the glass.
- Place a small strainer over the glass and pour the mix from the container into the glass. This will ensure the solid ingredients in the mix are not poured into the actual cocktail. (Note: if you don’t have a small strainer, you could place a larger strainer over a pitcher instead and then pour the mix from the pitcher into the glass)
- Place the wooden skewer standing upright in the glass.
- Toss in the pickle spear.
- Fare You Well Grateful Dead– Enjoy your Jerry Mary celebrating the band that showed America what freedom truly is!