c o u n t e r  s e r v i c e

Issue Six: Getting Schooled


Issue 6: Getting schooled

There is no way around it: learning is not easy. Or rather, understanding — specifically — isn’t.

Think about it. When you go to school and learn about History (let’s take US History for shits and giggles), you learn dates, and names, and places. August 18, 1920! Frederick Douglass! Stonewall Inn! You learn the what.  It’s not easy, but it’s doable. You memorize. The same goes across the board; take wine as an example. You learn to say "this Syrah has that twiggy, earthy component" and you say it always. You memorize, again. Lemon rind. Leather. Barnyard. 

 But then to take that a step further and understand those momentous people, places, and times -- to understand why exactly we smell leather on a Bordeaux or Stone fruit on Chenin Blancs… that is where it requires our full attention and that is where it is rewarding. That is learning. That is wisdom beyond knowledge. 

This issue is all about getting schooled; learning; reading. About teaching others what you can, about sinking into a slower pace and being okay with it, about understanding a menu instead of just knowing it.

This issue is a god damn treat.

Andy and the Map

by Morrigan Burke Martin

I was a second or third generation Pok Pok hire, the year was 2008. At the time I was nineteen and attending Portland State for an undergraduate degree in I-still-didn’t-know-what. I was a sophomore, and I had worked my first restaurant job while home for the summer in northern California. Not an internship, not something I could have included on any résumes other than ones for further restaurant work, just a dishwashing job. I loved it. I locked up at the end of the night, dish person being the last to leave, but I left alone. I had capitalized on the trust of the owner and convinced her that my very short commute home made it unnecessary for her to chaperone me. This freed me to smoke a joint in the garden, investigate the walk-in with a spoon and have a little leftover cake or chicken liver paté before my walk home...CONTINUE READING

"Dielman #1" by Danielle Kassover 


Knowledge by Lawrence Kaplun

I forgot what I dreamt,
I know we were naked,
which means I brought him pleasure
with my mouth and teeth.

I know we were naked,
but what do I really want
with my mouth and teeth?
I’m hungry for someone…

but what do I really want?
Attachment. My naked body
that someone’s hungry for.
I’m not alone and incapable of

attachment when his naked body’s
bent over on the floor.
I’m not alone though
all I think about is the figure

bent over on the floor.
Or in my bed. Who am I if
all I think about is
desire and improbable fantasy?

I’m good at sex and sleeping,  
though I forgot what I dreamt...
desire and improbable fantasy,
which means I brought him pleasure.

I Got it from Mi Mamá
photos and words by Zach Ligas

I find myself in the Coyoacan market with barely a hundred words in my Spanish vocabulary.  These are the moments when my instinctual lust for all things delicious takes over and my senses are flooded with things I want to eat.  Words seem superfluous to smells as a silent dialogue between my nose and that bubbling pot of corn begins.  Everyone here is a specialist; a tiny stall containing years of experience cooking that one dish.  A flimsy aluminum stand holds tradition and a reverence for craft amongst the dimly flickering coals. 

Coming from the pressure cooker that is fine dining in New York City, it seems unlikely that one might find a truly transformative engagement with food scattered amongst these humble cooking rigs.  I feel the hustle and competition as well.  Everyone cooking in the market knows that just around the block there are a handful of other tamales vying to be the best.  

One thing I can articulate is: I love elote, and gravitate towards any stall that might have it.  A boiled or grilled ear of corn smothered in mayonnaise, cotija, and chili; it is a savory lollipop that somehow evokes childhood glee of a memory absent from my upstate New York, white suburban upbringing.  I walked up to a woman with a massive pot of corn, fiddle with my pesos, and roughly ask for one of her ears of corn.  She chooses an ear and presents it for my approval.  She rotates the ear gently to make sure that every kernel is intact and that this is indeed the corn for me.  It is the sort of dedication to selection akin to spotting the lobster diligently pacing in the tank; soon to be swimming in drawn butter, that is the lobster for me....CONTINUE READING

An excerpt from Champagne Savart + Apologies
photos and words by Sarah Boisjoli

...Let. Me. Break. It. Down. 

  1. Invite thirsty friends to tiny West Village apartment completely devoid of natural light.

  2. Set props and lights

  3. Realize cats have infested set. Wrangle cats away from set. Re-set set. Say “set” one more time.

  4. Apologize to thirsty friends. Throw some tequila at that problem.

  5. Make note about writing tequila blog in near future.

  6. Get back the fuck on track. 

  7. Pop Champagne. PAUSE. Wine, especially Champagne like Savart, is crafted, from vine to bottle, in painstaking fashion by farmers and artisans that pour their lives and love into the process. Open it with some reverence, empathy and respect for the care that went into producing the wine in the bottle. Cut away the foil. Cover the cage with your thumb and turn the key to loosen it (6 times if you’re sober enough to count). Grasp the cage and cork with one hand and very slowly turn the bottle from the bottom. Let the CO2 in the bottle do the work of slowly pushing the cork free for you. Or saber it....CONTINUE READING

Low Check Average by Sophie Miles 


Sophie Miles graced us with her musical genius this month touching on those slow nights with low check averages — trying to lean in and learn to appreciate the quiet. 

Country Line — Cass McCombs
Fruits Of My Labor — Lucinda Williams
I'll Be Here in the Morning — Townes Van Zandt
Blues run The Game — Jackson C. Frank
Farewell, Farewell — Fairport Convention

Check the rest out here on Spotify