This Marine Won't March Into Mississippi (Hate Doesn't Taste Like Chicken)

I just turned down a farm-to-table tour of Mississippi. As a food writer, they invited me to tour their farm--to-table movement. They are very proud of where they stand and offered to fly me in to witness their production.

One of the most important moments in my book, The Pink Marine, involves Mississippi. Marines’ primary mission is to defend our country. The U.S. government didn’t care about my sexuality. It wasn’t part of their job or my job. They equipped me with the necessary training and tools to be an effective Marine. As I was issued an M-16, I recalled the time when I was fifteen and visiting a farm near Jackson, Mississippi. I hunted for the first time. I held my first rifle, shot and killed a squirrel. And then our host cooked it and served it for our dinner. * Mississippi, you’re always full of surprises.

The Disney Princess Life: Not That Great

So You Wanna Be a Princess?

On paper, being a Princess looks appealing. Almost fairytale-ish. But turn the page, lift the crown, look closer and you might stay in school.

First, you get one dress. ONE fucking yellow dress with a sash. And you have to wear that one dress in every scene until the very end, when you get married.  You imagine princesses with one of those closets like a dry cleaner where millions of different outfits go flying by like the sushi conveyor belt at Harvey Nichols in London. Nope. One dress. And it’s tattered cause it’s made by birds. Birds are shit seamstresses.

You know you’re motherless, right? Your mother died, most likely giving birth to you. And she was lovely. So lovely that your kindly father never remarries, drinks too much and whittles. ABC should launch CSI Disney and get to the bottom of this entire Queens dying bullshit. Of course this means that one day Princess, you too will be Queen and therefore die. So don’t get pregnant – you’ll never make it out alive.

Not to worry – your Prince is gay. Gay gay gay. Just look at him, riding in on his prancing horse, fresh from a spray tan, a teeth whitening, and probable barn romp involving other princes. When boys are that pretty, they like other boys who look just like them. It’s tragic men’s canoodling can’t produce kids -- a gay couple would have the most beautiful babies.

Everybody hates you. Go ahead, dance at the ball – twirl around all night. But know that everyone watching wants you dead. They don’t want to be you -- they just want you dead. Dukes and duchesses and court-folk are really mean. Don’t drink the punch, don’t eat cake, don’t touch anything pointy and never ever repeat one word three times – you’re constantly a wand wave away from poof.

Like your castle? Good, cause that’s the only place you get to go. There’s no other world for you. You think you’re going online to book a getaway in Prague? Like you’re getting on a public plane. You’ll crash through a glass wall, bursting your bubble forever. The world outside it not pretty. It’s not sunshiny, or sparkly and some troll drove out all the unicorns eons ago.

Why am I so pissed? Because I fell for the myth too and my dwarf posse left me for movie work. Now I’m single, childless, and live in a cave hiding out from some witch. FOREVER.

Moral of the story: If it’s too good to be true, it is.

The End

Overseas Adventure Travel: Israel

No one told me that the Dead Sea sparkles. And I almost didn't see it.

Wanderlust struck me, so I spun the globe and threw a dart at a dream destination. Istanbul was rioting and Prague was flooded, so I headed to a more peaceful place, Israel.

As I planned the trip from home in the U.S., I let news and friends persuade me to limit my sight-seeing to Jerusalem only, under the theoretical belief that with Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy places under one tiny sky, I'd be safe. I cancelled excursions to Petra in Jordan, Bethlehem, Masada and the Dead Sea.

So You Want to Write For Television?

When it was time to bring my book of Marine Corps boot camp stories to market, I went into U.S. Marine mission-mode and sought out the best expert. I looked to publishing guru Jane Friedman. Of course I was star-struck talking to Jane, but she made me comfortable and confident about my book's future.

Once my book,The Pink Marine, was finished, Jane asked me to write a guest post on her blog that examined the differences between writing for televisions (my area of expertise) and writing a book (her area).

Once I stopped screaming in a high pitched squeal, I wrote this piece:

Let Freedom Ring and Opportunity Knock

Last night there was a knock on my door. As first, it startled me. I guess I’m as jumpy as everyone else right now. But it’s my own door; of course I’m answering. When I feel fearful, I remind myself that I was a Sgt. in the U.S. Marine Corps. Plus I live in a secured building.

I raked my fingers through my second-day hair, checked my t-shirt for cake crumbs, leaned my eye against the peephole, and saw a woman. I opened the door.

Book Reviews: Q and A With the Author of The Pink Marine

Greg Cope White, author of The Pink Marine, recently sat down for an interview with legendary journalist Barbara Winfrey* to talk about his new book of Marine Corps boot camp stories.

As Greg joined Barbara on the sofa he offered her a plate of his stunning, made-for-this-interview curried chicken salad. Once Greg was sure his hair looked great on camera, he motioned for the television crew to help themselves to the buffet.

*an entirely fictitious person with a name that Greg made up based on no one in real life and a name that in no way can get Greg in trouble. 

Nawab of India: Curry With My Grandfather

My grandfather grew okra for me. He tended the bushes carefully, harvesting and freezing it so he'd have some when I came to Texas to visit. I'd walk out to the back porch, move the cases of Coke bottles off the deep freeze onto the painted cement floor. Lifting open the freezer, I'd marvel at the bags of frozen okra closed with a twist tie. I'd realize I didn't go home enough.

I live in Santa Monica now and still miss my grandfather; but I can always eat okra at my favorite Indian restaurant, Nawab of India.

Sit down at certain Texas joints and a waitress slings a basket of hush puppies on your table as she heads to pick up the fried catfish for table 14. I've expanded my horizon. Now I crave the lighter, brighter Indian version of the southern fried cornmeal snack: Onion Bhaji, exotic mounds stuffed with onion, cumin, turmeric and coriander.

balls of onions deep fried in batter

Lightly firm onions threaded though batter. The flavor and texture of bhaji are as crisp and impressive as the bow tie my grandfather taught me to tie. I could eat a dozen bhaji, but I leave space for the other exciting dishes they introduce.

My grandfather was a carpenter. He had huge biceps that me and my three brothers would hang from when we were kids, while he spun around and flew our scrawny bodies out like a human carnival ride. The food at Nawab is also built. Layers of flavor and spices in techniques are on display that I long to accomplish.

Began Bharta is such a dish. Eggplant is roasted in the tandoor oven, then sautéed with spices,onions and tomatoes.

dish of chopped cooked vegetables

The handled, brass serving bowls offer the food with gentility and flair. Layers of flavor are stirred though, and as I dig the spoon in, a warm curry aroma rises. This dish reminds me that Indian cuisine is a terrific option when your dinner party includes vegetarians. Where's the beef? Not here.

The golden walls of the dining room foreshadow the coming saffron, turmeric and graham masala. The owner and the chef at Nawab tell stories with their food. I want to become more familiar with them; I long to include this cuisine in my own repertoire.

chef stirring por and pans of food at the stove in an Indian restaurant

Nawab India has a sister location in West Los Angeles. Their Bombay Cafe offers fascinating street food. Let's dash over to Bombay -- I want to show you a couple of plates.

Eggplant Deva: This dishy diva starts with sautéed Japanese eggplant layered with fennel and tomato conserve. The plate hits the stage fully dressed with a luscious coat of garlic-ginger infused yogurt. These ingredients have longevity qualities that perfectly fit my plan to live to be 1000000000000.

roasted eggplant with yogurt sauce

I'm thrilled to meet new menu items. Even happier when they are this wonderful. The cool, creamy yogurt against the warm, madly-seasoned eggplant is refreshing and satisfying. The chef's craftsmanship is magical; these flavors are outstanding.

Spotlight on Pani Puri: puffed, crisp shells filled with mung beans. Spoon cumin and mint infused water inside and then pop the entire thing in your mouth. My Indian waitress led me on the journey, excited to show me her native food. This appetizer dish is fun and healthy. I appreciated the subtle sweetness.

crispy puffed ball with mung beans inside

I wish I could take this culinary tour with my grandfather while he charmed me with the poems of his childhood. He had me captivated at the dinner table with,
"I eat my peas with honey; I've done it all my life. It sure makes them taste funny; but it keeps them on my knife."
His stories are now part of me. Tradition is built. I talk about my grandfather in my book on

Back at the more formal Nawab, the fire in the tandoor oven burns inconceivably hot. Fresh naan bread gets slapped on the side. The chef peels it off when, and only when, his oven wall releases the final product.

Hot fiery oven with naan bread cooking on side

If I could go back in time, I'd take my grandfather on a long walk down our dusty road in Texas. When we reached the edge of town, just at sunset, I'd turn and we'd magically appear at my home in Santa Monica. We'd walk up my block where he'd have plenty of chances to poke me in the arm and wink when he'd spy a pretty girl.

Sixteen blocks from the beach, we'd turn into Nawab to continue our conversation over dinner. The Tandoor Chicken arrives, accompanied by a sizzle from peppers and onions on the hot platter that would echo his whistle. I'd ask, "Have you ever had chicken this plump, Pop?
Chunks of chicken on a plate with peppers and onions

"This is the juiciest bird I've had the good fortune to taste," he'd say. "Must be the California sunshine."

Their chicken is the most succulent meat I've found anywhere. I'd lick my fingers and wipe the corners of my mouth with the linen napkin before he reminded me.

Ask if the chef is making the same bass. If so, order it. I've not had such dynamically prepared fish. Spices keep the fish bouncing.

And then, just to hear my grandfather's trademark, "Good God a'mighty!" the waiter would whip the cover off the moment I'd been waiting for: Bhindi Masala, Okra in spices and onions. The onions stay crunchy, the spices fold into the crooks of the okra.

bowl of cooked okra onions tomatoes

Who will have my memories when I'm gone?  Who will tell my story, from the heartbreak to the glory. Someone take it over and keep the story going.

four men in a kitchen

Nawab of India. 1621 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90403 (310) 829-7576.