In the summer of 2019, Blood Orange was coming off his most cinematic release in the previous year’s Negro Swan, an album tackling so many sounds and so many systemic issues head on that listening to it felt productive and purposefully overwhelming. It is not a light listen, but showcased the emotional depth of a black artist fighting for his voice to be heard, both his political voice and his musical one.
The downplayed release of his mixtape Angel’s Pulse was a refreshing change of pace, surfacing in the horizon like the summer’s heat glistening off the pavement. Where purpose was felt in Negro Swan an aimlessness filled Angel’s Pulse, a barely finished collection of loosies collected from studio sessions that was intended to only fall upon the ears of their creator, Dev Hynes, and his closest friends. But in the summer of 2019 we were introduced to Hynes’ world through a collection of his most raw and natural songs that glisten and glimmer for a divine thirty-two and a half minutes,
It pulls from the unlikeliest corners of music and shrouds them in a silky aesthetic. From Kelsey Lu’s showstopping outcry inspired by the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, to the muffled baseline on “Baby Florence (Figure)” sounding like a tipsy reflection in the bathroom stall of a club, to the paleontological rediscovering and reimagining of the mid-2000s southern rap gem “Gold Teeth”, Blood Orange snips bits and pieces of each and scrapbooks them together into his charming and gentle groove.
Cod with Avocado Puree and Mashed Potatoes
Just like people not fully immersing themselves in Angel’s Pulse, cod can be seen as a more boring focal points to build a meal around because of how light and delicate it is. And there is no denying cod can be! But not cod like this.
The simplicity of the fish is used as a canvas to swirl so many flavours and textures around after it is cooked quickly on both sides and then baked. Let’s start with the puree. Avocado is mixed with salt, oil and cilantro, with the weight of the fruit elevating the pluckiness of the lime. A salty finish is provided with splashes of soy sauce. This heightens the fish by pulling it in one direction.
Then the potatoes bring it back down to earth. Mashed in a traditional manner by boiling in salt water, the smoothness of the potato is broken up with fried pieces of cod from earlier.
Finally, chopped tomato and kalamata olive top the cod off to ensure that no bite of cod was left without a companion.
Each addition is punchy and light, never stealing the show for more than a moment. But none are forgotten, stimulating your mouth in a novel way. It is a perfect dish – delightful fish flushed out with so many exciting and potent flavours.
Angel’s Pulse delicately floats between ideas, sounds and genres like a summer’s daydream or a scrapbook of memories bleeding into one another.
Dev Hynes’ mixtape came out during my last summer in university, the dog days of a summer filled with kaleidoscopic memories and the uneasy bridge between youth and adulthood. I remember the hot days spent studying inside, in our student house with no air conditioning, longing to sneak back outside for a cold beer or a wade in our kiddie pool.
And when the tasks at hand required the most brainpower and effort, I would find my mind wandering the most. Flickering between memories, ideas, songs and sounds, I could tell that my essence had escaped to run through the fields under the pink skies. My body was at my desk and my mind was anywhere and everywhere else.
Then Angel’s Pulse dropped and provided a soundtrack for the restless and creative mind. And it wasn’t just because of the cover, although I caught myself posed like that countless times during that summer. The unfinishedness of it compared to his grand and refined releases prior give it an authentic joy, a more honest look at the heart, mind and soul.
The meal needed to be equally as gentle yet provoking, not too much of one thing or another but with a cohesion and understated excitement to each bite taken. The lightness of the fish, the sourness of the puree, and the crunch of the fried cod lost in the fluffiness of the potatoes do just that.
This experience can fly by in a minute or draw out for ages, depending on how caught up in it you get. Either works. You come away with no more weight or complexity than you did coming in, but the aimlessness works wonders for your imagination and your appreciation of the world around you.
- Olive oil (for cooking)
- 400g of Icelandic cod, cut into 4 pieces
- Juice of 1/4 a lemon
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 Yukon gold potatoes
- Sprig of parsley
- Sprig of cilantro
- 3 chives, chopped (split in half)
- 1 avocado
- 1 lime, juiced
- Splash of soy sauce
- 50g kalamata olives
- 50g red pepper
Heat oven to 350. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. The moment it gets hot, gently place 3 out of 4 cod pieces facedown in oil. Flip once begins to blacken, around 2 minutes. Once complete, bake in oven for 10 minutes or until opaque.
Cut remaining piece of cod into small pieces. Add more oil to pot, turn heat to high, and fry cod pieces until dark brown but not completely charred, about 8 minutes.
Boil potatoes with salt around 15 minutes, or until a knife can easily slide in. Mash with lemon juice. Salt to taste. Fold in fried cod pieces, parsley, chives when completed.
Blend together avocado, lime, a teaspoon of olive oil, salt and cilantro. Spoon over dish when complete, and top with soy sauce.
Chop up olives and red pepper to top dish.