A well-orchestrated meal is music to Phil Posey’s palate. A conductor for more than 60 years, Posey enjoys food and music from around the world.
Posey and his wife of 53 years, Ann, share an adventurous appetite from their Liberty kitchen with three children and three grandchildren.
“Phil has spent his entire career connecting people to music,” Ann says. “We have traveled all over the world and have had amazing adventures together becoming well-versed in two universal languages: music and food.”
Q: As you retire from an illustrious musical career that included serving as the director of the instrumental studies at William Jewell College for 40 years, conducting the Kansas City Wind Symphony and creating the Liberty Symphony Orchestra, will this afford you more time to spend in your garden?
A: I enjoy the peace and quiet that comes when I am tending plants and growing food in my home gardens. Ann and I live on 10 acres, and I have planters and beds that now have radishes, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, herbs and tomatoes. I also enjoy watching the beautiful birds that come to our feeders.
As a conductor, it can be frenetic in the moment when I’m bringing a lot of elements together at the same time. I really appreciate the slower pace of the earth, and it’s really gratifying to be part of nature and be a participant in growing food we enjoy eating.
Q: So many musicians are wonderful cooks. Can you explain a connection between making meals and making music?
A: Food and the need to be creative are essential elements of the human experience. Of course, you need food to physically survive, but I also believe making music is a visceral part of life.
There is a rhythm and musicality to our everyday lives. As humans, we are able to feel joy when experiencing both food and music that transcends just eating and hearing something. It is wonderful to not only receive nourishment for the body, but this is also a pleasure for the being when we talk about both sharing a meal and sharing music.
Q: Do Ann and you make beautiful music together in the kitchen?
A: Ann is organized and uses recipes when she is preparing something. I enjoy the creative process of making something to eat with ingredients I have on hand or in the garden. When we prepare this Chinese Hot Pot meal, I am in charge of chopping and slicing ingredients. I will go out to the garden to harvest greens and herbs, while Ann makes the broth.
This is how the Chinese also make a hot pot meal. A recipe is a suggestion and they use ingredients they have on hand. The concept of this meal is simple: You set a pot of simmering broth in the middle of the table and allow people to cook their own meat in it, or make this a vegetarian-only meal, based on your personal tastes. The hot pot is a very communal way to eat: not only are you gathered at the table sharing a meal, you’re also cooking your food together in a shared pot.
Q: Of all the places you’ve traveled throughout the world — Amman, Jordan; Vienna; England; Poland and China — why did you decide to share this particular recipe?
A: This authentic hot pot vessel comes from Xian, China, where I have experienced seven different stints conducting. Using a fondue pot might be a way of eating together that more people understand. This hot pot is the same concept as fondue; you’re just using different ingredients.
What I have found by traveling throughout the world is that, while there are different languages, people will eat the same foods. Flatbread takes the form of a tortilla, pita, crepe or pizza, depending on where you are in the world. Every culture has their recipe using the most humble of ingredients.
In my 80 years, I have learned that, at their core, people have the same needs and desires that are basic to humanity. We all have a need for connection, whether it is through food or music. Both may have variations based on the same theme from culture to culture, but sharing music and food strengthens the bonds between us as humans.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a cook.
Phil Posey will conduct his final concert, “Conductor’s Favorites — A Retirement Concert,” as the Kansas City Wind Symphony closes out its 19th season at 7 p.m. Sunday. Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village. A reception will follow the concert, which is free and open to the public. KCWindSymphony.org.
Chinese Hot Pot
Makes 6 servings
For the dipping sauce:
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 green onion, sliced lengthwise
For the pot:
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
3 cups fresh spinach and/or bok choy leaves
1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 baby eggplants, cleaned and sliced
For the table:
1/2 pound beef top round or sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1/2 pound boneless center cut pork chops, thinly sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1/2 pound large-sized shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 cups cooked jasmine rice, optional
To prepare dipping sauce: In a small mixing bowl, whisk soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and onion together. Set aside until ready to eat.
To prepare hot pot: In a large stockpot, bring chicken stock to a boil over medium-high heat on stovetop. Add spinach and/or bok choy leaves, mushrooms and eggplant and simmer until vegetables are soft.
Place Chinese hot pot or fondue pot in center of table and pour in prepared broth until about 2/3 full. If there is remaining broth, keep it simmering over low heat on stovetop and replenish as needed as the meal progresses. Adjust heat on Chinese hot pot or fondue pot until liquid is simmering.
To prepare table: Place freshly cut raw beef, pork, chicken, shrimp and optional rice into separate vessels around hot pot. Divide dipping sauce into six individual bowls.
To eat, use chopsticks or forks to dip desired meat or fish into boiling broth mixture. Allow at least 2 minutes cooking time for each piece. Pork and chicken should be cooked through, with no pink inside. Shrimp should become pink in color.
Remove meat and fish from simmering broth and dip into sauce before eating with optional rice. When all meat and fish have been consumed, ladle remaining broth into six individual soup bowls for consumption.
Chef’s note: It is easier to slice meat thinly when it is slightly frozen. Electrified hot pots or fondue pots can be purchased in department stores or retail kitchen stores, such as Pryde’s Old Westport, starting at around $40.
Per serving, entire recipe: 287 calories (31 percent from fat), 11 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 125 milligrams cholesterol, 12 grams carbohydrates, 45 grams protein, 475 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber