United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Roast Red Pepper, Steak and Feta Quesadilla with Roast Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Words escape my mind in an attempt to write a follow-up to last year’s story, Vanilla isn’t White. Instead, breaking news headlines are a cacophony of words. But, long-live visual artists who have the courage to inspire us into action and remind us that today’s politics aren’t normal. This past summer, The Brooklyn Museum had an inspiring exhibit, We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85. Last week, I visited the Whitney Museum’s exhibit, An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017. It was at the Whitney Museum, I read a poem by W. H. Auden: September 1, 1939. It’s an inspirational poem written on the onset of World War II. Sadly, Auden’s words continue to be applicable today.

Red Peppers

September 1, 1939

By W.H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Many years ago when I was a high school student, I used to say, “racism will be this country’s downfall.” And, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth because of today’s political climate.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We must love one another or die.

Earlier this year, I started developing the recipe for Roast Red Pepper, Steak and Feta Quesadilla with Roast Garlic Yogurt Sauce. It’s an easy recipe. The steak is slightly undercooked, so it continues to cook to a tender perfection inside a tortilla. Fiery red, yellow and orange bell peppers are roasted until the flavor is a savory, caramelized sweet taste. The feta cheese is creamy and sharp. A wheat flour tortilla encloses all the ingredients. I prefer frying the quesadilla in a cast iron skillet. After lifting the quesadilla away from the skillet onto a cutting board, it’s divided into thirds. And, each piece is dipped — maybe double-dipped — into a roast garlic yogurt sauce.

Raw Red Peppers and Onions

I don’t know which direction this country is headed: down, up, left or right. Hope isn’t lost on me. I stay mad for a better future, because united we stand, divided we fall.

Roast Red Pepper, Steak and Feta Quesadilla with Roast Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Roast Red Pepper, Steak and Feta Quesadilla with Roast Garlic Yogurt Sauce


  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided in half, more or less as needed
  • About 8 small or 6 large bell peppers, cut lengthwise in half
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, left in their paper shells
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Finely ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 to 1 lb. of filet mignon steak, rubbed with olive oil, salt, black pepper, ground cumin and a tiny amount of smoked paprika; room temperature
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Greek, unsweetened, plain yogurt
  • About 1/2 fresh cilantro
  • The juice of one lime
  • About 4 to 6 flour tortillas
  • 6 to 8 oz. of full-fat feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Gently toss about a quarter-cup of olive oil, bell peppers, red onion, garlic cloves, salt and fresh black pepper over a baking sheet lined with foil.
  3. Place baking sheet in the oven to roast vegetables for about 1 hour, or until the peppers are wilted and have light caramelized, brown charred edges and skin. Remove vegetables from the oven and set aside.
  4. After the vegetables have cooled, remove garlic cloves from the sheet pan. Gently squeeze garlic from their papery shell into a food processor, and discard papery shells. Add yogurt, cilantro, lime and a quarter-cup of olive oil to the food processor. Season with salt and black pepper. Puree to make the Roast Garlic sauce. Set aside.
  5. Heat a skillet over high heat. When the skillet is hot, add about 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Add the steak to the skillet. Cook only two minutes for each side, flipping the steak only once. Remove the steak to the cutting board and let rest for about 5 to 10 minutes. Slice steaks about a quarter-inch thick. Set aside.
  6. Heat another skillet over high heat. As the skillet is heating, prepare the quesadillas: Place a flour tortilla on a cutting board or large plate. Place a little feta cheese over half the tortilla. Top with roast bell peppers and onions over the feta cheese. Then layer with steak slices, and cover the steak slices with a little more feta cheese. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling. Repeat this step until all the roast vegetables, cheese and steak have been used.
  7. Add about two tablespoons of olive oil to the hot skillet. Working in batches, add one quesadilla to the skillet. Weight it down with a brick wrapped in foil or a griddle weight. Cook each side for about 30 seconds or when golden brown. Remove quesadilla to a large cutting board.
  8. Cut quesadillas in triangles.
  9. Serve quesadillas with Roast Garlic Yogurt sauce.

2 thoughts on “United We Stand, Divided We Fall

  • November 30, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Oh, my! These look delicious. I also used slightly undercooked steak for dishes like this for the same reason you mention. Will be trying this one next time we have leftover steak for sure!

  • November 28, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Ooh I am inspired! This looks good and I cant wait to try that roasted garlic yogurt sauce. Thanks for sharing!

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