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The five minute faux foodie must remember but a few things in society: deportment; etiquette; and a few useful phrases. We will briefly offer suggestions that may help if you are one of the many who aspire to this mantle.

Deportment: At the start of each day you must train yourself to put food first in mind. All other thought must be pushed to the side for later thought. What you will wear is not important nor are any business meetings. The weather is important only in that your menu will be planned upon it in certain ways. Sex is not important. It can wait till you’ve had a foaming cup of cappuccino and some chocolate. This should take you one minute each day to push other thoughts aside. Train well. As with all things, the training will prove well worth it!

Etiquette: Foodies come in various groups. You will find those who fill their time with foams and exquisite artistry at great expense. Others like to cook for themselves. Some groups focus solely on fast food or on pizza in foodie ways. Do not shudder in pain or disdain when you meet a foodie from a group other than yours. Remember, you are all foodies no matter how it is expressed! It may take one solid minute to learn to hide the sense of alienation you have upon meeting a foodie from a different group. One minute per day. It must be done.

Useful phrases: These change each year and must be learned. ‘Sustainable’ is your primary concern this year. Other words important to bandy about: ‘local’; ‘organic’; ‘grass-fed’; ‘sel de fleur’; ‘sourcing’; ‘porky bits’; and of course ‘exquisite’ is always useful. Learn your terms. One minute per day. Non non non! It is of course ‘fleur de sel’. Forgive me, my mind wandered – something about chocolate was at the edges, eating up all other thought!

Organic? Or not: The philosophy of being a foodie is one to come to terms with or you will be unable to carry yourself with the proper rigor. Each foodie must decide for themselves whether ‘foodie’ is a natural thing to be – something quite fine and natural that organically grew from the soil of the fertile cooks and diners before us or whether the ‘foodie’ is something created as a improved human being by, of course, the improved human beings who created it as a concept and way of being. This will take one more minute each day of study and thought.

If You Must Cook: If you must cook as a five minute faux foodie, remember to keep it simple. If you can buy the best and just put an expensive knife to it then lay it out nicely on a plate, that is the best idea. The financially-challenged foodie will have to find other means that take no time. Go to grains. Lentils, green French lentils, are always a good idea. Make sure you leave the container within sight for your guests when they walk by the kitchen. One minute for menu planning, if you must cook.

Dear readers, I do hope that those who aspire to the five minute faux foodie life will take heart from these modest injunctions and will jump in the pond with all the other foodies! You are worth it, even if you only have five minutes a day and are faux! Do not give up this chance, for after all – what else is there to do?

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It has been brought to my attention that in certain circles the social attainment called being a ‘foodie’ is being discussed. This comes as no surprise to me for it is a most fascinating conundrum. I myself had left off discussing the term after one well-placed blogger wrote that the term did not need to be talked about anymore. It was not that I believed her, but rather that her decisive injunction had been picked up by the Press and reported as if it was important. Oh! I do admire the machinations of those who hire PR people!

But I am encouraged that I may speak just slightly of the Foodie. After all, in recent memory I have read a most brilliant discussion of whether a foodie can rightly be called a ‘fan’ of food on the ASFS boards by the luminaries there, and just today the estimable Rachel Laudan mentioned foodies in a post on her blog.

My area of expertise is etiquette, of course. If you have had a pea dropped down your frontspiece by men such as Le Rochefoucauld and his merry set etiquette is a requirement. I only most devotedly wish to assist the weary reader in these areas. Therefore I propose now a small and I hope delightful series of notes on how to become a five minute faux foodie. Most of you do not need more. Nor do you have the time for more what with Twittering and cellphones and trying to define and sell your brand whilst inbetween quoting the finer self-help quacks in the business today.

The hour is late. The cat waits for her food and dusk is falling. I shall have to continue tomorrow in these instructions. But do, please, have hope. We all can be five minute faux foodies and may enjoy the admiration of the masses. Instructions will follow.

Oh! Do forgive my terrible lack of comment for I do wish to say Happy Bastille Day to All!

A tout l’heure!

My devotions,

Katerina la Vermintz

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It was because of the coffee that I knew we were close to New York. And it wasn’t about the type of coffee or the taste – because we’d stopped in yet another Panera off the highway exit ramp offering the same kind of coffee as the last Panera off the exit ramp.

It was how I got my coffee that told me I was near New York. New York City. I’m not talking about the state because there is no discernible difference when you cross state lines. It’s all about the City.

I gave my order to the Panera girl. Double espresso. I waited, expecting as usual to have to repeat the order at least once then to have to wait patiently as she picked out the right button on the cash register then to pay then to wait another three minutes or so while she moved to the espresso machine to carefully slowly tease out the coffee from the machine.

But it wasn’t like that. I ordered and she didn’t ask me to repeat myself. Instead she rang up the order and moved with lightning speed to the espresso machine. She was a little thing and as she moved she called out, “I’ve never made this before,” (try this scenario on anywhere else but New York City and you’ve got at least a ten minute wait for your coffee twiddling your thumbs and biting your tongue while the learning process is somehow carefully and painfully managed) and the manager, a little stocky Italian guy with arms like a hairy gorilla, appeared magically at her side. “It’s easy,” he said. “Just do this that and that,” he told her while pointing at things on the machine. She nodded, did what he said, and he turned to me. “You want it here or to go?,” he asked rapid-fire (it sounded like “youwanhereorgo” and my heart sang. I loved this guy. He spoke my language. “I’m going to take it to go,” (I’mgointotakego) all rapid fire patter between us, and I wanted to hug him from the sheer joy of the dance that got that coffee for me in just about half a minute rather than the three or four deadly, dull, boring minutes it takes ‘outside the city’.

It was because of the coffee I knew I was near New York. It felt great to get coffee in my language. Exultant, even.

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Lots of people have food fears lately. With good reason, too. Once in a while there are outbreaks of nasty things that do immediate damage within our food systems. Our fast foods and convenience foods are loaded with tricky ingredients that apparently make people unable to stop eating them while slowly their weight ballons and their health may be affected. Even organic foods are tricky – they might come from a factory farm and still be ‘organic’ but what the USDA calls organic and what other people call organic may be different. Local foods are fine as long as the grass-fed cows are not pastured with the free-range chickens (although it makes a pretty picture for sure). And if you don’t know why, then there is yet another thing to find out about and be scared of!

How to decide what food to trust. There are many opinions. So many ways to sort this out that even that can be frightening.

I’ve decided to take things into my own hands. For a long time I’ve known something about fear and trust. And what I know can be boiled down to a few words, which it could be you’ve heard before:

“I’ll trust him as far as I can throw him.”

Absolutely. There is meaning in that phrase. When someone says that to me, there is no question in my mind as to ‘what it means’. It is clear and decisive. And there is methodry involved, scientific methodry. Throwing.

I decided to test some new foods from the supermarket today, compared to some I already buy, to see how far I could trust them. Who knows. It might be the packaging full of chemicals. It might be chemicals in the growing process. It might be the way the corporation is run. It might be the caloric content. It might be the way the food has been treated. It might be gluten in excess or sugar there’s always sugar or worse some sugary thing made from corn. I need to find out what I can trust.

I walked to the playground nearby to conduct this test, so that the foods would all be calm and content, pleased to be in a joyful childlike environment. And I started throwing.

Each throw was the same. I used the same amount of strength and stood in the same exact place. And here are the results:

The little frozen challah breads came in as the clear winner in trustworthiness since they could be thrown the furthest. Next it seemed as if the asparagus and the honey bear honey were a tie, though the asparagus was right in the center unafraid of the test and the honey bear honey sidled off to the left a bit.

Lamb chops, banana leaves, and granola were somewhere in the middle. Trustworthy but apparently worth watching a bit, just in case they try something.

Last was the tofu. It did not go very far. Distressing, for tofu always presents itself as one of the foremost trustable foods. But then again, it often is like this. Underneath the bluster of loud ideology can be found some pretty big cracks if one chooses to look.

I hope this scientific method to determine if your food fears are justified helps you as much as it has helped me. Please send in your own results from any testing you may undertake.

It’s just one way of making the world a better place.

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The sturdy letter ‘A’ starts the alphabet and so we must begin with sturdy things. For a piggy alphabet ‘angel’ will not do. Instead we must go straight to ‘animelles’. Animelles are a part of the piggy but not a part of the sow. But more on this later, perhaps. It has been a difficult task to write a piggy alphabet after the virtuouso performance by Suzy Oakes of whatamieating.com shown in the sixth comment on the previous post. But here goes:

A – animelles

B – brawn (follows along nicely after animelles)

C – caul fat which I love or crackling bread which I may love even more

D – devilled, which is a method of cooking pig’s feet

E – et tu, brute which is what you should say when you meet a pig

F – fidget pies

G – gelee

H – humorous, because pigs are

I – intestines

J – James. Jane Grigson writes that ‘This bland combination of pork, prunes, cream and the white wine of Vouvray embodies what Henry James described as ‘the good humoured and succulent Touraine’.”

K – kidneys

L – lights and lungs

M – mesentary

N – nose ring

O – O! O oO! O! is the common sound made by someone the first time they taste a whole roast pig.

P – Pen

Q – Quiet, which a pig is not

R – Rooting

S – St. Anthony, the patron saint of sausage-makers

T – Tourtiere

U – Urban Foragers which is what pigs were, in the streets of New York City back in ‘olden times’

V – Vauban, who at one time calculated that in twelve years ‘a sow could accumulate 6,434,838 descendants

W – Wienerbeuscherl

X -Xanthippe, who married Socrates who wrote “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied

Y – yippeee! is the appropriate response when good barbecued ribs appear

Z – zabaglione is an excellent dessert to eat after roast pork.

Yes, the pig took wing. It was a stretch, but the alphabet is done.

Charles Monselet has a poem for us!

For all is good in thee;

Thy flesh, thy lard, thy muscles and thy tripe!

As galantine thou’rt loved, as blood pudding adored.

A saint has, of they feet, created the best type

Of trotters. And, from the Périgord,

The soil has blessed thee with so sweet a scent

It could have woo’d Xanthippe, all her anger spent

To join with Socrates, whom elsewise she abhorred

In worship of this lord

Of animals, dear hog: angelic meat, say we.

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Haute Jello


Photo Micaela Rossoto

Haute jello is never out of place.
Haute jello does wonders for the face.
Haute jello is the friend to the figure
Haute jello makes a lovely picture.

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No, I’m not suggesting that you eat the refrigerator – I was just looking for an excuse to use the illustration. But it does raise the question of whether we ‘understand’, or know, or experience, our food in the same way if that food is an icy plastic-covered super-industrialized product created by a corporation for mass consumption or if that food is rather the odd turnip or potato pulled up at the farm by Pappy then carefully washed, sliced and stewed by Mammy with the bit of salt pork from the pig slaughtered each autumn by Uncle Wilbur.

Have you ever considered eating something unusual for the purpose of ‘understanding’ it? (This is not the same thing as eating something strange for the purpose of  bragging about it afterwards to all your eagerly disgusted friends!)

One family in particular of a studious nature took to this idea. Their tables were graced with some very interesting foodstuffs.

Not only was his house filled with specimens – animal as well as mineral, live as well as dead – but he claimed to have eaten his way through the animal kingdom: zoophagy. The most distasteful items were mole and bluebottle; panther, crocodile and mouse were among the other dishes noted by guests. Augustus Hare, a famous English raconteur and contemporary, recalled, “Talk of strange relics led to mention of the heart of a French King preserved at Nuneham in a silver casket. Dr. Buckland, whilst looking at it, exclaimed, ‘I have eaten many strange things, but have never eaten the heart of a king before,’ and, before anyone could hinder him, he had gobbled it up, and the precious relic was lost for ever.” The heart in question is said to have been that of Louis XIV. Buckland was followed in this bizarre hobby by his son Frank.

Like father, like son – Francis Trevelyan Buckland followed his dad William in the ways of the table.

Buckland was a pioneer of zoöphagy: his favourite research was eating the animal kingdom. This habit he learnt from his father, whose residence, the Deanery, offered such rare delights as mice in batter, squirrel pie, horse’s tongue and ostrich. After the ‘Eland Dinner’ in 1859 at the London Tavern, organised by Richard Owen, Buckland set up the Acclimatization Society to further the search for new food. In 1862 100 guests at Willis’ Rooms sampled Japanese Sea slug (= sea cucumber, probably), kangaroo, guan, curassow and Honduras turkey. This was really quite a modest menu, though Buckland had his eye on Capybara for the future. Buckland’s home, 37 Albany Sreet, London, was famous for its menagerie and its varied menus. [4]

His writing was sometimes slapdash, but always vivid and racy, and made natural history attractive to the mass readership. This is an example:

“On Tuesday evening, at 5pm, Messrs Grove, of Bond Street, sent word that they had a very fine sturgeon on their slab. Of course, I went down at once to see it… The fish measured 9 feet in length [nearly three metres]. I wanted to make a cast of the fellow… and they offered me the fish for the night: he must be back in the shop the next morning by 10 am… [various adventures follow] I was determined to get him into the kitchen somehow; so, tying a rope to his tail, I let him slide down the stone stairs by his own weight. He started all right, but ‘getting way’ on him, I could hold the rope no more, and away he went sliding headlong down the stairs, like an avalanche down Mont Blanc… he smashed the door open… and slid right into the kitchen… till at last he brought himself to an anchor under the kitchen table. This sudden and unexpected appearance of the armour-clad sea monster, bursting open the door… instantly created a sensation. The cook screamed, the house-maid fainted, the cat jumped on the dresser, the dog retreated behind the copper and barked, the monkeys went mad with fright, and the sedate parrot has never spoken a word since.” [5]

Now that sounds like a fun place to visit! I never before thought the Dean of Westminster and his family so very exciting!

The only thing I feel really badly about is that I have not (yet) located their recipe for Rhinoceros Pie. Do you think perhaps Rhinoceros Pies is the magical thing inside the Holy Refrigerator illustrated above? Or is it a TV dinner in there? Or that famous organic turnip? Or some leftover canned spaghetti? Or . . . . ? What could it possibly be?!

And having eaten the things we eat, do we then understand them? Or do we write our own stories about them to suit our own pleasures and to fit our own mindsets . . . .

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Radical Chic, after all, is only radical in style; in its heart it is part of Society and its traditions. (Tom Wolfe, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers -1970)

Ramps. I’m sick and tired of ’em. You hear about them here there and everywhere. They are the new Darlings (or rather they are hanging on by a thread to being the new Darlings, but that is merely because there has been no contender for the title) of the Hip Veggie world.

For the past several years, ramps have been vociferously promenading the Red Carpet that was previously pranced upon by arugula merrily towing its attendant baby veggies.

Surely the time has come for a change. Ramps, my dears, are passé. I do not want to read of ramps anymore in drinks, salads, crusts, and soups. Soggy old ramps! Your day is past.

It is time for a New Star on the Red Carpet and it really should be Creasy Greens. From Dave’s Garden:

At the first hint of spring in the Appalachian Mountains, folks start looking for “creasy greens”. They are the earliest of any of the wild greens, often poking through the snow, and although traditionally hunted by foragers they are now grown commercially. Creasy greens are usually cooked long, like kale, mustard or turnip greens but they are equally good raw in a fresh salad.

Here’s a personal story about the Soon-To-Be-Star from The Herbwife’s Kitchen

When I was a tiny kid I used to love climbing around the hillside above our pasture looking for creasy greens in the early spring.

I still love creasy greens.

Creasy greens are Barbarea verna, in the mustard family. They taste a little mustardy, a little sweet, a little bitter. Reminiscent of very young collards, but wilder.

I like to pick them when they’re about to bloom, when they’re a lot like “wild broccoli” (or broccolini, rapini, broccoli raab, or whatever they’re calling it these days).

This season’s Spring Fashion is done with. Let’s get Cutting Edge. Start to think Creasy Greens.
You can even grow your own from Heirloom Seeds! To be ahead of the crowd!

Creasy Greens. Watch out for them. My fashion prediction is that you’ll see  them everywhere next Spring. And they won’t be cheap, dressed up in their new Red Carpet attire!

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Like any other thing we eat, there is the question of ‘why’? Why do we eat this particular thing? Do we eat it because we are really hungry? Or do we eat it because it just happens to be in front of us and available to eat? Or maybe simply because it happens to be the set time for a meal? These questions are the simpler ones. The more challenging questions have to do with tradition, history, culture, and power.

Power is not the least of things affecting what we eat – though in our culture that fact is not as apparent as it may be in other cultures.

In this short online documentary from National Geographic, the bush meat trade is summarized in a way that brings attention to some of the power issues circling around the eating of wild game or bushmeat such as rhinoceros in Africa. There was no mention of the lumber companies which have a hand in the story, but the players in this game – and the histories and traditions – all combine to create a not-so-small battle of ‘whose reality is the right one here’ – with very real results of the battle showing in day-to-day life in this place faraway from where we live and eat.

There is real hunger in some places. Hunger for food to stay alive. Then there are the other sorts of hungers. The complex hungers of status that play out in a number of ways.

Why would we want to eat rhinoceros? Or lion or tiger or bear? These things are not part of our cultural norms as edible things. Is the answer ‘I just want to know what it tastes like,’ a real answer – fully true and valid with no squirrelly levels of additional or alternate meaning underneath this flat-stated claim?

Perhaps in some cases it is for mere entertainment value.

We can buy wild game, including lion meat – online. Here, at this link, is a source. It is called ‘exotic meat’. Which of course has a different feel to the mind than ‘bush meat’ does. One of the satisfied customers giving testimonial on the website of this online exotic meat store was the pastor of a church in California, who states

“Anshu, The Lion Meat and the Python Meat was a hit. The guys found ways to cook it that were appealing. 500 people had a taste. Thanks for all your help.It was very nice to meet you and visit with you on the phone.” Yours, Jeff Beltz, Pastor, Hydesville Community Church

Dining upon the rhinoceros is certainly something to muse upon. We’ve come up close to the beast and have a few recipes ready if the need or urge arises.

The rhino is a homely beast,
For human eyes he’s not a feast.
Farwell, farewell, you old rhinoceros,
I’ll stare at something less prepoceros.

I think the rhino is rather cute, though Ogden Nash would disagree. Prepoceros, though – for sure.

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In studies of food and culture one fact crops up time and again: We do not like what the ‘others’ eat. We only like what ‘we’ eat. That is, until the ‘others’ become lovable to us in some way – acceptable companions at table. As the rhinoceros comes to the table to be eaten, it may be worthwhile to investigate who loves him before we cook him. Will he make the grade to be happily placed upon our tables for merry feasting?

The illustration above is from a 1959 children’s book titled ‘Rupert the Rhinoceros’. We can see that the dolphin loves the rhinoceros called Rupert but the story goes deeper than that. In this newspaper article from the Telegraph we learn of the tale of Rupert the Real Rhinoceros – who was for some time a family pet.

The question of whether one can eat a pet is a curious one. We eat things we love but not things we keep as pets, in most cases.

Other examples rhinoceros-as-dinner do exist. The Munster Family liked a bit of rhino for dinner – most particularly the tongue.

When it comes time for dinner, Lily is a whiz in the kitchen and always finds time to prepare a nice hot meal for Herman and family .Their mealtime included such delicacies as chopped lizard livers, cold rhinoceros tongue sandwiches, fillet of dragon, eggs (Gloomy side up), cream of vulture soup (Herman’s favorite), curried lizard casserole, rolled hyena-foot roast, bird’s nest stew (Grandpa’s favorite), warm ladyfingers with pickled frog ears, Dodo bird roast, cream of buzzard or iguana soup; cactus salad, and salamander salad with centipede dressing.

The New York Times describes a dinner in 1905 where rhinoceros was so devoutly desired that the menu was faked so as to deceive those so eagerly awaiting their bite of rhino.

The Canadian Camp had its annual dinner at the Hotel Astor last night, and the members and guests had a lot of fun despite scurrilous stories that the piece de resistance, which had been advertised as “filet of Bornean rhinoceros, sent from the Berlin Zoological Gardens with the compliments of his Royal Highness Prince Henry of Prussia,” was ordinary bear’s meat, or moose, or even plain, everyday beef.

The disillusionment must have been terrible.

The love of rhino can be very deep indeed. I leave you with a final story as example of a man who ‘glued himself to a rhinoceros’ buttocks’ to consider in the quest to decide whether rhinoceros is indeed loved (and if so, loved in the right sort of way to put it on the table for dinner).

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Our important discussion of dining on the hippopotamus – the subject matter of which has so much to do with current and vital issues of culture and society – will have to be briefly interrupted for the annual Parade of Men in Aprons.

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369296409_4ff9ee511d_oWe are sorry that these are the only clips we can provide you with, as the entries have been fewer this year than expected.

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I had promised some hijinks to a friend. But then I had none ready. What to do? Why, put on the hijinks apron and whip some up of course!

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As you see I am ready to rock! My apron starched and laundered. And there are seven of me. Just to be sure the job gets done.

What I didn’t know, when I promised hijinks to my friend, was that ‘hijinks’ is a drinking game.

High jinks, a somewhat dated expression for fun and pranks, was originally the name of an ancient drinking game played wih dice, and the antics of the players gave birth to the phrase. Sir Walter Scott describes the game in his novel Guy Mannering (1815): “Most frequently the dice were thrown by the company, and those upon whom the lot fell were obliged to assume and maintain for a time a certain fictitious character or to repeat a certain number of fescennine (obscene) verses in a particular order. If they departed from the character assigned . . . they incurred forfeits, which were compounded for by swallowing an additional bumper, or by paying a small sum toward the reckoning.” (Word and Phrase Origins Third Edition, Robert Hendrickson)

Why, this seems perfect for me! I can throw dice and drink with the best of them! And as there are seven of me (already dressed in aprons and ready to work at this thing, feather duster in hand!) the game is on! I shall have to invent a few more fictitious characters because swallowing a bumper sounds like a bad idea. The only bumpers I know (well, aside from those guys on the subway and I wouldn’t want to swallow any part of them either) are the heavy steel things on cars. Horrible to swallow.

I’m off to gather my chickens and hijinks. See you soon!
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Watch the dancing pickles then listen to the song!

I’ve heard this song before, often – but never did I know it was called The Dill Pickle Rag!

(Do you think the pickles were deep-fried?)

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Fructology. Why have I never heard of it before? Related to ayurvedism and humoral type-casting, but solely within the land of fruits.

Throughout the ages, women and men have sought to divine information about their past, present and future from the natural world. Quantum physicists have learnt that all things in the universe are interconnected, thus demonstrating the truth behind the science of Astrology. All over the planet, people read with awe the predictions made in their star-sign, moon-sign and sun-sign horoscopes. These accurate charts are created by the scientific interpretation of the relative positions and movements of the various Astral bodies within and without our Solar System. It is known that the planets affect the lives of  those born under them, as the pull of gravity affects the very molecules in our brains at the moments of birth and conception.

This science is, however, limited. The stars and planets are dead bodies – balls of rock or flaming gas, and nothing more. Something is missing. That something is the life-force itself. The Elan Vital, as it were. During his life-long search for the Truth, Doctor Barnett began to formulate the science of Fructology (or Fruit Signs) and it’s related science of Fructitherapy (fruit-based healing), based on the realisation that peoples from around the world exhibit minor modifications to their Astrological personality types. The one thing in common throughout the world, a thing which exemplifies the very essence of life itself, is fruit.
As the seasons roll across the face of the world trees, flowers, shrubs and hedges burst into life, expending their life-energies in the production of fruits.

Like people, fruit comes in all imaginable shapes, sizes, colours and textures.

There are eight fruit-life types, according to the website. I am going to try to find mine. If it affects my aura by the practice of eating the advised fruit-types, I’ll report back. Oh, in a month or so. I wonder what fruit-type I’ll turn out to be. I wonder what fruit-type you’ll turn out to be, too!

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I would not eat an axolotl
For fear he’d get stuck in my throatl

It wouldn’t matter that I was hungry
He’d make my tummy feel too jumbeley

I’ve decided that
(For me)
Eating axolotl-y
Would be sheerly vacuous glaxoluttony.

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A few months ago I saw a bakers rack stuck in the middle of the cookbook section of my local Barnes & Noble. I got confused for a minute. It was like having a TJ Maxx Moment, if you know what I mean. Now the stuff on the rack, the ‘cookware’ to use the correct term (though usually I call them pots, pans, and ‘that thingie over there’) was very cute. And there was this big book with a photo of Mario on the cover hovering over the whole thing. Now Batali is no little flit in the night sort of chef. He knows what he’s doing, so I stopped to take a look. A song popped into my mind: Al Green, of course! ‘Love and Happiness’.

Oh yeah! I was feeling it. Mario was into it. Into what, you ask? Into spreading the love, the happiness, the sheer joy of having the right cookware (which we know as pots, pans, and ‘those thingies over there’)! And he’d brought it on home, baby. Right home to the center of the cookbook section.

I must not have been feeling the love that day, for apparently a noise inbetween a gasp, a guffaw, and a sad moan escaped my lips, which made several of the customers lounging about in the deep fat corporate-style beige chairs reading cookbooks while drinking up their jumbo-size Starbucks lattes slowly, like good little people, glance up at me cautiously.

Much as I respect Mario (and have no doubt, I do!) my traipse to cashier’s aisle was filled with a sort of bewilderment tossed with a hint of sadness. Where would it all end? Would the right sort of cookware to buy soon be falling off bakers racks towards me at Office Max? At the dentist’s office? Or maybe at the oil change place . . .

Yesterday as I drove by Barnes & Noble, I noticed a change. The Racks of Mario (as I’ve come to think of them) have moved forward and are now placed smack-dab in the front window of the store. No longer do they need hover self-effacingly in the cookbook section. No! The display window of the entire bookstore is the right place for cookware! (which we know as pots, pans, and ‘that thingie over there’).

Either that or those pots and pans need to be sold. Like, now.

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Mmm mmmm. Love and happiness. It make you wanna do wroooong, make you wanna dooo right.

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‘Big Fish Eat Little Fish’ 1557 – Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Breughel the Elder is, of course, a piece of art that tells a story – a proverbial story. And how vividly it does so!

Here is no paper-tray and cellophane-wrapped water-injected boneless white chicken breast for the distanced senses of the diner. This is life full-tilt – the sea thrashes, the men struggle with knives huge and dangerous, small and pointed. The fish flail and scramble, the boats toss. I can smell it. The sea, the innards of fish, the pungent dank liverish smell. The scales fly in the air to land on an exposed cheek, the fingers are numb and cold, slippery with fish.

It reminded me, actually, aside from these musings of life – of stuffed squid. The big fish shape sort of looked like a squid, and naturally all those little spouting fishes were the filling – which had to include anchovy as a matter of course.

Here’s a recipe for stuffed squid (calamari ripiene). It looks almost exactly like the one I  make, except I chop up the anchovies rather than use paste . . . and only three squid to stuff? No. I think they must be larger than the ones I can find. Plus the stuffing/filling needs a generous handful of chopped Italian parsley added to it.

It’s very good.

Lent is coming up. I wonder if it is as common as it used to be to dine upon fish rather than meat.

Certainly the process seems no gentler,  after gazing at the image above.

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I’ve wanted to make Son-of-a-Bitch Stew since forever.

It’s been so long I’ve wanted to make one that I can’t remember anymore where it was I first even heard of Son-of-a-Bitch Stew. And usually I can trot out the source of any recipe I’ve ever made or heard of because my mind is a Steel Recipe Trap.

I looked in all the cookbooks I’ve had for a long time. Nothing. Nada. Rien. Kaput. Son-of-a-Bitch Stew was not even mentioned by Waverly Root, and goodness knows he mentioned a lot of wonderfully, exceptionally odd things.

But that Son-of-a-Bitch Stew has been calling my name. I used to threaten people with the fact that I’d make it for them. Threaten or promise, that is. I was ready to do it at the drop of a hat (but only if it was a cowboy hat) and even knew butcher shops that had most of the ingredients.

That Son-of-a-Bitch (stew, that is) came awful close to hitting the stove once when a fellow from Wyoming came to lunch. Why Wyoming? (Say that fast five times . . .) Because Wyoming is a place where the Son-of-a-Bitch was known and loved. It’s not only in Texas, you know.

I was close to putting it on the menu, as close to it as a pig’s nose-ring is to the soil when they’re rooting around, but then I chickened out. Actually my mind was more running along the lines of making Son-of-a-Bitch-in-a-Sack, which would have been much more good old-fashioned fun, but darn it all. Something inside told me not to.

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I probably never would have found all the ingredients though, or at least not without saddling up my trusty steed and heading out for a long ride on the dusty trail in search of some of the more interesting tidbits. Then there’s also the fact that for sure the kitchen staff would have run for the hills themselves if I’d proposed the idea of Son-of-a-Bitch for lunch.

Son-of-a-Bitch in a Sack is sort of like Son-of-a-Bitch Stew, or it’s not. It’s not when it’s a pastry, a dessert – like the recipe Alan Simpson mentions enclosing in his letter. But the other way is like an Extreme Son-of-a-Bitch-Stew. You get real, with this thing. Here’s a recipe for Son-of-a-Bitch Stew from Clifford Wright.

What I remember most, but what I can not find written anywhere (did I imagine it, as I loped across the imaginary plains on my imaginary horse?) is that the Son-of-a-Bitch in a Sack (the one that is not a dessert) (the one you get real with) was cooked in a cow’s stomach. Therefore the name.

Though that Son-of-a-Bitch is still calling my name, the words are fainter now as time goes on by. Now, when I read the ingredients list, no low growl emits from my throat – the growl that says “I Will“.  Now, the corners of my mouth turn up a bit in delight at the unbridled sheer macho joy of the whole thing. And I say to myself “Maybe. Just maybe. Someday.

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Clifford Wright’s “Real Stew” book (source of the recipe above) is here on my bookshelves. And although I winnow constantly, it has been – and will always be – a Keeper. 🙂
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Yeeeeeeeee-haw! Rawhide!

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“I’m not a banana person. No! No, I’m not a banana person!”
And thus began my trip to the grocery store. A clean well-lighted place, and one that happens to often be entertaining. Today it was particularly so.

The not-a-banana-person was young and blonde. Young-and-Blonde wandered through the produce department, really wishing her boyfriend and all the rest of the world to understand her point. Her voice rose above the hum of carts and clatter and hundreds of people wandering through the fertile aisles.

Pushing my little steel rolling cart past the pharmacy section (there is a pharmacy in every good grocery store in America you know, and really for very good reason) I noticed the six foot tall brunette with hair flailing down to her behind – the hair clipped back ever-so-touchingly with a plastic and pink rhinestone barrette (this is a hair clip, people, not a beret which is a hat – and if you wonder why I insist on mentioning this it is because I’ve often heard people use the word barrette for beret around here – along with using the word toboggan which is a sled for going down snowy hills where I come from to mean a woolly cap worn in the winter) (sorry for the side thought but can you imagine being told Put your toboggan on your head unless you want to get a chill (?). Disturbing. Very.) but anyway this six foot tall brunette is buying cupcakes.

A dozen. Six in bright neon green with multi-sprinkles, six more in a turquoise blue the color of Elmo – also with multi-sprinkles. “Thorazine!” she barks out at the pharmacy attendant. “The scrip is for thorazine!”

From gammon and spinnage to cupcakes and thorazine. Cupcakes and thorazine. Cupcakes and thorazine.

A higher level has been reached. Last month in a snowstorm I edged my car past the car badly parked in front of the pharmacy take-out window glowing brightly from the front brick wall of the grocery store. “Prozac!” the woman bellowed into the window.

At the checkout the students are buying their staples. These staples can be defined in one single word important to the economy of our town: Beer. This is a college town, a town where the college is well-regarded, a town that exists because of the college. And it would not do so without beer, and lots of it.

Cupcakes and thorazine, cupcakes and thorazine.

A memory from last week slipped into my mind. My neighbors, in celebration of a sporting event win, had held keg stands past midnight two nights in a row. A glorious and horrible thing, a keg stand.

“I’m not a banana person!”

Cupcakes and thorazine cupcakes and thorazine.

What a world of gammon and spinnage it is, though, ain’t it.

Leaving behind the cupcakes and thorazine, the bananas expounded, the beer by the multi-keg, I pushed my little steel cart – always filled to the brim though I’d only come in for a few small items – right out the automatically-opening exit door.

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Gammon and Spinach (from Word and Phrase Origins, Robert Hendrickson) – The expression gammon and spinach for “nonsense, humbug” is not as familiar today as it was in Dicken’s time, when he used it in David Copperfield. [ . . .] The phrase, most likely an elaboration of the slang word gammon, which meant nonsense or ridiculous story, is probably patterned on the older phrase gammon and patter, the language of London underworld thieves. The nonsense part of it was possibly reinforced by the old nursery rhyme “A Frog He Would a Woo’ing Go” (1600) heard by millions: “With a rowley powley gammon and spinach/Heigh ho! says Anthony Rowley!”
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Why not a recipe? Why not, a recipe. Here’s a good one: Spinach fiorelli with gammon and mascarpone from TimesOnline.

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You’ll have to see it to believe it:

Extreme History – Cooking on the Chisholm Trail

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It’s good to know what sign you are, to eat accordingly.

BBC GoodFood can help with this. I like what they advise for me.

Happy Chinese New Year!

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In this vintage ad from the 1940’s we’ve now discovered how the Chiquita Banana Helps the Pieman – and have also had a fascinating demonstration on how to flute a banana.

But that’s only dessert. ‘Where’s the beef?’ (Clara would ask) – and here it is:

Recipes from Gourmet magazine during the 1940’s, from the archives. Note the simplicity of the instructions, and remember – the founder (in 1939*) and publisher of Gourmet was a fellow named Earle MacAusland, who loved huntin’ and fishin’  . . .  in a gentlemanly-gourmet sort of way.

Tequila Por Mi Amante

Oyster Waffles Shortcake

Creamed Woodchuck

Bachelor’s Defense

Moving right along, if you’re still prone to hunger pains, to some

Blacktail Buck Steaks

finished off with (don’t forget the banana pie too)

Imprisoned Fruit

. . . the recipe for which starts off with

Look over your tree carefully in the springtime, when the blossoms are gone and the fruit is just beginning to form. Choose a few choice specimens, each at the end of a branch, and insert the branch gently into the neck of a large bottle, until the fruit is well inside. The next job is to support the bottle so that it stays in place in the tree. This may be done with ropes, if the tree is large enough, or it may be necessary to build up wooden supports to hold the bottle.

At first, the native feel of the menu made me think of gentle old-timey innocent images in my mind. Little boys goin’ out to catch a mess of fish, oh so cute in their rumpled overalls

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But then upon musing on the menu components a bit further, it seemed to me that (more likely) the intent of all this cooking (whether done by the above-mentioned ‘bachelor’ or by his feminine equal) would be in hopes of something more along the lines of this, from Tino Rossi, 1945:

P.S. Edit added: *This date (1939) is not confirmed by source (yet). No bessame mucho here. Yet. 🙂

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Ouch. It’s January 2009, and wallets previously ready to fly open at the slightest beckoning call of the local free-range organic rabbit (head still on, bones intact, tiny tail bone looking rather pitiful now shed of its cute fluffy fur) for $7 per pound – which effectively makes the cost of the meat shorn of the bones somewhere around $15 per pound – those wallets are balking.

But it is not 1940. And we are not in London. And we are not kept busy in the ways the Women Firewatchers shown in the above photograph (from British Vogue in 1940 by Lee Miller) were kept actively busy at that time.

But getting back to the wallets of 2009. Some will still open. Many more will not.

Pain shows in the hearts and faces of men and women when facing their finances. Not only have their retirement funds been hobbled but food – right now – today! – is becoming more and more expensive. What’s a person to do?

This poverty is a different shape, here and now in 2009, than it has been in times past. For aside from the fact that the grocery stores are still filled to over-brimming with every product from almost everywhere in the world, there is the question of those wallets. Are those wallets as damaged as they have been in past times of hardship? Not being an economist, I can’t answer that.

But I do know that in past times though there may have been mortgage payments and utility bills and all the usual expenses of day-to-day life, there was no monthly cell-phone bill . . . there was no monthly cable or internet connection bill . . . there was no high health insurance payment due . . . there usually was not a second or third car payment bill due . . . and let’s not even start talking about the cost of a higher-education where funds must be saved or financed for the Masters or Ph.D rather than for the Bachelors degree – which now for the most part is about as useful to the job-seeker as a High School degree was in times past – useful, that is, as a mere nod into the door of a low-paying entry job.

In times of hardship one looks to times of past hardships for answers: what to do, how to survive. There’s also the sense of seeking reassurance that indeed, people did survive. They did live and love and eat and hate and plot and plan and dream and finally either regain their feet – or if not – simply go on living, somehow.

One of our most-revered writers on life, food, and hungers – MFK Fisher – wrote a huge body of work during the 1940’s during times of war and some hardships. Consider the Oyster (1941) was written as she and her husband Dillwyn Parrish fled a war-torn Europe to come back to the US. Dillwyn was dying – in a most painful way – in a way where his body was slowly, bit by bit, being claimed by Buerger’s disease. How to Cook A Wolf was published in 1942 – the year when the rationing (already in place in England) finally came to US shores.

Tires were the first item to be rationed in January 1942 because supplies of natural rubber were interrupted. Soon afterward, passenger automobiles, typewriters, sugar, gasoline, bicycles, footwear, fuel oil, coffee, stoves, shoes, meat, lard, shortening and oils, cheese, butter, margarine, processed foods (canned, bottled and frozen), dried fruits, canned milk, firewood and coal, jams, jellies and fruit butter, were rationed by November 1943.[3] (Source wiki-rationing-US)

How To Cook A Wolf is full of information about how to survive when there is little to survive on. I’ve read this book more than once, in varying circumstances. The time I most appreciated it was when I moved to Paris into a wonderful apartment whose heating system required the insertion of coins into a small box on the wall. It seemed apt to read MFKF then and there.

Much of what is in this book will not be accepted by today’s readers, looking for answers in terms of ‘what to eat’ when the pocketbook is hurting. Gently given advice to ‘Go fishing for your dinner‘, or to ‘Gather wild foods for the one daily meal’, and ‘Eat mush‘ (recipe provided) come to mind.

In 1943 MFKF published The Gastronomical Me – to my mind the greatest of her works. Here is life, punctuated by food. Food is the thing that binds, that ties, that rocks, that cradles – a river that the larger themes of existence flow upon, with the prose of MFKF as wind goddess moving it all along.

Then followed a novel, then the translation of Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste, and An Alphabet for Gourmets.

There are many ways to face being pinched by the dollar. As for myself, I won’t try cooking and eating mush – unless I really have to. And I am grateful that my days are not spent scanning the skies for warplanes and fires.

But I will read MFK Fisher. And not just only (or not even substantially) for the advice she gives (though some of it is good).

I’ll read her just for her words, alone. They’re better in some ways than even the most perfect slab of Kobe beef.

An added bonus? They are sustainable.
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Live recording of Billie Holiday from the 1940’s: Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do

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Postscript: A selection from Betty MacDonald’s classic book The Egg and I was one of the featured works included in Molly O’Neills’ American Food Writing – An Anthology with Classic Recipes.

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(Part 2, continued from preceding post)

No reason, really – why I should have been repulsed by that little scene on the table. The Chef was married but then so was the Sous Chef. Inequalities of power happen all the time. The Chef was gorgeous in an older woman sort of way – the thought did creep into my mind momentarily of her three children but then again it was said that hers was an open marriage. The Sous Chef was much younger than her and biddable. That’s exactly why he was Sous Chef. His wife was the ugliest woman I’d ever laid eyes on in my life. Still is, if I remember right. Why, I can’t explain. It was nothing precise or explainable. She was just plain scary-looking. Ugly. But the fact remains that watching the Executive Chef lean back onto the table laughing with her mouth in a wide open grimace, her legs grasping the chunky chested Sous Chef who was also rather grinning in a frightened sort of way – was repulsive.

It had almost been the last straw. I’d almost quit the job.

The ingredients that went into this recipe of being a professional cook in a restaurant kitchen were so different than I’d expected. I’d thought “Oh! I love to cook!” “Oh! I can do that job!” “Oh! I want to work in a restaurant!” and so, I’d applied for the job and regardless of the fact that I’d never cooked professionally, won the job after a horrendous first day where I thought I’d surely die from exhaustion, where I’d gone and laid down a little kitchen towel on the floor of the dirty white-trash-looking staff bathroom, far in the corner of the worst-lit longest corridor, and I’d laid there curled up for ten minutes to gather the strength to go back and do the job. Lifting fifty pound mixing bowls over my five-foot-two shoulder to pour batter into the prepared ten cakepans in a sweltering kitchen had not been my forte at any time before that day, and it was a bit of a mouthful to bite on.

I’d almost quit, but there was a triangle in the kitchen that I’d either walk out on or break out of victorious. And I was just angry enough to want to emerge victorious.

The triangle consisted of the Chef on one side. The line cooks, Roger and Frank, on the other side. And little Colette the French waitress who somehow had ended up in this eccentric place called Connecticut who ooh’d and ahh’d over the new offerings on the pastry cart (“I am glad someone knows how to BAKE” she would announce in tight short tones. “It has been HORRIBLE“) along with the Salvadoran busboys, who detested the line cooks and who loved cakes and pastries and taking a side wherever a side was to be found. I didn’t want to walk out on Colette and the Salvadoran busboys.

Roger turned up the volume on the radio set tuned to the hard-metal station to a screeching blast that day when he saw me walk in, and started to bob his head like a sick old duck in time to the bass notes. Frank pouted. I walked to the pastry station and right there on the spot where the Chef’s behind had been sitting several days before, I threw down upon that spot my weapon, and got ready to begin the attack.

My weapon was sweet.

My weapon was brilliant.

My weapon was a book.

The name of my weapon was ‘Lenotre’s Desserts and Pastries‘.

(To be continued . . .Part Three Lenotres Cakes)

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Some people remember the past through things they ate. Memory, place, time, flavor, people . . . all become woven together into a fabric not to be unravelled.

Just as when in those moments a piece of music will insinuate through melody an entirely different time layered upon the present in a sudden spark that floods the current reality with meanings imbued from the past . . . and those meanings are every bit as real in the ‘now’ as when they first were formed . . .

Not that memory is not a questionable thing. It is. But some memories are less fractured than others – one can only hope that the retrospective glance is not looking through the prism of the past less clearly but more clearly, with the focused light of objectivity found through years passed – something not be attained by banging at it, but nonetheless sometimes to be found seredipitously.

I remember the past not so much from things I ate, but more from things I cooked.

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The kitchen was hot that day. It often was, if you happened to arrive in the afternoon for work rather than in the early morning before the ovens and stoves and grill and fryolator and steamer all were operating at a pace similar to an animated Disney movie – at times almost ridiculously fast, almost out of control.

I could go in to work at whatever time pleased me, as the Pastry Chef.

At this upscale suburban Connecticut restaurant dropped as if with a bucket of hope from the sky into the center of a large black concrete parking lot with many yellow lines painted for the many anticipated diners-to-be, the pastries were ‘important’ but not all that important. Pastries and desserts weren’t important to the Executive Chef  – as the reputation of the place was to be focused on the food – not on the pastry. Pastries and desserts weren’t important to the owner of the restaurant because the Executive Chef had been bought at a dear price, and had to be coddled. Pastries and desserts weren’t important to the waiters and waitresses because in all the time past, they had not been stand-outs as part of the meal but merely follow-ups. In other words, there was no good tip money involved with the idea of dessert since the desserts themselves here in times past had not been worth the effort of  putting on a song and dance in order to up-sell.

The guys behind the line did their usual little dismissive dance when I walked into the kitchen. Roger’s prematurely almost-bald head flicked sideways away from his saute-pans for the briefest moment, the steam on his gold wire-rimmed glasses blending with the sweat on his forehead – the forehead behind which was a brain with an investment of some tens of thousands of dollars in the form of a Master’s Degree in Philosophy which had never been used in the form of a job (and which it seemed to me was not used in daily life either, if his attitude and behavior bore witness to what was inside his mind). His soft shoulders angled forwards and backwards in an I-dare-you shimmy, ever so slight while his legs inched slightly more apart, edging his crotch forwards toward the stove as if he were going to fuck it – as if he could fuck it if he just wanted to – which of course as we all know, no girl could ever do.

Frank was more abrupt. He could be, since he was a CIA grad. Slamming the oven doors closed and slapping a towel on the line, he sneered slightly in my direction with a cross between amusement and derision, and moved even faster than he had been before, his beard and moustache and his simple huge-ness of stature giving him the air of a strong but somewhat out-of-place furry black bear. He watched, bluntly, as I walked over to the ‘pastry station’ – the stainless steel table in the center of the kitchen where he’d piled anything extra he could not easily find any other space to put so that I’d have to move it all while feeling his gaze upon me the entire time, his eyes slowly chewing me up, same as they had been each day I’d walked into that kitchen – which at the time was for all of three long weeks.

As I lifted the piles of sheetpans, shifting them onto the racks where they belonged, a vision rose of a scene I’d walked in on at closing time the previous week – the Exec Chef was sitting there right in the middle of my nice clean stainless-steel assigned pastry-making table, pulling the sous-chef towards her then wrapping her legs around his chest as he slightly-squirmed, slightly-enjoyed it. She was drunk.

Better moving piles of sheetpans than having to see that again, I thought.

You have to wonder why one would even want to continue making pastry on that table.

But then Gaston Lenotre entered the scene.

(to be continued – part two Entre Lenotre)

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Lenotre died today.

And I find myself strangely wordless.

It’s not that I have nothing to say, but rather . . . I may have too much to say – about Lenotre.

I never met him. Yet he was a pivotal person in the path of my life.

If I can place my thoughts into an orderly shape I’ll write about him tomorrow. And maybe past tomorrow.

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I’m not sure whether I think that people who read books who also cook are very amusing people in general or whether I136552743_6feec58175 think that people who cook who also read books are very amusing people. From the festival website:

April 1st is the birthday of French gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), famous for his book Physiologie du goût, a witty meditation on food. April fools’ day is also the perfect day to eat your words and play with them as the “books” are consumed on the day of the event. This ephemeral global banquet, in which anyone can participate, is shared by all on the internet and allows everyone to preserve and discover unique bookish nourishments

The photos of winners from previous years are wonderful (and hilarious at times also). (Click through the links to see more winners from the main page . . .)

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I LOVE IT!!!!!!!

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Christmas is not over yet. Tonight is Twelfth Night. Tomorrow is Epiphany.

Twelfth Night or Epiphany Eve is a festival in some branches of Christianity marking the coming of the Epiphany, and concluding the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is defined by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary as “the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking”.[1]

The celebration of Epiphany, the adoration of the Magi, is marked in some cultures by the exchange of gifts, and Twelfth Night, as the eve or vigil of Epiphany, takes on a similar significance to Christmas Eve.

The way to observe Twelfth Night is by ‘merrymaking’. And there’s a fellow called the Lord of Misrule who can help in doing just that.

The Lord of Misrule symbolizes the world turning upside down. On this day the King and all those who were high would become the peasants and vice versa. At the beginning of the twelfth night festival a cake which contained a bean was eaten. The person who found the bean would run the feast. Midnight signaled the end of his rule and the world would return to normal.

King Cakes are a tradition, as is a drink called Lamb’s Wool. One can even go wassailing. One may even want to go wassailing after drinking enough Lamb’s Wool.

In one form of wassail, called Lamb’s Wool, ale or dark beer was whipped to form a surface froth in which floated roasted crab apples. The hissing pulp bursting from them resembled wool. Shakespeare alluded to Lamb’s Wool in Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Sometimes lurk I in the gossip’s bowl
In very likeness of a roasted crab
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
And down her withered dewlap pours the ale.
Likewise in Love’s Labour’s Lost:
When all aloud the wind doth blow
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw
And birds sit brooding in the snow
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl, Tu-whit,
Tu-who—a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

Roasted crabs and greasy Joan. What a party indeed!

But some people say that the luscious name ‘Lambs Wool’ comes not from how the drink looks but from other things.

The old Celtic name was lamh’s suil (hand and eye), so named for the labor of the hand required . . .

But then again, this night, Twelfth Night – has been the cause of  unhappiness in the past for some people.

At the beginning of January 400, Asterius, bishop of Amasea in Pontus (Amasya, Turkey) preached a sermon against the Feast of Kalends (“this foolish and harmful delight”) that tells a lot about the Lord of Misrule in Late Antiquity. It contrasted with the Christian celebration held, not by chance, on the adjoining day:

We celebrate the birth of Christ, since at this time God manifested himself in the flesh. We celebrate the Feast of Lights (Epiphany), since by the forgiveness of our sins we are led forth from the dark prison of our former life into a life of light and uprightness.

Significantly, for Asterius the Christian feast was explicitly an entry from darkness into light, and although no conscious solar nature could have been expressed, it is certainly the renewed light at midwinter, which was celebrated among Roman pagans, officially from the time of Aurelian, as the “festival of the birth of the Unconquered Sun”. Meanwhile throughout the city of Amasea, although entry into the temples and holy places had been forbidden by the decree of Theodosius I (391), the festival of gift-giving when “all is noise and tumult” in “a rejoicing over the new year” with a kiss and the gift of a coin, went on all around, to the intense disgust and scorn of the bishop:

This is misnamed a feast, being full of annoyance; since going out-of-doors is burdensome, and staying within doors is not undisturbed. For the common vagrants and the jugglers of the stage, dividing themselves into squads and hordes, hang about every house. The gates of public officials they besiege with especial persistence, actually shouting and clapping their hands until he that is beleaguered within, exhausted, throws out to them whatever money he has and even what is not his own. And these mendicants going from door to door follow one after another, and, until late in the evening, there is no relief from this nuisance. For crowd succeeds crowd, and shout, shout, and loss, loss.

Though it was no use clamoring at the bishop’s gate, apparently, part of the celebration of this pre-medieval Lord of Misrule included the equivalent of the Waits who went from hall to hall:

This festival teaches even the little children, artless and simple, to be greedy, and accustoms them to go from house to house and to offer novel gifts, fruits covered with silver tinsel. For these they receive in return gifts double their value.

Hmmm. Well. A little bit of Lambs Wool won’t hurt, I don’t think, while I muse on all this.

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Hi, I’m Barry Fig. It’s been a wonderful New Years and I’ve had a great time.  Even though they forced me to wear this outfit.

I just wanted to say a few words, dudes. I used to be a human being too. But somewhere along the way while I was trying to make the world’s biggest cheese doodle, something happened and here I am.  A dog. And now a dog dressed up like a flying pig.

I tried to hang around with everyone at the New Year’s party but they pretty much kept throwing me bits of chicken from their plates and making coo-coo noises at me. I wanted to talk, dudes. I needed some serious communication to happen.

Nobody realized a thing that was sort of important. I’m not just here for the food. Food is great, but it’s only a part of it all. Chicken alone, no matter how great it is, just doesn’t cut it.

I used to like to cook, when I was a real dude. One day this chick showed me a poem that really pissed me off because it was sort of anti-cooking. I couldn’t stand her after that. Even though her legs . . . well, nevermind, dudes.

Here’s the start of the poem.  It must be wearing pink that made me remember it today.

All over America women are burning dinners.

It’s lambchops in Peoria; it’s haddock

in Providence; it’s steak in Chicago;

tofu delight in Big Sur; red

rice and beans in Dallas.

All over America women are burning

food they’re supposed to bring with calico

smile on platters glittering like wax.

It really pissed me off when this chick told me this poem because, well . . . it was like a slap in the face. I like to eat. I like to be cooked for. I can’t imagine anyone not loving to cook for me. Or, I guess – I couldn’t at the time, dudes. It didn’t make sense.

But wearing this pink costume and begging for scraps, and getting the scraps which were pretty damn delicious but nevermind it simply wasn’t what I wanted I wanted to be taken seriously – this poem came to my mind, guys.

What I’m saying is, take me seriously, even though I’m cute and wearing fluffy pink stuff. Talk to me like I was real, like I was one of you.

I’m not just here for the food.
Yours,
Barry Fig
…………………………………………………………………………..

The poem What’s that smell in the kitchen by Marge Piercy can be found in its entirety here on Google books as excerpt from Arlene Voski Akavian’s book Through the Kitchen Window.

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Image Source: foto_decadent/Tim Walker/UK Vogue December 2008/Tales of the Unexpected/The Marvellous Mischievious Magical World of Roald Dahl

It’s not like Boris and I don’t have our challenges. Most of you think the life of a girl detective is an easy one. But my job gets tougher and tougher each day.

The last time I’d had a really good mystery to solve was back in May when I solved The Case of the Missing Snack.

There’s not much call for those with my specialised degree –  the C.K.L.E. (Certified Kitchen Lounge-About Eater) is a path one follows because one must. The gathering together of dross is not a part of the thinking process at all.

We’ve been spending a lot of time lately burning bangers and mashing mashers as a matter of fact. But always, always! in the finest fashions, you should know. Stiff upper lip and all.

But Boris has become moody. Around the holidays he longs for the cooking of his childhood. Or what he thinks was the cooking of his childhood, anyway. He actually grew up in Flushing, Queens – which you get to by taking a pot-holed highway to after going over some midtown bridge in Manhattan – but he believes he grew up eating Russian food.

And he hungers for it in an awful way.

So, for the New Year’s, I am making a picnic! A Georgian picnic.

We are having a pickled cabbage rose set just so in the center of the quilt we’ll recline upon. Then we will dive into chicken with walnuts. Because no picnic is complete without a bit of cooking done en plein air we’ll start a little woodfire off to the side to prepare some skewered eggs along with some grilled cheese.  Maybe a bit of steamed purslane would be nice as a salad (as it seems to be growing among a rockpile nearby it would not be dear at all, either!) For dessert we’ll just stay traditional and have the New Year’s Day treat of Gozinake. (When you are Georgian, there is no such thing as too many walnuts.)

It looks to be a fine day, though a bit chilly.

Cheers to all of you on the first day of the new year. And do give me a call if you need a good mystery solved.

I’m always hungry.

………………………………………………………………..

Darra Goldstein’s The Georgian Feast is a must-read, for anyone interested in the foods of Georgia.

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I love QQ food. I love Q food too.

Q is not a question. Q is a texture. Or as expressed much more succinctly and beautifully by Zoe Tribur in the Spring 2006 issue of Gastronomica

QQ is a unique oral sensation that
cannot be mistaken for any other. When you put something
in your mouth—cold or warm, salty or sweet, dry or wet,
it doesn’t matter—if the substance first pushes back as you
seize it with your teeth, then firms up for just a moment
before yielding magnanimously to part, with surprising ease
and goodwill, from the cleaving corners of your mandibles—
that is Q.

Many people do not like Q food. It is somewhat alien to the palate of the eater exposed solely to the foodways of the middle-class United States.

That’s okay. More for me. 🙂

I’ve found a recipe for a Q food served at the Winter Solstice way over on the other side of the world. Tang Yuen. It looks delicious. Yay, tang yuen!

It is a few days past the Winter Solstice, but better late than never. Perhaps this will be the start of a new tradition – our own post-Christmas Tang Yuen party!

Note: The article in Gastronomica on Q is downloadable as a PDF file. It is titled ‘Taste’ by Zoe Tribur and is definitely worth reading, for any gastro of any astral sphere.

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One can also explain why just Christmas ham wound up on the Christmas smorgasbord. The wild boar was probably tamed sometime during the Bronze Ages. Its meat was tender and succulent and soon became the cult animal of the Vikings. Valhalla was the Vikings paradise and where warriors met to hold nightly feasts. Every night they dined on a special boar named Sarimer which was roasted over an open pit. Beautiful amazons served mjöd, a beer brewed from honey and hops, to the warriors. Then, abracadabra, each morning lively little Sarimar reappeared in his pen once again, grunting happily and eagerly awaiting a new slaughter for the evening feast.

(Source: Nordstjernan.com)

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TimesOnline has posted a food quiz quite ornamental to ascertain whether your foodie knowledge is all shining and bright.

The Christmas Food Quiz includes some good questions:

5. Who invented the notion of a frothing soup in the manner of a cappuccino?

a Alain Chapel

b Gordon Ramsay

c Ferran Adria
6. Which chef created a Xmas menu last year where dishes included Babe in a Manger and Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

7. Which chef quipped “the discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star”

a Apicus

b Brillat Savarin

c Carĕme
8. What game was originally played with champagne corks rather than balls?

a Table tennis

b Squash

c Billiards

It’s worth taking a gander at (to see if they can roast your goose or not).

Cheers!

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I was reminded today that I meant to post something about Popeye by the fact that a new blogger-friend actually has a category called ‘Popeye and Sailors’ on her blog, Months of Edible Celebrations.

Yes, it’s true. Superheroes do keep popping up in my life (as I noted in an earlier post), and though Popeye is kind of an old guy, apparently Mental Floss magazine thinks well enough of him to give him Superhero status.

But how did he get his powers? From spinach.

But was it really the spinach that did it? Or was it only in his mind?

While Popeye should be applauded for persuading a nation to eat its greens, he did mislead people a bit. The government’s enthusiasm for spinach was based in part on the calculations of German scientist Dr. E von Wolf, who’d discovered in 1870 that spinach contains iron. When calculating the results, he misplaced a decimal point, thereby making it “official” that spinach had 10 times more iron than it actually did. Not until years later were these figures rechecked. But by then, everyone was downing their spinach, hoping to be as tough as Popeye.

(See link to article at Mental Floss for full story.)

Math is not my strong point either.

What a great mistake, though. What would Popeye have done without it!

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I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

William Carlos Williams – This Is Just To Say (1934)

Ice. Most of us don’t think about it a lot. It’s there in the freezer, or dispensed by the icemaker.

Clink clink. The ice cubes go into the drink!

William Carlos Williams penned the lines above in a fleeting moment – one of those brief moments when the time is taken to ‘just say’ something innocuous to stand as a ‘hello’ to the other. Yet those few lines now sit sturdily in the common consciousness of all who have read them.

At the core of the poem-vision are plums. Not just any plums. Iced plums.

Plums with red-purple delicate skins dotted with the bloom of chill.

Plums promising an icy dribble of densely sweet juice to swallow, on a scathingly hot summer day.

The icebox in this poem was (in all probability) a real icebox – which is a box to keep things cold, with real blocks of solid ice within it.

Would those plums have been so startlingly evocative that the power of poetry grew amassed within them if they had been sitting on the countertop, not chilled, not icy, not essentially a thing made from ice?

…………………………………………………………..

Mental Floss had an article titled The Surprisingly Cool History of Ice in this month’s issue.

……………………………………………………………

Ice is here with us at this very moment – in icicles long and sword-like hanging from the eaves of houses, on car windows frozen and frosted. Ice has wrapped its glittering glory around trees, completely enveloping every branch, gripping tightly each rare determined nubby emerging tip of bud, in some parts of the world.

When the car window needs scraping from the solid impermeable ice it is difficult to sense a poetic gesture anywhere nearby.

Remember, though.

The plums.

An icebox, filled with ice.

A handwritten note, hastily scrawled yet intentful.
………………………………………………………………………………….

More on the history of ice can be found here:

What’s Cooking America

And here are several pages written by Elizabeth David on ice.

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I haven’t trounced the ballontine yet. It continues its sneaky advance.

There are a few recipes for ballontines online. Not a lot. The ballontine has lost to the galantine in recent years, badly.

Here’s part of a recipe for a galantine I found online – it does make mention of a ballontine some number of paragraphs into the recipe: (Note – this recipe is from a cookbook published in the year 1889 titled ‘Choice Cookery’ by Catherine Owen. Please try to stay awake – the directions are not only lengthy but also loquacious!)

Galantines are so useful and handsome a dish in a large family, or one where many visitors are received, that it is well worth while to learn the art of boning birds in order to achieve them. Nor, if the amateur cook is satisfied with the unambitious mode of boning hereafter to be described, need the achievement be very difficult.

Experts bone a bird whole without breaking the skin, but to accomplish it much practice is required; and even where it is desirable to preserve the shape of the bird, as when it is to be braised, or roasted and glazed for serving cold, it can be managed with care if boned the easier way. However, if nice white milk-fed veal can be obtained, a very excellent galantine may be made from it, and to my mind to be preferred to fowl, because, because as a matter of fact, when boned there is such a thin sheet of meat that it but serves as a covering for the force-meat (very often sausage-meat), and although it makes a savory and handsome dish, it really is only glorified sausage-meat, much easier to produce in some other way. This is, of course, not the case with turkey; but a boned turkey is so large a dish that a private family might find it too much except for special occasions. On the other hand, galantines of game, although the birds may be still smaller, are so full of flavor that it overwhelms that of the dressing. The following process of boning, however, applies to all birds. To accomplish the work with ease and success, a French boning-knife is desirable, but in the absence of one a sharp-pointed case-knife may do.

That’s just the beginning of the directions. I had a startled moment of recognition when first reading this, then realized that the author sounded very much like my friend Katerina la Vermintz (who actually has a habit of sounding exactly like me if I don’t edit everything I write really rigorously!)

The cookbook, which is online here, starts everyone off on the right foot by instructing the readers as follows:

Choice cookery is not intended for households that have to study economy, except where economy is a relative term; where, perhaps, the housekeeper could easily spend a dollar for the materials of a luxury, but could not spare the four or five dollars a caterer would charge.

Many families enjoy giving little dinners, or otherwise exercising hospitality, but are debarred from doing so by the fact that anything beyond the ordinary daily fare has to be ordered in, or an expensive extra cook engaged. And although we may regret that hospitality should ever be dependent on fine cooking, we have to take things as they are. It is not every hostess who loves simplicity that dares to practise it.

Well, dearie me! I daresay I could spare four or five dollars for a caterer. Where is the phone number? Please advise.

Right now I must take my leave. Something to do. I think it might be something along the lines of making dinner!

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Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

Lewis Carroll (who of course was really Charles Lutwidge Dodson)

I was reading the New York Times the other day. It was a story about a new place to see and be seen in, in L.A. I was reading it because of the title, which said something about ‘Mrs. Guggenheim’. Oh well. I thought it would be about art, or philanthropy, or any number of things – but it turned out to be about none of those things. It was her name that it was about, and it was not a whole lot about that, even. Just the usual pulling out of a hat of a name drenched in celebrity for the attention-getting of it all.

This was a ‘hey this club is cool’ article. And in the article there was a phrase that caught my attention.

Chef Jared Simon delivered small plates of steak tartare and seared scallops, nibbles he calls “promiscuous dining,” while a bartender, James Bobby, mixed delicate yet potent drinks with names like Peacock’s Breath and the Jezebel Blanc.

I bet you thought it was ‘Peacock’s Breath’ that made me sit up and take notice.

No. The only thing I thought when reading ‘Peacock’s Breath’ was that I really did not want to get that up close and personal to any peacock that I could smell his breath.

What stunned me into attention were the words ‘promiscuous dining’. Well, really. Wouldn’t it you?

I wanted to know all about this thing. What was it? Who did it? How often did they do it? And all the other little details, at great length please.

In 1990 the phrase was used at a meeting of the Jane Austen Society of America (in Oronto, Maine of all places). Here is the phrase, in context of the report:

Obviously our speaker had thoroughly researched the subject of food and drink in the time of Jane Austen, and her address was replete with odd and charming details – “quirky lore,” my wife says – like the fact that the great houses of Austen’s time knew nothing of afternoons. Their mornings lasted until dinner time. I like that. Here’s another one: residents of the great houses discovered the pleasures of “promiscuous dining” at this time. Heretofore ladies had been seated on one side of the table; gentlemen on the other. Now they alternated around the table: a lady beside a gentleman. Thus the promiscuity.



Well well well. What have we here. Daring, that. But still I wanted more. In 2006, and again in the city of Los Angeles, there is a report on a restaurant that was a “Best Date Spot” for the year. Since then it has closed.

Lest you forget that this Pico Boulevard boite is built on the idea of “promiscuous dining”–where you’re never forced to marry just one entree–sexy (and uber-tatted) Chef Jared Simons will remind you when he’s walking around greeting guests like some unassuming rock star.

Now we’re getting somewhere! But yet there is something wrong. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Oh. I know. Did that just actually say ‘unassuming rock star’? Oh. I guess it can happen . . . maybe . . .

There was only one other reference online I could find on this promiscuous dining thing that offered any food for thought. It was in a story titled ‘The Man Who Wouldn’t Be King’ and this time the location was not Los Angeles, the story did not mention Peggy Guggenheim, nor did it mention any unassuming rock stars.

Jesus was also a religious reformer. His religiously promiscuous dining practice was both visionary and confrontational. The encouragement for anyone to come in off the streets to his table breached the purity codes that were deemed essential for personal holiness. What food you ate, who you touched or were in close proximity with, who you spoke to, was believed to affect not just your health and social standing but also your relationship with God. To dine with say a woman was to lower you to her inferior spiritual status. It was similar with a leper, or child, or tax collector. Jesus was challenging the rules about holiness.

The frumious Bandersnatch has always been shunned.

But times change, and apparently so does the shape the frumious Bandersnatch takes.

Will the frumious Bandersnatch ever completely disappear? Or will he/she/it always be with us?
Who are the Bandersnatches in your life? (That is, of course, if you know any. It’s possible though not probable that there exists someone who has never met a Bandersnatch.)

Promiscuous dining.
(It’s not what I thought it was.)

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Menu-planning at Christmas-time should always begin with dessert.

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His body is perfectly spherical,
He weareth a runcible hat.

If you do not plan dessert first, armies of meringue snowpeople will come to sit on your table.

If you do plan dessert first, during your every waking moment you will be accompanied by two perfect little Santas who will bring you luck and joy.

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They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.

It’s difficult to decide which dessert to have. Unless, that is, one chooses them all and decides to spend every waking hour leading up to the day flying around the kitchen whisking butter and sugar and eggs into the glorious ephemeral bite.

Buche de Noel is traditional. I like to make mine out of chocolate cake, then fill it with a quick blend of vanilla whipped cream and crystallized ginger. Then on with the fancy dress.

But here is another gorgeous one with an elegant, most stunning robe . . .

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It’s tempting to order ready-made a devilishly red cake from the glorious and musical Laduree website. Naturally their buche has macarons stuck on it. Ah, if only I had spare macarons hanging around. That would make life easy!

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Calico Pie,
The little Birds fly
Down to the calico tree,
Their wings were blue,
And they sang “Tilly-loo!”
Till away they flew –
And they never came back to me!

It’s been eons since I’ve made a croquembouche. But what could be more perfect for Christmas, with its tree-like ways! Wrapped round with spun sugar like an angelic barrier crunch crunch then the tearing apart of all it, the creamy centered puffs disappearing but for the moments of memory which cunningly sidled up into them then gathered like glittering rings in a jewelry box to sparkle into the futures of the ones who opened their mouths to crunch, melt, devour.

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Calico Jam,
The little Fish swam,
Over the syllabub sea.

Yet my heart still returns to linzertortes – of calico jams mit syllabub schlag

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Who, or why, or which, or what,
Is the Akond of Swat?

That’s the question at Christmas-time, isn’t it. Who is the Akond of Swat.
Everyone must make up their own mind about that, to find an answer that fits them best.

But remember, whatever you do . . . plan dessert first. Then you can be sure

When awful darkness and silence reign

Over the great Gromboolian plain,
Through the long, long wintry nights

that

Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
We think no birds as happy as we!
Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill!
We think so then, and we thought so still.

And please don’t forget your runcible spoon! Things just aren’t the same without it.

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………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

All quoted poetry from Edward Lear (who probably liked mince and quince pies.)

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Moira Tuscanaro

Moira Tuscanaro

Catty Corner with Moira Tuscanaro

As a cat, I must say I admire Gwyneth Paltrow. She is cool, elegant, sleek, and can even smile like one of us – which we cats like to see. And she can act, which is so very much like us too!

Today I learned there is more to Gwyneth than just these things to admire. People Magazine bellowed out the headline below with a

thorough article to follow

Gwyneth Paltrow Just Says ‘No’ to Personal Chefs

I have nothing against personal chefs, myself. I’ve even known a few! They have been kindly sort of people, always carrying food about here and there. But to “Just Say No to Personal Chefs” is a lifestyle choice ( of course we cats do not have lifestyles we merely have lives and nine of them to boot) and lifestyle choices must! be respected.

Then I happened across even more current news about Gwyneth!

News about her life (and lifestyle!) is everywhere – and honestly, I can see why. The New York Times reports that not only does Gwyneth now have a job talking about food while driving all over Spain. . . . but that she even got to be on the Oprah show to let everyone know about this fun activity!!!

Ms. Paltrow, the 35-year-old star of films like “Shakespeare in Love,” was admitted to the group, and the show, “Spain … on the Road Again,” is already a game-changer for public television in terms of attention. Even Ken Burns, PBS’s biggest star, didn’t get a segment on “Oprah” for his epic World War II documentary series last year; Ms. Paltrow and Mr. Batali, however, nabbed an entire hour of exercise talk and Spanish cooking on Wednesday.

All this may not be understandable to some of you women reading.

You may be asking “How does she do all the cooking for the family as she tells us in the first story (and all without a personal chef!) yet also travel around the world at the exact same time doing television shows and talk show performances?”

You may even be saying to yourself “Why is it that I struggle with finding the time to even do the grocery shopping and make the family meal each day when I am not even traipsing across Europe with a couple of old bald guys getting paid good money to be filmed while we talk, laugh together, and eat things???

You may be wondering how this all can be.

As a cat, I do not wonder.

I know how to be in two places at the same time. My mistress will vouch for me on this one. I can be laying my decorative fur all over her clothes while at the same exact time, not be found anywhere at all, if she is looking for me. It is a talent.

And I am even willing, as Gwyneth is, to travel across Europe being the singularly attractive one wherever I go. As we cats so often are.

For I am a Cat and this is our way of things.

Gwyneth apparently has discovered our way of things. I admire that.

But really though I am not sure whether to purr to meow.

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Some foods or recipes have hints of luck about them. There are many different varieties of luck, of course.

Beans and Taters is a dish steeped in luck.

Though it’s known all over the South,  you won’t find a recipe for it in most of the usual cookbooks where “native Southern recipes” abide. And though the phrase “beans and taters” is one immediately recognizable and known to most Southerners (particularly those with rural roots) you won’t find it listed in slang dictionaries or in regular dictionaries or in the larger (Oxford on food, Cambridge on food, Southern Culture) encyclopedia sets. There is a newly released (this year) Encyclopedia of Southern Culture  which has an entire volume on food and food culture. I’m hoping to see if it is listed there!

You hear about beans and taters through luck if you’ve not grown up knowing it. My luck happened when a neighbor in an area of the rural South telephoned one day asking for a ride into town. Her car (pronounce that as that ve-hi-cle please, and with no self-consciousness either) had broken down. Luck had run out for her, in that moment.

During the ride into town, her young son was talking about food. He wanted some special thing for supper, that night. His Mom’s response . . . “Way things are going we just might be eating beans and taters for some time!”

But “beans and taters” was said with a musical lilt when she said it. And there was no sadness in her voice. Apparently beans and taters (yes, very musical the phrase is) is a dish born of bad luck but one that has good luck inside it. It is filled with pleasure, gladness, and gratitude. It is loved.

Luck also touches beans and taters in their very inception – the lithe green beans or sturdy other sorts of beans are ready to pluck from  their vines in the garden at the same time those tiny new potatoes are ready to start digging up. Just look at any farmer’s market right now if you don’t have a garden, and see them sitting there on the same table – the two are silent partners.

Luck being what it is, beans and taters is not just one unchangable recipe. There are many recipes, and they rise from an oral tradition. Two of these recipes stand out as the most common examples: A green bean and bacon stew topped with little shiny new potatoes steamed on top . . . and a pinto and saltback or bacon stew sided by fried potatoes. These make the meal – there’s not any need for too much else but cornbread –  unless of course there is more bounty to have . . . if the luck is running strong the beans and taters can move quietly from the center of the table to settle in as a side dish to serve with one of those huge picnic spreads of fried chicken, chow chow, sliced tomatoes, the endless variety of things from the fields and garden that crow and  holler from the rural end-of-summer table.

But they say one chooses their own luck, and I still feel lucky to have heard the words “beans and taters”, and to have tasted them made by my own hands after the fact, in my own home kitchen.

The only print resource I’ve found with a recipe for beans and taters is in a book by Loretta Lynn titled “You’re Cookin’ It Country”. Her recipe is made with pork jowl, sugar, salt and pepper, fresh green beans and new potatoes – and when she writes of beans and taters the luck emerges again in the form of grace. The hunger of poverty, the pride of finding something to hold on to when nothing seemed to be there, and the joy of taste and comfort those lucky beans and taters hold within them are the heart of her tale.

I’m thinking of that saying: “If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all”. This guy’s got it wrong. He’s just got to find himself some beans and taters.

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If you have not yet read Ferran Adria’s

philosophy on food for yourself but merely heard bits and pieces you can find the whole at elbulli.com (which is quite an enterprise of a site with a serious corporate air about it).

It is titled ‘Synthesis of elBulli cuisine’.

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In this article about a (mute) swan that I found in a rubbish free paper that someone had left on a rain sodden table outside a Manchester bar, the interviewee claims to hear the sound of quacking outside. However, swans don’t quack on account they are swans and not ducks so someone is lying and I don’t like it one bit. Needless to say I am furious.

This news is from squacco and it must be said I agree with her. Like mutton for lamb, swans for ducks simply does not work and it is an appalling idea. It raises my hackles. Or it would if I had them.
Nobody serves swan anymore that I know of except for one small famous college over the pond. And it’s my feeling they do it mostly for the feathers.

If you’re looking for something motivatingly healthy to read this weekend about food, Clean Eating is out – it is the second issue of this new magazine, and it is very good. Ellie Krieger (who we mentioned earlier this week) is a contributor. You can get a taste at their beautiful website, just click here.

I wonder what ever happened in this town in Spain – from a story dated June 6, 2000 in Salon:

In two years, the northern Spanish towns of Villabilla de Burgos and Alcala de Gurrea will be running on artichokes. No kidding!

According to a Reuters report, the towns plan to burn giant, 10-foot-high artichokes at their twin power stations to convert the thorny vegetables to electricity.

Any guesses?

Back on Earth As We Know It, Men’s Health with their ongoing compendium of “Eat This Not That” offers yet another list up to the world: 125 Best Supermarket Foods.

Ladies and gentlemen, rev your appetites—and steer your shopping carts toward the delicious staples of a healthy diet. We scoured the grocery aisles and chose the most reliable basics and the best secret ingredients that will improve your diet and take your cooking up a notch—all in one trip to the supermarket!

God it sounds exciting! Rev rev.

In “the best thing I’ve read all week” category lives something by Rachel Laudan. A snippet to taste:

Sustainability. It’s up there with motherhood and apple pie, who could be against something so eminently desirable. Yet the fact is that we have no analysis of what is sustainable and what is not. Assuming that if it’s small and organic it’s sustainable won’t do.

Some of the topics Rachel writes on, from her blog:

Big issues in food history. Does America have a cuisine? What is a cuisine anyway? What are regional cuisines? Is it possible to eat locally and why would anyone want to? What about servants?

Big issue in food politics. Basically I think that for all its problems, there’s never been safer, tastier food. So why is that? What are we doing to keep it so? What about all the naysayers and their doom and gloom?

Not only can she write, she has the academic background to back it up and even better, the woman is brilliant. 🙂

If you’re still hungry just click on the YouTube video below. It’s possible you may never be hungry again.

Enjoy your week-end!

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