Irish Sweepstakes Stew

Stew PotMy grandfather Dominic was said to have had the luck of the Irish, which I find  odd because he was almost entirely Calabrese. I also consider it a bit cruel because the Irish have not been, historically speaking, a very fortunate group of people. At least Smitty, his best friend in South Philadelphia, was of actual Irish stock.  Perhaps his friend’s purported Hibernian good fortune rubbed off on Grandpop when the two of them got so eye-wateringly drunk the day Prohibition was repealed that they tried to swim up the sidewalk. Many skin cells undoubtedly sloughed off and mingled on the cement that early December afternoon in 1933. It’s the only story I know about his friend, so that is all I have to go on.

But it was another December afternoon not many years after he took both his whiskey and his breast-stroke without the benefit of water that good fortune came into full play. This little story has everything to do with luck and, as appropriate to both the season and the saying, this luck had everything to do with the Irish.

Long before SuperLotto and Scratchers, there was the Irish Free State Hospitals’ Sweepstakes, which was set up specifically to raise money for, unsurprisingly, the building of hospitals in Ireland*. This Gaelic fundraising scheme was extremely popular in America during the 1930s– home of more Irish people than Ireland at the time. It wasn’t, however, strictly legal, but the U.S. government seemed rather soft on this specific sort of crime.

1937 newmarket irish hosp sweepsSweepstakes tickets were rather expensive for  working class people during the Depression and, naturally, working class people were just the sort of folk who liked to buy them. My grandfather was an exception– he never had to pay for his tickets. He was offered the opportunity of selling a book of them– the payment for his time and effort was to keep two tickets for himself. He chose the first and the last one in recompense.

A short time later, several numbers were drawn at random from a giant drum by either a blind boy or a sexy nurse– both were used as ticket pickers– back in Ireland. One of the numbers was Grandpop’s.

A list of names was published in the papers, including Dominic’s. Every winner was then randomly assigned a horse, which would then race against each other in a steeplechase completion. There would be a several horses carrying tiny jockeys and the big dreams of a very fortunate few. Dominic seemed more fortunate than the others– he drew a horse named Hurdy Gurdy, who was the grandson of one of the most famous horses in the history of horse racing, Man o’ War. Prior to the race, my grandfather was offered $10,000 for his ticket. He declined.

Man O' WarWhy settle for ten grand when you’re the odds-on favorite to win fifteen times as much? My father remembers the excitement of the time, though he wasn’t yet six. Newsreel cameras showed up at my family’s door.

When racing day finally arrived, I can only imagine the tension and excitement my grandfather must have felt. He was a thirty-two year-old man with a fourth grade education living in a small apartment above his mother-in-law’s butcher shop with his wife and small son. In a few minutes, he would possibly be a very rich man with a big house of his own. I imagine many of his fellow ticket holders were thinking the similar things about themselves.

Out of the gate, Hurdy Gurdy was in front and remained there for most of the race. And then, at the last hurdle, he choked. I couldn’t tell you what happened precisely because I wasn’t there. But then neither was Dominic– the race was run somewhere in Britain. There was just a moment of confusion and then disappointment as the family huddled around and stared at the Phillips radio. Since it was my family I’m describing, they most likely shouted at it, too.

There’d be no $150,000 grand prize for the Procopios that day. The ticket wasn’t even worth the $10,000 he was so recently offered for it. But he did receive $3,000 as a consolation prize. With that money, he was able to move his family out from over the butcher shop in South Philadelphia and into a three-story townhouse in another part of the city called Mayfair, which sounds as though it probably smelled much nicer than his old neighborhood. He could do now do all the consoling he wanted in the privacy of his very own home.

He may not have won the Irish Sweepstakes, but he was still pretty damned lucky if you ask me.

Here’s newsreel footage of some of the bigger Sweepstakes winners from New York that year. People whose horses didn’t stumble. My family isn’t featured but, by the look and sound of some of them, it wouldn’t come as a total shock if we were somehow related.

 

Irish Sweepstakes Stew

My grandfather may have been considered lucky, but not, alas, Hurdy Gurdy. He quit racing not long after his stumble at the Irish Sweepstakes. His owner declined to put him out to stud and he was no longer seen in the best stables. He may or may not have been sold to a very wealthy eleven year-old girl with narcolepsy and taken to Guernsey, where he lived a quiet life out of the spotlight until the Nazis invaded and occupied the island in 1940. He was last seen looking for sugar cubes near Candie Gardens in November 1943, shortly after all supplies of cattle, sheep, and poultry had been either consumed or exported.

You do the math.

Serves anywhere between 3 to 912 people**.

Ingredients:

Carrot• About 2 lbs of cubed horse meat, if available. If not, you may consider substituting mule or possibly lamb.
• 1 cup of medium-diced fennel, because this stew is in part inspired by Southern Italian people who do not really understand potatoes.
• 1 cup of pearl onions, blanched and peeled.
• 1 cup of carrots, medium diced which, in happier times, Hurdy Gurdy considered a treat.
• 4 cloves of garlic., sliced
• 4 tablespoons of bacon fat
• 2 cups of horse stock, if you have the patience to make it. Lamb, beef, or even vegetable stock will also work.
• 1 cup white wine
• 1 cup water or vegetable stock.
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste, ideally from a tube.
• 1 tablespoon of flour, for thickening. Or, if you still have access, one hoof.
• 3 tablespoons of flour for the coating of meat, which also helps to thicken. Do not substitute hooves.
• An unhealthy amount of salt
• The same amount of pepper
• A bouquet garni consisting of oregano, rosemary, parsley, and thyme.
• 1 bay leaf.
• More parsley, but chopped this time, for garnish.

Optional Ingredients:

• Freshly grated Pecorino cheese, because Parmesan is for Northerners.
• Pappardelle pasta. See: Southern Italian potato issues.

Preparation:

  1. Heat the bacon fat in the bottom of a large dutch oven. Toss the horse meat with three tablespoons of flour, some salt, and a bit of pepper. Shake off excess and place your dusty cubes into the hot pig fat. Do not crowd the pan– work in batches until your meat is browned on all sides. Remove from your cooking vessel and set aside.
  2. Next add garlic, onions, carrots, and fennel into the fat, lowering the heat, and cooking until hot and softened. Remove the vegetables into the same bowl as the meat or into a clean one if you don’t mind doing extra dishes. Pour the white wine into the pot and scrape at all the delicious bits stuck to the bottom unit they break free. Add 1 tablespoon of flour and your tomato paste and whisk until all is smooth and slightly thickened. Return the meat and vegetables to the pot, pour over horse stock and 1 cup of water. The meat and veg should be just covered by liquid. Add the bouquet garni, baby leaf, a little salt, and some more pepper.
  3. Cover and let simmer for at least 90 minutes.
  4. Plated Stew on PastaTo serve: if you are from a Southern Italian family, ladle the stew over pasta and garnish with Pecorino and parsley. If you’re from an Irish family, serve with potatoes. If you’re from a Anglo-Saxon Protestant family, you’d probably never consider making this dish in the first place.
  5. Sit down and enjoy with your family and thank the Lord for your good fortune as you say Grace. Just be certain to also thank the horse for your new house, your delicious dinner, and your new chest freezer, which will hold the leftover stew you’ll most likely be consuming over the next several months.

*Also not surprisingly, it was conceived by a professional bookie and most of the money never found its way into hospitals.

** This recipe calls for about two pounds of meat. If you intend to use the entire animal, please consider that the average horse weighs 760 lbs and has a meat yield of roughly 60%.  You will therefore need to multiply the recipe by 228.

Posted in Holidays, Meatness, Rants and Stories | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

The Next Worst Thing

PencilsI wrote most of a blog post last week– something to do with feeling bleak and turning to hummus for comfort– but it was lost after I took a small break to play a little computer solitaire, which crashed my computer. There was something wrong with my internet connection, so the auto-save feature wasn’t functioning.

Perhaps my wi-fi was looking after me, choosing to euthanize my work like that. It was quite possibly the gloomiest and most pointless thing I’ve ever written since I was an 18 year-old scrawling incomprehensible poetry about slutty cows on my dorm room wall.

But I have been feeling out of sorts for a very long time. Chronically tired but unable to sleep. I haven’t given myself permission to writing anything amusing what with the world about to end. I learned that I’d put a bottle of bleach in the freezer only after discovering my raspberry gelato melted under the sink. My brain has been in lockdown for what seems like ages. It’s just been one crisis or tragedy after another for the past couple of years and I haven’t been coping with them as ably as I thought.

I used to feel pretty good. I thought I had interesting things to share with the world and the energy with which to share them. I was (more or less) happy. I could fit into most of my pants. Last week, I couldn’t say any of that was true and I wondered if I actually gave a Flying Wallenda about any of it.

But I’m pretty certain I do. It’s just hard to get a good view of the situation when the elephant’s ass of depression has bumped you to the ground and parked itself on your face. And, if it wasn’t clear to you already, minging air and shit-covered peanuts aren’t part of a balanced breakfast. Or things that make you feel very happy.

Lately, I’ve come to realize that I’ve crouched deeper and curled up tighter with each emotional and physical hit until my brain resembled a roly poly bug. I’ve stayed in that mental position since at least the inauguration. It’s as though I’ve just been waiting for the next worst thing to come along. And, as my friend Jay reminded me last night, “Don’t worry, that next worst thing will happen.” He then added something slightly more comforting to the effect of not letting such things get the best of you.

But I’d already come to that conclusion, if only very recently. Curling up and hiding—apart from the chiropractic issues such activity can cause—is a crushing bore and I’m trying my best to stand upright again.

I took a week off from work to clean and sleep and organize. And, after almost eight years, I forced myself back to the gym.

I’d quit the Jewish Community Center back then, deciding it was too expensive and decided to join the closer, cheaper 24-Hour Fitness. I found it loud, grimy, and depressing, so I quit. And, not long afterward, I stopped being able to fit into some of my pants.

I’d toyed with the idea of going back to the JCC, but when one of the fittest people I knew dropped dead from heart failure at his gym, I was terrified of ever setting foot in a locker room again—especially after my own heart scare. But last week, frustrated by my current lack of energy (and lack of anything else, really), I did.

It wasn’t easy. I felt like William Hurt in that scene from Altered States where he slams himself against walls to shake free from whatever the hell it was that had gotten inside of him. Except I wasn’t naked. I really need to re-watch that film again so I know what the hell I’m talking about.

My free-with-new-membership trainer asked me what I wished to accomplish. “I want to get some of my energy back, increase my flexibility, and lose a few pounds,” I confessed.

“Well, if we take care of the first two things, the third will take care of itself,” he reassured.

He showed me some stretching exercises, introduced me to planking, got me into push-up position. I flirted with weights. It was all very mellow and civilized.

And it took me three days to recover.

I thought I was sick until I remembered feeling like this when I first started working out several years ago. My arms were finally able to fully extend this past Monday. It all felt awful, but it also felt fantastic. I walked the 1.5 miles home. I looked in the mirror. There was color in my cheeks. It was weird.

BooksOn Tuesday, I went back but, thanks to the advice of my psychologist (whose office is literally around the corner from the gym), I added a new exercise to my workout routine—a brisk walk two blocks east to the Presidio public library, which is not only quiet, but marvelously small, charming, and free from any whiff of adult human urine. I found a free corner, pulled out my laptop, and started writing.

Unfortunately, my first exercice de bibliothèque may have been more douloureux than my introductory session at the JCC but, one must allow that one’s writing muscles will be just as sore from disuse as one’s arm muscles when re-introduced to barbells after too much time off. It sucked. No, it more than sucked—it felched. I mostly stared at a blank screen for several minutes until I started to write. And what I wrote was excremental. I lasted barely an hour before I gave up and got some lunch. But the thing is—I went back again the next day. It still sucked, but not as much as the first time. And I intend to go back again on Saturday.

I’m slowly but surely whittling out a Holy Trinity of Wellness from a little sliver of Pacific Heights. A library for the mind, a gym for the body, and a shrink for the spirit. Of course, the gym helps the spirit, as does the library. And there’s even an excellent patisserie down the street to serve as a fueling station.

I’m not all fine and dandy yet. I don’t know if I’ll ever be truly fantastic feeling, but I think I’m on to something better. If you were expecting a recipe in this post, I’m sorry to disappoint—I’m still working on a halfway decent recipe for my life. But I think the best fond for anything you may want to sauce your life with may just be getting yourself out of a bad rut, however deep it might be. Mine’s felt pretty fucking fathomless lately. With oily-slick walls. I was going to write “I’m digging my way out with a spoon”, but that would be wrong, since digging would only make the rut wider or deeper. Instead, I think, I’ve tied the spoon to one of my shoes like a crampon so that I can climb out, one slippery step at a time.

If someone would kindly throw me down a second, larger spoon for my other foot, I would be very much obliged.  Just make sure it’s not a cheap plastic one– that would not be helpful.

Thanks for reading. It’s been really difficult getting this out in words and I’ve felt I couldn’t move on to anything else until I did.

I shall resume full snark very shortly. Until then, cheers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 60 Comments

(Insert Adjective) New Year.

Mr. Bacon with Champagne.I stayed in on New Year’s Eve.

Earlier that day, I braved the outside world for a little while, looking both ways as I crossed each street en route to the supermarket, where there were crowds of people performing last-minute raids on pre-picked crabmeat, overpriced avocados, and underwhelming brands of sparkling wine.

With near-surgical precision, I scored some tangerines, a split decent champagne, cheese, crackers, and chocolate; sped through the checkout line; and was home again in twenty minutes, taking care not to trip on any uneven pavement or have my eyes ripped out by errant bits of chain link fence.

After returning home and stowing my purchases, I moved into the bathroom where I liberated myself from my clothing and carefully stepped into the shower, making certain to neither slip in the bath nor scald myself to death with unnecessarily hot water. Upon finishing my ablutions, I dried myself thoroughly and moved into the bedroom where, after ascertaining that I was not standing upon any wet spots or unexpected live wires, I turned on my computer to play a little Blossom Dearie.

When I had carefully stepped into my pants without falling over and braining myself on the corner of my heavy oak teacher’s desk and pulled on a t-shirt without a hint of self-strangulation, I moved into the kitchen, where I washed my dirty dishes and put away every sharp object within view. I pulled out a clean champagne coupe from the cupboard and placed it in the refrigerator next to the little bottle of champagne, gently so as not to shatter it and accidentally sever an artery.

With everything ready for the evening, I settled myself down on the couch to watch a Pre-Code Barbara Stanwyck film, wait for midnight, and do my damnedest not to die before the clock on my iPhone struck twelve.

Everyone, it seemed, was doing just that in 2016 and I loathe being on-trend. I cocooned myself for the last few hours of the year, sipping champagne, nibbling on fruit and chocolate, swooning over Ms. Stanwyck, and letting everyone on Facebook know that, as the minutes ticked away, I was still alive.

Midnight and the New Year tiptoed into my life this year, but I made it into 2017 alive, and was therefore relieved.

And then the next day, a friend commented that the people only got hysterical over the celebrity corpses of last year and I felt foolish, not being a famous person. But at least I still had a pulse.

And, if you are reading this, it means you are, too, dear reader. Congratulations.

Typically, I’d wish everyone a Happy New Year and be done with it, but my hopes aren’t all that high for 2017. There will be good times, I’m sure, but there will be some really terrible times ahead as well. After the lessons of 2016, I simply think it’s best to be prepared.

But there is one thing I am determined to do this year that I avoided in the last, which is take some actual risks. And to make my own happiness where and when I can. So that’s two things I’m determined to do.

I spent  a good part of last year being frightened and depressed. This year, I plan on being braver and, hopefully, a little less depressed. For a time, I wondered whether there was any point at all to writing this blog when all signs point to the world ending, but I’ve got my head on straighter now. This blog will stay because writing it helps me make sense of the crazy; it helps me stay sane.

And if it helps you at all as well, that makes me happy, which is an excellent way to start a New Year, don’t you think? So feel free to use that as the adjective to your early January salutations, if you like.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some new posts to formulate and a whole freaking book to write.

Cheers,

Michael.

 

Posted in Holidays | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

Ku Klux Klams

Ku Klux KlamsClams are, by instinct and necessity of location, bottom feeders. They spend most of their lives buried under the sand, revealing themselves only at high tide, which is when they seem to be happiest, as the saying goes.

Due to a rather unnatural and difficult-to-explain-to-the-rest-of-the-world phenomenon which occurred on or around the 8th of November, 2016, millions of clams have simultaneously decided it was safe to come out of their marine and freshwater hiding places.

What, you might ask, can we do with such a surprising and overwhelming abundance? One’s natural instinct is to eat them. But how?

Clams in white wine and garlic are always a treat. New England clam chowder, too. But these recipes feel tainted, like they just aren’t white enough for current American tastes.

After an exhaustive search, I have found the perfect recipe for Today’s America deep in the bowels of Breitbart.com’s underused and discontinued food page*. I have merely changed  a few of the directions, added a few notes, and given it a catchier name to avoid copyright infringement.

Ku Klux Klams

Warning: Clams are unashamed shell-dwellers and are therefore treif. Sorry, Jews.

Serves: Quite possibly 4 to 8 years.

Ingredients:

For the Steamed Clams:

• 50 littlehand littleneck clams. Do not use Manila clams as they are invasive and tend to steal healthcare jobs.
• 4 tablespoons of butter. If you are avoiding butter for health reasons, use bacon grease. If you use olive oil, your neighbors may accuse you of being Catholic or, worse, Greek Orthodox.
• 1/2 white onion, finely diced. Do not add garlic (see above).
• 8 ounces of clam juice
• 1/2 can of real beer, which is any beer with a proper German name or wrapped in an American flag.

To make White Sauce**

• 2 tablespoons of butter
• 2 tablespoons of white flour
• ¼teaspoon of salt
• 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper (Note: black pepper will ruin the purity of your sauce.)
• 1 cup of whole milk.

Instructions:

1.  Heat butter and/or bacon grease in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (which is accompanied
by a tight-fitting lid). Dutch ovens are grudgingly acceptable. Add the onion and sauté
until transparent and almost ghostlike. Add beer and whisk together.

2.  Add clams and clam juice to the pot, cover, and let seethe for 8 to 10 minutes until they
open. Any clams which refuse to open up should be set aside and commended.

3.  As the clams stew in their juices, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over
low heat. Add flour, salt, and white pepper. Stir until the mixture smooths and bubbles.
Do not overcook or allow to turn any shade of brown.

4. Stir in the milk and heat, whipping it up into an alarming froth for about one minute or
until it thickens enough to coat anything it touches.

5. Remove clams from their broth and place them in a large porcelain (white) serving
bowl. Enrobe the clams by pouring the white sauce over them in violent, swirling
motions. Do not garnish.

Editor’s Note: To serve, bring the bowl to your guests who have assembled hungrily around your table. Stare down at your handiwork and recoil in horror at what you’ve just created. You are more than welcome to break down in tears at this moment. Your guests will be confused, but they will wait. Apologize to them, stating that no one has to eat this garbage and that you’re sorry you ever brought it to the table in the first place. Remove the clams from the table, place in a heavy-duty garbage bag, tie firmly closed, and throw away immediately. Remind yourself to scrub the hell out of your kitchen in the morning.

Return to the table with cheese and crackers or whatever you might have on hand that will tide over your guests for the next 60 minutes until the Pakistani food you ordered from GrubHub arrives. Pour a round of drinks and wonder what other kinds of crap people will try to feed you over the next few years.

Stock up on more alcohol.

* There is no food page on Breitbart.com. Please tell me you knew that.

** Or, if you are one of my French readers who is a fan of Marine Le Pen, sauce béchamel.

Posted in Rants and Stories, Savories | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

A Columbus Day Casserole

columbus

National holidays can be hard to get through. Christmas and Thanksgiving might be emotionally fraught, but I’ve found myself especially stymied by Columbus Day. I mean, how exactly does one go about celebrating appropriately?

Because I’m both culturally sensitive and a giver, I have decided to offer my readers a peek inside my own struggle regarding how to properly observe the achievements of this famous Italian explorer by sharing a few passages from my daily journal. May you and your family, whether Italian-American or the inheritors of some lesser heritage, find inspiration from it.

Friday, October 7th, 2016.

As someone who is genetically very Italian and rumored to be subtly Native American, it should come as no surprise that I am conflicted about Columbus Day. On the one hand, it was once a way for Italian-Americans to feel a sense of pride in themselves when the rest of the country regarded them as nothing better than mafiosi organ grinders’ monkeys. On the other, the holiday was and is a painful reminder to the survivors of every Pre-Columbian civilization in the Americas of the dawn of a New Age of genocide, thievery, plague, and slavery.

What then is a reveller to do?

Last year, I went to a potluck.

I thought long and hard about what might be appropriate to bring to a Columbus Day dinner attended mostly by people I’d never met before. After a short while, the answer was obvious: in honor of the great man himself, I decided I would show up unannounced, enslave my host and fellow guests, then kill up to 96% of them with a disease-laden casserole. If all went to plan, I could then force the survivors to remove all the gold from the house. If they came to me empty-handed, I would chop off said appendages, hang them around their necks, and send them off to the building next door to serve as a warning. And if I still had enough energy, I’d consider raping the younger folk while stubbornly calling them by their wrong name: Indians.

It sounded like a good plan, but I made one rather unfortunate mistake: I decided to bring a potato gratin. Potatoes wouldn’t be discovered for another forty years*. And in Peru, of all places, which isn’t anywhere near India. My attempt at cultural sensitivity was instead an exercise in cultural inauthenticity. Not a single dinner guest perished. And, when I announced my plan to force them into bondage, I was met with giggles, dirty jokes, and the pouring of more wine.

Processed with Snapseed.This year will be different. I will make a proper Italian casserole. I will make lasagne. Although it is probably Greek in origin and tomatoes weren’t encountered until the same time and place as the potato, it doesn’t matter because history will be kind to my potluck dish. I will fill it with cheese to stuff up and slow down my unsuspecting and most likely lactose-intolerant native hosts. I will take my concoction to a Marin County Day Care Center to let unvaccinated children cough all over it, then return home and leave it on a warm, humid counter overnight to incubate.

All that will be left to do is find the nearest Taino or Arawak social club, show up, and tell everyone to dig in.

The New World will soon be mine.

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

Bad News. I have just discovered a fatal flaw in my latest plan. There aren’t any Taino people left because Mr. Columbus and his kind drove them to extinction in the 16th Century. I have learned that there are plenty of Puerto Rican people who are genetic descendants, but many have Spanish DNA as well, which means that, after several centuries of European domination, they would probably see through my plan right away. Although they may accept it because their economy is a disaster and they are more than likely fully immune to diseases of European origin by now.

I may try subduing some of the locals from the Bay Area. I know they’re historically wise to the infected blanket trick, but I’m unwilling to chance them falling for a diseased casserole. It was so expensive to make!

Why the hell do people feel the need to celebrate Columbus anyway? To do his work any justice is a tremendous pain in the ass. I don’t even want to get into all the mayhem, murder, and possible jail time which might ensue. Why can’t we find someone of Italian-American heritage more fun and ethically benign to celebrate? What about Frank Sinatra? Mob ties. Enrico Fermi? He’d be great, if one doesn’t mind ignoring the whole “architect of the nuclear bomb” business. Lady Gaga? Still alive. Al Capone? (See: mob ties).

Dean Martin
After much soul-searching, I have decided next year to celebrate the life and achievements of Dean Martin. Everybody loved him. He was much funnier that Jerry Lewis, a better singer than Perry Como, and was never quite as drunk as he led people to believe.

To hell with slavery and pestilence. Next year, I’m going to drink bourbon and watch Rio Bravo while fiddling with my Italian plums. So much less stress.

It’s a pity about my casserole though. I put so much work into making it. I just wish I could put it to good use.

Sunday, October 9th, 2016.

Great News! I have just discovered that tomorrow isn’t just Columbus Day, but Canadian Thanksgiving to boot! If I leave now, I just might cross the Saskatchewan border in time for tomorrow’s dinner. I’ll bring it to the first home I see. I’m certain I’ll be welcomed because everyone knows Canadians are too polite to say “no”– especially on Thanksgiving. And they’ve probably never even seen lasagne because I don’t think Italians have ever made it that far north.

What could possibly go wrong?

 

 

*The Peruvians had been cultivating the potato for several thousands of years, but only Europeans are capable of “discovery”.

Posted in Holidays, Rants and Stories, Savories | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Fruitlessness of Hope

peach-loaner-2When I was ten, my father made the well-intentioned error of taking me to see Gone With the Wind on the occasion of its 40th anniversary theatrical re-release. I may have walked into the theater thinking we were about to watch an Irwin Allen-style disaster film about hurricanes, but I walked out four and a half hours later obsessed with Vivien Leigh, faking a Southern accent and, of all things, desperate for a peach tree.

I begged and begged my mother for one. We were the only family on the block whose yard did not bear fruit. The Gerritzes on our left owned a highly productive apricot tree, about  a third of whose branches hung over the wall into our own yard. The Hoffarts across the street grew beefsteak tomatoes and lemons. The Ayers family were the proud owners of an obscenely large fig tree and grew artichokes. And Lyle the bachelor on our right had palm trees, which technically bore fruit, but he was the only neighbor with a pool, so he got a free pass.

Our neighborhood was so fruitful during the summer that bags of produce would simply be abandoned on our doorstep like fructifying orphans in desperate need of a home. Or consumption.

My family’s yard, however, was a place where vegetation went to die. The winter blossoms of our camellia bush seemed to be born bruised. My mother’s rose garden was no more than a collection of prickle-spiked skeletons with sparse, powdery leaves which, when they did flower, seemed so exhausted after giving birth that they drooped for the rest of the year. The only plants that thrived were the oleander bushes which, if eaten, would induce nausea, depression, and death. I figured a peach tree would help our horticultural image.

After weeks of nagging, my mother, who resisted the idea of a tree interrupting the expanse of our back lawn, finally relented. One day, there was a little peach tree laying on its side in the back of her station wagon, buffered by bags of groceries.

I agonized over its placement in the yard, finally settling on a spot where it could easily be monitored from the kitchen door window.

I dug a hole in the middle of our lawn, removed the plastic from around its roots, gently lowered it in, filled the gaps with earth, watered it, and then waited for the magic to happen.

peaches-poachingI had big plans for that tree. It would grow tall and healthy and strong, defying the grim fate of everything else in the yard. As I grew older and bigger myself, I would sit in its shade. A sun-ripened peach might choose to liberate itself from a high branch and drop into my awaiting hand in the hope of nourishing me as I read interesting biographies of Oscar-winning actresses. My tree would bear so much fruit, I could fill bags full of it and leave them on the doorsteps of neighbors. No one would have to guess who left them– everyone would know they came from me.

But season after season, that poor tree barely grew to pubescence, let alone adulthood. It provided no shade to speak of, nor much fruit. Three or four small peaches a year was about all it could summon the energy to produce. I watched and watered and waited, but nothing ever happened. And then I outgrew the thing in every sense of the word, moved away to college, and forgot all about it. My mother cut it down almost as soon as I left. A small hacksaw was all that was needed.

A few years ago on a visit home, the subject of the peach tree came up over dinner. My sister told me how she once hand-pollinated each blossom, which provided more fruit, but nothing to get especially excited about. I expressed my disappointment over it, reminding our mother of my broken dreams of shade and juicy nourishment. She took a little sip of iced tea, gave me a rather pitying look, and said, “Oh honey, it was a dwarf tree. I wasn’t about to have a full-grown tree in the yard. How did you not know that?”

Feeling betrayed, or at the very least duped, I replied, “Because you never told me!”

“Well, you’re smart. You should have figured it out,” she said, taking another sip from her glass.

But I didn’t figure it out. Like so many of my other childhood dreams, the tree never truly came to fruition. But it was a lovely hope to cling to for a while– like peach flesh clinging to its stone until it spoils and rots away in the heat, but much more slowly. Not that I would really know much about such things.

peaches-plated

Honey-Poached Peaches with Ricotta and Pistachio

It might be a little late in the season for peaches, but that never stopped my family. Thanks to the low yield of our tree, we were more accustomed to the flavor of canned peaches in syrup. When I set out to make this recipe, it didn’t dawn on me that I was making a more sophisticated version of them, with ricotta stepping up to replace the inexplicably beloved cottage cheese of my childhood. The pistachios do double duty in supplying a satisfying crunch and an even more satisfying dash of Sicilian-ness to the dessert.

Makes: 8 servings– about the entire annual yield of our tragic little tree.

Ingredients:

• 4 firm, but fairly ripe yellow peaches
• 4 cups of water
• 1 cup of sugar
• 1/2 cup of honey, I don’t care which sort of pollen the bees have rolled around in.
• 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped.
• Whole milk ricotta cheese. As much as you like.
• Even more honey, also as much as you like. It’s to sweeten the ricotta, which isn’t even
really necessary, if you don’t want to do it.
• Pistachios, finely chopped. They’re for garnishing, so as many as you prefer.

Preparation:

  1. Wash your peaches and slice a shallow “x” at the bottom end of each one. The idea is to cut the skin without going too deep, which will make their post-poaching peeling much less of a headache.
  2. Pour water, honey, and sugar into a medium Dutch oven or saucepan– something large and deep enough to allow the peaches to be submerged. Heat over medium-high heat to dissolve the sugar and honey into the water. You may add the eviscerated vanilla bean at any time.
  3. When the liquid starts to bubble, gently slip in the peaches. Splashing may cause injury, or worse, extra clean up. Keeping the liquid at a simmer, poach the peaches for roughly 8 minutes, turning the peaches, which seem more than willing to turn over on their bottoms, from time to time. If the tip of a paring knife slips through the flesh easily, your peaches are properly poached. Remove them from the liquid with a slotted spoon, let them cool slightly, and then peel off their skins. It doesn’t matter where you put them, as long as it’s not directly onto a dirty counter.
  4. Keep the liquid simmering. Though it may have done its duty poaching the peaches, it now wishes to become a lovely syrup. Let it gently bubble away until it has reduced by more than half. When you think it might be sufficiently syrupy, dribble a small amount onto a chilled plate. Is it? If yes, remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. No? Keep simmering until satisfied. Then you may strain.
  5. Slice the peaches in half, removing the pits. If you are ambitious, extremely patient, and have the available yard space, you may want to plant them and wait for them to grow into peach trees. I wish you luck. Place peach halves cut side down into a casserole or baking dish, pour over the warm syrup, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Spoon out the ricotta into a large bowl. Add a little honey. Or don’t. The very least you should be doing is aerating it a bit to lighten things up. Cover and refrigerate until you have occasion to use it.
  7. To serve, place peaches cut side up, spoon dollops– or great lashings, if you’re fans of The Famous Five— of ricotta in the center of each peach half, drizzle generously with syrup, sprinkle with chopped pistachio, and present one to your mother with a slightly accusing look.
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Lime in The Coconut

Lime and Coconut and DrugsI said, “Doctor, is there something I could take?”
I said, “Doctor, to relieve this belly ache?”

He said, “We’ll see, but right now I want you to haul your ass across the street to the hospital for some scans– I think you have appendicitis. And you know I’m your Nurse Practitioner and not your doctor, right?”

I was hoping for an easier, more pleasant response, like suggesting I might add a squirt of bright green citrus to the milky water of fresh palm drupe and consume it there on the spot, but I followed his advice and made my way to the emergency room, which was pleasantly underpopulated.

I was seen immediately, questioned, poked with needles, and scanned. Within an hour, a doctor appeared, introduced himself, and said, “Well, you’re staying here tonight! You’ve definitely got appendicitis, so we’re going to that that sucker out.”

It wasn’t exactly where I had hoped the day would take me.

Another hour passed until he returned and told me he wanted to do an EKG– he saw something besides my appendix on the scan he didn’t quite like. So a bed runner wheeled me back into the elevator and up to meet a gentleman named Lupe who placed a series of adhesive patches attached to wires onto my hairy chest, injected me with a gas solution, and rolled around my sternum the sort of magic wand that shows expectant mothers what’s brewing inside their wombs. Except there was no baby present, just a pumping heart and what looked like the shadows of ghosts inside of it.

He complimented me on the state of my lungs and sent me back downstairs.

Within the next hour, my friend Edward showed up with my computer, phone charger, and a couple of books. Shortly after that, my cousin Ann Marie showed up unexpectedly, having seen a photo I’d posted on Facebook entitled “P.G. [Wodehouse] and I.V.” She’s like that.

It was good to have her there when the doctor came back to announce that, not only did I have a clot on my left ventricle, but that I seemed to have suffered “a myocardial infarction” within the past few months.

“You mean, I had a mild heart attack?” I asked, for clarification. He nodded.

“We can’t do the appendectomy with that clot of yours. But we want to keep you here tonight to run some blood tests and keep an eye on you.” Ann Marie stayed with me until I was officially admitted and placed in a room, only disappearing long enough to return with some basic toiletries and ear plugs.

I can’t say that staying overnight in a hospital bed is a pleasant experiences– so much noise and poking and blood-letting and drugging every four hours, but the staff was uniformly kind. Especially Gypsy, the sexually ambiguous assistant who came in to take my blood pressure.

With so much time on my hands, I got to know my surroundings fairly well– the rolling table I could never quite adjust without ripping out the needles in my right arm; the plastic jug I thought would make a nice iced tea container until I realized it was for urine; the heart monitor, which was made by a company called Aramark, which was founded by my Uncle Hank. How appropriate, I thought. It was in a hospital that he met my Aunt Genevieve– she was the nurse he’d bummed a pack of smokes from while he was recovering from heart surgery. After his discharge, he returned with a whole carton and asked her out on a date.

The 1950’s seemed like such a glamorous time to be sick.

But there were no cigarettes for me. Or food or water, for that matter– I had more scans to perform.

My friend Craig dropped by for a couple of hours to keep me company and keep my mind on happier things.

Lime in Coconut
Since no surgery was possible, I was sent home the next evening with a laundry list of drugs– blood thinners, heavy antibiotics, cholesterol meds, chewable children aspirin. The next several days were spent going for short walks in the morning, napping, injecting needles into my stomach, swallowing pills, and sleeping some more.

I’ve been drowsy and in a general brain fog because of the drugs over the past couple of weeks, but I’ve felt just fine. And I’ve dozed off to far too many videos on Youtube. One episode of The Muppet Show caught my attention especially– Kermit the Frog and ensemble singing Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut”.

The thought of a refreshing glass of coconut water with a kick of refreshing lime sounded marvelous, so the following day I put the lime in the coconut, as lyrically instructed, drank them both up and came to a very important conclusion:

Harry Nilsson was a terrible mixologist. The concoction tasted bitter and slightly metallic. But then again, most things have tasted unpleasant lately. I poured the rest of the down the drain and went back to bed, full of forgiveness for Mr. Nilsson.

But I wasn’t really disappointed in the outcome. Quite the contrary, actually. I knew the drugs were working– the antibiotics were beating my appendix into submission, the cholesterol drugs were doing their thing, and the blood thinners were slowly helping my body dissolve the clot on my heart. I can wait a bit longer to start enjoying food again if it means I get to be alive.

If there was ever a luckier attack of appendicitis, I’d like to know about it. Had that supposedly useless organ not screamed for attention, the blood clot most likely would have been discovered by way of autopsy rather than by a simple scan.

I’ve had so many people reach out over the past few weeks, showing love and concern, which makes me grateful. I decided to write this post simply to let people know what’s been going on.

And to let everyone know that I am fine. My heart is pumping away normally, the brain fog is lifting, my sense of taste is coming back, the clot will dissolve, and I may very well have that appendix out in a few months.

But the next time I put it out there to the universe that I want to lose a few pounds, I should really be more specific about how I hope to achieve my goals.

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Hello, Vandergelder!

Horace VandergelderI’ve never been the sort of blogger who concerns himself much with how many pairs of eyeballs have graced his pages on any given day, but when I noticed my stat counter had reached 500,000 views a few days ago, my initial reaction was of the Peggy Lee-circa-1969 variety– after eight years of writing, IS THAT ALL THERE IS?

I have friends who achieve that in a week.

All those years of writing, creating recipes, and exposing myself. All that time, energy, and money spent. For what? It was like noticing one’s odometer had just ticked off half a million miles and thinking, “God, this car is really fucking old. It’s about time I got rid of it.” Annoyed, I shut my computer down and went to do something out of which I’d derive some real pleasure and satisfaction– washing the dishes.

It was when I was drying and seasoning my cast iron skillet that I realized I was being a complete jackass. As I rubbed a thin stream of oil into the surface of the hot pan with a wad of paper towel, I noticed that the vessel was so smooth and well seasoned that I could see myself reflected with only minor distortion in the thin sheen of hot fat. It was a rusted out mess when I bought it for $2 at a garage sale but, through years of effort and love and care, it has become something I’d be loath to ever part with.

Which, I have come to realize, is exactly how I feel something else. A straightforward bit of housework led me to look at my blog and its 500,000 views in a much more appreciative light.

I didn’t start this blog to become famous. I didn’t start it to become rich or popular or nab brand ambassadorships. I didn’t start it because I felt starved for attention or to keep up with my friends or to broaden my platform in order to get a book deal.

I started it because I thought I had some interesting stories to share and, over years of postings and hundreds of hours of writing, I think I’ve learned to tell those stories more and more clearly.

I started it because, frankly, I had absolutely no direction in life at the time and found a creative outlet both emotionally helpful and amusingly diverting.

I had absolutely no idea how many wonderful things could come from starting this strange little blog. I’ve met an obscene amount of interesting people, I’ve made an embarrassing amount of friends, and I’ve had so many good people guiding and rooting for me that if I mentioned them all by name it would feel like shameless bragging.

This blog has gotten me invited to symposia, conferences, parties, foreign countries, and dinners. It’s gotten me inclusions in anthologies, lots of award nominations, and even one actual award with my name correctly printed upon it. For writing. Which I learned to do right here.

It has also granted me the luxury of getting to choose my own literary agent. And that, dear readers, is bragging at its most naked and shameless.

Like cast iron, I suppose, a blog needs to be used and cared for on a regular basis, or it will turn to rust.

Momentary absence of good sense aside, I do realize that quality is far more important to quantity. I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing. My readership might not be vast, but it’s comprised of some marvelously smart people who consistently manage to leave comments composed not only in complete sentences, but with wit and great care. And those of you who have dropped in to say hello over the years make me feel very rich indeed.

Maybe not as rich as, say, a Rockefeller, but rather as rich as Mr. Horace Vandergelder, the well-known, unmarried, half-a-millionaire.

500,000 views. Is that all there is? It would seem so. But instead of weary disappointment, I now choose to celebrate and to do so, I’ve decided to follow Miss Peggy Lee’s further advice, which is to break out the booze and have a ball, if that’s all there is.

Vandergelder Cocktail

The Horace Vandergelder

If you’ve no idea who Mr. Horace Vandergelder is, I understand. He is a character from a Thornton Wilder play entitled The Matchmaker, which was taken by composer Jerry Herman and turned into a hit Broadway musical called Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing and then taken by Gene Kelly and turned into a Hollywood musical starring, (inexplicably) Barbra Streisand as Dolly and Walter Matthau (wonderfully) as Vandergelder himself.

He is a turn-of-the-century tightwad, middle-aged grump. Though I am not a tightwad, I find the rest of the description personally apt. And, as previously stated, he is a well-known, unmarried half-a-millionaire. Though I am not exactly well-known, the rest is, of course, true.

This is a cocktail one would not associate with a known tightwad, as its ingredients are anything but cheap. But it would feel right at home at someplace as fancy as The Harmonia Gardens, which also happens to be where our grumpy hero finds himself in the film. And with cognac, champagne, and absinthe as its most notable players, this is a beverage which certainly could have been served in that plus belle of all époques, the turn of the last century. Well, plus belle if you’re a half-a-millionaire, at any rate.

Makes: One (grumpy, middle-aged man feel very happy to) drink.

Ingredients:

• 1 ¼ ounces of your best cognac
• 1 eye dropper’s worth of your deadliest absinthe
• ¼ ounce of your  freshest lemon juice
• ¼ ounce of your simplest of syrup
• Ice, for chilling, obviously
• A decent champagne
• Lemon peel for garnishing. Or whatever you like, really.

Preparation:

Pour cognac, absinthe, lemon juice, and syrup into a cocktail shaker that has been liberally filled with ice. Do as the name of the vessel into which these ingredients have been inserted suggests and do so vigorously until all is well-chilled.

Liberate the chilled mixture into a very cold champagne coupe (you may use a flute if you really insist but they’re not exactly fin-de-siècle, if you understand my meaning).

Top off the glass with champagne, garnish with lemon peel, or cherries and feathers, if that’s what you’re into, put on your Sunday clothes, take a seat somewhere there’s music playing, and say hello to your Vandergelder cocktail.

Repeat as often as necessary until the image of Barbra Streisand as Dolly Levi has been safely replaced with the likeness of Carol Channing or, if that is too upsetting for you, Pearl Bailey.

Or repeat as often as necessary until you stop comparing yourself to others and start appreciating just what it is you’ve got going on.

Posted in Liquids | Tagged , , , , , , | 61 Comments

BRATs.

I haven’t been thinking about food much for the past couple of weeks. In fact, I’ve been actively not thinking about it, which is difficult when one’s job is waxing rapturous about lamb entrails.

While I was putting my shirt back on after being gently poked and prodded, Mark, my nurse practitioner asked me a few questions and then told me he was putting me on what he referred to as the “BRAT” diet. He asked me if I knew what that was.

“I assume it’s an acronym for something” I said, “And by ‘something’, I’m going to guess it isn’t bourbon, rye, absinthe, and tequila.” I was correct.

“It actually stands for banana, rice, applesauce, and toast,” was his disheartening reply. “It’s bland, I know, but they’re all easily digestible. I’m going to put you on that and some antibiotics for a few days. Oh, and no dairy or alcohol for the time being, alright?”

Well, it was nice to know that the pain in my side wasn’t from a bursting appendix. When I first started experiencing the discomfort, I had to examine a children’s map of the human organs to find out where everything was situated. It was comforting to realize from the diagram that my liver wasn’t at risk, but embarrassing to realize that I had no previous knowledge as to precisely where that organ resides inside my body. So high up!

When I returned from the doctor’s office, I mentioned my new diet on Facebook and received a concerned note from a friend that perhaps I should eliminate the toast from my already meagre menu, just in case my trouble could be Celiac’s disease.

It was great to know that my friends should care to worry about me, but telling that my chiefest concern was that, if bereft of one quarter of my allowable diet, I would be left with only a BRA.

Anyway, not to worry. I’m doing just fine. In fact, it was good to slow down, cut out the cheese and the martinis, and really take stock of what I normally put into my body. But it did leave me feeling as bland as my current diet. And although I like to think of myself as easy to swallow, I don’t think I am meant to be easily digestible. I would say you could take that with a grain of salt, but my doctor would probably say that I need to watch the sodium, too, while I’m at it.

So my stomach, which I’ve always thought of as made of cast iron, is having to be re-seasoned. But it’ll be back to fighting form soon. As will this blog.

Just as soon as I start looking forward to eating again.

I recently modified the BRAT diet, substituting the rice for a glass of rosé. I and my stomach both did brilliantly. Please wish me luck this weekend when I will attempt to drink a mint julep in Brooklyn.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a photo of banana, rice, and applesauce sandwiched between two toasted pieces of white bread. Because, dear reader, I know you would wish to suffer along with me.

BRAT sandwich

Posted in Rants and Stories | Tagged , | 16 Comments

E Pluribus Pesto

garlic headI’d originally thought to make a foul, rust-colored dump cake to mock the most divisive political figure to come around in my lifetime, but both the idea and the recipe made me rather unwell. As I prepared and baked off the layers of canned mandarin oranges, sweet potato baby food, and white cake mix, I found myself not only getting sick to my stomach at the thought of having to eat the nasty thing, but angry at its monstrous, little-handed muse.  The longer it cooled on the counter, the hotter my blood seemed to boil.

My rapid increase in body temperature was most likely due to a rather unpleasant and persistent bout of influenza, but the timing of my illness was uncanny.

Every time I dragged myself into the kitchen to get a glass of water or some juice, that revolting orange-tinted baby seemed to stare at me from its place on the counter where I’d abandoned it, demanding my attention. After two days, I summoned enough energy to throw a towel over it and move it some place less conspicuous, reasoning that I’d figure out what to do with it when I felt a bit better. After five days, I’d figured it out– I scooped it into the garbage can where both it and its inspiration have always belonged.

I had spent several days in bed watching news clips and reading articles about this awful man, feeling increasingly helpless in my weakened state and had finally had enough. Even if it was just a disgusting, sugary effigy, it felt immensely satisfying to escort its slimy bottom from my favorite Pyrex dish (which was then thoroughly scrubbed and soaked in bleach) and usher it, sheathed in its own, private bin liner, out the back door and down the trash chute.

Crawling back into bed, I decided that, rather than obsess over the awful news posted in my Facebook feed, I’d console myself with more light-hearted fare, like a marathon of the British comedy quiz show QI. As I listened, eyes closed and half-dozing, I could have sworn I’d heard Stephen Fry say something about America’s former motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” having originated from a recipe for salad dressing. Curious, but rather opiated from NyQuil, I jumped the video back a few seconds to make certain I didn’t dream it.

I didn’t.

“Out of many, one”. How marvelous, I thought, that the aspirational dreams of the United States were once inspired by an Italian vinaigrette. I promised myself I would look into it as soon as I regained full consciousness.

The phrase “E Pluribus Unum” comes from the poem Moretum, for centuries attributed to that bane of schoolboy Latin, Virgil. In it, he (or whoever actually wrote it– no one is certain) describes the making of a meal by a poor farmer named Simylus as he sings and talks with his African slave, Scybale*.

herbsIn preparation, there is the gathering of what reads like salad fixings:

The ruddy onion, and a bed of leek
-For cutting, hunger doth for him subdue-,
And cress which screws one’s face with acrid bite,
And endive, and the colewort which recalls
The lagging wish for sexual delights.

He then pulls up a garlic bulb from his garden to make a dressing, to which he adds parsley, coriander seeds, salt, cheese, and “stiffness-causing rue”.

The bulb preserved from th’ plant in water doth
He rinse, and throw it into th’ hollow stone.
On these he sprinkles grains of salt, and cheese
Is added, hard from taking up the salt.
Th’ aforesaid herbs he now doth introduce
And with his left hand ‘neath his hairy groin
Supports his garment;’ with his right he first
The reeking garlic with the pestle breaks,
Then everything he equally doth rub
I’ th’ mingled juice. His hand in circles move:
Till by degrees they one by one do lose
Their proper powers, and out of many comes
A single colour, not entirely green
Because the milky fragments this forbid,
Nor showing white as from the milk because
That colour’s altered by so many herbs.

To this now-unified mix he adds olive oil, vinegar, and then hopefully washes his hands after touching his hairy groin.

In the meantime, Scybale has occupied himself by baking bread and sharing it with Simylus, the poet going so far as to note that Scybale, at least, has bothered to wipe his hands. They eat what they have made for lunch and then get back to work. The end.

It isn’t what I would call an exciting work, but it is evocative. The poem is pungent with sweat and salt and garlic and groins. And the dressing is no less so.

pesto

E Pluribus Pesto

I imagine you could also call it “Virgil’s Vinaigrette”, depending upon how much oil is added, even though I am fairly certain that Virgil created neither the recipe nor the poem and, judging from its ingredients, it reads (and tastes) more like a pesto than a salad dressing but, like Latin translations, all things are open to interpretation. Besides, I couldn’t come up with a better name than E Pluribus Pesto— I’m still somewhat medicated.

Whatever you decide to call it, I hope you will make it, if only because you like the idea that it in part inspired a beautiful sentiment– one of inclusion and unity and working together. I think we could all use a bit more of that in our lives.

And it’s infinitely more satisfying than trying to make a shitty Drumpf Dump Cake any day of the week.

I’ve come up with something that closely approximates what was made in the poem, minus the “stiffness-causing rue”, because it is rather out of fashion as an ingredient and sadly unavailable here in San Francisco. I find this rather disappointing, since it is said to improve the eyesight and dissipate flatulence, according to medieval herbalists.

Makes enough dressing/pesto/condiment/what-have-you to consume with a friend over a freshly baked loaf of bread.

Ingredients:

• 3 cloves of garlic
• a very heavy pinch of salt
• 2 tablespoons of chopped celery leaf (instead of rue)
• 5 tablespoons of chopped parsley
• 1 tablespoon of chopped chive
• 4 tablespoons of pecorino-romano cheese, for body and a faintly groin-like aroma
• 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
• As much olive oil as you like, depending upon what consistency you prefer.

Preparation:

  1. Into a medium-sized mortar, throw your garlic into th’ hollow stone. On these, sprinkle your salt. Unlike the poem, I prefer to wait a bit longer before adding the cheese. Grind with your pestle until a rough paste has formed.
  2. Next add your herbs a bit at a time, grinding away at them until there is room for all and they break down into the garlic paste.
  3. Now add your cheese and grind some more. Take time to admire how the colors are slowly becoming one. Touch your groin if necessary, but wash your hands before proceeding further.
  4. Add vinegar and drizzle in as much or as little oil as you like.
  5. Serve with with bread, freshly broken with a friend. Or someone you wish to be your friend. You will both smell very much like garlic and cheese and will therefore have much in common after your meal.

 

*The fact that our Founding Fathers plucked a quote from a poem about a farmer with an African slave seems depressingly apt.

Posted in Rants and Stories, Savories | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments