Posts Tagged With: freedom

The Wonder Dog

This story was based on two sources. First, my dad who served his country in World War II  did his basic training in Louisiana, He said soldiers would throw snowballs at the platoon ahead of them as they marched off to the mess hall. He must have told me this story when I was quite young as snowballs during a Louisianan summer didn’t bother me. Or perhaps I misremembered  the story. Second, someone, decades ago, told me how a resourceful officer came across some abandoned hot dogs in a shed food and in a moment of admirable economy served the dodgy franks to the men on the base. The rest of the story is my imagination.

* * * * * * * * * *

We won the war. We brought the Nazis to their knees, not some namby-pamby foot soldier who probably counted dodging Spam thrown in the mess halls as combat experience. Yes sir, it was me and the airmen of Okeechobee. Young man, I’m gonna tell you our story.

Okeechobee, Florida then was only known for its millions of bugs; huge bugs the size of baseballs. But it was there, in 1944, that the Army set up the 800th Bomber Group, captained by Henry Pizarro.

Well, we were out in the middle of nowhere in a state often forgotten by the rest of the Union. Supplies never did get to us in a regular manner. Sometimes we’d go weeks without any supplies. Sometimes, we got a lot of stuff we didn’t really need. One week they sent us one million scarves, and 22,187 bird feeders stamped “U.S. Army bird feeder, Red-Headed Woodpecker Only.” Antonio Cedeno, Army Head Scratcher First Class, scratched his head and said, “That’s army for you.” Oh, we also received eight hundred tons of papayas. It seemed that although our nation’s scientists were still failing with the general concept of refrigeration, they had miraculously found a way to refrigerate papayas several months ago.

Well, around August, we had run out of all food but papayas for two months, and no one wanted to eat bugs. Hell, the bugs had been biting us so much that some of us figured we’d be cannibals if we’d eat them. So, we approached Lieutenant Kelso, who was in charge of food supplies. Kelso said that he was mighty sick of papaya soup and papaya burgers. He said he’d raise heaven and earth to find some new food.

The next day we heard a terrible ruckus all around us. Every flea-bitten mutt in the flea-bitten state of Florida was barking, yelping, yipping, and scratching his balls. Sergeant Niekro went out to investigate. Apparently, Kelso planned to use these dogs to sniff up some food for us.

Well, I decided to follow the dogs. They headed away from the mess hall as even dogs get tired of papaya biscuits. Those mutts made a bee line toward the swamp where bugs felt particularly secure and ornery. Way in the distance I could make out that huge ominous, gray, metallic building so forbidding that even the chaplain called it “the Hut of Hell.” The Hut of Hell housed our chemical supplies, used oil drums, and various pleasant poisons.

Those dogs just ran to the Hut and barked something fierce. Kelso, opened the door and immediately the dogs keeled over in agony. Kelso doubled over and proceeded to vomit big yellow chunks of papaya loaf. Sure, it was up to me, Robert Carbo, the man with the big sniffer. I dodged a stream of papaya spew from Kelso and went inside.

As God is my witness, I have never seen so many hot dogs in my life. These hot dogs were arranged in huge columns. Each column was twelve feet long by ten feet wide and stretched at least fifty feet up to the ceiling. There were thousands of these majestic columns.

Well, perhaps not majestic, more like tons of decaying, larva infested, grayish-green beef shapes. How long had they been sitting in that metal building in Florida’s fine, humid, 120-degree weather? However, stench worse than Private Aparicio’s pits after a twenty-mile hike, prompted to me continue this thought outside. I wrenched my boots free from some hot-dog ooze and bolted outside.

I carried Kelso all the way back to the infirmary. Unfortunately, our doctor was away in Miami picking up popsicle sticks off the sidewalks as we had run through our last shipments of tongue depressors. Corporal Johnny Conigliaro, a quack in civilian life, prescribed a dose of deadly nightshade, a rather poisonous, purplish flower. Kelso nearly died from this treatment but did not complain, saying, “It’s worth risking death to eat something that’s not yellowish orange.”

A week later Captain Pizarro, arose from his desk and put on his papaya-woven flak jacket and walked to the mess tent. The cook had outdone himself with a gourmet feast. We started off with a snappy papaya fondue and a Waldorf salad where the apples, celery, walnuts, and mayonnaise were substituted with papaya, papaya, papaya, and papaya sauce. For the main course he regaled us with a choice of: barbecued papaya sandwiches on papaya bread with a papaya sauce or chicken cordon bleu, where instead of chicken, ham, gruyere cheese, breading, and butter, he substituted papaya, papaya, curdled papaya juice, papaya crumbs, and melted papaya. For dessert we could choose either the papaya balls or the papaya flavored ice cream made with creamed papaya instead of cream. We washed down this feast with good ol’ papaya juice.

Captain Pizarro surveyed the yellow-orange expanse and announced that we were going to eat those hot dogs or die. Pale-faced Lieutenant Kelso staggered to his feet to voice his support before pitching forward into a huge bowl of papaya-bisque soup. Corporal Conigliaro timidly suggested that eating rotting hot dogs might kill us, or worse, give us diarrhea. Sergeant Gagliano put both of his powerful hands on Conigliaro and volunteered the Corporal for the honor of tasting the hot dogs.

Conigliaro said that although he was aware of the immense honor, he was reasonably sure that army regs stated that a certified medical doctor had to test all suspect foods. He was only an unregistered quack and so, respectfully declined.

It appeared that some stupid health regulation written by some desk-bound, pencil pusher in the Pentagon was going to deny us this wondrous, alternate source of food. However, our Sarge immediately volunteered Private Romero, a veterinarian, to taste the frankfurters.

Bilko accepted the assignment but said that he was such a good vet that he could determine the quality of the franks just by looking at them. He headed straight to the Hut of Hell, stopping only at the infirmary to put on a gas mask. Moments later he returned, ashen and trembling, stating that they were safe to eat. Though I did hear him mumble as he headed back to his tent hot dogs should not display internal movement. The other airmen just heard our cook announce hot dogs for tomorrow’s lunch.

Around eleven o’clock cookie started boiling the franks. Fortunately, a strong wind from the south blew the fumes away from the camp toward the town of Lake Harbor. About that time in an unrelated incident, Bert Taylor, a tea tester from that town, suddenly pulled his own head off and died.

We all lined up at the mess tent to eat our hot dogs in shifts of one hundred which was also the number of gas masks on hand. Well, the first shift manfully ate their hot dogs and immediately fell to the floor suffering from violent convulsions. Then Private Owchinko’s stomach burst open flinging his guts all over the mess hall. Soon, everyone’s guts erupted just like cooking popcorn. Owchinko turned his hideously contorted face toward me and said, “Dang, at least it wasn’t papaya.” He then died with a look of complete serenity on his face; well, at least as serene as one could get with an exploded stomach.

We carried the men outside and buried them properly. We put on all their tombstones, “He wouldn’t eat papaya.” Since bullets were scarce at our base, we gave our departed comrades ten hot-dog salutes. Most of these franks exploded in air giving off the same noise as rifle shots. However, some didn’t explode until they hit the ground. One hot dog, in particular, landed on a latrine and exploded, scattering its contents for hundreds of yards. Private Franco noted that the smells of the latrine improved the smell of the hot dog. However, Captain Pizarro displayed true genius when he stated these franks could be terrible weapons of war.

We drifted along in papaya hell until we received orders to fly over to Europe. The Germans had just broken through our lines in a massive offensive now known as the Battle of the Bulge. Disaster loomed and every airman was needed. We armed our bombers with our hot dogs, which now had been rotting for an additional four months in the hot, humid Hut of Hell.

Our 800th Bomber Group arrived just as the Germans seemed poised to overrun the heroic defenders of Bastogne. None of our infantry or armored divisions could get to them in time. None of the other bomber groups could get off the ground due to bad weather. However, we could and we did.

We bombed the hell out of those Nazis. A Tiger tank can take a direct hit from a Sherman tank just twenty yards away and drive away only mildly annoyed, but just one hit from our franks just ripped those tanks to bits. Down they fell, ton after ton of freedom franks. The foul, poisonous vapors from the exploding dogs suffocated the supporting German infantry. Our hot dogs created a huge hole in the German lines into which poured General Patton’s troops. Patton, that glory hog, claimed full credit for the American victory at Bastogne.

However, we knew better and so did many others. In fact, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain praised us saying, “This was their finest meat product.”

Doctor Paul De Lancey

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My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

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Bun Cha

Vietnamese Entree

BUN CHA

INGREDIENTSBunCha-

2 shallots
5 tablespoons fish sauce or oyster sauce or soy sauce (3 more tablespoons later)
¾ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons sugar (2 more tablespoons later)
1 pound thinly sliced pork belly or bacon (See note *)
1 pound ground pork

¼ cup cilantro (All the greens in this section must be fresh)
5 green onions
¼ cup lettuce
¼ cup perilla or lemon thyme or mint
¼ cup Thai basil or basil
¼ cup Vietnamese mint or mint
¼ cup kohlrabi or green papaya

3 garlic cloves
1 Thai chile or cayenne chile or serrano chile
3 tablespoons fish sauce or oyster sauce or soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1⅔ cups water
½ tablespoon lime juice

12 ounces dried vermicelli noodles
no-stick spray

I gave a lot of substitutes for this recipe as some of the ingredients are hard to find outside of an Asian grocery.

* = DO NOT get SALTED pork belly. It will make everything taste way too salty. Also, the pork belly should be sliced as thinly as bacon. If you cannot obtain thinly sliced, unsalted pork belly, you are better off using sliced bacon.

SPECIAL UTENSIL

grill, outdoor is preferable
grilling basket

Serves 6 people. Takes 1 hours 40 minutes.

PREPARATION

Mince shallots. Add shallot, pepper, fish sauce, and sugar to first large mixing bowl. Stir with whisk until well blended. Pour half of this marinade into a second large mixing bowl. Put pork belly in first bowl. Thoroughly coat the pork-belly slices with this marinade. Add the ground pork into the second bowl. Use hands to thoroughly knead the marinade into the ground pork. Put mixing bowls in refrigerator for 1 hour.

While pork marinates, dice cilantro, green onions, lettuce, perilla, Thai basil, and Vietnamese mint. Cut the bulb of the kohlrabi into ¼” slices. Put herbs in a large bowl. Mix with fork until well blended.

Form marinated ground pork into patties 2″ across and ½” thick. Spray grilling basket with no-stick spray. Put patties in grilling basket and grill for 4 minutes on each side or until both sides become golden brown. Remove grilled patties. Spray grilling basket again. Put pork-belly strips in grilling basket and grill for 2 minutes on each side until strips turn golden brown.

Mince garlic cloves and Thai chile. Add fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and water to pot. Bring to boil using high heat. Stir occasionally. Pour this dipping sauce into serving bowl. Add garlic, Thai chile, and lime juice. Stir until well blended.

Cook vermicelli noodles as instructed on package.

Place pork-belly strips, pork patties, greens, and noodles onto 4 communal serving bowls. Divide dipping sauce equally into a dipping bowl for each guest. Guests add as desired from the communal bowls.

TIDBITS

1) Bun Cha is short for Man Bun Cha Cha Cha, a Cuban dance from the 1950s. It’s associated with the island’s music scene and freedom of expression. Okay, there has been precious little freedom of expression in Cuba since Fidel Castro and his band of fitfully merry communists took over in 1959.

2) There was a reason for Castro’s oppression. The previous government under the dictator Bautista was decadent beyond belief. Government official thought nothing of double dipping tortillas chips into the communal sofrito bowl. Leaders and army officers grew their hair long, tied it up in man buns, and danced the Man Bun Cha Cha Cha. It was a parlous time.

3) Castro and his merry outcasts tried to humiliate Bautista’s regime by defeating its officials in Cha Cha contests. They didn’t. They couldn’t dance worth a lick. That is why they were outcasts. Frustrated, Fido–no it’s Fidel, Fido’s a dog’s name–turned to the United States for support. America ignored him; the White Sox were about to be in the World Series for the first time since. 1919.

4) So, Fidel seized power with support from the Soviet Union and outlawed the man bun. In return, the Soviets got permission to place nuclear missiles in Cuba. President Kennedy objected. We almost had a nuclear war, always a bad thing. So, the man bun is outlawed the world over and the dance is now known only as the Cha Cha. Call it the Man Bun Cha Cha Cha and you’ll get arrested. Wear a man bun as well and you’ll disappear. For good. And don’t name your dog, Fidel.

– Chef Paul

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My cookbook, Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World,  and my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, are available in paperback or Kindle on amazon.com

The cookbook is also available as an e-book on Nook

or on my website-where you can get a signed copy at: www.lordsoffun.com

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The Horrible Cost of Communism

Much has been made of the communist nations horrific repression of their own peoples. Ne’er do wells such as Stalin and Mao come to mind. However, there is another evil side to communism that the mainstream media is afraid to report, the lack of golfing opportunities. Why just in our own hemisphere,  we have Cuba with its two golf courses. Two. That sun-swept land would have had hundreds of golf courses if  the country had only been a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a telemarketer junta. Anything.

I blame communism completely for this lamentable lack of golf courses. Year after year, Cuba embarrasses itself with its non-existent production of world class golfers.

The United States, a democracy, is fertile ground for golfers. So are the countries of western Europe. Not many top golfers come from eastern Europe. However, eastern Europe is still coming out from the effects of Soviet communism. Producing golfers will take time.

I watched a South Korean golfer on T.V.–what’s his name?–win a major tournament. South Korea is a democracy. Sure, it was a dictatorship for decades before that. The point remains, though, South Korea was never communist and so is a credible global golfing power.

Sure, Thailand gets hit with tsunamis and suffers periodic military coups and frequent prolonged bouts with  widespread civil unrest. However, this country too was never communist. Indeed, at least for a while, it mandated that all officers in its military become proficient in golfing.

So, if you value your golfing freedom, and I hope you do, in which country would you prefer to live and golf, South Korea or Cuba?

Fortunately, a new day dawns. A few years ago, Cuba announced it would let foreign investors take 99-year leases on Cuban lands. Right away, at least one foreign company  announced plans to build up to 10, or was it 100 golf courses; I forget which. But either way, Cuba will be free to golf. The world has gotten brighter. Bluebirds sing.

But the horror of communism continues elsewhere, witness the hair style of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Be afraid, very afraid.

– Paul R. De Lancey – political commentator

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Check out my latest novel, the Christmas thriller, Beneficial Murders. My books are available in paperpack or Kindle on amazon.com, As an e-book on Nook

or on my website-where you can get a signed copy at: www.lordsoffun.com

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