Posts Tagged With: Paris

Fun Festivals – The International Witches Fair

 

Such fun

Is Halloween your favorite holiday of the year? Did you or your mom spend days making a truly scary costume? Do you want another such day? Each and every year?

Then go to the Witchcraft and the Trasmoz’s Curse Fair. Other towns have their own witch fairs. But do not go to them! Do not accept substitutes. The first and still the best such fair is the one in Trasmoz, Spain. This fair is the one that truly deserves to be called, The International Witches Fair.

This fair takes places every first weekend in July and is just the thing for people who prefer to watch movies about witch burning over roasting marshmallow over an open fire.

This fair is such fun. Watch reenactors capture witches and heretics. Watch the lost souls get tried. Be enthralled by their torture. Be entranced by lovingly recreated witches’s covens. Honestly, is anything near your home that can rival this? I think not.

But wait! There’s more. Listen to the excommunication of the entire town. Puts your “Damn you, (your enemy)” to shame doesn’t it?

Watch as Pope Julius II curses the entire village.

But you can’t see the reenactment of the lifting of the excommunication and cursing. They never happened. The town is still excommunicated and cursed. Can New York City, London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, or Bora Bora can say that? No they can’t, only Trasmoz, Spain.

Wait! There’s more.

The festival sports an authentic medieval market place and medieval camp. There are parades, magic shows, musical shows, and medieval combat. You’ll want to go year after year just to see everything.

But wait! There’s more.

Learn about medieval plants. Perhaps you’ll want to learn how to poison someone. It’s okay, it’s okay, all medieval poisons were organic. Or maybe you’ll want to heal people with medieval medicinal plants. To each his own.

But wait! There’s still more. Absorb the town’s rather exciting history as you wander around.

The history

During the 1100s, the town of Trasmoz  clashed with the nearby Veruela Monastery over firewood and pastures. Such disputes were normally decided by lawsuits or mediation by a higher lord or church official. Such a process proved unsatisfactory to the Monastery’s abbot. He excommunicated the entire town saying that witches and covens were running amok. Excommunication was an unambiguously horrible thing to happen to you in the Middle Ages. However, while bad for the town, excommunication is now an annual economic boon for Trasmoz, a town vying with other village for the tourist Euro.

In 1511, the lord of the town and Abbot Pedro Ximénez de Urrea quarreled. Perhaps the lord would point at the abbot and say, “Look, there goes urea breath.” Who can say? But we do know that the abbott complained to the higher ups. Eventually Pope Julius II cursed the entire town.

Some think the curse came about due to counterfeiting. Local counterfeiters didn’t want visitors poking their noses into this illegal activity. So the law breakers told the abbot stories of wickedness and the rest is history.

The excommunication and curse have never been lifted. Only the pope can do that. It’s something to think about should you ever ponder settling in Trasmoz.

So enjoy the history, the torture, and the food. Go to the International Witches Fair. Make your bookings now. It’s fun for the entire family.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Comfort Rocks Banned on Airlines

Banned Comfort Companions

It was bound to happen. Today, all the major airlines banned the use of rocks as comfort companions.

“It was getting out of hand,” said Carl LaFong, CEO of Duluth Airlines. “First it was comfort dogs, then comfort cats–boy did they hide everywhere. Then it was comfort mice–boy oh boy, didn’t they cause a lot of shrieking. Then it was a comfort rhino. It caused an incident the very first time onboard. We had to ban them all.”

“Then about a month ago, Farine du Ble, traveling from Duluth to Paris, brought a painted rock onboard. She held it in her hand, turning it over and over. The passenger in the middle, Amos Keeto, said a rock companion was stupid. Ms. du Ble took offense and hit Mr. Keeto in the head with it. We had make an emergency landing in Gary, Indiana of all places. Comfort rocks are now banned.”

Indeed the Airline Safety Council took preemptive action and banned the following pets from comfort companionship:

ants
bats
bees
crocodiles (they mess the passenger count)
giraffes (not even if you can put them in the overhead bins)
lutefisk (not even a creature, still don’t try it)
snails

Additional pets may be added as needed.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D., travel guru

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Bragioli (Maltese Stuffed Beef Rolls)

Maltese Entree

BRAGIOLI
(Stuffed Beef Rolls*)

INGREDIENTS – BEEF ROLL

2 pounds topside, bottom, or round steak
6 slices bacon
2 garlic cloves (3 more cloves later)
⅔ cup fresh parsley
2 hard boiled eggs
¼ cup bread crumbs
½ teaspoon pepper
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil (2 tablespoons more later)

INGREDIENTS – SAUCE

1 carrot
3 garlic cloves
3 medium onions
3 medium tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
⅔ cup red wine

Serves.4. Takes 2 hours 40 minutes.

SPECIAL UTENSILS

kitchen mallet
kitchen twine or toothpicks
sonic obliterator (Why is this not in your kitchen?)

* = The best, or at least most common, translation is really “Beef Olives.” Apparently, many people think rolls look like olives. This interpretation has over 500 years of history behind it Indeed, the word olive was sometimes used a verb, as in to olive, roll up, some ingredient. Now you know.

PREPARATION – BEEF ROLL

Cut steak into 12 slices. Pound beef slices with mallet to make them thinner and flatter. Dice bacon. Dice 2 garlic cloves and parsley. Cut each egg into 6 slices. Add bacon, 2 diced garlic cloves, bread crumbs, parsley, pepper, and salt to mixing bowl. Mix with hands until this stuffing is thoroughly blended.

Top a beef slice with 2 tablespoons stuffing. Place 1 egg slice on bacon/bread crumb mixture. Roll up beef slices lengthwise over stuffing. Secure rolled-up steak, bragioli with kitchen twine or toothpicks. Repeat for each bragioli Add 2 tablespoons olive and bragiolis to large pot. Sauté at medium-high heat until bragiolis turn slightly brown. Turn bragiolis enough to ensure even browning. Remove bragiolis from pot.

PREPARATION – SAUCE

Dice carrot, 3 garlic cloves, onions, and tomatoes. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 diced garlic cloves, and onion to same pot. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Stir frequently. Add carrot, tomato, bay leaves, and red wine. Simmer at low heat for 10 minutes. Stir enough to prevent burning. Add bagiolis back to pot.

Bring to boil using high heat. Stir enough to prevent burning. (Gently, don’t break open the bagiolis.) Simmer at low-medium heat for 45 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove bay leaves. Serve to adoring quests. Zap unappreciative ones with your sonic obliterator. You don’t need negativity in your kitchen.

TIDBITS

1) This recipe uses eggs. Each egg is to be cut into six slices. This is easy to do if the egg is three inches long. Why, each slice would be one-half-inch thick. That’s easy to measure, but three-inch long eggs are hard to find, especially ones that come from hens.

2) Okay, what about an egg that is 1-8/9 inches long. Divide that by six and you get slices that should 17/54 inches wide. How the heck, do we measure that on a standard ruler? I’ll bet no ruler has ever been made that divides inches into 54 equal parts.

3) So what do we do? I’m glad you asked. 17/9 inches equals 4.8 centimeters. Divide that by six and you get 0.8. It’s a snap to measure that on a metric ruler. But how did we get the metric system?

4) From the French Revolution. French chefs everywhere ran into considerable delays when the aristocrats suddenly wanted their meal portions to include exactly one sixth of an egg. We don’t have rulers that measure in fifty-fourths now. It’s certain that pre-revolutionary chefs didn’t either. So cutting eggs became much problematic.

5) Problems in dividing eggs meant long delays in making the aristocrats’ favorite dishes. This enraged the impatient French nobility. Gourmet chefs all over Paris found themselves chucked into prisons especially the Bastille.

9) The French elite still clamored for their exquisite meals But there were no more gourmet chefs. But where would the aristocracy find new chefs? From the bakeries. This action, however, meant a shortage of bakers to mean bread.

10) So Paris suffered a bread shortage. Incensed Parisian mothers stormed the bakeries for anything they could find. A hungry mob gathered. It stormed the Bastille to release the imprisoned chefs. The French Revolution had begun. Desiring stability, the Revolutionary government of France converted to the metric system. France is now a stable country.

12) America is not metric. We are sitting on a powder keg.

 

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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I Am a Fashion Model – Summer Wear

 

The very latest fashions from France! The current trend, the now, the wow are fine-dining pajamas

On the left, we see Monsieur Paul De Lancey model a matching ensemble of dinosaur pajamas . These elegant, yet simple clothes are bound to bring about a convivial, relaxed atmosphere to even the most stifling soirées. This charming evening wear comes from Rive Droite.  Your dining companion won’t be able to take her eyes off you whether you’re stepping out at an after treaty-signing party or planning a tête-a-tête at Maxim’s of Paris. This outfit is sure to complement her little black dress. Ooh, la, la.

What will you be wearing to celebrate your latest merger or acquisition? Why the delightfully coordinated pajamas on the right. It’s straight from the fashion geniuses at La Maison de la Baguette. This combination shouts, “I have arrived! I am as powerful as the Batman and Robin(tm) crime fighting duo. And I’ll never worry again, for I am relaxed as surfers.” Women will notice you in even the most crowded ballroom and think, “I must go home with him tonight. This is the man I will marry.”

 

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D., fashionisto

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cheese Souffle

French Dessert

CHEESE SOUFFLE

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon butter (3 tablespoons more later)
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (¾ cup more later)
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
1¼ cups milk
1 cup grated gruyère cheese
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 egg yolks
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

SPECIAL UTENSILS

4 ramekins or 1 souffle dish
electric beater with whisk attachments, if available
baking sheet
flying monkeys, just in case

Serves 4. Takes 1 hour 15 minutes.

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter each ramekin with an equal part of 1 tablespoon butter. Coat each ramekin with an equal part of 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. (This is a good time to separate egg yolks and whites if you haven’t already done so.)

Add 3 tablespoons butter to pan. Melt butter using medium heat. Add flour. Stir flour constantly until you get a flour paste. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with whisk until mixture is smooth. Bring to boil using medium heat. Stir constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes or until you get a thick white sauce. Remove from heat.

Add gruyère and Parmesan to pan. Stir until well blended. Add eggs yolks, paprika, pepper, and salt. Stir gently until well blended. Transfer flour/egg/cheese mixture to 1st large mixing bowl and let cool.

Add egg whites and cream or tartar to 2nd large mixing bowl. Beat egg whites with electric beater set on low. Beat until egg whites become foamy and form peaks. Gently fold in ¼ of the egg whites into the flour/egg/mixture. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites until well blended. Pour this blended souffle equally into the ramekins. Gently smooth souffles with spoon. Place ramekins on baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until souffles puff up and turn golden brown.

Do not open the oven the door while baking the souffles. NO, NOT EVEN ONCE! OPENING THE OVEN DOOR WILL MAKE THE SOUFFLES COLLAPSE. YOU WILL FALL SOBBING TO THE FLOOR. NOT ONLY THAT, YOU WILL RELEASE VICIOUS FLYING MONKEYS ALL OVER THE WORLD.

Serve immediately to adoring guests. If they’re unappreciative or late to table, by all means, release the flying monkeys. Those critters need exercise.

TIDBITS

1) With the proper type of internal combustion engine, cars can run on cheese souffle.

2) This actually happened from 1937 to 1940.

3) For on July 14th, Bastille Day, 1937 a very inebriated Chef Auguste Oeuf accidentally staggered to his Renault, unscrewed its gas cap, staggered back to his restaurant, grabbed a tray of cheese souffles, staggered back to his car, and one by one threw the souffles into his gas tank.

4) What are the odds are doing all those things while drunk? And in that order?

5) Small.

6) Less than half.

7) Any way, Chef Oeuf needed to go to the market and buy some chickens for his plat du jour. He turned the ignition. The engine roared into action. He used the newly untamed fury of his Renault to make to the market in record time.

8) He would make trip after trip for ingredients. His customers loved the unparalleled freshness of his cuisine. Ouef’s restaurant, Le Chaton D’or became the most popular restaurant of all Paris. Other chefs of the city noticed this. They too would get rip-roaring drunk and whip up a batch of cheese souffles for their cars. The culinary reputation of Parisian food reigned supreme.

9) The secret of drunken chefs feeding souffles to their cars soon spread to every corner of France.

10) There was though a distressing period, though. when some chefs didn’t get sufficiently soused. Miles per souffle (MPS) suffered. And in consequence, so did the vital culinary/automotive industry.

11) As a result, an anagramist in French government required all cheese-souffle chefs to enter the Fuels Of Cheese (FOC) association.

12) Mais zut alors, in 1940, the Germans conquered France. The long horrors of the occupation permanently sobered up all the country’s chefs. The dried-up cooks retained no memory of how to make souffle fuel. This is why our cars now run of gas.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hot Fudge Sundae

American Dessert

HOT FUDGE SUNDAE

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons corn syrup or honey
7 tablespoons heavy cream (⅔ cup more later)
⅓ cup sugar
7 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
⅔ cup heavy cream or whipped cream
2 cups vanilla ice cream
chopped peanuts as desired
maraschino cherries as desired

SPECIAL UTENSILS

food processors
sundae glasses

Serves 4. Takes 25 minutes.

PREPARATION

Add corn syrup, 7 tablespoons heavy cream, and sugar to pan. Simmer at low heat until sugar completely dissolves. Stir frequently. Add chocolate chips. Simmer at low heat until chocolate chips melt completely and blend in with heavy cream/sugar mixture. Stir frequently. Add butter and vanilla extract.. Simmer at low heat until butter melts and blends in with heavy cream/chocolate mixture. Stir frequently. This is the hot fudge. Remove from heat.

Add ⅔ cup heavy cream to food processor. Blend until you get whipped cream. Pour just enough hot fudge into sundae glasses, cups, or bowls to cover the bottom. Add equal amounts of ice cream to each glass. Top ice creams with an equal amount of hot fudge. Garnish with whipped cream, chopped peanuts, and cherries.

TIDBITS

1) The first Summer Olympics took place in Athens, Greece in 1896. These games started with the official eating of the hot fudge sundae which was made locally.

2) There were no opening ceremonies for the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris. The official hot fudge sundae melted en route or got eaten by an Olympic relay runner. After waiting fruitlessly for a replacement sundae to arrive, an exasperated starting official said, “Screw it, let the games begin.”

3) In 1928, Olympic officials decided to reinstate the opening ceremony with a flame brought from Athens. This worked. They also shortened the opening ceremonial line to “Let the games begin.”

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Looking for Toilets, My Travels Through Europe: Venice

VENICE

Doge’s Palace has a public toilet.

See Venice while you can for many parts of it are sinking into the sea. It’s kinda like California slipping into the ocean at the rate of a half inch a year. But there are differences as well.

California has earthquakes, fires, has water shortages, is a hot bed of information technology, has a huge agricultural sector, gives free water at restaurants (if you ask for it) and lets you use restrooms at all sorts of places such as restaurants, supermarkets, and just about any sort of business where the public comes in.

Venice has no shortage of water. It’s everywhere sometimes it floods the main square that tourists infest, which is exciting if you’re wearing designer shoes.

Venice was founded in the fifth century when Attila the Hun was rampaging through Italy, sacking cities, slaughtering the populace, destroying the Roman Empire, and otherwise being rather unpleasant. Anyway, the citizens of Aquileia, a thriving city, saw no future in being massacred and high tailed to the nearby swamp. They reckoned the Huns, a tribe that grew up in east-central Europe, wouldn’t want to slog through the swamp just to extinguish a bunch a people whom they had no real quarrel with. The Aquileians were right and before you knew it, they were sinking pillars in the marsh to provide support for the buildings they were going to put up.

These swamp people called their new city, Venice after Venn diagrams, they were astoundingly into the theory of logic, and ice, a rare commodity in a Mediterranean* seaport in the Dark Ages. Anyway, the Venetians minded their own business for centuries. In disgraceful contrast, the other nations and city states, generally went around for centuries impaling each other with lances and other weapons.

All of a sudden a Venetian woke up and decide to make galleys. These were ships powered by men using oars. Think of fishing in a tiny lake. You used a rowboat. Only the Venetians galley were huge multi-decked rowboats requiring hundreds of oarsmen. Just as you want to protect your fishing spot and perhaps wanted the lake to yourself, the Venetians wanted the Mediterranean to themselves and used their galleys to sink the other nations ships.

However, instead of catching fish, the Venetians transported spices from the Middle East to the rest of Europe. The Europe of the Middle Ages and Renaissance had really no refrigerators to speak of. Thus, their food other rotted and stank, more than lutefisk even. So, the Middle Age diners really appreciated a good spice to cover up the bad food. And so the Venetians thrived.

Until suddenly, the Ottoman Empire conquered the Near East and shut off access to the spices. Moreover, Western Europe developed large sailing vessels that could whoop the pants off the Venetian galleys in combat and could travel long distances across the open sea. Venice went into a centuries long decline. You would have thought they could have used that declining time to come up with anything, like reclining chairs and public restrooms, but no.

Venice lost its independence to Austria in 1806. However, the conquered city still had lots and lots of pasta and fish. This made going to restaurants lots of fun. About this time, Signor Scampi added chairs to his pizzeria. What a great idea. People loved being able to seat down for supper. More and more chefs provided chairs for their customers. The trend toward chairs in Venetian restaurants continues to this very day.

Venice was a republic of sorts, although if you didn’t like the current governor–doges they called them–you were denounced, tried, convicted, and imprisoned or executed in one day. Movers and shakers you bet. People were so afraid of appearing unhappy, that they sported smiles all day long. Hence, the expression, “As smiley as a Venetian.”

My family and I as we got off the water taxi that took us from the port to St. Mark’s square. We headed to our first event, a gondola ride. We took our time, enjoying the architecture. Inevitably with a family of four, some of us had to pee. Where were the public toilets? Where was Waldo? Where was Ameila Earhardt? Actually, we found Ms. Amelia, but the need for the toilets remained unabated. Indeed the pressure mounted. We did find a fancy hotel near the gondola ride. After making our donations, we went outside to find the place where we would show our vouchers. According to the maps, the gondola extravaganza was supposed to be only ten yards away.

As the crow flies. As the drunken crow flies. We crossed a bridge and went to the gondola kiosk. The sphinxes periodically manning the booth ignored us. We recrossed the bridge in search of a caring employee. Nothing. We crossed back to the booth. Nothing. We ended up going over that bridge six times before we found an employee who put a round orange sticker on our shirts. We were good to go.

We got in line. We had a good position even though the gondola guys had sold hundreds of tickets for our time slot. Actually this wasn’t true due to a cultural misunderstanding. In America, people generally stand behind the last person in line. In Venice and in the airport coming back, standing in line meant standing to the side of people in line, generally near the front. Soon a vast semi-circle sea of people stood around the gondolas pressing ever forward as if  trying to get into a Who concert.

Eventually we got on a gondola and began our bumper-to-bumper (prow-to-bow on a gondola?) tour of the back canals of Venice. Many power boats made deliveries on alcohol to the back entrances of various bars. Cool, actually.

After the ride, I had the clever idea of finding where our evening Vivaldi concert would be. Although the venue had St. Mark’s as part of its address, our consensus was to use GPS. GPS resolutely marched us to and around tiny alleys away from St. Marks. We came to an epiphany; GPS sucks in narrow alleys.

We did find a small pizzeria where authentic Chinese waitresses provided efficient and cheerful service. This restaurant might have had a restroom. We’ll never know. None of us felt brave enough to pass a shrieking toddler to look. Oh how, weak and naive we were.

But we were smart and experienced enough now to head back to St. Mark’s Square to find Saint Mark’s Cathedral. (By the way, twenty-four years earlier I had the good fortune to visit this square during the Carnival season. I saw many wonderful acts, many in Italian and some in English. I also did the Hokey Pokey with a bunch of Americans. My contribution was, “You put your left ear in. You put your left ear out…)

Anyway the biggest tourist attraction in Venice is St. Mark’s Cathedral, named after St. Mark. My family went there for a full mass on Saturday evening. Mass was in Italian, but the choir was from Britain and sang in English, which was cool. But no restroom. During mass, touring around the cathedral is forbidden. So is flash photography, at least in theory. Sitting is forbidden during the tourist hours. So, you can’t sit in a pew and look at spectacular mosaic in the ceiling. And there’s no public restroom inside.

After mass, we went outside to find our concert. My gosh, it was literally twenty yards away. There was a big sign saying, “Vivaldi Concert tonight.” Fuck you, GPS.

The concert was fantastic. We were in the second row, only fifteen feet away from the musicians. The concert hall had seats for only about forty people. The energy and the skill of the musicians, well oh my gosh they were great. And they played Vivaldi’s the Four Seasons, one of my favorites. (I had listened to Vivaldi’s Two Seasons a couple decades earlier from a slow-arriving herd of Parisian violinists. No comparison, these Venetian folks were the real McCoys.)

And the concert venue had a public toilet. Sure I had to clamber up a two-foot high step, but I had been toughened, and so it proved no obstacle at all.)

A great concert, two public toilet, and mass at one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, the day had been good.

Next day we stampeded the doge’s palace in St. Mark’s square. The doges had  lived there. It’s also where the nobility conducted the affairs of state. Venice was by the standards of its times, a rabid democracy. At first, nearly all the men could vote. Then sometime during the Middle Ages, the nobility in an admirable display of voter suppression struck all but a few thousand men from the voting rolls. The criminal justice system occurred in this building as well. With a strong Protestant work ethic, this Catholic government (the Reformation wouldn’t occur for centuries) heard, convicted, and sentenced people with assembly line efficiency.

Which they needed to do as they apparently had and still have, thank goodness, one public restroom. Would you want to spend hours uncovering quilt when you needed to pee. How did I know of this restroom? Twenty-four years earlier, I had toured the doge’s palace with a reasonably empty bladder. Only after leaving the palace did I look at my tour guide. It said, “Don’t forget to visit the public restroom at the palace. People restrooms are scarcer than hens’ teeth in St. Mark’s Square.” The tour book was right. A few hours later, I found myself wandering the Square saying, “A toilet! My American ExpressTM travellers checks for a toilet.” So this time I was able to comfortably whiz away while surrounded by centuries of history.

We then took our self-guided tour of St. Mark’s Cathedral. For love of God, Montressor, book your tickets in advance. Plate tectonics moves faster than lines at the Cathedral’s kiosks. The cathedral was as beautiful as it had been the previous day.

Our ticket to the doge palace gave our free entry to the city’s art museum. Let me tell you the energy spent railroading enemies of the state to their death did not diminish in the slightest the output of the land’s magnificent artists. Lots of busts of Napoleon, which was exciting for me as I am a direct descendant of his and it was nice to speculate how all this art and city could have been mine if only he had won the Battle of Waterloo.

Then tragedy struck. The men’s bathroom in the museum was, was . . . oh the humanity, was blocked of for cleaning. Well fuck. So we went outside to look for a public bathroom. We saw a sign for one. We did! We did!

We didn’t find it. We looked for hours. In desperation, we went into a restaurant. Number Two Son approached the proprietor*. The conversation remains burned in my brain.

“Do you have a restroom?” asked Number Two Son.

“Yes,” said the evil proprietor.

“May we use it?”

“No.”

“How about if we eat dinner here?”

“No.”

So we head back to the water-taxis with my bladder full as Boulder Dam after a rainy season. And there it was, Harry’s Bar! My gosh, the famous Harry’s Bar. Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Orson Welles, Aristotle Onassis, and other luminaries used to get drunk here and it was quite all right. And carpaccio was invented here. Contessa Amalia Nania Mocenigo was told that for her health she had to give up cooked meat. The clever bar owner sliced sirloin steak as thin as possible drizzled a sauce made of mayonnaise, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, and a soupçon of milk. A place fit for an exclamation point!

I went in to whizz. I asked to use the restroom. They answered politely and pointed the way. I expressed my gratitude after I came out. I said how excited I was to be at Harry’s Bar. They smiled and thanked me. We went back to our ship. A palace, an art museum, culinary history, and two public restrooms. Life was good.

* = Mediterranean is hard to spell. So is proprietor.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bad Advice Friday, 3-24-17

Today is once more Bad-Advice Friday. I shall be dispensing bad advice to all comers. The advice will stupendously bad.

GC asks: Is there a reason for putting a banana in meat loaf?

Dear GC: Yes, it’s absolutely essential training if you want to murder someone and get away with it. Sure you could shoot someone dead, but then you’d have to dispose of the murder weapon and those pesky policemen are sure to find it–yes, diligence can be annoying in others–and match up the bullets in the victim to your gun and before you can say, “Bob’s your uncle,” you’d be in jail. No, it’s better to suffocate your victim by shoving a banana down his throat. Then pull out the banana and cook it in your meatloaf. Not only will you have gotten away with murder, but you’ll have a tasty meal as well. And isn’t good eating a worthy goal in itself?

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CC asks: What should I have made for dinner tonight?

Dear CC: It depends. If you like the guests, let the professionals do the cooking. I suggest having Lasserre in Paris cater the event. Certainly, hiring the top chefs in France at a moment’s notice and hiring a supersonic private jet fly them to your kitchen will probably bankrupt you. However, this will be a dinner that you and your guests will savor for the rest of your lives.

However, if you despise your diners, I suggest almond chicken with a bechamel/X-LaxTM sauce and a habañero/mango smooth. Bon appétit.

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KJS-O asks: How best to pimp-my book?

Dear KJS-O: Book promoting techniques come and go. I recommend one that has stood the test of time, robbing a bank and taking hostages. I guarantee national coverage, especially if you rob a bank in a big city. Be sure to look your best for the cameras. All America will be watching you and judging you by your appearance. By all means, demand an interview with a TV reporter. This will give you the opportunity to read from your book. And remember to stay poised; you won’t be giving another interview for ten-to-twenty years.

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JAS asks: Do you know the way to San Jose?

Dear JAS: No, but neither do ants know the way to anything. However, they always find your food in minutes, even if you’ve just turned your back on it for one minute to get a TupperwareTM container. That minute turns into ten as you yourself turn into a cussing banshee trying to get a top that matches the container bottom. Anyway, the ants will find your food you left on the counter top in those ten minutes, guaranteed. How do they do it? They have no GPS. They just march forward in ever widening circles until they find your food. Which they do every time, so there must be something to it. So, I suggest driving in ever widening circles until you find yourself in San Jose. Be sure to visit the Winchester House while you’re there. It’s great.

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MB asks: What color should I paint my toe nails?

Dear MB: Your toe nails should match your belt, particularly so if you find yourself interviewing for a job while wearing flip-flops.

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RAS asks: Should I cut off my big toe for no reason?

Dear RAS: Absolutely not! Cutting off your toe should be for a reason. For example, you’re at your friends’ party. They ask you to take off your shoes. You are a polite guest, so you do so. Then you stub your big toe. My gosh the pain. You go off on a ten-minute swearing tear until the pain subsides. Your friends are pointing to the door. You are no longer welcome at their house. Wouldn’t it be so much better to cut off your big toes in advance than commit this grievous faux pas over and over again. You have only two big toes to lop off, but you can lose dozens of friends if you don’t.

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SL asks: What color should I make the sky on April 1st?

Dear SL: I’ve always been partial to green. Hire a small plane. (Don’t forget to hire a pilot as well!) Pour green paint out the plane. Then count on your friend, the one with a huge fan to keep the green paint suspended in air.

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– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: bad advice, Winchester House | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shrimp in Garlic Butter

Mexican Entree

SHRIMP IN GARLIC BUTTER

INGREDIENTSshrimpingarlicbutter

4 garlic cloves
6 tablespoons butter
¼ cup lime juice
1½ pounds jumbo shrimp peeled, deveined
4 small flour tortillas
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (optional)

Serves 4. Takes 20 minutes.

PREPARATION

Mince garlic. Add butter to pan. Melt using low heat. Add garlic. Sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Stop if garlic starts to brown. Add lime juice and shrimp. Sauté at medium heat for 3 minutes on each side or until shrimp turns pinkish-orange. Stir frequently. Warm tortillas in microwave or in pan on stove. Put shrimp in a serving bowl and tortillas on a serving plate. Let guests add shrimp to tortillas and garnish with cilantro as they wish.

TIDBITS

1) The ascent of life One-billion years ago: Viruses appear.

2) 900 million years ago (MYA): Taco trucks arrive. They serve wonderful food.

3) 800 MYA: Taco trucks disappear. Viruses, while great fans of all Mexican food, simply cannot eat much. It takes trillions and trillions of viruses to eat one taco. And viruses simply cannot carry enough cash with them. And they’re sightless and cannot even find a taco truck even if one were to bite them on the nose. Which viruses don’t have. One wonders how taco truck owners managed to find the financial backing to last through 100 millions years of disappointing sales.

4) 63 MYA + 1: Taco trucks reappear. The food is, as always, fantastic. Carnivorous dinosaurs love them. Taco vendors work out a barter agreement with them.

5) 63 MYA: Taco trucks disappear along with the dinosaurs and most of life on Earth. Giant meteors slamming into Earth, always a bad thing.

6) 1788: Taco trucks reappear in Paris, France. King Louis XVI loves their food.

7) 1793: Louis XVI is beheaded. Taco trucks disappear. The French Revolution has many excesses.

8) 1880s: Taco trucks arrive in San Antonio, Texas. We are living in a golden age.

 

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bunny Chow

South African Entree

BUNNY CHOW

INGREDIENTSbunnychow

1 medium onion
3 medium potatoes
4 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tomatoes
2 pounds chicken breasts or lamb
3 fresh curry leaves
3 tablespoons Durban masala (See recipe)
⅓ cup chicken stock
2 1-lb whole white loaves
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro

Serves 4. Takes 1 hour.

SPECIAL UTENSIL

Dutch oven

PREPARATION

Dice onion. Peel potatoes. Cut potatoes into 1″ cubes. Add onion, potato, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, and vegetable oil to Dutch oven. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Stir constantly. Remove from heat.

Dice tomatoes. Cut chicken into 1″ cubes. Add Durban masala, Add tomato, chicken, curry leaves, and Durban masala to Dutch oven. Cook using medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Add chicken stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until potato is tender and chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove Dutch oven from heat. Discard cinnamon stick.

Slice bread loaf in half along its length. Use sharp knife to cut off most of the soft white bread from each half. Leave ½”-to-1″ of bread crust along the edges and bottoms. (The scooped out bread can be made into bread crumbs.) Ladle potato/tomato/chicken mixture into each hollowed-out loaf half. Garnish with coriander. Repeat for second bread loaf.

TIDBITS

1) Bunnies are naturally fierce fighters. Armies everywhere had them. Napoleon wouldn’t have dreamed of conquering Europe without his corps of bunny irregulars.

2) But you say, “Aha, Napoleon didn’t conquer Europe. See, you’re wrong. Bunnies aren’t so fierce.” Ho, ho, they are. Napoleon won victory after victory up until 1808 with his beserker bunnies.

3) Then, Napoleon invaded Spain. Spain had guerrilla fighters. More importantly, it had battle hardened bunnies. Conquistador bunnies. Bunnies that pushed Moors out of the Iberian positions during the centuries of La Reconquista. Bunnies that had accompanied Cortes to Mexico, Pizarro to Peru, and Albondigas to Greenland. Bunnies that terrified conquered peoples into quiet submission for centuries.

4) The French army never had been on the receiving end of a bunny charge. Never had seen those twitching noses and the unreasoning terror that engendered. Never had to see a sea of bunny tails popping up and down as they stamped toward them . . .

5) where they nibbled your shoes and your shoelaces and so you tripped and your comrades laughed and laughed at you and felt so ashamed that you deserted the army and ran home where you sold sprigs of cilantro which tastes like soap to some people which was okay because all life tasted like soap to you and you spent the rest of your life thinking in run-on sentences.

6) And even if you managed to man up and stand your ground after all that, the bunnies would bite your ankles repeatedly which often hurt, particularly so when their teeth actually broke your skin.

7) Suppose you were a stalwart sort, a man among and you were still fighting bunnies crazed beyond belief by sangria, you’d still have to deal with the bunnies’ powerful rear legs, legs that could kick a potato twenty feet.

8) Imagine. You’ve seen their twitching noses, their bobbing cottontails, had your shoelaces nibbled in two, had your ankles bitten, and now they’re hurting your shins and they won’t stop. And then, and then, they keep your potatoes twenty feet away where they get smooshed in the heat of battle.

9) You have no food. So, you confiscate some local food, some paella perhaps, but your body hasn’t faced Spanish food bacteria. So, now you’re a French soldier in Spain fighting for an emperor who only cares about himself and you have the mother of all stomach aches. You throw thrown your musket and flee.

10) The rest of your comrades see that you, a man among men, are fleeing. They realize the fight is lost. They flee as well. Your army is routed. Bunny-fear demoralizes the other French armies. French forces reel back to France. Allied hordes attack Paris and storm the Montmarte. France capitulates. Your flight from the Spanish battlefield brought all this about.

11) The French Emperor Napoleon gets exiled to Elba. The long-time leader gives a farewell to his Old Guard, “Adieu mes amis, nous sommes battus vaillamment et aurions gagné mais pour ce lecteur de recette et sa peur des lapins.”*

* = “Good buy my friends, we fought valiantly and would have won but for this read reader of recipes and his fear of bunnies. (Sorry, apparently Napoleon’s French is only as good as mine. Weird.)

12) So you’ve changed history. Awesome responsibility, isn’t it?

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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