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Eat, Cook, Pray

Preface

Take the wayback machine to… 1970 (thereabouts). I’m having lunch. It’s  1PM. Turn on the TV. There she is, the French Chef. About to switch channels… but wait! WTF?! Julia has in her hammy grips this humongous piece of… flesh – best I could tell. Like about 2×3 feet of firm, dense, flesh. She grasps one end, swings it back, and over her shoulder – SPLAATT! on the counter. I about spit my Fig Newtons and milk laughing. Julia’s just abused a cow’s stomach on Pub TV. Julia then goes on to reveal, in that soprano voice with falsetto notes, the secrets to cooking, brazing, stewing, doing something, to… TRIPE. I’m getting queasy. Julia’s trying to be funny… I hope. Can’t be convinced ‘tripe’ could make a starving man salivate. And that’s how I got hooked on cooking shows.

Eat

Galloping Gourmet, Jacques Pepin, others, finally, Martha. I watched because I cooked, and ‘ate’, a bill of fare that ranged from good appetizing meals to haute cuisine… vicariously. It was my only intimate experience with delicious and, fine dining.

I had never ‘dined’. What I was, was a chow down kinda guy. Let’s see: Tuna, ate lots ’n’ lots of canned tuna. The cat and I were livin’ big. Chili, right out of the cans – no dishes to wash. Bush’s Baked Beans, out of the can, And too, cans of Del Monte crushed tomatoes. Dump contents into large bowl, add chopped onions, season, add Italian dressing, top with parmesan cheese, add chunks of Gonnella bread to sop up the goodness… gazpacho! Kinda. That count as cooking?

Hot dog and hot tamale stands, burgers and fries at the diner, Pretzels, beer nuts at the neighborhood bar… good memories. It’s great to be young, with corresponding gastrointestinal hook-up.

Cook

I’d had episodes in cooking, even adventures. My best friend and I went exploring a rail spur that led to some industrial sites. The trains were not often, it was a good place to camp out. We’d made an expedition of it, provisioned with franks, beans, buns. Well after noon, we’d made camp and built a fire. I’d commenced my first cookout. How’d it go? it was adventure.

That was one of the adventures; herewith, an episode. I think it cannot be helped. Watch enough TV chefs and you get the notion – “I can do that”. I was getting an urge for peeling; dicing, chopping, julienning.

Love spanikopita. Used them as bread slices. Nestled within perhaps crisp bacon, or a burger, or a peculiar summer sandwich with layered paper-thin sliced onions and tomato, drizzled with dressing. This simple summer sandwich was messy but delicious… well, much to my taste buds’ liking. It was a creation of sorts and convinced me I just might have a previously unknown knack.

So spanikopita it was – because it had to be easy. Not many ingredients – check. Low level cooking (wilting spinach over heat) – check. Store bought filo dough – check. And have a few drinks during baking – a perfect project for a tyro.

The end product was not pretty, but it was acceptably tasty. But the kitchen looked like it had been the venue for a food fetish orgy of a troop of bonobos.

You know why cooking on TV looks so damn easy? Because the star has not to shop, prepare, measure out the dry ingredients into pretty porcelain ramequins, preheat the oven, and wash the kitchen spotless.

Don’t remember ever being that tired. Never did any ‘heavy duty’ cooking since.

“What’s the phone number for that restaurant that…“

It’s either that, or, marry well – some girl that LOVES to cook.

Herewith, my favorite thing to cook. Even so, it’s not a regular event. It is entirely of my own concoction but no doubt something like it has been a staple somewhere for some time.

Omelette Niçoise:

1. 3-4 eggs, beaten, seasoned lightly; pour into hot skillet, aerate by further beating eggs for about a minute for a fluffier setting. When eggs begin to set, take skillet off burner.
2. Add 2 tblspns bruschetta, WELL drained (my preference -Green and Black Olives, Tomatoes, Capers. Top with finely crumbled blue or feta cheese.
3. Final topping – chopped chives
4. Back on burner – 1 minute, fold omelette – plate

*Serve with two bakery croissants, drizzled with drained bruschetta olive oil.

**Coffee

*** Perfect for breakfast, lunch dinner, and 2:am.

Pray

Before I go… Lunch Bucket List:

1. Oysters – I’d promised myself that I would have a meal of oysters, soon – forty years later – haven’t yet. How the hell you eat them? Put ’em in your mouth and suck ’em dry? Roll them around your mouth and let ’em slide down your gullet. Chew on ’em? I’d heard they could have a metallic taste. Oh, and is there any empirical evidence they make one horny… hornier?
2. Duck – never had duck.. à l’orange any good? Please don’t anyone say it tastes like chicken.
3. Alligator – not jerky, fillet o’…

NEVER will I…Kill Me First List:

Shirako – Japan (fish sperm)… the Japanese are nuts – jeez, learn some agriculture.

Fried tarantulas – what country has so many tarantulas to make a meal of them? Can you get enough for a dinner party for 12? It’s Cambodia.

Shiokara – Japan …the Japanese are nuts – jeez, learn some agriculture.

Kiviak – Greenland Inuit – arrrggghh – I thought haggis sounded disgusting.

Gaeng Kai Mot Daeng – ant eggs soup – lots ‘n’ lots of ant eggs- Laos.

Jellied Moose Nose – Canada – Justin’s not the only disgusting delicacy in Canuckland.

Huitlacoche – Mexico – translation: “sleeping excrement” Say no more.

Uugu – Japan – puffer fish (containing tetrodotoxin -1200 times deadlier than cyanide) have I yet mentioned the Japanese are nuts?

What are you guys expert at cooking up?

5 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Psykosity

    GREAT post!
    I make a wonderful tuna noodle casserole…well, when I say casserole, my cat and I split a can of tuna, I put my share in some boiled noodles with a lot of cheese in it (and I mean a heart stopping amount of cheese”, and stir to taste!
    Well, it sticks to the ribs, and it’s NEVER a good idea to drink on an empty stomach.
    BTW: I have eaten raw oysters.
    You aren’t missing anything.
    Next bad cold you have, when your nose is runny, take a big sniff and swallow.
    The experience is exactly the same.
    WELL DONE!

  2. Modesty Fiona Blaise
    Modesty Fiona Blaise

    George, you packed a lot in here!! I need to save your gazpacho in a hurry recipe, lol…
    You and I watched a lot of the same TV…Julia, Graham Kerr, and Justin Wilson (the Cajun chef) were my favorites. And btw, haggis isn’t bad…very much like sausage; you just can’t think about what’s in it. Pass on the oysters (see Psyk’s comment); alligator does taste like chicken…and I can’t believe you’ve never had duck? It’s delicious, and I highly recommend you try it.
    Great article, my friend!

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