Sunday, April 29, 2012

Why Friday the 13th? Well as most triskaidekaphobics. might tell you, "It's a scary day man. You know like black cats and all that." Truth be known, it was scarier than you might want to imagine. The term Tres... (it's too long a word to type twice), is Greek and of modern coinage (20th century), however, the superstitions attached to the number 13 are purely Roman. That's not entirely true, either, since the source of most Roman superstition were Etruscan in origin. The Etruscans left almost no written history of their culture, what is left for us is to divine comes from the Romans. Why 13? It's the result of the confusion for when, and on which days, business could be transacted (Fastus), and those days for when business was officially and religiously proscribed (Nefastus). It was important to know because debts and interest were due on the Idus (Etruscan for middle or division of the lunar month...full moon). Originally, the Idus, or Ides, (calculating from the earliest traditional calendar) was the middle of the lunar month, i.e., the 15th. The 15th was neither Fastus or Nefastus, it was "Nefastus Feriae Publicae" that is, there were no legal or assembly meetings, but debts had to be paid nonetheless. The problem for debtors was that there were several adjustments to the calendar before the Julian adjustment, c. 45 B.C. (A.U.C. 711), In the fifth century B.C., Numa lengthened the year and added two months. He, also, changed the Idus to the 13th, for those months which had been given 31 days: March Martius), May (Maius), July (Quintilis) and October (although leaving the monthly numerical designations that had existed with the previous calendar of ten months). For the remaining eight months, the Idus remained as it had traditionally been on the 15th. So, for eight months out of the year, debts were due on the 13th, but there was another problem, the religious holidays remained the same and the 13th was a dies Endotercisus, which meant that there was no work in the morning or evening: business could only be transacted during mid day. For a debtor, it was important to have paid up your debts on that day. The consequences of not fulfilling your pecuniary obligation were too horrendous to contemplate. The penalties included, being shackled, sold into slavery, having your property confiscated and, most hideous: being bound to a stake while your credtors carved off pieces of your flesh and limbs (called "Parting") until they balanced a scale in the amount of the monetary unit one owed.. Hence the expression, "Taking one's pound of flesh." If all this has confused you, you should understand that for the Romans it was, equally, confusing: however, for the debtor the consequences were too unthinkable to slip up on the date. Our current superstition is a mix of the Roman anxiety over due debts and the Christian belief that Christ was crucified on a Friday. For the Romans, dies Veneris (Friday), was a particularly fortunate and propitious day unless, of course the Idus (13th or 15th) fell on that day. Actually, there is almost as much reason to shudder at the thought of Friday the 15th as the 13th The most famous historical and literary reference to the Idus comes to us from Plutarch, who cites two meetings between Julius Caesar and the astrologer, Spurinna. In the morning Spurinna warned Caesar that the Idus (15 March 44), was not a propitious day for him and was fraught with danger. However, should he manage to get through the day all the signs were good for him. At first, Caesar listened to him, but then he was convinced by friends to go to the Pompey theater, where the Senate was meeting in the temple of Venus. On his way to his rendezvous with destiny, he again met up with Spurinna. Caesar then told the astrologer "The Ides of March are come." Spurinna answered, "Yes, they are come, but they are not past." Shakespeare gave us the line, "Beware the Ides of March." and, in the same play, another immortal line, "Et tu Brute," and even further, when Anthony is stirring up the mob; pointing to the wounds on Caesar's body and referring to a wound that he indicated came from "Caesar's Angel," Marcus Brutus, "This was the most unkindest cut of all." Why the "unkindest cut"? Because Shakespeare had obviously read Appian and had known that Marcus Brutus was Caesar's bastard son. Poor Brutus, he couldn't take all the ribbing and jokes about his paternity so he decided to show everyone that he was really one of the guys. True! Speaking of "Swan Songs"....., I did mention Swan Songs in here, didn't I? Oh well, why Swan Song? I know because I cheated, I read Plato's "Phaedo," Socrates discussing his approaching death makes a comparison between himself and a swan: "Because when these birds feel that the time has come for them to die, they sing more loudly and sweetly than they have ever sung in their lives before, for joy that they are going into the presence of the god whose servants they are (Apollo)". ....."I believe that swans belonging as they do to Apollo, have prophetic powers and sing because they know the good things that await them in the unseen world: and are happier on that day than they have ever been before." Now, knowing that, don't you just feel miserable? For those J alumni who were also Columbia undergraduates and were around during the days of Moon Dog, NROTC marches, the old Westend Bar, Archie Roberts (now Dr. Roberts), Grayson Kirk and a few other people, places and things of that era, I wonder do any of you remember Barnard Religion Professor, Theodore Gaster? If you happen to remember what his bent was, then, you know who to blame for this stuff that seems to continually pours out of me Szia , From Budapest LP (05.13.05)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Fox and Hedgehog

"The Fox knows many things; the Hedgehog knows one big thing." Hesiod.

Hesiod, according to the 20th Century philosopher, Isaiah Berlin, said that there are two concepts of liberty, one complicated, the other simple. The former, which Berlin termed "Negative," begins with deep roots, emerges into the light with a hardened trunk, branches out in every direction, sends off twigs that eventually sprout countless leaves. The leaves are expendable,: they die, they fall, become compost and are forgotten.

Such a leaf was U.S. Army Pfc. Luis A. Perez.

Perez died in August 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq from injuries sustained when his truck was destroyed by an I.E.D. Perez came from a small upstate New York Hamlet, near Lake Ontario, close to Fort Drum. He was in Iraq as a member of the Army Reserves (223d Transportation Co., Norristown, PA) He was 19-years-old.

Perez left a young wife and a family that loved him. That year, he missed the Labor Day weekend, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day, Easter, his 20th Birthday, the July Fourth weekend, and, now, the cycle will go on forever.

We were namesakes. We lived close by, but we weren't related, at least I don't think so in any way other than we were brother human beings. So, what's my beef? There have been 4000+ other combat deaths with, perhaps, 100,000 more injured, in Iraq, since, former president, George le Fou, a member in good standing of the Laccopluti, declared War and Victory almost eight years ago. Pfc. Perez is only a 1/4000th part of the catastrophe. Like the others, he was a hero in death, but had he planned on being a hero before he was killed? That's a stretch. When one plans to be a hero, they join the active Army's Infantry, Armor and Artillery corps. They volunteer to go Airborne. Volunteer again to go to Ranger School, and then volunteer once more for the Special Forces, Delta Team...the Daisy Chain and the Grave (The last six words were lifted from Alan Ginsberg's "Howl").

My point? I don't think, at 19, he had any intention of being a dead hero which is not meant to disparage his contribution to the war effort or on a greater level to America. At 19, a young man is thinking about his future, a job, college, girls and more girls and, then, the right girl. One enlists in the reserves to serve the Country, get a little extra pocket cash, respect from the community in which he lives and money for college. I don't think that he expected to die.

We, my family of Pérezes, have been an Army family since the first World War. I've often stated it, but I don't mind repeating it, my father was a real "V" for Valor hero. I was in the Army, too, heh heh. Like I said my Dad was a bona fide hero and while, geneticists will tell you, that kind of stuff skips a generation, cynicism, we all know is an acquired trait.

"I serve the Lord of Battle and the Muses too;
for I recognize the beauty of their gift."(Ibid)

Many a day (and night) I got to hear my father--and others-- relate their war experiences, while I sat on the foot rail under the bars of countless VFW saloons, wiping off the beer from my head that spilled over. So, I can attest to his courage and valor. One footnote: in the town square of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, there is a statue commemorating one of my granduncles for his service in World War I. Seeing as the U.S. Congress had just passed the "Jones Act" in 1917, making Puerto Ricans U.S. Citizens, therefore eligible to fight in all U.S. Wars, my uncle must have felt strongly about the need of stopping young Kaiser Wilhelm II. It boggles the imagination.

One of my sons served in the Army Reserves, neatly, between Persian Gulf Lunacy I and Persian Gulf Lunacy II.. There was no war going on, so, for the both of us, there was no problem. Had there been a war, however, there would have been a lot of tension. Skipping to Canada would have been out of the question. Neither of us likes the cold. Eh? Most importantly, we believe in the inviolability and sacredness of the "Contract." Further, neither of us could ever reconcile the thought of desertion, maybe a little late for Reveille because of too much Revelry the night before, but never desertion. Fortunately, I never had to come up with an alternative Patriotic Plan.

It's odd how that word "Patriot" comes up a lot these days. Before 9/11 and our not-too-well thought out reaction, Patriots had been those guys that huddled together for warmth from 1776 -to-1783. More recently, and I like the name application a lot better, it's the name of a football team from Foxboro, MA.

Okay, I'll say it once more: Plc. Luis A. Perez died in Fallujah, August 2004, and I don't think he should have. Because of that, I will always feel a little guilty when I eat a piece of apple pie, drink a fine Bordeaux or kiss my kids.

"No one in the city honors the dead or even
mentions them. Alive we prefer to court the living.
Nothing good can be said for being dead." (Ibid)

A Few Thoughts about "SERVING "IN A RACK!"

The second concept of liberty, which Berlin called "Positive" is simple and goes directly to the core of what is historically inevitable, albeit, the truth..

I have been thinking about sedition, recently. Don't get me wrong, I'm not planning to be seditious: I love my country and its people too much for that. It's true that, sometimes, I become very exasperated with my countrymen, especially when they behave like children who, after having been warned not to lean out of an open window for the 50th time, do it again, anyway.

I hate dragging out old horses like the Spanish-American philosopher, George Santayana, who warned all of us that if we do not learn from the mistakes in history, "We are doomed to repeat its failures."

My mind has been wandering toward the Espionage and Sedition Act of 2001. Scratch that. I meant "Patriot" Act of 2001. Old Woody Wilson would have mused that an Espionage and Sedition Act by any other name smells as pungent as cow manure in the July noon-day sun. I searched around: he didn't say it. So, I Wood-y.

Had I been around in 1912, I would have voted for Teddy Roosevelt, hands down. He was a man who understood the nuances of Realpolitik and a staunch conservationist who gave the Nation the National Park System.

The problem with the Espionage and Sedition Acts (1917) for me, however, is that they essentially eviscerated the First Amendment. One could receive 20 years for saying, writing (woops), or printing anything "disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive" about the American form of government, the Constitution or the armed forces.

The producer who made the film, "The Spirit of Seventy-six," received a ten-year sentence because his film risked stirring sentiment against the British.

It was against the law to say that war went against the teachings of Christ. (The Administration and the Congress of 2001 missed this one... or, did they?) I may be in trouble there, too. I have to go back and reread the Act.

When September 11th happened, I was in Europe. I learned almost simultaneously with the rest of the country what had just occurred. First, from the internet page of the NYT that seemed like a faux version of itself, then, from the Poughkeepsie Journal which was not subject to the same power and communications outages. It was surreal. I cannot claim to have suffered more of a psychological blow than other New Yorkers (Americans), but from my window on West 12th Street, as I am wont to tell people, I watched, daily, as the towers were being built. My son, Jake, his mother and I would bike down to the building site and check it out up close. When finished, we used to go up to the top, regularly, and scan the horizon. It was all a very personal experience for me as a denizen of Greenwich Village and as a New Yorker. So, I took it very personally, when a bunch of psychopathic zealots took them down.

My reaction was similar to most other Americans: anger and rage, and what followed, a desire for revenge. I wanted those responsible for the misdeeds of September 11th, dead and buried--not just once, but 3,000 times for as many of us who perished that day. That feeling remained until the Twits started coming out of the cellar waving the flag. It was a signal for me that it was a good time to tredwater and think

I am old enough to have remembered when the two American destroyers, the Maddox and the Turner Joy were reported to have been attacked by the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2nd and 4th, 1964. I was enraged by the thought that peaceful American sailors at sea, going about their regular duties, would be attacked by a sneaky foe. It smelled of Pearl Harbor all over again.

By August 7th, however, while the U.S. Senate was falling over itself to rush out the "Gulf of Tonkin" Resolution (98-2), I was already having misgivings. I began asking myself what kind of fanatical superpower, which I knew the government of North Vietnam was not, would attack two American warships with err, gun boats? Something was beginning to smell rotten and, as we learned much later, what was stewing in the noon-day-sun, was not the truth.

That patriotic rush of 7 August 1964, absurd as it now seems, led to over 55,000 American servicemen and women losing their lives and another 250,000 becoming casualties in what became the longest military conflict--until now--in which America had been involved, YET!. There are many "YETS" in our lives as a friend used to tell me. Further, there were twits in the George W. Bush administration who had already called this war on terror wherever it might sprout its ugly head, the "Long War."

I take all the lies that flowed out of the White House from 1964 through 1975, very personally. For me, it was an outright breach of faith.

So, in the Fall of 2001, when our elected leaders became indistinguishable from the ever present and always reactionary, people's militia types, and wrapped themselves in the flag while holding aloft the cross, I reached for my Boswell's, "Life of Samuel Johnson." Now, there was a man who had no problem defining his mother tongue nor expressing himself in it. "Patriotism is that last refuge of a scoundrel,." said Johnson. Boswell goes on to explain that Johnson did not mean, a real and generous love of country, "but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak for self-interest." (April 7, 1775)

As I peruse my notes of September 11th and the weeks and months that followed, I found one letter that I wrote to my former faculty colleagues at an upstate New York college, an institution as liberal as any one might find anywhere in the U.S.

In that letter, I invoked the specter of Vietnam. I suggested that if we went into Afghanistan, we should send in the gun wackos, lunatics, homicidal maniacs and other social miscreants who would never be missed. Failing that, we should hire one of the Mafia's. The Colombian and the Russian Mafia seem to know how to get the job done. Further, I suggested that our heroic President should distinguish himself by leading the "Corps of the Wild."

"At least," I argued, "it would spare the flower of our youth from the vagaries of an adult world caught up in its own self-interest" I said that, "I had come to one unalterable belief: that there is no such thing as a ‘Just’ or ‘Unjust’ war, ... just war.” It follows, then, that trained killers, not politicians should lead, plan and execute wars." It was obvious to me even then, that to follow the Russian failed example and try to bomb the bad guys to Hell wasn't going to work. I likened it to hitting mercury with a hammer.

You cannot imagine the level of vituperation in the responses I received. I was so taken aback that I, probably wrongly, stopped writing to them. I was accused of: being intellectually deficient, mentally looped, a Muslim lover, having sexual disorientation problems, anti-God, anti-Christ, unchristian, unpatriotic, speaking to the voices in the corners of my ceiling (Now, that one was right on the mark. My problem has always been, however, that the voices never seem to want to speak back to me).

I was crushed... for a second or two. But, I have always known not to put too much faith in Liberals, or anyone frozen in that dialectical interesse of the two sides of the coin, because they can never make a decision. In this group, I include pensioners and especially, the Beemer set. Both of these groups are caught in their invested self-interest. But what shook me for a while was that the common folks, those who drive Chevys, Fords and VWs were just as much caught up in the war fever. "My God," I thought to myself, "it's like Vietnam never happened."

Josef Goebbels was a being, who I understand plied his craft in Europe during the 1930's and 40's. It is Goebbels who is quoted as having said, "If you tell the people a lie long enough, they will eventually come to believe it." Enough said.

But, how many times do we have to be told the same lie before we realize it's a lie?

Recently, an article in a local New York daily, reported that over 5,000 American men (presumably women, too) who were over 50-years-old, were serving in the military theaters of Iraq and Afghanistan. Of that number, more than 50 had been killed. Of those, one was, 59, a few years younger than I.

I tried to put myself in his boots.

All I can tell you is that once the temperature climbs higher than 95 degrees, no power on Earth could make me move off my rack by the window, where the only thing approximating a breeze in my billet could be felt. In Iraq, where the temperature hovers around 115 degrees in the summer, war goes on as usual. Men and women in Tee shirts (bras), fatigues and bullet proof vests walk, work--wait to kill or be killed.

Maybe it is my age, or just my natural insubordinate nature, in either case, had I been serving in Iraq and my Commanding officer had told me to get up, I would have said, "Sir, until the temperature cools down, here, and in Washington, I'm staying in my bunk. Remember, Sir, They, too, serve who lay In A Rack and wait.'

"Some Thracian is waving the shield I reluctantly left by a Bush, a flawless piece. So what? I saved myself. Forget the shield. I will get another, no worse." (Ibid)

Szia From Budapest

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nutmeg? What a pervert!

So, Armin Meiwes, the German Cannibal likes his human meat sautéed with salt, pepper, garlic and nutmeg; on the side, Princess Croquettes, Brussels sprouts and a green pepper sauce? However, as we all know, from Texas to the Bronx and places beyond that man tastes like pig roasted, toasted or fried...but, with nutmeg? What a freak! To think that they sentenced him to only 15 years: for such a gastronomic creation, they should have give him life. Nutmeg is too sweet of a spice and lacks the flavor of mace, no matter what country, no matter what race, but what can one expect from a sloth of a Goth? Meiwes, it is said, found the meat a little tough, what a boar! For three days, maybe four, he should have marinated it in French wine, and rendered a meal which even Michelin would have thought divine. Instead, like a Cretan, he left the rest uneaten; to be frozen…squirreled away for 15 years and a night where he can try again to get it right.

Anybody who has ever read the story of the making of John Huston’s “African Queen,” will remember that they were served “Long Pig” by the hunter they had contracted to bring them meat. Not until the authorities came to their camp and arrested their independent contractor for slaughtering their “Bearers,” did they have the slightest inkling that their sundry evening barbecues should have been sautéed with salt, pepper, garlic and mace; on the side, princess croquettes, Brussels sprouts and a green pepper sauce, but never a stew.
Ah, what gauche cannibals we humans are!
Szia Budapestről,
Impefect Messenger
Igen. amerikai vagyok

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Traditional New York City Spaghetti and Meatballs: We gave it to the World

This is a Marinara Sauce that Vegetarians and other Pathagoreans can enjoy, simply by omitting anything to do with meat. You will have a perfect sauce you can eat in good conscience.

Some credit has to go to the Italian immigrants who, along with Hungarians, Slovenians, Czechs, Poles and other folk from Eastern and Southern Europe, began flooding into the cities of America in the late 1870's. Although the Italians did not introduce America to pasta, they did introduce America to eating the tomato.

There is a lot of irony, here. Most Americans believe that Marco Polo brought pasta from China to Europe, however, in G.B. Ramusio's edition of the "Navigationi e Viaggi," (c.1326), of M. Polo's sojourns, he quotes M. Polo, "Their wheat, indeed, does not render so much, but this they use only to make vermicelli and pastas...." The early introduction of pasta into the culinary culture of China is one reason credited for its early and sustained growth in population. That is, one could store wheat, indefinitely, for use during periods of famine. This was a lesson the Europeans would learn much later. The word "vermicelli" derives, of course, from the Latin "vermis," for worm. Vermicelli is thin spaghetti, and Polo's awareness of it is an acknowledgment by him of its existence in Italy. In fact, staples like vermicelli and spaghetti, made from wheat paste, entered Italy from Sicily during Roman times, and into Sicily from Carthage before the First Punic War (264-241 BC).

In America, we think of noodles and spaghetti coming from the Chinese, because the Chinese were in the U.S. in significant numbers before the Italian migration. The Chinese were imported to work on the Union Pacific, the western portion of the Transcontinental railroad (completed, in 1869) because they represented a cheap and easily replenishable source of labor. With them, came noodles and the first fastfood restaurants.

To the East, the counterparts to the Chinese were the Irish, who brought with them their staple food, the potato, Although, Germans, in small numbers ate the potato, the English thought of it as food for pigs. They would lose this attitude over the next 100 years, as the exigencies of feeding a large population during two wars in which they were cut off from their traditional continental food supply, made the nutritious and easily attainable potato very attractive.

The potato, coincidentally, is a cousin of the tomato and was also brought to Europe by the Spanish conquerors of pre-Columbian America. The tomato made its return trip to America with the Italians and other Club Med peoples in the late 19th Century. But, it was President Woodrow Wilson, who is credited with popularizing Spaghetti and tomato sauce by having it served as an entree at a State function during his presidency. Wilson may not have known much about European history, but, apparently, he knew which European foods tasted good.

All this gives old meaning to the expression: "What goes around comes around."

Cooked tomatoes produce an enzyme that protects men against prostatic inflammation and prostate cancer. It should be part of the general knowledge in the States, but if you have missed this piece of info, allow me to repeat it. By the way, the same does not apply to catsup. If you will allow me one morbid digression: The rule is, 50% of men over 50, have problems with their prostate gland. Of those, 50% get cancer. So, if their is a scientific evidence for consuming cooked tomato, every day, and, if you are a man approaching maturity, there is good reason to read the following recipe.

Spaghetti, with a Delicious Tomato-based Sauce, With, or Without Meatballs or Meat.:

These are the utensils and implements that you will need:

-One Italian Opera CD (Turandot and La Traviata are about the right length)
-A large 3-quart Iron Pot w/cover (failing that, Steel but never aluminum), for making the sauce.
-A large 9" in diameter Iron Frying Pan (failing that, Steel, but never aluminum) for browning the meatballs or the ground beef, if what you want is a meat sauce and not Meat Balls
-A large 3-quart pot (not aluminum) for boiling the water for the Spaghetti.
-A Long Wooden Spoon for stirring the sauce.
-A large metal spoon for placing the meatballs in the sauce.

It's going to be three hours from beginning to end (unless you want to stew your own tomatoes).

-1 Small can of Tomato Paste
-1 Medium size can of Tomato Sauce
-1 Large can (1 and 1/2 lbs) of stewed Italian Tomatoes
-1 Cup of Beef Broth (Veggies omit this)
-1 pound or a pound and-a-half of Ground Sirloin or Round Steak (Veggies omit this)
-1 Cup of Dry Red Wine of your choice (If this is problematic, omit it). By the way, Hungarian Wines are always an excellent choice. If you are Italian, go Italian.
-1 Green Bell Pepper
-1 Large Onion for Sauce and One Small Onion for the Meat Balls (That's 2 Onions in all, Except for Veggies who will only need One). 'E Gads and Little Fishes, if you mess up with this, you will end up going Berserk, and Running Amok, later when it comes time to make the Meat Balls.
-4 or 5 Garlic Cloves. Smashed not diced for the Sauce (more is better), and 4 or 5 Cloves of Garlic for the Meat Balls, also, smashed not diced. Do you know how to smash Garlic? This is a heck of a time to be asking. Buy a wooden Mortar and Pestle. It used to be that the only places one could find them were in Puerto Rican Bodegas. Now, they sell them everywhere, even in Twin Pines, Montana, (pop. 176). That's called Cultural Diffusion.
- 8 to 10 pitted Olives (Slice them into two pieces)
-15 to 20 capers
-2 Tablespoons of vinegar
-1 Egg slightly beaten
-1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Spanish or Italian Olive Oil for sautéing Onions, Pepper and Garlic
-1/2 to 1 cup of Corn Oil for Browning the Meat Balls
-Freshly Ground Parmesan Cheese (for sprinkling)

-1 1/2 Tablespoons of Oregano
-1 Tablespoon of Basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper (What? No Pepper Grinder? Buy one, but don't buy a new one. Here's a Secret. Beautiful old Antique Pepper Grinders sell in an Antique Shop for the same price as a new one. Probably that will change too, when the word gets out.)
-1 Bay Leaf

Okay, I think that we are ready. Start the Opera.

-Heat the large pot and add three or four Tablespoons of Olive Oil.
-Sauté, over a medium flame, the smashed Garlic, the sliced onions and the thinly sliced Green Pepper (slice them any way it pleases you to eat them).
-When the Onions are translucent, add the whole can of Tomato paste and stir for about five minutes. Then, add the tomato sauce and stir. Now, you can bring up the fire just a bit more.
-While you are heating the ingredients in the pot, open the canned (or ready your own precooked tomatoes). When the sauce is hot, again, pour in the tomatoes. Most canned tomatoes have a cooked Bay leaf inside the can with the tomatoes. Pick it out and throw it away. It has served its purpose, what ever that was..
-Add the vinegar.
-Bring up the heat. Add one cup of Beef Stock, or one cube of beef bouillon dissolved in one cup of heated water.
-Add the wine.
-Add two cups of water. The pot should be three quarters full with liquid and stuff.
-Add the Spices: Oregano, Basil, Salt and Pepper; don't forget the Bay Leaf.
-Stir and cook over a medium-high flame. Let it boil lightly, just remember to stir.
-With one eye on the stove, let's turn our attention to the Meat.


Skip these three paragraphs if you are only interested in Meat Balls.

-Sauté the ground beef in a frying pan. Add a little chopped onion, salt and pepper to kill the smell of the beef. The burning beef smells. ( Well if Dr. Johnson were here, he would say that I used a Intransitive verb "smell" when I should have used a Transitive verb "Stink" as in, "I smell the meat, but the meat stinks."). There are some things we can never escape.

-When the beef is brown, separate the beef from the fat in the skillet. Add the beef to the tomato mixture and throw away the fat. Stir the boiling sauce (We can call it a sauce, now).
Lower the flame to medium, cover the pot, but leave a part of the lid off so as to allow the steam to escape. Check and stir every 20 to 30 minutes. When the sauce has been reduced to a thick mixture (2 1/2 hours), you are done.

-I hope that you have been tasting it. Don't worry how it tastes the first hour, that will change during the rest of the cooking time as the sauce thickens. If the sauce tastes too acidic at anytime, (usually the result of the Green Pepper), you can add One Teaspoon of Sugar. The Sugar doesn't make the sauce sweet, however, it neutralizes the acid. That is a well kept culinary secret. By now, you can tell that I am a really good person at heart.. N'est-ce pas?


-Place your Ground Beef in a mixing bowl.
-Mince one small onion (Remember this Onion?) and toss into the bowl with the beef.
-Add one or two teaspoons of salt ( The amount depends on your taste and state of health)
-Add one teaspoon of Freshly Ground Black Pepper.
-Add the slightly Beaten Egg.
-Using both hands, thoroughly, blend the Egg, Onion and Spices into the Meat.
-When you are satisfied that you have made a harmonious mixture, wash your hands. Place the large frying pan on the stove. Set to a medium flame and add 1/2 cup of Corn Oil.
-ARE YOU STIRRING THE SAUCE? You know that I won't be there watching and telling you to do it. There should be a lot of liquid evaporating. If not, turn the flame up a little higher. No Extremes, Here!
-Press the meat between both hands making medium size balls, roll them around in your hands to make them as round as possible.
-Place the Meat Balls on a large floured serving plate or flat pan and roll the balls around until they are all covered lightly with flour. Do that to all the Meat. Finished?
-Place the Meat Balls into the Frying Pan, and brown, turning them around gently so as not to break them into pieces..
-As each Meat Ball is browned all around, scoop it up with a large tablespoon and drop it (gently) into the sauce. When you are done with that and the sauce is bubbling, cover the pot, lower the flame, but not too low. Stir and adjust the flame according to how much sauce you have. Toward the end, if there is still too much liquid, i.e., the sauce is still too thin, uncover the pot and raise the flame and bring to a boil, stirring every few minutes.

When the Opera is over, the Sauce is done.

Boil water for the Pasta.
--Add to the boiling water a couple of Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Spanish or Italian Olive Oil. The Oil keeps the Pasta from sticking together. But remember, you have to stir the pasta constantly or some will stick and burn at the bottom of the pot. Use a long wooden spoon, if you haven't already figured that out, yet.
-It could be any Pasta. I recommend Spaghetti (in the U.S #9) or Vermicelli. Be careful, here, You cook Spaghetti #8 longer than Spaghetti #9, and Vermicelli you cook for only three or four minutes.

(When I show you how easy it is to be a Master Chinese Chef, I will teach you a trick you can do with Vermicelli. It is a closely guarded culinary secret. Don't you hate people who keep simple secrets. They, and not the Vermicelli are the worms.)

-Light Green Salad, (Cucumber, Spinach, Kale and Romaine Lettuce with a Clove or Two of Smashed Garlic and a few Tablespoons (depending on the size of the salad), of Spanish or Italian Olive Oil).
-Ladle the Sauce onto your Pasta and sprinkle fresh ground Parmesan Cheese on top.

What? 'You want a Dessert? Hmmm, maybe the Peach Pie I made, yesterday, and is all gone, now, would be a perfect dessert. I'll send that along, this week.

When I was a kid, my mother who didn't like to cook, would invariably give me and my sister each $5 bucks to go to the Italian restaurant across the street. On other days, she would give us $3 bucks and tell us to go to the Chinese restaurant on the corner. After a while, I figured out that I could easily duplicate everything that I liked to order in the Italian restaurant. Sometimes the chef gave me a few hints, other times I just worked them out through trial and error: my sister being the reticent guinea pig.

Learning to cook Chinese was a lot more difficult. I didn't have the linguistic ability to communicate with the cooks. I was not culturally familiar with some of their spices and herbs and style of cooking. I knew that I could make rice better than any I have been served in any restaurant. But, to feel confident about my Chinese cooking required a long trip and circuitous journey and meeting some interesting people who made the process simple and interesting. The tale is the secret ingredient in my Chinese cooking.

Did you know that the word, "Oriental" comes from Latin. The "Orientis" was the first religious rite of the day. It was celebrated when the sun began to rise (in the East). If you wanted to orient someone who was lost in the woods, you would show them East and they should have been able to figure out the rest. For the Romans, exotic Greece was the Orient. The last rite of the day, when the sun set (that is cut in half):, was the "Occidens." So, it follows, then, for the Chinese, the United States is the Orient; for Americans, the Chinese are Occidental. You just can't make this stuff up-- not even, occidentally!

I consider anything that has been served in restaurants in America during my lifetime, Traditional American Food.

From Paris

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Red Lentil Soup I Stole from Mario

I met Mario while he was working as a chef in a rustic Italian restaurant in upstate New York. He wasn't one of those chefs who had graduated from an elegant culinary school. Actually, I never asked him where he had learned to cook. He was Italian, so I assumed he had learned to cook in Italy.

The restaurant was in a dechristened church in a picture-postcard hamlet in New York's Mid-Hudson Valley region. What attracted me to it was that they made excellent pizza in a brick oven and they stocked several VSOP cognacs. I used to go there in the middle of the afternoon when business was slow. After a few visits, Mario and I began to enter into polite conversation. He would sit down and we'd talk about almost anything. Not unexpectedly, the conversations would always turn to food.

Mario was always trying to push his lentil soup on me. It was his specialty and he was proud of it. It was always on the menu, and people came there at lunch time just to have his soup. He would often offer it to me, too, but I would refuse. We almost made a game of it. I'm not an adventurer when it comes to eating Green Things. When I was a kid, I was forced to eat split pea soup. I hated it until one day out in California, somewhere outside of L.A., maybe it was San Bernardino or just a little bit north, I had split pea soup in a restaurant that had the name, fittingly enough, "Anderson's Split Pea Restaurant." I had the pot roast and the soup. It was great. I think that I may still have the recipe in my head, but I never had the incentive to try and make it.

Mario used to keep teasing me. Once, when I insisted that I didn't like green looking foods, he pointed out that it was made out of red lentils. I could tell, instantly, from his eyes that he hadn't wanted to tell me that. He knew, by now, that I was a recipe thief. Finally, I broke down and tried his soup. It was everything he had said it was, and then some. I began returning to the restaurant, more frequently, to have my regular Quatro Stagioni Margueritta pizza and his soup, all the time pestering him for the recipe.

"If I give you the recipe," he would say, "you'll never come back." I think that after the tenth or 15th attempt, at home, I had almost gotten it right, when one day, I walked into the usually empty restaurant and saw Mario sitting very quiet and contemplative at a corner table next to the kitchen. The restaurant was empty, which didn't seem unusual at the time, since I had become used to seeing it that way. I had convinced myself that the restaurant must do very well for dinner. He didn't even notice my coming in. "What's up Mario?" I asked, "I quit," he said.

Startled by the realization that one of my life's routines was abruptly coming to an end, I began to ask him all kinds of questions friends ask each other when there has been a sea change in one of their lives. "The owners, you know, are from the City; and they have decided to change the menu." Stil surprised, but curious to see how much the change would impact on my life, I asked, "How are they changing it?" Mario looked at me and spurted out the words I hate to the core. "Nouvelle Cuisine, and that eliminates me." He said unable to disguise his scorn. "It eliminates me, too," I said. "You know," continued Mario," that I don't cook that way."

Before I said my final farewell to my friend and the restaurant, we talked about the soup. Apparently, I had gotten real close. I had been a bit wrong about how to start it and the amount of cumin to use... but, I was getting there. One or two more tries, I would have gotten it.
"Do you know what nouvelle cuisine is?" He asked, rhetorically, adding."It's nothing more than expensive **** with a French name created by cynical entrepreneurs for the nouveaux riches." He paused for a minute to reflect, then, finished his thought, "That's just my personal opinion, of course."

Nouvelle for the Nouveaux:
Jeffrey goes to culinary school for four years. For the sake of argument it's in Poughkeepsie, One of the things he learns and remembers is that people prefer presentation to substance. Jeff, after four years, learns to be an interior decorator of porcelain plates. "Tres joli. N'est-pas?"

The last year in culinary school, Jeff begins going down to the City on Saturday's for French lessons. By the time he graduates, he not only knows how to make barely cooked pigeon breast in a butter and wine sauce, with a sprig of parsley and a slice of tomate (sic) for which he can charge $90, but he has metamorphosed himself into "Geoffrey." He had, originally, planned to go with "Roland." (He had heard, somewhere, that there had been a romantic character in French history with that name). However, he knew there were already too many "Rolands," working on Columbus Avenue, where, coincidentally, he got his first job, in a very small but trendy chic bistro, "Chez Book Y Worm," known to the trendees, as the "Worm."

Someone, early on, had suggested to the proprietor, that "Y" was the Spanish form of the conjunction for "and," and the proper form in French was "et." "Too late," said the proprietor, "anyway, the "Y' gives it a cute double 'entente' (However inscruitable), and who will ever know?' Good Point! I was about to ask him if he meant "entendre," but thought better of it.

The Worm has 8 small tables; a bar and walls lined with books-once-read purchased by the yard. Now, one step from the garbage bin, they are a chic substitute for wallpaper, lending the cave-sized eatery a much needed ambiance. What is missing in the patrons' skull can be conveniently borrowed from the decor. One can simply absorb knowledge through osmosis. Nice trick, n'est-e pas? .

The clientele are the variety that has more cash than class. Missing are born 'n bred Manhattanittes who would never be caught dead in one of these establishments that caters to 20-somethings from Deluth or its environs who make bushels of bucks in advertising or design.

She and He are sitting at a table with a lighted candle in a nook by the bar. They have already made the rounds of several Second Avenue bars before deciding to come over to Columbus to see what everybody else was doing. This week, they have decided to celebrate her raise from the women's garment company where she is employed as a blouse designer. The company has decided to go with her "BraBlouse" creation. It' a blouse. It's a Bra." Actually, it's a bra with a little material sewn around it, adding a little more cloth so as to make it "Barely legal," as she proudly states.

"It's Shocking," said the boss.
"It's Shocking," said her co-designers."
"But," said the boss, "It has that certain je ne sais quoi."
"But," said her co-designers, "It has that certain je ne sais quoi."
"It's the BraBlouse," said the boss, foregoing Her suggestion of "BraChem(ise)."
"It's the BraBlouse," said her co-designers foregoing her suggestion of ... Oh, well, you get the picture.

The BraBlouse brought her a raise in salary to nearly $100,000, almost the same as her beau who received a raise from his company, the American Generic Tobacco Company, where he is a copywriter. He was the one who came up with the new product idea, and AGT's new motto, for their Asian tobacco markets. "Tiny Cigs for Tiny Kids." Very catchy. She is from Cheyenne, but She tells everyone that She is from San Francisco where She went to design school. He is from Buffalo but tells everyone that he is actually from Rochester.

Their waiter is actually named Roland, but, because of the aforementioned reason, calls himself, Pierre. He wears tight black pants with a black silk shirt tucked in but open to the navel. Around his neck, he sports a thick gold chain on a hairless chest. When he makes broad arm movements, a tattoo of Eros about to shoot an arrow is exposed over his left nipple. Tonight, Pierre is recommending, of all things, "Breast of Dove, au Suisse," and, "from the wine cellar "(They have no wine cellar. They don't even have a cellar. The trendy cheese shop, next door has the cellar), intones Pierre, with the insouciance of someone who writes for wine magazines on the side, "we have a delicious '93 Chablis, imported to the States, just for the Worm." Did I mention that Pierre is from Brooklyn and has never drunk a Chablis. He wouldn't know what it tasted like. He prefers Rum and Coke with a twist of lemon.

She has the pigeon: He opts for the more manly, New York Sirloin, "Very rare, please."
Finally, "Would Madame like to try the house Mousse au Chocolat?" The only madams that Pierre had known before working on Columbus Ave. were madams, that he had met plying their trade in the same Eastside bars in which he had been employed. "Oh," says She, "Is that the same thing as the Moussy thing you have here, on the menu? "Oui, Madame," says Pierre. As tip time gets nearer, Pierre's French begins to blossom. "I'll pass on the pudding," says He. "May I recommend an aperitif?" inquires Pierre.

"What would you suggest, Pierre?" says She, uuulating her Rs. (Between Geoffrey's and Pierre's instruction, her French has gotten pretty good). "We have an excellent VSOP," says Pierre. "Oh," says She, "I was really thinking of having a cognac." Pierre can not stop his eyes from rolling. She settles, however, on Pierre's suggestion of a 25-year-old Extra Special Old Pale.
"None of that sweet girlie stuff for me," says He, "I'll have a double Remy on the rocks."

The bill, $525. Neither flinch, they fight to pay the bill. "Sweetie, I think that you paid last time," says She. "Okay, I guess you're right," says He, finally giving in.
So, what became of Mario? I don't know, but I have his recipe for Red Lentil Soup.
All the ingredients and utensils you'll need for Mario's Red Lentil Soup:
- 1 large cooking pot, with lid, capable of holding three quarts of water, (preferably iron, but absolutely not aluminum)
- 1 small frying pan, or skillet
- 1 wooden stirring spoon
- 1 cup of Red Lentils
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1 Carrot, thinly sliced, (My addition)
- 1 Onion
- Two or Three cloves of smashed Garlic (The more, the merrier)
- 1/2 Teaspoon of freshly ground Black Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Cumin (It is the éminance grise behind the soup)
- 1 Teaspoon of salt (More or less according to taste and tasting)
- 1 Bay Leaf
- OPTIONAL, 1 minced Hot Pepper, only if you have a taste for things very spicy.
- 3 Teaspoons of Spanish Olive Oil (I Will find out if you use any other)
- Two-and-a-half Quarts of Water
La Préparation (Don't worry, it's spelled correctly in French) Yiiiiiii, this job is getting difficult.
Okay, let's make a deal. From now on, consider every word I spell as being correct even if you are sure that it's not. Continue (Spelt the same in English as in French, but here, please pronounce it with a French accent to humor me. Merci.).
-Wash the Red Lentils, thoroughly. Rinse them in cold water three or four times. Set aside.
-Slice and chop up the onions and Red Bell Pepper. Smash the Garlic
-Start boiling the water.
-In the skillet, sauté (faire sauter) the onions, Red Pepper, Sliced Carrots and Garlic in the (Spanish) Olive Oil.
-As the Onions begin to become translucent, add the Salt, Black Pepper and Cumin, and continue stirring on a low flame. When the Onions appear as if that they would start to burn, remove and set aside.
-When the water begins to boil, throw in the Red Lentils, and stir. Lower the flame and continue to stir. If you haven't washed off the excess starch, the water may start to froth. Too late, just lower the flame a little more and continue to stir. If the froth begins to become a nuisance, skim off some of it.
-Continue stirring the Red Lentils (approximately 20 to 30 minutes) until they pop (split) and they turn Green (actually a Yellowish Green; they will get Greener later).
-Then, throw in the stuff that you sautéed and put aside (Onions, Pepper , etc.) and STIR.
-Throw in the Bay Leaf and STIR-STIR, STIr, STir, Stir, stir, Lower the flame, Cover and Simmer over a low flame.
-Stir every 20 minutes, until the soup becomes thick and you've lost almost half of your water. (About Two-and-a-half hours). If the soup is still thin, uncover and bring to a low boil and stir as if you know that the bottom will burn if you don't.

On the side, you can have some fresh corn, (stripped off the cob) served in a small bowl.
Serve with sliced French or Italian bread (with a ripe Brie or Camembert, if that's your pleasure).
A fine Margaux would be perfect unless that's problematic, otherwise, a Coke with a slice of lemon would be my choice. Water is good, too.
Bon Appetit!
From Budapest

The Perfect Marriage: Eggplant Parmigiana

An Excellent Vegetarian Entree for the Pythagorean and Like-Minded People

The Nightshade Family (Solanaceae) announces the Wedding of two of its members, distant cousins. The Bride, S. Lycopersicon Esculentum, who hails from South America, wears a Beautiful Red Wedding gown which was the reason why she was cultivated in European gardens-- not to be eaten-- but, for the color of her fruit. The fear was that, like her beautiful cousin, Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) whose roots and leaves yield Atropine, is a deadly poison. (However, very good for counteracting the effects of nerve gas poisoning). The effects of Belladonna were well known to Europeans during the middle ages. Cunning Folk, i.e. Witches, (The Early Internists) prescribed Atropine for gastric distress (spasms). On the other hand, Lucrezia Borgia, the Duchess of Ferrara and daughter of Rodrigo Lanzol y Borja (very proper Spanish Visigothic name) who became Pope Alexander VI, used it for its dilative action on the pupils of her eyes.

Lucrezia used to put drops of atropine onto her eyes to dilate the pupils in the belief that men thought that dilated pupils on a woman made them more beautiful, hence, the name Belladonna. You know, she was right. Recent studies have proven that hypothesis. When men were shown two seemingly identical photographs of the same woman, although, unbeknownst to them, the pupils of the woman in one of the photos had been clinically dilated, the men all chose the photo of the woman with her pupils dilated. The men in the study were not given enough time to examine the photos minutely. They all thought they were looking at the same photo. (If you need to prove this point, somewhere buried beneath tons of paper and books, I still have that study.)

The English call the Bride, Tomato; I prefer Tomate, from the Spanish/S.A. Indian, Nahuatl Tomatl. The French, also, call her Tomate.

The Groom, S. Solanum Melongena, hails from Southern Asia. The rotund and pompous groom, resplendent in his dark purple tux wears a green tie around his neck. The French call him Aubergine; the English, Guinea Squash. In America, he is called Eggplant.

One of the groom's closest cousins, S. Solanum Tuberosum, comes from the Americas. The Spanish call him Papa from the Taino (Puerto Rican Indian) Batata. The French call him Pomme de Terre (Ground Apple): the English, Potato (sorry, no "E" except in the plural). Although on very good terms with the rest of the family, S. Tuberosum was not invited to this wedding, neither were other cousins: Bell Pepper, Tobacco Sweet Potato, Petunia and especially not S. Datura Stramonium, known in America as Jimson Weed (She is too psychedelic).

The Wedding will be held in Parma, Italy, the home of the Bride's best friend and maid of honor, Parmi A. Giana. The Groom's best man will be the plump, ever saltless, Mozza Rella.

(Don't be afraid to go to the extreme. It will be a long ceremony)

"It is an Ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three,
'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am the next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st thou hear the merry din?'"

The Bride and Groom: (Already invited)
-6 to 8 plump stewed or canned Italian tomatoes (a pound to a pound and a half)
-2 plump and firm Eggplants

The Guests:
-1 Green Italian Bell Pepper (Here (in Budapest), they are called Kalifornia Paprika, Go figure?)
-1 large onion
-2 tablespoons of Capers (at least)
-10 or more (lots) of Spanish pitted olives (Slice them up)
-I pound of Mozzarella (diced)
-5 to 6 ounces of grated parmesan (a lot)
-1 ˝ cups of a fine bodied Bordeaux (Stay away from Italian wine: too young too fruity. Anyway, while you are cooking, you should be tasting the French wine, while listening to Italian music: Puccini or Verdi are suggested as essential ingredients. I prefer a Margaux to a Médoc, but I eschew St. Emilion: for the same reason as the Italian...too sharp too fruity.
-1 to 2 cups of tomato sauce
-1 cup of water (you may very well have to add more, later)
-2 tablespoons Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking (Biased? You bet!)
-ALSO, 1 to 2 cups of olive oil for sautéing the eggplant (Very Important)
-2 tablespoons of Tarragon vinegar, or better, 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed Lemon Juice.
-3 or 4 cups of Bread Crumbs. (I make my own from stale bread with my blender)
-2 to 3 eggs
The Ring Bearers:
-A Minimum of at least 6 cloves of fresh Garlic (Absolutely no powdered garlic. It's all from China and it has more MSG in it than Garlic.)
-1 tablespoon of salt (Start with less, if you prefer, but keep tasting as you go. Add or subtract, depending on taste and blood pressure. If salt brings up the blood pressure, garlic will bring it down.)
The Flower Girls:
-2 tablespoons of oregano (Tastes great and breaks down gas)
-2 tablespoons of Basil or a lot more. Basil is purported to be an aphrodisiac. (I think it's true).
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper. (Take it easy with this one)
-1 Bay leaf
-Lots of dried Parsley. (We won't need it until we begin to bake)
The Vehicles For The Wedding Party:
-1 Cast Iron 4-quart Pot with cover (I think they are called Dutch Ovens. Don't ask me why).
-1 10" x 13" Baking Pan. I prefer Heavy Metal, but Pyrex, heat resistant enamel are all good.
-1 or two large skillets or cast iron frying pans
We are ready!

Heat the pot for a few minutes over a moderate fire, add a few tablespoons of olive oil (Spanish). When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the Green Pepper which you have sliced longitudinally (like new moons) then cut those slices in half and throw into the pot. (Time to put on the opera). Slice and dice the Onion. Add to the pot. (Don't dice into too little pieces, you will want to recognize them as onion when you are finished. ) Smash, don't dice the Garlic. Add to the pot. Stir the Green Pepper, Onions and Garlic occasionally. Don't let the Onions burn. You have to keep and eye on the pot: stir, look, etc. until the Onions become almost translucent.

Meanwhile open the wine. Go ahead, take a Sip.

Open the can(s) of tomato sauce and the stewed tomatoes. Take another Sip.
Onions ready? Pour in the tomato sauce. Stir and wait until it gets hot. Stir, stir, stir...
Now it's time to add the tomatoes, Stir, and with a kitchen knife, cut up the tomatoes (not too small). Stir. Turn up the heat until it begins to bubble. Add the Wine, and take a Sip. Stir, stir, until it looks like it is getting hot. Then, add the Salt, Black Pepper, Oregano, Basil, Bay Leaf, Capers and Olives. Stir. Add the Tarragon Vinegar or Fresh Lemon Juice and a tablespoon or two of Spanish Olive Oil. Stir. Take a Sip. When it starts to boil, add the Water. The pot should be almost full. Stir. Wait until it starts to boil again, then lower the flame and bring to a slow boil for about 30 minutes stirring and Sipping. (Aren't you glad that you didn't pour all that fine wine into the pot?) At the end of 30 minutes, lower the flame (low but not the lowest) and cover.

Cook for three hour, stirring every 20 to 30 minutes. Have a Sip and prepare the Eggplant. Peel and slice the Eggplant longitudinally (about a quarter inch in thickness). Place all the slices in a large pot with a lot of salted water to take out the acid. The water will turn black. You can change the water two or three times. Let them soak that way for two hours.

Pour out a glass of the wine, check the bottle: congratulate yourself for having purchased two bottles, sit back and relax. Read your email.

When the opera is almost finished, you should be feeling pretty darn good... about your effort, of course. If it is a young wine, you can open the second bottle to breath. Re-cork it and place it in the bottom of the frig. (It breathed enough Oxygen.) Every once in a while uncork it and re-cork it. Room temperature in a castle is found somewhere on the bottom shelf of the door to your frig.

Prepare your bread crumbs. Okay, I know that in the States you can buy "unseasoned" bread crumbs in the Super Market. It's quite easy to manufacture your own. Your call. Lay off the wine for a while.

-Beat the eggs well.
-Sprinkle a lot of bread crumbs on a large platter.
-Drain the Eggplants.
-Heat up the Frying Pans. Pour in a half a cup of Spanish Olive Oil in each and bring the fire to a medium flame.
-One by one, dip the eggplant slices into the egg mixture and then place them on the bread crumbs. Cover both sides, then place in the Frying Pan(s). Watch them and the oil level carefully. The oil tends to disappear pretty quickly, and you will have to add more. Don't be afraid to turn them over as much as you like. The result should be golden brown slices of breaded Eggplant slices. Remove and place on paper towel to soak, before placing them on another plate. The whole process should take an hour. A cup of tea would be nice right about now. I prefer Coke with a slice of lemon.

-Turn the oven on and preheat to 345 degrees.

Aren't you happy it's Saturday or Sunday and you have nothing better to do?

-The sauce should be thick but not too thick Thin is no good.

-Pour three or four ladles full of sauce into the bottom of the Baking Pan. Lay the Eggplant slices over the sauce. Fill the bottom of the pan, then, pour more sauce over the top of the slices. Make a second layer and cover with sauce. You should have enough sauce and slices for three layers.

-When everything is in the pan and looks real pretty, start dotting the top with pieces of Mozzarella. I like to see a lot on top. Your call, once again.
-Then, sprinkle copious amounts of Parmesan cheese all over the top. Fill up the spaces between the Mozzarella pieces. It should look almost white.
-Almost ready... Sprinkle dry Parsley over the top. Make it look Christmasy (Sic). You can add some more Basil on the top, too. But, remember what I told you about Basil.

Kiss it, and place it in the oven for 45 minutes. Check it regularly. The cheese can be allowed to brown slightly, but it must never burn.
-Boil the water. Smash two or three cloves of Garlic. Cook the Spaghetti to the texture which you prefer, I like a little al dente. Drain, smother it in Pure Extra Virgin Italian or Spanish Olive Oil. Add the smashed Garlic, a little Fresh Ground Black Pepper and salt. Place in the serving dish. Take the second bottle of wine out of the frig and place it on the table (I'm assuming that there is none of the first bottle remaining).
-Times up (not the NYT), take the Beautiful looking, Mouth watering and Wonderful smelling Eggplant Parmigiana out of the Oven and serve.
--I didn't mention it before, because I often don't have a salad with this meal, because it's almost all vegetable, anyway. But a mixed green salad goes well with this meal: Romaine lettuce, Spinach and kale (Absolutely no tomato and no cucumber. There already is enough tomato in the entree and the combination of Eggplant and cucumber can produce a powerful effect on the GI tract which one would be wise to avoid.)

From Budapest

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Perfect Traditional Nonpartisan American Apple Pie.

The Perfect Traditional Nonpartisan American Apple Pie.
(Did I miss anything in its description?

Recipe for one 9" inch Pie. Double the ingredients for two.

You will need:
-9" Pie Pan. (The older the better. See if you can find a couple in a flea market. Pots and Pans have memories. I didn't just make that up. I made it up last week.)
-a 2-cup measuring cup
-2 pretty deep bowls for mixing
-Rolling pin (and a surface upon which to roll the dough)
-Measuring spoons

Pie Crust: *
-2 Cups of white flour
-1/2 Teaspoon salt
-1/4 Teaspoon sugar
-1/4 lb. of butter
-3 Tablespoons Corn Oil
-6 Tablespoons of Water (more or less)

*Now, someone might say, "Hey, I saw a recipe for pie crust very similar to that in Julia Child's "Art of French Cooking." My answer to that is, "Me too!" I confess to having checked her out on a lot of things over the course of three decades, but I was merely confirming what I already knew. My measurements may have become more precise, but as you will see, depending on the flour and other factors, you have to do a lot of improvising. What I did change, as the result of J.C's tome, is that I switched from lard to butter. And, to be perfectly honest, it tastes a lot better with butter, although what we are doing is swapping one animal fat for another; albeit, the butter is taken from the animal without causing it to lose its life in the process.

Mix the dry ingredients first, then, with both hands, work in the butter, when you think that you've mixed things pretty well, add the oil, mix some more. Gradually add the water a little at a time The mixture should turn into a firm ball in your hands. You will know that you have it right when all the dough on your hands comes off and has become part of the dough ball. (There are no hanging pieces of dough and the ball has no fissures.) It ought to feel smooth in your hands.

Squeeze or cut the ball into two equal halves. Put one ball aside, and start working on the other. Flatten it out, and then, lay it on a non-porous surface; a cool marble surface is perfect. Sprinkle some flour on the surface and the rolling pin, then proceed to roll the dough out in any direction. Have fun doing it. When you've gotten the dough much larger than the pan, sprinkle some flour on top of the dough, and roll the dough up on the rolling pin. Roll it out over the pie tin and fit and trim it. Cut away any large excess around the edges, leaving enough to trim off later.

The Filling Ingredients:

-9 to 10 nice size apples, peeled and sliced into quarter moon shapes about 1/4 to 1/2 " thick.
-1 Cup of sugar ( A few tablespoons less, if you like)
-2 Tablespoons of Flour
-3/4 Tablespoons of Cinnamon
-1/8 Teaspoon of Nutmeg
-1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
-2 Tablespoons of butter
-2 to 4 Tablespoons of Rum or Cognac (Optional) (For me it's never an option to sprinkle the cognac over the freshly peeled and cut apples. It gives the pie a Very Special Ol' Pie flavor. I let it stand that way for a few minutes, then, I add all the rest of the ingredients- Except The Butter- mix everything around.

Then, before going on, I have a choice. I can use the second piece of dough for a covering or if I am going to make a Crumb cover, use it for a second pie, failing that, powder it with flour and put it in a plastic sandwich bag and place it in the freezer for use some other day. When you need it, because of the butter and oil, it will defrost on handling.

Pour the apple mixture into the prepared pie tin and form it in an even manner. Take the 2 Tablespoons of butter and cut them up into small pieces and dot the top of the pie. Place the second rolled out dough and cover the top of the pie. Press the edges of the two pieces of dough (top and bottom) together. Then, with a fork, press down on the edge of the pie fluting and sealing the edges together. With a small sharp knife cut a small cross in the top and make three one inch incisions in each quarter of the top of the pie. This will let the steam out of the pie while it is baking.

Place in a preheated oven (425 degrees) for 50 to 60 minutes. Ovens don't heat evenly unless you have bricks in them, so check the pie, periodically, and if it seems that around the middle of the baking time, one side of the pie is cooking faster than the other, turn the pie around 180 degrees. (I didn't say lower the temperature.)

Take the pie out when it looks done and the juices are bubbling out and burning the crust.

Serve. When it's real hot, it's fun to watch a scoop of ice cream melt on top, a coke with a twist of lemon, cup of coffee or, homemade lemonade with a mint leaf. Don't know how to make the World's Best Lemonade? Well, I have the recipe...

Crumb Cover.

Forget the dough cover and the butter that were going to use to dot the pie. Instead, in a bowl, mix:
-1 cup of flour
-1/2 cup of firmly packed light brown sugar
-1/2 cup of butter

Mix the ingredients, thoroughly, and make into a ball. Break the ball up into small crumb size pieces and sprinkle on top of the apples. Make sure that you cover the pie evenly with the crumbs. Place into a preheated oven (400 degrees) for approximately 50 minutes. Turn the pie around in the middle of the baking time if it looks as if it is turning brown faster on one side than the other. Take out sooner if you see dark caramelizing spots on top. You are done.

I will submit the other pie recipes, soon. However, I will not repeat the dough making process. Well, maybe.

From Budapest,

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Okay so this is Hungary (Europe) and North American Pumpkin isn't found except in a few exceptional specialties stores, don't give up. I have a secret, you can use Canadian Squash (Kanadai Tök) and it may even be more delicious than the unborn Jack 'O Lantern variety. Just don't call it a Squash Pie because no one will eat it.. Ertem?
Prepare the Pie crust ahead of time and fit it into the pie tin.

Pie Crust:
-1 Cup of all purpose white flour (sifted)
-1/4 Teaspoon salt
-1/4 Teaspoon sugar
-1/8 lb. (4 tablespoons) of butter
-1 1/2 Tablespoons Corn Oil
-4 Tablespoons of Water (more or less)

Mix the dry ingredients first, then, with both hands, work in the butter, when you think that you've mixed things pretty well, add the oil, mix some more. Gradually add the water a little at a time The mixture should turn into a firm ball in your hands. You will know that you have it right when all the dough on your hands comes off and has become part of the dough ball. (There are no hanging pieces of dough and the ball has no fissures.) It ought to feel smooth in your hands.

Flatten it out, and then, lay it on a non-porous surface; a cool marble surface is perfect. Sprinkle some flour on the surface and the rolling pin, then proceed to roll the dough out in any direction. Have fun doing it. When you've gotten the dough much larger than the pan, sprinkle some flour on top of the dough, and roll the dough up on the rolling pin. Roll it out over the pie tin and fit and trim it. Cut away any large excess around the edges, leaving enough to trim off later.

Now comes the fun....

Pie Ingredients:

- 1 1/4 cup cooked or baked pumpkin (Firmly Packed)
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Ginger
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons of Flour
- 2 eggs slightly beaten
- 1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl (Sugar, Salt, Flour, Ginger and Cinnamon). Then mix the ingredients into the pumpkin mixture which I assume you have already placed into a large bowl. Mix up everything well until the pumpkin mixture is liquidous.

Next, in a small bowl, break two eggs, add the 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and beat gently. You don’t want it to become frothy. Done? Mix the egg-vanilla mixture into the pumpkin mixture and stir real well until it become totally homogenous.

Okay, you are almost there. Now, add the cup of milk and whip or stir everything until it is smooth. It should be liquidy almost like a sauce.

Pour into the prepared pie shell. You didn’t forget the pie shell?

Tear off strips of aluminum and encircle the edge of the pie--shiny part out. This well prevent the edge of the pie crust from baking faster than the rest of the pie. Pinch and fold the aluminum so it doesn’t fall off.

Place the pie into a hot oven 400 degrees Fahrenheit (Celcius?).

The pie should be ready to remove in 45 minutes.

Place on a cooling rack and wait until it cools. It goes well with real vanilla ice cream.

N.B. Synthetic ingredients like vanillin leave a chemical after taste on the palette. It would be just as well if you had used paint thinner. N’est-ce pas?

Great Grandma's Classic Pancakes

Even the most dedicated cannibal occasionally hungers for a vegetarian dish-- especially pancakes. The ingredients are basic and can be found in even the most neglected of pantries. What has taken Great Grandma's perfect pancakes out of the reach of most working parents, besides the recipe, are the accouterments, condiments and accessories that Great Grandma used, and, that you (or Grandma or Ma) were too busy to take notice... but I did! That was lucky for you and the rest of humanity.

For starters: any one who has known me for any period of time, I have made these pancakes every Sunday for more than 30-years. Even a continental shift and six thousand miles did not cause me to skip a beat. On my first Sunday in Budapest, I made them. Conversely, I made them on the first Sunday after returning to the State.

Pancake Ingredients for (3 to 4 people):

- 1 1/2 cups of flour
- 3/4 -to- 1 to teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2-to03/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 3/4 to 1 cup of water, depending if you like them as I do, crepe-lite
- 4 table spoons of melted butter
- 1 egg well beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional... but take the option)

-Fresh raspberries (the best choice), sliced strawberries or sliced banana or a mixture of both to be sprinkled on your pancakes before eating.

-Genuine pure Maple syrup!

I am biased toward upstate New York maple syrup, however, I understand Vermont makes it, too. But, unless I can really avoid it, I stay away from Canadian Maple syrup (CAMP is one brand). Sometimes, however, you don't have a choice and you must go Canadian. The thing is, they mass cook their syrup for export using gas stoves in steel pots. I've sat in a sap house with farmers making an extra buck in late winter, when the sap is running, usually late February - early March (When the ground thaws during the day and freezes up again at night).

They used wood (0ne-year-old seasoned maple, what else?), and cooked it slowly (40 gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup). The Canadian geese were returning and could be heard overhead. The fragrance of the cooking sap was divine. Then, to hear two old guys tell stories while eating the jarred food that their wives had made the summer before was enough for me to write a story about them. Having said all that, I have to admit that I use the only maple syrup that I can get in Hungary... Canadian imported to Hungary via German at $25 a liter.


-Large plate
-Cake cover (If you are going to make 10 to 30 pancakes you need to cover them as you take them out of the skittle two by two).
-And, MOST IMPORTANT, two 10' cast iron frying pans. It's important to know and remember that Great Grandma was never anemic. To put it another way, Great Grandma never had Iron Deficiency Anemia, but Grand Ma probably did. The reason? Grand Ma bought the advertising hype and switched from iron to stainless steel pots. Mom probably went one further and switched to aluminum. Bad moves.

People a hundred years ago didn't suffer from iron deficiency because they cooked in iron pots. And, enough easily absorbable iron leached out into the food to keep them rich in iron. This is not a myth, it's good provable science. On the other hand, Popeye could never have gotten strong from the iron in spinach because the iron in spinach is not absorbable in the human gut. But, if it's calcium that you need: then, spinach is one of the richest sources of calcium.

Stainless steel is good for boiling water, but that's it. Aluminum just sucks outright. And, by the way, aluminum leaches harmful amounts of aluminum into your food.


Mix the dry goods in a large mixing bowl. Then, switch your attention to the stove. The pans should be on slightly more than moderate fire. Melt the four tablespoons of butter in one pan and put a little tab of extra butter in the other. When the butter is melted, pour into the milk which should have been waiting in a two-cup measuring cup. Mix well.

Add the beaten egg to the milk and butter mixture. Mix well. Add the optional, non-optional vanilla: Mix.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix. Now, this is important. Do you want thick pancakes? If so the mixture should pour off a ladle like a cake mixture. If you like them crepe-lite (I think that I coined that word), add water and thin out the mixture.

Have you been watching the stove? Take a piece of paper towel and wipe of the excess butter (mostly burnt butter fat). Make sure that the pan is well greased. When the pans start to SMOKE, they are hot enough to try your first batch. I remember Bill Safire once saying that children are like the first batch of pancakes you have to throw them out. Bunk! I have never had to throw out any pancakes. They have come out perfect from start to finish. I can say that, too, about my children..

When the topside of the poured pancakes start to dry (They bubble and lose the glistening sheen), it's time to turn them over. When, you see steam rising up, check them out. They should have brown splotches. Take them out, pour in the second batch. You should not have to grease your pan again. However, if the pans are new and you have not seasoned them properly, you might have to add more butter to the pans, but wipe it off right away.
Don't forget to smother your pancakes with fruit and maple syrup (They don't need any more butter)

I usually eat ten or more crepe-lites stacked up. One can, also, roll them up filled with fruit and syrup.

Treat your pot(s) right. When you are done, wash them in warm soapy water. Never use a metal scrubber or Ajax (scouring powder) on your pans. If you have to, let them soak in water. Dry them, put them back on the stove, HEAT them up and add a little vegetable oil on them. Wipe them thoroughly with paper towel. Make sure you have oiled the entire inside, Then let them cool off before putting them away.

From Budapest

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Perfect Falafel and Pita: Recipe near the Bottom, Somewhere.

The name, Roland, popped into my mind, a week ago and has not left me for more than a few minutes, since. What I like about journalists is that we become experts on or about every subject during the course of our respective careers. So, I needn't retell the Chanson de Geste, "Song of Roland," that we all read in our freshman years in college about the hero, Roland. In the main, however, there are a few points that we may have forgotten in the ensuing decades. The epic is credited to the enigmatic figure, Turoldus, similar to Homer, in the sense that no one knows if he wrote, narrated or simply copied out the "Chanson de Roland."

The underlying theme revolves around treason and revenge, and is as much about Charlemagne as it is about Roland (in the epic, the beloved and trusted nephew of Charlemagne).

Charlemagne, although not the founder of the Carolingian Dynasty - that credit goes to his grandfather, Charles Martel, "Charles the Hammer," - stands out as the most prominent character of medieval French and European history. Charlemagne (c.739-814) was reputed to have been born in Aix-la-Chapelle, modern Aachen, and was buried there. Not until the creation of the European Union, has Europe been as united as it was during his reign. He was the conqueror and unifier of most of Europe: crowned the first "Holy Roman Emperor" on Christmas day, 800, he stood over six feet tall, had five legitimate wives, but left only one legitimate son. Even today, he seems larger than life. To the French he was Achilles, Odysseus and Agamemnon, wrapped up into one, and the Chanson de Roland, is only one of many Heroic Carolingian Chansons.

About Roland, we know very little. There is a one line reference in the Codex Emiliense of a Roland, Duke of the Marches of Brittany, which attests to a Roland Legend about the time of the writing of the Chanson that bears his name. There is no indication anywhere of a blood connection to Charlemagne. And, that's not the only problem with the Epic: the history is all wrong.

The story, incorrectly, depicts Charlemagne as a Christian hero fighting the Saracen infidel. The historical truth is that Charlemagne was asked to come to Spain by a Muslim king to help him fight off a Muslim contender. The Chanson was written sometime after the First Crusade, c.1095-99, but the historic battle, immortalized in the Chanson, actually took place on August 15, 777. The villains of the Chanson who slaughtered Roland and the rest of Charlemagne's rear guard at the Gate of Spain, "Roncevaux," were in reality Basque brigands, not Saracens (Muslims).

Okay Perez, what's your point?

I was afraid that I would have to come to this. The Chanson de Roland is an epic tale about a private war, set within a national war and the national war, again, within the World War of Cross v. Crescent.

That was a thousand years ago.

Now, I don't want to push the point of troubled and unresolved history repeating itself, but aren't there some modern parallels, here?

If we take George W.'s statement at the beginning of March 2003, that he held a very private hatred for the then Iraqi President, So Damn Insane (I think it had a little to do with So Damn trying to kill Papa George), we have the private war. The Iraq War is the national war, and, The War on Terrorism: the continuing World War between the Cross and the Crescent.

So, whatzup? (idioms are okay). Am I the only person on the planet that feels that something is very wrong, somewhere? Ever since 1991, when I began to speak out on what I thought was a dangerous trend vis-a-vis our relations with the Muslim world, through three successive, presidential administrations, I have felt like the lone voice in the wilderness or, better stated in the Chanson:

"Dieu! que le son du cor est triste au fond des bois!"

As I see the problem, there are two possible solutions: the first, unreasonable to me, but not to many, is to sterilize the world of the Muslim menace. Really, what I have heard suggested: to annihilate Islam once and for all, never mind that it's unthinkable, it's stupid. Even, to continue affairs in this way for another thousand years is impractical and unrealistic.

So whatzup? Well, for starters, introducing the Koran and Islamic culture to students at an early age wouldn't be a bad idea. The problem is that too many folks back West believe that if our children study Islam, they might become infected with it. God forbid, they might even think it superior to our Christian/Judaic culture. I heard of a case not too far back where some freshman students in either Virginia or North Carolina sued their college because the core curriculum required that they study Islamic Culture and religion and, I think they won their case.

I've tried to look at the basic rules of Islam to see what makes it such an insidious religion and this is what I have found..
1. To be honest and modest in all dealings and behaviors. (That finishes me at the jump).
2. To be unquestionably loyal to the Islamic community. (Well, I can be loyal, but I always need to ask the question: Why? And, do I really have to?
3. To abstain from pork and alcohol at all times. (I see real problems, here. I can stop eating pig, but what about all those poor people who would lose their jobs in the Wine and Spirits industry? Thought that I was going to say something else?)
4. To wash and pray facing Mecca five times a day. (Gee, would I have to really do that? The washing part, I think I can do, however, sometimes I don't even know which way is the Bronx).
5. To contribute to the support of the poor and needy. (Really? All of them? Can't they just all go to work?).
6. To fast during daylight hours for one month each year. (Again, I'm finished. Question: can you cheat a little?)
7. To make a pilgrimage to Mecca and visit the Ka'ba at least once in a lifetime. (Okay, that's really it. I'm really out of this deal. I'm over 60, and so far I've managed not to visit Disneyland and Disney World, forget the Washington Monument. I'm just not the traveling type. N'est-ce pas?)

So you've read the Koran, and you have found it littered with anti-Jewish rantings? Listen, I've lived or visited 49 States; in those States in every school, college, university, occupation and social gathering, I have heard anti-Semitic rantings and ravings. Recently, it has become more fashionable to disparage the Semitic cousins of the Jews, the Arabs. So, who are the true hypocrites? I never, except for once, ever heard an anti-Puerto Rican epithet to my face... while I was still in the room, that is. No one has ever said that we are not all in need of some spiritual healing That applies to Arab as well as non-Arab.

The solution, as I see it, begins with the factor of one: ourselves.

The most perplexing thing, to me, however, is that I haven't seen one word in the Koran about oil. So, please someone take the time and explain to me: What exactly does Islam have to do with OIL?

Below, a vegetarian treat that both Charlemagne and Roland would have relished in their times, if only it had been available to them.

Falafel: A Palestinain recipe(From a personal friend: Victim, not Terrorist


-2 pounds of Chickpeas
-A Handful of Chopped Parsley
-1 Hot Green Pepper
- Large Onion
-4 cloves garlic
-3 Teaspoons Salt
-1/4 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
-2 1/2 Teaspoons of Cumin


-Soak the chickpeas overnight.

-The next day, Mince the Chickpeas in a Meat Grinder with: The Chopped Parsley, Hot Green Pepper, Large Onion and the 4 Cloves of Garlic.
-Add the 3 Teaspoons of Salt, Black Pepper and the Cumin.
-Mix all the ingredients together, well.
-Form into Shape of Small Patties or Balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter (Make sure the
Patties/Balls are sticking together tightly).
- Deep-fry in hot oil until brown.

Makes 8 Pitas:


-2 Pounds of All Purpose Flour
-3 Cups of Warm Water
-2 Tablespoons of Yeast
-2 Teaspoons of Salt

-Mix the ingredients together until sticky. Put in a warm place to rise
until it doubles its size.
-Divide the Dough into 8 Parts by Squeezing off balls.
-Roll the balls out onto an oiled counter. Use Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
-Let rest 10 to 15 minutes.
-Roll out with a Rolling Pin. (Roll once in each direction; flip over and roll again).
-Let rise again.
-Bake on the bottom of a very hot oven (450 F.) Bake about 5 minutes until done. The pockets will form by themselves.

-When cool, Slice off the top of the Pita, stuff in Two or Three Chickpea Patties/Balls; top
off with a Salad Garnish (Chopped Romaine Lettuce, Chopped Cucumber, Chopped Onion (Your choice: Mild or Regular) and Chopped Tomato.
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-Pour a Tablespoon of Tahina Sauce and.....EAT!

From Budapest (08.07.04)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Most excellent Gazpacho and San Gria "Cannibal's CookBook". ©:

Both in 30 Minutes. One Catch, however....They are not for Today, but for Tomorrow!
Gazpacho is a Spanish soup prepared without the use of heat and served cold. It can be easily served as a Veggie entree by the omission of beef stock or, just as easily, prepared as a flesh eater's delight by the addition of a cup or more of beef stock in the preparation.

Gazpacho, in its many forms, has been around for centuries but, curiously, it seems that the whole world lost the recipe at the same time, except, of course, for me. Professional chefs and Wanabes, have gone berserk adding this, changing that, basically running amok in the kitchen without reasoning that this is a simple soup with a basic recipe that guarantees that it comes out perfectly each time.

After the soup is prepared, it should be put away in the frig for, at least, 24 hours. Interestingly enough, it tastes even better when left to mature for two days.

The only kitchen utensil that you will need is a food blender. (However, no one will stop if you decide to use a mortar and pestle and make the biggest mess in your kitchen since the Blob exploded on the wide screen.)

*Also, You will need a large container with a lid to hold and store the soup*.


-1 Bottle of Wine. (A Bordeaux is recommended. A medium priced Margaux would be an excellent choice.)
-6 six or seven stewed tomatoes. They sell them in a can, between 11/2 to 2 pounds. Again, if you want to stew your own, go ahead: but, add another 4 to 5 hours to the recipe.
-11/2 cup tomato juice
-1 Fresh, regular size Cucumber.
-1 Green Bell Pepper. (Here, they call them Kalifornia Paprika)
-1 Medium size Onion
-2 Cloves of fresh Garlic
-For the unrepentant flesh eater, 11/2 cup of Beef Stock (more or less). If you don't like the canned variety,, you can boil 1/1/2 cups of water with one or two cubes of beef bouillon.
-Salt and Pepper to taste (Rec. 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper.
-A pinch of Basil and Oregano
-Two tablespoons Extra Virgin Spanish Olive Oil
-Two Tablespoons Taragon Vinegar or Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice


-Peel the Onion and dice and putting aside a very small portion for garnishing, later.
-Peel and chop the Garlic and put it aside
-Sliced and dice the Green Pepper, wash out the seeds, and put a small portion aside for garnishing, later.
-Slice and dice the Cucumber, put a little aside for garnishing, later
-Open the Wine, have a taste.

The Process:

-Put the Stewed Tomatoes into the blender and puree. Then, pour out the contents into the storage container.
--Pour back a little of the pureed tomatoes into the blender and add the Onion: Puree and pour back into the container. Mix around/
-Pour back some of the mixture back into the blender, and add the Green Pepper. Puree and pour back into the container, Mix around.
-Pour some of the mixture back into the blender and add the diced cucumber. Puree and pour back into the storage container. Mix
--Pour some of the mixture back into the blender throw in the Garlic, Extra Virgi Spanish Olive Oil, Lemon Juice (or Tarago), Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Basil and Puree. Pour contents back into the storage container and Mix around.
-Add the Wine and Mix
-Flesh Eaters can now add the Beef Stock and Mix around.

Cover the container and stick it in the bottom of the frig and say, "See ya' Tomorrow." Actually, you don't have to be that conservative. Six or seven hours, later, you can taste it.

Put the remaining diced Onion, Cucumber and Green Pepper in a small container and store in the frig until the soup is ready to be served. You can then, sprinkle the diced veggies on the top of the soup along with the croutons. CROUTONS? Who said anything about croutons?

No problema Croutons: (Arnie's Spanish, not mine)

An hour or so before serving, take some stale white bread, cut off the crust and dice into nice little squares. Heat up a skillet, add three or four tablespoons of butter and wait until it starts to smoke. turn off the heat, pour out the butter oil (The name for this is "Clarified Butter" and through away the burnt butter fat. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel, return the butter oil, add a couple tablespoons of Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil and heat. When the oil mixture is hot, add the diced bread squares and stir them around until they are toast brown. Place them on paper towel to cool and dry. In a few minutes they will be ready to hold or serve.

So What's the Perfect Cool Drink to serve with the Gazpacho? San Gria of course, and this is how you make it. Also, best served when made the day before or at least 8 hours prior to serving.

The Authentic and Finest SAN GRIA served any where under the Sun.

Ingredients: Watch Out!

-4 or 5 cups of mixed melons in nice size bite pieces.
-1 or 2 sliced peaches
-1 or 2 Bananas
-1 cup of pineapple pieces
-1 cup of apple slices
-lots of Strawberries
-1 bottle of not-too-expensive Spanish Brandy
-4 bottles of inexpensive Spanish Red Wine

Mix everything together and let stand in a closed container (NOT ALUMINUM) in the frig for a day.

This is the Real Thing! If it sounds dangerous, it's because it can be. Everything, including the fruit is impregnated with alcohol. Everyone has a different alcohol tolerance, but more than two cups of San Gria are supposed to put you in the mood for fun. .not for driving. It's Great, but warn your guests to be careful.

De Madrid

Three Great Caribbean Sandwiches

Three Great Caribbean Sandwiches: Serve Hot or Cold
You will need these ingredients:
-French or Italian Bread
-Garlic cloves [Garlic is very important: fresh never powdered. I know that most of the powdered garlic in the world now comes from China, and is heavily spiked with M.S.G. (Monosodium Glutamate). If you like headaches, great, go with the powder.]
-Sliced Onion Rings (For The Beef Sandwich)
-Ground Black Pepper.....I know a story from Marco Polo, that I'm sure that you would not be interested in, however, I can take this opportunity to point out, that Black Pepper was a common product in Southern China, prized in the North.
-Mild vinegar
-Olive oil or Corn oil (go with the Corn oil), the others suck, royally, and leave a distinctive taste in one's mouth, that tells the memory circuits, that the food really sucked. Of course, no science here, just my opinion.

All three sandwiches, Chicken, Pork and thinly sliced Round Steak will use these ingredients in one form or another, plus sliced onion rings with the beef.

As long as we are talking about beef, I have to tell you that I won't buy beef in Hungary. I think that Hungarians became used to not having beef during the Soviet era, that they don't know what the different cuts are.

I think, that all the Sirloin, Round, Filets and Porter House cuts were sold for export and continue to be exported for cash. All that was left is that string of meat that runs along the spine and cuts that I don't recognize and the nastiest looking ground beef that I have ever seen anywhere in my life. The upshot is, I eat a lot of chicken and some pork. The fish is too tainted by sewage, chemicals and female hormones to even consider eating. Further, What is called "fresh" from the Mediterranean or else where wouldn't be fit for cat food in the States: anyway, I hate fish.

Okay, okay, I'm getting to it:

1. CHICKEN: This is an old Caribbean recipe Most people have forgotten how to prepare it. Not the old folks and not me) You can call it "Caribbean Chicken."
Spice and Preparation for one Chicken Breast

Make a paste by smashing (or however else you do it) of the garlic, oregano, black pepper, and salt. The ratio I use say on a full filleted chicken breast is: six nice size cloves of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt (I haven't really ever measured it), a teaspoon, or more, of oregano, and a 1/2 a teaspoon of the black pepper. The paste should be a little wet from the garlic.

Rub the spice paste on the skinned chicken breast and let it sit in a shallow bath of vinegar and oil over night. Next day, fry the seasoned and cured chicken in corn oil, over a medium flame until golden brown.

Cut or break up the chicken into pieces, serve on bread (roll, Italian loaf: your choice). I like it with Dijon mustard on one side, a little mayonnaise on the other. OR, no mayonnaise, OR, no mustard, with or without tomato and lettuce.

If prepared correctly, your mouth should start to water.

2. PORK: Call it a "Fidel" a "Che" call it anything, but don't call it a Cuban Sandwich. In the States, somehow it got the name "Cuban Sandwich" but it's, actually, Spanish in origin.

You'll need a shoulder or a hind roast. Coat the same herb paste all over the roast. Poke holes into the roast and stuff the paste deep into it. Make deep linear slices on the skin's surface rubbing the herb paste into the crevices.. I don't eat roasted pork skin, but you'd be surprised how many people love it. Wrap it up and put in into the frig until the next day.

Bake in a hot oven (350 F.) for approximately three hours. Watch out for the drippings. Turn the roast every half hour or so. Don't worry about burning or losing the skin. The roast is done, when the meat is light brown or white (depending on the cut).

Slice up the meat (I like it lean, some people actually like it with some fat..ugh). Serve it in a sandwich of roll or Italian bread. Some people like it with lettuce. Your call

3. BEEF: One Thin Lean ˝ lb. Round Steak (Serving for one)
Coat the Round Steak with,.........
Six cloves of smashed garlic,
1/4/ teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 -to- 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Place it in a bath containing 3 tables spoons of vinegar, 1/4 cup of corn oil, and a few (?) tablespoons of water. Cover the steak with one sliced onion (rings). Put it away overnight, in a closed container. The following day, sauté the beef over a moderate flame in its own bath until the onions are very soft and translucent. (It would help if the meat is cooked too).

Serve in Italian or French Bread with the Sautéed onions and a few pieces of lettuce. This sandwich, if correctly prepared, is the best of them all and deserves to be called, "San Juan Beef" Sandwich.