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September, 2006 | Manolo's Food Blog
Archive - September, 2006

Mr. Henry goes camping

When days grow long and hot, Mrs. Henry’s small apartment terrace with view of rosemary, basil, and the neighborhood flasher no longer satisfies her cravings for nature. She becomes consumed by urges to strike off into the great outdoors. To Mr. Henry’s recurrent horror, each and every summer she takes the family camping.

She approaches this activity with jaw set in grim determination. Each task becomes an emergency that requires Mr. Henry’s immediate attention. When he spies the camping face, he tries to follow the only prudent course:

He hides. French.press.jpg

But inevitably he is found. Despite absolutely refusing to ever go camping again no matter what, he packs his hiking boots, UV-protectant shirt, wide-brimmed hat, and all the sport socks on the closet shelf. To lure him this year, Mrs. Henry bought an outdoor French press coffee pot. Was this sufficient inducement for the endurance trial that lay ahead?

Preparations are beyond scientific. Weight and space are carefully measured even though during the trip Mr. Henry will be piloting a borrowed SUV. Tea bags are counted out and placed, like everything else, in separate plastic baggies. Moonshots have taken along more serendipitous items than the Henrys take to Yellowstone.

Weeks before the baleful excursion, Mrs. Henry has shipped the tent and sleeping bags to Wyoming via UPS Ground. On the eve of departure, at Albertson’s in Jackson Hole Mr. Henry tries to add spice to their zero-gravity diet by throwing a single package of Cajun bratwurst into the cart, but he is reprimanded. At base camp in Moose, she stews up a vat of Mr. Henry’s least favorite meal – chicken noodle soup – and counts out the ladlefuls into a great wiggly plastic baggie. (Whoever said that chicken soup can’t hurt? The stuff is revolting.)

On the fateful morning of departure, however, he manages to squirrel away two beers under the ice in the mini-cooler. He grabs his pillow, too, masking its presence by cruelly binding it up with twine and hiding it in a trash bag under the driver’s seat.Kitchenaid toaster.jpg

Before pulling out of the driveway, Mr. Henry begins to miss his treasured bed. Is not the bed the greatest invention of man? The pop-up toaster runs a distant second.

Mr. Henry takes a trip

A Mr. Henry Dictum:

When compelled to leave New York, Mr. Henry strongly cautions you to employ the Powell Doctrine now sadly languishing in a Foggy Bottom dustbin:

“Clear goals, an exit strategy, and overwhelming force.”

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Proper planning may help calm feelings of dread that overcome you as you ponder upcoming dietary and leisure options. Don’t be caught short of food or reading material. Mr. Henry took a sackful of homemade goodies and Samuel Beckett’s Molloy, an ideal travel book for the 21st century. (Hint: there is a lot of waiting and very little food. There are no paragraph breaks, however.)

In the Denver airport the chef at Wolfgang Puck Express gamely retrieved a cooked pizza that had fallen on the dirty counter and tossed it in our general direction without so much as a perfunctory nod. Although hygienically compromised, it was the only edible item served to the Henrys that fateful afternoon.

Out of concern for the sensibilities of his readers, Mr. Henry resists describing the salad dressing that remained on his stomach for another 10 hours and 1000 air miles. A Wolfgang Puck frittata with an inane faux-Latin name closely resembled in color and texture Mr.Puck.jpg Henry’s new natural, extra-firm, foam rubber mattress. After one bite he cast a wistful eye across the breezeway to McDonalds and other fast food purveyors of death. At least there you know what you are getting – a treacly, salty, highly caloric shock to the liver. Mr. Henry prefers the devil he knows.

The War on Tourism continues.

Amid a national Homeland Security Orange Alert, sunscreen in a stick caught the vigilant eye of a Denver Airport uniformed officer who escorted the offending young suspect aside and thoroughly patted her down with special attention paid to a middle school backpack. Remarkably, ham and avocado sandwiches made it past security check, as did corn chips, olives, grapes, pineapple and brownies. Water, however, did not. Mr. Henry was forced to drink Starbuck’s coffee which gratefully came for free.

Flying is no picnic, though you’ll have to pack your lunch all the same.

United Airlines now sells four distinct pre-packaged meals for six dollars each, one more ghastly than the next. When next preparing for flight, picture in your imagination Tom Joad and family in a flatbed Okie truck crossing the Arizona desert at night. Pack accordingly. Don’t buy the United in-flight meal. Whatever happens, keep the family together and know that a better life awaits.

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