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Celery: Nature’s Toothbrush!

your colon will be as slick as a water slide

your colon will be as slick as a water slide!

Not sure exactly what kind of patronage those patrons are providing, but I have more than a suspicion the original audience for this delightful poster were denizens of the demimonde.

 

UPDATE: I am reliably informed that this comes from Dark Horse Comics’ series Devil Chef, which I must now keep an eye out for on Amazon.

Sunday Food Porn: Freudian Pudding Cups

Freudian Pudding Cups

Freudian Pudding Cups

As my friend on Facebook said, “There’s a reason everyone was going to Freudian analysts in the ’50′s.”

Sunday Food Porn: the Diddlebock Cocktail

Diddlebock

The Diddlebock Cocktail was created during perhaps the greatest bar scene ever filmed, a ten minute scene in the deliriously wacky 1947 Harold Lloyd flick The Sin Of Harold Diddlebock (that sin was drunkeness, it goes without saying or would, if I weren’t paid by the word). You can read a review of it here. Poor, straightlaced Harold has lost his job and his love and his purpose in life, and he is being led by his new pal the racetrack tout to an underground bar to have his first sip of the sweet nectar. The bartender is a poet at heart, who is inspired to new heights of achievement by the special occasion. This man is an epicurean of everclear, a De Sade of spirits, a Byron of booze.

The ingredients include vodka, crushed ice, astrology, corn liquor, and a breathtaking alcoholic erudition. It would be the greatest of all possible birthday presents (other than Julian Assange with a bow around his neck) for someone to present me with one of these. Pour yourself the beverage of your choice and settle in for ten minutes of glory.

“It has always seemed to me that a cocktail should approach us on tiptoe, like a young girl whose first appeal is innocence.” Magic.

Apparently, as far as Google and I can find, nobody has ever attempted to reconstruct a Diddlebock Cocktail in real life.

Challenge Accepted

Challenge Accepted

Nuts! It’s what’s for Christmas!

That's Nuts

That's Nuts

Would you put that thing in your mouth? Well, I hardly think so: the nutmeg (and the red, lacy mace) is truly one of the least attractive foods of all time, and that’s before you know how it used to be harvested.

Nutmegs are native to one small archipelago, the Bandas in eastern Indonesia, and having been there myself I can say that getting anyone or anything off the Bandas and onto your dinner plate back home is one of the labours of Hercules, although Mercury would have come in a good deal handier.

But I can also tell you that when you are approaching these islands, you smell them before you see them, and the scent is nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. And when your boat brings you in over the reef to land on Run, the small island that the English traded to the Dutch in exchange for Manhattan, you step out and it’s as if the island exists on its own plane, halfway between 1600 and the 21st Century. There’s a generator powering a ghetto blaster with music that sounds a bit like Kanye, only in Bahasa Indonesia instead of English. But there is also, outside of every tiny house, a blanket spread, on which are drying freshly-picked spices; cloves, mostly, but also cinnamon, nutmeg, and a couple of things I couldn’t quite identify.

Run is where I learned how nutmeg was harvested for centuries. The Bandas are not only home to the nutmeg fruit, something about the size and shape of a small, malformed apple or possibly a large quince with a skin problem. They are also the home of the nutmeg dove, which looks exactly like a regular dove, only an awful lot closer to the size of a bald eagle.

Nutmeg dove

Nutmeg dove

Perhaps I exaggerate. A large cat. Yes, this is a dove the size of a very large cat, which can unhinge its lower jaw like a snake’s, in order to swallow the nutmeg fruit whole. The pit, including the mace covering, is indigestible to the dove, and passes through.

You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Well, it’s a lot easier than climbing trees.

Speaking of admissions, I must admit that having possessed myself of this kernel of knowledge, I had suddenly lost all desire to find out how they harvested it nowadays, because if my stay in Indonesia taught me anything, it’s that they will do things the cheap and easy way because why wouldn’t you do it that way? And nutmeg doves are free.

The Guardian, incidentally, has done a fine writeup on the sociopolitical history of the nutmeg, and you should go read it. There may be a quiz later.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the hunt for nutmeg helped build the modern commercial world. In 1453, the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople (modern Istanbul), embargoing trade across the sole sliver of land through which a few merchants had evaded the Arab-Venetian spice monopoly and forcing Europeans to find new eastern trade routes. Columbus sailed the blue Atlantic looking for a passage to India; and Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1497, his men charging on to the shores of Kerala crying, “For Christ and spices!” The Portuguese military genius Afonso de Albuquerque annexed the Indonesian Molucca islands, of which the Bandas form part, in 1511. The fortresses he built there established and then consolidated a Portuguese monopoly over the world’s nutmeg that lasted almost a whole cushy century.

I have been in the fortresses he built there, and have snorkled through the ruins of Fort Elizabeth, which the English built to guard Run from the Dutch. The Dutch and Portugese, one island over, built a fort they called Revenge, of which little remains, but what little does remain is more than enough to chill your flesh on a day when even the trees are sweating.

Fort Revenge on Pulau Ai

Fort Revenge on Pulau Ai by wildstylz

I assure you, my skin starts crawling just to look at the image, even if the place has apparently been turned into a cassava farm. But where was I? Yes, going to talk about breakfast next, now that we’ve covered death, war, politics, third world poverty, and the digestive tracts of grossly swollen pigeons.

Indonesia is that kind of a place.

Oh, and the nutmeg will get you high, apparently. That explains a great deal of the local government.

One thing they do right there, having been conquered by the Dutch every few years for a couple of centuries, is pancakes. And one of the things they do with them is put a little spice in them, pretty much always nutmeg, because their tastes are subtle there and the sharper snap of cinnamon is not so much to their taste in the morning. Nutmeg is a spice that rewards cooking, richens and deepens, becoming much more interesting if it’s actually baked into something rather than sprinkled on top by a smiling barista. And one of the things it’s best in is pancakes, although it also adds a great deal to a savory stew, particularly if beer is one of the liquids in it.

Try it, you’ll like it. Trust me, I’ve spent several decades telling everyone I don’t like nutmeg, when really I just didn’t like nutmeg sitting on top of things. Nutmeg should be in things. Like pancakes.

Musical interlude via the DailyDot:

But am I going to let you settle for powdered nutmeg? No, I am not. I wouldn’t do that to you. Once you’ve had the real thing freshly ground, the stuff that comes in packages reveals itself as bearing the same relationship to the original that Nosferatu did to Ryan Reynolds after the sun came up.

Great.

Exactly.

You need a grater, and you can waste your time and money and skin off your knuckles playing around with several fancy items that look like they belong in a dominatrix’s toolkit, but we here at the ol’ Manolofood blog will take better care of you, and we will recommend only what we’d use ourselves, if we hadn’t spent all our money on martini olives this week.

Cuisipro Nutmeg/Cinnamon Grater (and yes, you will wash it with soap EVERY TIME if you use it for more than one kind of spice. Promise me, now.

This one is nice and practical; it knows if you only use it for nutmeg, you’re not going to wash it out every time, so it has a lid that keeps your leftovers fresh, and it’s easy to handle, so there will be very little knuckle skin mixed in with your pancakes. Yay!

My personal favorite, because it’s just so cute and the perfect size for a singleton, is the Gra-Mini mini grater. It’s also around five dollars, so it’s perfect for a stocking stuffer they’ll think is useless and end up using every single day. Major smug points for you.

I happened to pick one of these up at the hardware store while buying a box of rat poison (what can I say, it was a bad breakup) and the Italian man behind the counter nearly infarcted from laughter. With tears in his eyes he picked up the grater and mimed freshening a dish of rat poison with some parmesan. Oh god, that moment really lightened his life, I can tell you.

There are some words of power in the Productosphere, and “Peugeot” is one of those words. Therefor, we present the Peugeot PM19488 Amboine Nutmeg Grinder which is extravagant, tasteful, gloriously indestructable, and perfect for rich fussbudgets who don’t like to actually touch their food with anything but the inside of their digestive tract. You know the type. Excited about molecular gastronomy so they can eat steak foam and save on the calories. But they are generally important and must be placated with extravagant gifts, like ancient gods. So, here. It’ll probably be the most useful item in their kitchen and they will never touch it, because they eat out every night anyway.

But when I win the lottery, I’m buying one. And then renting a cleaner, to wash it out for me all the damn time (I’m two-timing nutmeg with cinnamon; yes, I am THAT GIRL).

This is the kind you don’t want. Seriously, 7.5 inches? Wasn’t that thing on an episode of Law and Order, Special Victims Unit?

Anyway, you’ll be a Special Victim if you try to use this with your bare hands.

I have a confession to make. I’m only including this one because of its name: The Nut Twister. Yes, I am twelve.

But at less than half the price, it’s not a bad riff on the Peugeot, even if that chrome case will not be as durable as the wooden one (trust me on this!).

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is about 1437 words more than I ever thought I would write about nutmeg. Pay heed!

Oh, they do also make nutmeg jam, out of the fruit itself. You don’t want it; it’s like apple butter, only mealier.

I’m Not Beeton Around the Bush

Meet one of the most successful cookbook authors in history, Mrs. Isabella Beeton. Yes, that Mrs. Beeton.

Although she died in 1865, just about a month before her twenty-ninth birthday (of peritonitis and puerperal fever, following the birth of her fourth child), Mrs. Beeton remains a household name through much of the English-speaking world.

Her book, Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management has been reprinted, updated, and collected ever since it was first published in 1861.

In fact, I have two different versions in my own collection. One is my own copy of the 1992 edition that I bought shortly before I got married. The other is my mother’s long-cherished copy sans a publication date. My guess is that it dates back to somewhere between the late 1930′s and the fall of the British Raj. Why? Because of the sorts of recipes, the instructions included with them, the advertisements shown on the endpapers, and the fact that there is a significant section on cooking in India.

The recipes are, of course, a major reason for the long popularity of the franchise. Over time, old recipes that are no longer fashionable or practical have been dropped in favor of things more in line with modern tastes. The sheer range of recipes makes the volume a great choice if you only have room or interest for one or two cookbooks in your world. And despite the common wisdom, there have never been very many extravagant dishes, nor was anyone ever instructed to ‘first catch your hare.’ Mrs. Beeton didn’t worry about whether you found your meat at the market or in the local Lord’s woods. Her concern was making sure you cooked it in the tastiest, most healthful possible ways and carved it neatly so that every person at the table could get an equal and attractive share.

But there’s a great deal more to the Book of Household Management than just the recipes. After all, there’s a lot more to managing a household than cooking. From the first, the Book has included lots of information on cleaning, organizing finances, child care, and medical advice. My 1992 edition includes a rather fascinating section on legal issues, and the older one has a section to teach your servants how to wait at table properly.

Did Isabella know her stuff? Well, she was the oldest of four children. Her father, Benjamin Mayson, died quite early. Her mother then remarried a gentleman named Henry Dorling,  who was a widower with four children of his own. The Dorlings proceeded to have another thirteen children. That made Isabella the eldest of twenty-two offspring. I’m guessing her emphasis on practical matters and economical management was based strongly in her early life.

You can find the complete text of the original book at ExClassics.com, but I’m  going to go ahead and include one of the recipes here To Dress Carrots in the German Way:

TO DRESS CARROTS IN THE GERMAN WAY.

1101. INGREDIENTS.– 8 large carrots, 3 oz. of butter, salt to taste, a very little grated nutmeg, 1 tablespoonful of finely-minced parsley, 1 dessertspoonful of minced onion, rather more than 1 pint of weak stock or broth, 1 tablespoonful of flour.

Mode.– Wash and scrape the carrots, and cut them into rings of about 1/4 inch in thickness. Put the butter into a stewpan; when it is melted, lay in the carrots, with salt, nutmeg, parsley, and onion in the above proportions. Toss the stewpan over the fire for a few minutes, and when the carrots are well saturated with the butter, pour in the stock, and simmer gently until they are nearly tender. Then put into another stewpan a small piece of butter; dredge in about a tablespoonful of flour; stir this over the fire, and when of a nice brown colour, add the liquor that the carrots have been boiling in; let this just boil up, pour it over the carrots in the other stewpan, and let them finish simmering until quite tender. Serve very hot.

This vegetable, dressed as above, is a favourite accompaniment of roast pork, sausages, &c. &c.

Time.– About 3/4 hour. Average cost, 6d. to 8d. per bunch of 18.

Sufficient for 6 or 7 persons.

Seasonable.– Young carrots from April to June, old ones at any time.

 

 

See? No need whatsoever to catch your own hare. But you could cook that today, and it would still be nice with pork.

Happy Birthday, Brando!

marlon brando is all about the Strawberry Shortcake

marlon brando is all about the Strawberry Shortcake

Happy birthday to famous foodie Marlon Brando! After all his painstaking prep work, it’s a damn shame his part in “Whip Me! Lick Me! Eat Me! The Untold Strawberry Shortcake Story” ended up on the cutting-room floor.

Happy Sundae!

Happy Sundae from Google

Happy Sundae from Google

Please join us in the Manolosphere as well as those who toil anonymously at Teh Googlez in wishing the Ice Cream Sundae a very happy 119th birthday. Darling, you don’t look a day over 110!

As befits a treat as impressive as the sundae, like the Queen it has both an actual birthday (shrouded in mystery) and an official birthday. Wired reports on the controversy:

There’s some dispute over when and where the term was invented (though there is general agreement that at first it was “sunday” instead), but Ithaca, N.Y. has the only claim with any sort of documented evidence, in the form of the first known printed mention of the term, in an 1893 newspaper ad.

Even though all that proves is that the term was invented at some point not too long before the ad was printed, Google has chosen to respect local lore that holds that the term was invented on April 3, 1892 by Chester Platt and John Scott at a pharmacy/soda fountain owned by Platt, in Ithaca.

Sure, why not? After all, if they were going to pick a completely artificial date, wouldn’t they have picked one in steamy August instead? Denny’s is celebrating with the introduction of the artery-clogging masterpiece, the maple bacon sundae. Here’s to the End Times!

The Clean Plate Club

Little Americans, do your bit: no matter how noxious it may be

Little Americans, do your bit: no matter how noxious it may be

Yes, kiddies: close your eyes and do it for your country!

Oatmeal is made from corn? Who knew??? Also: corn meal mush needs a new marketing strategy. Filboid Studge, anyone?

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