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Manolo's Food Blog - Part 58

Mr. Henry’s Dietary Dicta [with Exceptions]

June of Lyman writes:

Dear Mr. Henry,

I’m sure that there’s more to that paragon of abdominal architecture than you let on, but your secret is safe with me. I wish you luck reconciling your appetite for cheese, chocolate and scotch with the long-term maintenance of that unobstructed view of your little piggies. What I find hard to believe is that Pepper will permit a fine cheese to rest untasted on your countertop. How do you do it?

Ah! Ha! Does Mr. Henry detect a whiff of suspicion about the existence of his vaunted waistline? Is not the earth flat now, too, all of a sudden? Yes, yes, everyone must be suspicious of what they read on the web. (On the internet no one knows you’re a dog.) Now at last to make his argument persuasive Mr. Henry will be forced to reveal the deepest secrets of his dietary regime. Here goes:

Mr. Henry’s Dietary Dicta [with Exceptions]

1) Never drink soda.
Exception: When on a summer day against all sound advice and good judgment you take a taste of the kifta at the bus stop in Larache, Morocco, drink a large bottle of Coke right away as an anti-bacterial agent. Then get home soon.

2) Don’t eat anything after dinner.
No exceptions.

3) Don’t drink alcohol after dinner.
Exception: one short Scotch neat in a brandy glass, or perhaps a beer before bed uniquely for digestive purposes, i.e., in lieu of an Alka-Seltzer.

4) Skip dessert after dinner.
Save it for breakfast when your natural disinclination to binge on sucrose has not been impaired by last night’s wine, laughter, or her eyes.
Exception: fresh fruit

5) Eat crunchy things.
They satisfy.

6) Avoid anything icky-sticky.
Exceptions: carrot cake, banana bread, and once in a while some mousse au chocolat or good French pastry. (Pace Joan who wrote to critize Mr. Henry’s condemnation of cream cheese. Since truth is now to be told, he loves cream cheese icing on carrot cake. But is this an appropriate venue for authentic cheese?)

7) Fill up on the salad and the vegetables.
Eat the meat as a taste treat, not as the primary focus of the meal.
Exceptions: steak tartare, sashimi

8) Make dinner a small meal.
Make lunch a bigger one. And since you want to be able to move around in the afternoon, you won’t stuff yourself at lunch.

9) Never eat fried foods for dinner.
They are difficult to digest by bedtime and are too fatty anyway. Of course, everyone agrees that french fries are the most delicious creation, the food of the gods. When you eat them — and you WILL eat them — do it at lunchtime.

10) Drink weak tea as a substitute for a caloric snack.
Drink hot water all through the winter months to combat dehydration. Just keep putting hot water on that peppermint tea bag. It’s a Chinese scholars thing.

11) Walk everywhere you can.
Walk briskly, especially when you are feeling tired or hungry. Often that craving for a snack is just a need for increased circulation.

12) Break a sweat.
Work out hard every day, especially when you feel tired.

13) Don’t eat candy.
Exception: good dark chocolate

14) Go easy on the carbs.
In particular eschew the wicked white foods.
Exceptions: an occasional fresh baguette or properly prepared sushi rice.

15) If you must snack, pick a food with value like the noble pistachio.
Consider them to be the next meal’s entrée and adjust your plate accordingly.

16) Go to bed hungry.

This last rule is the most important and the hardest one to incorporate into your routine. To sleep empty is to sleep better. You avoid dyspepsia, esophageal reflux, and nightmares. Moreover, you awake hungry and ready to eat a solid breakfast – the very best of all dietary habits.

Each night Mr. Henry pushes his organism to the brink of hypoglycemic coma until it falls like a stone, the roiling Henry brain starved of all creative or destructive juices. It’s a battle won by strict adherence to routine, the nightly victory of regular habits over adolescent urges to (shudder) watch TV, a habit every bit as pernicious as a drug.

As for Pepper’s fondness for cheese, she knows very well that Mr. Henry’s plate is out of bounds.

Once, however, when she was quite young, Mr. Henry got up to answer the phone and left a large piece of cave-aged Gruyere (nuked for seven seconds to an aromatic room temperature) out on the plate. When he returned he saw a very guilty-looking dog skulking along the side of the room and an empty plate on the table. On that occasion Mr. Henry growled most convincingly.

Now, however, when no one is looking, she gets a little taste. Is this wrong? Can cheese really be bad for a dog? The Henry household is in a major uproar over this question.

The Second Golden Age

Manolo says, the Times of the New York, they are catching onto something that Manolo has recognized for many years now, that the oyster has at last returned!

“We’re in a time comparable to the 1880’s and 90’s now,” said Mark Kurlansky, the author of the recent “The Big Oyster” , who took part in the Seattle conference. “It’s a kind of second Golden Age of the oyster.”

And what is there not to love about the Golden Age of the Oyster?

Look below, even the Belgian chefs agree; good oysters are worth the eating, even 50 meters above the ground.

Oysters at Fifty Meters

Manolo says, ayyyyy! Belgian chef stunt dining!

Manolo’s Friday Miscellany

Manolo says, here are the few things that may perhaps amuse…

He could breakdance in a tutu and fright wig on American Idol and STILL be the coolest chef on TV. He’s a Magnificent Beast and good for the world.

It seems like half the shows on Japanese television are cooking shows

We loosely define weird food as anything that the typical American would likely find odd or disgusting, but that someone somewhere on this planet would eat and consider normal.

Whisky for Dad

Because from among Mr. Henry’s myriad talents a grasp of computer application software is conspicuously absent, he only just now received the many kind messages sent by his reading public. One of the first e-mails came from a Japanese site called Sweets which judging by its pink background looks as though it may be devoted to matching up lonely Japanese girls with suitable salary-men. Since it is written in Japanese, however, its nuances have escaped even Mr. Henry’s subtle capacities for apprehension.

The e-mail below suggests that in a single week Mr. Henry has already become a voice of authority and experience, a veritable Rip Van Winkle of the information highway. Consequently he feels not merely a desire to help, therefore, but a positive obligation.

Mr. Henry,

Let me first take a moment to cheer your new food blog under the auspices of the ever-benevolent Manolo. I come to you with a question that given your love of Scotch, should be easy to answer. My father’s birthday is next month, and he is a Scotch drinker. Since (unlike with wine) I do not like Scotch, I am forced to rely on the advice of others in procuring new and different Scotches as gifts for him. If you would let me know what you think are some good choices for his birthday. I’ve previously gotten him a Bowmore Port Casked scotch and Talisker. I’m intrigued by your mention of Oban.

Looking forward to your response,


Dear Megaera,

With such a lilting Celtic name you must surely take the choice of Scotch with seriousness of purpose. Mr. Henry, therefore, will do no less.

Oban is indeed the right choice, or at least cannot be the wrong choice, but it is a choice ripely made only after a sail round all the others.

For Mr. Henry to assess this request he needs to conjure a profile of your Dad’s regular habits. Does he take his Scotch as an aperitif for its restorative qualities to both energy and appetite? Or does he retire for a post-prandial glass with feet up surrounded by his all-adoring family (or at least one daughter who does not disapprove of his drinking)? Does he excuse himself to the smoking room at the back of the house (or completely outside the house)? Or is he a reformed smoker who longs for a smokiness in the glass that recalls those freer days? Does he drink it neat, with a splash, or on the rocks?

The MacallanTo Mr. Henry’s ever-evolving palette, the salient question here is the choice of before-dinner or after-dinner. The Macallan, an excellent Speyside that became enormously popular in the 1980’s, is in his opinion exclusively an after-dinner drink. The lingering oak, honey, and brandy aromas imparted by long aging in sherry casks render The Macallan an ideal substitute for cognac, indeed an improvement on it or on any other after-dinner drink, but the same notes of sweetness feel more like an end to the evening repast than like a beginning.

Your previous two choices were quite different in character: Bowmore is an Islay — the region known for smoky, peaty, altogether salty tastes. Lagavulin is the fiercest of these; it hits you like a North Sea wave over the foredeck. Laphroaig is a paler and smoother distillation but with equal smoke and peat.Caol Isla If your Dad liked Bowmore, Mr. Henry suggests Caol Ila which, like Bowmore, is a milder Islay but one with slightly fewer floral qualities. But Caol Ila is hard to find in stores.

Talisker is an Island malt, and yet in color, tone and balance it closely resembles Oban, a Highland malt. Mr. Henry prefers Talisker to the other Island stills. It is equally satisfying before or after dinner. Curiously enough Mr. Henry discovered Talisker in (of all places) Paris where he got stuck staying in (of all places) a British hotel in the 16th arrondisement, the very last available hotel room in the whole Frog City. Forced by the upstairs presence of small, sleeping Henry offspring to stick close to the hotel at night, with a jaundiced eye he accepted the advice of a too, too young French sommelier who suggested Talisker from among a list of some 50 Scotches.

And Talisker became Mr. Henry’s preference for some years.

Through the advice of a wizened old downtown reprobate, a lowly writer by trade, some years later he sampled Oban and found his new Big Love, his first wife, his default choice for any occasion.

Similar in character to Talisker, Oban balances its amber, raisiny nose with hints of “sea breezes” that recall the salty Islay brands. Thus, if your father liked both Bowmore and Talisker, try a bottle of Oban because it combines the best elements of both.

In the ideal Henry liquor cabinet, a bottle of each would stand side by side. This is Mr. Henry’s vision of Big Love – a plural marriage characterized by sharing and harmony. However, Mrs. Henry does not seek such domestic arrangements. Moreover, lately Mrs. Henry has been watching the grocery money more carefully than usual and thus no $50 bottles of Scotch have gained recent admittance to the secret recesses of Mr. Henry’s cabinet.

Sea breezes remain in the air, not in the glass. Instead of sipping, Mr. Henry writes.

Manolo’s Friday Miscellany

Manolo says, here are the few food related items that may perhaps amuse.

Salty, Sweet, Sublime: Bisteeya

The World’s Best Restaurants

Gummy Bacon

Coca-Cola Blak
Coca Cola Blāk

The Theoretical Vegetarian

Manolo says, the Cat and Girl, they are the Manolo’s new favorites!

P.S. Many thanks to the Twisty for turning the Manolo onto them.

Cheap Eats

Eighty-five of the English Pounds for the Sandwich?

The ingredients of the sandwich are: Wagyu beef, fresh Lobe foie gras, black truffle mayonnaise, brie de meaux, roquet, red pepper and mustard confit and English plum tomatoes.

Bah. Well the Manolo remembers the mania last year for the Thousand Dollar Omelette, and the Ten Thousand Dollar Martini.

The Selfridges they will have to go to much greater lengths if they wish to win in the ridiculously expensive foods competition.

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