November 30th, 2002

true state of education

so, i’m in arizona. for thanksgiving with the folks and all. and what happens at every holiday gathering? right, family games. so, it’s trivial pursuit with the parents and their friends. for as much complaining as i hear from them that the “younger generation” has their head up their ass (okay, i’ll conceed that to be partially true) you think they’d be better at the game. more life equals more experiences which should equal more answers right? well, this part of the “younger generation” has served them a nice big fat slice of shut the fuck up pie. winning answers scored by me are; abby hoffman, stephen hawking’s “a brief history in time”, dr.who, mars (as in what was the last planet that nasa has landed on), and hell, even maxim magazine. my friends, the pop culture revolution has begun. wicked.


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November 27th, 2002

bob’s blog

I’m filing this under nonfamous nonstrangers because I know my friend Bob will post for us occasionally. Quite coincidentally, he launched his own blog, Imminent Ptomaine, last week.

It is, as he pointed out in its email introduction to me, “darker and more caustic” than f.a.n.s. But then again, Bob is a highly intelligent and amiable Brit who has lived in the States for many years; were he anything other than dark and caustic I’d be all-to-suspicious.

The blog’s title does give me slight pause, as dining Chez Bob et Terri is an unparalleled treat for the senses– where else have I ever enjoyed a whole roast lamb studded with 10 heads of garlic or tawny port older than myself? Nowhere, gentle reader. Now must I fear that these pleasures might cause painful illness and death?

Ah, well. Worth the risk.


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November 27th, 2002

For True Epicures

I’m feeling like I’m on a roll today. I just had to share this article from the Onion with everyone, mainly because I can just imagine all the guys out there who would read this and think “wait, I thought everything in the Onion was a joke. That’s my idea of a romantic evening.”


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November 27th, 2002

The High Maintenance Bird

There has been an interesting confluence of themes in my life lately, especially in regards to my heritage turkey, the history of cocktails, and that rather unnerving southern species of bird known as the turducken, which Jay discoursed on so eloquently here a few days ago.

This morning I awoke to a story on NPR about the farm that raised my Thanksgiving centerpiece, Wish Farms in Prairie City, OR. Then they did a piece about a particular kind of heritage martini, as it were, using Plymouth Gin, which was of course thematically linked to the book I’m reading, Straight Up or On the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail, which had this nice little excerpt on the page that I started with this morning:

Turkey Cocktail: To one large turkey add one gallon of vermouth and a demijohn of Angosturo bitters. Shake.
The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald

which seemed really funny on a bus at 8 am this morning after a hard night of primary research on historically important cocktails. But not half so amusing as the read I had upon opening the information packet that accompanied my heritage turkey. First of all, the fact that a turkey should require documentation beyond that which is specified by the Department of Agriculture, is in itself quite amusing. But that it should come with instructions for care and cooking that rival in anal retentiveness the pages of Cook’s Illustrated or the above and below mentioned turducken is really quite a hoot.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled to be participating in the Slow Food movement, and to do my part to help keep a family farm in operation. Being the daughter of a gentleman farmer, I do value the small time agricultural operation and all, but so far as I know, the most instruction my father would provide to a would-be cook about to tackle one of his birds would be along the lines of “well, it’s dead, which I know because I did the backbreaking work of putting the thing out it’s misery. And you should probably cook it before you eat it.”

So the main information sheet is titled “A few words on your Thanksgiving turkey” and assures me that, in fact, Sunday, November 24, 2002 was the correct date of death for my little hen, an 11.5 pound specimen of poultry pulchritude. It reminds me (which is probably not a bad thing to do) that the nasties are in the cavity of the bird and should be removed prior to cooking and then used “in preparing a flavorful stock and/or stuffing.” It also advises me to rinse the bugger inside and out, and just in case I hadn’t thought of it, suggests that “the spray attachment on your kitchen sink is an ideal tool for this job.”

It also reminds me that my American Bronze bird is superior to those that millions of Americans are thawing right now after picking up at their local grocery stores (well, I should hope so, considering that I just paid $40 for an 11 pound turkey!), and as such requires no brining or marinating since they are but “techniques introduced to cope with the blandness of the Standard White supermarket turkey” (which comes as something of a relief, as I was a bit concerned that my first experience not using a pre-brined kosher turkey might result in me making a salty mess of this rare bird). It also gently suggests that extreme methods of cooking, such as smoking and frying, would overwhelm the subtle flavor of my new poultry prize, and implies that I would be insulting the little critter to treat it in such a shocking manner. My bird will also likely take as much as an hour less to cook than its supermarket cousins, owing to its gentle nature. No, this is a delicate creature, and should be treated with the utmost roasting respect, which according to the Slow Food people does have its many variations, and might well entail “high-temp, low-tem or a combination, breast-up, breast-down or a combination, stuffed/unstuffed, basted/unbasted” oven treatment. And here I thought turkey roasting was uncreative!

So this information sheet goes on to advise me that I should remove the bird from the oven the moment the internal temperature reaches 165 so as to avoid drying it out. It also offers the helpful hint that should I be concerned about undercooking the stuffing, I could wrap it cheesecloth, microwave it first and then fill up the bird with it already hot. I wonder, does Heloise know about that one?

And here I thought I was just buying a turkey, not a whole new philosophy on the treatment of poultry products. I hope the organic potatoes I plan to purchase at the Pike Place Market today won’t inform me that they would feel slighted to be mashed with some garden-variety garlic and milk. At least I can assure them that I will be using some very good Irish butter in the mix.


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November 26th, 2002

Introduction to Australian Heritage

You may not be aware of this, but I am an Australian. In the spirit of international cultural outreach, I offer the reader this introduction to Australian heritage. This classic text is required reading in all Australian primary (elementary) schools. Read this and be the conversational vedette at your next cocktail party with all you need to know about Australian historical figures, events, and cultural locations.


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November 26th, 2002

hey there pilgrim

Perry is astounded (and almost offended, I think) by Paulette’s and my participation in the “Slow Food” movement, but he’s going to be eating a “Slow Turkey” with us on Thursday. Apparently a fair number of New Yorkers will be doing the same: Turkeys Similar to What Pilgrims Ate

I’m a little freaked out by the Times’ angle though: I have a hard enough time with my “extinction day” festivities without highlighting my cultural connections to the Pilgrims. I’ll just take my heirloom turkey with an extra helping of white guilt.


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November 25th, 2002

Bonsai Kittens

Bonsai Kitten is one of my favourite links to send to the gullible and/or reactionary (the two traits are highly correlated, in my experience). Check out the guestbook for the insightful commentary.

If bonsai kittens were real, I’d have one. Not only are they unique, but if you have more than one they stack easily for space-saving storage.


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November 25th, 2002

Slate slaps Bearing Point name

Slate’s Rob Walker has again earned my admiration by pointing out the tragic flaws in the rebranding of KPMG Consulting as Bearning Point. Why is it that consulting firms always choose such bad names? (Remember Monday:, PWC Consulting’s short-lived name before it was snapped up by IBM?) This article rightfully attacks the name as stupid and the brand behind it as utterly generic. To wit:

“What are we? Who are we? What do we stand for? We make things happen. … We integrate and collaborate. We deliver on our promises with an attitude of ‘whatever it takes.’ We measure our success by the success of our clients. … We have a presence, an intensity. … What we have not changed is our mind-set—the desire to get it done. … It’s who we are. We’re fast, nimble, smart, innovative, flexible, responsible, and honest. We know how to think on our feet. And make it happen. Now. … We don’t walk. We run. But with a purpose. A mission. … ”

Whoever did this work (and I’m checking on that) just wrote down whatever jargon the CEO had running through his mind that day, and charged them lots of money for regurgitating it. This is the kind of stuff that makes me embarrassed to do brand strategy.


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November 25th, 2002

Super Soy

So, I’m paraphrasing from someone on Chowhound to explain this little movie for
Kikkoman Soy Sauce, but it would appear that Super Kikkoman defeats his enemies by pouring soy sauce over them. He apparently can wield more than just a condiment, however, as he shamed the cat in the video into hanging himself by pointing out that he should already know enough to use soy sauce, and not Worcestershire sauce, on his omelette. The girl in Super Kikkoman’s bed is apparently named after a Worcestershire sauce maker in Japan, which kind of speaks for itself.


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November 24th, 2002

Turducken: it’s what’s for dinner?

Had nonfamous nonstranger Paulette and I not already contracted months ago to buy a (this is for real) “organic free-range heirloom turkey” from a small “Slow Food” farmer in Oregon, we’d be making a turducken for Thanksgiving. Though it sounds as if it could be German for “moving so as to avoid flying poo,” turducken is a Southern delicacy sweeping the nation.

This NYT article hails it as a “free-form poutlry terrine.” What this means in practice is stuffing a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey (with stuffing in between) and cooking for 12 hours.

Calvin Trillin, easily my favorite food writer, has written persuasively about the glories of the turducken. But Paulette’s Dad– a farmer– has the last word. When she suggested he raise turducken, he replied earnestly, “Oh no. Last time I tried to stuff a chicken up a duck’s ass it didn’t work too well.”

However unpleasant that image is, I maintain it’s still better than Tofurkey and other fake flesh. But then again, I’m not a vegetarian.


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