Dispatch the 2nd, El Pais Vasco

Some technical glitch, which I’m choosing to blame on the ETA (Basque country’s answer to the IRA) has left me completely unpable to access the authors’ portion of nonfamous, so big thanks to Jay for posting this in my stead.

So, I’m in Pamplona. You know, the place with the running of the bulls and all that? Well, it’s kind of cool. I mean, I came here for two reasons, right? Food and Hemingway. So I’m in exactly the right place for that. Except, I gotta say, Pamplona, as pretty as it is, sort of leaves me cold. The monastery where I am staying, on the other hand, is quite cool. And it’s a two mile drive up a mountain to get there overlooking Navarra and the Irati river.

Now the Irati excites me. I was actually fairly thrilled to spend the morning walking around Saguesa, a town straddling the river that I am almost certain was where Hemingway had n mind when he wrote the scenes where Bill and Jake stay before heading off to the feria in Pamplona, where they fish the Irati and have the last moments of peace before Brett and Mike et al show up and begin turning the whole thing into a mess of drama and tensions. That was always my favorite part of the book, the one I came to this part of the world for, and recent history being what it has been, I guess it’s no real surprise that I would connect to that part of the story, is it?
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Dispatch the first from espana

Ok, first of all. I’m in a bloody foreign country (I mean that it in the British way, not the literal one) and yet I´m the only one to post to this site since I last posted like a year ago. Y’all are a bunch of slackers!

That said, hey from Madrid. I hate postcards, so consider this a mass one. Wish you were here. Actually, I do. And then we would stay. Whoever said this was an ugly city (you know you are) was smoking crack (and you should really give that up) because it´s anything but. Actually, it´s much prettier than Paris in its own way. Much less of that fussy ornate architecture, more interesting and, well, Spanish style buildings. It´s more beautiful in the way that New York is beautiful, except, again, with Spanish style. And the blue and white tile thing that´s all over the place, a holdover from Moorish times, is really working for me.
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Target market

Hey, we SDSers are apparently at the forefront of a new wine trend. That, or we’re the unwitting dupes of clever marketing. Yeah, the wine drinker of the 21st century, as envisioned by today’s wine makers and described in today’s Wall Street Journal (sorry, you’ll need a subscription to actually read this article, but I’ve saved a copy of it if anyone is interested), is hip, under 35, and willing to pay more than their older, wiser parents for some fermented grape. Well, yeah, so there’s a $12 a bottle limit for SDS, but my older and (arguably) wiser father–who is an elitist in his own right, but definitely not in wine consumption–defines “expensive” wine as any juice that requires an implement other than one’s bare hand and a paper bag to consume, so in that we’re definitely upping the ante on defining an affordable bottle.
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Snobs Unite!

Yeah, I suppose it’s the Yalie in me coming out–that is, the inherent Yalie, the one who knew she was going to be an Eli from about 3rd grade on–but I really like this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Some things really are better than others, and if believing that it’s just a sin to waste perfectly good calories on say, pasteurized brie or Hershey’s chocolate instead of Valrhona, makes me an elitist, then I suppose I’ll wear the Scarlet E.

Finally! A source for potted possum sauce!

Actually, if there had been a “spit, don’t swallow” category, it would be a lot more appropriate to some of the exhibits in the Potted Meat Museum than “yum” but I work within the constraints I am given. At least it’s not nearly as frightening as Pete’s hats of meat last week.

Now admittedly, there is a place for potted meat (and saying “potted meat” gives me a weird little pleasure–perhaps something akin to how Perry feels about “toast points”). I mean, we would have no tuna sandwiches without potted meat, and, hmmm…ok, well, maybe that’s the only one I can think of that doesn’t really spook me. Because, yeah, I’m kinda spooked by beef and iron wine and pork brains with milk gravy. Actually, I’m more than a little spooked by those. Spooked we’ll leave to the realm of canned steak and kidney pie, which seems something iffy enough in its fresh form that it really oughtn’t to be consumed from a can. I’d say the same goes for turtle soup.

And I’m assuming (or is hoping a more appropriate word here) that the armadillo meat–sundried and road tenderized–is a joke, which is why it’s listed under “exotic and other.” Now there’s a category for you! Jay, can we add that one to nonfamous, for newsbits that just don’t work in any of the other established genres?

My desert-island all time top five presidential candidates

One of the best lines in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity is about how Rob, Hornby’s avatar in the story, had determined some years ago that it wasn’t so much what you were like that mattered, but what you like. To wit, you could judge a person by their musical taste well before you had to waste a lot of time getting to know them, only to find out they were the sort of dullard whose musical knowledge extended only as far back as Britney Spears’ second top-ten single. He eventually recants this particular belief, realizing that there are people out there worth knowing who still have Spandau Ballet tapes in their actively played collection.
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nonedible nonfood

Not since the heady days of my mother’s infamous creation “hot dog soup” have I been so frightened by the appearance of something purporting to be dinner. Well, there was also Doctor Zabdiel Boylston’s Honeycomb Pudding, which had too long a name not involving food products that I should have been suspicious well before making it, but I was young, my dad was the head chef that day, and all I know is that the name was only descriptive if either the good doctor or a honeycomb generally resemble the title creature from the Blob. And can move by it’s own willpower. Yeah, it really did that. Right off the cutting board and across the counter. I still get nightmares about it.

But I digress, which I do a lot, because, well, probably because I’ve got a serious and undiagnosed attention deficit disorder. Or because I’ve killed enough brain cells with alcohol, stress, and other such nonhealthy nonsmartening pursuits, that I’m incapable of staying on point for more than the first four or five words of a given sentence. See?

So where was I? Oh yes, I was being disturbed by food. Which is hard. I’m the kind of gal who actually seeks out such generally frightening dishes as sweetbreads, tripe, salt cod, and pickled fish. Hell, I ate a wide array of unidentifiable floral and faunal squiggly items in Japan without flinching. I ate fish face, eyeballs and all. So, you know, I’m hard to freak out when it comes to food. Unless, of course, the food in question is hot dog soup which is just sick and wrong, or something called Fluffy Mackeral Pudding which is even sicker and wronger. Yeah, the name is scary ok, but not half so scary as the image of “onion sauce” which really looks more like A Fish Named Carrie if you ask me.

What the hell? That’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it? Well, I mean, unless you’ve already seen this site and know what the deal is. But basically, some guy posted all these recipe cards that Weight Watchers put out back in the ’70s with amusing commentary, which couldn’t have been that hard to come up with because, well, the cards are pretty fucking disturbing on their own. I mean, do you really need someone to tell you that anything called inspiration soup would be anything but to the tastebuds, or that rosy perfection salad must have been created by someone who understood the meaning of the word irony much better than Alanis Morissette?

Now, I’m a fan of Weight Watchers. I recommend them like crazy because, well, you know, they kind of saved me and all, got me back on the straight and narrow, or at least, thinner, and I never really thought of them as some weirdass “Here drink this…uhm…Kool-aid” kind of an organization that pulls you in and exerts weird mind control over you, but these cards are kind of making me wonder if Jim Jones didn’t go on to take over their culinary design division after making such a mess in Guyana.

Frozen dessert treats from hell

So a few weeks ago, Jay calls and he’s all, “Hey, why don’t you come over for dinner tonight. David is going to make a shepherd’s pie.” And I’m all over that because I love me a good home cooked meal and especially one filled with things like lamb and mashed potatoes. So Erik and I head over there with a bottle of wine, and it smells great and I’m all looking forward to dinner and a nice conversation and maybe even some good music because they’ve got so damn much of it in that house, but what I’m not realizing is that I’m about to have one of those life-altering moments where you suddenly realize where you developed one of your most deep seeded (or is it deep seated?) issues–in this case, my hatred for ice cream.
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Next it will have to be the Paulette\Paul (Prudhomme) project I suppose

Thanks to my dear friends at Chowhound I’ve recently discovered a new favorite blog (sorry, Jay, but this one is too up my alley). The Julie/Julia Project is the daily adventures of a woman who is trying to work her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cookery and have a life at the same time. I felt a particular kinship with her while reading of her unfortunately textured orange mousse; her liquid mess seemed like the perfect complement to the solid mass of cornmeal and buttermilk that took two extra cooks and all of the remaining milk and eggs in the house to turn into cornbread last Sunday.
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