Friday, November 27, 2009

Daydream For The Partner Of A Picky Eater

Do you have a partner who tortures you by turning his nose up at all the magnificent dinners (banquets!) you've prepared for him over the years? Well, at least you can get revenge in your dreams.)

Seize your picky eater by his birdy shoulders,
head-butt him with your stony righteous forehead,
nail him in the eye with your eye and snap

Tie him to his chair.
Then roll up wads of angel food cake
and mash them down his throat.
Forcefeed his gaping jaw
slabs of fat bacon,
green pearl strings of peas fresh from the pod,
all the things you're just dying to see him eat.
Tromp crazy-eyed around the kitchen
as you whip up dozen-egg fat-farmer omelets
spraying yolks to the ceiling,
and grease them down his gullet with
big ladles of redeye gravy.

Let a bagel be his belly ring.
Paint his face with daisy cream cheeses,
cram candied pineapple cloying in his armpit hair.
Grow wilder,
peg bananas in his ears,
stuff stink-cheese up his nose,
work guacamole dip through his hair
like ice-green styling mousse.

Finally, crown him with a birthday cake
as big as a tractor tire,
frost it with a pouffy moon cloud of marshmallow whip
and on it perch a single cherry
red, fat, and sweet.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cabin Fever Frenzy!!!

Isn't it time Jay Leno found some material about Wisconsinites in winter other than fat jokes? It's completely untrue that there's nothing to do up here in winter except sit around and watch our butts get big. There are many fun things that add sparkle to our seven long, icy, blizzard-battered months. Our winter only SEEMS to be excruciatingly crappy.

For example, my friend Emma says she always stops shaving her legs around Halloween and doesn't pick up a razor again until lilac time. She says there's a morbid fascination in watching her "coat" grow out. She claims that by New Years, she could coax her leg hairs into neat little braids and put ribbons on them, like you would for a prize-winning show pony.

Speaking of leg hairs, it was in February that a highly intelligent, well-respected in-law of mine set a match to the stubble on his lower legs "to see," as he put it to his wife, "what would happen." His theory was that the hairs wouldn't burn. Well, they got really hot and burst into flame. He hastily put out the fire and then had to listen to his wife wonder aloud for several minutes why an up-and-coming young executive, often consulted for his mature wisdom, savvy and business acumen, would light up his leg. He replied huffily, in an offended voice, that he had considered it a CONTROLLED burn.

I recall it was in the winter that some people in the area brought several whoopee cushions down to the street at midnight, and jumped up and down on them. These folks were originally from Illinois, so nobody was surprised. The cushions were LOUD. I woke bolt upright from a beautiful dream about the arctic wilderness. My first horrified impression was that a herd of flatulent polar bears had invaded the foyer, passing gas as they came.

Friend Sam dedicates his cold months to eating food that not only sticks to the ribs but encases them in a puffy flotation vest of blubber. He says this is nature's way. Sam wallows in the butter tubs of many nations, but said that the Land of Braveheart stands alone as a noble monument to hard fat. Scotland is the home of the deep-fried Mars bar. Scots also believe that pizza slices are improved by being boiled in tallow, eaten with scalding grease running down the chin, and chased with pints of bitter dark beer. Sam's favorite export, though, is the king of all pub food, the Scotch Egg. And you can make it at home, if you remember than an authentic Scotch Egg does not use fresh ingredients.

You take a hard-boiled egg that's been sitting around awhile, peel it, and gum it all around with odorous or even downright stinky ground-up swine's private parts. It shouldn't smell good, and if it does, you've failed. At this stage, a cowardly lily-livered cook might fear botulism; but the strong ones forge ahead, like Braveheart would. Roll the egg in seasoned bread crumbs from a dubious old loaf that's been kicked around the barnyard and peed on by cats. Then you deep-fry it in grease you've inherited from your old granny. Drain the egg on a funky old grocery bag that's been moistened by some unspeakable leak. Then Yay, the waiting is over! From now on, it's all BON APPETIT!

This kingly Egg, this majestic cannonball, had 1500 calories, a paunchy 300 grams of fat, and single-handedly acts on an artery like a potato rammed into an exhaust pipe. Sam thinks this is good, because "it keeps the heat in." He eats them all winter, with pickles and beer. "Beer is food," as he puts it.

Then in the spring, Sam advises, you need to clean all the winter crap out of your system with an old-fasioned but effective remedy. Take a really big dose of castor oil, one that would drop a moose, or blast you into outer space. You may feel a little bit weak, disoriented and dazed and not be able to remember your own name afterward, but you'll be as fresh and sweet as those sunny spring crocuses pushing up through all the ancient rotted tires in your yard. And that can only be good!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good Dogs

Until we got our dog Britt, I had a harsh Darwinian theory about how to tell a good dog from a bad one. As I saw it, the best canine achievement took place in 1925 in Alaska when relays of noble dog teams brought diptheria serum over a thousand miles to Nome, to save the children from an epidemic. Could YOUR dog brave blizzards, shattered ice floes, fight off polar bears? Could he save the children, or not? He couldn't?

Tough, pal. My Skipper could have gotten the serum to Nome on his head, smiling all the way.

I grew up with Skipper. He was a large, stunningly handsome border collie, with the wisdom of a Yoda. I didn't have to bother with kindergarten. Everything I needed to know, I learned from Skipper. In many family photos, guests are standing around looking at him admiringly. As I recall, they were saying things like, "What a great dog!" "Where can I get a dog like that?" and even "Why do you get the best dog? Why not me?"

Many years passed. Skipper went up to Good Dog Valhalla. And one summer afternoon, we bought a tiny shetland sheepdog puppy. She could easily fit in my hand. She would have been outweighed by a dinner roll. Yet she already had a massively well-developed vision of herself as Crown Princess Britt.

Her reign began a few minutes after we bought her. For the ride home, I'd brought a frayed old towel for her to rest on (and pee on, if need be). She looked at it in horror. "This crummy rag?" she was plainly thinking. "Why, I wouldn't touch it with BORROWED puke. Is this any way for my subjects, I mean owners, to treat the darling little sheepdog?"

She quickly noticed, however, that I was wearing a beautiful Scottish wool shawl. In fact, the shawl cost so much that it was accompanied by literature to persuade chumps to buy it. A brochure on slick paper informed me that the wool was "harvested from happy sheep, bathed in the silken, sparkling waters of Loch Lomond, woven by cottagers dedicated to their ancient craft."

When Britt nudged the shawl with her cheek, she began jumping up and down, yipping ecstatically. "Oh, thank God, they got it right after all. Happy wool that cost an arm and a leg,what could be more appropriate for adorable me?" Firmly overcoming my feeble struggles to keep my prize, she nestled in its folds, sighing with relief.

So I gave up the shawl. When we got home, she indicated with certain averted glances and delicate hesitations that she considered the puppy kibble inferior. By that time, it seemed completely natural to rush off to buy this graceful little creature the finest shaved deli beef and tender niblets of peachfed ham, luxuries which the humans in the household had never ventured to buy for themselves.

Things went on like that. And in the years that followed, unkind friends would sometimes ask me where Britt would fall in the mushing-the-serum-to-Nome scale. I'd answer that it was only Britt's body that was small; in spirit, she was an unstoppable Amazonian Goddess Queen. I would tell these doubters that I could easily see her standing on top of the rushing dog sled like a tiny lion, keeping the serum warm with her royal shawl. Her ears would be up and her dark eyes outshining the whiteout storms, and throughout the long days and nights she would never rest as she kept everybodies' spirits up by yapping lustily all the way to Nome.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Life's A Feast, and Sometimes You Have to Eat Big!

I don't know why it is that setting your teeth into a well-browned hunk of hog makes you feel good, but it works for me. For Thanksgiving and Christmas I want meat, and I don't mean a measly, puny, stunted portion, either. I want big, maddeningly fragrant mounds of steer, hog or bird, or maybe all three, drenched with gravy.

Holiday meats should be baked until all you have to do is gently nudge some critical joint, and the whole thing sweetly falls apart into neat little sheaves. This meat is not burned, it is charmed, and you can eat right through its coral bones.

I wonder what spiritual eunuch first banned "cooking odors" from the home? I want to smell that heavy hunters-and-gatherers food baking. Morning of the banquet day you put the standing rib roast or the big boss bird in the oven. If it's a turkey, I will have dipped a length of cheesecloth into a pound of melted butter and snugly wrapped up that tom; he's now our big gilded turkey baby. In the next hours, ragingly delicious smells expand in golden waves from the kitchen.

Then the best time of all comes: you sit down to eat the food you love the best, with those you love the best. A glass or two of crystal white wine, or potent red goes well with this--wines that are the soul of grape, so that they seem to kiss you back when you smack them. At the end, there are berry pies nestled in buttery crusts. In our family, there's also a hundred-year tradition of serving candied nuts in the same gorgeous china bowl. I'm sure you know there are saints' bones that are handled with less reverence than we lavish on that bowl.

Then everyone alternates sipping his or her dark, fine coffee and nibbling the brown-sugar-crusted nuts of the field. We look around the table at these faces that we love, and every one of us (even the agnostics) thinks, "Thank you, God!"