Tuesday, December 30, 2014


"And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them."

          That's God saying that, not me: Jeremiah 19.9.  The image is from the movie Cannibal Ferox.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Christmas was also enlivened with some non-traditional fare brought back from Arizona.

First the giant bag of Dos Ranchitos Fried Pork Rinds.  You may be able to see that they designated “snack style” but as opposed to what? Main course style? Banquet style?  Before opening the bag I feared they looked a bit pale and puffy (conceivably even low fat) and I feared they might be a bit bland, but no, not at all.  Yes they are quite airy but that means they melt in the mouth (who doesn’t want a mouth full of melted pork skin?) and they leave a rich lingering flavor across the palate.  Result.

And I know a lot of people like their pork skins picante.  For them there’s this little feller, the man from Whoop Ass Chipotle Fire Hot Sauce, bought at a roadside attraction called The Thing.

And finally there’s this, bought in the Del Sol Market in Yuma: a can of razor clams.  I had never seen canned razor clams before (they come from Peru) and I’m not a hundred per cent sure what to do with them, but the current plan is to make some razor clam bisque.  That may be a project for the New Year - I’ll keep you posted.

Friday, December 26, 2014


It was Christmas.  We smoked a duck. (Brined, vinegar and maple syrup mop, 


And we also smoked some quail. (Buttermilk brined, applewood again).

And then we made some mince pies.  (Crosse and Blackwell mincemeat).

As the blessed Anthony Powell would put it, “They ate. The food was good.”

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


And as year’s end approaches there’s the above, which I’ve only just now seen on the Twittersphere, though I think it’s probably been there since May or so.   I have no idea who took the picture.  It’s me on the left and top photographer Stuart Wall on the right, having a so-so pub lunch in Lewisham, in London.  I find it both hilarious and oddly touching; my expression of insouciant concern, Stuart’s fierce yet tender concentration on his peas.  I'd finished my own peas, and in fact also fish and chips, a long time earlier, since the service was, if we're being polite, amazingly patchy.  Oh England.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


The Loved One and I are just back our now customary pre-Christmas desert road trip, a lot of driving, a lot of walking, a lot of eating.  Hey, what else is there?

The most startling thing I ate was a taco salad, at the Gadsden Hotel, in Douglas Arizona; that's a postcard of it above.  The Gadsden is one of those once great, classic, now careworn, but still sort of magnificent, hotels, right by the Mexican border..  This one has huge a marble staircase leading to a wall of Tiffany stained glass depicting desert scenes.  And there’s a restaurant called El Conquistador.  

Mexican cooks have solved the problem of how to make a 2000 calorie salad – you serve a lot of fried ground beef and refried beans in a deep fried taco, shaped to form a bowl.  I’d had them before but never one in this eye-popping color.

The lovely, stressed, over-apologetic waitress explained the taco was made with sun-dried tomatoes.  And so we sent the rest of the trip going into supermarkets looking for them, and failing miserably.

I suppose a lot of people would imagine that by this point in my life I’d have already eaten testicles.  But until this trip I hadn’t. I lost by cherry at the Old Pueblo Grill in Tucson, where they were on the menu, described as “Rocky Mountain Oysters, Breaded 'Cowboy Caviar,' horseradish cocktail sauce.”  They came looking like this:

I had imagined one mighty gland sitting on a plate but in fact they were (so-to-speak) nuggetted, and frankly a bit over-breadcrumbed. If you’re the kind of person who eats with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls, then there are no great surprises lurking in a testicle, though it was softer than I’d imagined it would be, more like the texture of a brain or a sweetbread.  To be honest, now that I think about it, I'm not entirely sure what critter gave up the ghost to provide this appetizer; a bull I suppose, but I'm not 100 per cent certain. I feel there’s probably more research to be done here.

The motel room where we stayed in Blythe had a menu for the nearby, recently opened restaurant, the Red Cactus Bar and Grill, featuring the Desert Dry Martini, a fairly standard martini but with a blue cheese stuffed olive in it.  We hurried on down there and discovered that the menu has been tweaked.  No desert martini on the menu, though our bartender, Taylor, made a perfectly good dry martini that looked like this.

The most intriguing restaurant I didn’t eat at was Carter’s Drive In, in Wilcox. Arizona.  Who can argue with a larger than life cartoon fiberglass figure, actually swaying and pivoting in the wind.  The place was closed when I was there but not closed down, I think.

But one that actually had closed down was the Desert Center Café, in the town of Desert Center, in California.

We actually ate there a long time ago and I know we had a very odd grilled cheese sandwich, though at this point I can’t recall what was so odd about it.  There was a guy across the street picking up his mail at the post office and we talked to him and he told us the place had closed down 5 years ago and that “It wasn’t that good.”  He was right about that.  It wasn’t great, but it was there.  And the magnificent sign still is, though I’m not sure how long for.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


On sale in a Los Angeles supermarket just down the road from here.  Who doesn't need a 

little extra in the finger department?

Thursday, December 11, 2014


This just in from purveyor of quality fiction, and my amico (he lives in Italy) Matthew Licht; it’s a passage from the novel The Professional  by W.C. HeinzMatthew says he pretty much shares Ernest Hemingway's opinion, and personally I'm not sure I've ever read ANY boxing novel, so who am I to judge?  The passage in question runs thus:

"No matter how sad this character is," Dave said, "he makes a good dry murder."
"He should. He's an expert."
"He is?"
"Yes. When he was drinking he had enough of those to fill this lake out here."
"He never should have stopped."
"A doctor scared him. He used to drink them out of milk bottles."
"Who?" Dave said. "The doctor?"
"No, Girot."
"Please," Fred said. "Drinking martinis out of milk bottles. Don't spoil these."
"Are you kidding about that?"
"No. Years ago there was a dinner here one night. The Lions Club, or something in town, was having its annual Volksfest or bonspiel or whatever, and Girot made up a batch of martinis in milk bottles beforehand. He had them in the refrigerator behind the bar, and when he came down the next morning he remembered one bottle was left. So, in the course of one day, he got to sneaking that. He told me about it once, when he was still drinking, and I used to see him nip the bottle. He got to like them that way. He always had a bottle of them in there--and banged them like that, right out of it."
"Now I like them less than ever," Fred said. "What a way to treat a martini."
"I know what you mean," Dave said. "The dry martini--to be sipped from shell-thin, prefrosted glasses in the quiet dignity of the Ritz's men's bar late of a sparkling autumn afternoon."
"Precisely," I said. "It has always seemed to me that the dry martini is the épée of alcoholic weapons, to be handled as such."
"No. The épée in the armory of alcohol."

 As you may know, I’m of the belief that two small martinis always beats one big martini, but to each his own.  And of course, I have a terrible feeling that there are a great many “young people” out there who don’t realize that milk ever came in bottles.