Thursday, December 29, 2011


Sometimes I’m reassured to know that I’ve married into the right family.  Every year at Christmas my sister-in-law Leyardia sends us a food parcel.  It contains a fruitcake and a Christmas pudding of her own making, along with some local produce, from where she lives, on Lopez Island, just off the coast of Washington state.

There are always some jars of Lopez Larry’s “Soon to be Famous” mustard sauces.  These are good things – there are ten flavors in all that include Smokey Chardonnay, 
Dill Caper and
 Roasted Pickled Garlic. However, as far as I can tell the level of Larry’s fame really hasn’t increased much over the decade or so that I’ve been eating his mustard, which I think is a shame, and this despite “Soon to be Famous” being a registered trademark.

Also this year as a special, and surprising treat, Leyardia also sent two cans of Papa George gourmet tuna, actually troll caught sashimi-grade, wild albacore, cooked in the finest extra virgin olive oil, if the can is to be believed.  I admit that the term “troll-caught” was a new one on me, but I now know that a troller is a small boat (somehow related to a trawler, I guess) on which fishermen use hook and line to catch fish one at a time, clean them and pack them in ice.  All this is super-environmentally friendly and obviously a very good thing.

Even so, I’d have thought there wasn’t much you could do to canned tuna to make it gourmet, but blow me down, this stuff is terrific, really solid, tasty but delicate, in fact rather like beautifully cooked fresh tuna, but in a can.  It seems way too good to put in a sandwich: I’m thinking salad Nicoise is the way to go. Here’s an illustration from the Papa George website showing how to fillet a tuna

But the real reason I thought I’d married into the right set of in-laws was the card that accompanied the parcel.  Leyardia and her husband Charlie had recently visited the Mutter Museum, belonging to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, a medical cabinet of curiosities, and also a chamber of horrors, full of skeletons, bodies in jars, casts of hideous deformities, and so on. The card she picked was this one:

The caption on the back reads “Mega Colon or Hirschprung’s Disease occurs when the nerve supply to a portion of the colon fails to develop.  The muscles receive no signals to contract and move waste through the system, causing chronic constipation that leads to overdevelopment of the colon.”

As Leyardia so wisely added, “Nothing says Christmas quite like a dried Mega Colon.” That’s my girl.


  1. THE Bruce Willis? Apparently not.

    "Expatiate" - 1: to enlarge in discourse or writing; be copious in description or discussion: to expatiate upon a theme.
    2. Archaic . to move or wander about intellectually, imaginatively, etc., without restraint. -

    Well yes, why not? Though I'm not really sure if that's what Bruce had in mind.

  2. This post is the reason I love your blog! Cheers for 2012! :-)