Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Food

Essence of Tuna, The Chart House (Source)
I have dreams about this dish. I yearn to repeat that experience. It was that good!
I like to eat as those who study the photos of me might surmise. As those who have met me in person can attest.

I am currently in the process of shedding my post-nicotine poundage. There was (is) a lot of it. At one point I weighed something like 50 pounds over my retirement weight. And that point was not that long ago!

No, this isn't part of the New Horizon Pluto flyby. Pluto is much smaller.
I think my buddy Daryl's hand is actually being affected by my gravitational field!

Since that photo back in March, I've shed around 25 pounds. Got more to go but I have only myself to blame.

Good recipe for gaining weight? Quit smoking after 35 years, go on travel, sit on one's derriere in the hotel watching HBO reruns and devastating the local supply of Oreo cookies. Guaranteed to pack on the fat. But don't try this at home, I'm what you call an "expert!"

But I want to talk about food, not the excess consumption thereof.

That opening photo shows a dish that I would have gone no where near when I was a kid. We were very much a meat and potatoes family growing up. Typical New England fare from what I've been told. Not a lot of steak mind you, that was (as it is now) expensive. But what my Mom could do with hamburger!

Her meatloaf is incredible, that was a meal I looked forward to every time she made it. Standard meatloaf ingredients (I suppose, for I am no cook, I can keep myself alive, but it ain't pretty), ground beef, my Mom would shred up some bread, toss in some chopped green olives and mash it all up. Bake for a while, then put tomato paste on top, pop it back in the oven and moments later, a delicious repast.

She also made a mighty fine shepherd's pie, though she didn't use mutton as is traditional, she used beef in that as well. Loved it.

One problem I had growing up is that my Dad loved liver and onions. Not my Dad's problem, mine. I despised liver and onions with every fiber of my being. Couldn't stand the smell of it cooking and couldn't stand the taste. No matter how much ketchup one poured upon it, it still tasted like liver. (Come on, we were kids, ketchup was de rigeur for us young 'uns. It was a staple of life.)

The first time we had liver, I refused to eat it. Dad was most unhappy that we disdained one of his favorite meals. The Olde Vermonter concurred with my assessment of the inedible nature of that particular cut of meat, so the two of us were "sent off."

Liver foul! (Pun intended.) (S0urce)

The second time was less traumatic, Mom made us bacon and onions.

That's right, I said bacon.

"Bbq bacon 003" by Kelapstick - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons (Source)

Delicious. (I think Dad was a little bit P.O.ed because he realized that bacon always trumps liver. Always.)

My point being (liver aside, yes, just take it outside, far away, far aside...) is that my tastes growing up were rather domestic. Tasty but bland to folk used to more exotic food.

When I first went to Taco Bell (don't laugh, it's what we neophytes do when first entering the world) I was horrified at just how spicy it was! Lord I thought my mouth was on fire.

Of course, it was nothing of the sort. It was the sort of spicy that a real Mexican, Thai or Korean would not even notice. In other words, not hot at all. Tame, if not outright lame.

As my travels widened I sampled the varieties that each culture had to offer.

Korean food, love it. I'm not a big rice guy but when The Missus Herself starts working in the kitchen, I know I'm in for a treat. When the kids come home, or when Mom visits them, Korean food is always on the menu.

German food, love it. When I say German food, I mean schnitzel and the various varieties of wurst (sausage). One thing I tried in Germany which was tasty, but I'm not sure I'd try it again, is saumagen. I didn't think it was anything like haggis, which I enjoyed back in the day.

Of course there's only one way to eat haggis and that's at a Burn's Night dinner with a dram of good whiskey by your plate and a good piper in the background. (FWIW, they don't call it Scotch in Scotland. It's just whiskey. Truth be told, these days I lean towards Jameson's Irish whiskey. When I have a couple or three, I really start to lean!)

Another New England thing is clams, deep fried, steamed and stuffed and what-have-you. I loves me some clams, especially fried, whole bellies, none of this clam strip stuff. (Sorry WSO.)

What's that, all you have is strips?

I'll take them (reluctantly, sigh...)

But no bellies beats no clams. But if I have my druthers...

Lobstah is also big in these parts. (That's right, lobstah, I know how it's spelled but it is what it is. 'Kay?)

Personally I don't like rasslin' with my food so I go for what we call "lazy man's lobstah." Someone else breaks all the good stuff out of the shell and dumps it in a bath of melted butter. That way I get to eat the bug and not have him eyeballin' me all through dinner.

Calamari, I'll eat it prepared about any old way you choose but I prefer it in olive oil with chopped banana peppers and black olives. Just the rings please, just the rings.

"Are you gonna eat that?"

"No, that's a tentacle."

"Shame to see that go to waste..." Munch, munch munch...

Southwestern food, Tex-Mex, BBQ, shrimp and grits, dirty grits, bangers and mash, fresh peas from the garden, lima beans, Brussels Sprouts, sauerkraut, kimchi (particularly the cucumber variety), swordfish, tuna, baked beans, hot dogs and beans, pot roast, clam chowder, coconut shrimp, fried scallops, scallops Nantucket...

The list is nearly endless.

Pie. I love pie.

Strawberry rhubarb, pumpkin, cherry, apple, blueberry, oh my word I love pie.

Best apple pie ever? My grandmother made one for us when she visited us out in Omaha. Gram was a heck of a fine cook but this pie set the standard for all apple pies before and since. She found these apples which were slightly sweet and slightly tart, they didn't go all mushy in the pie but held their texture nicely. My mouth waters when I think of that pie.

Best pie ever, apple or otherwise? A blueberry pie that The Nuke and The WSO made just after we retired from the Air Force. They picked the berries themselves (my grandmother of apple pie fame took them berrying) and on the way home they picked up all the stuff they would need to bake a blueberry pie. It was superb. The crust was exquisite and the blueberries were fit for an emperor. Another pie whose remembrance makes me drool.

Ah, food.

It's no wonder I have trouble with my weight!

28 comments:

  1. No fair! I was perfectly okay until I read this and now I'm craving food and it's only 7:30! I guess I'm going to have to drift over to
    the college food court and grab some vittles.

    My Dad was a rancher so beef was not expensive for us. In fact, Dad was always giving beef away because we always had
    more than the family could eat. And mom served up everything - the best beef cuts as well as brains, tongue, liver, heart and
    mountain oysters and liver was one of my favorites. But as you say, bacon trumps liver. Actually for me, bacon trumps just
    about everything!!

    Having been raised eating beef just about every day of the week, my preference (except for bacon) is seafood and I envy
    you living on the coast where you get seafood that's fresh out of the ocean. That's the biggest thing I miss about living
    in Florida - fresh seafood! I will tilt a bottle of Moose Drool this evening to you and wish for you a fresh plate of whatever
    is your current favorite!!

    P.S. - The weight issue affects us all. When you knew me at Kadena I was 6'2" and weighed in at 110 lbs. I just had
    my yearly physical yesterday and Doc congratulated me for the weight I've lost. His comment was "You're doing good,
    you're down to 204 lbs."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heck yeah, you were thin as a rail back in the day.

      While I was never "thin as a rail" I have never been as humongous as I was a few short months ago.

      I love food too much!

      Funny thing about the growing up with beef so your preference is now seafood, The DIL's dad is a lobsterman out of Cape Cod. They grew up eating lobster all the time, now she can't stand the sight of one, let alone eat it!

      We never had too much of anything to get tired of it.

      Though I think I can safely say that my kids are not real fond of Hamburger Helper to this day. We ate a lot of that when they were young!

      Cheeseburger Macaroni is my personal favorite. Kids won't touch it.

      Delete
    2. Cheeseburger Macaroni - still like it from my single days although the wife won't eat it or any other 'helper meal.
      But that's because she's a great cook. Me, I got to keep it simple or I don't eat. That's why I was so skinny back
      in the day!!

      Delete
    3. Heh. I LOVE Cheeseburger Macaroni still.

      I may have to buy some of that the next time The Missus Herself heads out West. Which will be next month for the Big Event.

      Delete
  2. S**t, there went my diet. Again. I'm with you except I really don't care much for "Organ meat"--except in haggis and souse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure I could tolerate souse, knowing what's in it. Then again, given enough alcohol (and maybe ketchup, perhaps a good hot mustard in this case) I'll try anything at least once.

      Delete
  3. I gained 4 pounds reading this.

    Working on my 20+ post nicotine weight. Dropping slow but sure...sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Similar diet growing up. Didn't like fish at all (shellfish excepted) until assigned to Hawaii. Talk about a change in taste! That first picture of the tuna brought back memories, and at first I thought we'd been to the same restaurant. There was a restaurant called The Chart House in Ward Warehouse in Waikiki. Mrs. Juvat and I used to frequent it for their black and blue Ahi. A block of tuna cut like a stick of butter, only bigger, blackened Cajun style, then seared quickly on high heat, served with a soy sauce and butter emulsion. Man, was that good!
    Unfortunately, the restaurant is not there any longer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Chart House is a chain of restaurants, currently with 28 locations across the Continental US, there used to be one in Little Rhody so I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't use to be in Hawaii as well. You can Google "The Chart House" to get to their website which lists menus, locations and more.

      Texas has one in San Antonio. :)

      Yeah, they do tuna really well.

      Delete
  5. Share your distaste for liver. Grew up eating venison and elk. Hunting season? What's that?. We ate trout year around. Catch a lot, freeze them in a pan of water then wrap the ice block. Our chest freezer was my parent's best investment. Raised our own beef. I will not willingly eat mutton. My mother loved it, boiled.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Back in the day out West, hunting season was whatever day you were hungry. It was like that in certain areas in the back hills in New England.

      Had my share of venison back in the day, prefer beef but roasted deer heart is delicious. IIRC.

      Delete
  6. My mom always fixed bacon with liver.
    The ol' man was the only one who liked liver... but then he like ox tail soup, among other delicacies, like lutefisk.

    Like Joe, I gained about 4 pounds reading this post.
    Also like Joe, I need to lose about 20 post smoking pounds ...or more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh...
      I should mention that I liked liver and onions one time.
      Back in about 1984 I went elk hunting in Colorado with a friend.
      He filled his tag on opening day.
      The second day we had fresh elk liver with onions and potatoes.
      I was like nothing I have ever enjoyed before ...and maybe since.

      Delete
    2. The post-smoking pounds, usually way more than the "freshman 15" as I recall.

      Delete
    3. I did try liver and onions once as an adult.

      Still hated it. Though I'm pretty sure it was NOT elk liver. Someday I might give that a shot.

      Delete
  7. Liver is a digestive organ. It begins digesting itself when the blood stops flowing. I'll leave it to your imagination why it's commonly paired with pungent onion.

    Nevertheless, fresh (and by fresh I mean immediately post-mortem) liver is delightful. Raw is best, quickly seared is acceptable. Don't need no stinkin' onions then.

    https://youtu.be/uCHfoVCG0H0

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looking at that clip I think the liver was actually tuna. Also a good thing Loo-Tent-Tant DumbBear had the nuclear boolets in his Henry.

      Delete
    2. Raw liver? Are you serious Dances With Coyotes?

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    3. Absolutely. Think ahi grade tuna vs starkist. Not the same thing at all.

      Delete
    4. My favorite line from that movie, which I use on kounty kommisars all the time:

      "Ne taku, na pische, neelo. Wachoeay. Inishi pi pische neelo!."

      Translation: "I have nothing to say to you. You are not worth talking to."

      Delete
  8. We're not 21 anymore... And neither is our metabolism... dammit...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I approach 3 times that age, I realize I have a third the metabolism I used to have.

      Dammit aye!

      Delete
  9. What's Burn's Night Dinner? There are some plaques around the building here that say Burn's Supper, but I have no clue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Burns Night is held on or about January 25th and marks the annual celebration of Scotland's national poet Robert Burns.

      We Celts like to gather and eat traditional fare, listen to the pipes and drink whiskey. Typically the national dress is worn as well. Think kilt.

      As to "dinner" versus "supper" - while there is probably a distinction, growing up we used the two terms synonymously. Much to my grandmother's chagrin.

      So Burn's Supper would be the eating event held on or about January 25th.

      Leave off the apostrophe and it's my Native American name. (Technically it's Burns Mashed Potatoes but you get my drift.)

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)