27 January 2009
*Unless you’re a Bengals fan, in which case, there’s not.
Remember when you were a kid and August rolled around, and you knew that Summer was almost over? So you’d try to enjoy the remaining free days of vacation, but you’d still have a little sadness over the fact that you’d soon be returning to school? So your dad would take out that rubber hose from his dresser drawer and beat you with it to really give you something to cry about? And then your mom would console you by saying something like “You really shouldn’t test your father like that, he already thinks the wrong son died in that river”? Yeah, that’s kind of how I feel every year at this time when my beloved NFL is only two weeks away from leaving me for another interminable hiatus.
I love the NFL, and the off-season always marks a desolate, lonely, depressing time in my year. No more excuses to start drinking at 9:00 a.m. No more being able to let off steam by throwing remote controls and punching holes in walls and innocent bystanders. No more having to curl up in the fetal position, crying myself to sleep after another Bengals loss. Ah, how I’ll miss it… But, much like that fifth grader who tries to squeeze as much enjoyment as possible out of those last weeks of summer, we still have the Super Bowl to look forward to. As everyone expected at the beginning of this season, Super Bowl XLII will feature the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Cheating Cocksuckers Who Also Probably Don’t Believe The Holocaust Happened.
Like most right-thinking Americans, I hate Pittsburgh with a raging intensity that makes even my boners jealous. This, of course, is going to mean that watching the Super Bowl will be insufferable, especially since I’m pretty sure the Steelers will be adding another ring to their collection. They can put it right next to the one they got in ’05 after insidiously taking an ACL-crushing cheap shot against Carson Palmer in the wild card game. I’m picking the Steelers to win this game, mostly because I looked in-depth at the stats surrounding both competitors and discovered that the other team in the game is fucking Arizona.
Pittsburgh’s inevitable collection on some pact it made with Satan notwithstanding, the Super Bowl, regardless of the teams involved, offers an opportunity for one last Sunday of gluttonous snack food consumption and wonderful booze drinking. Whether you’re at home, alone, making the commute to Black-Out Island, or at a friend’s house, trying your hardest to ensure that you get every ounce’s worth of free hootch, the Super Bowl truly is a great booze holiday. But it’s not just about the sauce, my friends! No, there are numerous fatty snacks to wolf down, as well. Because, let’s face it – when else are you going to make pigs in a blanket? If you said “every Tuesday evening before Gossip Girl,” you’re my kind of person. And a homo. What follows is a humble list of some of the spirits, snacks, and other accoutrement that will be sure to make any Super Bowl party a success.
I don’t know what brilliant son of a bitch invented these things, but I hope he’s now somewhere in heaven, punching Robert Atkins in the face. When I was a little kid, I held T.G.I.Fridays in the same esteem I currently hold such restaurants as The French Laundry, merely because I considered potato skins to be the height of the culinary arts. Oh, sure, is the combination of carbs, cheese, bacon, and sour cream a bit gouche, in reality? Aren’t potato skins merely bar food? Yeah, they are, but they still rule your face, so shove it.
Most booze has a built-in deterrent in the form of the treacherous and insidious hangover. Margaritas, the nefarious bastards, also like to mix in their own special kind of evil in the form of wicked, unrelenting heart burn. And they’re fucking worth it! No superbowl party is complete without a giant pitcher of margaritas (tequila, triple sec, and lime juice), ice, and salt. Not only will margaritas get you so fucked up that the mere sight of Hines Ward no longer makes you want to fire bomb that Vietnamese Soul Food restaurant down the street, but, in addition, the dames will flock to them like the salmon of Capistrano. They’ll probably get so drunk that you can save your roofies for next weekend!
If I were the head of Peta and wanted to woo people to vegetarianism, I would simply use as a slogan “Vegetarianism: You Can Still Eat Nachos!” Boom! Everyone’s a vegetarian. Nachos (or, as I like to call them, “Mexican Bruschetta”) were invented by some dude with the eerily similar-sounding name “Ignacio,” in 1947. Some white guy was going to invent them first, but Ignacio did it for half the price. While there are many ways to make nachos using myriad cheeses and sauces, I like my nachos simply with a demure drowning of cheese product – you can save the real cheese for your viewing party when Milk comes out on DVD, Liberace. For our purposes, drown the chips in fake cheese, top with jalapenos, and then, all of a sudden think to yourself: “Holy Fucking Shit… What if we made these nachos with… Doritos?!?!?!?” No need to thank me when you win the Nobel Prize.
I have drunk about everything known to man, in my time: absinthe, mescal, actual moonshine, the blood of my vanquished enemies, sweat from a Japanese girl’s underwear that I bought on-line… But nothing has offended my palate quite like the unholy union of anise and ass funk that is Jagermeister. I honestly don’t get it when a guy brings a bottle of this swill to a party and expects everyone to be grateful. “Oh, thanks, Jared (they always have the worst names), good to see you brought the Jagermeister! And I was worried that we were all out of emetics! What? What’s that? I can’t hear you when I have my foot on your throat.” Seriously, is there any reason to like a person who likes the Jag? I’m not going to say something derivative like “You know who else likes Jagermeister? Nazis!” But, seriously, people who like Jagermeister probably want to kill Jews and burn their corpses in ovens. Then lose a war because of bad strategic decisions made in Berlin, rather than allowing those decisions to be made close to the front lines. In other words, they’re a lot like Nazis.
Another great excuse to brave the douchebag menagerie that occupies most Super Bowl parties is the myriad dips that most assuredly await you. Hummus, french onion, salsa, and hummus are all delicious additions to any party buffet. As are those little cocktail franks one sets afloat in a sea of smoky barbecue sauce. Finally, if you don’t have one of them big ass sandwiches from the deli at your Super Bowl party, it’s a known fact your favorite team will go at least four games under .500 next season. Way to go for the last 18 seasons, Bengals fans! Finally (Part II), I have omitted Buffalo wings from this list, because their inclusion in it should be self evident. If you don’t have Buffalo wings at your house this Sunday, you should immediately kill yourself. Do us all a favor and take a Steelers fan out with you. Or five.
17 January 2009
The Midwest, United States of America. A shocked public was shocked this past week by the shocking news that beloved chef, blogger, and inventor of the HAM radio, The Chef’s Prerogative, had passed away while visiting his parents in the Midwest over the holidays. Details were sketchy at first, and initial reports of excessive Skyline Chili consumption as the cause of death proved exaggerated, if only slightly. It was only today that Midwest coroner, Dr. Kenneth Noisewater, delivered the details surrounding the demise of the internet sensation and notorious woman-pleaser. “Unfortunately,” Dr. Noisewater concluded, “The Chef’s Prerogative, though handsome and virile, succumbed to an acute case of ‘Holy Shit, It’s Really Fucking Cold Here.'” Noisewater answered no questions at the press conference, but did end the proceedings with a final, cryptic, note: “One wonders,” he ruminated, “why such a handsome and virile chef, so adroit at concocting delicious and delectable fare, would not have attempted to steel himself against the cold with a fortifying dish of stew or soup.” Then, after a lengthy pause, continued: “Well, now I’m really hungry for soup.”
Interviews with witnesses to the comings-and-goings of the Doug Beard award* winner were less than helpful in painting a picture of the chef in his final, bone-chilled days. “I saw him in here at the pool hall the other day,” said one heavily tattooed man, “and I don’t know how that pretty-boy cooked, but he sure could play a mean game of 9-ball.” “You know that movie The Color of Money?” the man continued, “Where that guy goes around with that broad and that old guy, hustling people? Well, I can tell you right now that The Chef’s Prerogative was even prettier than that broad.” When reached for comment, the people who knew him best, his parents, were introspective. “I’m sorry, who are we talking about, now?” said his father, before being apprised of the situation. “Does this mean we can stop sending him money?” His mother was more optimistic, and looked towards the future: “At least now he has an opportunity to fulfill his dream of becoming a zombie samurai. And not one of those slow George Romero zombies, either; I’m talking a 28 Days Later, Usain Bolt-speed zombie. With a samurai sword.” Fans and deciples of the blogger no doubt eagerly anticipate his zombie reign. His sweet, sweet zombie reign.
If the above scenario frightened you to your very core, then I have done my job – I have adequately warned you of the dangers of what the NOAA calls “Freezing Your Balls Off.” Tens of millions die from this affliction every year, and while there’s no known cure, there are some simple steps one can take to ensure that one won’t end up a statistic**: (1) moving to Malibu; (2) drinking scotch; (3) if you’re a pretty lady, putting your hands somewhere warm, like down my pants; (4) killing yourself; and/or (5) fortifying your constitution with a hearty meal of meat, gravy, and meat. Since you’re already on a food blog, let’s explore that last one in depth, shalln’t we?
Speaking from experience, living or visiting cold environments, while not without its charms, is far from ideal. Sure you get drunk more quickly when you’re up in the Rockies, but if you pass out on your walk home from the bar, you die. Likewise, Christmas in Chicago is a treat for the senses; or at least it would be if your senses didn’t have frostbite. And, while Michigan gets to enjoy watching an actual college football team once a year every November, they also have to live knowing that the cold they experience is God turning its back on their terrible state. Regardless of the location, being in the cold requires special maintenance through dress, drink, and, more pertinent to the interests of this blog, food. A good, hearty meal goes a long way toward not only fortifying the body, but also soothing the soul weary of bone-chilling temperatures. And, as a registered scientist, I can rightly say that goulash, of all the hearty recipes I know, scores highest on the “Food-Based Physiological Fortification” scale.
If you’ve ever been to Hungary, you no doubt have an acute awareness as to why goulash became the country’s national dish. Gray skies, sub-freezing temperatures, and killing tourists for sport all cry out for a stick-to-your ribs meal at the end of the day. And, if the cold weather and specter of Communism aren’t enough incentive to make goulash, the fact that its main ingredient is pork butt should. Plus, are you really going to argue about food with a country named “Hungary”?***
Russle You Up Some Of These Here Ingredients:
Chilies and Peppers
Seasoning: smoked paprika, Nick Caraway seeds, Oregano, Salt, Pepper
San Marzano tomatoes
Red wine vinegar
Rice (basmati is good, mostly because “basmati” is fun to say)
Commence With The Making Warm Of The Belly:
I don’t know why I keep subjecting you to recipes which take a brillion hours to make, but it’s not like you have anything better to do, Mr. I’ve-Watched-The-ShamWow-Infomercial-Twenty-Five-Times, so maybe simmer down a little, mkay? Make yourself a pitcher of martinis, put on some Count Basie, and while away a few hours on a cold, cloudy day by manufacturing a big pot of delicious. The first thing we need to do is score the fat on the pork. I give mine a “9.8,” but feel free to assess yours according to its own individual characteristics. Once your pork is scored, season it with salt and pepper, and put it fat side down in an oiled dutch oven, all the while thinking about how dirty that sounded. Cook for about 15 minutes on medium, then remove the pork and set it aside. Toss in your other seasonings, along with diced onion, and cook over low heat for ten minutes. Put the pork back in the pot and add the peppers and tomatoes. Add enough water to just cover the pork, and bless it with a little vinegar. Bring to a boil, put the lid on, then throw the pot in an oven preheated to 177 degrees, Celsius.
In about three hours or so, you’re going to realize a few things: (1) vodka martinis are fucking delicious; (2) your home is now perfumed with the wonderful aroma of pork and peppers; (3) you definitely should not have called your ex girlfriend after all those martinis; and (4) the movie Major League is maybe the best movie ever made about the Cleveland Indians and their ex-showgirl-turned-owner, Rachel Phelps, and their improbable run to the 1989 AL Pennant. Make some rice in a pot (unless you have one of those fancy rice cookers, in which case, go punch yourself in the face – only because I can’t do it through the internet.) Make a flavor-packed condiment by taking some sour cream and adding lemon zest and parsley; this will not only give your goulash a nice, creamy texture, but will also make it taste like sour cream, lemon zest, and parsley. To plate, take your pulled-apart meat, the rice, and your sour cream mixture, and throw all that shit on a plate (after all, hungary is to stylish plating as I am to not calling ex girlfriends after too many martinis.) Then sit back with a nice big helping of your goulash, stoke the fire, and give your tummy a great, big food hug.
*James’ lesser known brother.
**Unless you’re going to be included in a statistic like “Number of People Who Died By Drowning In A Sea Of Gravure Models.” Because that would be an awesome statistic to be. In fact, One out of every one The Chef’s Prerogative believes that this very scenario is the best way to die.
***You’ve gotta be kidding me if you thought this blog was above such an obvious and unfunny joke. After all, I majored in “obvious and unfunny” at blog school