Monday, May 11, 2009

"Jerk Chicken" ... wait, what?

On this trip to New Orleans, I have made quite the glutton of myself, (le oink) having had many extraordinary meals in beautifully appointed private homes and swanky five star restaurants, and last evening was no exception.
I was treated to a delightful meal across the rue from Chez Moose, at Palazzo Petrol, the home of Madame Peu de Joie Petrol And her adorable companion and bodyguard Chevalier Petrol. (Hi-Octane to his friends) We were a small group this particular evening, just the Petrols' and I, and her Parentals, "Dotty" with her husband La vie de Brian. (Once again I was lucky enough to find myself on the receiving end of Mme. Dotty's unyielding passion and heart-touching devotion to subjects not usually known to mere mortals, outside of The Vatican Library) Even though The Petrols' were in the middle of having their entire first floor of said palace renovated, Mme P. was able to prepare and present a fabulous meal, with her own tiny well manicured hands, fab picnic fare -a ton of food, with a sort of nouvelle jerk chicken and brazenly large sausages as prime players in this particular made for TV movie- AND all this without actually having a kitchen at the time, it's the damndest thing, how do people do it? -I will tell you all about the duck a l'orange made on the grill some other time. (And show you the scars.)

It seems like, over the years, I have spent the better part of my leisure time at the table. I am very lucky to not only have a very keen sense of smell and taste- blame it on the lycanthropy- I am also blessed to have a handful of close friends that are quite handy in the kitchen. (it is a well documented fact that some of the best meals I have had prepared and beautifully presented to my grateful snout have been made by Monsieur Moose) The fact that a number of our planets most incredible restaurants happen to be in my own home town of New Orleans does not come as a surprise, as an appreciation for all matter of things that pertain to the five senses seems to be in the blood of this cities citizens.
It is not unusual at the least for a meal to last at least six hours here, for it was not that long ago there were ten meals eaten throughout the day, breakfast, elevenses, lunch, luncheon, tiffin, high tea, tea, dinner, supper and a midnight snack, so naturally we tend to just stay at the table for as long as possible, call it a habit.
In other places where the cuisine is less than stellar, I think playing with food is the reason that dining in restaurants has become more popular. Playing with food is a psychologically powerful way of attracting attention to yourself, other than cleavage. Restaurants are better places to attract attention to yourself than at friends' homes are, anyway because you usually know in advance who is going to be at a friend's home, and one is always excited to perform to a fresh audience, no?
Practically anyone could be at a restaurant, and if you attract enough attention in a restaurant, maybe a rich and beautiful person will give you money or sex. Or cake, which is better.
Where as a food fight is considered rude -and downright dangerous if you run with a fast crowd- playing with food is easy, there are so many wonderful props at hand. Breathes there a man with a soul so dead that he us immune to the charms of blowing air through a straw, making tiny gin and tonic bubbles? And what of the theatrical possibilities of a plate full of fried calamari? Even bank presidents and pontiffs have been know to put the tentacles up to their noses and pretend that they are the monstrous Cthulhu and the garlic bread is the church of Rome.
But playing with food must be done correctly or it will lead to social disaster.
The secret to successful sport with foodstuffs is the correct attitude. The act itself needs to be fast, loud and enthusiastic. You must make your high spirit contagious before anyone has time for second thoughts, second thoughts usually consist of calling the police.
But if your timing and attitude is right, you can floor the crowd with a quick performance, like putting a lettuce leaf mane around the neck of your date, hold him or her at bay with your chair and command them to leap upon the table and rear up on their hind legs- everyone will think it's great fun.

Here are some other ideas to stoke the imagination:
*Use steamed mussels as castanets, slip sugar bowls over the toes of your shoes and perform, in a flamenco style, the seductive Seguidilla ("Près des remparts de Séville") from Carmen.
*If everyone is having beef, run around the table and try and put the cow back together while singing the "Cow-cow Boogie".
*Use any roast bird as a hand puppet, you can achieve startling realistic results by jamming you thumb and forefinger into the wing sockets- point out that the bird has lost it head and either use that as an excuse to have it run around the table pinching the guests noses, or supply the bird with a head using one of the other diners baked potato, then pretend that she is a young black girl in need of a fresh weave. (use vermicelli if available) If an encore is warranted there is always "The Chicken Dance"
*Pretend you are former president Bush (sr.) and illustrate the Persian gulf strategy on the napkin in someones lap. asparagus spears are capital ships; chunks of boeuf bourguignon are air to surface missiles, etc. (if there are any Vietnam vets in the crowd you can use the Sterno from under the chaffing dish to recreate the effects of napalm) Temper your battle plan by the age of the crowd.
*Hang a grilled trout on the wall like a trophy and make your fellow guest pose with it, or better yet stand on the table and re-enact landing it with an umbrella and a shoelace.
*Gather up veal scallops and have an impromptu game of cards- sauce Milanese is trump.
*Use a raw oyster to show a fellow diner what it would be like to French kiss a reptile. Or your 5th grade math teacher, ah, Brother Joseph, toujours plaisant... (caution: can get very "9 1/2 Weeks" very quickly)
*Porterhouse steaks make excellent Frisbees.
*Perform Baptisms or Exorcisms with the water from the finger bowl. You can also re-enact the manicure scene from "The Women". (do both the Olga and the Mary Haines parts for hilarious results)

The list is endless, let imagination rather than taste be your guide.
To your health.

Lethal Weapon
1 shot Bacardi® 151 rum
2 shots vodka
1 can La Casera (a traditional Spanish brand of soda)
dash triple sec
Combine all ingredients into a tall glass and serve with ice.

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zeitgeist, particular friend, perky libertine, animated trickster, iconoclast, rabble-rouser, object of worship, provocateur, capricious damp enchantress, idiosyncratic beloved reptile, whimsical saucy booze hound, bellwether, luminary, stoic, pensive illicit paramour, aloof, engaged, intuitive, curious, perplexing deranged mastermind, passionate, lasciviously adored offspring, amorous, sultry flamboyant charioteer, scholar, scribe, exalted thespian, voracious, considerable chieftain, impaired, cynical colleague, dreamer, procrastinator, loathsome glutton, artist, oppressed peasant, dainty heathen, narcissist, self-loathing...renaissance man