the gumbo pages

looka, <'lu-k&> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look", in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans; usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something.  

2. --n. Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news, movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, rants, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.

Please feel free to contribute a link if you think I'll find it interesting.   If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.

Page last tweaked @ 11:20am PDT, 7/31/2004

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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

-- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), speaking in 1918

"There ought to be limits to freedom."

-- George W. Bush, May 21, 1999

"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier."

-- George W. Bush, describing what it's like to be governor of Texas, Governing Magazine, July 1998

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

-- George W. Bush,, December 18, 2000

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."

-- George W. Bush, Business Week, July 30, 2001

Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004

2003:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2002:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2001:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2000:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

Regime change for America, 2004.

Kick 'em out!

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Buy stuff!

You can get Gumbo Pages designs on T-shirts, mugs and mousepads at The Gumbo Pages Swag Shop!

Friends with pages:

mary katherine
pat and paul
tracy and david

Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)
   Broadcast schedule
   "Down Home" playlist
   Live MP3 audio stream

   Subscribe to the
   "Down Home" weekly
   playlist email service

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream
   (Comprehensive listings)

Air America Radio
   (Talk radio for the
   rest of us)
Joe Frank
Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
   (Lafayette, LA)
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
   (Science fiction radio)
Radio Free New Orleans
Raidió na Gaeltachta
   (Irish language)
RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Cocktail hour:

The Sazerac Cocktail
   (The sine qua non
   of cocktails.)

   (A work in progress, by
   Martin Doudoroff &
   Ted Haigh)

Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Menu
   (A few things we like to
   drink at home, plus a couple    we don't, just for fun.)

The Alchemist
   (Paul Harrington)

Alcohol (and how to mix it)
   (David Wondrich)

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

DrinkBoy and the
   Community for the
   Cultured Cocktail
   (Robert Hess, et al.)

DrinkBoy's Cocktail Weblog

Happy Hours
   (Beverage industry
   news & insider info)
King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte
   (All about absinthe
   from Kallisti et al.)
   (Ladies United for the
   Preservation of
   Endangered Cocktails)

Fine Spirits & Cocktails
   (eGullet's forum)

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails
   (Sando, LaDove,
   Swanky et al.)

Nat Decants
   (Natalie MacLean)
   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

Vintage Cocktails
   (Daniel Reichert)

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily

Food-related weblogs:
Hacking Food
Honest Cuisine
KIPlog's FOODblog
Mise en Place
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu

More food!
à la carte
Chef Talk Café
Food Network
The Global Gourmet
A Muse for Cooks
The Online Chef
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
Zagat Guide

Click here for a new daily recipe from Chef Emeril!
In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine

Wally's Wine and Spirits

The Wine House

The Wine Spectator

Wine Today

Reading this month:

One Voice: My Life in Song, by Christy Moore.

The Ultimate Egoist: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Vol. I", by Theodore Sturgeon.

Humans, by Robert J. Sawyer.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

Luka Bloom
La Bottine Souriante
Billy Bragg
Cordelia's Dad
Jay Farrar
Sonny Landreth
Los Lobos
Christy Moore
Nickel Creek
The Old 97s
Anders Osborne
The Proclaimers
Red Meat
The Red Stick Ramblers
The Reivers
Zachary Richard
Paul Sanchez
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Richard Thompson
Uncle Tupelo

Miles of Music

No Depression


New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

San Francisco Celtic Music & Arts Festival

Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA


A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans (Joshua Mann Pailet)
American Museum of Photography
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
International Center of Photography

Ansel Adams
Jonathan Fish
Noah Grey
Greg Guirard
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
Herman Leonard
Howard Roffman
J. T. Seaton
Jerry Uelsmann
Gareth Watkins
Brett Weston

The Mirror Project


The Amazing Adventures of Bill,
by Bill Roundy

Bloom County / Outland / Opus,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,
by Eric Orner

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

Xquzyphyr & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

Cold Mountain (****)
The Last Samurai (****)

Lookin' at da TV:

"The Sopranos"
"Six Feet Under"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
"One Tree Hill"
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
"The Simpsons"
Father Ted
"Iron Chef"
The Food Network

Weblogs I read:

American Leftist
The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Considered Harmful
The Daily Kos
Anil Dash
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
Jesus' General
Mark A. R. Kleiman
The Leaky Cauldron
Letting Loose With the Leptard
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Respectful of Otters
Roger "Not That One" Ailes
Ted Rall
Sadly, No!
This Modern World
Under the Gunn
Whiskey Bar
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs

My Darlin' New Orleans:

Gambit Weekly


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

Must-reads: (progressive politics & news)
Borowitz Report (political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Daily Mislead (BushCo's lies)
The Fray (your stories)
Izzle Pfaff! (my favorite webjournal)
Landover Baptist (better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (news, opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (news 'n laffs)
"Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis", by David Neiwert.
Talking Points Memo (Josh Marshall) (not the actual White House, but it should be)

The Final Frontier:

Astronomy Pic of the Day
ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Spaceflight Now


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple G4 15" PowerBook running MacOS X 10.3 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)

Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

  Saturday, July 31, 2004
Café Bizou.   We'd been meaning to get to this place for ages, and finally made it last night. Who knew that local Zagaters called it "the most popular restaurant in Los Angeles" for the last four years? After we had a look at the very appealing California-French menu and then finishing our meal, I wasn't surprised.

First impression -- nice, comfortable, friendly place, with comfortable-looking booths (we weren't able to get one) and an extremely helpful staff (we were indecisive as to what to order, and got quick and quite decisive advice from our server). Service was fast, too -- the kitchen's efficiency was impressive, although they weren't full yet.

First, a test of their full bar -- Wes ordered an Old Fashioned, and I, a Manhattan "with a healthy dose of bitters"). Both passed muster -- the Old Fashioned contained an orange slice and a cherry that wasn't muddled to death into a cloudy paste as is the usual method, and my Manhattan was well-balanced (although it could have used several more seconds of shaking).

Our starters of gazpacho arrived soon afterward. Zesty, tangy, well-seasoned, with some texture, which I like in a gazpacho (I prefer them not to be completely puréed). Refreshing, delicious and only three bucks. I'm likin' this place already.

When the entrées arrived, we were very happy indeed. In my continuing effort to be good (I cracked the seemingly impenetrable 160-pound barrier yesterday morning at 159.5 pounds, but probably wobbled back to the other side already) I went for a salad instead of the roasted, herb-rubbed pork tenderloin with vegetable strudel, mashed potatoes and garlic cream sauce. Instead, this looked really good and got an instant endorsement from the server: Grilled Salmon over Mixed Baby Greens with Papaya, Grilled Red Onion and a Passion Fruit Dressing, with the dressing being described as "fantastic" and "one of our lightest", which is what I was looking for. Perfecly grilled salmon, simply prepared with just salt and pepper, and that dressing was indeed fantastic. The papaya went beautifully with the salmon and I enjoyed the dressing very much. <voice="The Dude">That dressing tied the whole salad together, man ...</voice> I could have used a little more grilled onion, though; it seemed to be used more as a garnish than an important flavor component of the salad, which it very much was.

Wes got salmon too, another of at least three different salmon preparations on the menu. His was Potato-Crusted Salmon with Sautéed Spinach and Tomatoes, Beurre Blanc sauce and Port Wine sauce. Also perfectly cooked, with mandoline-thin slices of potato wrapped around the fish and pan-cooked until crisp and not greasy at all. The tomatoes actually had flavor (Go figure! I wonder if they were heirlooms...), and the two sauces complemented one another very well. You can tell someone's excited about his food when it's "Oh, oh ... you've got to try this" instead of "Hey! Get your fork away from my plate!" I'll try this one next time we're there (and we'll definitely be back), or perhaps the sesame-crusted salmon; I'd like to try them all while good salmon is in season. Both dishes were under $18 too, which was easy on the budget and helps ensure a return visit..

We decided not to go with dessert, given that we were headed over to Lucky Baldwin's Pub down the street to help celebrate our friend Gregg's birthday with a 9-liter (!) bottle of St. Feuillien Triple Belgian Abbey Ale ("This beer has a white, smooth and very compact head. Its pale amber colour is very characteristic revealing a distinctive maltiness. It has a rich aroma with a unique combination of aromatic hops, spices and the typical bouquet of fermentation - very fruity. Secondary fermentation in the bottle gives it a unique aroma due to the presence of yeast. St Feuillien Triple has a very strong and exceptionally lingering taste thanks to its density and its long storage period. Whether served as a refreshing aperitif in summer or savoured during the winter months, the Triple is a connoisseur's beer par excellence) ... which we drained, I might add. Did I also mention that I have a fairly tremendous hangover this morning? Jaysus ...

Dick Cheney's America.   If you wanted to see Vice-President Dick Cheney's speech in Albuquerque this weekend, you'd be required to sign a loyalty oath, pledging your public support for the reelection of Bush/Cheney and providing your ID and driver's license number, before being given tickets. I understand that the same goes for Shrub's speech in Ohio this weekend (via Atrios).

State Rep. Dan Foley, R-Roswell, speaking on behalf of the Republican Party, said Thursday that a "known Democrat operative group" was intending to try to crash Saturday's campaign rally at Rio Rancho Mid-High School. He added that some people were providing false names and addresses and added that tickets for the limited-seating event should go to loyal Bush backers.

However, some who left the office off Osuna NE without tickets on Thursday said they're not affiliated with an operative group and should have a right to see their vice president without pledging their allegiance to Bush.

"I'm outraged at this. I'm being closed off by my own government. It's crazy," said East Mountains resident Pamela Random, who added that she is an unaffiliated voter.

John Wade of Albuquerque said he initially signed the endorsement but was having second thoughts before he even left the office. Wade, a Democrat, said he returned his tickets and demanded to get his endorsement form back.

"It's not right for me to have to sign an endorsement to hear (Cheney) speak," Wade said. "I'm still pissed. This just ain't right."

Neither John Kerry nor John Edwards require any attendeed at their speeches to sign pledges to publicly endorse them.

The endorsement form reads as follows:

I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States." It later adds that, "In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush.
Apparently DickShrub's minions are not only McCarthyesque, but wouldn't be able to define or spell "McCarthyesque" if pressed to do so.

This is America?

Quotes of the day.   I know, I'm a couple of days late with this (it's been an extremely busy week), but here are a few quotes from Kerry's acceptance speech that lead me to think that Dubya should just start buying moving boxes now:

Now I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities and I do because some issues just aren't all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so.

And as President, I will bring back this nation's time-honoured tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.

On my first day in office, I will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.

For four years, we've heard a lot of talk about values. But values spoken without actions taken are just slogans. Values are not just words. They're what we live by. They're about the causes we champion and the people we fight for. And it is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families.

You don't value families by kicking kids out of after school programs and taking cops off our streets, so that Enron can get another tax break.

You don't value families if you force them to take up a collection to buy body armour for a son or daughter in the service, if you deny veterans health care, or if you tell middle class families to wait for a tax cut, ?so that the wealthiest among us can get even more.

I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation not the Saudi royal family.

What if we have a president who believes in science, so we can unleash the wonders of discovery like stem cell research to treat illness and save millions of lives?

I want to address these next words directly to President George W. Bush: In the weeks ahead, let's be optimists, not just opponents. Let's build unity in the American family, not angry division. Let's honour this nation's diversity; let's respect one another; and let's never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States.

I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side.

Dubya has almost nothing to run on, other than your fear. I'm not afraid. Don't you be either.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, July 28, 2004
*dazzle*   Okay, I'm sure it's not just me ... but I had to stay in my car and finish listening to Barack Obama's keynote address last night, because it was so good -- and he was so good -- that my scalp was tingling.

John Kerry believes in America.

And he knows it's not enough for just some of us to prosper.

For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga.

A belief that we are connected as one people.

If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child.

If there's a senior citizen somewherewho can't pay for her prescription, and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother.

If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It's that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper -- that makes this country work.

It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family.

E pluribus unum.

Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.

Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there's the United States of America.

There's not a Black America and White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there's the United States of America.

The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats.

But I've got news for them, too.

We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States.

We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States.

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it.

We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that's what this election is about.

Amen. Absolutely goddamn right. Holy crap. That's one of the best political speeches I've ever heard. (I hope Kerry's is as good tomorrow -- it won't do to upstage the nominee now, will it?) Howard Dean's speech, on the other hand ... well, it wasn't bad, but lackluster was the first word that popped into my head. I know they've been telling speakers to "tone it down", but his was not the most memorable speech of the evening, by far.

Man, when does Obama get to be president? (Well, after eight years of Kerry/Edwards, and then perhaps eight years of Edwards/Obama ... 2020?)

If I lie about a Communist, will anyone care?   In a recent speech, George W. Bush lied (What? I don't believe it!) about something he claimed Cuban President Fidel Castro said. As it turns out, Bush's liewriters plagiarized it from an undergraduate Dartmouth student's paper, posted on the Internet, and didn't even get the quote right.

Speaking to Florida law enforcement officials on July 16, Bush claimed the Cuban leader shamelessly promotes sex tourism.

"The dictator welcomes sex tourism. Here's how he bragged about the industry," said Bush. "This is his quote -- 'Cuba has the cleanest and most educated prostitutes in the world' and 'sex tourism is a vital source of hard currency.'"

The president made his accusations amid the release of the State Department yearly report on global human trafficking, which lists Cuba among the top ten violators.

Three days after Bush.s remarks, the Los Angeles Times reported that the White House found the comments in a Dartmouth undergraduate paper posted on the Internet and lifted them out of context. "It shows they didn't read much of the article," commented Charlie Trumbull, the author.

Speaking in 1992 to the Cuban parliament, Castro actually said, "There are prostitutes, but prostitution is not allowed in our country. There are no women forced to sell themselves to a man, to a foreigner, to a tourist."

Not only do they lie, they're not even good at it.

Quote of the day.   Nicked from a comment thread at Kos:

Hey Lois, look! The two symbols of the Republican party. An elephant and a big fat white guy who's threatened by change.

-- Peter Griffin, "Family Guy"
[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, July 26, 2004
Tweak tweak.   I've done a bit more "design" tweaking. I enclose the word design in quotation marks because very little of what I do on this website constitutes anything approaching real design, but in any case, I thought that whatever it was needed a little work. Hence the headline quotation goes to the sidebar, and we've got a few little festive pictures up there at the top, which will rotate as I take them or find something better.

Thoughts? Ideas? Feedback? Yes? No? Anyone? Bueller?

New Orleans Box from Shout! Factory Captures City's Sounds, Tastes, Scents, Culture, History.   I got this strange press release in my email yesterday. I wonder what this is all about...

Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans

Shout! Factory Set, Due October 5, Features Classic and Contemporary Sounds, Tastes, Scents, Culture, History and Travel Tips. It's a Wild Ride, and Definitely Not Your Parents' New Orleans Box!

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- New Orleans music has been documented thoroughly on recording and in print -- but never like this. "Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" takes the music of the Big Easy outside the history museum and puts it back amidst the total experience of being there -- the hurricanes to go, the crawfish étouffeé, the voodoo rituals, the beads, the sultry Caribbean winds -- and mixes it up with four CDs worth of new and old Crescent City sounds. According to reissue executive producer Gary Stewart, "It's one big mess, and we like it like that." Shout! Factory's resultant CD boxed set will arrive in stores on October 5th for the suggested retail price of $59.98.

The audio portion of "Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" takes the vibrancy of New Orleans music clear outside of academic chronological and mixes the originators and the progeny of New Orleans music. Featured are 85 songs by such artists as Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Irma Thomas, The Meters, Jelly Roll Morton, Marcia Ball, Geno Delafose & French Rockin. Boogie, Sonny Landreth, Little Richard, Ellis Marsalis, Henry Butler, Clarence .Frogman. Henry, Chris Kenner, Buckwheat Zydeco, Shirley & Lee, The Neville Brothers, The New Birth Brass Band, Dave Bartholomew and the Radiators. Compiled and annotated by KCSN-FM "Down Home" show host Chuck Taggart, a native, it's an open-all-night rockin' N'awlins dance party. Grab a hurricane in a go cup and roam the city's legendarily diverse and influential sounds.

But the total experience of "Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" just begins with the music. This big, fat, heavy package makes a wonderful addition to the top of the coffee table. The set features essays and sidebars by writer Mary Herczog, author of Frommer's New Orleans, that defy what comes to mind when you think liner notes. Herczog takes you by the hand through the narrow streets of the Quarter, through the Garden District and up through Bayou St. John -- imparting the history alongside the colorful urban myths, while giving an insider's-eye view of city's great (and divey) bars and restaurants, and even an unpredictable "Nine Random Reasons We Love New Orleans".

With Mardi Gras upon us in February and JazzFest and Ponderosa Stomp in April, there is no better gift for the New Orleans enthusiast (or would-be enthusiast) than "Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans". Load up your iPod, take along the book and journey the city's mystical, musical and gastronomical crannies, and you're ready to fully appreciate the Western World's most culturally rich and unique city.

Shout! Factory is a multi-platform integrated entertainment company that was started by Richard Foos -- co-founder of Rhino Records, Bob Emmer -- former Warner Music Group and Rhino executive and Garson Foos -- former Rhino executive. It focuses on audio music catalog development and home video/DVD projects and television properties. Conceived as a broad-based retro pop culture entertainment label, Shout! Factory video and DVD projects range from live music and music documentary programs to offbeat special interest titles ranging from animation to sports content. Shout! Factory DVDs and CDs are distributed by Sony Music Entertainment.

# # #

For media information on "Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box Of New Orleans", please contact:

Cary Baker, (818) 501-2001
Stacey Studebaker, Shout! Factory, (310) 979-5602

Sampler CDs available. Full review copies with realistic prospects of placement only.

Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box Of New Orleans
Catalog Number: D4K 37441
Release Date: October 5, 2004
Price: $59.98

Disc One:

1. Galactic feat. Theryl deClouet -- Welcome To New Orleans
2. Kermit Ruffins -- Drop Me Off In New Orleans
3. Fats Domino -- I'm Walkin'
4. Dr. John -- Iko Iko
5. Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven -- Potato Head Blues
6. Little Queenie & The Percolators -- My Darlin' New Orleans
7. The Iguanas -- Para Donde Vas (Where Are You Going)
8. Anders Osbourne & .Big Chief” Monk Boudreaux -- Meet The Boyz On The Battlefront
9. Clarence "Frogman" Henry -- Ain't Got No Home
10. Rebirth Brass Band -- Feel Like Funkin' It Up
11. BeauSoleil -- Zydeco Gris-Gris
12. Ernie K-Doe -- Mother-In-Law
13. Marcia Ball -- That's Enough Of That Stuff
14. The Radiators -- Confidential
15. The Meters -- Hey Pocky A-Way
16. Jelly Roll Morton & His New Orleans Jazzmen -- I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say
17. Paul Sanchez -- Foot Of Canal Street
18. Vernel Bagneris & the cast of One Mo' Time -- Down In Honky Tonk Town
19. Huey "Piano" Smith & The Clowns -- Rockin' Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu
20. Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen -- More Hipper
21. Johnny Adams -- Release Me
22. Sidney Bechet & His New Orleans Feet Warmers -- Preachin' Blues
23. Clifton Chenier -- Jambalaya

Disc Two:
1. Leigh Harris -- Dog Days
2. Earl King -- No City Like New Orleans
3. Don Vappie & The Creole Jazz Serenaders -- Salée Dames, Bon Jour
4. Balfa Toujours -- Marshall's Club
5. Irma Thomas -- You Can Have My Husband
6. Galactic -- Go Go
7. The New Orleans Klezmer All Stars -- Not Too Eggy
8. Preservation Hall Jazz Band -- St. James Infirmary
9. Deacon John Moore -- Going Back To New Orleans
10. Buckwheat Zydeco -- Hot Tamale Baby
11. The Neville Brothers -- Fear, Hate, Envy, Jealousy
12. James Andrews -- Poop Ain't Gotta Scuffle No More
13. The Hawketts -- Mardi Gras Mambo
14. George Lewis. Ragtime Band -- Ice Cream
15. J. Monque'D -- No Doubt About It
16. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band with Danny Barker & Eddie Bo -- Don't You Feel My Leg
17. Boozoo Chavis -- Dog Hill
18. Zachary Richard -- Au Bord de Lac Bijou
19. Tuba Fats. Chosen Few Brass Band -- Mardi Gras In New Orleans

Disc Three:
1. Dave Bartholomew & His Orchestra -- Shrimp And Gumbo
2. Dr. Michael White -- St. Phillip Street Breakdown
3. Clarence .Gatemouth. Brown -- Going Back To Louisiana
4. Aaron Neville -- Tell It Like It Is
5. Coolbone -- The Saints
6. Geno Delafose & French Rockin. Boogie -- Canaille (You're Cute, But You're Sneaky)
7. Al Johnson -- Carnival Time
8. Fredy Omar con su Banda -- La Negra Tomasa
9. Shirley & Lee -- Let The Good Times Roll
10. Tom McDermott & Evan Christopher -- The Broken Windmill
11. Champion Jack Dupree -- Way Down
12. Raymond Myles with The RAMS -- Hallelujah
13. Smiley Lewis -- I Hear You Knocking
14. Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys -- La Crève de Faim/Starvation 2-Step
15. The Red Stick Ramblers -- Main Street Blues
16. Frankie Ford -- Sea Cruise
17. Henry Butler -- Tee-Nah-Nah
18. The New Birth Brass Band -- Smoke That Fire
19. Beau Jocque & The Zydeco Hi-Rollers -- Give Him Cornbread
20. Chris Kenner -- I Like It Like That, Part 1
21. James Booker -- Classified (Version Two)
22. Allen Toussaint -- Southern Nights

Disc Four:
1. Professor Longhair -- Tipitina
2. The Wild Magnolias -- Party
3. Ellis Marsalis -- Dr. Jazz
4. Troy Andrews -- Ooh Poo Pah Doo
5. Sonny Landreth -- South Of I-10
6. Benny Spellman -- Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)
7. Charmaine Neville Band with Reggie Houston & Amasa Miller -- The Right Key But The Wrong Keyhole
8. Little Richard -- Rip It Up
9. Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band -- Royal Garden Blues
10. Anders Osborne -- Stoned, Drunk & Naked
11. Bruce Daigrepont -- Laissez Faire (Let It Be)
12. The New Orleans Jazz Vipers -- Digga-Digga-Do
13. Walter .Wolfman. Washington -- Tailspin
14. Lloyd Price -- Lawdy Miss Clawdy
15. Eddie Bo -- Havin. Fun In New Orleans
16. Tim Laughlin -- King Of The Mardi Gras
17. Snooks Eaglin -- Red Beans
18. Mem Shannon & The Membership -- S.U.V.
19. The Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band -- 'Tits Yeux Noirs (Little Black Eyes)
20. Pete Fountain & His Band -- Lazy River
21. Louis Armstrong & His Dixieland Seven -- Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?

Jesus. Does this mean that I'm finally finished?

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  Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Cocktail of the day.   Normally we tend to think of long drinks, or gin-based drinks like a Gin and Tonic or Tom Collins as a refreshing summer drink, and not necessarily one made with rye whiskey. This is an exception, with a nice balance of sweet and tart, a brilliant red color and a lovely flavor as well.

Paul Harrington describes this drink thusly: "This whiskey cocktail used to be as bad as it sounds." Back during the dark days of Prohibition, it was made with Canadian whiskey, often of rotgut quality, that flowed over the border for all the American scofflaws to drink. I find Canadian whiskey to be inferior to just about any other kind that doesn't come in a big ceramic jug with "XXX" on the side (the vilest example of which is that Canadian Mist stuff that comes in a 1.75 liter plastic jug; never drink whiskey that comes in a plastic container), so if you want this to be a nice drink instead of a bad drink use real, proper rye whiskey. Canadian whiskey is a lot of grain neutral spirits blended with whiskey, some of which is rye, and by law can contain up to 9% of "additives", including prune juice. (Oy.) Avoid.


1-1/2 ounces rye whiskey.
1 ounce dry vermouth.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
3/4 ounce real pomegranate Grenadine.
1 dash orange bitters.

Shake and strain.

We recommend Old Overholt rye with this one.

What's wrong with Italian cooking in America?   Too much garlic, too little salt and much of what's on the menu at Olive Garden, says Marcella Hazan.

"Do you know what happens in that restaurant every night? RAPE! RAPE! The rape of cuisine!" Tell 'em, Primo.

Despite what our beloved Marcella says, though, I love a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs, even if they're never found in Italy. Ain't nothin' like a good Creole-Italian red gravy.

Uh-oh, Spaghetti-O, eh Dick?   It could be that the robot who talks out of the side of his mouth might be in a wee spot of trouble.

A Halliburton controversy erupted Tuesday, fueled by a grand jury investigation into whether the oil services giant violated federal sanctions by operating in Iran while Vice President Dick Cheney was running the company.

The investigation centers on Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., a subsidiary registered in the Cayman Islands and headquartered in Dubai that provided oil field services in Iran. The unit's operations in Iran included Cheney's stint as chief executive from 1995 to 2000, when he frequently urged the lifting of such sanctions.

Three of my favorite words -- "grand jury investigation." Let's hope we hear them far more often in the coming months.

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  Tuesday, July 20, 2004
"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."   Happy 35th anniversary, Tranquility Base (amazing QuickTime VR). I was a childhood space nut, and I still remember watching the moon landing; my parents let me stay up extra-late. I was seven. (Now here I am at thirty-twelve, and where's our feckin' wheel-shaped space station, I ask you?)

Here's a little extra treat for really big fans of The Moon.

Quote of the day.   Via Byron:

Life ain't worth the dime without a little cholesterol.

-- Leah Chase, Dooky Chase's Restaurant, New Orleans.

Only a little now, dawlin'. :-)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, July 19, 2004
The Fat Pack rules for John John!!   The Silverlake Bake Back the White House sale was a smashing success -- we raised $9,400 for the Kerry/Edwards campaign ... and a whopping $705 of that came from the Fat Pack Cookie Krewe table! The organizers apparently said that our table was "by far" the most successful in terms of receipts, and they said they loved our energy and our songs! We were interviewed by CNN and the LA Weekly (although the guy from People magazine didn't come by our table, hmph), and Dave's slogan "Fahrenheit 375: the temperature at which cookies bake!" was quickly adopted as the unofficial slogan for the event. (Nettie pointed out that it's more like 350, but for some reason we all agreed that 375 sounded funnier.)

The spread was amazing -- Wes' "Oatmeal, Butterscotch and Chocolate Chunk Bogus Administration Buster Cookies" sold out, as did most of our cookies (including my Chocolate Soufflé Cookies, Orange-Date-Fig Bars with Lemon Icing and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Brownies), the Full Disclosure Pumpkin Breads (with full list of ingredients on the bottom of the tin), Bunnies Against Bush (made of all the yellow cake Saddam didn't buy!), Axis of Evil Cookies (made from four deliciously evil ingredients), Rick's fabulous and unbelievably gooey Bush Economic Policy Brownies (one for $2, two for $5, 3 for $10 ... which doesn't make sense, but then again neither does the Bush economic policy), Maggie's very popular cool and tangy Lemon Bars, and lots more. We had very little left at the end of the day, which we gave away to fellow bakers, stragglers and a few assorted cheapskates (actually, there were only one or two of those; people were trying to give us money for almost everything they took).

It was a whole lot of fun, despite it being a blisteringly hot day, and we met lots of wonderful, super-nice people. Entertainment (besides our off-key singing at our table) was provided by a number of local bands, including OK Go, who were quite good and who provided PAs and amps for the entire event. Many thanks to Mary, Steve, Rick, Nettie, Dave, LeeAnn, Bianca, Lisa and Maggie for baking and hawking wares, and additionally to Rick, Dave and Steve for their lyrics and compositions of politically satirical songs, which we sang for an extra donation.

Oh, and the Silverbake folks were kind enough to put up a rather decent picture of meself (wearing my "A Few Bad Apples" t-shirt by Tom Tomorrow) in their photo album of the event, which is a good thing, 'cause I forgot my feckin' camera again.

This'll be the last bake sale in our area for Kerry/Edwards, as the financing deadline kicks in at the end of the month. Next month it'll probably be a Move On fundraiser, and we'll be there again if we can. I didn't have time to make Madeleines ("They're French, George! French French French!") and my "A Few Bad Apples Apple Upside Down Cake with Calvados Caramel Sauce", so maybe next time.

It was really gratifying and exciting to get involved with the campaign in such a fun and positive way. Wes and I were talking about events of this kind and the pros and cons thereof, with regards to holding events like a bake sale as opposed to just writing a check. "Of course we can just write a check, and we often do," he said, "but there's no way to quantify the immaterial benefits of 'pressing the flesh', being in community, sharing some excitement, getting people riled up, and even (if this isn't too grandiose) giving them some hope. The money and cookies are all well and good, but the whole goal is to turn the money, cookies, frustration, excitement, energy and all into VOTES in November. Writing a check doesn't do necessarily do that, but getting out there on the street with others of like mind might just do it."

Yeah you rite.

Hmmm ... July 19th.   Why does this day strike me as important?

I'll check the calendar. Let's see, July 19th ... Galway liberated from Indians ... Marathon becomes Snickers ... Ice Age ends ... no, none of that. What could it be?

Oh God ... it's not ... IT'S NOT TIME FOR JACK'S BATH, IS IT?! No no, wait ... we gave him his bath right before last Christmas ... whew.

Holiday? (Right, there'll be no feckin' holiday for me anytime soon.) Maybe I'll just have a nice cup of tea. Sure, didn't Our Lord Himself on the cross pause for a nice cup of tea before giving himself up for the world ... what? Didn't He? Oh well, whatever equivalent they had for tea in those days ... cake or whatever.

Bye bye, enetation.   The comments system I've been using hosed me for the last time this weekend. I got hammered by several dozen comment spams, but when I logged in as administrator to delete them, no comments were visible on any thread. Once I logged out I could see them again, but of course being logged out I couldn't delete them. Catch-22.

I've had numerous reports that the commenting system has been unstable in the past, so today enetation becomes our secondary/backup system until their problems are solved, and now say hello to HaloScan. I seem to have greater control over administrative functions there, and it seems a bit more stable, so let's give it a whirl.

As always, play nice, and trolls will be vaporised.

Quote of the day.   Via Atrios:

We all need some therapy, because somebody came along and said "liberal" means soft on crime, soft on drugs, soft on Communism, soft on defense, and we're gonna tax you back to the Stone Age because people shouldn't have to go to work if they don't want to. And instead of saying "Well, excuse me, you right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-education, anti-choice, pro-gun, 'Leave it to Beaver' trip back to the Fifties," we cowered in the corner and said "Please, don't hurt me." No more.

-- from "The West Wing"

I'm proud to be liberal and progressive. It's not an epithet. "Don't hurt me"? Nuh-uh, bra. Don't fuck with me.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, July 16, 2004
Silverlake bakes back the White House!   Several of my friends (most of whom are collectively known as "The Fat Pack") and myself will be participating in tomorrow's Bake Back the White House bake sale and fundraiser for John Kerry and John Edwards.

It'll be the last bake sale before the federal funding guidelines kick in, so we need a big turnout. I'm not sure what-all we'll be bringing, but so far it's lookin' really good -- Wes made oatmeal cookies with chocolate and butterscotch chunks (as yet unnamed); I'm bringing "A Few Bad Apples" and Walnut Upside-Down Cake with Calvados Caramel Sauce, and probably some cookies or brownies as well. Look for the table with the sign that says "Kerry's Cookie Krewe" -- we'll also probably be singing songs from our soon-to-be Broadway smash (or not), entitled "Iraq! The Musical!". I can't guarantee we won't have Max Bialystock looking at us for the worst musical ever, but the songs that Rick, Steve and Dave have come up with sure are funny so far.

Come see us, and all the other baking folk, and shell out some dough for some dough, refined sugar and butterfat. The location is 4326 Sunset Boulevard, in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles, just east of Fountain Ave., in the Malo Restaurant parking lot, 10am to 5pm tomorrow.

Remain calm. AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!   A hilarious (and so-true-it's-scary) animation from political cartoonist Mark Fiore entitled "Minister of Fear", all the better to brighten your Friday, my dears. (Via Kos)

Best line: "We might have to disrupt the democratic process because the terrorists want to disrupt the democratic process."

Food Network, we hardly knew ye.   There was a time when I had the Food Network on almost constantly; those days are gone. I get the TiVO to record a few things here and there -- Mario Batali, always (he's my hero), Alton Brown, Tony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver, Iron Chef (of course) -- but that's about it. Thing is, a lot of the proramming these days is crap. Robert in New Orleans recognizes this as well, with an open letter to the Network:

More and more, however, I'm finding that during the times I'm home watching TV, I have no interest in what's showing on that channel. Let me give you an example. Tonight when I got home, and started to cook, I watched a bit of Alton Brown's show, "Good Eats". I like Alton Brown, even though the show tends towards the silly. Right after Brown's show, however, is an exercise in advertising called, "Unwrapped."

It's pretty typical of what's on during "prime time" on the Food Network these days. Here's the blurb that describes the show at Food TV's website:

Ever wondered where the tiny marshmallows in your breakfast cereal came from? Have we got a show for you! Each week, "Unwrapped" uncovers behind-the-scenes details on classic American food, from peanut butter and chocolate syrup to French fries and bubblegum. Join host Marc Summers as he explores the test kitchens and the secrets behind lunch box treats, soda pop, movie candy, and more. Unwrapped -- the show for everyone who's ever worn a pair of wax lips.
I'm not sure I can express how little this interests me. And from what I've seen of the show, and shows like it ("Roker on the Road," "Food Finds," "Follow that Food," and "All American Festivals,") it's largely an extended advertisement for the featured topic. Here's the blurb, again from the Food TV website, on the episode that aired at 6:30 p.m. CST:

Marc Summers takes a bite out of Cookie Snacks. Find out how Otis Spunkeyer makes their cookies so soft, visit the World's Largest Cookie, sample a movie candy made of cookie dough and see how Ben & Jerry's mixes up Cookie Dough ice cream.
Oh boy. Just how does Otis Spunkmeyer make their cookies so soft? I'd know the answer, but I'd rather disembowel myself than watch that show. So my theory is that Otis Spunkmeyer puts puppies in their cookies to make them soft.

Instead of educating myself on the nuances of mass-produced cookies, I was watching Discovery TV, which was airing a couple of episodes of Great Chefs, the venerable tv show that started on PBS, and which focuses on three or more chefs from all over the world on each show. The food is always beautiful, with minimal interference from the narrator. It's one of the first food shows I remember really getting into, and it remains one of my favorites. I'm just glad it's still out there among the Emerils, Bobby Flays, and Rachel "Gatemouth" Ray.
He's right.

God, I miss "Great Chefs", and I had completely forgotten about it 'cause I almost never flip to Discovery anymore (I never flip, in fact; I have TiVo). I'll have to get a season pass for that one (and see if I ever have time to watch it). "Great Chefs" started out at Robert's and my hometown PBS station, the great WYES, and unless I'm mistaken they still produce it or at least have a hand in producing it, and unless I'm mistaken again it's still narrated by the comforting voices of Mary Lou Conroy and Andres Calandria. It's always been a brilliant show, and I'm glad we still have the opportunity to see it.

Let's get serious with the programming, FoodTV. We want great chefs, good cooks and solid cooking technique, not advertising for commercial prepared food and junk food conglomerates.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, July 15, 2004
"It was just a coat hanger, and ... it didn't hurt any more than a cigarette burn."   Garry Trudeau (whose writing and drawing I've been following religiously since I was in eighth grade) tells some very telling tales:

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who has skewered politicians for decades in his comic strip "Doonesbury," tells Rolling Stone magazine he remembers Yale classmate George W. Bush as "just another sarcastic preppy who gave people nicknames and arranged for keg deliveries."

Trudeau attended Yale University with Bush in the late 1960s and served with him on a dormitory social committee.

"Even then he had clearly awesome social skills," Trudeau said. "He could also make you feel extremely uncomfortable ... He was extremely skilled at controlling people and outcomes in that way. Little bits of perfectly placed humiliation."

Trudeau said he penned his very first cartoon to illustrate an article in the Yale Daily News on Bush and allegations that his fraternity, DKE, had hazed incoming pledges by branding them with an iron.

The article in the campus paper prompted The New York Times to interview Bush, who was a senior that year. Trudeau recalled that Bush told the Times "it was just a coat hanger, and ... it didn't hurt any more than a cigarette burn."

"It does put one in mind of what his views on torture might be today," Trudeau said.

Having mocked presidents of both parties in the "Doonesbury" strip since 1971, Trudeau said Bush has been, "tragically, the best target" he's worked with yet.

"Bush has created more harm to this country's standing and security than any president in history," Trudeau said. "What a shame the world has to suffer the consequences of Dubya not getting enough approval from Dad."

Rolling Stone was publishing the interview Friday.

I'm very much looking forward to the entire interview, some of which is excerpted here.

The interview begins with an interesting anecdote:

In 1971, a year after he graduated from Yale, Garry Trudeau went on the game show To Tell the Truth. He had just launched a crudely drawn comic strip called "Doonesbury," but nobody knew who he was: Only one celebrity panelist correctly guessed his identity. "I don't remember which one picked me," Trudeau says with a laugh. "Orson Bean?"
I remember that. I used to watch "To Tell The Truth" when I was a kid, and for some reason I disctinctly remember Trudeau's appearance. I was nine. Go figure.

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  Mercredi, le 14 juillet, 2004  ::  Jour de la Bastille
Joyeux Jour de la Bastille!   Happy Bastille Day! For today's lunch, I recommend a crusty baguette, some Camembert and/or Roquefort and a half-bottle of red Bordeaux (or the Frenchiest thing you can find).

Today's Los Angeles Times Food Section is all about French food, especially as it is to be found in La Cité des Anges. Chef Alain Giraud offers us a summery French picnic menu that starts with cherry tomatoes, sausage from Lyon and pistachios, plus Pan-bagnat, a fabulous sandwich on focaccia bread with fennel, artichokes, tuna, quail eggs, radish-onion relish, black olive tapenade and anchovies. (Mon dieu!)

Best of all, though, is an article about the wonderfully civilized French custom of an apéritif before a meal, a slow and lingering start of a meal to be savoured, and a way to wake up one's taste buds. Your choices are legion -- you could start with Champagne, or a fraise Royale (a house-made Champagne cocktail made with fresh strawberry coulis and/or strawberry liqueur); an apéro wine such as Pineau des Charentes, Lillet, dry vermouth or sweet vermouth; pastis or absinthe; or a bitters such as Campari or the very, very French Suze (an extremely bitter but very nice liqueur made from gentian root).

Tonight, the Versinthe our friends brought us back from Paris, I think, plus a Champagne cocktail with a touch of gin and Liqueur de la Violette ...

Apéritifs du jour.   For starters today, let's do a little repeat from about two-and-a-half years ago, when I posted about three lovely French apéritifs I'd read about, tried and really loved ...

The excellent book Aperitif, by Georgeanne Brennan, has introduced me to three variations on classic pastis which she learned about from neighbors while living in Provence. They all have an ounce of pastis and 4 - 5 ounces of cold water in common, but are all flavored with different sweetened syrups -- almond, grenadine and mint. This produces vibrant colors in these drinks as well, and their names, particularly "The Tomato" and "The Parrot", refer to their color rather than anything having to do with their flavor. (I'm not sure I'd want a parrot-flavored cocktail anyway.) My favorite so far is La Mauresque, although I have yet to try Le Perroquet.

These are all very common in Provence, so if you ever go there you can order these at the village café and sound like you know what you're talking about, instead of sounding like a dumb foreigner.

La Mauresque
Pour one ounce of pastis into the glass, followed by 1 tablespoon of orgeat syrup (you can substitute almond syrup), then pour in about 4 ounces of cold water, and an ice cube or two if you like. Stir and serve.

La Tomate
Pour one ounce of pastis into the glass, followed by 1 tablespoon of grenadine, then pour in about 4 ounces of cold water, and an ice cube or two if you like. Stir and serve.

Le Perroquet
Pour one ounce of pastis into the glass, followed by 1 tablespoon of green mint syrup, then pour in about 4 ounces of cold water, and an ice cube or two if you like. Stir and serve.

Buvez, et répétez après moi: "Mes amis français, nous sommes désolés que notre président soit un idiot. Nous n'avons pas voté pour lui."

Cocktail of the day.   Well, if you're not in the mood for an apéro and want to try a cocktail to celebrate Bastille Day, here's one I love -- lovely, easy and very French. It's a takeoff on the very old classic 1:1 Martini, with a touch of a classic ingredient.


1-1/2 ounces gin. (Citadelle, if you want to be really French.)
1-1/2 ounce Noilly Prat dry vermouth.
1/2 ounce Crème de Cassis.

Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist.

Vive la France! Vive la vie! Vive l'amour!

Le oops.   I'd say this counts as a pretty big feckin' mistake, because when you get down to it, for a big corporation and their stockholders, it's all about the money.

Michael Moore's headline grabbing documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11," which Disney declined to distribute, grossed more than $80 million in its first three weeks of release, more than any Disney film this year and any documentary ever.
Eisner will have to answer to the stockholders. Again.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, July 13, 2004
New Orleans food critic vs. dietician.   Talk about an occupational hazard ... I remember reading that during his tenure as New Orleans' first real food critic, Richard Collin, also known as "The New Orleans Underground Gourmet", gained over 75 pounds in about five years. (Gawd.)

Food writer Tom Fitzmorris tries to keep his girth in check by eating only half of what's on his plate when he goes out, and although he is not a skinny man he doesn't have an event horizon. (Yet.)

Brett Anderson is the current food critic of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and has a few talks with his doctor and a dietician about how he might "push back the date his liver turns to pâté".

You are how you eat.   Giuliano Hazan isn't about fad low-carb diets, he's all about daily eating that's healthy, and in reasonably sized portions -- as the Italians do.

In Italy, cooking and eating are not chores, they are one of life's gifts that nourish the soul as well as the body.

Sadly, according to fans of the low-carb mania that is sweeping the United States, the Italian gastronomic landscape is the equivalent of a minefield. Our diet of pasta, rice and an abundance of fruits and vegetables is loaded with evil carbs.

So why is it that Italians are shrugging off America's latest dietary obsession?

For one thing, the mere idea of giving up pasta would be cause for severe depression in an Italian. I experience withdrawal if I go more than four or five days without it.

And why is it that the number of Americans who are overweight or obese continues to increase at an alarming rate while here the percentage of overweight or obese people is half of what it is in the United States? After all, those trim and fit Italian men with flat bellies and women with hourglass figures are all sitting in restaurants eating pasta, polenta and crusty bread.

Ultimately, it's not the carbohydrates -- or the next unsuspecting food group that will come under attack -- that will make us overweight. It's our relationship with food and our lifestyle. In other words, how we eat is just as important -- if not more so -- than what we eat. Maybe that's the ultimate cooking lesson. In general, Italians take their time when they eat. Many businesses in Italy still close in the middle of the day for three hours to allow for a leisurely lunch. Family mealtimes are sacred. Cooking for one's family becomes an act of love. Family meals allow for conversation and strengthen the family bond. The antithesis of the Italian eating style is fast food and "eating on the run," where little attention is given to what is being consumed and the quicker one is done, the better.

Ah, civilization. (Something I do not see in a McDonald's.)

He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees a link between Saddam and al Qaeda. (Ehh, so it's not so much of a tongue twister, although it's quite the brain twister, isn't it?)

This man is the poster child for cognitive dissonance. Actually, how can one admit he's made a mistake, that he's wrong, when he's been appointed to his position by God and such an admission would deny his infallibility?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, July 12, 2004
Aww, looka what I forgot.   Busy as the last four days have been, I plumb forgot -- exactly five years (and four days ago), this weblog was born (scroll down to the bottom for the messy birth).

Okay, everybody sing (to the tune of "The William Tell Overture") along with Fred, Barney and the cops ...

Happy Anniversary!
Happy Anniversary!
Happy Anniversary!
Haaaaaaaaaaapy Anniversary!

Pour a cheerful toast and fill it
Happy Anniversary!
But be careful you don't spill it
Happy Anniversary!
Ooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh ...

[ad infinitum]

(Okay, that's enough of that.) I accept this party's nomination for another term as your weblogger. Five more years! Five more years!

Cocktail of the day.   I'd been meaning to write this one up for a while. It's one of the classics from the long out-of-print Café Royal Cocktail Book, compiled by W. J. Tarling and published in Britain in 1937. Café Royal was at the time one of the finest restaurants in London (and is now a meetings and events venue owned by Le Meridien, containing other restaraunts and nightclubs). Back then, however, British and expat American bartenders crafted some of the finest drinks to be had anywhere.

This drink, which we like not only for its lovely flavor but for the fact that it's got the same name as Wes' sister, also provides a great alternative use for the passion fruit juice or nectar you may have around for making proper Hurricanes. It was created by G. W. Parker.


1-1/2 ounces Plymouth gin.
3/4 ounce passion fruit juice or nectar.
3/4 ounce Lillet blanc.
2 dashes Calvados.
2 dashes Cointreau.

Shake and strain.

Absolutely lovely, and a rare classic. I'll bet your guests will love this one. This is another of those drinks that might just cure a gin-hater.

Dîner chez nous.   It had been a while since I did a nice blowout dinner, and it was about time. We had some friends from church over the other night, one of whom is a trained chef, so I kinda wanted to strut my stuff. "He likes to show off," Wes would say.

A return visit to some old favorites, plus a couple of new things and last-minute ideas managed to come together into a really wonderful meal with no kitchen disasters! That means not only any food screw-ups, but perfect timing, no cuts and no burns. The chef is completely intact this time, for a change. (Back when I was in the culinary program at UCLA Extension, a typical scenario would have me gushing blood into the utility sink after having ripped my knuckle open on the jagged cutting teeth of the big roll of plastic wrap, whereupon Chef would walk by, look at me disapprovingly and say, "What is it with you, anyway?")

I also worked really hard on the wines (well, four out of five of them). I had never done a dinner party where I served a different wine for each course, and it came off really well. It was particularly fun to hear guests who weren't big wine drinkers (i.e., "all wine tastes more or less the same to me") enjoy all the wines, and really notice their flavors and distinctiveness. (Hey, those couple of wine classes I took a few years back are starting to pay off.)

Here's what we had, with as many recipes and links as I can muster:

Everyone wisely chose only one round, since we had a lot of wine to drink with dinner. Almost everyone asked for something different (fun!): we made a Footloose, a Caipirinha, a Melody, a Hearst, two Cable Cars and a Nonalcoholic Something Made Up On The Spot (2 ounces raspberry nectar, 1 ounce pineapple juice, 1-1/2 ounces milk, 2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters, shaken until frothy and strained; apparently it wasn't bad).

Hors d'oeuvre: Bacon-Wrapped Dates
As I've mentioned before, this appetizer is one of the Best. Things. Ever. It's also become Wes' specialty, since he discovered the recipe in (of all things) Premiere magazine, in an article about where the hip Hollywood glitterati dine. (This recipe actually comes from A.O.C., a tapas and small plates restaurant from chefs Caroline Styne and Suzanne Goins of Lucques).

It's easy. Pit some dates. Replace the pit with a small chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Wrap each stuffed date with a slice of bacon, preferably something like applewood-smoked. (For thick slices, use 1/2 slice; for thin slices, use a whole one.) Secure with a toothpick. Bake on a rack set over a baking sheet at 500°F for 10 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Allow to cool to avoid third-degree tongue and palate burns. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve. When serving, keep your hands and feet away from your guests' mouths to avoid injury, as these will go pretty fast.

First course: Cantaloupe, Prosciutto and Burrata Salad with Arugula and an Ice Wine Vinaigrette.
This was featured in Food and Wine magazine's "Ten Best New Chefs in America" issue this month, and immediately made my eyes light up. We've been getting some absolutely beautiful cantaloupes from Organic Express -- perfectly ripe, creamy texture and incredibly aromatic. I can't stand those awful, crunchy, flavorless cantaloupes you get so often (mostly when they're out of season ... eat and serve seasonal produce, people!), and these were just perfect.

I love prosciutto crudo (e.g., prosciutto di Parma), and we'd been looking for a good excuse to eat some burrata, an incredibly delectable fresh cream mozzarella originally from Puglia. It is indeed, as they say, one of the best fresh cheeses in the world (not having tried all the fresh cheeses in the world, I can certainly testify that it's one of the best I've ever had). Locally it can be found at the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, where they get it from an artisanal cheesemaker in southern California. I'm hoping that the Cheese Store of Silverlake will also stock it, because they're so much closer to home, and so much less ... um, Beverly Hills-y.

This dish is very easy to make, and was created by Chef Eric Michel Klein of Maple Drive Restaurant in (of course) Beverly Hills..

Recipe for four people:
2 tablespoons ice wine (eiswein) or other sweet white dessert wine
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Champagne or Chardonnay vinegar (don't use cheap supermarket stuff)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

One 2-pound cantaloupe -- halved, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1/2 pound burrata (cream-filled mozzarella) or fresh buffalo mozzarella, at room temperature, cut into 4 slices
4 thin slices of prosciutto
2 cups baby arugula

Whisk together the first five ingredients and reserve.

Lay out the cantaloupe slices in a shallow dish and drizze about a tablespoon and a half of dressing over them; toss to coat.

The burrata will be in roughly 4-ounce balls; slice each in half. Place the cheese over the melon, drape a slice of prosciutto over that.

Toss the arugula with the remaining dressing, top the salad with that and serve immediately.

Wine: 2000 Bonny Doon Muscat Vin de Glacière. This lovely yet relatively inexpensive ice wine was the one used in the vinaigrette. It's a "faux" ice wine; the grapes aren't naturally frozen on the vine, but stored in a freezer after picking. It's still lovely stuff, though -- sweet but not syrupy, crisp and tasting of pears and apricots.

Second course: "Stuffed" Eggplant Soup with Andouille and Shrimp.
This is an old favorite. Stuffed eggplant is a classic Creole-Italian dish, in which a half an eggplant is hollowed out, then the flesh of the eggplant is diced and mixed with seasonings, bread crumbs, shrimp and andouille or ham and baked. (Sometimes it's served in a casserole dish or individual casserole plate.) It's spicy and luscious and actually not all that bad for you.

This soup version originally comes from Chef John Folse of Lafitte's Landing at Bittersweet Plantation, who calls his dish "Cream of Eggplant Soup". Chef Folse suggestsed a couple of tweaks and variations to make it more like stuffed eggplant (his recipe didn't call for the "stuffing" ingredients), which were incorporated by Chef Peter Sclafani of Sclafani's in eastern New Orleans, who puts it on his menu under this name.

Oh boy, is it good. I like this even better than regular stuffed eggplant, and it's one of those whole-meal soups -- serve a big bowl of this with some good Italian bread and a salad, and you're pretty much done. It's a little less good for you than the stuffed eggplant casserole, though; given the amounts of cheese, butter and cream I was already serving in other dishes, I substituted half-and-half for heavy cream in this dish, and I actually think it works better that way.

Wine: 2001 La Crema Carneros Pinot Noir. La Crema is a winery that's never let me down. I first discovered them when trying one of theier excellent Oregon Pinot Noirs, a tricky grape from which it can be easy to make mediocre wine if you're not careful. These guys are great at Pinot Noirs, though, and besides the Oregons they excel at wines from this varietal from Napa Valley, the Sonoma Coast and the Carneros region. This matched beautifully with the soup.

Third course: Grilled Salmon Roulades with Creole Mustard Spätzle, Herbsaint Cream Sauce and Roasted Fennel.
This one was a bit complicated (unnecessarily), but oh, so good. This dish comes from Chef Mat Wolf at Gautreau's Restaurant in New Orleans, a really wonderful place that has maintained its consistency and high standards even through a few chef changes over the last several years.

I found this one in the "Best Chefs" issue as well, and it looked fantastic. The fresh Copper River and King River salmon is in season and available now (I used the latter), and it's light-years better than the artificially-colored, farm-raised stuff you get all the time. It uses some great Creole flavors in the use of Creole mustard in the lil' dumplings (wow!) plus our own beloved Herbsaint liqueur in the sauce. That anise flavor went really well with the very Italian touch of roasted fennel on the side. I couldn't wait to try it, although I had never made spätzle before. Didn't seem too complicated, and it really wasn't. Creole mustard goes really well with salmon too, as does fennel and anise; there was star anise infused into the cream sauce as well.

Thing is, I didn't have a spätzle maker. The recipe suggested using a colander with large holes, but my colander only had small holes. The were out of spätzle makers at Surfas (and they were expensive, anyway), so I improvised. Surfas had a grill basket with raised sides and holes the perfect size -- I pushed my spätzle batter through that, plus I can use it for grilling smaller vegetables and such later on.

The salmon was unnecessarily tricky; the idea was to take fillets large enough for two, butterfly them and open them up, spread the filling over them, roll them into logs, tie at both ends and cut into equal pieces -- easy peasy. My bad idea was to ask the guy at Fish King to butterfly them for me -- I had enough to do, and thought that'd save me a little bit of time. However, instead of starting at the thin side of the fillet and carefully cutting horizontally, so that the fillet opens up like a book, this feckin' eejit cut into it from the top, into two halves, which were pretty much useless for my purposes. He only left thte tiniest bit holding the two halves together, which reminded me of the physics professor who said, "This isn't right. This isn't even wrong." (Now, I love Fish King; it's my favorite local seafood market. However, from now on, I won't be such a lazy bastard and I'll butterfly my own fish fillets, thankyouverynice.)

Consequently, I had to cut the fillets the rest of the way through and carefully roll up each roulade separately, all 7 of them, and it was extremely difficult to keep the filling from falling out. Grrrrrr. The salmon roulades were filled with a sort-of bread crumb gremolada with shallots, garlic, lemon and orange zest and parsley ... yum.

If you want the recipe, drop me an email and I'll send it to you (it's too long to reproduce here).

Wine: 2002 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis, Piedmont. This is the exact wine that Chef Wolf recommended to go along with this dish. I had never had any Arneis; in fact, I'd never even heard of it. Fortunately The Wine House had it for a good price (ah, that place is dangerously close to my work). It was great, very bright and floral. Chef noted a "smoky" characteristic, whicn I didn't really get, but it tasted of fruit and somewhat of greenery, without the "grassy" characteristic that some people (myself not included) find unpleasant about Sauvignon Blancs. I had a great class at UCLA with a world-class sommelier, who told us that you learn about wine one bottle at a time, and I really enjoyed this lesson.

Fourth course: Roaring Forties Blue Cheese (from King Island Dairy, Tasmania) served with Passion Fruit Crostini.
Holy bejeebies, is this cheese good. Wes happened to notice it at Trader Joe's a while back and picked it up because it looked interesting ("Hey, I've never had cheese from Tasmania before!") Turned out it was so good that when we served two or three other cheese at a little gathering, everyone completely ignored the other ones and devoured this one until it was gone. Rich, nutty, buttery, intense ... ooooh. I love blue cheeses, and this is now one of my very favorites.

On a recent trip to a Japanese market that also stocks lots of foods from Hawaii we picked up a jar of Hawaiian passion fruit jam. Later on it struck me that I had remembered reading that the seeds for Hawaii's passion fruits originally came from Australia, and I thought this would be a perfect match for the cheese, not unlike the membrillo (quince paste) we love so much with Spanish and blue cheeses. Yum!Wine: Penfolds Club Reserve Tawny Port, South Australia. We already had a bottle of this on hand, as we're both tawny port fanatics. It rounded out a perfect little detour Down Under for this Creole-Italian feast.

Dessert: White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Tart Cherry-Zinfandel Sauce.
Sex on a plate.

This dessert, the original version of which is from the Palace Café on Canal Street in New Orleans, produces moans of pleasure and prompted at least one friend of mine to leave the room, strip off this clothes and eat it naked. ("White chocolate bread pudding is a very sensual experience for me," he said. Okay bra, whatevuh floats ya boat.)

The original recipe calls for a sauce made of melted white chocolate and heavy cream, then spooned over the pudding. This in addition to a dish that contains three cups of heavy cream, two eggs, eight egg yolks and ten ounces of white chocolate, seems to be overkill for me. My first variation was a mango-rum sauce (made from a jar of Trader Joe's Mango Sauce, reduced by 1/3 and with a shot of dark rum added), but I think the cherry-zinfandel sauce works much better. Cherries and white chocolate go really well together, and the tartness of the sauce helps cut through the incredible richness of this dessert.

Wine: 2001 Francis Tannahill Passito Gewürztraminer, Washington. A perfect capper. I can't describe it any better than the winery already does: "Beautiful amber color. Aromas of apricots, acacia honey, caramel, toffee, lychee, rose, Turkish Delight and roasted nuts explode out of the glass. Thick and viscous on the palate the wine is very sweet, but balanced by the strong phenolic and acid structure. Long, concentrated and rich the finish is pure, intense and rolls on forever." Yeah you rite ...

Okay, nothing but nibbles of lettuce for me for the rest of the week ... this meal, plus the cocktails, wines and Sunday leftovers cost me a pound (fat, not Sterling).

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, July 9, 2004
Looka! now has an RSS feed! (Um, sorta.)   A few days ago I read an entry at BoingBoing about a guy in Munich named Carlo who's offering to scrape and host RSS feeds for weblogs that don't have a way to easily generate their own, all for a measly €2 per year. Such a deal, and what the hell ... I gave it a try. Carlo had a look at my dinosaurian hand-code and said it could be done. US$2.54 later ... is here, updated hourly.

Thing is ... due to my stone knives and bearskins method of hand-coding this thing, the feed does provide headlines and the first 50 or so words of each post, but the links in the feed don't actually work. They don't take you to the individual post, but they do at least take you to the top of the weblog, where you'll see the headlines in question and shouldn't have to scroll down more than a screen or two. Ehh, it'll have to do for the moment, and it's better than nothing; at least you can use your RSS reader to see if I've updated.

Also, that URL for the feed is really unwieldy; I've got a TinyURL version -- -- or you can just get it from the ugly little RSS 1.0 icon at the bottom of the first box in the right-hand sidebar.

Hope this helps. Thanks, Carlo!

Oops, I did it again.   This post comes directly from Kos, who says, "So convenient." Isn't it, though?

Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.

It said the payroll records of "numerous service members," including former First Lt. Bush, had been ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. No back-up paper copies could be found, it added in notices dated June 25.

"So were all his records destroyed?" asks Kos. "Turns out that no. Only the three months that would determine if he hadn't gone AWOL."

The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush's claims of service in Alabama are in question.
"Huh," says Kos. "What a coincidence. And how convenient. And how, um, new."

There was no mention of the loss, for example, when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the President's military records last February in an effort to stem Democratic accusations that he was "AWOL" for a time during his commitment to fly at home in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director who has said that the released records confirmed the president's fulfillment of his National Guard commitment, did not return two calls for a response.

Kos continues, "Bush isn't going to go anywhere near the press for a long, long while, what with their questions about his service record, his best friend Kenny Boy, and John Edwards/Dick Cheney comparisons.

"Nope, best to rely on conveniently timed 'terror alerts' and negative attack ads."

Quote of the day.   How apropos, still.

"I don't give a shit what happens. I want you to stonewall it, let them plead the Fifth Amendment, cover it up or anything else, if it'll save it, save this plan."

-- Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th president of the United States, to staff on news of break-in at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic Party, from a taped conversation in the Oval Office, March 22, 1973, which led to his impeachment and resignation.

A brown man with a camera.   Welcome to Bush's America, where lots of non-brown tourists can take picture of the Ballard Locks at Puget Sound in Seattle, a popular public attraction, but one o' them there swarthy-lookin' guys apparently can't.

Let's hope and pray that the brownshirts' days are numbered (195 days exactly).

Now look, Col. Bat Guano, if that really is your name ...   Via NTK, something that leads me to think that whoever in the Pentagon press office has the job of talking to the British news media is having an awfully good time.

The US military's contest to get the most unusual name into a news story continues, with early lead from Rear Admiral Stufflebeam, now threatened by Lt. Commander Flex Plexico, and of course Guantanamo Bay's very own "Lt Mike Kafka".
Okay, give me a break ... these names are like something right out of a Monty Python sketch. "Umm, I think it's a joke name, sir ... like, uh, 'Sillius Soddus,' or 'Biggus Dickus.'"

What's so ... funny about "Biggus Dickus"? I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome called Biggus Dickus ...

Heeb-y jeebies.   (Okay, I must confess that I didn't think of the header, Steve did, and sent the link.) From the magazine Heeb: The New Jew Review, for which our friend Tim is a columnist, a bit of fun and wackiness. Let's play ... "Kosher or Treyf?" (E.g., Jack Black = kosher, Jack White = treyf. Might not be entirely safe for work.)

Shtupp the madness! (Credit where it's due; that's one of Dave's.)

The decline of reading.   Here's a depressing article from the New York Times: "Fewer Noses Stuck in Books in America, Survey Finds".

[A] new survey to be released today by the National Endowment for the Arts ... describes a precipitous downward trend in book consumption by Americans and a particular decline in the reading of fiction, poetry and drama.

The survey, called "Reading at Risk," is based on data from "The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts," conducted by the Census Bureau in 2002. Among its findings are that fewer than half of Americans over 18 now read novels, short stories, plays or poetry; that the consumer pool for books of all kinds has diminished; and that the pace at which the nation is losing readers, especially young readers, is quickening. In addition it finds that the downward trend holds in virtually all demographic areas.

"What this study does is give us accurate numbers that support our worst fears about American reading," said Dana Gioia, the chairman of the endowment. "It quantifies what people have been observing anecdotally, but the news is that it has been happening more rapidly and more pervasively than anyone thought possible. Reading is in decline among all groups, in every region, at every educational level and within every ethnic group," he said, calling the survey results "deeply alarming."

The survey also makes a striking correlation between readers of literature and those who are socially engaged, noting that readers are far more likely than nonreaders to do volunteer and charity work and go to art museums, performing arts events and ballgames. "Whatever good things the new electronic media bring, they also seem to be creating a decline in cultural and civic participation," Mr. Gioia said. "Of literary readers, 43 percent perform charity work; only 17 percent of nonreaders do. That's not a subtle difference."

This decline has been happening for a while, with myriad factors affecting it, from the ever-increasing encroachment of television to the anti-intellectualism that began in the Reagan era and continues in the Bushboy era, and it's depressing. Wes and I went to a reading and talk by writer David Leavitt, whose new novel The Body of Jonah Boyd was released recently. He's been teaching creative writing at the University of Florida, and told us that his students -- especially the undergraduates -- come into his class without having read anything. As in, almost nothing outside of the few novels required in their high school classes. All they know is television and video games. Before they even start writing exercises he makes them read Flannery O'Connor and Grace Paley, among others, because they have practically no literary background ... and in order to be a writer you have to be a reader.


Take special note of the last sentence of the Times article:

The one category of book to rise markedly was that of religious texts, with total sales of $337.9 million, 36.8 percent over the previous year.
I can't help but wonder if in "religious texts" they're including those stupid, God-awful "Left Behind" apocalyptica books (I hesitate to elevate their worth by calling them "novels"). They sell very, very well, apparently to people who can't recognize extremely bad writing when they read it.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, July 8, 2004
The long and cool of it.   The Los Angeles Times Food Section yesterday featured an article on cocktails, which is always welcome. The author is in Vegas (thanks to the Petrossian Bar, one of my favorite places to drink) and was rightfully appalled by the recommendation of one of those Bourbon Street-style "daiquiri bars", i.e. artificially flavored alcoholic Slurpees.

The emphasis on the use of fresh juices and not bottled crapola is appreciated, as are the numerous cocktail recipes given out, but ... well, some of them are a little strange. Negronis and Sidecars on the rocks? Bite your tongue. Hey, if you like 'em that way, that's great -- but the default method for serving those drinks should be straight up (bartenders, please ask). There's also an interesting Pimm's Cup recipe, but it seems to have far too much sweet and sour (Five ounces? Good Lord. At least they call for fresh-made). Still an interesting read.

Ardent cocktailians.   Gary and Mardee have been busy, and today we get both a new Ardent Spirits newsletter as well as a visit from the Professor.

The current issue talks about Dubonnet cocktails, Glenmorangie Scots whisky (N.B. -- it rhymes with "Orange-y") and the most beautiful (and expensive) muddlers I've ever seen. I want one anyway.

Meanwhile, one of the Professor's customers convinces him that maple syrup isn't just for pancakes anymore ... try mixing it with Calvados. (Although, yeesh ... that recipe is big enough for TWO cocktails. Two BIG ones.)

Surprising new evidence of the existence of God!   Arrest and perp walk of former Enron chief heartens theologians.

(Text nicked from an old LA Weekly caption beneath Charles Keating's mug shot.)

Arrrrroooooooooooooo!   The Secretary of Homeland Security huffs and puffs, but fails to change the "Terror Alert Level":


(Nicked from Atrios)

Waves, particles and the "liberal media."   Tom Tomorrow's "This Modern World" is particularly brilliant this week.

Email of the day.   I can't imagine it's anything but a leg-puller, but ... well, you'd think it'd be funnier.

From: Ella B_______
To: Chuck Taggart
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 2004 09:12:57 +0100 (BST)
Subject: Locating absinthe in Riyadh

Dear Mr.Taggart,

I greatly appreciate your informative website, with excellent links. I am an expat currently residing in Saudi Arabia. I do miss my Emile Sapin and I spend ages working in the field before I am able to travel for the summer to Europe, Canada or the US. Would you know anyone who could kindly refer me to where I may obtain a good quality glass of absinthe in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh to be specific? I have not located any reputable dealer?here yet, and the locals have not been terribly helpful. They?generally are perplexed, but when I describe the nature of the drink being an?herbal liquor with anise, wormwood, fennel and other hebral extracts, for some?unfathomable reason, the Saudis?all?react the same way,?looking?ghastly frightened, and?eschew the topic of conversation at all costs.?The members of the expat community were not very knoweldgable. Thank you very much.


Ms. Ella B________

Umm ... Ella, me darlin', I couldn't say. However, keep asking around, and enjoy your flogging!

Quote of the day.   My favorite moment during the reading of this morning's paper:

"He was right that Dick Cheney was ready to take over on day one, and he did and he has been ever since, and that's what we got to change."

-- Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, responding to Bush's comment of "Dick Cheney can be president" when asked about the difference between Cheney and Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards.
Hey! How do you know when the president is lying? Someone is pulling the little string that makes his lips move.

BushCo to Pakistan: Catch Osama during convention.   Administration officials are pressuring Pakistan to catch or kill Osama bin Laden and high-ranking Taliban fugitives, according to an article in The New Republic entitled "July Surprise?" Of course, there's a catch ...

This public pressure would be appropriate, even laudable, had it not been accompanied by an unseemly private insistence that the Pakistanis deliver these high-value targets (HVTs) before Americans go to the polls in November. The Bush administration denies it has geared the war on terrorism to the electoral calendar ... But The New Republic has learned that Pakistani security officials have been told they must produce HVTs by the election.

[One] source, an official who works under [Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence] director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July" -- the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

[...] Pushing Musharraf to go after Al Qaeda in the tribal areas may be a good idea despite the risks. But, if that is the case, it was a good idea in 2002 and 2003. Why the switch now? Top Pakistanis think they know: This year, the president's reelection is at stake.

It isn't "Catch him because he killed 3,000 of our fellow Americans"; in fact, Bush has often been quoted as saying that (incredibly) he isn't concerned about bin Laden's whereabouts. It's "Catch him because otherwise I'll lose the election."

In January 2002 Bush told congressional leaders, "I have no ambition whatsoever to use this [September 11 and the war on terror] as a political issue." Well, it's obvious that he's just a fucking liar, isn't it?

I'm unable to summon the words to express my contempt at the moment.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, July 6, 2004
Holiday recovery.   I put on nearly three pounds. Yeesh. Well, it was worth it -- on the Big Day we dined on a brisket that had been smoking for fifteen hours (goodgodchristalmighty, that was so unbelievablyfeckingood; I was so intoxicated by the first nibble that I forgot about my plans to photograph it for the weblog and just began devouring it), Pork 'n Pork 'n Pork 'n Beans, a light and crispy and very dilly cole slaw, roasted corn with Irish butter, roasted onions and garlic, and some fresh-made tortilla chips with an incendiary red chile salsa and some milder cactus salsa, plus copious amounts of beer, exotic sodas, Absinthe Suisesses and some unnamed cocktail made of watermelon juice, triple sec, Bacardi Limón and Schweppes Bitter Lemon. (Dang, no wonder I put on weight.)

We then proceeded to watch the fireworks show emanating from our friends' neighbor's backyard in Highland Park; I'm not entirely sure, but I think that this man had enough rocket power to send the entire neighborhood into circumlunar orbit. (Someone set of an M-100 nearby, and for a minute I thought all my clothes had been blown off.) Woohoo, happy Fourth of July ...

A man who appreciates good barbecue.   As you've probably heard, it's Edwards. Good. I voted for him in the California primary, and I'll vote for him again when I vote Kerry-Edwards in November. It's kind of exciting ... never in my life has someone I voted for in the primary made it onto the ticket.

Let's see, what can the Repub attack dogs unleash about Edwards? He's wealthy. (He worked his way up from poverty into being a millionaire by hard work and his own merits, unlike some whose family money and connections were handed to him on a silver platter since birth.) He's a lawyer. (Oh, that's easy, everybody hates lawyers, right? Let's start counting Republicans with J.D.s, shall we?) He's inexperienced. (Six years as a senator, versus four years as a largely ceremonial governor. Sounds better to me. Hey, wasn't Jack Kennedy a one-term senator when he was elected?)

Bring 'em on.

Dewey defeats Truman!   Faire le oops.

America: Land of the free, home of the brave.   Except when you're not free (First Amendment? What First Amendment?) and the so-called president of your country is a coward. At a Fourth of July rally in West Virginia at which Shrub spoke,

Two Bush opponents, taken out of the crowd in restraints by police, said they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing shirts that said they opposed the president.
Conservatives, what do you think of a man who won't let his political opponents air their views in a civil, nonviolent manner, in accordance with their right to freedom of speech? I think such a man could only be described as a despot.

Activist: E-voting to be a "train wreck".   Hold onto your hats, kiddies. We apparently ain't seen nothin' yet.

Ambushing registrars and tracking down executives at their homes and offices, a literary publicist has uncovered conflicts of interests and security flaws inside the companies that make electronic ballot machines.

Searching the Web and poring over newspaper clippings, Bev Harris has unearthed obscure arrest records, ties to conservative political groups and other embarrassing secrets of senior executives at voting companies.

Her conclusion: there will be so many problems with the more than 100,000 paperless voting terminals to be used in the November presidential election that the fiasco will dwarf Florida's hanging chad debacle of 2000.

The revolution will be televised. On Fox.

Quotes of the day.   In light of the new DNC ad:

"I believe my party has gone astray ... I think the Democratic Party is a fine party, and I have no problems with it, in their views and their philosophy ... You can't fly on an aircraft carrier and declare victory and have the deaths continue ... you can't do that. I do not believe that [Sen. Kerry] is necessarily weak on defense."

-- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), on his colleague Sen. John Kerry.

"In [his book] Four Trials, John Edwards has written movingly of people who were terribly wronged, and whom he helped seek some measure of justice with great skill, determination and genuine compassion. He shows a perceptive appreciation in those accounts for the strength of his clients' character. And, in the loving portrait of his son Wade, and the deeply touching account of his loss, John reveals the strength of his own character and gives the reader a look beyond a political biography into the heart of a good man."

-- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), on his colleague Sen. John Edwards, in a blurb on Edwards' book Four Trials.

"He's got the ambition, the talent and the brains to go very far, to be president of the United States."

-Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), on his colleague Sen. John Edwards, in the Charlotte Observer, February 26, 2001.

Or even vice-president!

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Sunday, July 4, 2004
Hey baby, it's the Fourth of July.   If for some god-knows-why reason you're reading this weblog instead of barbecueing and drinking and shooting off fireworks, here's something to think about. Peter Dreier, professor of political science at Occidental College right here in our beloved Eagle Rock, writes in the LA Weekly about reclaiming love for country from the right wing in "Give Us Back Our Damn Flag: The leftist case for patriotism", which among many other things points out the origins behind a lot of the flag-wavers' favorites:

"Take Back Our Country", a line used by Pat Buchanan when he declared a cultural war at the 1992 Republican Convention, has now become a rallying cry for liberals. John Kerry has been appropriating the key line from Langston Hughes' Depression-era poem "Let America Be America Again" as a campaign slogan.

Indeed, throughout the nation's history, many American radicals and progressive reformers proudly asserted their patriotism. To them, America stood for basic democratic values -- economic and social equality, mass participation in politics, free speech and civil liberties, elimination of the second-class citizenship of women and racial minorities, a welcome mat for the world's oppressed people. The reality of corporate power, right-wing xenophobia, and social injustice only fueled progressives' allegiance to these principles and the struggle to achieve them.

Most Americans are unaware that much of our patriotic culture --including many of the leading symbols and songs that have become increasingly popular since September 11 -- was created by writers of decidedly progressive sympathies.

For example, the Pledge of Allegiance itself was originally authored and promoted by a leading Christian socialist, Francis Bellamy (cousin of best-selling radical writer Edward Bellamy), who was fired from his Boston ministry for his sermons depicting Jesus as a socialist. Bellamy penned the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America by promoting use of the flag in public schools. He hoped the pledge would promote a moral vision to counter the climate of the Gilded Age, with its robber barons and exploitation of workers. Bellamy intended the line "One nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all" to express a more collective and egalitarian vision of America.

Bellamy's invocation of American patriotism on behalf of social justice is part of a hidden tradition. Consider the lines inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Emma Lazarus was a poet of considerable reputation in her day, who was a strong supporter of Henry George and his "socialistic" single-tax program, and a friend of William Morris, a leading British socialist. Her welcome to the "wretched refuse" of the earth, written in 1883, was an effort to project an inclusive and egalitarian definition of the American Dream.

And there was Katharine Lee Bates, a professor of English at Wellesley College. Bates was an accomplished and published poet, whose book America the Beautiful and Other Poems includes a sequence of poems expressing outrage at U.S. imperialism in the Philippines. A member of progressive-reform circles in the Boston area, concerned about labor rights, urban slums and women's suffrage, an ardent feminist, for decades she lived with and loved her Wellesley colleague Katharine Coman, an economist and social activist.

"America the Beautiful," written in 1893, not only speaks to the beauty of the American continent but also reflects her view that U.S. imperialism undermines the nation's core values of freedom and liberty. The poem's final words "and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea" are an appeal for social justice rather than the pursuit of wealth.


Sentiments like "you're either with us or you're against us" and "you're either with us or with the terrorists" are about as anti-American as I can imagine.

Sing.   C'mon. Everyone knows this one. Although ... I'll bet you don't know all the words. Learn 'em, and think about what they mean. (And remember that this song was written as an angry response to the blind patriotism of "God Bless America".)

Words and music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me


I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me


The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me


As I was walkin' I saw a sign there
And that sign said "No trespassing"
But on the other side, it didn't say nothing!
Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office I see my people
And some are grumbling and some are wondering
If this land's still made for you and me.

Chorus (2x)

Thank you, Woody.

Quotes of the day.   Some of which were nicked from Lyn:

"The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home."
-- James Madison

"It is the first responsibliity of every citizen to question authority."
-- Benjamin Franklin

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
-- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), speaking in 1918

"Nothing of importance happened today."
-- King George III of England, writing in his diary on July 4, 1776.

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  Thursday, July 1, 2004
Freeze me!   Sara Dickerman writes in Slate about why food snobs shouldn't turn a cold shoulder to frozen food.

[E]conomy and convenience are no way to win over the foodies. Epicures are looking for a) greater flavor or b) greater status (and not necessarily in that order). A story in the New York Times this spring suggested that frozen sushi might offer both. Julia Moskin's article surprised almost every food-loving person I know. Its gist: Most of the fresh fish we eat raw in sushi bars has been frozen at some point, and the USDA even stipulates that most fish destined to be eaten raw must be frozen to inhibit food-borne parasites. Moskin's article quotes chefs at some of the New York region's most celebrated sushi restaurants; some chefs revealed that they rely on medical-quality super-freezers that reach -70 F and are intended for organ storage. No food seems to celebrate freshness and unadulterated materials more than sushi, but it turns out that freshness is a function of how well the fish has been handled by the sushi master, not whether it comes straight from the ocean.

Connoisseurs who were surprised by the revelations in Moskin's article should take a closer look at what else is showing up frozen these days. Quite often, the foodie's choice pits frozen rarities versus fresh banalities. Luxury purveyor d'Artagnan offers frozen black truffles that extend the fungus' season (usually December through March) to year-round. Exotic-meat purveyors can get you grouse, pheasant, and wild turkey (complete with buckshot), but more often than not the birds will arrive frozen. Chichi retailer Whole Foods boasts freezer bars, where customers can pluck bagfuls of frozen crab legs, scallops, and prawns. And those who hope to opt out of the industrial meat economy altogether will find that farmers of pasture-raised meats rarely sell their wares unfrozen.

Bread is particularly good after being frozen. Last time I made Irish brown bread I only kept enough to eat before going stale; the rest was sliced into half-loaves and frozen. Once thawed, it's just as good as fresh. Make sure, though, that if you're freezing stuff at home that you label it; just because it's in the freezer doesn't mean it'll last forever. Make sure it's well-wrapped with heavy freezer-quality plastic wrap and/or foil, to avoid freezer burn (ick).

June Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

[ Link to today's entries ]

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