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Bake Cake Vol. 2

2004-11-24 - 11:36 p.m.

Bada-ba-pah badabada-bah-pah badabada-bah-pah badabada-BAH! PAH! PAH! Bada-ba-pah badabada-bah-pah badabada-bah-pah badabada-BAH! PAH! PAH!

This Thanksgiving . . .


The Notorious RRZ will NOT . . .


Bake cake!

Looked dead in that last entry, didn't I? But I wasn't. But it wasn't from lack of trying, I can tell you that. Actually, I volunteered to redo one of the papers I screwed up--not a good precedent for the next few years. Last weekend, I cooked. I went on what the Food Network advertisements refer to as a 'culinary extravaganza of Spanish and Mexican treats.' I was culinary. And I was extravagant. And I gave my friends' mouths satisfaction. I've fed a hell of a lot of people to get to this point, but I have one more plate to fill. The last one. The one I'm driving to Thursday morning. The only one left. And when I arrive at my destination, I am not gonna bake cake.

This year, I got the call from my cousin Barbara, who is holding Thanksgiving this year, that I did not need to make pumpkin cake this year. Many of my cousins were going to be cooking desserts, and mine would be just one more than there would be two bites taken of after everybody had stuffed themselves with stuffing.

She said, "So, which "R" you filled with?"

Notorious RRZ: What?
Barb: They say the number one killer of old people is retirement. People got 'em a job to do, they tend to live a little longer so they can do it. I've always figured cooks and their dishes share the same relationship. So, now you ain't gonna hafta bake the cake no more, which "R" are you filled with: Relief or Regret?
Notorious RRZ: A little bit of both.
Barb: Bullshit. I'm sure you do feel a little bit of both. But I know damn well you feel one more than you feel the other. The question was, which one?
Notorious RRZ: Relief.

Because dudes, seriously, I had a rough week. Actually, I am also relieved because of the aforementioned Spanish and Mexican treats. See, in exchange for having our pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday class moved to Monday, I promised to cook lunch. I decided to make a torta espanola, which is sort of a cross between hashbrowns, a quiche, and an omelette. I made it with mushroom soup, roasted red peppers, and spinach, seasoning it with plenty of herbes de provence. I also took some couscous and doctored it up with some black beans, yellow peppers, and raisins. The coup de grace, however, was the ceviche. Unlike the torta and the pumpkin cake, which I learned from The Notorious MOM, I use The Notorious DAD's techniques for making ceviche.

I remember when I told The Notorious MOM that I wanted The Notorious DAD's ceviche recipe. She told me a story.

"Once upon a time in Texas, some believe, around the year 1977, The Notorious DAD was at a party, contemplating whatever it is that a man of your father's infinite skill with seafood dishes contemplates - which is another way of saying "who knows?" - when a man went up to a bowl of your Dad's ceviche. The ceviche was not tasted. Now was it the intention of the man to insult your father? Or was he just allergic to seafood? The motives of the man remain unknown. What is known, are the consequences. The next morning your father appeared at the man's house and demanded that he offer his neck to repay the insult. The man at first tried to console The Notorious DAD, only to find The Notorious DAD was inconsolable. So began the force-feeding of 2468 Pleasant Valley Drive and all sixty of the relatives inside at the serving spoon of The Notorious DAD. And so began the legend of The Notorious DAD's special fish marinade."

I said, "And what, pray tell, is The Notorious DAD's special fish marinade."

She said, "Quite simply, the tastiest marinade in all of fish preparation."

It was rough learning how to make Dad's ceviche. When I tried to make some food for him he spat it out and twisted my arm behind my back. The pain was excrutiating. The next day he was chopping vegetables in his hands and said, "Since your arm now belongs to me, I want it slicing. Can you do that?

I said, "I can, but not without a cutting board."
The Notorious DAD twisted his beard thorughtfully and said, "Then you can't do it. What if your cutting board is dirty or being used by another, what do you do then? Curl into a ball? Or do you cut your tomatoes?"

I tried, but it was messy. He said, "It's the tomato juice that should fear your hand, not the other way around. No wonder you can't do it, you acquiesce to defeat before you even begin."

He pushed me, but I learned. I made that ceviche. And when class was over, there was nothing left but tupperware.

So all that went over well. I am currently in Austin, having spent a wonderful evening last night with Miss Ginger Leigh, drinking champagne and having a smoke on her front porch. She and Patrice Pike had a little show in honor of a very sexy Mexicana's birthday. Of course, during most of the songs, I was chowing down on some cream cheese with jalapeno jelly. As Ginger had said to me earlier: "In Austin, the saying goes 'At a party, guest can finish a cheese plate, guests can finish a canapes tray, and guests can finish cream cheese and jalapeno jelly. But only with the cream cheese and jalapeno jelly is a clean plate sure.' Hence its handle, 'Yumminess Incarnate.'" Pretty cool, huh? A plate of cream cheese and jalapeno jelly can be finished by a dozen guests in two hours, if, say, everyone's sober. However, even a single guest, if drunk and having smoked what you smoked, can finish a plate within 20 minutes. Now, you should listen to this, 'cause this concerns you. The amount of cream cheese and jalapeno jelly that can be scooped up by a single cracker can be gargantuan. You know, I've always liked that word..."gargantuan"... so rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence."

Today, I hung out with Pearljammer and as I had to take her to Walmart to get her car looked at, I got a taste of holiday traffic. Not fun. So I'm gonna finish up so I can get a bit of sleep and then make an early start in the morning. I got a call earlier asking if I was going to make the pumpkin cake, and I was worried because this would mean braving a grocery store (please see last year's Thanksgiving entry, called, shockingly enough, Bake Cake Vol. 1). Fortunately, everything is cleared up and I will not have to cook a bite of food tomorrow if I don't want to.

After dinner, I'll say to Barb, "Now in these last minutes you have left before the tryptophan kicks in, let me answer the question you asked earlier more thoroughly. Right at this moment, the biggest "R" I feel is Relief. Relief that maybe the greatest stuffing I have ever eaten will be followed by cheescake, brownies, and blueberry delight. I deserve it."

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Be glad there are only two movies that I can steal this shit from.

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