Vol. 6, Issue 2, April 1, 2008
The Aeronautical Cure
DeadBrain USA

Of Iron Chefs and Iron Stomachs

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

Of the manifold pleasures to be Had in this world, surely those of the Table are not least. I have long been known as a bit of a Gourmand - to be sure, the cut of my Waistcoat is most Generous (according to my Tailor in any event) and my Cravats are ever wont to bear testimony to recent Repasts (but in an understated Tasteful sort of way: wanton Splashes of sauce upon one's clothing is a sign of mere Gluttony, while a delicate Spotting bears witness to a refined and Vigorous gustatory appreciation).

It so happened that in my capacity as a 'Gravy-Spotter' I recently had the Occasion to serve as one of the judges on a popular cookery tournament, the "Iron Chef" show, which I understand has families nationwide clustered about their oak-cabinet Radios weekly. Challengers bring their culinary skills to battle against the Iron Chefs, working diligently to prepare meals using an ingredient revealed at the last Minute. How could one possibly turn Down such an opportunity? I arrived wearing my most Expansive waistcoat, and marveled at the scene.

Alas, I marveled somewhat overmuch; for as I made pleasant Small-talk with my fellow judges (a grizzled Food Critic of some manner or other and a charming young Actress) I failed entirely to hear what the secret Ingredient was. Well, no matter, I thought - surely it would be no Challenge to discern the common theme to each Dish as they were prepared, and judge them Accordingly on their use of the item in question.

Diligently did I watch as the two Chefs and their assistants wielded Knives with the skill of desperate Fencers, splashing this and tossing That in a sudden fountain of Flames. Fascinating though the process was to Watch, I gained no further Wisdom as to what the theme ingredient was. Well, no matter: I enjoyed the culinary Acrobatics and awaited enlightenment from the procession of Dishes to come, surely to reveal the main theme.

Or, surely not. For the cuisine was a little too Nouveau for this old gentleman to follow. Among other things, I was served:

  • Shrimp paste rivulets cascading over a Salt lick resembling Mt. Fuji, with trees of Endive and a rising moon made from a Necco wafer;
  • Nineteen habañero peppers, standing as though dancing a Venetian waltz, wearing small straw Cowboy hats;
  • A Napoleonic battle-standard made from a slice of raw Beef painted with peanut butter and Absinthe, being carried by a Guinea-pig in full military regalia (the animal was not to be Eaten, we were warned, but was merely Decoration).

What ingredient was I to extol or Excoriate? The robust strains of Chicken-stock seeping through my Custard? The pungent Roquefort cheese smeared carefully with chocolate sauce and Wasabi? I felt adrift in a culinary Jungle without a map, and a burgeoning case of Indigestion to boot.

And then, at last, the Iron Chef served a dish I could understand: Sea-urchins, garnished with sugar blossoms and a tin Whistle... filled with glorious, glorious Whisky. It was, unless I was sorely mistaken, a 21 year old Glen Grant (and so, at last, I was able to sound Intelligent next to my fellow judges! The young Actress seated to my right thought perhaps the liquor in question was Bourbon. Hmmph!)

I still did not know what the secret ingredient was, but I knew who was getting My vote.


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