It's Christmas Time…

a christmas warp
Photo by Chewy Chua
… and there’s no need to be afraid.

Or so wrote the inimitable, and not at all tramp like, harpy marrying, ridiculous child naming, humanitarian and all around do-gooder..Bob Geldof

Now yes, I realise that it isn’t Christmas time yet…despite what the shops and TV adverts are telling us.  However, I have now confirmed my Chrimble plans fully.

I will be spending Christmas Day doing…well…I don’t actually know, beyond calling the kids.  The reason?  Well, I am having a German Christmas this year with the W’s…and Germans celebrate their Christmas day on our Christmas Eve.  It’s pretty much the same as ours, big family thing, lots of food and pressies to open…just done the evening before.

It’s more of a family affair than I am used to though, with pretty much the whole W clan arriving to Oma W’s apartment for fun and frivolity.  In our family, and I think this is true of a lot of British families, we do Christmas day with the kids and immediate family…and Boxing day is when we start going around visiting other family members etc.  I am looking forward to it.

Then, a few days later, we are off to Blighty, where I will be having all four of my kids for once, and I am ecstatic about that.  My family will get to meet CW and I know they are looking forward to it…especially the kids.  After talking to Brandon yesterday, he plans to make a special hot chocolate for her…just incase she is feeling sick from the English beer and too much Devils Food Cake Smile

It is also fairly unique for me, in that I will be doing “Christmas 2  – This time it’s personal” for the first time that I can remember.  Normally, I make sure that the kids presents are wherever the kids are on Christmas day.  I prefer it that way and have never really liked the “2 Christmas Days” thing…

This time though, I will have all 4 of my kids together, and I intend to enjoy it properly…so just this once, I will be doing a 2nd Christmas day…and I love the idea of watching them open everything..I know it’s a little selfish, but I want that.  There is another reason though…and that is that I am not quite as organised as I normally am…by now, in a normal year, over half of the presents would already be at my Mums place for wrapping and sending on…as of right now, I haven’t actually bought anything and intend to start a marathon online shop-a-thon shortly.

Yeah yeah, I know…bad Dad, but still..I am pretty confident in getting everything I need in time.

I know we will all have a great time…even my Mum and Dad, who are likely as not stressing about having a houseful of people…yeah see, you thought your house was big Mum….We will see just *how* big it really is

mwaha muahahahaahaaaaa

Or something

What are your plans for Christmas then?

Cake or death….

Not even close....but you get the ideaSo it looks like there is a possibility I will be in England for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my folks.   It goes without saying that I will do my damndest to get to see the kids at the same time, and I am sure I will manage to achieve it.   That said, it will be Christmas with the parents, and I am the son that lives furthest away….

Now, being the oldest of 3 boys means that certain expectations are placed on you to be responsible, level headed and able to look after yourself (and your brothers).   Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t spoiled and went without….far far from it.   I have mentioned before that I had a great childhood and wouldn’t change it for the world.   However, I didn’t always get the option for certain things..the options were normally delivered to the younger brethren before me.   Where the hell am I going with this??   Oh yeah, eldest son..far away…got it.

As it is now a rarity to see me, I am pretty much a shoe in to get the option of a special thing to be prepared.   This is guaranteed to be my Mums very special and never matched…Devils Food Cake.   It should be said that, despite my ample girth (and my belly Wink ) I am not really a chocolate lover.   However, when you have tried some of my Mums Devils Food Cake, you could easily become a chocaholic…instantly…followed rapidly by a chocolate induced coma…with possible drowning by double cream.

It is one of “those” recipes… in that it is a closely guarded secret, has changed over time and consists of a plastic wallet with random pieces of paper..it sort of resembles a kidnappers ransom note starter pack and would probably have reduced the guys that cracked the Enigma device to tears trying to recreate it.   I was given the recipe, once…and subsequently lost it in the great hard disk crash of ’01.   Subsequent attempts to gain access have been futile, so I am left with the rare occasion when I can ask for this creation of the gods to be made for me.   Serious pleasure is all I am saying.

All of my 35 years on this planet will count for nothing when I regress into a mewling babe whislt simultaneously begging my Mum to make me this cake… I may ask for two to be made…specifically so I can have one with “Daves…keep off” iced on.

Now, I just need to work on getting Mum to make me a chilli and a lasagne, and I may weep a little.   It’s pretty pathetic really, but I am just about to embark on a new diet…and it is one of those 4 days on 3 days off things…I worked out my optimum start day to ensure that the 3 off falls outside of 2 events.   The first is the visit of my Dad next month, and the second being Christmas at my folks place.   The logistics of doing this should really be added to my CV…creative accounting, time management…political lies…it has it all, but all things considered…I will be drinking with my Dad quite merrily next month without feeling even the least bit guilty and then eating my bodyweight in Devils Food Cake at Christmas guilt free too.

Don’t get me wrong, I know all of you (well most of you….some of you at least) believe that your Mums cooking is better than anybody elses Mums cooking and you will never be swayed by any argument that anyone would care to make.   This is fine, but there is a difference…you are all wrong!   It’s a subtle difference I know, but an important one nevertheless.

I am quite looking forward to it now Smile

What is you favourite (albeit inferior to mine) Mums cooking that you would regress to your childhood for?

Bring on the heat

pimentasI was talking to the guys at work yesterday, as it would appear that some of them are missing the national food of Great Britain…namely Hot Curry (and yes, the capitalisation is necessary).   Apparently, a place has been located that understands the term “English Hot please”.

Germans don’t do spicey food..they place a 3 chilli warning sign on what are essentially tomatoe flavoured crisps.   They consider standard, run of the mill bell peppers as excessive.   When you ask for chilli on your kebab…they look at you strangely when you ask if they have real chilli anywhere.   Not a spicy hot food nation is all I am saying.   Very occasionally, I will concede, you get a surprise…I went to a kebab shop some months ago and went through the usual routine:

Me: With chilli please
Kebabman:   *lightly introduces concept of chilli to kebab*
Me:   No I said chilli please… I am English, the hotter the better
Kebabman: I have put chilli on
Me:   No, you have given the kebab a theory lesson on what chillis are
Kebabman: *sighs* Ok, more chilli
Me:   Thankyou
Me:   Bites into kebab
Me:   Head explodes
Me:   Recovers and (hopefully) successfully hides the nuclear reaction going on in my mouth

Suffice to say, he is my favourite Kebabman.

So consequently, the curries here (whilst full of flavour), do not require a gallon of beer to cool off…which of course increases the enjoyment factor…as long as you get in touch with your inner lager lout.   So, a “proper” curry house has been discovered and we will be going for a heat competition in a couple of weeks.   For my part, I will be ensuring that there are plenty of toilet rolls in my freezer for when I get home.   I will also place paramedics on standby and maybe eat some candles…Homer Simpson stylee.   When I return from my dream walk with the talking fox…I may blog about hallucenigenic curries and their effect on inner city Frankfurt.

I digress…. the conversation about thermonuclear curries reminded me of a Chilli that my Mum cooked many years ago.   We like reasonably hot stuff in our family, but my Dad had a friend coming over..and Mum said she would cook a Chilli for everyone.   This prompted said “friend” to ask if it was going to be a proper Chilli or some weak thing.   My Mum insisted that we like our food HOT, but that wasn’t enough and it turned into a macho “I can eat food so hot, they can power small countries with the ‘output'” conversation.   My Mum assured him that it would be suitably hot and she felt sure he would enjoy it.

So the night arrived, and I stumble into the kitchen to get a drink and notice that Mum appears to be making 2 individual pots of Chilli.   One of the normal family size variety…and one of the somewhat smaller and, dare I say it, sinister…evil..child of Nosferatu variety.   Various spoons and possibly the bottom of the pan were most definitely melting.   My Mum may have been cackling as she dropped small and unassuming ingredients into this smaller pan…each of them met with a cloud of purple smoke, a smell of the sulphurous pits of hell and a distinctive gurgling sound.   I think what gave away her intentions though, was the leather apron…welders mask and lead gloves she donned whenever she went anywhere near this smaller pot.

So dinner is served and we all tuck into our Chilli..my Dads friend failed to notice that all of the plants with 10 feet of him had withered and died the second that Mum walked past with his Chilli in a specially reinforced bowl, and began to munch away.   No sooner had he got the first spoonful to his mouth, he broke out in an instant sweat.   His head was so red, I literally thought he might pass out…every few seconds he would glance across at us..quietly munching away, chatting normally and generally enjoying the experience.   After the 2nd mouthful..I believe he lost the use of his tongue, and his speech became slightly slurred.   He made some pitiful excuse shortly after, something about having a big dinner and he was really sorry, but couldn’t eat anymore.   At least, that’s what I think he said…to this day I couldn’t understand him properly.

The moral to this story is of course…do not cast aspersions at my Mums cooking…she may try and kill you.

Wish me luck…

Oh…thought I would leave you with this Chilli cookoff story :

THE INEXPERIENCED JUDGE
Notes From An Inexperienced Chili Tester Named FRANK, who was visiting
Texas from the East Coast: “Recently, I was honored to be selected as a
judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last
moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table asking
directions to the beer wagon, when the call came.

I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili
wouldn’t be all that spicy, and besides, they told me I could have free
beer during the tasting. So I accepted.”

Here are the scorecards from the event:

_________________________________________________________

CHILI # 1 MIKE’S MANIAC MOBSTER MONSTER CHILI

JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.

JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

FRANK: Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried
paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope
that’s the worst one. These Texans are crazy.

_________________________________________________________

CHILI # 2 ARTHUR’S AFTERBURNER CHILI

JUDGE ONE: Smokey, with a hint of pork. Slight Jalapeno tang.

JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken
seriously.

FRANK: Keep this out of the reach of children I’m not sure what I am
supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to
give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they
saw the look on my face.
__________________________________________________________

CHILI # 3 FRED’S FAMOUS BURN DOWN THE BARN CHILI

JUDGE ONE: Excellent firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.

JUDGE TWO: A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of peppers.

FRANK: Call the EPA, I’ve located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I
have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now get me more
beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is
in the front part of my chest. I’m getting shit-faced from all the beer.
____________________________________________________________

CHILI # 4 BUBBA’S BLACK MAGIC

JUDGE ONE: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

JUDGE TWO: Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or
other mild foods, not much of a chili.

FRANK: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to
taste it, is it possible to burnout taste buds? Sally, the barmaid, was
standing behind me with fresh refills; that 300 lb. Bitch is starting to
look HOT, just like this nuclear waste I’m eating. Is chili an
aphrodisiac?

_______________________________________________________

CHILI # 5 LINDA’S LEGAL LIP REMOVER

JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding
considerable kick. Very Impressive.

JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit
the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

FRANK: My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can
no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed
paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili
had given me brain damage, Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring
beer directly on it from a pitcher. I wonder if I’m burning my lips off?
It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming.
Screw those rednecks!
________________________________________________________

CHILI # 6 VERA’S VERY VEGETARIAN VARIETY

JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spice
and peppers.

JUDGE TWO: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic.
Superb.

FRANK: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous,
sulfuric flames. I shit myself when I farted and I’m worried it will eat
through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that
slut Sally. She must be kinkier than I thought. Can’t feel my lips
anymore. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone!
___________________________________________________

CHILI # 7 SUSAN’S SCREAMING SENSATION CHILI

JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

JUDGE TWO: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of
chili peppers at the last moment. I should take note that I am worried
about Judge Number 3, He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is
cursing uncontrollably.

FRANK: You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn’t
feel a damn thing. I’ve lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like
it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid
unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava-like shit to match my
damn shirt. At least during the autopsy they’ll know what killed me. I’ve
decided to stop breathing; it’s too painful. Screw it. I’m not getting
any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I’ll just suck it in through the 4-inch
hole in my stomach.
____________________________________________________

CHILI # 8 LESTER’S LAST OF THE RED-HOT LOVER’S CHILI

JUDGE ONE: A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe for all,
not too bold but spicy enough to declare it’s existence.

JUDGE TWO: This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor
hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge Number 3 passed
out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure
if he’s going to make it. Poor Yank, wonder how he’d have reacted to a
really hot chili?

I love the smell of napalm…

…although perhaps not the taste.

It was long ago, a simpler time when men were men and New Years Eve BBQ street parties were brought together by the contents of what looked like a dark green varnish tin, but in fact contained a purple jelly like substance known as Napalm.

The thing about Napalm, the important thing to remember about Napalm, is that it is not listed on very many outdoor cooking sites as a suitable BBQ lighter fuel.   The reasons for this should be relatively apparent….toxic sausage* anyone?

So the scene is set:

  • Grassed area usually used by kids for football, taken over for party  – Check
  • 4 giant oil drum BBQs – Check
  • 3 12×12 RAF tents to store….stuff – Check
  • Enough food to supply an estate of people with around 600 houses – Maybe not, but some people won’t come – so… Check
  • 1 x Organiser with serious shortcomings in the sense of humour area – Check
  • Oh… and booze – Lots of booze – Check

The party starts getting underway, is in full swing some might say.   I, at approximately age 14, and along with my friends, have found the backup booze stash and started “experimenting” with different concoctions in a Stein.   This does cloud my actual memory somewhat, so some of the specifics of the night escape me.   I do know that this was my first experience of a beer induced pavement pizza…

Things that may or may not have definitely possibly  happened:

  • Napalm smoked BBQ food scattered everywhere after taste #1
  • Organiser type person completely unable to put out the Napalm induced BBQs….as this is the way Napalm works – FFS**
  • 200 people decided that they would follow my Mum and Dad*** to their cellar bar for a “Proper Party”
  • “Argumentative Couple” have their weekly argument, things get broken and the Military Police show up
  • My Mum decides that the best use for Napalm flambe sausages is to plug the police cars exhaust pipe like in the movies****
  • Police car makes a decidedly unhealthy noise, some would call it a bang, I called it an explosion and the engine breaks
  • My Mum and her cohorts try to sneak back to the party unseen and fail…miserably
  • Some stupid 14 year old kid, whose name escapes me*****, walks right up to his parents and announces that he is not drunk and has not just been sick.
  • Same 14 year old kid throws up in front of parents
  • Then falls in pavement pizza
  • Parents respond by laughing uncontrollably
  • Organiser type person begins shovelling mud/grass from field into BBQ to try and quell heat/flames
  • Rest of street party attempt to squeeze into my Mum and Dads cellar bar – Most end up in my bedroom (in cellar at my request btw)
  • Topfer Strasse collective party hard and almost nothing gets destroyed in either the cellar bar or my bedroom – Result!
  • Organiser person refuses to recognise that his party died hours ago and stays resolutely at his post, seemingly cooking the field now
  • Organiser persons wife and kids are forced to stay with him whilst the rest of the estate are in our cellar
  • New Year comes and goes
  • Nobody notices
  • Last person leaves our cellar at approximately 8am

That was the night that was – I do not recommend napalm smoked sausages – But I can recommend parents like mine that managed to save an entire estates New Years Eve party….even if it did annoy organiser type person…. yey!

* Oh come on, there has to be a band called Toxic Sausage…”Please put your hands together for Toxic Sausage, and their number 1 hit single…Napalm BBQ”

** Seriously, someone from the RAF that has  access to stores of Napalm MUST have even the most basic understanding of how it works

*** Now, I know other people claim to have the coolest parents in the world  OK Seriously for example  – I just want to go on record to say that actually mine are at the top.

**** See!!!!

***** Me Confused