Monday, December 12, 2016


     Mondays are not suited to heavy sociopolitical commentary. Oh, I’m sure I’ll manage a little, somewhat later in the day, but right now I’m feeling too good. Herewith, a couple of humorous bits from the Fortress of Crankitude’s hearth.

     1. Adventures in Northeastern Cuisine, Part One

     Recently, the C.S.O. and I decided to visit a nearby restaurant that had opened to positive reviews. It was a homey sort of place that included an on-site microbrewery, a feature guaranteed to warm the C.S.O.’s heart. When I opened the menu, I found that among the soups offered was Newfoundland Lobster Bisque. I was immediately impressed.

     When the waitress came over to ask for our selections, I said “I’ll have the Newf soup.” She, of course, was puzzled, so I smiled and indicated the menu entry. She jotted it down and strode away at a curiously high speed.

     The soup was excellent. More, the restaurant manager came over to ask my opinion of it. The following exchange ensued:

FWP: Excellent. Better than I’ve ever had it before. The Newf really comes through.
Restaurant Manager: Very good, sir. I’m glad you enjoyed it. We use only the very highest-quality Newfs, you know.

FWP: I do have a question, though. Do you use the whole Newf, or only selected parts?
RM: Oh, the whole Newf, most assuredly. It wouldn’t be authentic, otherwise.

FWP: I’m doubly impressed. That must make it a trial for the kitchen staff.
RM: We train them very well. I haven’t had to execute one yet this week.

     As you can see, I confronted a wit as bizarre as my own. But it was the concluding stanza that really impressed me:

FWP: The combination of flavors is striking. How do you balance the Newf against the lobster?
RM: We strive to maintain an exact fifty-fifty ratio: One lobster, one Newf.

     I was profoundly grateful that I didn’t have a mouthful of something at that point.

     (PS: Rufus was not amused.)

     2. Adventures In Northeastern Cuisine, Part Two

     Urgent Warning! If you value your waistline at all, do not follow two large bowls of fresh chili with a generous hunk of rum-soaked Assumption Abbey fruitcake! And never, ever wash it all down with a bottle of Chateau Lafayette Reneau’s semi-dry Johannesburg Riesling!

     (I think the C.S.O. is trying to make herself look thinner by feeding me up. Just now, she’s contemplating a cheesecake recipe that includes, among other things, a pound of ground up hazelnuts. I asked where it came from, and her first reply was “An old friend.” When I pressed for details, she allowed that the old friend was Craig Claiborne. I think I’m doomed.)

     3. Christmas And Cats.

     Normally, the C.S.O. likes to “go to town” with the Christmas decorations. (And she’s an irreligious Jew. Go figure.) This year is no exception. At least, it started out that way.

     We’d bought a new tree, and the C.S.O. had me haul three large Rubbermaid Totelockers® filled with decorations up from the basement. When she’d finished, the tree had been festooned with everything but the head of a dead terrorist. I, being esthetically challenged, merely watched.

     Then Zoe got to work on it:

     First she stripped the lower branches of the tree of all their decorations. I found them scattered randomly over the living room. The C.S.O. decided not to redeploy them, and returned them to storage. Then Zoe started climbing the tree from inside, and knocked off all the higher decorations. We tried putting them even higher, but Zoe persisted in climbing the inside of the tree and knocking them off. Once again, they went back into storage.

     The tree now bears only strings of lights, which are woven into the branches too tightly for Zoe to displace. So she’s taken to chewing on our centerpieces.

     I think we have an atheist cat. Or she might be a Druid. Hard to tell them apart from this evidence alone. If I surprise her at conducting some bizarre rite around the tree, we’ll know for sure.

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