Thursday, February 23, 2006

Egg and Olive Penguins

From the very beginning, it was inevitable that I'd eventually write about the egg-and-olive penguin phenomenon. It's a unique combination of two recurring themes here at Cyclotram: cute animals and horrific 60's cookbooks. As the original article notes, you can indeed assemble a semi-realistic, semi-cute, semi-edible, semi-penguin-like object out of nothing but black olives, hard-boiled eggs, and toothpicks. Does this count as "cooking", or do we file it under "hobbies and crafts"?

And to top it off, the, ah, recipe first appeared in an immortal tome titled "Meals with FOREIGN FLAIR". It's not known what country the authors had in mind, in this case. Perhaps Italy, because of the olives, you know.

I had a surprising amount of trouble locating pictures of egg-and-olive penguins. Once upon a time, they were everywhere, in every cookbook. But that was in the pre-Internet era, and they seem doomed to be one of the many things destined to disappear down our collective cultural memory hole, merely because they failed to make the leap to the latest and greatest medium. Just like all the great songs that never made the leap from 8-track to mp3. Yes, both of them.

If you'd like to compare and contrast, here's another penguin recipe. This recipe suggests they'd be perfect for a Linux get-together. Not because anyone will eat them, but a good ironic laugh will be had by all.

The page also provides a recipe for Tang Pie, but sadly there's no image to go with it. Sure, we can all laugh about it now, but when they start holding county fairs on the moon, this recipe's guaranteed to bring home a nice blue ribbon for some happy homemaker of the future.

If you tire of the whole egg-and-olive business, and you wonder what real penguins taste like, you may be out of luck, if this FAQ from NASA is to be believed. Seems the UN frowns on that sort of thing. Another FAQ page, this time from the US Antarctic Program. There seems to be a fairly widespread public interest in chowing down on penguins, which our government is valiantly struggling to discourage. Here's one rather colorful passage.

Frederick A. Cook, a doctor aboard the Belgian vessel Belgica when it was stuck in pack ice in 1898, basically regarded penguins as inedible: "If it's possible to imagine a piece of beef, odiferous cod fish and a canvas-backed duck roasted together in a pot, with blood and cod-liver oil for sauce, the illustration would be complete." But because they needed fresh meat to help combat scurvy, he told the captain of ship to regard penguins as medicinal, and swallow the meat as a duty and example to others.

You have to admit that sounds awfully discouraging. Although it's also true that most food from the 60's and 70's could be described in roughly the same way. Sometimes there was even Jello(TM) involved. Even today we aren't entirely free of icky retro-food. As one example, the one and only Emeril recently proffered a recipe for lima bean casserole, although at least he had the decency to relegate it to being a side dish and not the main course. So in theory you could feed it to the dog and nobody would notice, assuming the dog was hungry enough.

And speaking of Linux, which we were doing a minute ago becaue of the whole penguin thing, while also speaking of things that ought to disgust all civilized minds, everything's looking very very bad for SCO these days, as usual. And yet the charade continues. I just don't get it. I really don't. I mean, even back in the lawless days of the Spanish Main, you couldn't go on indefinitely in the piracy business unless you managed to turn a profit on occasion. Granted, these days SCO's more of a ghost ship than a pirate ship, but it's still amazing (and highly suspicious) how the bastards keep the damn thing afloat.

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