How Can You Eat that Stuff?

[A repeat from August 3, 2017] De gustibus non est disputandum is a favorite phrase of mine (I know – “get a life RH“). It means “in matters of taste, there can be no disputes.”  We all have different tastes – in food, activities, temperature, friends, work, politics and other things.  Your “taste” in food may be way out of my wheelhouse but that doesn’t make it wrong.  Or right.  It’s just your taste.  

I love spaghetti carbonara with lean bacon, pancetta and peas.  I crave avocados (see 8/20/13) and smoked salmon with mustard.  You may hate the stuff (you poor soul) but – hey brother – de gustibus non est disputandum.  

I know a lot of folks swear by soft shell crabs.  But what is tasty about chewing on shards of broken plastic?   I’m not a fan of corned beef and cabbage.  I’ve never ordered it and on occasions when it has been served to me, I will nibble a piece of cabbage and bury the rest under a roll.  And pat my stomach “delicious!”   Ribs?  I mean what’s the point?  

I’m not afraid to try new things.  I’ve eaten worms, bugs, brains, innards, gizzards and goat tongue – often in business settings.  But when given the choice?  I’ll tee up something I like.  Or tolerate.  What’s your most unfavorite foods?    

Once Upon a Time

[A happy repeat from September 13, 2018] Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess. She lived in a big castle and had a cat. The cat’s name was “Flashy.” One day, the beautiful princess stepped outside the castle with her cat – and THEN . . . .  

Donna and I happily entertain our granddaughters with regularity.  It’s always special to share time with them.  When we have a meal, we normally encourage some sort of interaction.  It’s more than “how was your day” or “do you like your spaghetti.”  Donna or I will whirrrrr our arms around and point to one of our granddaughters and say “You begin a story.”  The 3 or 6 year old will begin a story – often like the four lines above.  Sometimes – they’ll start a story on their own.   After “and then” — the obligation shifts to the next person at the table to continue the story.  We’ve had some verrrry interesting adventures come out of this round table authorship.   I often include the beautiful – yet powerful – princess going to the local golf course and shooting a sub par round from the back tees.  

Another staple for dinnertime discussion is “Rose and Thorn.”  Everyone is asked the “Rose” of their day — the happiest or most exciting part of the day.  Then we will  ask if there was a “Thorn” in their day — something that happened that wasn’t pleasant or happy.  We learn a lot – from our granddaughters and from each other from these simple yet insightful interactions of dialogue.  What was the Rose of your day?   

Mulligans

[A repeat from November 9, 2014] Speaking of golf, when I’m with my buds on the golf course and we tee off on the first hole, a “Mulligan” is frequently offered for an errant tee shot.  We call it a “breakfast ball.” It’s a do-over.  Even if we’re playing for a few coins, it’s “hit another – nobody saw that first one.” 

Wouldn’t it be nice if in life we had do-overs? Mulligans? For errant words or deeds?   We do in a way though the granting of a do-over often lies in the province of the recipient of the errant words or deeds.  It’s called “forgiveness.”  I’m sure we all have things we’d like to do over.  Words.  Deeds.  And we’re all grateful for the granting of forgiveness (or lack of ill consequence).  I’m sorry . . . . It’s okay.  No worries

But today, there is a poison of political correctness that can sink careers.  Free speech is being crushed.  Do overs?  For the wrong word?  Forget it.   Accusations – even though false – are often enough to destroy a life.  

I’ve said some dumb things and done some even dumber ones that I’d like to call back.  But in the words of the great poet Omar Khayyam:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

Our futures lie within our own hands.  The “moving finger” business is probably a good reason to think twice before we act — or speak.  And knowing of our own fallibility – and frailty – a reason to consider the granting of Mulligans to others.   

The Bakery

My father was of Danish heritage and my mother Swedish. I never had much in the area of Danish food but Swedish? Mercy. . . . . My favorites were Swedish meatballs, Swedish pancakes (my personal recipe is posted on January 31, 2020), lingonberries and Swedish baked goods. To this day, our family will have a variation of Swedish meatballs at Christmastime. But the baked goods have fallen by the wayside. . . . . .

So it is ironic that my mother’s grandparents got off the boat from Sweden in the early 1900’s. And shortly after arriving in Chicago, my great grandmother – Hilma (Johnsson) Sandell – opened a bakery in the basement of 4244 N. Crawford Ave. The family lived upstairs. From my earliest days, I remember devouring limpa bread, cardamom coffee cake and peppakakor cookies. On rare occasion – it was a sockerkaka – a sponge cake with strawberries and peaches (and the obligatory whipped cream). Ahhhh . . . “sweet” memories.

Chicago has a few good Swedish restaurants (Svea, Tre Kronor and Ann Sathers) and a Swedish area on the North Side appropriately called “Andersonville. ” There is the Swedish American Museum that chronicles the immigration of Swedes to shores of America. There used to be a Swedish Club (my dad was a member) but no more. There is a hospital (Swedish Covenant) and a college (North Park University) that have Swedish roots. For Swedish baked goods, I have had cross country deliveries from Hulda’s Swedish Baked Goods in Brookline, NH ( http://www.swedishbakers.com ). Plan to drool if you peruse the website. . . .

Every family comes from somewhere – and most families retain or at least recognize their culinary roots. I am no different. So you will excuse me while I wolf down a few peppakakor. . . .

Zungenbrecher

Sooooo. . . . in response to my post on tongue twisters, my friend John sent me a note offering a tongue twister in German. So I began practicing this Zungenbrecher. I think I’ve got it but don’t hold me to it. Anyway, it got my meager brain churning – and I checked out Zungenbrecher in other languages. I thought you might like to see a few – and practice with children or grandchildren.

German tongue twister

Eseln essen Neseln nicht, Neseln essen Eseln nicht.

Donkeys don’t eat onions and onions don’t eat donkeys.

Spanish tongue twister

Qué triste estás, Tristán, con tan tétrica trama teatral

How sad you are, Tristán, with such a gloomy theatrical tale!

Arabic tongue twister

Al mishmish dah mish min mishmishkum wa kaman al mishmish dah mish min mishmishnah.

The apricot is not your apricot and the apricot is also not our apricot.

French tongue twister

Si mon tonton tond ton tonton, ton tonton sera tondu.

If my uncle shaves your uncle, your uncle will be shaven

Chinese tongue twister

吃葡萄吐葡萄皮儿 – 不吃葡萄不吐葡萄皮儿。
吃葡萄不吐葡萄皮儿 – 不吃葡萄倒吐葡萄皮儿。

chī pútáo tǔ pútáo pí ér – bù chī pútáo bù tǔ pútáo pí ér.
chī pútáo bù tǔ pútáo pí ér – bù chī pútáo dào tǔ pútáo pí ér.

Eat grapes throw out their skins — don’t eat grapes don’t throw out their skins.
Eat grapes don’t throw out their skins — don’t eat grapes throw out their skins.

Tongue Twisters

[An oldie from June 19, 2014] The first tongue twisters that most kids of my generation learned was “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.  A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.  If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?” 

The two others that I remember well (and which to this day I can recite perfectly) are:  Rubber buggy bumpers” and “Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore.”  I was told to repeat them three times quickly and of course I remember them coming out “Rubber bubby mumpersRugger buddy buppersBuggy bubber bumpers.”  The “Sally” one came out equally bad. 

I haven’t given much thought to tongue twisters until a few weeks ago when someone challenged me to say “I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet I sit.”   That is not one for the faint of heart.  Especially if you have to say it while holding your tongue.   Fortunately I learned this one from Donna early on (must be an East Coast thing) so I took a breath and spat it out.  Flawlessly.  Raised a few eyebrows that did. . . .  

If anyone gets bored, here are hundreds of tongue twisters online.  And there are tongue twisters for children (which is a good educational tool). See e.g. https://www.playosmo.com/kids-learning/tongue-twisters-for-kids/ .   Excuse me now as I wish to wash my Irish wristwatch. . . .

Thread the Needle

[A repeat from February 18, 2018] Did your mother have a sewing machine? Mine did. Once a month or so, my mother would pull out the Singer sewing machine and darn socks, ripped underwear and replace buttons.  She would sew patches on my ragged jeans and I was ready to go.  Sewing was part of everyday life.  I learned the basics of sewing.  My grandmother would sometimes ask me to “thread the needle” for her since her eyesight was not too keen.  So I would kiss the thread and do the job. 

Today though – it seems that sewing (as I remember it) has gone the way of the rotary telephone.  In my house, we don’t sew ripped socks anymore (they go in a donation bin).   When something needs sewing, we take it to the local cleaners and they do the job for a few dollars.  I still carry one of those matchbook-sized sewing kits (a few needles and some thread) when I travel but in the years I’ve carted it along – I don’t think I’ve ever used it (except once using a needle to remove a sliver). 

The Huffington Post had an article (October 17, 2014) that said millenials don’t know how to sew, do laundry or even take care of their clothes.  They also don’t know how to cook (Marketwatch); figure out tire pressure; handle finances; do routine first aid; or . . . . quite a few things.   I am thinking about quitting the legal profession and opening a gas station with a laundry service, fast food counter and a medical clinic.  With Wi-Fi . . . . . . 

A Culture of Violence

[A repeat from January 3, 2013] On Saturday mornings when I was growing up, I could watch one hour of television.  I was not allowed to watch “Superman” (the old one with George Reeves) because my mother thought it was “too violent.”  So I usually picked “Mighty Mouse” and “Sky King.”  On Saturday nights, I could sometimes watch “Have Gun Will Travel” and “Gunsmoke” with my father.   In the old Westerns, if a bad guy was shot, he’d fall down.  Narry a drop of blood.  No coughing.  No twitching.  No movement.  And no gloating.   

In 1969, Sam Peckinpah ended that age of innocence with his iconic “The Wild Bunch” in which blood flowed in rivers and the carnage was suffocating.  I remember seeing the movie and going “whoa!” 

Today we accept that young people can watch movies that glorify horror, death and fear.  They play (often for hours on end) the most violent, brutal, cruel and bloody video games.   There is the scalding inhumanity of and bloodlust for ultimate fighting and the degrading and debasing reality television shows where manipulation and back-stabbing win.  Hollywood sinks lower.  And lower.  But – hey – don’t you dare try and impose your values on anyone.   Don’t even think of mentioning the word “God” in school or a public place.   And heaven help you if you bring a Bible to school.   The ACLU and secular “progressives” (who want to impose their values on you) will sue you and run you out of town under the guise of safeguarding liberty.   

When you see the horrific violence that we as a society wreak upon ourselves, I have to wonder if our culture of violence, the casual acceptance of it and the disintegration of traditional values — don’t invite it. . . .

Christianity, Judaism and Islam

[It is a holy time of year for the three Abrahamic faiths, – a repeat of March 17, 2018] Islam, Judaism and Christianity all trace their lineage to a common ancestor  — Abraham.  And before that, Adam and Eve.  Abraham had two sons:  Isaac (by Sarah) and Ishmael (by Hagar).  Isaac begat the Line of David from which Jewish and Christian traditions derive.  Ishmael was the forefather of Muhammad — the Messenger of Islam.  God promises in Genesis 21:18 to make a “great nation” of Ishmael.   

Jesus (Isa) is revered in Islam as a Messiah and is mentioned nearly a hundred times in the Quran.  Mary (Maryam) is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran.  She even has her own surra (19).  Islam accepts the Old Testament as “The Word of God.”  And most of the prophets are mentioned by name in the Quran.   

Common heritage, common prophets, beliefs and commands.  Yet many view the differences as irreconcilable.  Islam has 72 insular sects.  Christianity has its own islands of belief and Judaism has various divisions.  Despite common origin, there is distrust, misunderstanding and even violence — all in the name of religion.    While most Christian and Jewish traditions accept and tolerate competing denominations and other religions, violence seems to be confined to Islam.  I previously reported that statistically between 85% and 97% of all violence by Islamic terrorist groups is directed at Muslims.   

In my post of August 25, 2016, I commented on the ecumenical role the Archangel Gabriel – the Divine messenger.  Gabriel has been a messenger in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, and Bahai.   Each faith urges “Shalom” [Peace]; “As-salamu Aleikum” [Peace]; “Peace be with you” [Peace].  Perhaps God, Allah, Jehovah is trying to give us mere mortals an ecumenical message.   

I’m Goin’ to Trial

[A repeat from April 7, 2018] When I was in the Felony Trial Division at 26th and California, every day was “Let’s Make a Deal.” Each courtroom had about 400 felony cases on call – with perhaps 20 coming up each day for status or trial. There was no way we could handle trials on all these cases so we played let’s make a deal. A killing that took place in a bar fight might be reduced from murder to voluntary manslaughter if the guy plead guilty. But go to trial for murder? You’re looking at 14 on the bottom (and in a few cases after 1976 – the death penalty). Let’s make a deal [in the spirit of February 16, 2022].   Most everyone did.  

Isaac R. was charged with armed robbery. He walked into a rental car agency at Wabash and Lake in Chicago swinging a sawed-off shotgun along his right leg.   A car hiker – sitting in a chair leaning against the wall – saw Isaac walking towards the glass-walled office. And he called the police. Isaac entered, raised the gun and the 7 women who were behind the counter all raised their hands.

Police arrived on the scene almost immediately and could see the goings-on through the glass walls. Guns drawn. Aimed. A Channel 7 news truck was driving by, saw the activity, stopped and began filming. When Isaac walked out, he was immediately arrested — on air — and taken into custody.

When his case came up, we assumed Isaac would plead guilty (can we please make a deal?) but he wanted a jury trial. And he wanted to represent himself — pro se.  A lawyer was assigned to sit with him and help.  My partner Al and I put on 6 of the 7 women as witnesses.  Two were nuns from a local order and two were teachers with second jobs.  Al and I wanted to put the Channel 7 video on but the judge asked –  smiling – “why?”  So we didn’t.  The jury was out for an hour and 20 minutes.  The reason it took so long was — the jury had lunch.  And Isaac (who had 3 other felony indictments pending) went away for a long, long time.   I hope he’s still there. . . . .