324 Days Until Dragon*Con 2012…
It is inevitable, when traveling abroad, that when you get home you will attempt to recreate some of the experiences you had overseas. In fact, it is so unavoidable that you should just go ahead and plan on scoping out some food and drink that you may be able to emulate once you get back on your home turf.
Traveling to Mexico? While there, keep an eye out for ways you can recreate the experience at home. Maybe learn how to make your own tortillas or something.
Traveling to Norway? Come home and start your own black metal band.
How about Japan? Come home and marry a pillow.
A few weeks ago, the wife got home from a work trip to Espana. She wasted no time in buying up all the Spanish wine she could find, learning how to cook “tortillas” (a Spanish tortilla is an egg dish, not like something you wrap beans up in), and, in general, making a nuisance of herself.
But that’s ok! Because we all do it. No way around it, remember?
About a month ago, I returned home from a trip to Ireland. I spent a little over 2 weeks over there visiting friends, traveling around, drinking pints, and playing a little music.
When I got home, the first thing I did was buy a ton of Guinness (we did the “Guinness Tour” which is quite an experience). I also wanted to recreate some of the flavors that I have had over there that I like. The easiest food to recreate, or so I thought, was taters with beans.
Here is the ingredient list:
1. Can of Heinz Brand “Beans in Tomato Sauce”.
2. Potato Waffles.
3. Brown Sauce.
No problem, right? WRONG. Well, kinda wrong….
#1. Every grocery store here in the States has “Heinz Brand Vegetarian Beans”, which I thought was, undoubtedly, the same thing.
#2. Potato Waffles, on the other hand, are impossible to get in the States. Or at least, impossible for me. If you are unfamiliar with what potato waffles are, they are just mashed potatoes shaped like waffles, but crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. Savory, not sweet like Eggos or something like that.
What’s crazy, to me, about the potato waffle famine in the United States is that Bird’s Eye, an American company, manufactures them here and then ships them over there! Depriving their own native kinsmen of this delicious, low-cost, breakfast delicacy. Dubya Tee Eff, Bird’s Eye????
The closest I have come, so far, to recreating the flavor and consistency of a potato waffle is…. get ready…
a potato. baked in the oven (not the microwave).
The thing about a baked potato baked in the oven is that I hafta do something that I’m not used to doing. And that is to anticipate when I might be hungry.
See, a potato, when baked in the oven, takes AT LEAST an hour. So you may not be hungry now, but go ahead and pop that baked tater in the oven for later, because then you might be hungry.
#3. I first had brown sauce about 8 years ago, on my first visit to Eire. I immediately thought, “This is just A1 steak sauce!” I checked the ingredients and, sure enough, there it was: plums’n’raisins’n’shit. “This IS A1 sauce!!!” Brown sauce is a widely-used condiment over there that is not popular over here because it is only used for steaks over here. Plus, for a condiment, A1 is as high as giraffe pussy (expensive).
Why do you care? Because I performed a taste test. So for all you people out there who, like me, may be searching for a way to simulate a taste you acquired in Ireland, or the UK, then this is for you.
First, the contenders….
In this corner, weighing in at a few ounces, representing the Americans…. The Taste of the West, The Gridiron Griddle Hoppers, the Lean, Mean, Bean-Munching Machiiiiinesss……..
Heinz Vegetarian Beans and A1 Steak Sauce!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aaaaand in this corner, weighing in at another few ounces, representing the home of this taste… the Rumblin’ in the Dublin, the Fork in the Cork, the Always in the Galways….
Heinz Beans in Tomato Sauce and HP Brown Sauce!!!!!!!!!!!
On paper, this looks like a close match. I hafta give the edge to the Irish team though, since this is a taste that they concocted, which the American team is only trying to mimic. The real question is whether or not the American team is just close enough to scratch that “Beans and Taters and Brown Sauce” itch that crops up every now and again. Close enough that I don’t have to pay outrageous prices for imported cans of beans and a condiment with Big Ben on the front.
Also, another question that is particularly interesting to me and the purposes of this site is, “Which one is better for you?”
Both of these teams will be paired with an oven-baked potato, to ensure fairness.
LET’S GET READY TO RUUUUMMMBLLLLEEEEEEE……..!!!!!!!!!
The Heinz Beans in Tomato Sauce come out swingin’!!!! You can tell that the Irish beans really came to play today! Look at their tasty texture and bland-looking tomato sauce!
But the Americans strike back with the Heinz Vegetarian Beans!!!
It is clear that the American beans are thicker than the Irish beans. The sauce is way thicker and darker, which I took to mean that they were probably a lot sweeter. The Irish beans’ sauce was more tomato-y lookin’ and soupy.
Aaaaand here comes the brown sauce!!!!!
But the Americans strike back with A1 STEAK sauce!!!!
Look how uniform the Brown Sauce looks. When I poured the A1 on top, it was VERY runny. Brown Sauce has a consistency that is more akin to ketchup or mustard, the kings of condiments. A1 has a consistency of dishwater.
Now it was time to taste…
The American version was, as I suspected, both sweeter and tangier than the Irish version. The American beans were thick, and a lot sweeter. The A1 was runny, but it actually packed more punch than the Brown Sauce, meaning it had a ton of tangy flavor in there. I guess this goes along with the stereotype that Irish and British food is more bland than American food.
All said, I know I like the Irish version better, just like I would like American barbecue better. The taste is all theirs, and we can’t replicate it properly. But is it good enough to scratch the itch when need be?
Not really. For one thing, the American version may be easier to get, but it’s not that much cheaper.
A can of the Irish beans costs $2 at World Market. The can of Heinz Vegetarian Beans costs about $1.25 at Winn-Dixie.
A bottle of HP Brown Sauce is about $6 at World Market. A bottle of A1 is also about $6 at Winn-Dixie (but you get a lot more of it).
Is it worth the extra 75 cents, and the hassle to drive 45 minutes to the nearest World Market? Probably. Especially if you are in the area anyway.
Which is better for you? Brown Sauce & A1 are about the same, calorie-wise, but the Irish Beans have a lot less sugar than the American version.
So pretty much, the Irish win this round of taste tests. Of course, like I said, it is their taste and I wouldn’t want to “taste test” American BBQ with Irish BBQ (if it even exists).
Trick or Treat (1952)
Donald Duck gives his nephews hell on Halloween night… until a nice witch shows up to teach him a lesson.
I really like this title screen. A window with “Trick or Treat” written on it. This could be in a horror movie. Like someone is being stalked by an unseen menace on Halloween, then they look out the window and see this! Scary stuff, man…
The opening shot is of a sleepy little burg on Halloween night. Possibly Sleepy Hollow. Possibly Duckburg.
This famous short starts with a witch flying around town. She’s a good witch, and her name is Hazel (Witch Hazel, get it?). She flies around and scares some bats, a cat, and herself when she stumbles across one of the nephews with a jack-o-lantern on his head.
Ahhh, homemade Halloween costumes. When I was a kid, there were several years when I wore costumes that my mom had made for me. I doubt that happens anymore.
In this shot, the nephews are walking up to Uncle Donald’s house to go trick-r-treating. Donald opens the door and gives them something in their bags….
Firecrackers! What a jerk!
Witch Hazel sees the boys, looking downtrodden because Uncle Donald blew their Halloween sacks to smithereens. She decides to help them get Donald back for being so mean…
Is it even possible to tell the difference between the nephews, just by looking at them?
Look at the look on the devil one’s face! I think he’s had enough for one night. Someone put a mickey in his mini Snickers bar…
Witch Hazel talks in “thees” and “thous”, which would suggest that she is a few hundred years old. Possibly even a survivor of the Salem witch trials…
She then tries to trick-r-treat at Donald’s house… only to fall prey to his pranks. He dumps a bucket of water on her head, and she doesn’t melt!
What she does is cook up a witch’s brew for that ol’ stinker, Donald…
Like blue, Disney uses the color green in a lot of films to let you know that mischief and/or evil is afoot…
Witch Hazel drinks a bit, has a violent reaction, and stumbles over to the nephews and says in her drunk voice, “Kids, this stuff’s loaded!!!” Another reference to alcohol use in a Disney film.
She picks the kids up on her broomstick and they fly around. Then she sprays some of her potion on a jack-o-lantern… which makes it come to life and scare Donald!
She uses the spray on several other things, like turning a fence into ghosts, and haunting a paintbrush so it paints Donald’s house green. Then she barges in the door and demands treats for herself and the boys.
Donald complies (what would you do when threatened by a living jack-o-lantern???)…
At least, until Hazel calls him a “pushover”…
He locks the treats up! but Hazel puts the spray to his feet, which eventually forces him to break down the door to the goodies…
This includes some all-time classic Halloween treats, like sausages, oranges, cans of soup, etc.
Her work done, Hazel waves goodbye….
And off into the night, over the town, she flies…