Boxing Day

…a.k.a. “Thanksgiving, Round 2” in our house — i.e. with the entire family attending.  Only instead of turkey, we go Full English, thus:

Photo credit: Carnivore Style

Which translates into this:

…followed by a South African-style trifle pudding:

…and a cheese plate, in case anyone’s still hungry:

Oh, did I mention the brandy?

See y’all tomorrow.  If I survive, that is.

Time To Eat Again

After the past two days (liquid diet followed by artificially induced diarrhea followed by colon inspection followed by post-operative nausea), it’s time to right the ship, so to speak.

With what, you may ask?

To eat, to drink… tonight.

Murkin Food

After the post about my love for British foods a couple days ago, I received a few snarky emails which can be summarized by:  “Okay, Immigrant Guy:  tell us what American  foods you like, then.”

There are many, many  foods that have captured my fancy since The Great Wetback Episode Of 1986.  In fact, so much have they grown on me that when I’m Over There for a while, I actually say, “Good grief — all this Brit / Euro food is fine, but I could really do with a plate / bowl / truckload of ___ right now!”

In no specific order these are my favorites (and with thanks to the locals who introduced them to me):

Honey Nut Cheerios.  I needed something  to take over from the (American-style) over-sweetened Frosted Flakes as my favorite cold breakfast cereal, and Honey Nuts did the trick.  When the Son&Heir was still a weeny and I used to give him a baggie of the stuff to eat in his car seat on the back seat, I’d pour myself a baggie as well.  (Thanks, Maryann.)

BBQ.  I grew up eating barbecued (“braaivleis”) meat in South Africa, but it wasn’t BBQ — those chunks of smoked meat dipped in sweet or tangy sauce.  Pulled pork, brisket, pork bellies, Elgin sausage, spare ribs, whatever:  put a plateful in front of me, and keep your hands away from my face.  (Thanks, Cassie.)

Nachos.  Melt some grated mixed cheeses over a pile of hamburger/chili, beef- or chicken-covered nacho chips, toss a few jalapeño pepper slices on top (approximately one slice per mouthful), and you can forget about any conversation till the plate’s done.  And if there’s a side of freshly-made guacamole and a frozen margherita… well, dayum.  (Thanks, Brenda.)

Potato skins. When I first read about these things on a menu, I burst out laughing, thinking that they were literally potato skins — i.e. peelings.  So for a laugh, I ordered them.  Yikes.  Hollowed-out baked potatoes filled with melted cheese and covered with crispy bacon bits.  Two plates of those and a few (okay, six) beers, and I was a goner.  (Thanks, Linda.)

Fajitas. Chunks of marinated chicken / skirt steak, slathered with pico de gallo, all sizzling on a hot iron plate.  I discovered this stuff during a side trip to San Antonio back in 1985, and as I recall, it was about the second or third meal I ordered when I arrived in Austin the following year.  Wrapped in a soft flour tortilla:  Mexican shwarmas.  (Thanks, Karen).

Clam chowder.  First tried this on my U.S. “scouting” trip in 1985, in Newport RI, and by “tried” I mean had a mouthful of someone else’s because the thought of clams… ugh.  Then… well, never mind that “cup” bullshit;  I ordered a whole bowl, and was hooked forever.  Now I only have it in New England because I’ve become a “chowdah” snob (although Earl’s in Plano’s Legacy West district does a decent bowl, too).  And never mind those silly little cracker things… how about served in a boule  loaf?  (Thanks again, Maryann.)

Lobster rolls.  I’d eaten Cape Rock lobster in South Africa, of course, but never on a bread roll with seafood sauce, spiced mayo or melted butter.  Yummy.  My only criticism is that New Englanders eat the lovely stuff on a lousy hot dog bun — are you kidding me, when Portuguese rolls are available everywhere?  Toast one of those… and you can make mine a footlong (as long as I can call my bank manager first).  (Thanks, Hope.)

Streaky bacon.  Or as Murkins call it, “bacon”.  I grew up eating back  bacon (Brit style, kinda like Canadian bacon) and not “belly” bacon (as found in the U.S.), and I like both:  the pork-y, savory back bacon and the crisp, fatty streaky bacon.  But Murkin bacon with just a hint of syrup… stop me before I eat again.  (Thanks, Laura.)

and finally:

Hostess Twinkies. To call this gooey confection a “snack” is to slander snack foods;  eating one of these is childish gluttony par excellence — and then you have to have the second  one in the so-called “snack pack”.  Good grief:  no wonder our kids are clinically obese, if this is what we put in their lunch boxes.  Not that I’m envious, or anything.  (And for those silly people who might say that Twinkies aren’t a meal:  clearly, you’ve never eaten a ten-pack in one sitting, as I did in NYFC in September 1982.)  And no thanks to anyone:  I discovered these bad boys all by myself.

I had to write this post immediately after a big breakfast, otherwise I’d have been in trouble.

Feel free to add your favorite Murkin foods, in Comments.


Now that we’ve all somewhat recovered from the gluttony of Thanksgiving and all the leftovers have finally been polished off, I believe it’s safe to approach the topic of food once more.

Some research was done in Britishland to see how its inhabitants view the country’s “traditional” dishes.  The foods were ranked on how the respondents placed them on a tier (“God” all the way down to “Crap”). (At this point, my Murkin Readers should refrain from saying “It’s ALL crap” because that would be wrong, and you would be at risk of being labeled “ignorant” by the owner of this here back porch.)

Here are the results:

Now, I have tasted every single dish* in the above, and in fact, I grew up eating a lot of them.  Some are not only beloved, but can be regarded as part of the extreme top of Kim’s Food Triangle.   (*I have never touched Jellied Eels, whose existence can only be ascribed to Satan’s Work, and the thought of ingesting the slimy shit makes me throw up in my mouth, and not a little either. )

Nevertheless, I beg to differ with many of the rankings, thus:

Some explanation ad comment:

  • Crumpets (a.k.a. English muffins) are really just toast, i.e. an accompaniment to a meal.  (Crêpes are another matter altogether, but they’re European, not British.)
  • Cottage- and shepherd pies taste like bland gray hamburger meat covered with mashed potato.  Ugh.
  • Steak ‘n kidney pie could easily make my “God” tier, come to think of it, as could bangers ‘n mash.
  • Welsh rarebit:  chunks of crispy toast in hot beer cheese with fresh tomato pieces… nom nom nom.  If I want to lure my kids over for dinner, I only have to say that this will be on the menu.
  • All the lower-tier dishes pretty much belong there, and I will only eat them out of politeness to my host.
  • I have no idea why sausage rolls weren’t included;  in fact their omission makes the entire study even more suspect than it already is.

All the rest should be self-explanatory.

Oh, and by the way: a “ploughman’s lunch” is not  as pictured in the chart;  made properly, it consists of a cheese roll, an apple and a pint of beer — being what would fit in a farm worker’s lunch bag without falling to pieces and/or messing up the inside of the bag.  I don’t know where they got all that other crap, but it’s bullshit.

Here’s my personal Trifecta Of Yummy:




Were it not for the fact that Doctor Killjoy believes that weighing 500 lbs is A Bad Thing, I’d eat that lovely stuff each day forever.  With a sausage roll for tea.

Say No More

Now this is what I call Good News:

“High cholesterol, particularly LDL cholesterol, has been demonized for allegedly bringing on heart attack deaths. But an intriguing analysis of data published at seems to show that total mortality risk is reduced by high cholesterol levels, even LDL cholesterol.”
The point’s P.D. Mangan makes is that even if lower cholesterol is associated with reduced heart-disease incidence, this is more than offset by an increase in low-cholesterol-associated health risks.
As Mangan puts it, from “a public health standpoint, it seems a mistake to focus on changing something that lowers the risk of death from one cause only to raise that risk from another.”

Now as we all know, next week will see the publication of yet another  study which completely contradicts this wonderful news.

In the meantime (via C.W., thankee):

In Texas, that combination of the four major meat groups (ribs, pulled pork, sausage and brisket) is known as the “Four Riders Of The Apocalypse”.

Actually, that’s not true.  In Texas, that’s either regarded as a well-balanced meal, or else as “Git outta mah way, Elmer!”

See y’all later.

Not Too Far Away

This preciously-named website has a survey of the single best BBQ restaurants by state.  I’m not that up on BBQ — for the record, I prefer the spicier Memphis type, rather than the sweet Texas manifestation, but when ya live in Texas… according to the folks at Delish, it seems that the place to go is Stanley’s, in Tyler.

Maybe so, but Tyler is over a hundred miles away from Plano, and even for Texas — where distance is measured in six-packs — that’s an awful long way to travel just for smoked meat.  (It also means that because of MADD [spit]  one can’t have a few beers with the BBQ, which I think contravenes some state law.)

Anyway, it’s not like we don’t have any decent places within a couple zip codes of here (also a short trip, by Texas standards).  Most notable among these are Hard Eight (TWO locations nearby!!), Sonny Bryan’s, Winners and Lockhart (both in Old Town Plano).

But (and my non-Texas Readers will forgive the parochialism) I wrote this post to bring to my Local Readers’ attention a place called Delta Blues (just off Windhaven and the Dallas North Tollway), which is the latest offering from the famous Pappas Brothers company (Pappadeaux, Pappacitos, Pappas Steak House etc.) and which replaced the old Bone Daddy’s establishment at that address.

I went there last Tuesday with the Son&Heir for our sorta-monthly meet-up (when we don’t go to the DFW Range, that is), and good grief:  it is, in a word, wondrous.  I didn’t try anything other than the pork (pork-belly starter and a pulled pork sandwich) because PORK, and let me tell y’all:  best pork I have ever — ever — eaten.  And I’ve eaten a LOT of pork, all over the world.

What Delta Blues has done has created a BBQ place that, contra  the usual BBQ ethos of the down-home, slightly scruffy joint, is about as close to fine dining as BBQ will ever get.  It is admittedly quite expensive — at about the same level as Hard Eight — but the food is much, much  better than average, and it’s served by waiters, not self-serve or cafeteria style like many such places.

It’s so good that I’m going to take New Wife there on Sunday for Sticky Pork Belly Bites and a side of giant fries.

(Honestly, my mouth is watering as I write this.)

The only caveat is that like British pubs, Delta Blues has somewhat eccentric dining hours:  11am – 2.30pm and 5pm – 10pm during the week — and it’s CLOSED on Mondays;  but they’re open 11am – 11pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Don’t care about any of that:  there’s a new kid in town, and it’s got my number.

Sorry, Tyler;  Stanley’s will have to wait until my next road trip out to East Texas.

By the way:  for Memphis BBQ we have Red Hot & Blue, also in Plano.  Are we spoiled, or what?