Monday, December 01, 2008

Odd facts you didn't know you didn't know

I just finished reading a China Bayles mystery by Susan Wittig Albert--it's a great series. The one I just read is Chile Death and like all of Albert's herbalist mysteries it contains a lot of herbal information. In this one she opens every chapter with a discussion of some aspect of chile. The one that really caught my attention is about supertasters and nontasters. Those of us who can't eat the hot stuff--that's definitely me--have more taste buds than others. About a quarter of the population are supertasters and can't take the heat. Another quarter of the population are nontasters and can eat whole peppers, even habaneros, without blinking. I sort of like the explanation. Being a supertaster may give me a sense of superiority. Maybe it's why I'm so interested in flavors and cooking.
Tonight I mixed a can of Campbell's pepper pot soup with a can of tomatoes--my mom's old trick--and had a delicious dinner. Then it occurred to me to look it up on the web, and I found, as I knew, that the original version and Campbell's contains tripe, but you can make it with everything from chicken to venison to shrimp. Many recipes refer to it as native to Philadelphia, but there were a couple of Jamaican recipes. On a site called, I found that the Campbell's kind is hard to find and many people think they've stopped making it. Not so! There was a good supply in my newly opened, independent City Market in Fort Worth. Making it from scratch looks like a lot of trouble.
And then there's Gail Halvorsen. I had never heard of him, but we got a query about supposed event on the TCU campus where this WWII hero will speak, so naturally I went back to google. Halvorsen, author of two books, was known as "the candy bomber" because he used small parachutes to drop candy to the children of Berlin. He was also called (in German) Uncle Wiggle Wings because he told the children he would wiggle his wings so they could distinguish his plane from others. I'm kind of sorry he's not coing to TCU--he sounds like an interesting guy.
Oh, one more bit of trivia: did you know you should count on guests eating 10-14 appetizers (is that bites, actual appetizers, what?) and 5 cups of dip serves 8-10--if they're hungry gorillas, I guess. Not the guidelines I've gone by!
Enough trivia. Today I emerged from my 2-1/2 days at home alone. It was like coming out of a cocoon, but I burst forth, went to the doctor and got a flu shot, went to the office where my desk was awash in mail and "stuff," and did a large and expensive grocery shopping. Now I'm home, party planning and reading, and plan to write my annual Christmas letter. I know people get tired of Christmas letters, but my handwriting is so bad these days, this is easier for me. I'll try to be brief.
And a sad note. Shocked as we all were at the tragedy in Mumbai, my heart ached today when I saw pictures of Moshe, the little boy orphaned when his Jewish missionary parents were killed. He apparently kept crying for "Mommy, Mommy" during a memorial service and one picture showed him with eyes swollen from crying. He's just the age of Ford or Jacob, and I know how they cry when they want their mommies and no one else will do. The gunmen were apparently so ruthless and heartless it's a wonder and a blessing they left little Moshe untouched by the bodies of his parents. I wonder how the child will fare in life and send my prayers for him.

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