~ Totally Undeserving of the James Beard Award

~ Completely Undeserving of the James Beard Award ~

Thursday, July 31, 2014

In Search for the Third Skewer...

Nov. 14, 1938; Dispatch: 12-1a

UPDATE: Previous reports; Nor. Burma 7-18 [Irrawaddy Riv.]

Successfully retrieved Banyan recipe; unique characteristics of sauce blend; Kitchen has interest; Add’l funding available for continuance of missions!

UPDATE: Previous reports; Nor. Burma 7-31 [Dr. H. W. Jones/Lost River Delta Region]

Successfully retrieved Chieftain recipe; Pepper/spice of interest; Kitchen is interested; Funding approved for continuance of add’l research!

16 Nov. ’38 - REPORT: From the French Indo-China territory & Mekong River; Riv. travels through several areas, including Siam (now Thailand). Travelling after the typhoon season in November of 1938, I left the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy (sites of “Banyan” & “Chieftain” skewers) by train to Rangoon, Burma (2 nt stay) then to layover (4 nt) in Bangkok via Boeing Clipper.

While waiting for take off, the captain asked over the loudspeaker if the party that lost the roll of 50 $20.00 bills, wrapped in a red rubber band, please report to the cockpit...we have good news for you. We have found your rubber band.

Departed Bangkok to P.P. early A.M. via small hopper.
 [Side note: The pilot of the small 2 person hopper plane to P.P. keeps his pet snake “Reggie” onboard; discovered snake rather surprisingly!]

Gained research in local markets; maps; local customs of spice blends. Many provisions procured & fwd on to Phnom Penh.

Luckily I have my Kodachrome film for color photos...

18 Nov. ’38 - REPORT: Upon arrival in P.P., I Quickly procured-contracted a launch [Mekong Maiden] for up-river travels. Speaking with locals, rumors, it is said the third skewer recipe may be found some 600 mi. [approx.] up-river.  The locals also warned me of the area gorilla population and that if I will be wearing yellow, don't make any noises like a banana.

If successful, it would complete my search by obtaining all three skewer recipes!. Hopes are high.

As we left the dock, the launch skipper asked me to turn around and wave at the people on the dock...wave at them... 'cause you're never going to see them again!...then again, you've probably never seen them before either.

25 Nov. ’38 - REPORT: Reached drop off point at confluence of Mekong & Nam Kading Riv’s; The skipped warned me that some scouts here claim they've spotted tigers in the area the last couple of days. But I know that's ridiculous. After all, tigers are striped, not spotted.

Now on foot trek. Weary of travels; Pushing on.

I have heard that here in the rain forest it sometimes rains 365 days per year...some years it even rains every day.

27 Nov. ’38 - REPORT: Stumbled upon some sort of thatched hut, sounds of singing heard within.  I have heard of this folklore…rumors really. A ritual is performed which includes inanimate forms of carved gods [possibly with tiki roots], bordering the occult come to life, so to speak, or become animated. Even more wild stories of talking parrots being taught songs. Will investigate further.

Saw huge forests of bamboo. It grows to be 6 stories tall, but people say it can grow to 7 stories but that's a whole other story.

 27 Nov. ’38 – REPORT/UPDATE:  I was able to make my way into the hut; the stories were true, actual singing birds; carved deities with definite tiki attributes, not Maori but of eastern Polynesia. Very unusual to see non-Buddhism religious symbols of this nature so far east of Polynesia.

The song was constant, starting over every…oh, I I’m not sure but it seams like every 12 minutes and 33 seconds with a 3 minute and 58 second pre-show. The birds were singing words and the flowers were crooning in this tiki…tiki…tiki…...tiki…………tiki room.

Outside, nearby by I spotted a small native village. This is quite the adventure land. As I made way through the village, past a bazaar and a tropical importer…I spotted what very well could be the source in my search for last of the three skewers, the famed “Bengal”. 

If only I could make it there and complete my trifecta…but the going was arduous, the village was overwhelmed with people, seemingly from all walks of life…and everywhere were these carts with small children being pushed in them, then these carts or trolleys are abandoned along the route, clogging the area. People everywhere! Child carrying trolleys! Asian people standing in the way taking pictures of every friggin’ thing!  AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!

But I made it! A carved sign at this eatery outpost confirmed it…I was able to translate it…”Bengal Barbecue”. This was it!…I found it, my search is over! I went up to the proprietor of the establishment, and in my best attempt in the their native tongue, I said…”one please”.

I held it, staring…a huge weight was lifted…I took a bite…and…well, it was okay. I overheard someone say: “the churros are better”…not knowing what that meant, I finished my meal. I spent some moments at the food vendor was able to obtain the actual recipe…I now have all three.

So my trek is done, mission accomplished. Now I can relax until a new search begins. Perhaps a trip to the Big Easy…I have heard of a particular sandwich available deep in the bayou…that is if I can find my way around as a storm of sorts went through the area and set the place in ruins (end of commentary).

Bengal Beef Skewer - In a Sweet Zulu Sauce

Beef cut into long strips
1 cup – Teriyaki Sauce
1 cup – Soy Sauce
1 T – Red Wine Vinegar
1 cup – Brown Sugar
½ cup – Sherry Cooking Wine
2 – whole Bay Leaf
1 T – ground black pepper
2 T – fresh ginger root
2 T – fresh garlic

Mix ingredients and marinate beef over night. Remove beef from marinade and steam until cooked through. Bring mixture to slow boil over medium heat.  Place beef on soaked skewers and grill until heated. Dip grilled beef into heated sauce and serve with green onion.


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