26 January 2007

Portrait of the choko as an artist's model

Dear Faren and C.A.,

Sorry to be late replying to your questions re the picture in the previous post. I was returning from a psychological assessment mission to the former planet Pluto when my train was derailed by debris that also briefed the captain to the height of a quantum leap. Needless to say, he could no longer reach the controls. I had to take over, getting the train on track under my own fair steam, then driving and piloting (the pilot having been jettisoned as trash in an earlier tiff with the ticket-taker over bags of train-goers' goods), a task for which I never trained, so by the time I got home it was almost 2300 hours yesterday, New South Wales, Australia time, and I haven't finished writing up my assessment as I am still feeling under the weather from motion sickness, not having had a semicolon's break, and the former planet Pluto's eccentric orbit having become much more eccentric since its recent redesignation.

Which, I know, is much ado about nothing. So onwards to the important stuff.

Yes, a trio of pears they are. And as for what you, Faren, unkindly call "that grotesque thing amongst them", you are in good company in your ever so cruel judgement. Allen Gilbert, writing in The Age, in an article titled The Ugly Truth, continued with:

"The choko is no oil painting"

a statement which shows why Gilbert doesn't write about art. The choko is, especially in its outrageously fecund, craggy, twiningly mature state, the Rembrandt self-portrait of vegetables. I imagine that Gilbert would think a pear an oil painting, but pitch the greatest of Ingres' paintings against a mere jot of self-regarding glance by the old wrinkly Himself, and whole countries could feed their populace for millennia on the difference (or buy their leader dinner at a five-star in someplace civilised).

Ingres would certainly have been revolted by the knowing leer of the afore-portrayed "grotesque" choko, and I'm sure that Ingres would, if persuaded at pistol-point to consider that an artist's model, would stretch it to zucchini length and shoot it so full of botox, it would gain the smooth glow of a supermarket tomato / Nicole Kidman. But as Nicolas Pioch, who runs WebMuseum, states about Ingres: "He was a bourgeois with the limitations of a bourgeois mentality."

Chokos are above the madding bourgeoisie, which you can prove to yourself by looking at their popularity amongst the rabble. As Robin Cartledge (aka Grandpa Pencil ) says: "So long is the line of people trying to give them away that, when the choko is in season, it is wise to have a few different recipes up your sleeve." He proceeds to do this with some new wrinkles on old favourites. Try his choko dessert and choko chips, and you might think, as I do, that this vegetable with character is something to plant for the generations.

Oh no, it's choko pickle is the title of an article by Sally Wise on the ABC (radio) Tasmania's site. "... a lady rang afterwards," she writes, " and gave me a tried and true recipe for Choko Pickle, so here it is. It sounds pretty good. Apparently you can make a jam out of them as well." Apparently she didn't.

Wikipedia has a respectful entry for Choko (Sechium edule), listed as 'chayote'. Also called chouchou, mirliton, fuk maew . . . , this character has more names than a con artist. Gaze at young and relatively lovelies on this page and read all about them, in a -pediac way.

In Australia, they're the great Unwanted, but look what a bit of respect and a different frame of mind can bring about. The chokos on Mahanandi's splendid site do, however, look suspiciously smooth. Stretched, they would be quite bourgeoisily oil-paintingsish — lounging, say, dewily in a Turkish bath.

Although she is common in her visual taste, and didn't keep them till they matured to a state of the confrontationally fruitful, she did something that I would recommend to everyone with true taste and heartlessness (or is it an instinct for self-preservation? At the way they grow, it can be a them-or-me situation). She ended their lives before they became worth an Old Master's glance, and she cooked them and probably ate them all up, as I wanted to after reading her scrumptious-looking recipes.

As I'm surrounded now by a huge lot of chokos that I brought home from the former planet Pluto (everywhere I went, former-planet-Plutonians pressed bagfuls upon me), I'll be publishing some recipes in the next while, as soon as I can kill them.

In the meantime, here's another face of the afore-portrayed, before it was heartlessly dispatched to be consumed raw with lashings of lime juice and chili.

08 January 2007

ONUSPEDIA: Lord Pemberton Gimble and Lord Pemberton Gimble

A few days ago, C.A. of Warragul, Australia, chided me gently for omitting a reference to Lord Pemberton Gimble in the first Onuspedia entry, 'Skwandro'. As Lord Pemberton Gimble deserves more than a mention, it is published below as an Onuspedia entry in its own right.

If you find that the Onuspedia is missing content when you look to it for the definitive Word, please inform me. If there is, indeed, an omission, I will rectify the situation as soon as possible. As this is only the second Onuspedia entry ever published, you could well be correct.

Lord Pemberton Gimble and Lord Pemberton Gimble

A comedy act first launched at a Harvard students' review, October 14, 1927.

The next day, Lewis F. Cunningham, Professor of Ametics, Department of Ancient Near East Languages, Harvard, sent a glowing review to the Boston Globe. The letter of regret from the Globe survived, but no copy of the review. However, a draft letter of his was later quoted by the greatest authority on the act, Arthur L. Schoonimaker.

. . . I had to wipe my eyes over the Snelling syntax quip. It does my old heart good to think that you boys were listening in class. One word of advice, however. I was unreserved in my review for the Globe, but between us, I would advise: keep to the salutary; you need not stoop to body humor, nor to those Wodehouse Lord inanities. Yes, I am not made of dust and clay! I know quite well what's popular on Main Street! But remember, Ametics has existed for thousands of years, and is more popular than ever because of its importance, whereas that populist (what does he write about? nothings!) . . . Here today, I warn you . . . but enough . . . Xtougli pharq!

'Lord Pemberton Gimble and Lord Pemberton Gimble' were K.B. Livesay II and Arthur L. Shivel III, students of Cunningham's who graduated in June 1927. Along with their professor, they decried Wodehouse's populism, but respected his popularity. Being the sons of businessmen, they didn't give a hoot whether something would be the bee's knees in 2004. Now was long enough — and they planned to watch their market. They had a natural verve in front of a crowd, and identical intentions to stave off returning to Chicago and their fathers' mercantile world, forever. As Schoonimaker wrote: They planned their act with a background of money and a recent grounding in something so useless, they used it.

In the late '20s, there were so many comedy acts in America and so much pressure for material, that a pro's joke went:

'Nobody steals my jokes!'
'How'd you manage that?'
'I never tell them!'

Livesay and Shivel would have read that in Variety, and of court cases that failed to protect a comedian's material but lost him heaps. Other comedians figured there was nothing they could do when their best jokes were told by someone who couldn't even get the timing right. Livesay and Shivel had a fresh attitude. 'Sure we're loaded, but we're not chumps,' Livesay wrote in the Blade, 'We won't be broken into, and we don't give anything away.'

Their original act was called simply 'Lord Pemberton Gimble and Lord Pemberton Gimble'. There is no surviving script, but Schoonimaker called it: a scientifically mixed cocktail of 30% monocled Lord to Lord farce, 30% poke-in-the-eye burlesque, and the killer 33+%: ametics language in-jokes.

They'd been poor students at ametics, but they calculated that it didn't take a linguist to write ametic-language in-jokes and jibes at discredited ametics experts. As for protection, Shivel said in the Blade, 'We're Brinks Safed. What other wise-cracker would even know who's the straight guy?'

After achieving only mixed success in New York and Chicago, the act hit its stride in late 1928 when it played for literary societies from town to town in the mid-west (once the humour was removed in Peoria and the act's name changed to 'The Tablets Speak: Ametic Wisdom for Today'). By June 1929, the stride had slowed but not the expenditure. Livesay and Shivel, hounded by creditors' and fathers' demands, planned to move their act to Paris, France, with new material. Instead, in August 1929, both took up positions on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

'Lord Pemberton Gimble and Lord Pemberton Gimble' was an act that was never copied.

It is rumoured that 'The Tablets Speak: Ametic Wisdom for Today', a three-part multimedia series, is in pre-production for National Geographic .


Rifts in the Aemetics World, Peter S. Cunningham, ed., Hyophitlahrÿz Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 2004

Funny You Should Laugh: A History of Intimidating Humor, Arthur L. Schoonimaker, Thespis Publishing, Schenectady, New York, 1966

Thirty Days to Remembering Ten Brilliant Business Plans You Should Avoid, Sydney Forster, Resolution Business Books, Walla Walla, Washington, USA, 1987

Ten Days to Memorizing Seven Business Plans That Failed, Sydney Forster, Sydney Forster Publishing, www.sydneyforsterinstantprint.com.au

An expert is someone who always makes sure of the spelling.

05 January 2007

What to do with a frozen quince

Eat it. This is food for a special hot day. Take your frozen quince, one very sharp knife, and as soon as the quince is able to be cut into like hard ice cream, cut thin slices and eat it hand to mouth. Do not arrange it on a plate, tart it up, think that it's good for entertaining. If you cut yourself, that's part of the learning experience. I have, when the quince was still too icy, and the visual feast was worth the mess.

What does a frozen quince taste like? More refreshing than any drink or any other solid food. In your mouth, the juices demand to be sucked out, and the astringency that's left in a frozen ripe quince is just the right counterpoint to a hot day, or a hard job done.

Just right, that is, if you like grapefruit, tonic water, lemons, citrus rind, good strong tannic tea. Frozen, you lose the incomparable perfume of a quince, but there is a taste and texture to a frozen quince that is special in its own way.

Eating a frozen quince, slice by slice, isn't a public statement as much as a private pleasure, or an intimate pleasure to share. This is not dinner party food. A frozen quince must be eaten frozen, not when the conversation lags. Once thawed, it needs to be cooked as it rapidly changes from crisp, to rubbery as an old carrot.

I haven't mentioned putting anything on the frozen quince, as it's excellent on its own (if you've got a good quince. This is a ripe Smyrna).

There's only one thing that I think is possibly better than frozen quince slices neat, and that is frozen quince slices dipped in pomegranate paste. At the right time, this is the ultimate comfort food.

Defrosted frozen quinces are lovely, too, when cooked. Here's the recipe for this dish of baked, defrosted quince in its nectar.

Fill your dish with frozen quince and when all defrosted, add water up to about a third the height of the quinces. Bake, covered in a slow oven till they turn whatever shade of red you like (these took two hours).

Do not add anything else to them before baking. To be eaten at any temperature you wish, these are deliciously refreshing, too, without any added sweetener. They are glorious with a dollop of rich yogurt, and go wonderfully with meats and cheeses.

The nectar/ syrup tastes as good as it looks.

Quince nectar hot. It's not quite syrup, but certainly richer than juice.

If you like fussing, top these quinces with rich yogurt and top that with dribbled pomegranate paste, and top that with chopped walnuts or pistachios.

Related posts:

02 January 2007

Marilyn Pride's art: Look, and look closer . . .

What does myopia, sauropod ivory, peering, the Red World, movies and gardens and scales and snails with claws have to do with each other? And where is the Somarah Greenhouse?

Turn, friends, to Revelations, otherwise known as the first feature in the 2007 Virtuous Medlar Circle:

My Favourite Artists, Part 1: Marilyn Pride—a glimpse into her worlds, and an interview

Above is a peek at her framed "Plumed Hunter".