Tuesday: Hili dialogue

April 26, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning to all from Arrecife, Lanzarote Island, in the Canaries.  Here’s today’s Hili dialogue:

Hili: I’m trying to look good.
Paulina: Everybody does it.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Staram się dobrze wyglądać.
Paulina: Wszyscy to robią.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)
Matthew said to include this tweet from the Auschwitz site:

View out my cabin as we docked at Las Palmas yesterday:

Yesterday’s lunch venue in a theatre in Las Palmas:

The venue was lovely, the food okay but not spectacular.

Best course: a salad covering a huge disk of warm goat cheese:

Main course: Pork (a bit dry) but with a delicious potato cake. They do great things with potatoes in these islands,

Dessert: Fresh fruit cocktail:

As the lecturer of the small University of Chicago group, I had to host a table last night onboard, which was hard as I’m a bit introverted. But it went well, though the paella was lame.

The menu (placecards!)

The French onion soup, which was ok but with a dearth of onions and cheese:

Most people had the paella, which was recommended by the waiter, but it was not good. I didn’t get any shrimp, the rice was dry, and there was a general lack of flavor. And this is SPAIN!

The fancy chef came out and was quite concerned that we returned most plates virtually untouched, and he canvassed the entire table for why we didn’t like the paella. He said he wanted to improve the cooking, which was admirable. He was a tall Indian fellow, and I’m wondering why we don’t see Indian food on this trip.

Do you see any shrimp here? Other people got several; I got NONE. I shoulda had the prime rib.

Dessert, however, was good: Black Forest cake. I am developing a theory that there is no such thing as a bad dessert.

A new day dawns: out my cabin window at Arrecife. For the third day in a row we’ll have a beautiful and temperate sunny day (high 23º C, 73º F). I go to bed later here, and awake at 7 a.m.–unheard of for me:

We will spend most of the day touring the Timanfaya Volcanic Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.


41 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. The fancy chef came out and was quite concerned that we returned most plates virtually untouched, and he canvassed the entire table for why we didn’t like the paella.

    I’m impressed at that, if not by his cooking (which will surely improve, if he maintains that attitude). It would have been so easy to hide in the kitchen.

    As for Indian food, it may be that its spicy nature makes it unsuitable for a captive audience. There would be too many people who wouldn’t eat it, at least in the thinking of the organisers.

    Plus, if you are on holiday in Spain, you might be expecting Spanish food. If I want Indian food, I live twenty minutes walk away from the best Indian restaurant I have ever been in. If I’m on holiday in Spain, I want to partake of the local cuisine, it’s part of the experience.

    That said, it’s all speculation and you might find yourself eating the best curry ever tomorrow night.

    I’ve got an On this day

    1962 – The British space programme launches its first satellite, the Ariel 1.

  2. Well it looks like you can approximate your weekly steak and wine dinner from the “always available” section of the menu. It’s not a T-bone but is certainly T-bone adjacent if there is truth in advertising. Any good stories from the earlier days at the University of Chicago or are the cruising alums not so old? You have not written about your lectures yet. I am interested in the subjects at least and if in-person is richer for you than the zoom format in Antarctica.

      1. Conservatives are happy…I think a lot of people will quit the (toxic) platform. Musk: the Libertarian who loves taking government subsidies…what a hypocrite.

    1. ‘Lesbians’ with penises should have sex with other ‘lesbians’ with penises. Problem solved (well, wouldn’t it?).
      Rowling (and Emma) is perfectly, 100% right.

  3. I wish to offer a counterexample to your dessert hypothesis, though I do agree with you in the general sense: Raisin carrot cake with gelatin ‘frosting’.

  4. I would have ordered the exact same things as you, Jerry. I love paella, and it is not common where I’ve lived.

    1. A paella without prawns, lobster or even shrimps might be a nice dish, but not worthy of the name paella. I cannot but agree there. It should have chicken too. It is a wildly Baroque, if not Rococo, kinda dish. Originally made in Valencia from leftovers.
      There is no such thing as an ‘original’ paella (pronounce paeya), but I think most cooks (and consumers) would agree it should include at least some decapoda/crustaceans.
      Since I’m on the Banting diet I tried to make it without rice, excellent, but not really paella

  5. Also on this day:

    1803 – Thousands of meteor fragments fall from the skies of L’Aigle, France; the event convinces European scientists that meteors exist.

    1937 – Spanish Civil War: Guernica, Spain, is bombed by German Luftwaffe.

    1954 – The first clinical trials of Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine begin in Fairfax County, Virginia.

    1981 – Dr. Michael R. Harrison of the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center performs the world’s first human open fetal surgery.

    1986 – The Chernobyl disaster occurs in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

    1989 – People’s Daily publishes the April 26 Editorial which inflames the nascent Tiananmen Square protests.

    1994 – South Africa begins its first multiracial election, which is won by Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.

    1. Interesting – I did not know that trials of Salk started in Fairfax Co, and I lived there full time then and for the next 13yrs.

  6. That’s too sad about the paella! It needs a lot of chicken stock, saffron, EEVO, smokey sausage, a little cayenne and smoked paprika, chicken, definitely lots of onions, black pepper, parsley, garlic, sweet bell peppers, more veggies including even zucchini (which adds a sweetness to the background – I know you don’t like zucchini, Jerry, but it enhances this dish), a squeeze of lemon over everything, lots more seafood besides shrimps and mussels – calamari, clams, mussels, scallops and even lobster for a fancy dinner. There must be wedges of lemon on each plate, and perhaps some chili peppers for the adventurous on the side. The best part is the fond (the crispy brown bits at the bottom).

    1. ooops… make that EVOO – extra virgin olive oil. Add some cherry tomatoes, oregano and thyme too. If the wi-fi were reliable, Mr. Chef could find plenty good recipes online.

  7. I just had a great FO soup. I think that ^^^ one would be much improved by a smaller serving dish.

    Reason is : I think … maybe a significant aspect, if not key, to a good FO soup is to make it nicely messy.

    The one I had had (.. had^2…) cheese all over the bowl, which was scrumptious to peel off in crispy/soft pieces, almost like chips. The broth was a little gritty too, but the point is the cheese would be all over the place. It made me work for it. It was a delight!

        1. Yes, but I loved the version done with cheddar cheese at Ye Olde Steak House in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. I don’t know if it still exists but it was one of my favorite restaurants. I would visit it whenever I traveled to Detroit on business.

  8. They do great things with potatoes in these islands,

    I consider the ability to do interesting things with potatoes one of the hallmarks of a first-rate chef.

    1. I used to make some mean Dauphinoise potatoes (devine), but now on Banting (because of DM) potatoes are out, much to my great regret.

  9. As the lecturer of the small University of Chicago group, I had to host a table last night onboard, which was hard as I’m a bit introverted.

    Don’t you worry none, boss. Relax and let that old lowkey Coyne charm come radiating through. You’ll do great.

  10. Allow me to give a little bit of a Spanish perspective about the paella. I am definitely not an expert and I don’t pretend to talk in the name of all Spanish people, but as a Spanish I would like to make a humble contribution to this post.

    The original paella, the “paella valenciana” (as from Valencia) contains very specific ingredients and it does not really allow for any variations. These ingredients are: rice, garlic, a couple of tomatoes (for the sauté), flat green beans, garrofó beans, chicken, rabbit, olive oil, salt, saffron, sweet paprika powder, and water. Now, in other parts of Spain (and in each household) one can find other ingredients, most commonly seafood (which would usually substitute the chicken and rabbit) and other vegetables such as onion and peas (which the most purists would not approve).

    The thing is that the paella phenomenon has been out of hand for a while and there are many aberrations out there, especially coming from abroad (but also within Spain). It seems like anything goes as long as you put rice and saffron and to me if everything can be a paella, then nothing is paella anymore. Examples of ingredients that are a no go (for me at least): chorizo or any type of sausage, egg, mushrooms, potato, cayenne, chili, curry, etc. (the list is not exhaustive as all “innovations” can’t be mentioned).

    Without going into the details on how it should be properly prepared (which can be a matter of debate as well), one last thing to mention is that a paella needs to be prepared in specific pan called “paella”. Thus, if a paella is not used to prepare paella, which name derives from this type of pan, please, don’t call it paella either.

    1. Sure but things evolve, right? A rigid definition like the one you’ve given here is doomed right from the start, IMHO. There’s such a thing as authenticity but I believe this takes the concept too far.

      1. Thanks for your comment. Mine may have come across as too rigid and this wasn’t my intention. The list of ingredients of the “paella valenciana” was merely informative about what the original version contains. As I also said, each household has its variant. Personally, I am not from the Valencia region and I grew up eating a seafood version. I have friends from Valencia who are true paella fundamentalists and I enjoy teasing them about the different versions of their sacred image.

        But I do care about a minimum rigour and, while things, concepts, and words evolve, evolution is a slow process as we all know and what has happened to the paella concept in the last decade defies all sensible logic on the speed in which concepts should evolve if we are to maintain a minimum common idea of what it signifies. That’s probably my whole point.

        But hey, isn’t that the case for many other things nowadays? Maybe the world spins too fast for me.

        1. Yes, things definitely can evolve too far. A couple of years ago I bought a paella kit from a restaurant in Seattle. I live in Southern California. They sold two versions, a seafood one and a pork one. I got the latter as I’m not a shellfish fan. I don’t own a paella pan so I used a cast iron skillet instead. It turned out great. I knew it was probably far from authentic but it seemed to have the essentials. It used the right kind of rice and was flavored with saffron. It was always my understanding that paellas were made with various kinds of meat and fish, often combined in a single batch, so it seemed the specific choice of meat shouldn’t detract from the authenticity. In short, I convinced myself I got the paella experience, more or less.

          As some of the other commenters mention, the origins of most dishes are murky which also means they vary a lot and it is hard to pin down the “real” one. Another dish I’ve investigated is Salade Nicoise. I had a pretty good idea what it ought to have in it but when I went to Nice a few times, I discovered that there was no right way to make it. In fact, many of the more touristy restaurants seemed to have adapted it to American tastes. In particular, they use seared tuna instead of canned. I presume this is because canned tuna seems cheap and they can charge more for the fresher variety. I just think it tastes better with the canned stuff. I also like to think that’s the more authentic version but who knows?

          1. Another vote for canned tuna in a salade Nicoise, especially the darker, redder stuff typically used in France. Mmmm!

        1. I object to those who complain about paella with chorizo without actually tasting it. It doesn’t really sound too bad as long as there is only a little. On the other hand, most modern attempts to “improve” a dish achieve exactly the opposite. People seem to add their favorite ingredient, or the ingredient du jour, without much regard for the unique statement made by the original dish. It’s like they never really had a good paella, or simply don’t like the dish much, but the restaurant owner insisted that it be on the menu.

    2. I’d be very surprised if the ‘original’ recipe of paella (which I don’t think really exists), a ‘left overs dish’ from Valencia, a fishing town on the Mediterranean coast, would not include seafood. I also note that about all recipies do include seafood. Stronger, they about all include crustaceans. And seafood does not ‘replace’ chicken, it is a glorious addition.
      And yes, I made all my paellas in the flat iron ‘paella’ pan.

      1. Thanks for your comment. As I said, I am not an expert and ignore the historical origin of the dish, but I do have friends who claim to have this knowledge and it would be really fun to observe their reaction when you tell them that the original recipe from Valencia should likely include seafood. As a clarification, Valencia is indeed a coastal town in the Mediterranean, but “paella valenciana” refers to the Valencia region, which includes large inland areas where rice is grown.

        I would say that your claim that “about all recipes do include seafood” is not really accurate, and I can also say that my family paella do include seafood (and, indeed, particularly crustaceans) AND chicken, but that some other families have one or the other and consider the mix to be almost morally wrong.

        1. I got my ‘knowledge’ from a girl from Bilbao, not really the Valencia area, so I might be wrong. She didn’t put chorizo though. I think that we can all agree that a good paella, with or without seafood is delicious.

  11. I am developing a theory that there is no such thing as a bad dessert.

    The peach pie I once bought at an Amish roadside stand would blow that theory out of the water.

    There was also a pecan pie recipe that a boneheaded friend once made, that called for both kinds of Karo syrup (no problem so far), molasses AND cane sugar! I mourned the poor pecans that wound up embedded in that stuff.

    1. The theory is easily proved wrong at any supermarket. Most of those packaged baked goods are utter crap. They are all filled with so many preservatives to increase shelf life that they have a multitude of terrible aftertastes.

Leave a Reply