Thursday, July 2, 2009

Always on the lookout for new recipes that are easy and pleasing to the finicky palates of Certain Important Members Of My Family (CIMOMF, not to be confused with CKMOMF), I discovered this one the other day and thought I'd share it with my readers.


1. Go to market with father. As soon as vegetable stand lady yells "Bonjour, Monsieur Lalie" to your father (this is normal), hang a quick right. Walk quickly past cheese stall, fighting temptation to clear your sinuses with Roquefort fumes, until you see the fish stand.

2. At fish stand, resist urge to stick finger in the eye of a giant fish who, judging from the nasty look on his face, clearly deserved to be turned into cioppino. When fishmonger comes toward you, do a quick mental run-through of what you will say to him. Remember not to forget to say "bonjour," "monsieur," "s'il vous plait," "au revoir," and, again, "monsieur." Above all, you don't want him to remark on your lack of manners or French food-purchasing know-how. You're aware that maybe, from a young age, you were brainwashed into thinking that a lack of politeness would bring shame, infamy, and the fleas of a thousand dingos onto your family, but you don't want to take any chances now, when you're in public.

3. Look at fishmonger's face, not at the entrails casually strewn on the bib of his apron, and request two bushels of escargots de mer. When fishmonger laughs, waves his hands, and says something fast and incomprehensible, feign understanding with a light chuckle and significant nodding of your head. When he repeats himself, this time without laughing, and it becomes clear that you've placed your order incorrectly, say "Euh...attendez, s'il vous plait. Mon pere..."

4. Crane head to locate father amidst groups of polished-looking shoppers wearing coordinated outfits in varying shades of navy and white. Flag him down with the loaf of bread in your hand, mouthing the words "help me." When he arrives, throw all manners to the wind, pointing the loaf of bread at the fishmonger and not even trying to speak in French. "He, uh--I tried to ask for some snails. Can you--?" Grin idiotically at the fishmonger, who launches into a discussion with your father about water depth, temperature, and murkiness, and then shovels a hefty heap of black sea snails into a plastic bag.

5. Walk home. Mentally prepare yourself for encounter with CIMOYourF, when you'll be quizzed about what you bought and who will be forced to eat it. Decide to feign deafness if the need arises, admittedly a drastic measure but one that is strangely enjoyable, perhaps because it is sadistic. Once you arrive home, go straight to the kitchen, where your mother is waiting. When she asks, in a low voice, "Did you get them?" check that the coast is clear and then show her the bag peeping out of your straw shopping basket.

6. With mother stationed at entrance to kitchen (she can be pretending to wash the floor), empty the escargots de mer into a pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, and then dunk the snails in cold water. Dry them with Q-tips, and then remove each snail from its shell with a needle (this can also be done with a vacuum cleaner). Put the snails directly in a blender.

7. When all snails are in blender, add two cups of peanut butter, five cups of cottage cheese, three bananas, and two tablespoons of tabasco. Blend on high until creamy, then pour into colorful plastic cups with straws. Arrange cups on a tray and exit the kitchen, saying "Who wants a yummy smoothie?"

8. Hand a cup to each CIMOYourF. When they ask "What the hell's that weird taste?" mention the tabasco. You won't exactly be lying, and you can follow up by muttering something like "Southwestern tradition...peanuts...spicy," which, hopefully, will impress them enough that they shut up.

9. Once they've finished their smoothies, gather CIMOYourF and tell them they each just drank half a bushel of sea snails. Tell them this with a straight face, because if you appear to find it funny they may not trust you anymore. If they become indignant, saying snails are "gross" and your culinary abilities resemble those of a "brain-damaged baboon," remind them of the high iron content of sea snails when freshly pulverized. If they show further signs of discomfort or become enraged, gently hint at all the love that went into the preparation of the smoothies. You won't exactly be lying, and someone might offer to clean up the kitchen.

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