9 (Mon) November 2020
Brisket of Basilisk Treat for the King of Cats
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with the Family
Newbery 100 Medals, 100 Meals (15) (see 100 NEWBERY M&Ms)
While reading the 99 books that have been awarded the annual Newbery Medal since 1922 – leading up to the 100th winner to be announced next year – I will also attempt to create one dish for every book, a dish that is directly referenced in or indirectly inspired by the events of the book. Food plays a strong role in many of the stories; not surprising as the characters in most of the books are faced with adversity of some sort, including poverty, so they’re often very hungry and thus grateful whenever they get a bite to eat – as we all should be at every meal, give us this day our daily bread. The dishes will be featured as posts on Give Me This Day.
A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers (1982) by Nancy Willard, illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. The book comprises 16 poems about a magical inn owned by the late English Romantic poet William Blake (1757-1827), known for his fantastical style and mystical themes. Blake and his staff welcome their whimsical guests, such as the King of Cats.
I enjoyed the book, mostly for the opportunity to read it aloud together with IZ; the rhymes are fun. As an English Lit major in college, I read Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, which the author notes in the introduction was the inspiration.
The poem offers no additional clues as to what Brisket of Basilisk Treat would comprise, but the audacious name of the dish demands greatness. Whereas the basilisk is a mythical serpent with the power to kill through its gaze, I figured that the dish would have to be something fierce.
[paraphrased in part]
Roast me a wren to start with.
Then, Brisket of Basilisk Treat.
My breakfast is “on the house”?
What a curious place to eat!
There’s no accounting for customs.
My tastes are simple and few,
a fat mole smothered in starlight
and a heavenly nine-mouse stew.
Having acquired a bottle of excellent Indian mango pickle last month (see 11.281 Mango Pickle Chicken Stir-Fry), then successfully glaze-roasting a pork shoulder a couple weeks ago (see 11.293 Umu Puaa), I had high hopes that combining the condiment and the technique on brisket, a sort of beef tikka, would make a most excellent basilisk treat worthy of His Majesty The King of Cats.
Alas, the Brisket of Basilisk Treat fell far short of greatness. First, the glaze didn’t retain any of the sharp spiciness of the mango pickle, just a vague dull tanginess (which I suppose means that temperature heat dissipates the effect of spice heat?). Second, the Australian beef was tough and bland – yes, yes, I should’ve known better, but the store was out of American beef, and Korean hanwoo beef was too expensive to risk on an experiment. The King of Cats would not have approved, I fear, preferring instead the moles and mice, oh dear!
Alex Trebek died today, just 9 days after Sean Connery (see 11.300 Smoked Salmon Romaine Wraps). As with Connery, I was a lifelong fan of Trebek, perhaps at a more fundamental level, because trivia has always been my thing: Jeopardy! is my favorite gameshow of all time (I still watch reruns on Netflix); Trivial Pursuit is my favorite board game (we have 4 versions at home); I was captain of the Brain Bowl team in high school (prouder of this than being captain of the volleyball team, seriously); and most recently I won The Beatles trivia quiz on the cruise that we took last year (see 10.159 American Combo Pizza) (although that was more about my lifelong obsession with The Beatles).
Alex: “KH, you now have control of the board.”
Me: “Alex, I’ll take ‘Let’s Eat Newberries’ for 100.”
Alex: “Answer: In the 1982 winner by Nancy Willard, the King of Cats orders a Brisket of Basilisk Treat for breakfast at a fictitious inn owned by this late English poet … KH!”
Me: “Who is William Blake?”
Alex: “He’s the one! Choose again.”
Me: “Same category for 200, Alex.”
While the Newbery medal has been a topic of many Jeopardy! answers over the years – according to the J! Archive, 60 times since 1987 (see J! Archive) – and about as many for the real William Blake himself – A Visit to William Blake’s Inn has not (yet) been singled out.
(See also FOODS.)
(See also PLACES.)