Hello Blog readers!

In building up a library of the most interesting cookbooks, I sometimes find one that is hard to classify other than as bizarre. This is one of those - indeed it is probably the strangest cookbook I have ever encountered.

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A scan of the front cover of the copy I have that I bought used from University Books, 180 Oakvue Rd., Pleasant Hill, Calif. 94523.

From the back cover: Fresh from the closure of their notorious restaurant, Medlar Lucan and Durian Gray, two of the most lurid chefs of our time - taboos of every kind are gaily transgressed - a shameless (tasteless?) entertaining book taken from the works and tables of Caligula, Heliogabalus, the Grand Inquisitor of Rome and the Marquis de Sade.

OK. If you haven’t figured it out already, this is a dark humour book not for the squeamish - I am not recommending anyone buy it, but rather am pointing out that it is very, very different (in a weird way) from 99.99% of cookbooks out there. It would make good Halloween reading at a spooky costume party. Today I will post a sample recipe from it (for something I do eat a lot of): Gravlax. Here is the entry for that:

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Gravlax (literally ‘buried’ or ‘grave’ salmon)

"The best way to prepare gravlax is to send someone extremely rugged and bold to Scandinavia in early winter. There they should dig a hole in the soft sandy earth on the shore of a lake and bury a salmon in it, sandwiched between two layers of birch twigs and fir branches weighted down with stones and covered with earth. The wooden cross is optional. The salmon has to be left for three to six days before it is ready to eat. Of course, burying a fish for three days before resurrecting and eating it can be interpreted as a blasphemous parody of Christian ritual - but as we said, the wooden cross is optional. If you don’t know any outdoor types you can make tasty gravlax in the comfort of your own fitted kitchen like this:

3 - 4 lb salmon, filleted, skin on.

A big bunch of dill

Cure for the salmon, made with:

4 Tsp black peppercorns, roughly crushed

4 Tbsp salt

2 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp brandy

Wash and dry the salmon, Mix the pepper, salt, honey and brandy. Lay half the dill on a long dish, then half the salmon, skin side down. Rub in half the cure. Add the remaining dill. Rub the rest of the cure into the flesh of the other half of the salmon. Lay it over the first half, skin side up, cover with foil and put some weights on the top. Stick the whole thing in the fridge for 48 hours, and turn every 12 hours.

When it is ready, dress with a sweet mustard and dill mayonnaise (2 eggs, 300ml of olive oil, lemon juice, 4 Tbsp French mustard, 2 Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp dill), made in the usual way.

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Stock photo of gravlax

For real cheats, there’s also the gravlax which comes ready-entombed in vacuum-packs at supermarkets. Resurrect the corpse as delicately as possible from the store packaging and decorate extravagantly.

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OK, I am guilty of buying gravlax from gourmet supermarkets and not making it myself. I don’t smoke my own salmon either. Some of the advantages of living in a large city with gourmet supermarkets haha. I have poached a large whole salmon for a dinner party once though.

On the topic of ghouls and Halloween cookbooks, I have a question I do not know the answer to. I’ve noticed that several friends and acquaintances I have (girls in their 20s) are very fond of a TV show that aired from 1997-2003 called ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’.

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I have never watched this show. One girl posts on Twitter that she buys the Buffy comics and reads them she likes the show so much, another girl (Allie) told me once at a party that I reminded her of a younger version of the character ‘Rupert Giles’ from the Buffy show (so…is that compliment, or a put down?)

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Giles and Buffy in publicity shot from the show.

and even Emma herself is a big fan of the show and said it is her favourite TV program ever. So my question is - what is it in the show that so appeals to girls in their 20s? None of my male friends talk about this show or profess to like it, other than to say in passing that actress Sarah Michelle Gellar was really hot/sexually desirable back in the late 1990s, and, as far as married moms in their mid-30s (circa 2013) go, she still is hot.  From the female perspective though, what is the appeal of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Why do girls like this show so much, or at least why do so many girls I know seem to like the show so much?

I will sweeten the deal - any readers of my blog who are Buffy fans and who want to e-mail me an explanation as to ‘Why the TV show Buffy thew Vampire Slayer appeals to girls’ - can enter to receive a free box set of the entire series from Amazon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Deluxe Box Set 2010 MSRP $199.98 - Amazon price $104.90) The best explanation I receive wins. Include an e-mail address so you can be notified if you won. Prize will be awarded in the form of an Amazon gift certificate e-mailed from Amazon to you at the e-mail address you provide with your submission so you can order the DVD set yourself to be sent to you absolutely free. Contest opens now, and closes August 1st. E-mail your entries to

think-questions@usa.net

OR you can submit through the ‘ask’ button on the blog.

Good luck! I will announce the winner in August.

I will be in Palm Beach for the next week reviewing restaurants and hanging out with my friends Michelle and Tracy, so will probably update the blog when I return to Toronto in early July with restaurant reviews for you and some entertaining travel stories.

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