The Great Plotnik

Monday, May 30, 2005

Vegetarian Road Kill

The Great Plotnik wonders what vegetarians do for road kill? What do they sling across their bumpers after colliding with it on the Interstate? Do they have to wait until they run over a four-legged Wild Tofu? Could anyone have the courage to pull into a country gas station with a giant carrot tied across his luggage rack?

Vegetarians in America can have a tough time when they leave the big city, or even when they don't.

Recently, The Great Plotnik took his mother, Mummy Plotnik, and others from the extended Plotnik Clan, out to dinner in the large Western agent-infested town in which they all live. The restaurant was Uzbekistani. Yes, Uzbek food. None of the assembled Plotniks was an Uzbek, but one, The Great Five Head, is a vegetarian.

The Great Five Head is known as The Great Five Head because when she was small her cousins told her her forehead was too big to be merely a Four Head.

On the menu was a delicious collection of Vegetarian Appetizers, all with yogurt. At one point, while eating the vegetarian appetizers, The Great Five Head pulled a suspicious looking, chewy piece of unidentified material from her yogurt. She looked concerned. So, The Great Plotnik asked the Uzbek waiter if he was positive the appetizer was indeed vegetarian.

"Oh, yes," said the waiter.

"It's vegetarian for sure?" asked the Great Plotnik.

"Oh, yes," said the waiter.

"No meat?" asked The Great Five Head.

"No meat," said the waiter. "Only lamb."

There was a silence at the table.

"But," said Mummy Plotnik, "lamb is not a vegetable."

"Oh, no, Mum," laughed the waiter. "Lamb very cute, he go bahh bahh bahh."

"I know what lamb is," glowered Mummy Plotnik.

"Are there any other meats in the vegetarian appetizers?" asked The Great Plotnik.

"Oh, no," said the waiter. "In our country, is only lamb."

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Where America Shops

The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik went shopping for a new microwave oven. Every piece of cheap plastic on the old microwave oven had by now fallen off. You couldn't heat up or defrost anything, and even if you could, the door wouldn't open. It was time.

They drove to the store that advertises itself as "Where America Shops." The parking lot was empty. The store was filled with cheap and shoddy merchandise, favoring clothing in bright colors never before seen by man. Every song that came on the Muzac was by Lionel Richie.

"I don't like it in here, Plotnik," said The Great Ducknik.

"No," said The Great Plotnik. "I want to shop where America doesn't shop."

Chilies and Rain

The Great Plotnik read a wonderful story by Roshni Rustomji called "American Dhansak and the Holy Man of Oaxaca." It is the story of Parsi women living in Mexico and the life lessons exchanged by two neighbors, one Parsi and one Mexican. It is about the healing nature of good food. It is about love, and it is about chilies, the hotter the better, and it is about cultures intermingling across a bowl of dhansak, a plate of mole, a platter of crispy tortillas covered with curry and avocadoes.

The Great Plotnik knows about cultures intermingling, life dancing on a spoon of desire, spinning on the juice-filled tip of an overripe lime, heat and moisture and migrations across the earth.

We of the thousand generations of wanderers, of countless meals eaten on the hunt and on the lam, of sharing events of the day around campfires and cookstoves, in kitchens and dining rooms and in hovels and palaces and on dirt floors and mosaic tiles and in peace and in war. Migrations move us, improve us, keep us strong. We bring with us what we love best.

Our food. As we share meals around our favorite tables, we tell our best tales. The sweeter the sauce, the spicier the story. We learn about ourselves as we eat the foods of others. And then, when our friends' stories make us cry, when the hardships we have all endured become too much to bear, then we put down our spoons, hand our new neighbor our glasses, wipe our eyes on our sleeves and shake our heads, and in an obscure corner of some dry desert on Earth -- it rains.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The World's Most Annoying Band

Would it surprise you to know that The Great Plotnik plays the ukelele?

Recently, on an airplane bound for Florida, The Great Plotnik met a man with an enormous red beard and five earrings. Three of them were in his ears. Having eaten up all the peanuts and pretzels, the two had nothing else to do, so they fell into a conversation. The man with the great red beard said he played the accordion. The Great Plotnik told him he played the ukelele, and therefore the two of them played two of the most annoying instruments known to man.

"That's nothing," the man with the great red beard said. "My father plays the bagpipes."

"We need to form a band," the Great Plotnik said.

"But I don't play very well," said the man with the great red beard.

"I don't either," said The Great Plotnik. "What about your father?"

"He's terrible," the man said. "We could have a really annoying band. But we'll need a singer."

"I have someone," said The Great Plotnik. "Her name is The Great Ducknik. She sings perfectly in tune until she takes a breath, and then she comes back in another key. It can be any key at all. If she breathes twice she ends up in three keys."

"We'll need short songs," said the man with the great red beard.


The Great Plotnik loves birds. He invented wonderful things to do with birds, like Fried Chicken (No. 12), Chicken and Dumplings (Comb. 184), Peking Duck (No. 66), Roast Turkey (No. 5), Sauteed Squab (N0. 401) and his masterpiece: Turduckenhumfoot -- a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a hummingbird's foot (Comb. 11,142).

The Great Plotnik's grandmother, Grannie Plotnik, made delicious fried chicken. The wings were especially crispy. Grannie Plotnik pronounced wings 'Vings.' So when The Great Plotnik was still Baby Plotnik, he and his brother Shmeckl would always ask Grannie Plotnik for chicken wings by calling "Ve Vant Vings!" This was considered broad humor in the Plotnik family.

You might wonder: if The Great Plotnik were the First of his race, how could there have been a Grannie Plotnik, or Grampie Plotnik, or even a Mummy or Poppy or Schmeckl Plotnik? This is a very, very good question.

To properly ponder this particularly pugnacious parable, The Great Plotnik suggests a large, steaming bowl of Shirl's Cajun Gumbo with Chicken, Andouille Sausage and Bayou Sef Prawns (Comb. 305). In fact, The Great Plotnik would appreciate it if you'd bring him a bowl too, with a side of Buffalo Vings (No. 81) and a Turduckenhumfoot.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Bowl of Rice, Jerked Chicken and Cole Slaw

The Great Plotnik went to a baseball game with his friend The Great Mushnik. The Great Plotnik looked around at the beautiful baseball stadium with its green grass, orange waving flags and blue water beyond, and it was good. Then he saw the bowl of rice with jerked chicken and cole slaw and that was even better. The Great Plotnik finished his First Bowl before the First Inning. "THAT is SOME combination," he thought. "Why didn't I think of that?"

Standing next to this food stand was the very man who had made the delicious bowl of rice with jerked chicken and cole slaw. He was not only a fine chef, but an ex-baseball player, a superstar, a man from the island of Puerto Rico who, in his playing days, had struck fear into the hearts of his opponents. The Great Plotnik remembered him well. The Great Plotnik had once had an uncle who had loved this ex-player so much he named his big black dog after him.

The Great Plotnik, flushed with love for his recent bowl of rice and jerked chicken and cole slaw, wanted to tell the ex-player about the ex-uncle and the ex-dog. Yet, despite all the knowledge and wisdom accumulated by a man who, after all, was the progenitor of his entire race, a race that isn't going so well, I might add, but isn't going so badly either, I mean, we're still here, we're not extinct, we're not ex-anything yet, unlike, say, passenger pigeons or sweet-and-sour liver or PresbyHindus (another unsuccessful combination), The Great Plotnik could not find the words to tell the ex-player that The Great Plotnik's ex-uncle had once named his ex-dog after the ex-player. So The Great Plotnik simply shook the ex-player's hand and thanked him for his delicious bowl of rice, jerked chicken and cole slaw.

A thought balloon appeared over the ex-player's head. It read: "Ai, caramba! Es posible que este senor sea el Gran Plotnik? Dios mio! Que increible!"

When The Great Plotnik returned to his seat he told his friend, The Great Mushnik, that he had been unable to find the words to inform the ex-player about the dog that shared his name. The Great Mushnik took an enormous bite from her Polish dog with fresh tomatoes and pickles, without, it must be said, offering even the meagerest taste to her friend, even though it was The Great Plotnik who had invented the combination of Polish dog, fresh tomatoes and pickles in the first place (it was the Number 449), and acknowledged that The Great Plotnik had probably done the right thing. The uncle and the dog wasn't that good a story.

The game got completely out of hand soon after.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Number Five

The Great Plotnik was feeling ill. He scrolled over to Medscape. In Medscape he read headlines like these: Avian Flu Virus Mutating, Posing Bigger Threat
Asthma May Be an Independent Risk Factor for Invasive Pneumococcal Disease
Rotavirus Vaccine May Cut the Rate of Severe Gastroenteritis in Half
Rifaximin Prophylaxis May Be Indicated for Traveler's Diarrhea
Noncardiac QTc-Prolonging Drugs May Increase Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death.

Now The Great Plotnik felt really sick. He wished he had never subscribed to those cockamamie scrolls. To feel better he needed a sandwich. He made himself a Number Five. A Number Five contains knoblewurst, knackwurst, pastrami, roast beef, corned beef, brisket of beef, meatloaf, chunks of goulash, Nova Scotia lox, cream cheese, tomato, one-half of a roast chicken, the other half of a fried chicken, chopped liver, schmaltz herring, whitefish, redfish, smoked fish, stuffed derma, kreplach, a large turkey leg and half a pound of boiled lungen, all on a buttered bialy with deli mustard, brown mustard, Russian Dressing, Prussian Dressing, Lithuanian Dressing, Turkish Dressing, a little Milani's 1890 and a half-sour, plus a side of Macaroni Salad. When you're feeling peckish, there's nothing quite like a Number Five.

In The Beginning

In the beginning there was The Great Plotnik, and The Great Plotnik was all there was, and he looked around and he said 'Let There Be Pizza,' and 'Let There Be Bagels,' and 'Let There Be Barbecued Ribs,' and soon there were pizza and bagels and barbecued ribs, and this was good. It didn't take The Great Plotnik long to create everything to eat that he could think of, and most of them were good, but there were also a few things that were not very good, like beer sandwiches, and awful combinations that he can't figure out where he got such ideas, like sweet and sour liver. The Great Plotnik knew they were bad, and he threw them out, which is why nobody anymore eats beer sandwiches or sweet and sour liver.