LET THE FUCKING BEGIN

Posted in Rants on May 31st, 2005 by Ed

Alternate title: Commence to Fuckin'.

To our loyal Bloomington readers – of which I suspect there are none – Tremendous Fucking is ready to tune up for its upcoming Global Domination Tour with a show this Thursday (June 2) at Second Story. Showtime is 10:00 PM and our high-decibel audio colonic will be the evening's final performance, so count on us hitting the stage circa midnight. I should note that bands with talent will also be on hand to entertain you, including perennial Bloomington favorites the Sump Pumps and Goodhands Team.

The cost is four American dollars. Pay it, fuckers.

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION: IT'S NOT JUST FOR SENATE MAJORITY LEADERS ANYMORE

Posted in Rants on May 27th, 2005 by Ed

Move over, Bill Frist. Don't worry, I won't steal any of your camera time, nor will I cut into your keynote address at the Inbred Bible Thumper convention this weekend. But I have a message that is every bit as urgent as your plaintive ass-kissing in preparation for 2008.

For those of you who don't know – and I will assume that to include everyone – I have been drafted into service by a Prominent Local Band known as Tremendous Fucking (or "TremFu" for PG-13 purposes). The band is rather ass-kicking, although I can assure you this has little to do with me. The Obligatory Bands You Know Analogy would probably the Jesus Lizard and Trenchmouth knife-fighting for the right to sodomize the Pixies. Band rules require pseudonyms, so I am to be known as Grover Cleveland Steamer, a name that combines my two greatest loves: political history and scatalogical humor.

This band tends to go through drummers like Spinal Tap, so it may be more appropriate to call me Mick Shrimpton or Stumpy Joe. In any case, please patronize this band soon, i.e. before they kick me out in August.

Our ass-blasting new album, Thanks for Nothing, is available for the entirely reasonable cost of five American dollars from Higher Step Records. For those wishing to celebrate our entire catalog, please consider shelling out a few more hard-earned dollars for the debut album How's My Fucking? on the same label. Or if you're really feeling punchy, email us for a "How's My Fucking? Dial 1-800-TREMENDOUS" bumper sticker.

Ginandtacos.com will soon be providing information on our exciting, continent-spanning World Tour, on which our live performances will answer questions such as "How many times can the f-word be used in 20 minutes?" and "What's that smell?" Until then (and if you're a huge tool who can't shell out $5 to support the rock) satiate yourself with mp3s of our multi-zirconium hits Now Look What You've Done and Just Like Burt Fucking Reynolds.

Dear England: What the fuck is wrong with you?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26th, 2005 by Erik

While we here at ginandtacos are still confused by the logic employed by three amateur film makers utilizing fluorescent lights and gasoline to make lightsabers, those of you in the United Kingdom aren't sitting on your laurels. It would seem that you have become insanely jealous of the special breed of stupidity that has until recently called the United States home.

Not to be outdone by American drunken, ridiculous behavior, two men in London seem to have become stuck in the mud.

Apparently, in the middle of some midday bender this British fellow decides that he desperately needs to walk to the edge of the Thames. Because, you know, they were going to frolic in the water… or something. Obviously my first reaction to this story was that these two men were clearly American tourists. However, this was apparently native British idiocy.

Thats right, it is the kind of idiocy where after one drunken man decided to walk to the river and get stuck in the mud, his friend figured he was in possession of special "but I can walk ON TOP OF THE MUD" powers. Yes, he proceeded to go out after the first guy. One can't fully understand this reasoning, but one nearby houseboat resident described them as "definitely drunk" and proclaimed the situation to be "pretty funny". I am glad that at least on this point we are in agreement.

Use the force young Skywalker- oh, and some gasoline and fluorescent lights.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24th, 2005 by Erik

As citizens of the United States, the authors of Ginandtacos.com have always prided themselves on living in the coutry that is one of the world leaders in bad ideas. Whether that be Prohibition or electing George Bush a second time, we have always been on the forefront.

While we in the United States sat idly by and only used gasoline for powering sport utility vehicles and disposing of the occasional incriminating document, a British trio has taken creative liscense with this flammable liquid and used it to create "lightsabers".

I will be the first to admit that I am not the most avid follower of Star Wars movies, but I don't recall lightsabers looking like they were on fire. Despite this, I am fairly certain the logic went something like this:

Although it seems sick and wrong to laugh at these two amateur "filmmakers" injuries, I am not sure if they have left us with much choice. I mean honestly, they filled a glass tube with gasoline and then exposed it to open flames. Perhaps in England this qualifies as lightsaber, but in the rest of the world it is called a bomb.

That said, I hope that authorities don't eventually release the footage of this "scene". I really think that it is in my best interest not to see this happen.

Movie Review: Star Wars III – Return of the Exhaustion

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19th, 2005 by Mike

Diehard Star Wars fans hate the new trilogy. It's important to realize why this has come to be. It's not the normal revulsion that comes with the release of the next blockbluster hitting movie theaters – the hate is deeper than the normal cultural laments that go with a "Independence Day" or "I, Robot" debuting to 3,000 screens. It's also not the mild betrayal one feels when a childhood icon is cashed out a second time through – be it Your Favorite Alternative Band Going Back Out on Tour or Your Favorite Childhood Cartoon Characters on Ice. For us, Star Wars has been all about action figures and soundtracks that the cashing out part of it doesn't even register – and besides, didn't Lucas already cash out by re-releasing the first three with 'new footage', and didn't we line up to see it?

Read more »

ELOTES DEFINED

Posted in Ginaissance on May 17th, 2005 by Ed

Alright, in an effort to avoid being that guy – the one who makes obscure references with the hope of puzzling readers – let's talk a little more about the Elotes Guy.

There are two places in the world in which a person can walk down any street in summertime and be handed a hot ear of corn: Mexico and Chicago. Elotes are simply roasted or boiled ears of sweet corn. The men who purvey them from rolling carts emblazoned with that word are called eloteros. Chicago loves its eloteros. They are one of the things that make us, well, not Detroit.

elotes.bmp

The city frequently tries to regulate them to death or eliminate them, believing that street vendors carry a ghetto, third-world connotation. Balderdash. Eloteros are as harmful to the community as the ice cream man. Yes, I understand that a rolling wooden cart piloted by a struggling immigrant is likely to experience some lapses in city food hygiene codes. But it's corn, water, salt, and butter for god's sake. There's not much that can go wrong there.

Fr. Chuck Dahm of St. Pius in Logan Square (but you knew that was coming) has led the fight to save the eloteros from excessive regulation. The Chicago Reader has called the debate over their survival The Elotes War. We like things that are phrased in terms of military metaphors.

Lest they miss a chance to chug the Latino community's wang in exchange for political support, the Daley fellows appear willing to let the Elotes carts be. But we must remain vigilant soldiers – Minutemen ready to serve in the War should it become necessary.

Viva Elote!

MEXICAN STREET TACOS: THE ELOTES GUY WOULD BE PROUD

Posted in Ginaissance on May 15th, 2005 by Ed

We have already enriched your lives to the tune of several recipies (and historical primers) for classic gin cocktails. Now let us turn to the gastronomic soulmate of gin: the taco.

I want to emphasize two ironclad facts of taco preparation up front:

  • 1. Tacos are not easy to make (well). They appear to be rather simple, with only a few ingredients and limited preparation time. But the cooking process is deceptively tricky. My techniques were developed through extended trial-and-error, not to mention several batches of horrible tacos gone wrong.
  • 2. There is absolutely no way to make a healthy taco that doesn't taste like crap. Get over it in advance. This is not diet food. The preparation will involve beef fat rendered into liquid and copious amounts of corn oil.

    Taco Basics

    Tacos, like so many wonderful things in our lives, were invented out of necessity. As men and women worked in the fields in Mexico many years ago, wrapping meat and vegetable items in a tortilla had two advantages. It made the concoction edible quickly and with one hand without food falling all over the ground. Secondly, it could be made in the morning, wrapped, and stored for eating later in the day (today, this method of wrapping and storing a taco is considered a separate and distinct cooking method known as Tacos sudados – literally "sweaty tacos", which steam themselves into a soft consistency with time).

    There are dozens of kinds of tacos, each distinctly different, including al pastor (spit-grilled meat, usually pork, cooked similarly to the way gyros are prepared by slicing meat from a rotating hunk of lamb), carnitas (meat fried in lard with fruit), and dorados (flautas or "taquitos"). However, the type most commonly associated with Mexican food in America are tacos al carbon, or barbecued meats. As we will see, electric griddle preparation has largely replaced the open fire in most American taquerias. Being the most basic taco type, we will focus on this recipie here. The hard-shell Taco Bell-type tacos common in America are rarely eaten in Mexico.

    The first thing you need to do is start with a flank steak. Flank steak is not pretty. It has fat, and often connective tissue, attached to it. Our tendency in the grocery store is to select the nice red and fat-free piece of beef. This will result in a dry, flavorless taco. Suck it up and ask the nice butcher for a flank.

    flank.bmp

    The key to cooking any lower-quality piece of meat is preparation, either marinating, aging, or dry-rubbing. Home cooks will need to rely on marinating this particular cut. The essence of any meat marinade is something that will attack the meat and break its tissue down (an acid) and something to penetrate the meat and protecting its liquid content during the cooking process (an oil). Acid and oil. This is a marinade. Acid softens, oil retains the flavor (since the oil, not the meat's own water and fat, will burn away in the cooking process).

    Here is a good, basic marinade for tacos. I have found it to be effective for any meat. I also, as much as a white-ass Polack can verify these things, consider it to be, if not authentic, then at least plausible in terms of the ingredients.

  • 2 tablespoons of corn oil
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of lime juice (I sincerely doubt they use vinegar as an acid in Mexico like most American recipies call for)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (fast mincing tip: peel the cloves and then just hit them with a heavy utensil)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed (grocery-store cumin is acceptable)
  • 1 seeded, chopped, and minced jalapeno pepper

    Mix these ingredients well. Toss the steak (whole) into your marinade dish. Turn it over once to coat it, then cover and let stand for 2-6 hours.

    Remove the steak and discard the marinade. Cut the flank into about 8 strips (approx 1/2" to 1" wide). Clean, peel, and dice one medium white potato (no red or Yukon Gold for these purposes), one more jalapeno (seeded), and one small yellow onion. So you have:

  • approx. 8 strips of steak
  • finely cubed potato, jalapeno, and onion mixed in a bowl, coated with a small amount of corn oil to facilitate cooking

    Now heat up an electric griddle to medium-high heat. A frying pan really isn't going to work. Sorry. Find me a taqueria where they prepare tacos in a frying pan. I recommend the Villaware electric (usually less than $50) because it has no "hot/cold spots" and is amazingly stick-resistant.

    Put a generous amount of corn oil (don't overdo it, but don't leave it dry) on the griddle and allow it to heat up. When everything starts sizzling, add the cubed potato-jalapeno-onion mix. Allow this to cook (stirring and tossing regularly) for 5-6 minutes. Look for the onion to start turning translucent. When done, either push it aside or (preferably) remove it to a bowl, covered in foil.

    Add the steak strips. Allow to cook (slightly brown) on each side. Remove the strips to a cutting board and dice into small cubes. The middle should still be pinkish. You are not done cooking the steak. Transfer the meat (with its accumulated juices, oil, and other gross shit) to a bowl and cover. Re-apply corn oil to the griddle if necessary and begin frying two small corn tortillas. Then take two big spoonfuls of the meat and a spoonful of the potato mixture and begin cooking them together next to the tortillas.

    Are you still with me? You're now frying two tortillas on one part of the griddle and the meat-potato mixture (which you've already cooked once) on the other. Cook long enough to cook the beef through if any of it is still pink/red when you start. Place one tortilla on top of the other and scoop the meat mixture on to the middle. Remove from the griddle.

    Congratulations, you've just made a taco. Repeat until satisfied.

    Garnishing tacos is a matter of personal taste. Authentic tacos will only be garnished with cilantro and onions (although anejo cheese, salsa and/or rice is also added in some traditional recipies). American-style tacos contain cheese, lettuce, and tomato in addition to other toppings. Do what makes you happy. The purpose of cooking is to eat something you enjoy. If you don't like the "authentic" toppings (I personally find cilantro to be too bitter) then put whatever the hell you want on them.

    The key to this recipie is the cooking/resting/re-cooking of the meat. Taquerias cook their meat in massive batches either late at night (for the next day) or in the morning. It then sits in a little tub of its own juices and is re-cooked before being applied to your tacos. This is gross, but it is also the reason your at-home tacos never taste quite like the taqueria.

    (note: Do not salt during the cooking process. While salt is commonly added to your tacos in any taqueria, doing so while cooking risks drying the meat out. Add salt immediately before eating if desired.)

  • The Ginaissance Presents: The Canon of Great Men's Martini Recipes.

    Posted in Ginaissance on May 12th, 2005 by Mike

    "[The Martini is] the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet."

    H.L. Mencken

    “Martinis, my dear are dangerous. Have two at the very most. Have three and you’re under the table. Have four and you’re under the host.”

    Dorothy Parker

    "The martini is an honest drink, tasting exactly like what it is and nothing else. There is no sugar in a martini; no egg whites, no black and white rums, no shaved almonds, no fruit juice, no chocolate, and no spices. A martini is not served in a pineapple shell nor a piece of rolled up canoe bark, and there are no disgusting pieces of flotsam around the top. It is a clear, clean, cold, pure, honest drink …"

    Donald G. Smith

    I know what you are thinking. “Mike, I like gin, but drinking a martini comes with all kinds of bullshit.” Trust me I understand. This isn’t helped by a drinking culture where all cocktails, no matter how divorced they are from gin and vermouth, are considered martinis. Taking a peek at the Martini Bar Chicago martini list and seeing things like the Red Bulltini (Absolut Citron, Red Bull, Lemon Twist) makes me a little nauseous.

    Read more »

    Cinco de Mayo: Can we get drunk and eat tacos with a clear conscience?

    Posted in Ginaissance on May 11th, 2005 by Erik

    You might have noticed last week that all the shadiest of bars had strange vinyl signs advertising Corona with iconography reminiscent of a deserted Caribbean island. Then you look a bit further and notice that the cheap eyesore of a banner is actually advertising some kind of Cinco de Mayo celebration- or more appropriately advertising what Corona hopes to become the Mexican "Saint Patrick's Day."

    Read more »

    The Ginaissance presents: spice-flavored medicinal spirits, or: Gin, The Drink of Science.

    Posted in Ginaissance on May 10th, 2005 by Mike

    "The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen's lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the empire."

    Winston Churchill

    The above statement is completely true. I already know what you are thinking: “C’mon guys. How has gin have saved more people’s lives than doctors? Do you know how hard doctors study? What their GPA looked like? (they certainly didn’t waste their time on webpages) Doctors represent science, which you can’t compare gin to in terms of benefiting humanity.”

    Oh your weak, fragile little minds. You are trying to force a conflict here, between science on one hand, and gin on the other – but what you are missing is they are in fact the same thing. One can’t force the search for empirically verifiable theories from the search to find a better way to get fucked up for less than $5 per 750ml.

    Or to put it a better way, the people responsible for your juniper-flavored hangovers are the same people extracting chemicals from plants and disproving the medieval superstitions about the body. Need examples? Well, you asked for it….

    OF COURSE IT WAS DISCOVERED IN A UNIVERSITY LAB SETTING

    Like most of science, we start off in the early 17th century. Specifically with a great man named Dr. Franciscus Sylvius. He was a Dutchman, whose actual name was Franz de le Boë before it was Latinized, who taught at Leyden University in the Netherlands. Like many a professor he held a vague grudge against something – the something in this case being the humoral theory, or the medieval school of thought that the body’s health is based on the balance of four elements – blood, phlegm, choler and melancholy. This theory of sickness relied heavily on interpretation and speculation, and very little on what we would consider independently verifiable science.

    Dr. Sylvius would have none of it. He is considered the founder of the Iatrochemical School of Medicine, which held that disorders in the body were caused by empirically verifiable chemical reactions. This blew a whole right threw the humoral theory, as it was easier to incorporate newly discovered concepts like “circulation” and “acidity/alkalies.” He helped to discover that blood circulates independently throughout the body. He discovered a fissure in the brain that to this day is still known as the “Fissure of Sylvius.” He also took it to the streets, creating the modern clinical. In 1664 he writes:

    "I have led my pupils by the hand to medical practice, using a method unknown at Leyden, or perhaps elsewhere, i.e., taking them daily to visit the sick at the public hospital. There I have put the symptoms of disease before their eyes; have let them hear the complaints of the patients, and have asked them their opinions as to the causes and rational treatment of each case, and the reasons for those opinions. Then I have given my own judgment on every point. Together with me they have seen the happy results of treatment when God has granted to our cares a restoration of health; or they have assisted in examining the body when the patient has paid the inevitable tribute to death."

    He also created the first chemistry laboratory (all you kids horribly burnt in a high school chem lab accident can blame him). He did many experiments in his Leyden lab – one of them involved diuretics. He once said : “One-third of all diseases can be cured by sweating.” Lord knows what he thought about the other way to remove liquids, but we do know he spent quite a lot of time trying to find the perfect diuretic. Not just any diuretic though; he needed one cheap, so it was affordable to the masses of people suffering from kidney disorders and stomach problems. He found his solution in 1650.

    Enter gin. This begins the long history of associating gin with the cheapest possible solution to a problem (not to mention having to use the bathroom an excessive amount). Fruit derived alcohol was very expensive back in those days – and nothing was cheaper than grain alcohol. Dr. Sylvius took the grain alcohol, and started searching for something else that was disturbingly cheap and also a heavy diuretic; he found the perfect match of both in “juniper-berry oil.”

    The Dutch called it jenever (juniper), the French called it genievre – the later being the name Dr. Sylvius gave to his new concoction. You and I know it simply, as gin.

    ALKALOIDS, COLONIALISM

    Let’s fast forward. Due to a series of events, including a bloodless revolution, yields of low-quality grain not suitable for market, and the Gin Riot’s ability to overturn Gin-related legislation (stay tuned for more details later in the week!) Gin became the drink of choice for the British people as they began to build their giant empire.

    The empire did come across one major stumbling block: malaria. The disease was a major problem in their colony in India. Malaria has been of the major killers throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, with no known cure in Europe. In the early 17th century, an Augustinian monk named Antonio de Calancha found a tree “whose bark, of the color of cinnamon, made into powder amounting to the weight of two small silver coins and given as a beverage, cures the fevers and tertiana [of malaria].” The name of the bark was Cinchona.

    It took quite some time for cinchona bark to catch on as a malaria cure, as it was closely associated with Catholicism in an increasingly Protestant world. Also the idea of drinking an awful tasting hot liquid was a world apart from the normal medicine of the time period – where was the bleeding? What humors were involved? Eventually though, Cinchona was accepted as the standard cure.

    Starting in 1817 the French chemists Pierre-Joseph Pelletier and Joseph Caventou began a series of groundbreaking experiments using mild solvents to isolate out active plant elements, acts which created the idea of chemistry surrounded around alkaloids. This would allow chemists to start playing around with plants using specific chemical elements that the plants contained, rather than having to makeshift units of plant extracts and bark mixtures. Within the first year they isolated the green pigment from plant, which they named Chlorophyll. In 1820 they isolated the active malaria fighting element in Cinchona – and named it quinine.

    Hop over a continent to the British imperial presence in India circa 1870. Malaria is a massive problem for the people of India. As it us spread by mosquitoes, it was very difficult to isolate to one caste of people, and as such hit the British soldiers stationed there. Quinine extract is the obvious medicine, however in its pure form its effectiveness is matched only by its repulsiveness. Dissolved in water, it made a beverage called “Indian Tonic Water.” Tonic Water available in stores these days is sweetened and contains a fraction of the quinine from those days. So picture less sweet, and significantly more bitter, Tonic Water. Awful, right? Worse, according to Merck Index it takes 2L of water to dissolve 1 gram of quinine. You’d have to drink gallons of it!

    Enter gin. The British, being the righteous bastards that they are, learned quickly that gin would take care of this dissolving issue. A gram of quinine dissolves in 0.8ml, or about 2,500x less liquid than water. Add a twist of lime, and you now have the Gin and Tonic – the perfect way to get buzzed, force indigenous people into the salt mines, and keep healthy by fighting malaria. Hence the quote from Mr. Churchill here that opened this article – the Gin and Tonic saved the British Army from malaria. Let’s see your chocolate vodka martini nonsense do that!

    So there you have it. Next time you are kicking back, enjoying a fine martini, tom collins, gin and tonic, or just plain old gin by itself, take comfort in knowing that what you drink stands for the virtues of empiricism, disinterested inquiry, theories based on observation and not on faith, weights and measures, and Science.