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Simplify dinner, allow for more game time

 So it is now almost midnight.

My keyboard is well-warmed as I have already finished tomorrow’s agenda and menus are done for the various parties that I have coming up this holiday.

I wish the game could have been a little closer to at least be interesting, but you can’t always get what you want. 

But football or no, I did get what I want in this particular case as I work through the virtual pile of work that I have on my desktop.

Dinner was hours ago, and I feel like eating as do the Spanish. Traditionally, many if not most Spanish families eat dinner very late in the evening, starting their repast at 9 or 10 in the evening; and this is with young children.  This eases my mind as I catch my second wind.

So wait; aren’t we all being told to ‘eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper’?  Shouldn’t we not eat late since ‘that’ is part of what’s causing our national obesity epidemic?

Oh, you know where I’m going with this.  There is no more frustrating topic to me on this green earth than that of diet.  Everyone is right, and yet no one seems to be.

I shake my head as I wrest the truth from the issue, and decide to grab something to eat despite the prevalent literature on our lazy, sleepy, anomalous, American metabolisms.

In my old age, I am not able to rebound from binge and/or late night eating like I used to when I raced mountain bikes or when I was in the Marine Corps.  The human body has an amazing ability to burn calories when it is regularly…well…burning calories.

I don’t race mountain bikes or even really ride anymore.  I do have a beach cruiser, but it is one speed and I ride it as intended and sold, and cruising the calories shall not burn, to quote Yeats, albeit poorly.

After  a fair amount of perusal, I decide to at least act responsibly in the remotest of manners in that I bypass the Rice Krispie Treats.  I scoff at the ripple chips that I simply cannot stand.  I love potato chips, but ripple chips remind me of a famous quote by the inimitable Samuel Clemens:

"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. "

Or in layman’s terms, it’s like being almost pregnant.  It’s either a bag of potato chips, or it’s not.  These ripple chips have got to go.  Potato dealers, please take note.

Nothing else in the snack cupboard looks good, so I shoot for the icebox.  It does not take long for the mushrooms to jump out at me.

A bowl of sautéed crimini mushrooms is the first of dishes that quells my late night munchies as I move my way through the refrigerator.

Next up, and the last thing that I will eat tonight, is so simple as to make it a little ridiculous to write about, but it deserves a page all its own; Jamon Serrano.

I was able to pick some up from Teeter’s and I had forgotten that I had it.  That makes it all the better.

Serrano Ham is one of the finest exports from Spain and matched with a dry Sherry, it stands as a true ambassador to this great Mediterranean nation.

rooting through the door, I find capers and then move to the pantry to find the extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar; two ingredients that work magically together.  They make me think that there just might be something to this whole ‘Mediterranean’ thing.

Simply tossing together a total of four ingredients pleases me, but a fair addition of freshly cracked pepper tops the ordeal as I have second thoughts on how I am to perfect such a simple dish.  To quench my thirst, and since dry sherry is something that I never have around, some fairly young Rioja is found and I can assure you that neither the ham nor the wine are overstating the other.

And now the game is over, the commercials are worse than they’ve ever been and I could not care less.  The Jamon was superb, the wine was enjoyable, and the simple addition of a few, traditional ingredients reminds me of the simple things in life. 

The entire experience makes this a wonderful way to start the holiday weekend.  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.


Jamon Serrano

serves 4 for starters

12 paper thin slices jamon Serrano

1 tbsp. Capers

1 Tbsp. EV Olive Oil

1 tsp. Sherry Vinegar

1.     Skewer the Serrano on twelve forks and arrange on a plate

2.     Top each piece of ham with capers

3.     Drizzle your starters with the olive oil and vinegar

4.     An easy addition at this point is a nice Manchego cheese shaved on top of the forks

5.     Serve alongside an assortment of tapas or hors d’oeuvres .  Think olives, cheeses, meats, seafood;  Spain has so many great things to offer.