Friday Fives – a bacon meltdown. Then, I tried to make paella. That didn’t go well. Oh, sorry, have you tried to make a paella? Things happened, man… where were you?

What is the bestest thing you have eaten ever?

Probably the ‘Chicago South Sider’ sammich from the Safeway Deli. They discontinued it, because they hate happiness. It was horseradish mayo AND horseradish pepper jack. Then, a tasty sourdough bread, THEN a shit-ton of roast beef. THEN… they would butter the bread and grill it. Of course, that was called a ‘panini’. Remember the panini?   It was ALL the rage like 5 years ago. Everything with bread was called a Panini. I miss that. You know how Subway loves to toast sammiches? That is great, and I am happy about it… but adding butter and then grilling a sammich? That is just plain heroic.  Update, here is how over America is with paninis… my spell check doesn’t even recognize it as a word.  Wtf?  Not a word?  It’s only the most important word ever.

I just found this info. Here is the recipe, but ours never had pickles. Here is another pro tip that only a real sammich fiend would get. If you got a good sammich lady (not being sexist, it just was a lady every single time)… if she is good, she will hold the lettuce and tomato and add it AFTER you grill it. That was it is still cold and refreshing. If they add the tomato and lettuce, and grill it, it just gets mooshy.

Roy has had one. We used to make lunch pilgrimages to Safeway. Yeah, there were about 200 restaurants in the Park Meadows area… but absolutely nothing was as tasty as a South Sider from Safeway. Roy (he is feeds me these questions, and turned me on to blogging, also knows the love of a good sammich. He is the one that turned me on to crazy jerry.)

Also, mad credit to crazy jerry’s sandwhich shop.  Super good, and a super long separate conversation.  Sadly, that closed a few years ago and Gerry moved up to the mountains.

So, what is the worst thing you have eaten?

It wasn’t even something I ate… but it was food. I had smelled it. I was at a little coffee shop in Parker, on main street. They had a bunch of those flavor syrups. I saw they had a bacon one. It was likely this product. I asked the nice lady if I could smell it, and promised not to touch or drink it. I smelled it. It was SO concentrated a smell, I nearly threw up. I love bacon, we all do. It smelled like a thousand strips of bacon were smooshed onto the top of a pen. It was SO gross. The smell was so powerful that I didn’t even eat bacon again, anywhere, for a few months. It was that bad.

It was SO disgusting and food-traumatic that I easily consider it the worst thing I have ever eaten.

What’s the hardest thing you have ever attempted to cook?

Paella. It’s a Spanish rice dish, and its about the best thing in the world. Wifey and I were in Barcelona for a week or two on our honeymoon and we ate a LOT. Every restaurant had their own recipe, just like sangria. We took a love of both of those back home. Anyhow, Paella is super complex to cook. I didn’t know this the first time I tried to make one. I am a good cook, so I just thought I just needed the ingredients – rice, saffron, clams, shrimp, sausage, tomatoes… and we are good, right? Oh my god no. It’s a multi hour and multi tiered cooking process. Even the rice is extremely specific. In fact, the best rices are so specific that they literally print a paella recipe on the cloth package. Look, see.

Oh, and Saffron? It is this beautiful tiny yellow flower that turns your rice yellow, and it is the most expensive and valuable stuff on earth. It is that flower above at the top.Honest. Let’s say the weight of a quarter coin.. if you had that weight in Saffron flowers, it would be about $500. That picture up there, that is about $150 worth. It’s really yummy, though, and unique. Also, it only takes a tiny bit. As I understand it, it almost always goes with rice. However, it is probably used for a lot in other stuff in Spain. Spain was great, btw. My favorite place on Earth that I have been is Barcelona. Paella and Sangria for every dinner.   Nameless flamenco bars were you watch a family of ten folks, 3 generations, all playing guitar and clapping and calling out. It was the whole gypsy kings experience. Seriously, THIS is the shit you find walking down the streets, or in the dark bars down windy unnamed alley-ways.

Spain is that great. Oh, and Gaudi’s architecture? This is another discussion already. Weren’t we talking about food? I would move to Barcelona tomorrow if you had a job for me. Same with Italy, too. Spain was better, though. You get this shit on the side of cliffs. It is like the whole country was photoshopped out of a travel magazine.

I should note that for my birthday, the wifey learned to make Paella. It was wicked good, and she made it perfectly.  It was so complex it literally has it’s own special pan.  Here is how that worked – she is a process writer, and a very successful one.  That is what it takes to make a paella.  OR… a 70 year old Spanish grandmother who looks like this.  She knows had to make one, they all do.  Sorta like tamales and Mexican grandmothers.  Ask anyone for the rest of your life, I am serious here, “who made these tamales” (even at a restaurant” and they will say it was someone’s grandmother.

Do you have quick (not fast food) thing you can cook that despite the ease, impresses people?

Oh yeah, for sure. I mean, that was my thing. I have always been able to cook. I would make chicken over pasta that was so tasty and beautiful and SO simple. Sorry to be gross, but since you asked… my dish should have been called ‘panty remover pasta’.

What foods do you usually try to avoid cooking?

Fish. I really enjoy fish, but almost never mess around with cooking it. Mostly, it cooks super duper quick. Plus, it’s tough to easily tell if it is done. Plus, with fish… you don’t get ‘rare, medium, or well done’. It is either cooked, or not. This is also tied above to that thing I mentioned above… trying paella. Plus, fish is very seasonal. Long ago, my mom taught me to never eat fish in months without ‘r’s. I guess that means summer.

Lastly, to impugn the freakish cooking process of fish that validates my fear of cooking fish… fruit juice.   You know another way to cook fish… in ice cold liquid? Yeah, you can cook fish in lime juice. It is how you make ceviche. Ceviche is super yummy. It’s like a pico de gallo salsa, but with fish. Fish that you cold cooked in lime juice. So… um… yeah – I don’t much cook fish.  ‘Cooking’ anything in cold liquid is weird.  How about if I said “I make this great filet Mignon dish by soaking it overnight in ice tea”?  You coming over for that?  No way, it’s like that great camping joke**** that ends ‘great… wanna go camping then?’

Oh, and this; try and grill fish?  Like, on a bbq.  You can’t.  Even if you oil your grill, that fish is coming apart like crazy when you try and flip it.  It can’t be done.  My brother cooks a lot of fish.  He said the trick is using foil.  Well, ok… but we aren’t really grilling it then, are we?  You are steaming it, and I can do that in the oven.  Also, steaming any other meat sucks.  You would never, ever, steam a steak.  So, I am suspicious of the whole thing.  Thanks a lot, Obama.

****  You ask: “If you were camping and woke up with your pants down and vaseline on your butt, would you tell anyone?
He says: ” Hell no!”
You say ” Do you want to go camping?”

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