Sunday, April 29, 2012

The General and I...

General George Patton is one of my cultural know, the guy you say you want to meet if you could meet anyone in history.  OK, Jesus, Mohammed, Einstein, Edison....whomever.  I have my William Blake, Vatel, Vercingetorix, Sir John Moore, Captain James Cook....and Patton.

George is at least on my short list. I have my reasons, at least three: 1) George was an asshole, I am an is like Rotary, or Elks; 2) I met my first wife on a blind date to see his movie "Patton", a date that ended with English  racing bikes and a high speed police chase, successful evasion...and three beautiful children 30 years later; and......3) George's raspberry jam swap.

General Patton was too successful as a general during WWII.  He made Monty look like an idiot more than once, caused Ike political problems with his tactical skill and success.....and was therefore relegated to the Bavarian, Bohemian and Austrian part of the US Army's finishing push in WWII.  Like getting the table next to the kitchen after putting out fire in the fat fryer and saving the restaurant.

Patton was a good enough general that there are still statues to him in public squares in Prague and Vienna....Go try to find a George Bush statue anywhere in Iraq or Afghanistan. Or a Reagan statue in Grenada.....Or a Clinton statue....anywhere outside the porn store.

Anyway, at the tail end of the war, somewhere east of Vienna, George's III Corps finally linked up with the Russkies coming from the East, and the Brits coming from the north and west.  All kinds of politics ensued, among which was the raspberry jam trade.  

The Brits had agreed to trade some canned beef to the protein-starved Russians in exchange for some jam.  What they got was 'orrible, salty, shite.  General Patton stepped in to stop the problem, soothe the anger.....and replaced the horrible, salty shite with good old Smuckers raspberry jam from Salinas. As part of the deal, George kindly took in the awful salty Russian shit to avoid offending the Commies.  Brits were ecstatic.  Russians were happy.

General Patton and his team wound up with a metric tonne of fresh Caspian caviar. Oh, damn!

We live on the northern slope of Tularcitos Ridge....looking across at Silvestri and Rancho Sin Frenos, the Wilson Ranch and Mount Diablo.  You can't see our house on Google because we are buried in oak trees.  This is great in summer...not so great in huge oak pollen years.  In spring, we all eat Sudafed like candies, and I am sure the FDA has a file on our household...because they don't give allergy medicine to just anyone.  

And this year is the biggest oak pollen year in human memory.

Last Tuesday I took a vacation in my own house.  

Picture that. 

I found part of the deck with nice sun, protected from wind and the neighbors by my Meyer lemons and my Aussie finger limes.  Sipped mango puree and champagne Bellini and read Berlin Noir novels for a couple of blissful hours.......and got second degree sunburn for my troubles...but hey.  

Today I came home from work and set out to groom my little spa area.  Maybe another day off in the picture! Pounds and pounds of oak pollen and leaves everywhere.

As I was cleaning up the mess I had to think about the best restaurant in the world after the closing of El friggin' Denmark, of all places.  The chef there, Rene Redzepi, bases his cuisine on all the weird plant, animal and sea life in his tiny country....and the whole world flocks to his door.  Wild rose hips.  Seaweed.  Brambles.

After a few minutes of pushing metric tonnes of oak pollen off my deck, and hoping that Gruet would be an equitable replacement for the pseudophedrine I have maxed out with Obama.... I started thinking about General Patton.

Back when the Masters of Food and Wine was good....when David Fink was in charge, and it was at the Highlands, and actual real chefs got to work together and exchange
ideas and grow our sport/livliehood....(as opposed to the LexusSwarovskiRolexAllClad Pebble Beach Hog Wallow we are cursed with now...)  one ingredient that David Kinch turned us on to was fennel pollen.

Like saffron, fennel pollen comes in small cans and is crazy expensive.  It is pretty, has....some flavor, and is cool. And beautiful.

And here I am sweeping metric tonnes of indigenous oak pollen off my decks with a vengeance.  And thinking about George Patton and the caviar v raspberry jam trade.

So...General Patton's ghost and I are willing...for a small price, possibly in exchange for Caspian caviar, fennel pollen, saffron, Danish wild rose hips or brambles...or Smuckers Raspberry let go some of our stash of Native Californian Wild Live Oak Pollen. 
If I can hire a master chef with 30 years experience for ten bucks an hour from IHOP....I am sure I can find a recent under-employed Cal Poly Ag grad, or a similarly under-employed Stanford poetry grad to describe the incandescent, ethereal yet visceral essences of our Native Wild Live Oak pollen.

 Contact our agents.