Last night’s dinner is still in there. I can feel it, a solid brick of chow resisting every enzyme and corrosive chemical my stomach can throw at it. It’s pitched its tent and has started laying the foundation for the cabin.
Let’s call the recipe “Empty Larder Surprise”. That’s a bit of a misnomer because there really wasn’t any surprise involved, but there’s a long tradition in our culture to associate ‘surprise’ with ‘danger’ when it comes to food. Seriously, when was the last time you read, heard, or even thought about a recipe with ‘surprise’ in the name that was good?
I don’t generally keep a lot of food in the house. One thing about living in a culture that is not based on the automobile is that the retail economy is built around people buying only as much as they can carry home. My life has a fairly simple pattern: buy a few things at the store, take them home, and stay there until the food runs out.
So it was yestereve I found myself hungry and not the slightest bit interested in going out to eat. No problem! I had food. I patted myself on the back for my tremendous planning skills and went to see what secrets my refrigerator would yield. Hmm… we seem to have a bit of dissonance. The food available to me fell into two categories. 1) things to go on bread and 2) rice.
After only a brief hesitation I set to cookin’. After all, bread and rice are both starchy foods. Stuff that goes on bread shouldn’t be too bad on rice. While the rice bubbled away (the little porous boiling bags rice come in here are a bachelor’s dream) I turned to the fridge and pulled out my other ingredients. Sitting lonely on the shelf was a small packet of swiss cheese and some stuff that goes by the name Dračí Tousty, which, with the help of the picture on the label, I translate to “Dragon Toasts”. Mmmm… dragon toasts.
Dračí Tousty is potted meat. I doubt it’s made with real dragons these days (not for 17 crowns a tub!), but in a country that has raised potted meat to an art form, Dragon Toasts stands out. (“Toast” in this part of the world refers to the toasted sandwiches many bars serve as emergency food. I assume the Dragon Toasts is meat intended for use making toasted sandwiches.) DT is spicy (on a Czech scale of spiciness) and, to my palette, mighty tasty.
And there you have the recipe for the next revolution in material science. Cook the rice, add the swiss cheese, and mix in dragon substitute to taste. Taste, you ask? In fact it wasn’t… too bad. Starch, salt, fat, a bit of spice — I’ve certainly had much worse cooked by people who weren’t constrained the way I was. No, the flavor wasn’t the problem. To borrow from geology, the conglomerate formed by the rice in the cheese matrix immediately started setting up into an aggressively solid mass. I’m not sure just what interaction the dragon meat had with the rest, but its addition seemed to act as a hardener. Dračí Tousty served the role of that unexpected wild card that has caused may a fictitious scientist untold grief.
When the mass is surgically removed from my stomach, I will donate it to science, hopefully for the betterment of all mankind. Perhaps the first building constructed of “Empty Larder Bricks” (Made from renewable resources!) will be here in the Czech Republic. They have the best access to dragon meat, after all.