Tuesday, September 09, 2008

As Precious As The Colonel Constitution

I read online this morning that the famous KFC recipe of 11 peaches and herbs and spices (yeah, I added peaches because I just can’t have my herbs without my peaches – it just doesn’t sound right) was being moved for the first time in a long while. Of course, I also saw a headline saying that biologists are closing in on a way to create a new form of life, so it was important not to confuse the two. The recipe is being temporarily moved because the security around the single piece of paper containing the recipe needs to be upgraded. This is apparently some pretty serious stuff. Cops, security guards, security firms, the EPA, the FDIC, the TGIF – everybody’s involved with this thing. You would think this recipe ranks right up there with our country’s major documents like The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the cocktail napkin containing the original lyrics for Louie Louie.

The story said that only 2 ‘anonymous’ executives have access to the original recipe. The companies that mix the recipe only know parts of it. And, the thing is filed away in a vault. Ok, let’s recap. Fort Knox can be broken into by several good-looking female pilots in too tight to be comfortable flying suits with names that include parts of the female anatomy (if you remember Goldfinger ‘do you expect me to talk Goldinger?’ ‘No Mr. Bond, I expect you to dieeeee.’) and a chicken recipe is in a vault with access more restricted than the perm formula for Richard Simmons.

We can only hope that the people in charge of Graceland and Elvis’ estate are taking heed of KFC’s recipe safety procurement policy. What a national tragedy it would be if the original recipe for Elvis’ Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich were ever to be lost or destroyed. I know the recipe sounds like it would be kinda obvious, but we just can’t take that chance. Ok, I can’t take that chance.

I know in other families and even some restaurants that they have the secret, passed down from one generation to the next recipes that only stay in the family. Recipes in my family are shared liberally, though I don’t share the rub I created for grilling, but that’s only because I can’t remember everything I put into it. Actually, now that I am thinking about it, I’m not even sure I remember where I put the little container of rub that I made. Well, that’s going to bother me until I find it.

If anyone in my extended family wishes to make a Lebanese recipe handed down from my Great Grandmother (who bears a striking resemblance to Ms. Sees, by the way), all they have to do is ask for it. At any time, I can get one of about 4 recipes for hummus, not to mention many other foods. (Editor’s note: when rereading this quickly, it appeared as though I wrote ‘4 recipes for humans.’ Obviously that is not what I wrote, but please read slowly anyway. Thanks). When it comes to hummus, the problem isn’t in getting the recipe, it’s in getting my grandfather to accept someone else’s hummus instead of his. I swear at our last family get together I heard him say ‘hmm, Michael never wipes the bowl clean with his fingers when we run out of Pita bread at my house.’

After my aunt’s hummus was declared to be inferior because of both flavor and consistency (well, it was my grandfather making the declaration, so there were a few color expletives added), she and I decided to put a little taste test together. While no one was looking, we emptied her bowl (but kept it on the table so it appeared as though hers had been finished first) into his and mixed thoroughly. It seemed as though no one noticed for at least 30 minutes. And then came the mumbling of ‘who the (expletive) (expletived) with my (expletiving) hummus?!’ That was followed by ‘it doesn’t taste (expletiving) right and the consistency is too (expletiving) thick. I know I didn’t put this much (expletiving) tahini into my hummus.’ At that point my aunt and I just chose to agree that a taste test with 10-1 results was all the proof we needed.

I have always wanted to create a salsa that becomes so popular I can give it a name like ‘Poncho and Lefty’s Tomato and Garlic Based Chip Accompaniment’ and then be offered the chance to market it nationwide. That would let me write down the recipe and then do crazy things like make an unjustified big deal out of the recipe and closely guard it until I die, at which point it would be burned in a BBQ (charcoal) only when the wind is blowing north by northwest at 16 mph to the dulcet tones of ‘Blowing in the Wind.’

I also have the same fantasy about creating a BBQ sauce. Yes, I realize that ‘fantasy’ seems a little too dramatic, but we’re talking about BBQ and its accoutrements, so ‘fantasy’ is appropriate. Then there’s my hope for developing a root beer in my garage. I think I’m so focused on making recipes, because when I follow them, they tend not to work very well. If recipes were a map and the food being made was a car, then my final product would end up going over a cliff. Is there a special magic touch that people have that allows them to follow recipes to perfection or to alter the recipe to make it their own delicious creation? Is it a gene passed down from generation to generation like nose hair or excessive sweating? I do feel like I should tell you that I have neither of those things, they are just what popped into my head first.

Colonel Sanders was one of the lucky ones who got it right (with his wee beady eyes and that smug look on his face. ‘Oh, you're gonna buy my chicken! Ohhhhh!’ He puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes ya crave it fortnightly, smartass!’ – bonus points redeemable for KFC bowls of death if you can correctly guess where that is from. For legal reasons I do need to say that you know I’m not really giving away KFC bowls of death, right). He created something so good that it deserves its own vault. Granted, we all could throw something in a vault, but that doesn’t make it special and ageless. Perhaps what it all comes down to is not what is written on that time worn piece of paper, it’s those (expletive) 11 herbs and spices. Unless it’s just the marketing. Or the transfat.


Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,

Would you please email me your Great Grandmother's hummus recipe? Thanks.

Your Lebanese extended family cousin,

Patti said...

"makes you crave it fortnightly, smartass!" - is that a potential TWSS phrase?

So did you figure out the ACRONYM I gave you yesterday? Hint: It's descriptive of you.

Mel Heth said...

Your hummus/humans story made me think of the Twilight Zone episode where the aliens' "We Come in Peace" book turned out to be a cookbook in the end.

I think you should keep the chicken x-ray machine in the vault.

meleah rebeccah said...

mmmmmmm hummus.

and even more mmmmmmm @ KFC chicken.

Now I'm freaking hungry!

PS: Peaches & Herbs is a killer band!!

citizen of the world said...

We had one of those BBQ sauce recipes that got passed along (Uncle John's Secret Barbeque Sauce), which originated when some restaurant owner bequeathed it to the uncle. Sadly, I'm not much on BBQ sauce.

citizen of the world said...

But I do like hummus.

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

I haven't been [Canadians and Brits, make sure you say beeeeeeeeen] here in a while and come back to find a recipe for disaster, or a fantasy for success, or excess. Whatever, the joint is jumpin' and it's fun to hang here awhile. But I ain't admitting defeat -- not quite yet -- on our baseball bet, and I know that last part rhymes.

Employee No. 3699 said...

I think you need to market your barbeque sauce as, 'Truly Wonderful Special Sauce' aka T.W.S.S. The secret wouldn't be in the recipe, but what the acronym really stood for.

Patti said...

Employee No. 3699 has a capital idea, Michael. Get on it!

meleah rebeccah said...

Dood! Employee No 3699 is ON to something!!

Hannah said...

I tell you this all the time. But sreiously, you make me laugh!
You are so cleaver.

And you quoted "so i married an axe murder"? I love it!

FRIGGA said...

Hahha that was funny. :)

Even though KFC is fast food, it's one of the rare ones I make an exception for sometimes (In & Out is ALWAYS good though!).

As for recipes, their not meant to be followed exactly. No, they're meant to be mere guidelines to give you an idea of what to use and about how much. Changing it to your own is the ONLY way to cook good food! :0...