Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Friday, February 28, 2014


Though for my diet it is deadly,
I am obsessed with Matters Breadly.

The latest production from the Cheese Aisle Kitchen: French style baguettes.

(Just think of it as a couple of huge-ass breadsticks.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


This evening’s Sommelier Guild event at Petite Auberge zeroes in on red Bordeaux, specifically the vintages of 2009-10. For me, that is a win-win: my favorite wines, and in vintages that are considered by many to be not merely good, but splendid.

Throw in some of my most beloved proteins - duck! beef! lamb! - and I am already drooling. It should be an evening of Wretched Excess... and for extra fun, the three flights will be tasted blind. We won’t know which is which until we’ve had a chance to decide which one(s) we like best.

Now, what’s for dinner? Glad you asked:

2009 Niven Valley Wine Estates Baileyana Chardonnay Grand Firepeak Cuvée**
Hors d’oeuvres

First Flight: Right Bank (served blind)
2009 Jean de Trimoulet Grand Cru - Saint-Émilion*
2010 Duo de Conseillante - Pomerol***
2010 Château Reynon - Côtes de Bordeaux**
Duck Breast à l’Orange - pan-seared Maple Leaf Farms duck breast topped with a duck jus flavored with a hint of orange, served with a cauliflower gratin

Second Flight: Southern Haut-Medoc and Graves (served blind)
2010 La Parde de Haut-Bailly - Pessac-Léognan***
2009 Moulin de La Lagune - Haut-Médoc*
2010 La Sirène de Giscours - Margaux**
Beef Wellington - Beef tenderloin, ham, and mushroom duxelles baked in a puff pastry crust, served with sauce bordelaise

Third Flight: Pauillac (served blind)
2010 Château Lacoste-Borie - Pauillac**
2009 Fleur de Pédesclaux - Pauillac***
2010 Hauts de Pontet-Canet - Pauillac*
Grilled New Zealand Lamb Chops - herb-encrusted rack of lamb served atop a root vegetable purée with a mint reduction

2008 Philippe Leclerc Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetiers****
1996 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
1990 Château Lafleur du Roy Pomerol****
2009 Louis Latour Marsannay*

Several of the wines in this tasting are “second wines” - a more economical version of the first wine produced by a given château. (For example, Château Giscours produces La Sirène de Giscours as their second wine; Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste calls their second wine Château Lacoste-Borie.) In great years like 2009 and 2010, the second wines ought to be pretty damned good, and I suspect they’d be even better with another ten years or so of bottle age on them.

We’ll just have to see...

Update: My favorites denoted with the usual asterisks... and several excellent bottles for “afters.”

Monday, February 24, 2014


I sing of filmic talent Harold Ramis,
Who for his comic genius was quite famous.
His soul, departing, found its way to Hades:
Far from the ideal place to charm the ladies.

And yet he faced his fate direct and square-on,
For when he met that vulgar Boatman, Charon,
Addressing him with breathless, laughing screams,
He said, “Is that the Styx? Don’t cross that stream!”

Harold Ramis
Harold Ramis, 1944-2014. Requiescat in pace.

Harold Ramis, jokester for a generation, has passed away at the age of 69.

Along with Chris Miller and the late Doug Kenney (one of the founders of the National Lampoon Magazine), Ramis wrote the script for Animal House, the first of many brilliant comedies. Whether acting, writing, directing, or producing, he left his imprint on some of the most memorable filmic comedies of the past four decades. Ghostbusters, Stripes, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, and Back to School are but a few.

The man was brilliant. I’ll miss him, now that the Ghostbuster has become a ghost himself.

Ave atque vale, Harold! Alas that you have one more stream to cross: the Styx.


English Muffins

English Muffins - Split and Buttered

When it comes to Breakfastly Breads, is there anything that quite compares with a toasted English muffin, its myriad nooks and crannies adrip with melted butter?

Sure, some swear by their cinnamon buns... but those rely on sugar and spice to get the job done. An English muffin, though, is simplicity itself. And when they’re homemade and fresh off the griddle, why, so much the better.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Science fiction?

No. Just new technology. Interactive live holography... brought to you by Israel.

Next time the assholes from BDS start talking about boycotting Israel - the only democracy in the Middle East, and the only country there that is remotely aligned with Western values - tell ’em that when they need heart surgery, they can’t use any of this.

Arthur C. Clarke once famously said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I think this just might qualify.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Ancho Chile-Cinnamon Brownies
Ancho Chile-Cinnamon Brownies.

I should be ashamed of myself for making these. Fortunately, I have no shame.

They're intensely chocolatey, with a nice cinnamon undertone and a pronounced burn from the ancho chile and cayenne pepper with which they are dosed. (Any four-year-old Aztec will tell you that chocolate and chile play well together. Now go out and find me a four-year-old Aztec.)

In case you’re curious, I have managed to give most of these bad boys away. I wanted to taste ’em, but I need a pile of brownies in the house like I need a third ass-cheek. And if I were to eat enough of ’em, I could very likely grow a third ass-cheek.

Friday, February 14, 2014


The estimable Velociman writes a Valentine’s Day tribute to his father, who passed away thirty years ago this day. Perversely enough, it was a myocardial infarction - a heart attack - that did him in.

The Senator has been the subject of many of V-Man’s finest writings. Though he has been portrayed as somewhat curmudgeonly from time to time (mostly for comic effect, I suspect), it’s clear to me that a deep and abiding filial love is at the root of every word.

“I see all these Valentine hearts, and they are wonderful. My dad had a heart almost big enough for the world, but far too big for him.”

Go read the whole thing.


Valentine, circa 1938
Valentine, circa 1938, from the collection of SWMBO’s late Daddy.

This Valentine’s Day is bittersweet, for my Valentine - variously known on these pages as She Who Must Be Obeyed, SWMBO, or The Missus - is away.

The various Fates that determine the school year calendar had set aside this four-day weekend to be a furlough period. The good news? You have a four-day weekend. The bad news? Your paycheck is gonna take a hit. And all this was before the second coming of Snowpocalypse 2014: thanks to the second major winter storm in two weeks, SWMBO had a one-day work week this week.

This gave her time to run off to Foat Wuth to visit her mom, who is celebrating a Major Birthday this year. Good times. But it means that I am apart from my sweetie, and that is, as they say, Tough Nougies.

My Valentine photo SWMBO20130907.jpg

I love my SWMBO, I really do. We’ve shared our lives now, either as brash young lovers or as a married couple, for some 38 years now... and she is still as beautiful to me as she was on the day we met. No: more so, because with maturity comes intelligence, confidence, and radiance; she is blessed with liberal doses of all three.

She has given me two children, the finest children I could ever desire, children that I would be proud to know even had we no blood relationship. My Other Valentines, if you will.

She’s not afraid to use a little salt in her food... and her language. She will go to the Kitchen Device Emporium with me to shop for colanders, even though she knows the nefarious uses to which I will put them. She makes me laugh... and she can make me cry like a baby.

I know I tend to repeat myself; it’s an affectation of Advanced Age. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: With my love, every day is Valentine’s Day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Ice-Enrobed Branches photo NikonD70s201402121913b.jpg
Ice-encrusted tree branches last night.

Snowy Morning Too
Morning. Snow, still falling, now blankets everything.

Snowy Morning Too photo NikonD70s201402131921a.jpg
There’s still a thick layer of ice under that frosting of snow.

We sailed through Snowpocalypse II (2014 edition) just fine. No power loss, no trees down, no (major) branches cracked. Our magnolias, which at one point in the storm were swaying precariously, have lived to blossom another day.

The snow crunches underfoot, owing to there being a granular sleet and black ice underlayment. Nice.

She Who Must Be Obeyed essayed the roads a few minutes ago and managed to make it to Dunwoody with no problems. Of course, there are the usual idiots who drive like they’re on the Bonneville Salt Flats, but that cannot be helped.

Time to scrape the driveway. Then, it’ll be hot chocolate o’clock!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Sleet - little pellets o’ doom - encrusting our steps.

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.

- Lord Bowen

The sleet it sleeteth on the South
And on the North as well;
But Southern roads enrimed with ice
Are a special form of Hell.

- Elisson


Sprawling Stella
Between meals Stella naps, sprawled luxuriously.

Beheimah is the Hebrew word for domestic animals: horses, cows, oxen, and suchlike. (You may know it in the form of the biblical word Behemoth, the enormous land-based counterpart to Leviathan.) The Missus and I use it, tongue-in-cheek, to refer to smaller domestic animals as well. Cats, f’rinstance.

Back in the days when we owned a horse - yes, Esteemed Readers, the Elisson family actually owned a horse some fourteen-plus years ago - we would refer to the twice-daily task of lobbing a bale of hay into said horse’s stall and loading up the trough with oats as “Feeding the Beheimah.”

When we would arise in the early morning hours, the first question we would ask was, “Whose turn is it to feed the beheimah?” And one of us, dutifully, would run off to the stables.

Regardless of whose turn it was, though, there was an ironclad rule: You would feed the beheimah before you fed yourself. The horse, after all, cannot replenish his own trough; meanwhile, our cereal and coffee could wait.

These days, Stella is the only non-human mammal resident at Chez Elisson, and it has become her daily practice to inform us when Breakfast-Time has arrived. This she does by clawing at our coverlet, making a hard-to-ignore skritching sound. If that does not get our attention, she begins to paw at the headboard, or to march around on the bed meowing piteously in her unique squeaky voice. And the Missus and I will turn to each other, asking simultaneously the traditional question: “Whose turn is it to feed the beheimah?

It’s worth getting out of bed just to watch her galumph down the stairs, where she meows eagerly as I replenish her kibble and open the daily can of Meat-Goop. A well fed beheimah is a happy beheimah!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Yep - it’s the Frozombie Apocalypse, Part Two. Lookee:

Winter Storm Pax
Winter Storm Pax bears down on the southeastern United States... with Georgia right in its sights. The arrow points to our location. [Click to embiggen.]

The predictions are more dire than they were for our last wintry weather event, the two-inch snowstorm that brought a mighty metropolitan area to its knees a mere two weeks ago.

That was snow. This will be snow along with a metric buttload of ice, if the predictions are to be believed.

Thick ice is way, way worse than snow. It causes trees to bend and shatter under its weight, bringing down power lines. And it is a fearsome obstacle to all kinds of travel. In the NOAA’s words, “Winter Storm To Result In Impossible Travel Conditions With Widespread and Extended Power Outages.”

Impossible. Travel. Conditions. Holy fuckamoley.

I don’t mind being cooped up in the house. We have adequate provisions of food, drink, and Adult Beverages to get us through several days of inaccessible roadways. But ice storms bring with them the prospect of power outages, which are most assuredly NOT fun in the winter. We have a pretty robust power grid in the immediate neighborhood, but when you’re dealing with an “event of historic proportions” (as described by the fearmongers at the National Weather Service) you’re paddling in uncharted waters.

We’ve dealt with ice storms here before, the last one being nine years ago. And we’ve experienced them in other places as well: New York, Houston and southern Connecticut.

My first Icy Experience was in New York, with a storm that coated my car with a solid half-inch glaze. When I rolled my car window down, a completely intact “window” of ice remained in its place... it was completely impossible to drive even at a fraction of a mile per hour without sliding to the side of the road. (Those were flat streets, never mind the hills and curves of Atlanta.) And the day we began our relocation from Trumbull to Houston back in January 1991, an ice storm struck southern Connecticut. Somehow, the movers managed to get our belongings out of the house intact despite having to skate their way to the moving van.

Ice storms suck.

The good side of all this is that businesses and schools are being way more proactive than they were two weeks ago. The city will be shut down tomorrow. Hell, it was already mostly shut down today, with supermarket shelves having been stripped bare as early as Monday morning. (There was a run on hamburger meat and chicken, either because everyone was sick to death of bread and milk or because the paleo diet is more popular than anybody thought.)

To my fellow Georgians - hunker down and be safe. To everyone else - hope this doesn’t happen to you.


Shirley Temple
Shirley Temple, 1928-2014. Requiescat in pace.

The Good Ship Lollipop has sailed for the last time: Shirley Temple Black (née Shirley Temple), who achieved fame as a child actress in the early 1930’s, has passed away at the age of 85.

The unfortunate tabloid headline “Black Death in California!” suggests itself.

Lovable, talented, and wholesome, Shirley Temple ruled the Hollywood box office for four consecutive years, a feat that seems inconceivable today for an adult, never mind a prepubescent. As an adult, she served as U.S. Ambassador to both Ghana and, later, Czechoslovakia, as well as Chief of Protocol of the United States, positions to which she was appointed under the Ford and first Bush administrations. Prior to her serving in those roles, she had been appointed Representative to the U.N. General Assembly by Richard Nixon.

Shirley Temple's handprint
Shirley Temple’s hand- and footprints in concrete outside the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. An almost identical image resides in the Elisson Archives, taken during my first trip to the west coast forty years ago. Photo credit: Wikimedia.

With some ginger ale, a splash of my homemade grenadine, and a maraschino cherry, I could make a Shirley Temple cocktail - a nonalcoholic drink, presumably suitable for child actors - and imbibe it in her memory. Alternatively, I could use ginger beer, a shot of rum, and a squirt of Luxardo maraschino liqueur to make the adult version: a Shirley Temple Black.

I will miss Shirley: She was, for one, my late grandmother’s namesake. Her films were already Old Stuff by the time I was of movie-watching age, but her films and impact on American popular culture were part of the backdrop of the world in which I grew up. As time moves on apace, more and more of the pieces of that backdrop are disappearing into the Eternal Night that awaits us all, alas.

Ave atque vale, Miss Temple! Godspeed... and may your voyage on the Good Ship Lollipop be forever sweet.

Update: Kevin Kim weighs in with his own tribute.

Update 2: Meryl Yourish adds hers.

Monday, February 10, 2014


It was fifty years ago yesterday that the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and changed American pop culture forever.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write a post on this subject, given that everyone on the planet with an internet platform, blog, Facebook or Twitter account, or Big Chief pad is weighing in with their nostalgic memories of the Big Event... but why not? After all, I was there to see it.

In February 1964 I was in sixth grade. The tragedy of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, less than three months before, was still fresh in everyone’s mind. The eagerly anticipated opening of the New York World’s Fair was still over two months away. And suddenly, in the midst of the winter, these effervescent British boys showed up, radiating enthusiasm and light.

I had no idea who the Beatles were; at the time, I was completely oblivious to popular music. But there was all kinds of buzz having to do with the arrival of the group in the States, mostly being passed along from one pubescent girl to another. It seemed like that was all anyone wanted to talk about. The Beatles! They’re gonna be on Ed Sullivan!

The Ed Sullivan Show was, at the time, a Sunday evening staple, the quintessential exemplar of the Television Variety Show, a genre of entertainment that has completely vanished from our airwaves. Today, cable, satellite, and streaming Internet television offer whatever kind of narrowcasted entertainment you might wish, served up on a ridiculous plethora of channels. But try to imagine what it was like with only three major networks, when broadcast signals floated through the ether without cables and satellites to help them. Then, you didn’t have whole channels devoted to 24/7 sports, or news, or cooking, or cartoons, or music, or home renovations. You watched what was on, whatever the hell it was. And if that happened to be a variety show, you had a veritable three-ring circus of vaudeville-style entertainment, from stand-up comedians to musical acts to jugglers to ventriloquists. Like the weather in Texas or Georgia, if you didn’t like it, all you had to do was wait five minutes and you’d have something different. Ed Sullivan was the king of variety, an impresario from whom a single word could determine whether an entertainer would flop or become a household name.

Like millions of other families, the House of Eli would have the TeeVee Set tuned to Ed Sullivan on any given Sunday evening. And on February 9, 1964, I made sure I was parked in front of that set, although I didn’t really know what to expect.

And then Ed announced them... “Ladies and gentlemen... the Beatles!”

As the group launched into “All My Loving,” my first thought was, “Hey, these guys aren’t bad!” They certainly didn’t sound quite like anything I had heard before. The lyrics weren’t what grabbed me as much as the somewhat off-kilter melodies. As they played on, I grew more and more fascinated with this new (to me) sound. Damn catchy, it was! By the time they got to “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” I had decided that I really liked the Beatles. At the time, of course, I didn’t realize that they would practically rebuild popular music and transform the culture of the 1960’s to an unprecedented degree. (How many of us did?)

The band’s breakup in 1970 coincided roughly with my graduation from high school. My old life was ending and a new one was on the verge of beginning; it was, perhaps, an appropriate time to say farewell to the group that provided so much of the soundtrack for my coming-of-age years.

But we never really have said farewell, have we? Two of the boys are gone forever, but their music lives on. And against the backdrop of the ages, fifty years is but a drop in the bucket.


Campari Tomatoes
Campari tomatoes with lemon zest, capers, and fleur de sel.

The Missus and I had ourselves a pleasant little Sunday evening repast... just the two of us.

Nothing too complicated. I dug a couple of rib-eye steaks out of the bowels of our freezer (now, there’s a metaphorical image for you!) and defrosted them prior to giving them a preliminary roast in the oven.  (Par-cooking the steaks made it an easy matter to finish them off on the grill to our exact specifications.)

By way of sides, I hacked some Campari tomatoes into quarters and dressed them with a little lemony olive oil, lemon zest, capers, and fleur de sel. We also had a bunch of asparagus lurking in the vegetable drawer, so I roasted that off and doctored it up with lemon zest and nutmeg... one of my go-to ways to fix those tasty little spears.

And then there was the soup. Every so often, it’s nice to have soup with supper - sometimes it will serve as the entire meal - and when I saw this recipe for spicy carrot and ginger soup with harissa, I had to give it a try. The photo alone was enough to sell me... plus, I had a couple of cans of harissa lying around in the pantry, begging to be used for something more than shelf decorations.

Harissa is a North African condiment - especially popular in Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, and Israel - consisting of ground up chile peppers and spices. It’s a Middle Eastern version of sambal or sriracha, and it can range in intensity from piquant to nuclear furnacelike. It’s the kind of stuff that attracts my attention when wandering the aisles of the Weird Food Emporium.

I have an unfortunate tendency to buy exotic ingredients in the expectation of cooking something that momentarily catches my interest... or to have around “just in case.” As a result, I’m prepared for almost anything. Also as a result, I have to go through the pantry every so often and chuck stuff that has sat around for multiple shelf lives.

I had two (count ’em!) cans of harissa paste hiding in the pantry. One of them was bulging suspiciously, and when I looked at the “Best By” date, it was something in early 2006. Out it went. Fortunately, I had another tin, this one of much more recent vintage... and better yet, it wasn’t bulging. That’s the one I used.

Spicy Carrot-Ginger Soup
Spicy carrot and ginger soup with harissa... soupsual harissment at its finest.

How was it? Damn good. The flavor of the carrots was front and center, with warm spices and just the right amount of tongue-tingling burn from the harissa. It was a fine first course, setting the stage nicely for that tasty, meaty rib-eye. 

With a bottle of 2000 Terre Blanche du Château Tourans Saint-Émilion Grand Cru to accompany our beefy feast, we had a perfectly lovely Sunday. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow comes the ice storm!

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Four-Strand Challah - 092812

He came from a hamlet in rocky Tibet
In a robe dyed with saffron and perfumed with sweat.
A friend to both Man and to humblest Beast,
He taught the deep secrets of flour and yeast
Because full well he knew that to get into Heaven
A soul must be nourished by grain and by leaven.

He tackled the tasks of his life unafraid,
And daily he made eggy bread with a braid,
With twists and with turns like a cloth on a loom:
(He’d bake half a dozen; his oven had room.)
That oven was kept hot by regular rations
Of firewood, dried by the heat of his passions
For peace and for love, the cessation of violence
And an end to disease, thanks to medical science.

He preached Bread and Peace, without one speck of drama:
This Tibetan sage, AKA Challa’i Lama.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Darth Elisson
Darth Elisson.

I don’t care that blogging is dead -
I just wear a colander on my head!

Today we present Darth Elisson, who (courtesy of Houston Steve) is sporting a natty black plastic model that vaguely resembles the topper worn by Dark Helmet in Spaceballs.

We are pleased to note that the latest Cook’s Illustrated magazine showed up in our mailbox yesterday evening. Just in time for Colander Head Friday, the March/April 2014 issue featured an in-depth review of colanders [subscription required to see the full results], a video extract of which we are pleased to present herewith:

I’ve always liked Cook’s Illustrated. Their exhaustively tested recipes rarely disappoint, and now that they have enshrined the Pasta Strainer in their sacred pages, I am even willing to forgive them their ridiculously aggressive marketing tactics. My only complaint - and it is, admittedly, a trivial one - is that they evaluated colanders based only on their pasta straining functionality without regard to their utility as Perforated Headgear. Comfort counts too, ya know!

Ahh, well. Baby steps.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


SWMBO has a FitBit.
But SWMBO’s FitBit quit.
Now she’s in a snit, ’cause her FitBit quit.
Hope she doesn't throw
A “My FitBit Quit” shit fit.


LOTR gets the Trololo Treatment. Stupid, yet strangely amusing.


Stella on the Loveseat.jpg
Stella strikes a regal pose on the loveseat in our sunroom.

She’s the queen of all she surveys:
She eats, she shits, she plays.
And when she gets all tired out
She plops right down and lays.

Stella’s life has settled down into a comfortable routine, especially now that she has her humans trained.

Sometime between 5:30 and 6:00 in the morning, she will make her presence known by attacking our feet through the covers. If this fails to get our attention, she will then commence to wandering all over our bed, making her squeaky little meowing sounds. Next up: pawing the headboard. Why, I do believe it’s time for Kitty-Breffus!

A playful one, this Stella. Walk into the sunroom where the kitty fishing pole is kept - a whiplike affair with a mylar doodad on the end, completely irresistible to cats - and Stella will inform you that it is time to entertain her.

She is getting stronger, too. She can now leap up on the kitchen counters in a single bound. This is an activity we strongly discourage... and yet it is hard to stifle an amused chuckle whenever we catch her in the act.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Martin Buber once took a trip to Aruba.

He had come to Aruba via Cuba, where he had learned to play the tuba.

But in Aruba, he discovered two foods that would change his life.

The first was arugula. Buber discovered what salad lovers have known for years: You’ve never had really good arugula until you’ve had Aruban arugula. Buber would devour arugula while learning the bugle.

The second was rugelach. Aruban rugelach was exceptional... and Martin Buber dug rugelach.

Picture it: Buber, after playing tuba in Cuba, would eat Aruban arugula and rugelach while learning to blow the bugle.


Brie Football
Brie with IPA-habañero jelly... the perfect food for a cheese-eating surrender Bronco.

This year’s Super Bowel was singularly unexciting, what with the Seattle Seahawks dragging the Denver Broncos straight to the glue factory. Peyton Manning will probably be having nightmares about this game for years, alas.

Even the commercials mostly sucked. (OK, there were one or two good ones, but there’s something perverse about deriving any enjoyment whatsoever from advertising.)

But we didn’t give a crap, because we had gaboons of food and a small mob of friends to share it with. Two kinds of chili (chicken and beef); two kinds of bread (whole-grain sourdough and Southern-style cornbread); a metric buttload of meatballs in the traditional grape jelly-Heinz chili sauce gravy; Ro-Tel dip; a hunk of Brie carved to look like a football and buried in IPA-habañero jelly... and lots, lots more.

Just so you know: The Missus, being from Texas, knows her way around the chili pot.

(I will own up to having made a dish that resembled a Bad Brain, a whole cauliflower head slathered in a spicy sauce and then roasted. It was, emphatically, Not A Success... unless you define a successful dish as one that tastes like ass. Burning hot ass.)

Skillet Cornbread
A skillet full of Southern-style cornbread.

Chicken and White Bean Chili Beef Chili
White bean and chicken chili (top); beef chili (bottom). Mmmmm, chili.

We will be eating leftovers for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Groundhog Day
©2006 King Features Syndicate.

Yes, Groundhog Day. The day on which we ask the famous question, “How much ground could a groundhog hog if a groundhog could hog ground?”

You would think that Groundhog Day is a singularly American holiday, steeped as it is in Local Color, Historical Tradition, and More Than A Little Utter Silliness. Think about it: a day on which a large rodent is expected to predict the weather based on its paranoid reaction to Conditions of Illumination. And as if Punxsutawney Phil weren’t enough, down here in Georgia we have our own General Beauregard Lee to do the predictin’ honors. Gaaah.

But, ridiculous as Groundhog Day may be, we Americans don’t hold the patent on silly-ass animal-based holidays. Herewith, for your delectation, Lost in the Cheese Aisle presents an overview of...

Groundhog Day Observances Around the World

The Canadian equivalent of Groundhog Day is Muskrat Day, March 1. If “Inuvituk Izzie” sees his shadow, no maple syrup may be consumed until the Queen’s Birthday.

Domestik-Schweinestag is observed on March 15. A randomly-selected domesticated pig is taken outside. If it sees its shadow and squeals, it is promptly slaughtered, smoked, and eaten in the form of Rauch-Schinken (smoked bacon) to prevent malevolent Teutonic spirits from lodging in people’s hair.

Tanzanians celebrate Banana Slug Day on July 10. If Blinky the Banana Slug does not return to his habitation promptly after being coaxed from it, people refrain from eating bananas for six weeks. At the same time, they are encouraged to slug one another repeatedly and without obvious provocation.

The closest Indian equivalent of Groundhog Day is Cow Day, observed every freakin’ day of every year. If you see a cow, you are expected to get the hell out of its way. You are never expected to eat the cow. By observing Cow Day properly, Indians are assured of having twelve months of suffocating humidity, heat, and monsoons. As usual.

Know of any other interesting international holiday traditions? Leave a comment and tell us all about ’em!

[Originally published on February 2, 2005 at Blog d’Elisson, this post gets resurrected periodically... just like Bill Murray’s character in the movie Groundhog Day.]