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October 28, 1999
a year ago
two years ago

Beer Butt Chicken

Spent the entire morning in the presentation set that we did. I went first, which is always both terrifying and satisfying. Bringing everything up first is a two-edged sword, first it's good because I get to shape how people think about it. The bad part is that I have absolutely no idea how people are going to take it and it's up for the first time, so I am about to find out the hard way.

Luckily, nigh onto everyone took it the right way and a good way, so things worked out really well. Carl was right, even when I'm nervous or wound up, it should turn out okay anyway because it nearly always has.

It was, however, exhausting to go through nearly five straight hours of meetings, even though they did give us lunch in the last hour or two. Yummy Gondolier food, even, with tons of garlic bread and lots of pasta. I really, really like pasta. By the time we were done with all this we were all ready for a nap and/or beer.

Spent most of the afternoon just vegetating, couldn't get my brain back up to do too much, and it was useful to have John come over to ask me when to go home. I wanted to get home earlier because I had to start the chickens a little early. We'd bought two chickens from Whole Foods yesterday in anticipation of this event and I hadn't done any prep to them. John found out, too, that Borax was ready to go home, and since he didn't want to go home early and Loren needed a ride home, we decided that we'd go get Borax.

So we went to the body shop and got Borax under an iron gray sky. It was 70+ yesterday, and now it's chill and wet seeming and as cold as cold iron. There wasn't any problem getting the car, and as I was waiting for John, I noticed that there was an EasyLube a few doors down and I knew that the Passat needed an oil and filter change and the filter on the darned thing was really, really difficult to get at. Better to pay someone else to do it, I figure. So, with a little consultation with John, I pulled over to the Easy Lube and had them do the oil change.

I sat outside in my rainbow coat, on one of the plastic patio chairs that they had by the windows, and I just sat and watched as they worked on the Passat. Not that I could tell any of the details... but I just watched to see that they were doing things. And they did, which was very interesting. Better than sitting in the stuffy, enclosed office and watching the time tick by. The iron sky was moving overhead, seamless and solid and sliding from the west to the east silently.

Got back to work, talked with some folks on-line for a bit before it was 5:30 and I headed home. I mixed up rub for the chickens with a bit of cayenne and brown sugar and allspice and some other stuff, including powdered green chile. I'd lost the actual recipe that Walt had given me, when he made it when we were in Albuquerque, but I knew the idea. Salt and pepper and other spices went in until the whole bit my tongue a bit when I tasted it. Then I chopped up an onion and three cloves of garlic and that's when Bob confused Fezzik by ringing the back door bell. Fezzik ran to the front door, Bob appeared through the back door, and then Fezzik realized that someone had appeared other than where he expected! That was pretty funny.

Bob helped stuff chopped onion and garlic into aluminum cans while I rubbed down the chickens. Loren appeared about then, as well, and I got him to pour beer into a filled can while Bob did the second can. Then I stuffed the beer into the body cavity of the chicken, to Bob's great delight, and we took it out to the grill and settled it over the flames. With the can in the cavity and the two legs, the chicken is actually pretty stable on the grill, tripods are darned stable. So the two chickens stood at attention in the grill while we went back into the house.

I sat down and talked with Bob and Loren for a while, until John came home and about twenty minutes were up. Then I got potatoes washed and peeled and starting to boil. Then did some brocciflower, chopped the pale green vegetable up into bite sized pieces and stir fried it until it was translucent and near tender. John showed the boys the basement as it was getting started with the finishing, and by the time they were back up, things were mostly done. The chickens were done as well, one of them measuring 160, the other just over 145 in the thickest part of the chicken that was away from the heat. So I pulled them both and put them on a carving board and served 'em up. I probably should have served the hotter one first, and let the other cook a bit more while it was sitting there, but I messed up a little, and the cooler one was pink on the inside, but not entirely raw. They didn't seem to mind, though.

It turned out beautifully. Tender on the inside, juicy and flavorful with a hint of the garlic that had been in the can, along with the yeast sweetness of the beer. Very, very yummy and the skin was crisp and good. The garlic mashed and the vegetables were well received as well, and they all ate up happily.

Then the three of them went to Erie to discover the bars there. Cary was going to join them and they left me Loren's celphone number if I or anyone else needed to communicate with them.

As soon as they were out the door, I cranked some classical piano, went upstairs and indulged in Chinese characters. Just spent hours poring through a copy of the Tao Te Ching that Dad had given me that had the original characters scrawled alongside every passage. I wrote down the characters I could decipher, went through a dictionary and looked up each character, wrote down what it was supposed to mean along with the pronunciations that seemed right and was not particularly surprised when they didn't really match up all that well to the English that was written alongside. Not bad translations, just not all the translation, from the bits and scraps that I actually remembered. Prodding the memory is what it all really did.

Eventually, the dictionary was useless. The second half of the saying was completely untranslatable, as the dictionary didn't even have the characters that were displayed. I'll have to send it to Dad and ask him about what they mean and how they're pronounced or something. But I wrote it down happily, just enjoying the flow and touch of the characters through the brush. That was very nice, though I really should have broken out my fountain pen brush and tried things with that. It would have been nice for the note taking.

I also was good and did a few phrases that I knew how to say and wrote them down to see what the characters actually looked like. It's very nice to be able to see what the characters are that associate with words I already know.

Eventually, I heard the door open and John's, "Hello?"

I called back and found out that it was well past midnight. Oops. John wasn't particularly drunk, and he had fun telling me about what the four of them had found in Erie. That was cool. He wasn't at all smoky, which was very, very nice, and we went to sleep pretty quickly after that.

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