Corn and Mussel Chowder

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In his brilliant maritime novels set during the Napoleonic wars the English writer Patrick O’Brian was ruthlessly accurate about the handling of square-rigged sailing ships and the social relations in the British navy.  In order to keep readers from feeling completely adrift O’Brian, whom the NYT Book Review dubbed “Jane Austen at sea,” often had his sea-wise characters explain details of shipboard life to landlubbers who had wandered into the story.  Those new to cuisine afloat soon learned, for example, that chowder and the dreaded “portable soup”* were thickened with hardtack lest the liquid slosh out of the bowl and onto the diner. Hardtack, sailors then cheerfully pointed out, was infested with worms, nicknamed “bargemen,” after their resemblance atop the crackers in the soup, to pilots steering captain’s barges  from one side of the bowl to the other.   In MASTER AND COMMANDER, O’Brian has a character contemplate his soup with its infested crackers and then observe, “Don’t you know that in the Navy one must always choose the lesser of two weevils.  Oh ha, ha, ha, ha!”  

You’re either on board with this kind of humor or you’re not.  If you’re not, you can console yourself with today’s post, Corn and Mussel Chowder.  Oh ha, ha, ha, ha!

Bicycle Spring Rolls

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There comes a time when every cyclist reaches into a jersey back pocket, extracts a pro-biotic hyper-nutrient choco-green exfoliant chia protein bar and instead of ripping away the wrapping like the savage carbo-craving road shark she is, she freezes.  Tongue, stomach and heart revolt.  A chilly voice in her head announces the rebel demands: We don’t want to eat an energy bar.  Ever.  Again.  Last year, reflecting on the long PanMass Challenge ride she’d just finished, Jody said to me, “I am sick of f_______ energy bars!  I can’t stand it!  Next year I’m going to make my own.”  Fortunately, she reconsidered.  And that’s why you’re being treated to Bicycling Spring Rolls this week.