And friend and I spent a very entertaining two hours trying to establish what went so horribly wrong with The Stew. We came up with a recipe for a culinary catastrophe… which started as a perfect valid stew ingredient list and turns into a nightmare if you don’t have proper instructions, and wrongly translate some ingredients. It also explains the radish.
After some research we came up with the recipe for a stew called Menudo, a popular hangover dish in Latin America according to several recipe sites, that comes with a sauce and other components for serving. The ingredient list is… interesting as it is (contains cow’s feet and the lining of a cow’s stomach), but it’s a perfectly valid stew recipe. Then we found us another stew recipe and added that to the disaster zone. And when you make a few mistakes in translation and don’t have proper instructions, you end up chucking the components of two dishes (plus additional periphery for serving) into a single pot to make a stew.
Starting point was my own cooking, or more precisely, how I treat my personal recipes. I usually just jot down the ingredients to aid my memory because I know what to do with them. If you don’t, then all you see is a list of various ingredients in no particular order. Also, me being bilingual, I sometimes write things down in the language they first pop up in, leading to some recipes being in a very random mix of two languages.
We did that with the Menudo recipe and translated a few ingredients into Spanish, and god did we spend a long time trying to find ingredients that you can confuse with something else if you’re not fluent.
Then I wrote the ingredient list down onto a card the size Alec shows to Magnus, and used a tiny scrawl – because the ingredient list is long – with a blunt pencil.
I then added another stew ingredient list on the same card and separated the two with a line, but still, no instructions because I don’t need those, right? Because I’m grandma Trueblood and I have been making these stews for five decades.
So the ingredients list for Menudo (left purposefully vague because these are my recipe notes and I know what I am doing):
First the stew, then the chili sauce.
Honeycomb tripe, beef tripe, beef feet (patas), yellow onion, 3 small heads of garlic, cloves of garlic, peppercorns, salt, oregano, bay leaves, arbol chiles, guajillo chiles, chicken stock, white hominy, cumin
And the part that says To Serve
Oregano, red chile powder flakes, limes and lemons, onions, cilantro, corn tortillas, butter
Now without instructions you end up chucking all of the above into a single pot instead of making the stew, a sauce for the stew, and keep the things that are served together with the stew.
The translation mistakes we put in were:
Patas: instead of the beef feet the poor kids read patacon, which are fried slices of cooking bananas, ergo, bananas. Cloves of garlic can be misinterpreted as cloves and garlic. Honeycomb tripe… that’s honey, right? Bananas and honeycomb, makes total sense. Hominy is specially treated and if I understood correctly, fermented corn, and cooked, is slightly reminiscent of old popcorn. So, popcorn it is.
But then comes the right half of the card, which contains another stew, a stew made of calamari and potatoes. But the Lightwood kids don’t know that they are looking at two recipes.
Again, this is a vague ingredient list because grandma Trueblood knows her stuff:
Squid rings, onions, 1 large red pepper, cloves of garlic, olive oil, bay leaves, dry white wine or sherry, fish or shrimp stock, diced potatoes
The squid rings are called rabas, but the Lightwood kids mix up rabas and rabano, which means radish.
So what the poor kids ended up with is a stew made of bananas, honey, cloves, a shit ton of garlic, red pepper, salt, onions, oregano, a handful of bay leaves, peppercorns, chicken stock and fish stock, squid rings, potatoes, popcorn, cilantro, cut-up lemons and limes, a shit ton of chilies, white wine, sherry, and radishes.
I would spit that into my coffee mug as well.
-written by @lakritzwolf