Saturday, January 31, 2015

Clam Freakin' Chowder

It all started last June, when Angie flew to Ireland to rock it proper at Caroline and Thomas' double birthday bash. They served New England clam chowder, which was delicious but prompted the question as to whether New England clam chowder was better than Manhattan. To make a long debate short, Angie considerately blurted out a generous offer.

'Manhattan is also delicious and I'll prove it. You guys are all invited over to my house to try Steve's homemade Manhattan clam chowder.'

Angie recapped this for me when she got back and even managed to smile before I could respond.

'"My house"? You're offering for me to cook soup for your school's faculty and you didn't find it appropriate to refer to it as "our house"? How many people did you invite to your house?'


'Including us and the kids?'


Getting clams in Germany is as difficult as one might think. Luckily, we have some friends who work on the U.S. base who can occasionally help out with some things that are hard to find in Germany. Like seafood.

As with most things at the Zoo, it took a little time to actually organize anything. We finally nailed down the date and up until a week ago, I thought we were more or less ready. That's when Angie remember a rather important detail.

'I totally forgot - we have vegetarians coming. It's okay, though, I talked to Ute and she gave me the recipe for her pumpkin soup. I'll make it.'

'Well this should be interesting.'

'You're going to need to help me.'

'Even Superman has his limits.'

So yeah, this morning, before I went shopping, I asked Chef Angie what she needed to make the pumpkin soup. She raced off to get her 'recipe' and beamed proudly as she read off the list.

'Carrots, garlic, onions, a pumpkin, ginger, curry, broth, salt and pepper.'

As we unloaded the groceries, Davey strolled in and proved once again that he is not a normal child.

'Bwahaha! The golden Kiwis and passion fruit are mine. All mine!'

After Fruit Boy pranced off with visions of smoothies dancing in his head, I turned to my new cooking assistant and asked her for the recipe. She raced off to get her 'recipe' and beamed proudly as she read the recipe out loud.

'Carrots, garlic, onions, a pumpkin, ginger, curry, broth, salt and pepper.'

'Butter buns, that's the list of ingredients. Where's the recipe?'

'What do you mean?'

'Well, for example, how many carrots should we use?'

'I don't know.'

'How many cloves of garlic?'

'I don't know.'

'Hmm, I'm noticing a pattern. Why don't you call Ute and ask her exactly what she does to the ingredients once they've been purchased by men with equal amounts of strength and patience?' 

Angie hung up the phone and returned to the kitchen with a level of enthusiasm that I have not witnessed since the salary review talks I used to hold back when I was a people manager without a budget.

I eventually kicked Angie out of the kitchen. Not because she wasn't being super helpful; more because after an hour in the kitchen, she smelled like anger and frustration. And not in that order.

'Woman! Go bathe. I'll finish up in here.'

For a change, Angie actually listened to me. As she was bathing, we got six cancellations ranging from sick sickoes to being out of the country to Angie not informing her colleagues they could have brought their spouses. I had been worried up until then that a pot of clam chowder, a pot of pumpkin soup, a bowl of pesto pasta, a bowl of aglio e olio pasta, a big-ass bowl of shrimp and a tossed salad might not be enough for eleven plus five. Hello leftovers.

We gave 7:00 pm as the starting time and were completely shocked when everyone showed up on time. All five of them. Plus Sebastian, who was a token invite because I know how much he can eat.

After dinner, we put the kids to bed, although in all honesty, I should state that we tried getting the kids to go to bed. After their third attempt, I laid the law down.

'If you come out again and ask me if it's okay if you drink water from the bathroom sink, I will have Mama freak out all over you. You know what this means, so you decide.'

The boys decided wisely, which meant that I could photograph the wild life. Some animals were timid.

Others were not.

Other animals cackled like Broom Hilda when our cat was accidentally locked out on the balcony in the freezing cold and he had to jump up and down in front of the door to be let in.

This of course reminded me of the time that Angie accused me of killing Lukie, our last cat. Retelling that one led to a lot of other stories, ending with the one about how I had to shut down my Hotmail account after pulling a prank on Angie that backfired big time. The ladies cracked up, but I think it was more of a pity laugh.

Speaking of, it was a pity to end the laughing. All in all, it was a great night. We had enough food, nobody killed the cat, and hopefully a few New Englanders enjoyed the Manhattan side of life.
Ladder Talk: 
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That Mom's teacher friends were here.
David: That we had so many people here for dinner. 
Tom: That we could have ice-cream. 

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That I got the hiccups. 
David: That my belly hurts.
Tom: That Simba bite me.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want it to snow.
David: I want to play something fun with Luca.
Tom: I want to play Batman.

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