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    Friday, January 05, 2007

    Flamingo, Firebird, Phoenix: A Blended Origin

    "Flamingo" measures about 8x10" and was created with Paint Shop Pro 6
    and a small optical mouse. This piece took about 20 minutes to complete.

    This past week's Illustration Friday really had me thinking, and I asked myself "How many folks out there know about the link between the fabled firebird and the majestic, but still quite mundane flamingo?". Then, during my Internet search for the story I heard on a nature show on flamingos many years ago, I discovered all sorts of interesting new tidbits to share. Thus, here we are again for another installment of "Random trivia with FrizZ". *chuckle* Enjoy!

    Common to tropical or subtropical areas, the flamingo can be found in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Africa, Europe and Asia, and is said by some to have been the origin of the phoenix myth.

    Early tribal peoples watched the life cycle of the flamingo and interpreted it as best they could. The eggs laid on giant mounds of mud hatched to young birds who, several months after fledging, flew off to graze in alkaline lakes and sulfur springs closer to the source (hotter, higher mineral salts content), gaining vital nutrients for the completion of their growth. They would return to the main flock later, fully grown and brightly colored from their rich diet of shrimp and other small plant and animal life.

    At heights of up to five feet, with bright red, pink, and black plumage, a wingspan of between 55 to 65 inches in some species, and a lifespan reaching upwards of 50 years, this was truly an awesome creature to behold and was likely considered near "immortal" in the eyes of early human-kind.

    Looking at this from a primitive mindset, it is easy to see how a young bird going into the forbidden land of burning death and being seen again only when it has "risen' from the ashes", stronger than before could create the fantastic tale of the firebird.

    Even the wisest of ancient cultures held this bird in high regard, as the word flamingo comes from the Latin word for flame, and the Egyptians revered the flamingo as the living embodiment of the sun god Ra. Romans considered flamingo tongue to be a delicacy to be served by the richest to their most important guests at special feasts.

    On a more humorous note, Allen Weiss writes in Cabinet Magazine:Ingestion / How to Cook a Phoenix , which of course inspired me to research Roman recipes to create a dish as may have been served at such a dinner.

    Baked Phoenix Tongues with Peacock Brain Sauce (Mock)
    2 cups whole pine nuts
    1 cup sliced almonds
    1 cup ground walnuts
    1 teaspoon ground white pepper
    3 teaspoons whole multicolored peppercorns
    2lbs boneless skinless chicken breast,
    4 eggs, beaten
    2x2" piece of ginger, crushed
    1 small, diced onion
    1/4 cup chopped dried dates
    1 tbsp chopped dried dates
    1 2oz can flat fillets of anchovies in olive oil and salt
    1 tsp black chestnut tea
    750ml (0ne bottle) Merlot (spicy red wine)
    3 tbsp white flour

    Cut chicken breast into fine, thin slivers (tongues) and marinate in Merlot (reserve 1/2 cup for sauce) for 1 hour covered at room temperature. Combine nuts, 1/4 cup dates, white pepper, and eggs into a paste and spread onto the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish.

    Strain oil off of anchovies and mash with a fork until they reach a paste-like consistency. Mix 4 teaspoons of the anchovy paste, onion, tea, 1 tbsp dates, and ginger in a small sauce pan with 1/2 cup Merlot (stolen from marinade), 1 cup water, and bring to a slow boil. When onions are translucent, add in flour and whisk continually until the sauce returns to a boil, then remove from heat to thicken, stirring occasionally. (sauce will be thick, and a grayish color, resembling brains)

    Layer chicken breast slivers onto nut mixture and cover with sauce, and top with a sprinkling of whole peppercorns.

    Bake uncovered at 350f for 55 minutes, remove from heat and let set 10 minutes to cool.

    Steamed Roman Asparagus & Artichoke Hearts
    2 Roma tomatoes
    2 bunches fresh asparagus spears
    1 16oz jar artichoke hearts
    1 cup feta cheese
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    3 tbsp powdered milk
    1/3 cup water
    1 tsp corn starch

    Steam asparagus spears until tender. Chop artichoke hearts finely, and dice tomatoes.

    Combine olive oil and feta cheese in a small sauce pan and heat to medium, stirring constantly until blended. Add powdered milk, water, and corn starch and whisk constantly until boiling. Remove from heat, add artichoke and tomato, stir to cover, and spoon over asparagus spears.

    Both dishes serve 9; the preferred number of attendees for a roman feast, in honor of the 9 muses.

    Steamed Roman Asparagus & Artichoke Hearts, Baked Phoenix Tongues with Peacock Brain Sauce, grilled fococcia(sp?), and grape juice or sweet red grape wine combine to make truly exquisite Romanesque culinary experience.
    Then again, if you rename the asparagus dish to something like steamed pixie spears & newt hearts with Puffapod petals and roman cheese, it could be rather Potteresque as well. *wink*


    1 comment:

    Alina Chau said...

    Cool fun and informative posting on the theme!! Your flamingo illo is lovely.