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Dennis’ Blog Take-over #2: Boiled Salted Water

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It was a cold and rainy day at the cemetery.
Gray black clouds blocked the sunlight and seemed to cast a shadow over our hearts.
As the coffin lowered the remains of my great-grandmother into the ground, my eyes locked with my sister’s across the grave.
It was just a moment, but that moment spoke volumes.
Now that great-grandmother was dead, the pact had ended.
Now could the family secret be told at last.
Now could the world know the recipe that is…
Boiled Salted Water!

***

The tale of Boiled Salted Water is one of great adventure and love. It began centuries ago, in the deserts of Arabia.  There lived a beautiful woman named Greta who served boiled water. Even though the others in her clan said it was the best thing they had ever tasted, she knew it could be better.

A few sand dunes away lived a man named Ali who had discovered a lump of salt in his youth while digging in the ground. One day, his pet squid went missing, and as he was searching for the beloved pet, he smelled something delicious wafting from a nearby tent.

He entered Greta’s tent and inquired about what she was cooking. She gladly showed the young handsome man her pot of boiling water, confiding that it still lacked something. He quickly showed her his lump of salt, and when they added it to the water, Greta knew that she had found the missing ingredient to her recipe and her heart.

Greta and Ali married and had many children. The recipe was passed down from son to son and daughter to daughter, staying in Arabia until one daughter married a squid juggler from Russia. His name was Ivan Onger Valisky the VII, sixth in the line of the house of Earlstoke but his friends called him “Biddy.”

Biddy and his wife lived in a small city in Siberia. They lived happily there many years, but tragedy struck when a small group of over-zealous Cossacks became convinced that with the salted water, they could build an invincible army. They stormed the young couple’s house but Ivan was able to fight them off using his deadly squid juggling skills.

After that, they knew that this recipe must be kept secret, and made  the pact that only family members may know the recipe, and decided to move to America.

The family grew and lived in harmony until approximately 12 June 1857 at 1:03 AM. It was then that my great, great-uncle Henry suggested that sea salt might be a good type of salt to use. This caused a massive argument, at the apex of which my great, great aunt Melva hurled a curse at Henry, “May all your squids develop dandruff!”

The resulting schism lasted seven years. Finally, it was decided many types of salts could be used in the recipe.

But the secrecy pact was still in force. Even when Ip Man Sao, the famous pork rind merchant of Hunan, China, offered my great-grandmother an ancient squid once owned by Emperor Wu, she refused to share the recipe.

The offer from Ip Man did make her consider that maybe it was time for the recipe to be released to the rest of the world. She asked that it be done after she had left this earth.

And this is why I can now post these most ancient and secret instructions for:

BOILED SALTED WATER

Ancient traditional recipe:

Take pot
Put in water
Set pot on strong fire.
Watch carefully with mighty eye.
When first three bubbles appear add salt.
Let boil for five chirps of the cricket.
Let cool for five to seven chirps of the cricket.
Eat.

Modern recipe with variations:

Water
Saucepan
Salt (sea salt, iodized or Earth)

Fill saucepan to desired level and set on high heat.
Salt can be added before or during the boiling cycle. (Uncle Fizbot likes to add it after it’s done boiling, but no one else in family likes it that way.)
Let boil for two and a half to three minutes.
Serve hot, warm, cool or even chilled (a favorite in the South).

I leave you with an old family blessing,
“May your squids never know the sorrow of a cold, hard bed, with only a rock for a pillow.”

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About Veronica

I have a kitchen addiction and love to collect & share recipes. My passion is baking but I love to cook as well. The only thing I don't like to do in the kitchen is wash dishes, but my husband generally does them for me in exchange for his dinner.

14 responses »

  1. Thanks for the recipe!!! LOL!!! :)

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  2. Great you had me right from the start hehehe ..enjoy the humor I see why you and Veronica make such a special couple …love reading the Blogs Dennis that you both type …have a wonderful day

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  3. Yes now I see how it had come to pass that water and salt are hopelessly intertwined. It was of course right to use any types of salts and it is interesting that older non-scientific generations unknowingly made a decision that would be rendered moot… by one simple fact:
    .
    (Hold on to you hats kids)
    .
    All salt is sea salt (health food stores are guilty of false advertising)
    .
    Salt newly condensed from seawater leaves no question as to it’s origion (the French get clay mixed in with it and charge extra!).. Mined salt… all mined salt.. is the result of evaporated seas and lakes. Salts are leached out of soil and rock by water. evaporation causes the leached out salts to crystalise… and thats pretty much it!
    .
    Now I come to a salty taste of my family history (on my mothers side; who was, as we all know, nuttier than a fruitcake that gets regifted for year after year ad infinitum).. Somewhere in the Balkins on the coast now known as Dalmatia my great great etc etc etc grandmother captured a runaway pet squid and popped it into a boiling pot of sea water! The result was so delicious that in the centuries since the resulting stew has evolved into a virtual pantheon of ethnic seafood stews. Each country added there own touch and named it as their own. Italians: Ciopinno.. French: Bouallbase.. Spanish: Paella and finally jumping across the Atlantic to the Americas: Chowder… or as the new Englanders call it: Chow Dah.
    .
    However you care to look at it folks it all amounts to one thing:
    .
    It’s all about the food.

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    • I thought Dennis would reply to this so I abstained, but I guess he’s even less social than I imagined! lol. I love your story of how his ancestor’s pet squid is the reason behind the invention of seafood stews, thanks to your ancestors! Bwah! But I think most people are aware all salt is sea salt, the distinction only being to reference where it was harvested from. Although, at that time, perhaps they in fact weren’t aware of that. I’m sure uncle Henry never guessed how much discussion his suggestion would instigate-lol.

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  4. Hahaha! Dennis, I’ve been looking forward to this post ever since Veronica mentioned it was on the horizon. And it did not disappoint.
    =)

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  5. Great story! My favs were the pet squid and the “5 chirps of the cricket”….ha ha ha!!!

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  6. Squee! My favorite part? “Watch carefully with mighty eye.” LOL! Of course, I laughed through the whole thing. I love your ridiculous stories. :) What made me laugh throughout the story:
    1) You named the Arabian guy Ali, which seems to fit the area, but what’s with “Greta?” Nice random German name, hon.
    2) The sheer ridiculousness of anyone in the desert having a pet squid, and then the sheer ridiculousness of said squid running off and getting lost. BWAH! I loved the squid theme throughout the story, including the blessing. You’re so random.
    3) That Ali apparently had been carrying around his lump of salt for years. How handy he had it with him when he met Greta. lol
    3) Squid juggling and the “deadly squid juggling skills” I think this needs to happen. Maybe I’ll get you a few pet squids for your birthday and you can start a new trend. Just hope they don’t run off.
    4) The approximate exact date & time that the harmony ended. *giggle*

    Thanks for filling in for me and keeping my readers either entertained or scratching their heads in bewilderment. ;)

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    • VERONICA!!!! Thy lack of faith in this wondous tale is APPalLLING!

      Throughout history the march of humankind is filled with incredible co inky dinks , far fetched happenstance that at first blush would appear… welll ridiculous…. but at further examination have the ring of truth! (and sometimes the campfire circle of truth or mabe the oval stadium of truth (the greeks were fond of that one)

      (pssst) and as MY family tradition is still alive if those pet squids of his run off please see they run off in my dirction and I’ll see they go to a good home! (heh heh heh)

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  7. And you have my husband hooked(and quite entertained) with Dennis’ posts. We loved the chirps of the cricket and blessing and inclusion of Siberia and… well…. just about everything.

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  8. Thanks for the laugh this morning Dennis! I plan to put Boiled Salted Water on my menu for next week. :D

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  9. Won’t it be funny to see how many hits you get on this post, people might click it to see “how to boil water”. Or some kid will be doing a research report on squids and google squid-salt-water or something.

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