Thursday, June 30, 2005

Grapefruit Lasagna

The lead gourmet chef at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York had been planning dinner for a party of twenty-four when suddenly there was a terrible catastrophe: a private jet of one of the hotel's guests had accidentally landed in the hotel's private vegetable garden, crushing the vegetables that she had planned to use.

This was an extraordinary crisis because the vegetables were unavailable anywhere in the northern hemisphere, and they were too fragile to be transported from the southern hemisphere. They were the pure descendants of an 1806 crop of New Zealand vegetables.

Unfortunately I do not know the name of these vegetables; it is a closely-guarded secret known only to those with the appropriate security clearance needed to handle the vegetables. However, I do know that these vegetables have been known to have a taste that is somewhere between sour and bitter.

The lead chef panicked and tried to find an appropriate ingredient substitution for the vegetables. Endives would be too bitter, she thought. Coffee-soaked lemon pulp would be too flavorful.

Finally she realized that grapefruits might be able to mimic the taste of the missing vegetable. Not just any grapefruits would do; they had to be perfectly aged and preserved. She would also have to disguise the grapefruit color and texture with ingredients that would complement the grapefruit taste while bringing more dominant colors and textures.

She decided to prepare individually-sized portions of grapefruit lasagna. She had a few bottles of flattened grapefruits left over from a visit by the CEO of a grapefruit company, and she was relieved to finally use them because flattened grapefruits are otherwise entirely useless. They would be the perfect shape for lasagna, luckily.

The lasagna came out delicious, except for the flattened grapefruit parts. But that is what you ought to expect from fine dining in America: dishes that taste delicious but that have several unfamiliar parts that are hard to swallow.


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