(Melitzanes Moussaka)

		A venerable dish that seems to originate in ancient
		Persia, is known and loved all over the Mediterranean,
		and has been adopted by Greeks as a national dish.
		This recipe, as developed by The Snotty Chef, looks
		very suspiciously like his Pastitsio, and is of the same
		Greek variety.  From this recipe, however, along with the
		historical, linguistic, chemical, biological and culinary
		notes, you should be able to reconstruct any of the
		thousands of existing and possible variations found or
		not found in almost any country or culture, and still
		remain true to the dish's quintessential properties:
		comfort me with moussaká!

		The cheese custard top layer is substantial here:
		I like it - very much.

							About 7-8 qts

	INGREDIENTS (in order of use):

	3    @  eggplants (aubergines), large

	6-8 TBS olive oil, flavorful, as in Greek (or more, with lean beef)
	4-6  @  Turkish bay leaf (medium)
	6+   @  cloves garlic, minced
	6    @  shallots, minced

	5   lbs beef, round, ground (or lamb, or a mixture)

	4   TBS butter

	Mix in a small bowl:
		1   tsp cinnamon (cassia bark), ground
		3   tsp cinnamon (cinnamonum verum), ground

		1+  tsp oregano, dried, crushed
			(Use Greek oregano if possible) [See Note #5, below]
		1/4 tsp marjoram, dried, powdered
		1   tsp black pepper, freshly ground
		2-3 TBS sweet paprika
		2   tsp salt
		1   tsp sugar (or 2 tsp honey)
		1   TBS beef base or bouillon (powdered)

	4-5    @  onions (medium), cut in thin crescents
	1     cup carrot, grated
	4     TBS (=1/4 cup) Cocktail Sherry, white or red wine
	4     TBS Metaxá or Brandy/Cognac
	4-5   cup tomato purée

	4     TBS tomato paste, mixed with
	2     cup arbitrary mixture water & dry red wine, broth

	3/4   cup parsley, chopped
	1-2   tsp lemon zest, grated (that's about one lemon's worth or less)
	2     tsp onion powder/granulated
	2     tsp garlic powder/granulated
	1     tsp tarragon, dried, crushed
	1      @  lemon, juice of (about 2 TBS)

	For the Custard (White Sauce - about 2 quarts):
	8     TBS butter (lightly salted kind)
	1/2   tsp nutmeg, grated
	1/2   tsp white pepper, ground finely
	1/2   tsp black pepper, ground finely
	8     TBS (rounded) all purpose flour
	6     cup whole milk, or cultured buttermilk warmed
	1 1/2 cup heavy cream, not warmed
	8      @  eggs, jumbo, beaten smooth with a whisk
	2     cup freshly grated kefalotiri or parmesan cheese

	A LARGE skillet
	A four quart saucepan
	Baking sheets


	0. Slice the eggplants transversely into rounds 1/4 - 1/2 inch

	1. Preheat Oven to 325 F, and prepare covered cassrole(s) to
	   accomodate the 7-8 qts of mixture by greasing them.
	   Using equal sized cassaroles is a help.

	2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium high
	   heat, adding the bay leaves, and swirling the oil.

	3. When the bay leaves begin to brown, add the shallots, and
	   half the garlic, stirring until they just start to brown.

	4. Add the meat, and stir until the meat looses its pinkness,
	   and then, stir in the 4 TBS of butter and let it melt.

	5. Stir in the spice bowl contents of cinnamon, oregano,
	   marjoram, paprika, black pepper and salt and bouillon.
	   Stir, mix well and allow the spices and herbs to cook for
	   about 2-3 minutes.

	6. Add carrot and then the onions and mix well,
	   cooking for about 5 minutes.

	   Sweating the onions, covered,
	   for 5-10 minutes will let them mix in easier.  In this case,
	   add the wine and brandy from the next step before covering.

	7. Add the TBSs of wine and brandy, stirring until the alcohol
	   is mostly evaported, by the sniff of cupped hand test.
	   This should handle any pan deglazing that may or may not
	   have become necessary.

	8. Add the tomato purée, mixing into all, following with the
	   water/wine & tomato paste mixture, and bring to a barely
	   bubbling, gentle simmer.

	9. Lower the temperature of the skillet to a very gentle simmer,
	   for about 20 minutes, leaving uncovered while the cassarole(s)
	   and custard are prepared.  This is specifically so that the sauce
	   will thicken and the onions will be soft.  Crunchy onions are
	   nice, but not here; soft and comforting are the watchwords.

		[Speed up technique: softening the onions can take a long
		 stewing time; a shortcut to the end effect is to sautée
		 them in oil/butter/ghee to soft first, and then add them
		 to whatever sauce is being made.]

	   Simmer until the onions are soft, adding
	   either water or wine as necessary.  The sauce should not be
	   too "winey (or whiney)", nor should it be too soupy, else you
	   will whine at the soupy moussaka.  Yuch!

	   Your meat sauce should be thick and spreadable, a little
	   thicker than properly made cement.  Reduce the sauce to
	   this consistancy if you need to.

	10. Cook the eggplant (aubergine) according to your taste:
	    the rounds can be either fried in oil, or baked on a
	    cookie sheet in the oven after being patted dry (if you
	    have used the salting trick) and brushed with oil.  See
	    TSC's interminable discussion of eggplant and its
	    treatment in the notes below.

	    Reserve cooked eggplant for construction of the moussaka.

	11. When the meat and sauce is simmered (This would be a good
	    time to check salt, and spicing.), you will have made all
	    that is necessary for what a Greek cook would call the
	    "saltsa kima", and an Arabic cook would call "Tazbeeka",
	    but we will go a little further: stir the lemon juice,
	    lemon zest, onion & garlic powders and tarragon, and
	    keep a very low simmer for at least another 15 minutes.

	    Reserve for construction of the moussaka.

	    NB: It is a typical (and wonderful) variation in most
	    of the middle east to add the finely minced garlic, not at
	    the beginning, which is very French, but as a finishing
	    to the meat and tomato sauce just about now - and we
	    do this, adding the second half of the minced garlic.

	12. To prepare the custard topping, melt the 4 TBS of butter in
	    at least a four quart saucepan, over a moderate heat, adding
	    the nutmeg and peppers to the butter as it melts.  They should
	    froth for about 15 seconds.  That is also a visual for the
	    right temperature.

	13. Add the flour, whisking, and cook the flour in the butter, with
	    much stirring for several minutes.  This cooking time will
	    eliminate any raw starch taste from the sauce, as well,
	    bring out the flavors of nutmeg and pepper, and add a slight
	    pepper tang.  Cooking ground black pepper in oil always does
	    this; to some extent, the finer the pepper grind the greater
	    the piquance.

	    Remove from heat, and cool the roux for at least 5-10 minutes.

	14. Whisk the mixture with reasonable intensity while
	    adding the warmed milk a few TBS at a time, whisking it in
	    fully before adding more.  There will be no thickening, and
	    we do not want flour lumps in the sauce.  With the milk
	    completely incorporated, return the saucepan to medium heat,
	    stirring for 15-20 minutes while it thickens, and will
	    thicken no more.

	    Remove sauce from the heat.

	    Whisk in the unwarmed cream.  The cream will lower the
	    temperature so that the eggs may be combined without fear
	    of their "curdling".  Let the sauce cool, covered, for at
	    least 10 minutes, anyhow

	15. Now, whisk in the beaten eggs, thoroughly.

	16. In a greased cassarole, lay a layer of eggplant.  Often,
	    a thin layer of bread crumbs is laid down before the
	    eggplant in Greek style.  It is not a bad idea because they
	    will absorb errant liquid.  Moussaka is not a soupy affair;
	    there should be no sauciness to it on serving, but it should
	    also be soft, moist and tender, but distinctly not at all dry.

	    Lay a very thin layer of the white sauce (custard) over the
	    layer of eggplant.

	    Sprinkle some grated cheese over the white sauce.

	    Lay a layer of the kima saltsa over that, and begin the
	    layering again as the cassarole depth allows, alternating
	    eggplant and meat sauce.

	    End with a layer of meat, and the remainder (should be a fair
	    amount) of white sauce over the top.  Do be sure to spread
	    and smooth out the last meat layer so that the custard top
	    (white sauce) will be sealed off from everything below,
	    and that the custard top will not leak below.

	17. Again, proportionately, evenly broadcast the grated cheese
	    over the surface of the sauce.  It will sink into the sauce,
	    and become suspended in it as it melts and the sauce becomes
	    a cheese custard from the thickening by the eggs.  This is
	    a clever and tricky manuover that is almost never seen in
	    moussaka recipes. (Not original, but I forget to whom to

	    If you like, decorate with some random paprika sprinklings -
	    or make erotic paprika paintings of genitalia, depending on
	    your audiences's intelligence and sense of humor.  Abstracts
	    created as Rohrschach drawings can be equally amusing.

	18. Bake covered for 30-60 mins, depending on the sizes of the
	    cassaroles.  Allow to firm for at least 10 minutes before

	    Served simply warm is better than served piping hot anyhow;
	    it gives your audience longer to figure out your surface
	    artistry.  More seriously, consider the meaning of the name
	    of this dish as parsed out below in the notes.

	    Why not just have a Greek salad and some red wine with it?
	    Retsina maybe?  It is an acquired taste.

	19. Yes, this keeps well refrigerated after cooking, and will reheat
	    very nicely in serving portions in a microwave, gently, of
	    course: use only half power (which isn't really half power,
	    it is half the "power on" time in cycling); so then also
	    double the cook time.  Just out of the refrigerator is a bit
	    too cool.

	    Like many cassaroles and stews, it is often considered better
	    on the second and third days; it is true.


	1. Moussaká, exists in so many variations
	   thoughout the middle east that it is difficult to say:
	   where the word comes from (almost certainly Arabic), what the
	   word actually means, and what the defining characteristics are.

	   The laity will generally insist that a moussaka must be made
	   with eggplant (aubergine to be more precise).  A Greek will
	   insist that it must be made with the "white sauce", which
	   was actually a béchamel sauce that was added by that definer
	   of neoclassical Greek cuisine, Nicholas Tselementes (1878-
	   1958).  Without the white sauce, it should probably now be
	   called in Greek kima fournou (meat cassarole).  As a chef,
	   Tselementes was inventive, and as with any artist, which he
	   really was, he was a bit unstable; as an historian, claiming
	   that the cuisine of Classical Greece was the font of all
	   European cuisine, he was rather a simpleton, who did not let
	   any obvious facts of history get in the way of his inventive
	   Muse of cuisine.  Hmm - aren't most historians exactly that
	   way (though they will claim with nothing but their own
	   "authority", to be otherwise)?  They are paid servants of
	   the victorious!  Hence, Thucydides - when Herodotus is
	   the more honest puck.

	   Thucydides is digital, while Herodotus is analog.
	   Thucydides gives numbers and analysis, telling you what
	   is absolutely real, while Herodotus just tells what he sees,
	   what he hears, who told him and makes no attempt to decide
	   what is true and what is not.  Modern historicals don't
	   much like Herodotus.  Anyhow ...
	   Some say that moussaka means "cassarole", or even a "layered
	   cassarole".  That does indeed seem to be the most general
	   structural description of it, and that may seem like a
	   reasonable guess - but - BEEEEP - wrong, however, and thank
	   you for playing.  The cassarole words are "tachine", "tagine",
	   etc.; Moussaka, certainly does NOT mean cassarole.

	   The Greek word "moussaka" comes directly from the Turkish
	   mussakka, which is the same thing - without the béchamel sauce
	   nicely added in the 19th century by Tselementes.
	   See also the Romanian "musaca".  The word is not at all Greek,
	   and means nothing in Greek, nothing in Turkish and nothing
	   in Romanian, other than the dish that it represents.

	   Some say the passage of the word is from Turkish through
	   Serbo-Croatian to Greek, but that strikes The Snotty Chef as
	   a rather unnecessary linguistic contortion that ignores the
	   obvious known history of Turkish occupation, and the direct
	   cultural Turkish influence on Greek cuisine.

	   Moussaka is a simultaneous loan word, OK?  There is a homophonic
	   word in all European (geographically, not linguistically speaking)
	   languages for the dish, and the only language in which the word
	   makes any reasonable intrinsic sense is Arabic.

	   One finds the very same dish throughout the Mediterranean,
	   and specifically in Egypt with the same name, where the word
	   has a perfectly good philological explanation, while in Greek
	   and in Turkish, etc., it does not.

	   The stressed syllable changes from language to language; in
	   Greek, the accent falls on the last syllable, while in
	   Turkish, as for all words in Turkish, it falls on the first
	   syllable.  The Turkish mussakka stems from colloquial Egyptian
	   Arabic "musaqqa‘a", chilled, moussaka, feminine passive
	   participle of "saqqa‘a", to chill, variant of "saqqa‘a",
	   from "sa‘a", cold, frost, from "saqi‘a", to be white.

	   This does not mean that it is supposed to be Arabic ice cream,
	   or "really" served cold, but rather that is is not to be
	   served heated in the way cooked food usually is, but served at a
	   more roomlike temperature; it is metaphor.  The same principle
	   can be applied to Chinese "cold noodles", which are not served
	   cold, but rather "unheated" at room temperature.  That is quite
	   cold, or chilled enough.

	   While the etymology rather clearly goes to Arabic, the dish
	   itself originates in the more ancient Persian culinary culture.

	   [Of course Egyptian culture is one of the world's oldest,
	   but that millennia old Egyptian culture is overlayed with
	   relatively modern centuries of occupations and invasions;
	   the language of Egypt is now Arabic, and this is disconnected
	   from the ancient Egyptian language, which is closer to Coptic.
	   Much was transferred culinarily during the Persian occupation.]

	   See, e.g., the Persian dish Haleem-Badenjaan, which, in place
	   of a European white sauce uses "kashk", a thick whey, the word
	   eventually giving the name of the cheese "kashkaval".

	   gives rise to the French word "Aubergine", through the Spanish
	   "Berenjena" (Moorish).  Spanish actually takes many words from
	   Moorish, from Basque and other languages that have nothing to
	   do with Latin, from which it is rather impurely derived: the
	   cat "el gato", e.g. comes from Greek (γατοσ) not Latin (felix).

	   This etymological line associates the dish as technique
	   with the specific kind of eggplant now properly called
	   aubergine.  There are also many different kinds of
	   eggplant in the East, mostly unknown to Western cuisine;
	   so, life, as usual, is not near so simple and orderly
	   as it may sometimes superficially suggest itself to be.

	   There seem to be no references in western and near eastern
	   writings of eggplants until the 9th century, but, also it
	   appears to have been cultivated in India over 4,000 years
	   ago.  It then appears to be an eastern cultivar that was
	   introduced to the mediterranean area through the commerce
	   of the Silk Road, or more likely, earlier.  There still
	   remain many forms of eggplant in the east that are still
	   unknown to the west, including the very small pea sized
	   eggplants used in Thai cuisine, for which we often
	   substitute green peas.

	   I thank my wonderful friend and scholar Osama Hegazi
	   in Cairo for help in tracking down the etymology, as well
	   for discussion of culinary techniques in Egyptian moussaka
	   and cuisine generally
	   (and much more than I have written here).

	   The "meat in tomato sauce" is a thing unto itself as a
	   matter of cuisine and culinary structure; it is called
	   "saltsa kima" in Greek and in Arabic "tasbeeka".  This is
	   the substance, the process for making the substance is
	   "tasbeek", but the meaning of the word is sufficiently
	   general that the components of the substance may change:
	   meat, e.g., is not required.  The method distinguishes
	   itself by first cooking the onions well in oil, and then
	   later adding other components (including the garlic!),
	   which is different than a method which cooks all together,
	   relying on the vegetable juices, or a little added water
	   and using little or no oil (Ar. "Nay Fi Nay").  Do remember
	   that tomatoes are New World items and that they existed,
	   generally, outside the Americas only starting with the
	   16th century.

	   The meat was, of course, originally, to be minced, and not
	   ground - stirred, not shaken.  If such an originality of
	   texture becomes an ideé fixe, and you refuse the Snotty
	   Chef's assurance that it matters very little, then by all
	   means, knock yourself out.  Mince your meat.  But then, do
	   try a food processor: partially freeze the meat cut into
	   cubes - use the pulse button, for heaven's sake!  This is
	   *not* a pâté.

	   The garden variety Moussaka, but for its major fragrant interest
	   has almost a rustic simplicity to it, without garlic, shallot,
	   wine, brandy, and several other ingredients used here.  While
	   a possible criticism of this version is that it seems to have
	   become Frenchified, the techniques and ingredients are all
	   typically Greek, so no whining about lack of authenticity.
	   The Snotty Chef has spoken.  Besides, that topping, which is
	   the use of Tselementes' addition is already an apparent
	   Gallification of both ingredients and technique.  So there!
	   Stuff it!  Stuffed aubergines, however, is another story
	   for another time.  Thomas Jefferson was rather fond of them.

	2. Who would think that one of the most contentious aspects of a
	   Melitzanes Moussaka would be how to pretreat, and how to precook
	   the eggplant?

	   There is a Fundamental Aubergine Problem, and different people
	   have developed different ways of solving it.  The problem is
	   that Aubergine is an oil sponge; it will sop up more oil than
	   you can imagine, and Moussaka is a vegetable and meat dish,
	   not an oil soup.  There are two approaches to the problem.
	   The first is to treat the aubergine in such a way as to inhibit 
	   oil absorbtion, and the second is to restrict its contact with
	   oil.  Fat, of course, makes for flavor, but there is such a
	   thing as too much of a good thing - especially if you try
	   making this dish with lamb.

	   In the first case, the classic Greek and Italian method is to
	   cut the aubergine into rounds, salt them well, stack and press
	   them.  This creates an osmotic as well as mechanical pressure 
	   that leeches water from the fruit (It really is a fruit, not
	   a vegetable), and breaks down the interstial structures that
	   hold the oil.  An alternative is to soak the aubergine rounds
	   in heavily salted water.  Enough of this, and you fill those
	   interstial spaces with water.  Now, they can be quickly sauted,
	   and reserved.

	   If you can withstand the spattering, yet another technique is
	   to sautée the eggplant in oil - with water added to the oil.
	   Cute - but beyond TSC's endurance and patience.

	   The other approach, if you will fry the eggplant in oil, is
	   to do your frying as a high temperature sautée: heat the oil
	   to hot  (beyond the "point of fragrance") but not smoking,
	   add the eggplant in small batches, and do your sauteing

	   There is a mythology abroad that says these salting techniques
	   remove the "bitterness" of the eggplant.  From experience and
	   from consultation with other chefs whose opinions derive also
	   from experience and reasonable knowledge of chemistry, TSC
	   declares this to be balderdash, and a classic old wife's tale -
	   of a dim old wife at that.  Grandmas are much more reliable.

	   The suspicion is that some kind of magical thinking is at play
	   here from dealing with immature aubergines, which do tend to
	   be bitter, and from a recognition that the aubergine (eggplants
	   generally) are members of the nightshade family that also
	   includes potatoes, tomatoes and peppers, as well as belladonna
	   and tabacum.  These all contain at one point or another, or
	   in some plant part, alkaloids that can be quite toxic in
	   sufficient quantities.  Not to worry: *everything* in sufficient
	   quantity can be, and is toxic and even lethal - even water.
	   Get with the program, we are not talking depleted uranium
	   that our US government uses in its programs of genocide.

	   In a mature aubergine, the source of possible bitterness is in
	   the skin and a thin layer of flesh just underneath it.
	   However, the heat of cooking destroys this bitterness; so,
	   the salt fairy has misspoken.  This is only one instance of a
	   myriad of stories that happen to have slipped into language and
	   that are repeated magically and endlessly when the physical truth
	   of the matter puts the lie to the babbling.  This locality
	   of the bitterness is also probably why just about every other
	   recipe involving them starts with considerable heat being
	   applied to their surface.  It is done, but few understand why.

	   Some bitterness does seem to increase with size and age, so if
	   you have doubts, and have intentions of cooking the aubergines
	   only moderately, peel them first.  TSC happens to like the
	   slight bitterness of the skin as a matter of an additional
	   level of taste, but though matters of taste can indeed be
	   argued, TSC is tired, and like Unbarkas is unwilling to argue
	   this point further.

	   Another consideration is here that I envision using the
	   the large (often about 1 lb.) deep purple aubergines that
	   is the defining crop in the USA.  As I discover from conversations
	   with friends in other countries, particularly in the middle
	   east, the particular eggplants available in other countries and
	   used for the [moussaka] group of dishes can vary, and so can
	   their properties in cooking.

	   Now, for the second approach to the aubergine problem, cut
	   the rounds as usual; brushing both sides lightly with oil,
	   spread and stack them on baking sheets, and bake them in a
	   350 F oven for 30-40 minutes.  If you try wiping them, or
	   dipping them in oil instead you will see the sponge property
	   in action.  Don't do that!  Simply brushing them with oil
	   will create a partial shield that will help prevent them
	   from drying out in the oven.  As an alternative, or additional
	   technique you might consider putting a pan of boiling
	   water in the oven under them.

	   The truly strange aspect of this business of techniques is
	   that both techniques of taking water out and putting water
	   in actually work - but for different reasons.

	   NB:  TSC has chosen his particular method for eggplant
	   with due consideration: it is not arbitrary or capricious.
	   If you use the method of frying in oil, you are almost guaranteed
	   that on reheating the eggplant will become (if not be outright)
	   slimey!  Using the SC's method, the eggplant will have a soft,
	   moist, almost breadlike consistency, and not be slimey, or in
	   any other way yukky - and - it will survive reheating without
	   becoming slimey!  Regarding this minor pontification, do
	   take into account the assumptions that have been made regarding
	   "which" eggplant.  If the eggplant changes, the optimizing
	   rules also change - and you are on your own.

	3. In the Matter of Sex:
	   Have I got your attention?  Many languages in many cultures
	   distinguish two subtle classes of eggplant.  No matter the
	   languge or culture, all those who pay attention to eggplants
	   make this distinction - and almost always, it is described as
	   Male and Female.  The eggplant of course, is a fruit, the
	   product of sex, and has no sex itself.  Nevertheless, the
	   distinction is valid, and in the larger globe aubergines, one
	   can even guess which is which by looking at the depression
	   that is usually at the blossom end (not the stem end).

		Round seems to correlate with more seeds.
		Oval seems to correlate with less seeds.

	   Beyond that, there's also the critical matter of maturity.
	   Immature eggplants picked before they were ready will have
	   less seeds, but they will also be hard - and I suspect that
	   it may have happened to you.  In the US, *everything* is picked
	   before it is ripe - and everything tastes and has a texture
	   that tells that.  Agribiz doesn't give a horse's petutti how it
	   tastes or cooks - only how it looks and how it ships, meaning
	   how it will stand up to being played basketball with by

	   So, you must not pick them too early.  But, you can't pick them
	   too late or let them sit around too long either; then, they
	   *will* become bitter.  Ooops - also, the older, the more
	   developed the seeds.  They're delicate little critters. 
	   Soon ripe, soon rotten.

	   The whole business has variations through the many varieties
	   as well.  My, this does get complicated.  Zucchini (courgettes)
	   are much easier; but grown in the wrong soil, they can also
	   be made bitter, as can cucumbers - a tale for another time.

	4. The center of interest in the flavor of Greek moussaka is the
	   perfect balance of (bitter/sweet) oregano and cinnamon.  You
	   may want to consider the ages and potencies of both of these to
	   tweak the amounts given here for that balance.  Achieved aright,
	   the two flavors/aromas should merge into one, so that neither
	   one dominates the other.  (Other ethnicities use different
	   spice/herb sets, and a common other one in the middle east is
	   cumino - a Persian classic.)

	   There are generally available in the west, three distinct

		Italian: Origanum heracleoticum
		Greek:   Origanum onites
		Europe:  Origanum vulgare
		Crete:   Origanum dictamnus (actually a marjoram)

	   There is also a Mexican Oregano "lippia graveolens" grouped
	   as verbenaceae, that is biologically distinct but similar in
	   characteristics of flavor.

	   Oregano is not just oregano; the Snotty Chef's admonition
	   to use a Greek oregano is justified, and not lazy or magical
	   thinking.  If you want your mind confused further, but
	   wonderfully articulated in its confusion, see Gernot
	   Katzner's web page
	   Spice Pages: Oregano (Origanum vulgare/onites/heracleoticum)

	   While oregano is not just oregano, cinnamon (nowadays) is not
	   at all cinnamon - another one of the many lies of modern life:
	   Yes, Virginia, there is a real cinnamon (Cinnamomum Vera) which
	   is the same as (Cinnamomum Zeylonicum) which is indigenous to
	   the island of Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka.  This is generally
	   preferred in almost all places, while in the US, the more
	   coarse and uncivilized cassia bark is actually preferred!
	   In the US, it is cassia bark that is normally purveyed and
	   bought as "cinnamon".  An idea of a catalog of the situation
	   in all other countries just gives the Snotty Chef a monumental
	   headache.  Nevertheles, he really does know what the hell
	   he is talking about.

	5. Variations on the spicing:
	   Although the "Greek Trick" in spicing has pretty much settled
	   on the cinnamon-oregano axis, one will find a preponderance of
	   ancient recipes for precursor dishes where an ill defined ratio
	   of cinnamon:cumino is the indicated consideration.

	   E.g., viz. "al-Katib al-Tabikh", as it is almost always referred
	   to, or more properly, "al-Katib al-Tabikh wa-islah al-Aghdiyah
	   al-Ma'kulat", by the brother of Caliph Harun Al-Rashid, Abu
	   Muhammad al-Muzaffar ibn Nasr ibn Sayyar Al-Warraq.  Arabic
	   can sometimes exhibit the structural characteristics of
	   Old Entish, though it does not take them an entire day simply
	   to say "Good morning".

	   Even in modern and related recipes from Iran with ancient Persian
	   pedigree one finds the cinnamon-cumino axis as a crux.  They go
	   well together as "warming spices" in the Ayurvedic tradition,
	   and can be arranged by proportion with even less of a knife edge
	   balance than the cinnamon-oregano balance.  Since cinnamon and
	   cumino are of similar intensity, and since they will both balance
	   against the oregano, the SC suggests a reasonable ratio of 1:1:2
	   of cinnamon:cumino:oregano.  For the above recipe, use

		1 tsp cinnamon
		1 tsp cumino
		2 tsp oregano

	   which is to say, in the recipe given, double the oregano
	   and add 1 tsp of ground cumino.

	6. Variations on Moussaka:
	   The eggplant has been variously replaced with courgettes
	   (zucchini), other kinds of squash, potatoes, etc.  Actually,
	   thin slabs of fresh puff ball fungus would work well also.

	   In various recipes, the saltsa kima has included celery and
	   mushrooms, Chinese snow peas (sugar peas), leeks, ...; name
	   it: it is a vegetable.  SC will go with the mushrooms and
	   with the leeks.  Forget the rest.

	   The white sauce or often "the topping", is a custard made from
	   yoghurt, and even in some Greek households, potatoes!  The
	   entire dish can be stuffed with potatoes!  The SC is less than
	   impressed - notwithstanding the fact that potatoes are strictly
	   New World and did not show up in any place else until the
	   16th century.  Give me a break here guys!  Potatoes in moussaka?!
	   No -- No.  Definitely not.  The Snotty Chef doesn't really give
	   a rat's ass that "some Greeks do it", nor that some Greek
	   restaurants do it (call them Diners then).  Some Greeks also,
	   undoubtedly, eat ratburgers.  The SC is impressed neither
	   with their culinary pedigree, nor with their taste.  If you
	   put potatoes in it, at least have the decency to call it
	   "Meat and Potato Slop" or something - certainly not Moussaka.
	   The texture is all wrong.  Cold or room temperature mashed
	   potatoes?  I don't think so.  Remember the concept in
	   the etymology?  Words really do have meanings; some stretches
	   of meaning break the thread.  Go ahead, use potatoes in whatever
	   way you want.  If you don't do something horrible, and are
	   not a complete idiot, it will quite likely be something
	   quite edible served reasonably hot.  Just don't call it
	   moussaka, because it isn't; it's merely an attempt to
	   cheapen a work of art and arrogantly demand that you be
	   allowed to get away with the crime.

	   While people can be very jealous of their own national cuisine,
	   that does not necessarily mean that they have even the slightest
	   concept of it, its history, or any taste in it when it comes
	   actually to making it.  Some people know what they are talking
	   about, or shut up; others just babble endlessly, saying
	   perfectly stupid things in order to justify their stupidest
	   of emotions.  They need to be paid no attention.

 	   Bottom line: Tselementes knew what he was doing, and TSC
	   salutes his culinary genius.  He made a good and idiomatic
	   addition, not only to the national Greek dish, but to the
	   general concept of moussaka that has been around for so long.
	   He did not suggest then well known potatoes; but, he knew
	   surely very well of the Persian precedent of kashk.

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