Sunday, October 07, 2007

Food for the Soul, Oct. 7, 2007


Damn goat. Ugh.

The Cubs
went three and out in the first round of the playoffs. Frankly, it was a merciful show on their part. I was fully prepared for them to go up two games, come within one or two outs of making it into the World Series, and then collapse.

Next season marks the centennial celebration of their last World Series title.

I'm hopelessly addicted to this team, even though I don't much like them anymore. I saw my first major league game at Wrigley Field in 1967, a Cardinals-Cubs game. I still remember my first glimpse of the field, with both teams on it during warm ups. The colors - green, red, blue, white - were so brilliant that they seemed unreal.

That Cubs team of the late '60s and early '70s had great players - Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams (my favorite), Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley, Fergie Jenkins. They should have had a couple of championships. But they were the Cubs, and they gave me my first real lessons about life, disappointment and foolhardy optimism. The term "June Swoon" was invented for this team.

For better or worse, I've dragged my family into my obsession. The Remarkable Marcy, a Clevelander beset by her own sports woes, understands my sickness. Our son, Courtland, was barely five weeks old when he attended his first Wrigley Field game. His first complete sentence was, "Mets are bums." His painful lesson was learned during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, when the Cubs were a mere five outs away from going to the World Series. It wasn't the Steve Bartman interference play, but the subsequent bobble of a routine ground ball by shortstop Alex S. Gonzalez, that led me to put my arm around my son and explain, "This is what being a Cubs' fan is all about. I'm sorry I've done this to you."

The late Steve Goodman knew the pain, too. The Chicago folksinger was a tremendous Cubs fan, who wrote at least a couple of songs about the team, including "Go, Cubs, Go" and the depressingly funny, "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request," which follows below.



And now, about that goat. Maybe I should have offered this earlier.

BBQ Goat (courtesy of the Food Network)

4 guijillo chiles
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cloves

10 allspice berries

1/3 cup Mexican oregano

12 sprigs fresh thyme

6 garlic cloves

1 Spanish onion, roughly chopped

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1 (12-pound) goat, quartered or 1 (6 to 8-pound) lamb shoulder

Salt and pepper

1 (2-pound) package dried avocado leaves

Toast chiles, cover with boiling water in a deep bowl, and set aside for 20 minutes. Grind cumin, cloves, allspice, and oregano in coffee grinder. Drain soaked chiles, puree in blender the chiles, ground spices, thyme, garlic, onion, vinegar, and 1/2 cup of water. Process until smooth Push mixture through a sieve, season goat with salt and pepper. Rub paste all over the meat. Arrange in a bowl and allow to marinate for 4 hours, refrigerated.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.


In a deep roaster pan scatter half of the avocado leaves on the bottom, place meat on top of the avocado leaves and scatter the remaining leaves over the meat. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Cook the goat 6 to 7 hours until meat is falling off the bone. If using lamb shoulder cook for 4 hours.


***Fresh avocado leaves are toxic, they must be dried to be used for cooking.


Thanks for sharing my pain. Wait until next year!

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