I would like to tell you a story of a boy, a boy who grew up on the island of Hawaii eating salt and vinegar chips. He ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and developed such a love of vinegar that he would run home to his mum and beg that she doused it in — and on — everything.
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This little boy grew big and strong, realising every little boy's dream to become the President of the United States, dishing out policy and reform all across the land. But he never once forgot his childhood love of vinegar.
Now the President — like all us mere mortals — likes to dabble in a bit of social media. He has Facebook and Twitter and now he and Michelle have jumped on Pinterest, the virtual pin board of all the things we think would make our materialistic lives great. What does the President want Pinterest for? Does he lie in bed at night wishing that the White House kitchen was decked out in Industrial Vintage? Or searching for inspirational quotes to pin to the oval office wall — "Keep calm and rule the world"? Well, in this last week he has pinned his Family Chilli recipe. I won't judge, we all get inspiration from somewhere and it is the President's chilli after all. How bad can it be? Well, I'm sorry, Mr President: it was awful.
If the Prez is getting bored of his day job and would like to moonlight as a blogger or a pinner, the first thing he needs to sort out is his delivery — several cloves of garlic and several tomatoes can mean just about anything and can be very confusing even for the toughest secret service agent. A couple is two and a few is three, right? Several is anything above and beyond and open to interpretation. But alas, I am following this recipe to the letter so several means four to me. Four garlic, four tomatoes. Whatever you say, sir — "Yes I can."
The trinity of onions, garlic and capsicum ('pepper', in presidential speak) is a given and smell delicious whilst frying away. His spice ratio — a teaspoon each of cumin, tarragon, basil and oregano — seems spot on; it's after this that things get strange. Three TABLESPOONS of red wine vinegar. Really? Tablespoons? Sixty millilitres of vinegar to half a kilo of meat? OK. If you say so, Mr President.
As I poured the vinegar in, my eyes began to sting. This really is a lot of vinegar. Did he make this at college after getting home late one night and meaning to grab the soy but ending up with the vinegar instead? Pour and carry on.
There are no time indications in the President's recipe, just cook away until reduced, so I did that — about an hour. The pungency of the vinegar smell faded, but cooking it down just concentrated the taste. This was not chilli, it was salt and vinegar beef — with kidney beans.
I thumbed through my copy of the Bill of Rights searching for "refusal to comply" and what the ramifications would be because there was NO WAY I was adding a TABLESPOON of chilli powder. That is not right. The only chilli powder I have at home is Birdseye and it would be a cruel act to add this amount — we went for a quarter teaspoon; unfortunately, even that didn't disguise the taste of the vinegar.
If I had my chance to speak at Lincoln Memorial, I would beg the masses to ditch the vinegar (or at least halve it), tread carefully with the chilli powder and add tinned tomatoes at free will, maybe even a tablespoon or two of tomato paste, people!
I love that the Obamas are embracing social media and secretly pray that this recipe may have come from the Presidential offspring Malia and Sasha, (a totally forgivable recipe for kids). But if not, please, Mr President, more social reform and less unconventional recipes.
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Several cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey or beef (half a kilo)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground basil
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Several tomatoes, depending on size, chopped
1 can red kidney beans
Saute onions, green pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft
Add ground meat and brown
Combine spices together into a mixture, then add to ground meat
Add red wine vinegar
Add tomatoes and let simmer, until tomatoes cook down
Add kidney beans and cook for a few more minutes
Serve over white or brown rice. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese, onions and sour cream.
If you would like to follow the President on Pinterest — you can do so here.
Watch: Tetsuya cooks a one dish wonder - braised snapper with olives and capers