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Dirty Disney and Jessica Rabbit Tales

Our Jim Korkis festival continues with an article about unauthorized uses of Disney’s cartoon characters, particularly Roger Rabbit’s lovely — and ever-lovin’ — wife, the curvaceous Jessica Rabbit.

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Jim Hill’s mention of the “Disney Memorial Orgy” drawing done by Wally Wood for the centerfold of THE REALIST (issue #74) in 1967 and later turned into a popular blacklight poster brought back some memories because I used to have a copy of that poster framed in the hallway leading to my bathroom in my old apartment in Glendale. It was interesting the reactions that poster could generate because on first glance it looked like a typical Disney poster and only on closer inspection did you see that Jiminy Cricket was dropping his pants near a stripping Tinker Bell and Dumbo was proving a greater menace than pigeons.

What Jim didn’t have space to mention is that Krassner picked Wally Wood to illustrate that drawing because Wood had been doing the Disney comics parodies in MAD magazines for many years in a clean style very reminiscent of standard Disney comic art. Also, Wood had no objections to erotic topics and in fact in his later years earned much of his income from parodies of popular comic characters doing sexual things. (If you are a Disney fan or a Wally Wood fan, you should immediately go order a copy of MAD ABOUT THE FIFTIES where there is a wonderful six page satire of the DISNEYLAND television series drawn by Wally Wood.)

Disney with its emphasis on family entertainment and cleanliness has always been an easy target.

Most people are familiar with the infamous “Tijuana Bibles,” also referred to as “eight pagers.” These pornographic pamphlets gained popularity because they featured thinly disguised caricatures of famous actors or cartoon characters engaged in frantic sexual escapades. Even the Disney characters couldn’t escape such dubious fame. Somewhere in my archives I have an early example from 1937 entitled “Of Mice and Women by Salt Pisney” which featured the sexual antics of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Clarabelle Cow and a very obliging human girl. (It is amazing what they were offering for sale at the early Disney collector conventions in California in the late Seventies. That was also where I got my Disney Orgy poster.)

In 1967, the same year the Disney Orgy poster appeared, Joel Beck drew a poster issued by the Print Mint called “Odalisque.” An odalisque is a female slave or concubine in a harem. In this particular case, the nude female was Daisy Duck. Disney sued unsuccessfully because the court determined that since this Daisy had a pair of teats it was sufficiently different from the Disney duck.

Beck had a fascination for the Disney characters. In “Marching Marvin,” one of the earliest underground comix, written and drawn by Beck a mercenary “Meakey Moose” beguiles the crowd while “Vault Dizzy” is revealed as a child molester! The Print Mint also printed a tabloid called YELLOW DOG and it featured Beck’s “Mickey Mouse Today” series. One episode had Donald Duck waiting patiently at the bedside of Daisy Duck who is just about to give birth. When the egg cracks open, a small Mickey Mouse pops out. Donald goes crazy and Daisy cries that Mickey promised her a part on the tv show and that was why she was unfaithful.

And let’s not forget that the September 1970 issue of NATIONAL LAMPOON featured a cover of a classic Thirties Minnie Mouse flashing her top and revealing her small breasts covered with flower pasties. The editors hoped that this would stir the ire of the Disney organization and bring some publicity to this new magazine. Disney never rose to the bait.

Jim Hill also recommended Bob Levin’s great new book: THE PIRATES AND THE MOUSE: Disney’s War Against the Counterculture (Fantagraphics Books, June 2003) and I echo that recommendation just based on reading the two part excerpt that appeared last year in THE COMICS JOURNAL. The story of the Air Pirates is fascinating.

Dan O’Neill is perhaps the most infamous of the underground comix artists to use the Disney characters. He did so in his daily ODD BODKINS syndicated newspaper strip without arousing the attention of the Disney organization. However, when O’Neill brought together a group of talented underground artists and produced the first issue of AIR PIRATES FUNNIES in July 1971, things started happening quickly.

Disney characters were featured in activities displaying their sexuality very blatantly. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald were featured in this underground comix which was purposely designed to evoke a remembrance of the DELL comic books that featured Disney characters in the 1940s. (O’Neill dubbed his version “HELL Comics”.) Two issues of AIR PIRATES FUNNIES and one issue of TORTOISE AND HARE (featuring some of the same underground versions of Disney characters) were produced before Disney finally managed to stop the young artists.

It was O’Neill’s first contention that the Disney characters in these “earlier designed versions” from the 1930s were in public domain since they had been unused for years and did not reflect the current Disney versions of the characters. Disney probably found that contention even more offensive that the off color antics of their characters in these comix. Later, O’Neill shifted his defense to claim he was only doing parody and parody needed to be protected.

The US District Court of Northern California granted an injunction against the Air Pirates in June 1972 and three years later in August 1975 found that “AIR PIRATES FUNNIES constituted copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition and trade disparagement.” The matter was appealed to the Ninth District Court of Appeal which in September 1978 reversed the lower court ruling on trademark, competition and trade disparagement but upheld the ruling that AIR PIRATES FUNNIES infringed Disney’s copyright. The attorneys appealed to the US Supreme Court which on January 1979 decided to let stand the lower court rulings, including the $190,000 in damages for copyright infringement that had been assessed by Judge Albert Wollenberg.

Obviously, the Air Pirates (as the artists themselves were now called) didn’t have that kind of money and the legal action had taken years which seriously depleted any funds they did have. So, Dan O’Neill fought back. The Spring 1979 issue of THE CO-EVOLUTION QUARTERLY (#21) featured a four page comic book style story by O’Neill starring Mickey and Minnie Mouse and entitled “Communique#1 from MLF” (Mouse Liberation Front). In fact several MLF communiques had been circulated at various comic book conventions. Artists were assigned numbers so that their names did not have to appear in print. This action was clearly in contempt of court and the Disney legal staff again took action. By now, more a nuisance than a threat, especially since the court’s decision could be used on future offenders of the Disney sanctity, an out of court settlement was arranged in 1980 which included the proviso that none of the participants could reveal the terms. (This is a very common condition in Disney lawsuits.)

There is so much more to the story and the personalities involved (especially O’Neill) are so colorful that I recommend getting a copy of Levin’s very well-researched book.

Today, the Disney character that seems to attract the most hormonal attention is Jessica Rabbit who in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT claims that: “I’m not bad; I’m just drawn that way.” However, that may not be the complete truth.

In the original 1981 novel WHO CENSORED ROGER RABBIT?, Jessica is a much harder character and not above using her sexual favors to get what she wants. She had “a body straight out of one of the magazines adolescent boys pore over in locked bathrooms” wrote author Gary Wolf.

Later in the book, detective Eddie Valiant pays two hundred dollars for a rare Tijuana Bible “titled LEWD, CRUDE, AND IN THE MOOD, and it portrayed in graphic detail the antics of a randy, female nurse. The nurse was played by a younger, slimmer, blonder, but definitely recognizable Jessica Rabbit.” When confronted with a copy of the book, Jessica claims she was only eighteen at the time and Sid Sleaze drugged her and took the pictures.

That harder description influenced director Darrell Van Citters and designer Mike Giaimo when they first tackled an animated version of the character for the Disney Company back in the early Eighties and made her more of a femme fatale who looked like a young Lauren Bacall, very slender and with high cheekbones. The final more endowed version in the Robert Zemeckis film owes a debt to the work of Tex Avery and Preston Blair and their creation of “Red Hot Riding Hood” for the MGM cartoons.

When the laserdisc version of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT was released, there was a lot of media controversy about a scene where supposedly Jessica Rabbit does her imitation of Sharon Stone in BASIC INSTINCT by flashing her private area to the camera.

The scene is where Jessica and Eddie are both thrown from a taxi. Jessica spins out of the car which causes her red dress to start hiking up her body and her legs spread apart briefly. For a few frames of Jessica’s second spin her underwear supposedly disappears, revealing Jessica’s nether regions.

The frames in question are frames 2170-2172 on side 4 of the laserdisc version. During these three frames Jessica’s pubic region is darker than the surrounding flesh-colored areas of her legs and certainly not a dark red like the color of her underwear. Animator and Disney historian Mark Kausler studied those frames carefully and it is his expert opinion that it is just a paint error where the underwear wasn’t painted in for those few frames and the dark background of her dress showed through the unpainted cel.

The cover of the November 1988 issue of PLAYBOY featured an airbrushed photo of September Playmate Laura Richmond portraying Jessica Rabbit. The cover appeared at a time when Disney was having difficulty handling the success of its sexy star and was toning down her cleavage and slit skirt for her appearances in storybooks, coloring books and related items.

The PLAYBOY cover was apparently a spontaneous inspiration occurring within a twenty-four hour period. Photographer Stephen Wayds and art director Tom Staebler photographed model Richmond with Jessica-style hair, gown and pose and then subjected the work to a dye transfer process which resulted in an animated look. Some airbrushing was necessary to pull in the waist to the more cartoon proportions of the animated Jessica.

PLAYBOY figured that Disney would have a sense of humor about the whole thing, but officially, Tom Deegan, who was then director of corporate communications for Disney, went on record by saying, “We don’t have any reaction (to the PLAYBOY cover). We don’t think anything about it at all. Anyway, that’s not really Jessica on the cover. It’s PLAYBOY’s interpretation of her.”

Disney was less cavalier when the French edition of the July 1989 issue of PENTHOUSE was released. Supposedly at that time, Disney had not yet copyrighted the character internationally. An oversight quickly corrected when they saw the issue featuring a cel-like drawing of a topless Jessica with long purple gloves, purple garter belt and purple bikini panties.

The interior ten page spread mixed artwork from the Disney animated feature with new color artwork of a topless Jessica posing seductively. The article was an interview with “Zita Hayworth” (a fictional actress who supposedly played the part of Jessica). No mention was made that the real voice of Jessica was supplied by the breathy delivery of actress Kathleen Turner with Steven Spielberg’s ex-wife Amy Irving doing the singing voice.

(A very little known fact was that Jessica’s “body performance model” was actress Betsy Brantley. Brantley was in her early Thirties when she went through the movement for the character like walking down the stage in the INK AND PAINT CLUB, much like the body movement actress/writer Sherri Stoner did for the character of Ariel in LITTLE MERMAID. Betsy played the role of the mother in PRINCESS BRIDE around the same time period if you’d like an indication of how she looked at the time but some may best remember her as “Jan Armstrong” in the tv mini-series FROM EARTH TO MOON.)

Victoria’s Secret supermodel Heidi Klum helped GQ magazine (Gentleman’s Quarterly) celebrate its 45th birthday in the September 2002 issue by posing in a photo layout where she was done up to mimic great sex symbols like Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch. According to an interview at the time, her favorite photo was the one where she portrayed Jessica Rabbit.

There is just something about Jessica that seems to stir the hormones of people. The July 31, 1989 issue of SCREW featured a three page comic strip entitled “The Tramp of Toonturf” featured a character who looked suspiciously like Jessica doing an awful lot of off-color naughtiness in only twenty-four panels. And you don’t have to look very long on the internet to find even more extreme examples of poor Jessica being abused by amateur artists.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the examples of how Disney icons were corrupted. The purity of the Disney image will continue to be assailed by satirists and pornographers for quite some time to come. That’s just one of the hazards of being the stuff that dreams are made of I guess.

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Jens Dahlmann of LongHorn Steakhouse has lots of great tips when it comes to grilling

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Sure, for some folks, the Fourth of July is all about fireworks. But for the 75% of all Americans who own a grill or a smoker, the Fourth is our Nation’s No. 1 holiday when it comes to grilling. Which is why 3 out of 4 of those folks will spend some time outside today working over a fire.

But here’s the thing: Though 14 million Americans can cook a steak with confidence because they actually grill something every week, the rest of us – because we use our grill or smoker so infrequently … Well, let’s just say that we have no chops when it comes to dealing with chops (pork, veal or otherwise).

So what’s a backyard chef supposed to in a situation like this when there’s so much at steak … er … stake? Turn to someone who really knows their way around a grill for advice. People like Jens Dahlmann, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Darden Restaurant’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.

Given that Jens’ father & grandfather were chefs, this is a guy who literally grew up in a kitchen. In his teens & twenties, Dahlmann worked in hotels & restaurants all over Switzerland & Germany. Once he was classically trained in the culinary arts, Jens then  jumped ship. Well, started working on cruise ships, I mean.

Anyway … While working on Cunard’s Sea Goddess, Dahlmann met Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque 2000. Sirio was so impressed with Jens’ skills in the kitchen that he offered him the opportunity to become sous-chef at this New York landmark. After four years of working in Manhattan, Dahlmann then headed south to become executive chef at Palm Beach’s prestigious Café L’Europe.

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

And once Jens began wowing foodies in Florida, it wasn’t all that long ’til the Mouse came a-calling. Mickey wanted Dahlmann to shake things up in the kitchen over at WDW’s Flying Fish Café. And he did such a good job with that Disney’s Boardwalk eatery the next thing Jens knew, he was then being asked to work his magic with the menu at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.

From there, Dahlmann had a relatively meteoric rise at the Mouse House. Once he became Epcot’s Food & Beverage general manager, it was only a matter of time before he wound up as the executive chef in charge of this theme park’s annual International Food & Wine Festival. Which – under Jens’ guidance – experienced some truly explosive growth.

“When I took on Food & Wine, that festival was only 35 days long and had gross revenues of just $5.5 million. When I left Disney in 2016, Food & Wine was now over 50 days long and that festival had gross revenues of $22 million,” Dahlmann admitted during a recent sit-down. “I honestly loved those 13 years I spent at Disney. When I was working there, I learned so much because I was really cooking for America.”

And it was exactly that sort of experience & expertise that Darden wanted to tap into when they lured Jens away from Mickey last year to become LongHorn Steakhouse’s new Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef. But today … Well, Dahlmann is offering tips to those of us who are thinking about cooking steak tips for the Fourth.

Photo by Jim Hill

“When you’re planning on grilling this holiday, if you’re looking for a successful result, the obvious place to start is with the quality of the meat you plan on cooking for your friends & family. If you want the best results here, don’t be cheap when you go shopping. Spend the money necessary for a fresh filet or a New York strip. Better yet a Ribeye, a nice thick one with good marbling. Because when you look at the marbling on a steak, that’s where all the flavor happens,” Jens explained. “That said, you always have to remember that — the higher you go with the quality of your meat — the less time you’re going to want that piece of meat to spend on the grill.”

And speaking of cooking … Before you even get started here, Jens suggests that you first take the time to check over all of your grilling equipment. Making sure that the grill itself is first scraped clean & then properly oiled before you then turn up the heat.

“If you’re working with a dirty grill, when you go to turn your meat, it may wind up sticking to the grill. Or maybe those spices that you’ve just so carefully coated your steak with will wind up sticking to the grill, rather than your meat,” Dahlmann continued. “Which is why it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes prior to firing up your grill properly cleaning & oiling it.”

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of heat … Again, before you officially get started grilling here, Jens says that it’s crucial to check your temperature gauges. Make sure that your char grill is set at 550 (so that it can then properly handle the thicker cuts of meat) and your flattop is set at 425 (so it can properly sear thinner pieces of meat).

Okay. Once you’ve bought the right cuts of quality meat, properly cleaned & oiled your grill, and then made sure that everything’s set at the right temperature (“If you can only stand to hold your hand directly over the grill for two or three seconds, that’s the right amount of heat,” Dahlmann said), it’s now time to season your steaks.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold here. You can’t be shy when it comes to seasoning your meat. You want to give it a nice coating. Largely because — if you’re using a char grill — a lot of that seasoning is just going to fall off anyway,” Jens stated. “It’s up to you to decide what sort of seasoning you want to use here. Even just some salt & pepper will enhance a steak’s flavor.”

Then – according to Dahlmann – comes the really tough part. Which is placing your meat on the grill and then fighting the urge to flip it too early or too often.

“The biggest mistake that a lot of amateur cooks make is that they flip the steak too many times. The real key to a well-cooked piece of meat is just let it be, “Jens insisted. “Of course, if you’re serving different cuts of meat at your Fourth of July feast, you always want to put your biggest thickest steak on the grill first. If you’re also cooking a New York Strip, you want to put that one on a few minutes later. But after that, just let the grill do its job and flip your meat a total of three or four times, once every three minutes or so.”

Of course, the last thing you want to do is overcook a quality piece of meat. Which is why Dahlmann suggests that – when it comes to grilling steaks – if you’re going to err, err on the side of undercooking.

“You can always put a piece of meat back on the grill if it’s slightly undercooked. When you over-cook something, all you can do then is start over with a brand-new piece of meat,” Jens said. “Just be sure that you’re using the correct cut of meat for the cooking result you’re aiming for. If someone wants a rare or medium rare steak, you should go with a thicker cut of steak. If one of your guests wants their steak cooked medium or well, it’s best to start with a thinner cut of meat.”

Photo by Jim Hill

As you can see, the folks at Longhorn take grilling steaks seriously. How seriously? Just last week at Darden Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, seven of these brand’s top grill masters (who – after weeks of regional competitions – had been culled from the 491 restaurants that make up this chain) competed for a $10,000 prize in the Company’s second annual Steak Master Series. And Dahlmann was one of the people who stood in Darden’s test kitchens, watching like a hawk as each of the contestants struggled to prepare six different dishes in just 20 minutes according to Longhorn Steakhouse‘s exacting standards.

“I love that Darden does this. Recognizing the best of the best who work this restaurant,” Jens concluded. “We have a lot of people here who are incredibly knowledgeable & passionate when it comes to grilling.”

Speaking of which … If today’s story doesn’t include the exact piece of info that you need to properly grill that T-bone, just whip out your iPhone & text GRILL to 55702. Or – better yet – visit  ExpertGriller.com prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers is a sincere if somewhat surreal way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont

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Some people travel halfway ‘around the planet so that they can then experience the excitement of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. If you’re more of a Slow Living enthusiast (as I am), then perhaps you should amble to Brattleboro, VT. Where – over the first weekend in June – you can then join a herd of cow enthusiasts at the annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Now in its 16th year, this three-day long event typically gets underway on Friday night in June with a combination block party / gallery walk. But then – come Saturday morning – Main Street in Brattleboro is lined with thousands of bovine fans.

Photo by Jim Hill

They’ve staked out primo viewing spots and set up camp chairs hours ahead of time. Just so these folks can then have a front row seat as this year’s crop of calves (which all come from local farms & 4-H clubs) are paraded through the streets.

Photo by Jim Hill

Viewed from curbside, Strolling of the Heifers is kind of this weird melding of a sincere small town celebration and Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade. Meaning that – for every entry that actually acknowledged this year’s theme (i.e. “Dance to the Moosic”) — …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something completely random, like this parade’s synchronized shopping cart unit.

Photo by Jim Hill

And for every piece of authentic Americana (EX: That collection of antique John Deere tractors that came chugging through the city) …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something silly. Like – say – a woman dressed as a Holstein pushing a baby stroller through the streets. And riding in that stroller was a pig dressed in a tutu.

Photo by Jim Hill

And given that this event was being staged in the Green Mountain State & all … Well, does it really surprise you to learn that — among the groups that marched in this year’s Strolling of the Heifers – was a group of eco-friendly folks who, with their  chants of “We’re Number One !,” tried to persuade people along the parade route not to flush the toilet after they pee. Because – as it turns out – urine can be turned into fertilizer.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of fertilizer … At the tail end of the parade, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who were dealing with what came out of the tail end of all those cows.

Photo by Jim Hill

This year’s Strolling of the Heifers concluded at the Brattleboro town common. Where event attendees could then get a closer look at some of the featured units in this year’s parade…

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

But as for the 90+ calves who took part in the 2017 edition of Strolling of the Heifers, once they reached the town common, it was now time for a nosh or a nap.

Photo by Jim Hill

Elsewhere on the common, keeping with this year’s “Dance to the Moosic” theme, various musical groups performed in & around the gazebo throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Jim Hill

While just across the way – keeping with Brattleboro’s tradition of showcasing the various artisans who live & work in the local community – some pretty funky pieces were on display at the Slow Living Exposition.

Photo by Jim Hill

All in all, attending Strolling of the Heifers is a somewhat surreal but still very pleasant way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont. And that’s no bull.

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, that could be a bull. To be honest, what with the wig & all, it’s kind of hard to tell. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sunday, June 4, 2017

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Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick’s Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage

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Let’s at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon – the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food – loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th.

“I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That’s terrific,” Kevin said.

But then when it comes to what many Americans eat & drink on St. Paddy’s Day (i.e., a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Which is then washed down with a mug of green beer) … Well, that’s where Dundon has to draw the line.

Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon displays a traditional Irish loin of bacon with Colcannon potatoes and a Dunbrody Kiss chocolate dessert. Photo by Tom Burton. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Green beer? No real Irishman would be caught dead drinking that stuff,” Kevin insists. “And as for eating corned beef & cabbage … That’s not actually authentic Irish fare either. Bacon and cabbage? Sure. But corned beef & cabbage was something that the Irish only began eating after they’d come to the States to escape the Famine. And even then these Irish-Americans only began serving corned beef & cabbage to their friends & family because they had to make do with the ingredients that were available to them at that time.”

And thus begins the strange tale of how corned beef & cabbage came to be associated with the North American celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Because – according to Dundon – beef just wasn’t all that big a part of the Irish diet back in the 19th century.

To explain: Back in the Old Country, cattle – while they were obviously highly prized for the milk & cheese that they produced – were also beasts of burden. Meaning that they were often used for ploughing the fields or for hauling heavy loads. Which is why – back then — these animals were rarely slaughtered when they were still young & healthy. If anything, land owners liked to put a herd of cattle on display out in one of their pastures because that was then a sign to their neighbors that this farm was prosperous.

“Whereas pork … Well, everybody raised pigs back then. Which is why pork was a staple of the Irish diet rather than beef,” Dundon continued.

So if that’s what people actually ate back in the Old Country, how then did corned beef & cabbage come to be so strongly associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the States.? That largely had to do with where the Irish wound up living after they arrived in the New World.

“When the Irish first arrived in America following the Great Famine, a lot of them wound up living in the inner city right alongside the Germans & the Jews, who were also recent immigrants to the States. And while that farm-fresh pork that the Irish loved wasn’t readily available, there was brisket. Which the Irish could then cure by first covering this piece of meat with corn kernel-sized pieces of rock salt – that’s how it came to be called corned beef. Because of the sizes of the pieces of rock salt that were used in the curing process – and then placing all that in a pot of water with other spices to soak for a few days.”

And as for the cabbage portion of corned beef & cabbage … Well, according to Kevin, in addition to buying their meat from the kosher delis in their neighborhood, the Irish would also frequent the stores that the German community shopped in. Where – thanks to their love of sauerkraut (i.e., pickled cabbage) – there was always a ready supply of cabbage to be had.

“So when you get right down to it, it was the American melting pot that led to corned beef & cabbage being found in the Irish-American cooking pot,” Dundon continued. “Since they couldn’t find or didn’t have easy access to the exact same ingredients that they had back in Ireland, Irish-Americans made do with what they could find in the immediate vicinity. And what they made was admittedly tasty. But it’s not actually authentic Irish fare.”

Mind you, what Kevin serves at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs (which – FYI – Orlando Magazine voted as the area’s best restaurant back in 2014) is nothing if not authentic. Dundon and his team at this acclaimed gastropub pride themselves on making traditional Irish fare and then contemporized it.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Take – for example – what we serve here instead of corned beef & cabbage. Again, because it was pork – rather than beef – that was the true staple of the Irish diet back then, what we offer instead is a loin of bacon that has been glazed with Irish Mist. That then comes with colcannon potatoes. Which is this traditional Irish dish that’s made up of mashed potato that have had some cabbage & bacon mixed through it,” Kevin enthused. “This heavenly ham – that’s what we actually call this traditional Irish dish at Raglan Road, Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – also includes some savory cabbage with a parsley cream sauce as well as a raisin cider jus. It’s simple food. But because of the basic ingredients – and that’s the real secret of Irish cuisine. That our ingredients are so strong – the flavors just pop off the plate.”

Which brings us to the real challenge that Dundon and the Raglan Road team face every day. Making sure that they actually have all of the ingredients necessary to make this traditional-yet-contemporized Irish fare to those folks who frequent this Walt Disney World favorite.

“Take – for example – the fish we serve here. We only used cold water fish. Salmon, mussels and haddock that have been hauled out of the Atlantic, the ocean that America and Ireland share,” Kevin stated. “Not that there’s anything wrong with warm water fish. It’s just that … Well, it doesn’t have the same structure. It’s a softer fish, which doesn’t really fit the parameters of Irish cuisine. And if you’re going to serve authentic food, you have to be this dedicated when it comes to sourcing your ingredients.

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

And if you’re thinking of perhaps trying to serve an authentic Irish meal this year, rather than once again serving corned beef & cabbage at your Saint Patrick’s Day Feast … Well, back in September of last year, Mitchell Beazley published “The Raglan Road Cookbook: Inside America’s Favorite Irish Pub.” This 296-page hardcover not only includes the recipe for Kevin’s Heavenly Ham but also it tells the tale of how this now-world-renown restaurant wound up being built in Orlando.

On the other hand, if you happen to have to the luck of the Irish and are actually down at The Walt Disney World Resort right now, it’s worth noting that Raglan Road is right in the middle of its Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This four day-long event – which includes Irish bands and professional dancers – stretches through Sunday night. And in addition to all that authentic Irish fare that Dundon and his team are cooking up, you also sample the fine selection of beers & cocktails that this establishment’s four distinct antique bars (each of which are more than 130 years old and were imported directly from Ireland) will be serving. Just – As ucht Dé (That’s “For God’s Sake” in Gaelic) – don’t make the mistake of asking the bartender there for a mug of green beer.

“Why would anyone willingly drink something like that?,” Dundon laughed. “I mean, just imagine what their washroom will look like the morning after.”

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 17, 2017

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