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The Uncensored Mouse

Jim Korkis returns with yet another multi-part story about comic books. This time around, it’s a tale about the Malibu Graphics group, a company that wanted to reprint classic Mickey Mouse comic strips from the 1930s. It’s just too bad that Disney’s lawyers had other ideas.

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Once upon a time (actually early 1989), the Mailbu Graphics group (Scott Rosenberg, Dave Olbrich, Tom Mason, Chris Ulm) was publishing the Eternity Comics line of independent black and white comic books.

Some of these comics featured original material like MEN IN BLACK (which later inspired the popular movie) and DINOSAURS FOR HIRE (which inspired a video game). Other comic books in their line featured reprints of comic strips (like the Shadow, Buck Rogers, Polly and Her Pals, etc.) and reprints of old comic books (like the Three Stooges and I LOVE LUCY). Fans of Bruce Timm (whose design work on BATMAN:THE ANIMATED SERIES and so many other animated series has literally transformed how action animated shows are designed) might want to track down some of the comic strip reprint books from Eternity Comics because they feature full color covers by a young Mr. Timm.

Eternity Comics were able to reprint many of these classic comic strips thanks to the collections of the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art. The San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection was the life work of author and collector Bill Blackbeard. In the Sixties when Blackbeard decided to write a history of comic strips, he found that there was no research center collecting complete runs of comic strips from American newspapers. He also discovered that many public and university libraries at the time were discarding older, bound newspapers after microfilming them. In order to acquire these materials, he established the SFACA as a non-profit organization in 1968. He began collecting newspapers from California libraries and then eventually expanded his collecting efforts until he had accumulated over seventy-five tons of material. (The collection consisted of 2.5 million clippings and tearsheets from American newspapers, dating from 1894 to 1996. Materials in the collection included clipped comic strips, single comic pages, complete Sunday comic sections, and entire newspapers.)

Many of the classic comic strip collections published in the last thirty years are thanks to Bill Blackbeard’s accumulation efforts which resulted in a source for some of the only existing copies of American comic strips. Supposedly, Blackbeard’s research revealed that the copyright on the early MICKEY MOUSE comic strip had not been maintained and of course, Malibu Graphics thought this was a wonderful opportunity.

A pirated reprint edition of the early MICKEY MOUSE comic strip had been in private circulation for several years at the time but was completely unavailable to the general public. There had been attempts in Europe to reprint the early strip as well. (In fact, in Europe, many years before ANOTHER RAINBOW, there were oversized black and white reprints of all the Carl Barks’ duck stories IN ENGLISH!)

Some of the later Floyd Gottfredson work on the MICKEY MOUSE comic strip had been reprinted in a variety of formats but with missing dialogue balloons, missing panels and some brutal censorship. (Just for the record, up to 1989, there were only two times that the Gottfredson strip had been reprinted exactly as originally published in the newspapers: MICKEY MOUSE BOOK No.3 by Whitman in 1934 which had the entire 1933 Wolf Barker Sunday page story in its original color and the Bill Blackbeard edited book SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION OF NEWSPAPER COMICS where the 1935 daily story “Race for Riches” was reprinted in black and white.)

So Malibu Graphics through its Eternity Comics line would reprint the earliest MICKEY MOUSE comic strips under the title THE UNCENSORED MOUSE. However, well aware that in the late Eighties, the Disney legal department generated three lawsuits a day against suspected copyright violators (which the Disney Company proudly trumpeted in a then current newspaper article), Malibu Graphics decided to put in as many safeguards as possible to avoid legal action.

Each issue would have a totally black cover and no where on the cover or the backcover would there be a mention of “Mickey Mouse.” There would be references to “a classic collection of Uncensored Floyd Gottfredson Comic Strips From the 1930s.” Inside the comic book, there would be the notice that “Mickey Mouse is a registered trademark of Walt Disney Productions” to demonstrate that they were not trying to challenge that fact. In addition, each issue would be bagged and sealed so that a casual buyer couldn’t flip through the comic book and mistake it for a Disney comic book. Basically, Malibu tried to do everything to indicate that while it may have had the right to publish the early comic strip, it was not intending to confuse the marketplace that this was an authorized Disney production.

THE UNCENSORED MOUSE was to be published twice a month beginning with the April 1989 issue and there were hopes that eventually, all the Mickey Mouse comic strips up to the mid-Thirties would be reprinted. The first issue featured the very first Mickey Mouse comic strip from January 13, 1930 (written by Walt Disney himself and drawn by Ub Iwerks) up to the March 5, 1930 installment. (The second issue reprinted the installments from March 6, 1930 to April 26, 1930. The third issue which was prepared and ready to go to press but never printed featured the strips from April 28, 1930 to June 18, 1930.)

Bill Blackbeard wrote a wonderful introduction for the first issue entitled “How Walt Disney Gave A Mickey to America-and Floyd Gottfredson Gave Us A Classic Mouse.” That first issue was also supplemented with some great extras like reproductions of an OAKLAND POST-ENQUIRER (the nation’s only newspaper to carry the strip from its start) page featuring the comic strip, the first Mickey Mouse Sunday page, a publicity drawing by Gottfredson for a 1936 issue of the HONOLULU ADVERTISER and more.

The second and never-printed third issue both had introductions by yours truly and I will reprint those pieces of priceless prose in part two of this article. In fact, the third issue would have been a great deal of fun as it recounted the story of Minnie Mouse inheriting Old Mortimer’s mansion and Pegleg Pete and the Old Shyster trying to get her to sign away ownership so they could find Mortimer’s map to a secret gold mine in Death Valley.

“I’ll never forgive Pegleg Pete for chaining me to this weight-I hope he breaks out with hives and scratches himself to death!!!” proclaims Mickey Mouse as he tries to rescue Minnie while locked to a ball and chain. Finally, he stumbles into a room filled with cheese and declares: “My gosh!! What cheese—if I only had a bottle of beer!!!”

The reason the third issue never saw print was that no sooner did the first two issues appeared at comic book shops than Disney filed a lawsuit claiming infringement of their character. At no time did Disney dispute that the original strips may have fallen into public domain, just as other Disney treasures had such as the Mickey Mouse cartoon, THE MAD DOCTOR, but also at no time did Disney confirm that the strips may have fallen into public domain.

Of course, due to the nature of the lawsuit, the Malibu Graphics group could not comment and Disney just offered a written statement to news organizations. So, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT had to find an articulate, charming representative to comment on the situation. Failing to find such a person, they were somehow directed to me.

I appeared on ET on April 20, 1989. I never met Mary Hart who narrated the piece. They didn’t even send down my good friend, Leonard Maltin, to interview me and who probably could have commented on the whole situation quite insightfully. (Fans of old movies and Leonard Maltin should check out his website: www.leonardmaltin.com and should subscribe to his newsletter which is always a joy to receive in my mailbox.) Nope, ET sent down their film crew who hauled their equipment up a narrow stairway to my second floor apartment.

My living room was filled with Mickey Mouse items from posters to banks to toothbrushes to PVC figures and more. I even wore my red Mickey Mouse suspenders which I figured were not enough to invalidate my credibility but enough to give me a sense of fun.

The crew spent close to an hour in my apartment, filming every nook and cranny that had Disney items (although they avoided the Disney Orgy poster) and I brilliantly defended the Malibu Graphics group, gave a lengthy history of the Mickey Mouse strip, and an eloquent plea of why this material should be available for collectors. So, naturally, ET used a sound byte that I just tossed off after the official interview was finished.

That night, Mary Hart introduced the piece showing a young man at a comic book shop recoiling after opening a copy of THE UNCENSORED MOUSE and intoned: “Some collectors say the Mickey of the Thirties was simply a product of his time.”

That was the cue for a quick shot of me with the logo: “Jim Korkis. Comic Historian” as I stated: “Of course, the strips of the Thirties were much more bawdy anyway with ethnic stereotypes and very slapstick violence. And when Walt decided to come up with a comic strip he followed those examples.”

As I sat in front of the television set videotaping my moment of glory with my family, my first thought was “What was THAT?” Where was that hour of footage of thoughtful, well-phrased comments? What happened to all those comments that the film crew said were terrific? Why did the guy running the comic book shop get two quick shots and comments and I only got one? And a decade and a half later, I still bemoan the fact that given a second chance, I could have phrased my thoughts more effectively. Sigh.

In the long run, it didn’t matter what I said or didn’t say. Behind closed doors, Malibu Graphics and Disney reached a settlement before the issue went to court. Basically, it was quite clear that the Disney Company had enough money, enough time and enough lawyer-power to drag this suit through the courts forever and eventually drain the emotional and financial resources of Malibu Graphics. As with many court cases, it is not about justice or right and wrong but merely who plays a better game of legal mumbo-jumbo.

Of course, as part of the settlement, the folks at Malibu Graphics could not talk about the terms of the settlement and despite my personal friendship with them and my professional connection working on the comics, they have never to this day told me what happened behind closed doors. However, they didn’t seem unhappy with the results and Eternity Comics kept on publishing … everything except THE UNCENSORED MOUSE … and was eventually purchased by Marvel Comics.

Since readers of JIMHILLMEDIA always want to know the inside “secrets” behind the story, the best I can share with you is that the legal team borrowed books from my Disney library that featured photos from early Mickey Mouse cartoons and the questions I was asked have lead me to assume that part of Disney’s legal approach may have included the following questions: Have these strips ever been reprinted before in any format after their original publication, especially with a Disney copyright? Are there any images or dialogue in the early comic strips that were directly taken from still copyrighted black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons? Could a reasonable person legitimately confuse this publication with any type of Disney comic book that had ever been printed?

While there was some embarrassment that these early comic strips featured a more raucous Mickey Mouse than the current Disney Company icon and that there were some elements like exaggerated caricatures of African-American cannibals which were no longer acceptable in the Disney Universe, the main concern seemed to be not allowing anyone else to profit from a Disney product and to send a stern warning to anyone else who might even have been considering doing anything similar. (Notice how all those inexpensive videotapes that featured Disney cartoons and theatrical trailers that had slipped out of copyright disappeared from sale around the same time?) Later, the Disney Company published colorized versions of some of the early MICKEY MOUSE comic strips in DISNEY ADVENTURES magazine. Some of you may remember the court ruling on public domain black and white films. If you colorize a public domain film, you can legally copyright the colorized version.

Originally, each of two issues of THE UNCENSORED MOUSE that were published cost $2.50. Searching on eBay or in back issue bins of comic book shops, it is still possible to find copies for close to that original price although there are some sellers who seem to make a healthy living offering them for up to thirty dollars each. As part of the settlement, Eternity destroyed their stock of the issues but there were plenty that were distributed to comic book stores.

Sadly, it is doubtful that the Disney Company would ever consider reprinting these classic strips even in a limited collector’s edition for adults although it would be a wonderful way for the Company to celebrate Mickey’s 75th birthday by showing why the Mouse captured the hearts and imaginations of the world in the Thirties.

  Next: Jim shares his historical introductions to UNCENSORED MOUSE #2 and the never printed #3 so that you can better understand the importance of reprinting the early years of the MICKEY MOUSE comic strip.
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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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