Experiment #11: Gastronomic Horror



What kind of man does it take to make something out of nothing, and then turn that something into additional, unrelated somethings, name all those somethings after himself, and then – having conquered Capitalism itself – decide to just say “f*ck it” and go found a motherf*cking city after himself like Alexander the Goddamn Great?

Could such a paragon of American-ness truly exist? Has there ever walked among us a man with that kind of vision?

Sorry. Couldn't help ourselves.

Okay, this is an actual, unedited picture of this week’s Congressional Club Hunk, Terry McGovern Carpenter, from the Nebraska Legislature’s website. We didn’t invent that wandering l’il Terry Eye, which was too busy looking for BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES to sit for a photo.

Terry McGovern Carpenter was born in Cedar Rapids, IA (city motto: “Smell it for yourself!”), and came of age in Scottsbluff, NE (city motto: “Where? Oh, damn.”) 


Named, perhaps as some form of ironic bullying, for prizefighter Terry McGovern, the Terryminator served as a Democratic Congressman in Nebraska’s Fifth District from 1933 to 1935, a period of time the western great plains remembers fondly as “somewhat biblical in tone.”

Depression-era sensibilities may have played a role in his wife, Hazeldean’s, cooking. YAAASSDEAN’s contribution to the Congressional Club Cook Book, “Gastronomic Horror,”(really) is an open-faced sandwich and closed-fist slap to the senses.

There’s Miracle Whip. There’s potted meat. There’s processed cheese and white toast.

It’s so simple and childlike in its sensibilities, it reminds us a little of Carpenter himself. 


“All the way to Washington, I wondered what I was doing there,” Carpenter told reporters of his clipped Congressional stint. “Then, after I got there, I wondered how the hell did these guys get here?”

The answer, then as now, was “by being white, male, and rich.” Terry didn’t stay in Washington long, serving just a single term before retiring at 34 to launch failed runs for governor (four times), lieutenant governor (three times), senator (five f*cking times, take the L, dude…), and mayor of Scottsbluff (an office he would eventually hold, thanks in some small part to the aforementioned whiteness and richness.)

When he wasn’t busy serving his constituency, he was busy becoming a millionaire by age 42—no small feat back when a dollar could buy you a seven-course meal and a down payment on a brand-new Studebaker.

Over the course of his compulsive career, Terry Trademark owned a refinery, a brickyard, a ready-mixed concrete business, a horse track and stable, a chicken hatchery, a liquor store, a radio station, a bakery, and an event space named Terry’s Arena. This is not a complete list.

And then he founded the village of Terrytown, NE.

Really.

Incorporated in 1949, pop. 1,198 at the last census. You can visit modern-day Terrytown through the magic of Google Street View. I’m not saying you’ll be underwhelmed… but you’ll be some kind of whelmed.

Yes, the ORIGINAL Chute #3 Keno Parlor, 12 Terry Boulevard (again, really).

Here’s a recent writeup about Terrytown that’s so strange and Nebraska, we needed to quote it verbatim from the Gering Courier:

“Carpenter owned a brick factory and dug sand from a nearby area, creating a large pit. He always saw opportunity, even in a hole in the ground, so he filled it with water and called it, unsurprisingly, Terry’s Lake. It remains a community centerpiece and most of the 60th anniversary celebration, including a fireworks show, will be centered around the lake.”

But Carpenter DID let the homeless camp for free in Terrytown—possibly to inflate its population numbers—and he hired those who were interested to haul gravel for him ($1 a day if they brought their own wheelbarrow, $0.75 if they used one of his. Terryberry was emphatically not running a charity over here.)

Rep. Carpenter earned the nickname “Terrible Terry” (another nod to the boxer) from the Omaha World-Herald for his price wars with competing gas stations in Scottsbluff. Controversial business practices aside, Terry always managed to hold steadfast to his principles. "I can introduce a bill in the morning and be opposed to it in the afternoon," he said.

That may explain why he switched his party affiliation five times over his political career, skewing Republican in his later years (sadly, he died before Reagan took office and never witnessed the glories of capitalism ascendant).

But we’re holding out on you. How is the raison d’eating, his wife’s Gastronomic Horror?

The saddest part may be that this recipe makes only 1 serving. We had to double it so we could each have a sammy. 


We’re forced to imagine poor old Hazeldean alone in a grim DC apartment, broiling ham by the intermittent light of the neon sign from the 24-hour check cashing business next door. Terry’s away—again. He’s manning the ribbon cutting for the Terry Cloth Robe Co., where Scottsbluff honeys go for all their Lutheran lingerie.

Or maybe she just wasn’t willing to cook for him. We’re betting Mrs. Terry had some simmering, proto-feminist rage from watching her husband slap his mediocre moniker on hatchery after hatchery when he could have named them after something as metal as Hazeldean.

Or maybe—and this seems the likeliest scenario—Hazeldean set out to assemble something so horrific and spitefully mulpy, that even Terry wouldn’t want to put his name on it.

Ladies and gentlemen, in deference to Queen Hazeldean, we present to you this week’s recipe: Gastronomic Horror Terry Toast.

Step 1. Buy a single vegetal



This will be a familiar line-up to friends of the blog: cans, cream, cushiony white bread, and Pasteurized Cheese Product®.

…and Miracle Whip, because the only thing better than mayonnaise is salad oil with a bunch of sugar in it. Buying that jar filed off little pieces of our souls.

Note the strange combination of crab and ham. CRAM. It’s what legislators crave.

Step 2. Crisp your Certified White Bread


Don’t skip this step. You’re about to pile on more wet shit than a portajohn in a typhoon.

Toast that bread until it’s as tan and dehydrated as Terrytown’s gravel-hauling transient population.


Step 3. Magic up a ham-sized tomato  


Hazeldean’s instructions are…lacking. Slice a ham, put it on toast, then draw the rest of the f*cking owl.

But the ingredients list does ask for one thing in particular:

“1 slice tomato (as near size of ham as possible)” 


Completely indistinguishable. 

This threw us for a loop at first. We’ve seen hams. We’ve seen tomatoes. We’ve never seen a ham-sized tomato.

We sort of cheated by buying half of a boiled ham, which turned out to be almost exactly the size of this genetically engineered supermarket tomato. We love you, Norman Borlaug.

Step 4. Assemble a Jenga Tower of Horrors 



JimmyHazeldean’s only instructions are to “Place all listed ingredients on the slice of toast in the order which they are listed.” She doesn’t tell you whether the king crab should be drained or undrained (or even opened). She doesn’t tell you how much Miracle Whip or garlic salt to use.

Liz had terrible flashbacks to a dumb elementary school lesson where she had to instruct a teacher on how to make a peanut butter sandwich.

“Put the peanut butter on the bread."

Teacher places an entire jar of unopened peanut butter on top of a loaf of bread.  

“Uh…okay, open the peanut butter, put in a knife, and spread it over the bread.”

Teacher opens the jar, sticks a knife inside, and drags the plastic jar bottom across the loaf of bread with an expression of triumphant obstinance.

“Mrs. Irwin, I think you should maybe just let me make the sandwich for you."

At this point in the proceedings—ham, tomato, toast—the horror is starting to look a little like a BLT. If the B stood for boiled ham. And the L was swapped out for a can of king crab (KC). And the T were the size of a ham.

So, you know, a BKCT.

Which looks suspiciously like BUCKET.

Coincidence? You decide. 

Step 5. Coddle with Cheese  


Foil because the bellies of our sheet pans all look disgusting (how do you get burnt olive oil out of aluminum? Asking for a friend).

The Original Recipe™ calls for Old English cheese, which is sadly neither the furniture polish nor the 40 ounce malt liquor but rather the now-defunct, processed Medium Ched that Kraft used to sell in individually wrapped singles and spreadable teardrop jars.

We had to settle for singing old madrigal songs to slices of processed Sharp Cheddar.

Step 6. Heat that ham

 
You know it’s good for you because it looks like mustard-flavored petroleum jelly.

Bake the whole thing in a 375° oven for 10 minutes, then turn on the broiler and crisp that cheese until it crackles and shines.

All things considered, the Gastronomic Horror looks a little like a Croque Monsieur, if the “Monsieur” were a Lutheran lector with a bunch of shit in his fridge that expires tomorrow, Dave.

The taste was…fine. The Miracle Whip adds a wholly unnecessary dollop of sweetness to the proceedings, but this is, at its core, just a substandard open-faced sandwich.

Tom described it as “a perfectly delicious slice of ham covered in hot nonsense.”

Sheen level: Two-and-a-Half Men

Hazeldean instructs you to “serve with a spiced peach.” That peach wasn’t listed in the ingredients, so we came up short when we got to that step. This is why you always read the recipe in full first, kids.

But also, what is a “spiced peach”? And also—why? Comment if you can help us untangle this mystery.

Gastronomic Horror 
By Mrs. Terry (Hazeldean) Carpenter
Adapted from the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book 

1 slice white toast
1 slice baked or boiled ham
1 slice tomato (as near size of ham as possible)
1 6 ½ oz. can King crab
Garlic salt
Miracle Whip mayonnaise
1 slice Old English cheddar cheese

In a shallow pan place all listed ingredients on the slice of toast in the order which they are listed. Bake in a 375° oven for 10 minutes to warm through. Turn oven to broil and slightly brown the top. Serve with a spiced peach and two cans of Hamm’s, none of which were listed in the ingredients. Makes 1 serving.

3 comments:

  1. Spiced peaches are just canned peaches in a jar with spices added. Seems like they are popular more in winter months.

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    Replies
    1. That sounds delicious! But I am now even more confused about why Hazeldean thinks it should accompany CRAM.

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