Burt Wolf's Menu: Boyes Springs and Carmel - #120

Northern California has some of the most beautiful resorts in the United States.  Just south of San Francisco, in Carmel, is the Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club.  Just north of San Francisco, at Boyes Springs, is the Sonoma Mission Inn. We’ll see how they use the extraordinary produce of the area to create some great dishes. So join me in Boyes Springs and Carmel for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Beneath the surface of California’s Sonoma Valley are a series of hot springs that have been boiling to the surface for thousands of years. The Native American tribes who lived here were well aware of the springs and considered them to be sacred ground. They came to them to practice their religious rites, to heal themselves, and because no conflicts were allowed in these special locations, they could rest in a safe place. Because the water was over one hundred degrees as it hit the surface, it was also used for cooking.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The first European colonists into the area were shown to the hot springs by the local natives.  They immediately realized the value of the springs and joined in for the cure. During the 1880s, going to a hot springs for a little rest and relaxation became the thing to do.  The visits worked for the guests for a number of reasons.  First of all, most hot springs are in rural areas.  Very quiet, very relaxed, very laid-back.  Just to get away from the city, the stress and hustle-and-bustle of their environment, the one they normally worked in, was really good for the guests.  Many of the hot springs had a mineral water program.  A doctors would be in attendance and he would listen to the problems of the guests, both mental and physical, and prescribe the proper amount of mineral water. Whether the mineral water had any real medicinal value is definitely up to question... but it made everybody feel better.  And we know how important a good mental set is to good health.  The most famous of the classical spas is The Sonoma Mission Inn, just north of San Francisco.

The Sonoma Mission Inn originated at the turn of the century as the Boyes Hot Springs Hotel.  The who's who of San Francisco, always interested in what's where, came up to "take the waters" at what had become the finest hot mineral water resort in California. It boasted the largest mineral water swimming tank in the world. Their advertisements recommended the waters as a cure for rheumatism, stomach trouble, and nerve problems.  Which was a pretty nervy claim.  The original hotel was destroyed by fire in 1923. But in 1927 the current Sonoma Mission Inn was built on the same spot.  The building is an architecturally accurate replica of a California mission, and it became even more popular than the earlier hotel.  Ferries and trains connected San Francisco to the area and people considered it an easy trip.

Today the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is a Four-Star, Four Diamond luxury resort. When guests arrive at the Inn, the staff gently recommends that they stop for a "Stress Reducer" massage in order to get into the proper Sonoma state of mind. Remember, Northern California is the land of the laid-back.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  I like that attitude. Some spas remind me of my first week in the Army at Fort Dix.  Now, I didn't enjoy basic training that much when the government paid me to go through it. But to have the same experience again and then get a bill at the end?  NO!!!  The Sonoma Mission Inn is much more my approach.

Without anyone pushing you in any direction, you can choose from a selection of aerobic classes... indoor and outdoor exercise pools... the outdoor pool is kept at a nice warm 85 degrees.  There are tennis courts... and all kinds of spa treatments including hydrotherapy... and a famous herbal body wrap.  Sometimes they do the wrap with seaweed, which gives you a great insight into what it must feel like to be a sushi.  Lots of exercise equipment and good instructors.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  I've been pretty good about my cardio-vascular program; I walk four times a week for forty-five minutes each time, and I cover 3 miles.  Then a while ago I started a free weight program, and that’s been pretty good to build up the upper portion of my body, but I’m really weak in my abdominal muscles.  Arnold Schwarzenegger says "It all starts in ze abs, you know," so I figured I’d better have a program for that and I asked Yvonne, who’s a top trainer here, “what should I be doing?”

YVONNE ESQUER:  Well, you should be doing a number of things, mostly focusing on that area, since you’re taking care of your cardio-vascular.  So, one exercise that you can do to flatten the area is an abdominal curl, commonly known as “crunches.”  So what you do is, you place your hands behind your head, and you form a cradle behind your head and just let your head rest back in your hands.  Now, as you breathe in, you just relax; as you exhale is when you drop the whole abdominal area down toward your spine... raise your shoulders and head off the mat, inhale as you lower.  And continuously, exhale as you lift, inhale as you lower.  Exhale as you lift, and as you lower.  Another exercise that you can do that concentrates a little lower in the abdominal area, just getting at more lower fibers -- as you bring your thighs up toward your chest, you can cradle your head again, breath in, as you exhale, think of curling your tailbone off of the mat.  You exhale and curl the tailbone up and off; at the same time you think of drawing your navel down toward your spine as you do this curl.  And as you get stronger and more advanced, you can take the legs up and curl up even higher.  So there are a lot of variations you can do.

BURT WOLF:  But those three should do the trick for me. 

YVONNE ESQUER:  Those three are very, very straight-forward basic exercises; you don’t need any equipment to do this, you can do them in the comfort of your own home.  I’m glad you’re watching your fat intake too, ‘cause that plays a really good part.

BURT WOLF:   Yeah, I’m watching my fat intake meal after meal after meal.  You know, one of the nice things about this place is they’re not only famous for tightening your tummy, but they’re equally famous for filling it.

The Grille at Sonoma Mission Inn is considered one of the finest restaurants in the area.  The room has two menus... standard and spa.  The spa menu has recipes that are lower in calories... lower in sodium and lower in saturated fats.  But they are not lower in taste. The chef is Mark Vann and he specializes in working with foods that are locally produced.  Which is great when you’re cooking in Sonoma Valley.

One of the most important rice-growing areas in the U.S. is just to the east of here, and Mark is using that rice to prepare a lemon rice soup.  A little oil is heated in a sauce pan.  A chopped onion is added and cooked for about five minutes.

MARK VANN:  Actually, I prefer shallots.  They’re a little bit more dependable from the standpoint of flavor.  Onions kind of -- they’re like tomatoes, you know, they kind of go up and down in flavor.  Sometimes they can be very, very mild, and sometimes you cut into them and they can make everyone in the kitchen cry.  Shallots and leeks... for us, they’re a little bit more subtle in flavor and they just work.  Sonoma is noted for its onions, though, so we do use a lot of onions in cookery here.  A lot of times what we’ll do when we’re cooking vegetables is we’ll cook them very, very slowly, add a lot less oil to the pan.  The natural juices of the, through slow cooking, of the vegetables will come out into the pan, and you use a lot less oil to cook them.  It’s sort of called “sweating” the vegetables, more or less, rather than adding a lot more oil.

BURT WOLF:   Good idea -- lower heat with vegetables --

MARK VANN:  (over)  Exactly.

BURT WOLF:   -- brings out moisture, use less fat.


BURT WOLF:   Easy.

A cup of short grain rice goes in. 

MARK VANN:  We’re using the rice -- normally what would happen here, is we’re gonna -- this is sort of based on a Greek soup called avga lemona.  And what the Greeks do is bind the soup with egg yolks, a lemon egg soup.  But what we’re gonna do here is we’re gonna utilize rice as the thickening agent and not add any eggs to it.  So we’re gonna lower the amount of fat and cholesterol in the dish effectively.

BURT WOLF:   Fabulous technique.

MARK VANN:  Okay.  All right.  Next we want to add a little bit of turmeric.  That’ll give it the yellow coloring that the eggs would traditionally give to the dish.  If you want to use saffron and spend a little bit more money, you can use saffron.  ...  Lemon juice... and the lemon zest.

All that gets cooked and stirred for a few minutes.  A cup of white wine is poured in.  Followed by three quarts of chicken stock. 

BURT WOLF:  That’s the ladle that ate New Jersey!

MARK VANN:  It’s a... it’s -- that’s a ladle!  That’s an Italian mother’s ladle right there.  Just a little bowl of soup...

The ingredients simmer for about 20 minutes at which point everything is fully cooked.  Then the soup is pureed in a blender, a little bit at a time. 

MARK VANN:  Now the rice is completely cooked.  You want to -- you know, normally we have... the rice has a little bit of bite to it, or a little bit more texture.  We want to cook it actually until it’s a little bit mushy.  It’ll release all of its starch for you then.

Using a blender for a hot liquid must be done very carefully and only a little of the liquid should be blended as a batch.  The pureed soup goes into a bowl.  A little garnish and it’s ready to serve.

Mark’s preparing a whole menu with a loin of lamb as the center, but he starts with a vegetable gratin.  A few cloves of garlic are chopped.  A few shallots are chopped.  Some basil is sliced into small strips.  A little oil goes into a rectangular baking pan.  Then the shallots go in.  And the garlic goes in.  Yellow squash is cut into thin slices.  Same with a few zucchini and some tomatoes. Then the sliced vegetables get stacked into the pan.  Squash.  Zucchini.  Tomatoes.  Squash.  Zucchini.  Tomatoes.  Squash.  Zucchini.  Tomatoes.  (Is there an echo in here?)

MARK VANN:  We’re gonna use just a little bit of salt and a little bit of pepper.  The roasting is gonna yield a lot more of the vegetable juices out and concentrate the flavors, so there’s not so much need for seasoning.  So we’re gonna add a little bit of local Sonoma dry jack cheese; it’s produced right here in Sonoma.  We use it instead of reggiano parmesan because it’s a little bit lower in sodium and it has a little bit creamier texture and flavor.  Also -- normally you’d have a lot of cheese; if you think about a gratin dauphinoir or something like that, it’s gonna really be... a lot of cream, a lot of cheese.  Here we’re just gonna sprinkle a little bit of cheese over the top and then we’ll just cover it with some breadcrumbs, and that will help hold it together.  The juices will come up, bind with the breadcrumbs and the cheese, and that’ll hold it together.  It’ll also keep the fat down, but it’ll also give you a little bit of the cheese that you want in your gratin.

Into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes and that dish will be ready to serve.  The lamb comes along with an eggplant puree.  Eggplants are sliced in half, placed cut side down on a baking sheet, and baked for twenty minutes in a four hundred degree Fahrenheit oven.  Then the meat is scooped out of the eggplant and into a bowl. Ten cloves of garlic that have been roasted in a four hundred degree oven for forty-five minutes are pureed and added to the eggplant. A tablespoon of chopped basil is added.  A boiled potato cut into pieces is mixed in, plus a little salt and pepper.  When everything is thoroughly blended, that dish is ready.  Finally, the lamb.

MARK VANN:  You know, we’ve marinated it in some herbs and a little bit of garlic to add flavor, and then we’re just gonna use a little bit of salt.  The reason that we use a lot of lamb here, “a,” Sonoma’s known for its lamb, but also because a loin of lamb is very, very lean, very low in fat. ... You know, we don’t use meat thermometers when we’re cooking a lot of things, a lot of professionals don’t, and what we do is, we generally -- you see this a lot, you know, people touching the meat.  And by the texture and the resistance that you feel when you touch it tells you about how far along it’s done.

BURT WOLF:   The more resistance, the harder it is, the more it’s cooked.

MARK VANN:  Exactly.  The more resistance when you touch it, the more done the meat is.  And that’s it!  We’ll take a little bit of the eggplant puree...

Then the vegetable gratin goes on... and the lamb.

Well, I hate to eat and run, but it is time to leave Sonoma and head down the coast of California to the lovely town of Carmel-By-The-Sea.

In 1602 three Carmelite missionaries stood on these hills, about a hundred and twenty miles south of what was to become San Francisco.  They looked out on the magnificent coast in front of them.  The rolling surf... the white sand of the beaches... the deep green tree-covered landscape. A river near them ran to the sea and they named it Rio Carmelo after their Carmelite Order.  Then... they moved on.  Not much else happened in the neighborhood for the next three hundred years or so... and when it did happen it didn't actually happen here.  It happened up the coast in 1906, in San Francisco.

NEWSREEL REPORTER:  One of the world’s greatest disasters -- a city torn and burned by nature’s most ugly attack, over which man has no control.  But, phoenix-like from the seeming hopeless mass of twisted steel and piles of stone, from these broken streets and tottering ruins, there rose a greater city, to become a monument to the courage and faith of the undaunted Americans of the west.”

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  A few years before the quake a man by the name of Frank Dievendorf filed a map for the development of the town of Carmel.  The earthquake proved to be the perfect excuse for him to bring that plan to the attention of the people of San Francisco, many of whom suddenly found themselves living in tents.  A number of the earliest residents to Carmel were artists and writers who had moved there from San Francisco.  After the quake they contacted their fellow artists and writers in San Francisco and suggested that they move to this quiet, beautiful and safe seaside community.  Since then, musicians, writers, and painters have moved to the area.  In recent years, however, most of the creative talent to move to Carmel has come from the movie industry.  Clint Eastwood lives here and so does Doris Day.

Just in front of Doris's home is the Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club. The land that makes up the lodge’s property was once a dairy farm owned by the brother-in-law of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the 1930s, a local insurance salesman took the day off from work and accompanied his son on a class trip to the dairy farm.  He wanted to see how ice cream and milk were made.  The salesman's name was Ed Haber and he fell in love with the property.  As he was leaving the farm he told the owner, Dwight Morrow, that if Morrow ever wanted to sell the place he’d be interested in buying.  Well, Haber was certainly interested in buying, but paying for the property at the time would have been a different story.  Morrow and Haber didn’t run into each other for ten years... and then one day Morrow walked into Haber’s office.

Morrow wanted to know if Haber’s offer to buy the property still stood.  It did, and Haber was able to find four partners who helped him put up the money.  He turned the farm into the Quail Lodge, an 850 acre property and home to the Carmel Valley Golf Club.

ED HABER:  I got a phone call from a fellow in San Francisco I knew, and he said “Do you have three rooms available for the Bing Crosby Tournament,” which is held here at Pebble Beach and the Monterey Peninsula and around, and it was a very famous tournament.  And I said, “Yes, we have three rooms,” and he said “Well, Arnold Palmer (who was the absolute king of the business) wants to stay there on my recommendation.”  And I started to hesitate, because we had twenty-five rooms, and three rooms is more than ten percent of our rooms, and usually the celebrities... they don’t pay!  And I was thinking, there goes three rooms... dollars gone for a week!  And I was hesitating and he said, “Would you like a deposit?”  And, not knowing any better, I said, “That would be nice.”  And so Arnold Palmer came, and he really liked it, and he came for seven or eight -- he still comes once in a while -- he came for quite a while.  And then one day he was late getting to the first tee in this tournament at nearby Pebble Beach, so somebody said “Why don’t you get a helicopter?”  So anyway, we got a helicopter, we borrowed one, low-budget, didn’t cost us anything, and flew him back and forth.  And then it made all the newspapers and TV stations all over the country, including in Europe.  And to this day, we’re the famous place that Arnold Palmer stayed -- not only stayed here, but had a helicopter.  And of course, when I hesitated about giving him free rooms -- which I didn’t -- I didn’t realize it was worth an awful lot to have him here!  [laughter]

Today the Carmel Valley Club is the home course for Clint Eastwood, who lives just down the road.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  While I was looking through the club files I came across a photograph of Clint playing golf, and it was somewhat unnerving.  To the best of my memory, every single Clint Eastwood movie I have seen had him involved in some kind of physical combat.  And then to see him totally relaxed, holding a golf club instead of a .44 Magnum... well, quite frankly, it just unmade my day.  But Clint would never come here in his movie persona, because Quail Lodge is a wildlife sanctuary and no hunting is allowed.  “Feel lucky?  Was that five putts... or six?”

There are eleven lakes on the property and they are a regular stopping point for the migratory fowl moving along the west coast flyways. Over eighty different species of birds come in for a rest.  Which is very much in keeping with the overall attraction of the Lodge. For years humans have been coming here for a rest.  It's the outstanding resort in the area south of San Francisco.

BURT WOLF:   But you’re not only famous for golf these days; you just got five stars.

ED HABER:  Well, we have the Mobil Five-Star Award, which is a very prestigious award, and when we first got it, I didn’t know about that either, any more than I knew about Arnold Palmer.  And it turns out that we -- there are 60,000 hotels in the United States, and Mobil Travel Guide rates about 20,000 that they think are worthy of stars, from one to five, and we got five.  And at the time I didn’t know what it meant; I sure do now!  And we are one of twenty-three in the whole United States.  There’s not even one per state.  But I didn’t know that either, so it’s just as well I didn’t know these things.

BURT WOLF:   There were some problems to... displaying it when you got it.

ED HABER:  Well... [laughing]  yes, because the plaque, which is a beautiful bronze plaque, was on a blue background, like your jeans, and my wife, who does the decor for the Quail Lodge, wouldn’t allow it in the lobby until we changed the background to tan!

The Quail Lodge is also the home of The Covey Restaurant, which is considered to be one of the best restaurants in the San Francisco area. It has a great location overlooking a quiet pond. The executive chef, Bob Williamson, is a native of England who has cooked in top restaurants throughout Europe, Canada and the United States.  Bob’s going to begin with a recipe for ratatouille, which is stuffed into an artichoke.  But first, he’s going to explain how he selected that artichoke.

BOB WILLIAMSON:  You look for one that has, what you might say, a fresh look about it, not too open, fairly tight; then you want to take, if you can, just take it and snap the leaf.  And that lovely crisp sound tells you, this is, this is a good artichoke.  It’s, it’s -- it hasn’t dried out, been stored a long time, it’s very fresh, been well-taken-care-of, and it’s in prime condition.  Okay, next we’re gonna cook this.  We’re gonna take the classic approach, which is to trim the points off the leaves -- a pair of kitchen shears is the ideal instrument for this job -- and then just cut the top off.  Now -- isn’t that beautiful?  Now, we have a pot of water going here.  When you cook artichokes, you need to salt the water well, because they will then cook at a higher temperature.  You put a little lemon in, a little garlic for flavor, and then, when your water is nicely boiling again, you put in your artichoke.  You need to push them down in the water so they’ll get down there where they’ll cook, and then we’re gonna put a lid on here, just so we can get a -- so we can bring our temperature back up, and they will cook now nicely, and they’ll be ready in about thirty minutes.

While the artichokes are cooking, some ratatouille is made. Ratatouille is a short vegetable stew with a long French name.  The recipe starts by heating a little oil in a saute pan and then cooking together a chopped onion and some chopped garlic.  Then a chopped red bell pepper, and a chopped green bell pepper are added.

BOB WILLIAMSON:  It’s important when you make ratatouille to cook things... you can either do it separately --

BURT WOLF:   Right --

BOB WILLIAMSON:  -- or you can just time them as they go into the pan.  Now, you want your onions and garlic to be well done.  You don’t really -- you want them to kind of disappear in it.  But the peppers and the squash, you want them to be not so well-cooked.

BURT WOLF:   I’m from the “All-In-One-Pan-But-Evenly-Timed” school; how about you?

BOB WILLIAMSON:  Yeah. Normally. If I’m making a lot --

BURT WOLF:   Right.

BOB WILLIAMSON:  -- I will cook things separately.  Okay, let’s discuss herbs in ratatouille.

BURT WOLF:   You got it!

BOB WILLIAMSON:  Now, at this point, you’ve got onions and peppers, a little oil.  And the flavoring can go whichever way you desire.  You could put rosemary, you could put oregano, you could put a little lemon thyme, for example.  But today, we’re using basil.  Also at this point, you’ve got many choices about what you can put in.  Because ratatouille, it’s -- kind of varies from village to village and cook to cook.  But I saw these lovely little organic squash that were grown just down the valley here, and I thought, well, that’ll be a nice choice for our ratatouille today.

Then Bob adds a few tablespoons of tomato paste and a chopped tomato.  A touch of white wine is added for moisture, then a half cup of black olives.  Finally, the juice of half a lemon.  When the artichokes are cooked, they come out of the water and tongs are used to remove the core.

BOB WILLIAMSON:  See, now I’ve pulled out those inside leaves there, okay?  But if you look down inside, you see that’s where the choke is; this also has to come out.  These little leaves in the middle, they’re insignificant.  But this thing down in here is very unpleasant to eat.  And these are... this is actually the seeds of the flower, if you will.

Once the bitter tasting core is removed, the hole is filled with ratatouille. Excellent first course or a vegetable dish.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): Quail Lodge is an interesting blend of elements. It's very relaxed and laid-back... but it's also very sophisticated.  Ed Haber hit the nail on the head when he was talking about what he liked in the morning at a resort:  "A good cup of coffee, the newspaper, a nice bar of soap... and soft towels."  Simple stuff -- but at the right quality, it’ll make your day.

Well, that’s our report from two of the nicest resorts in Northern California.  Please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Aruba - #119

Aruba... the most southerly island in the Caribbean chain. Magnificent beaches... interesting history... wonderful culture.  Good food that blends together the island's Dutch and Spanish cultures... and a population that is friendly, warm, and helpful.  The best description of Aruba is its national slogan... "One Happy Island."  So join me in Aruba for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

The islands of the Caribbean form a chain that runs from the tip of Florida to the coast of Venezuela. The larger islands in the north, like Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico are known as the Greater Antilles. The smaller islands, stretching for over 1,000 miles from the U.S. Virgin Islands down to Aruba, are known as the Lesser Antilles.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The idea of calling the islands “lesser” and “greater” is based purely on size. There are lots of things about the Lesser Antilles that are greater than the Greater Antilles. But size does have its impact. Starting with Columbus in 1492, the Spanish conquistadors bounced around the Caribbean yelling "finders keepers" on top of every piece of land that they could get two feet onto. And on the larger pieces of land they also got on some giant military fortresses in order to stress the "keepers" aspect of their claim.

About twenty minutes after the word got back to Europe about the New World, Spain's great rivals, the English, French, Danish and Dutch attacked the Spanish claims and they concentrated most of their attacks on the smaller, less fortified islands. And they carried on this military madness for almost three hundred years.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   As a result, the Lesser Antilles saw more action than the Greater Antilles which was great for the Greater Antilles and less great for the Lesser Antilles. But while the European nations were busy raising Cain around here, they also raised sugar. Almost all of the Caribbean islands ended up with a plantation economy, raising sugar to supply Europe's enormous sweet tooth.  And they supplied it at enormous profits.

But there were a number of Caribbean islands that managed to escape this scenario and one of them was Aruba.

Aruba is a small island just off the coast of Venezuela. The Arowaks of South America were the first people to inhabit Aruba, and they appear to have come over about 5,000 years ago. They were followed by the Spanish in 1500, and in the next century by the Dutch. Those three groups are the major ethnic influences on Aruba and they have produced a society of truly friendly and charming people. A perfect example of what I mean is a gentleman named Adri De Palm, who has been guiding friends around his island for a number of years.

ADRI DePALM:  This is the lighthouse of Aruba.  We are now at the western point of the island.  This area is also well-visited by the tourists that get to the island.  Why?  Because every side of this lighthouse you have a different aspect of the whole area.  The first one, one side you have the cacti... the other side you have the rocks... and the other side you have dunes... and the other side it looks like a desert area.  So you really, you have four aspects in one place on the island.  ... Yes, Burt, as you know, we also have scuba in Aruba.  As you can see right behind me here, this is Sea Scuba.  These people take people out every day on scuba dives and also snorkelling trips.  Besides that, we have very, very nice coral.  And scuba is very, very nice in Aruba also. ... Right now we are here in Oranjestad; this is the largest city in Aruba.  What it really means, “Orange Town” in Dutch.  Here’s where every people come to Aruba to do their shopping and go to special restaurants, and where they also buy their very expensive goods.  We have jewelry, crystals, from everything that you can imagine.  You get it right here in this city. 

BURT WOLF:   And at a good price.

ADRI DePALM:  And at a very, very nice price. ... Aruba is a very, very nice island for the cruise ships, for the cruise ship industry.  Last year we had over two hundred ships to the island, which really brings a lot of people to us.  Most of those people also come to this area, which is Oranjestad, because it’s a very, very close range, so it’s really a five-minute walking distance.  So they can walk from the ship to the city, and from the city back to the boat without no problem. 

BURT WOLF:   Great!

ADRI DePALM:  At night it’s also blooming here in this area.  So everybody that really comes to Aruba will have a night in Oranjestad. 

While I was researching the history of Aruba, I stayed at a place called the Costa Linda Beach Resort.  As I expected, it had a great strip of Aruban beach. And because the beaches of this island are so wide, even when every guest from the resort's 155 suites were on the beach, all at the same time, you were still literally off in your own space.  I also like the fact that all of the rooms face the beach.  That’s important.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   There have been times in my "life on the road" where I have stayed at places that were advertised as "beachfront facilities," and though that was true for the building, it wasn’t true for the my room. Fortunately, that can’t happen here. Every room faces the beach.

And every room is actually a 2 or 3 bedroom suite with a living room and a full kitchen. I like that feature a lot. It gives me some control over my non-professional eating.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   For me to get one recipe that’s worth filming, I have to taste about 15 different dishes, which adds up to an enormous number of calories. So to have a nice little kitchen in my room where I can prepare a few “off the record” meals is really nice.  It takes me twenty-three days to research, write and film a script.  And if I have to work three weeks in a row without a day off, to work in a place like this makes a big difference.

And it also helps when the resort has a talented executive chef like Scott Scheurman. Scott's first recipe is for a pan-fried fillet of Snapper. It's served on a bed of vegetables that combine the classic flavors of the Caribbean kitchen.  Scott starts his recipe with four fillets of red snapper with the skin on one side. A little salt and pepper goes on. A little lime juice.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN:  O.K. we take the scales off of this, but we leave the skin on - that helps hold the fish together and it also makes for an attractive, attractive fish because it's a nice red color here.

Three strips of bacon go into a sauté pan.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN: The bacon will provide us with a little bit of fat for the cooking and plenty of flavor as well.  Very important flavor.

When most of the fat has dripped out of the bacon the bacon is moved to the side of the pan or taken out. The snapper is given a light coating of corn meal and goes into the pan to cook for three minutes.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN:  This is not meant so much as a breading, as just a coating to protect the fish while it cooks.

Then the fish is flipped over and cooks for three minutes more.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN: Now when we turn it over, when the skin hits the hot surface, the skin is gonna start to contract a little bit, so it's going to curl the fish slightly - that's normal.  If the bacon starts to get too crisp on you, you just take it out of the pan right here.  We'll add it back in later on.

As soon as the fish is fully cooked it comes out, and in goes some chopped onion, green pepper, red pepper, scallion, and garlic.  If you live in a part of the world were your market carries green tomatoes then chop one up and add it in. If you can't find green tomatoes just skip it and keep on cooking.  All that simmers together for five minutes. At that point a half cup of chopped stuffed olives are added, plus some capers and some cilantro.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN: Olives and capers are two very popular ingredients in Caribbean cooking probably dating back to the shipping days when -- before refrigeration.

The bacon goes back in, followed by a half cup of white wine.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN: The white wine will help bring all the flavors together and bring all of the flavor up from the pan.

Then the fish goes back in. A top goes on and all the ingredients simmer for two minutes more. Then the sauce goes onto the serving plate, the fish on top and there's a garnish of lime and cilantro.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN:  Very classic creole flavors in this.

Many food historians believe that it was on the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean that the word barbecue first came into use. It describes a technique of grilling foods on green sticks set over a fire in hole dug into the sand. Today it describes the style of a recipe being used by Scott to prepare a Caribbean style barbecued chicken.  Scott starts by making a hot relish. A clove of minced garlic goes into a bowl, followed by a half cup of chopped scallion, and a chopped hot pepper.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN: This can be any variety of hot pepper; it could be a jalapeno pepper, it could be an oriental-style or tabasco pepper.  We're using the Caribbean variety here which is a kind of a cherry pepper - very hot, so be careful with it.

Next in goes a quarter cup of toasted sesame seeds, and two tablespoons of sesame oil. That's blended into a paste, and stuffed between the skin and the meat of four boneless chicken breasts.  A zucchini is cut into quarter-inch slices, lengthwise. The chicken is rolled up and goes on top of a slice of the zucchini.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN: What the zucchini is going to do primarily is to protect the meat surface of the chicken from overcooking and drying out.  The skin will protect the other side, of course.

Scott slips a knife under the zucchini to make everything easier to move onto a plate.  A barbecue sauce made from ketchup and dry mustard is painted on and the chicken goes into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or onto a grill until it’s fully cooked.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): Now Americans love ketchup and sometimes we get picked on for that.  But a couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with the grandson of Escoffier - one of the greatest chefs who ever lived, and he told me that when Escoffier retired from the cooking at the Ritz Hotel in Paris he opened up a little company to make sauces.  And one of the sauces that he made, quite successfully, was ketchup.  So there.

While the chicken is cooking, a papaya relish is made by mixing together some cubed papaya, minced red onion, cilantro, white vinegar and olive oil.  The last element is the making of a pancake by mixing together a pancake batter with some pureed corn, and a minced red pepper.  The pancake goes onto the plate, then the chicken and finally the papaya relish.

If you’ve come to Aruba as a tourist to relax on the shores, sail on the sea, or dive below, the fact that it hardly ever rains in Aruba is source of great comfort and joy. On the other hand, if you are an Aruban running through hundreds of gallons of fresh water everyday, that lack of rain can be a real pain in the spigot.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   To solve the problem, Aruba constructed an amazing facility that produces water and electricity at the same time.

The process starts by drawing in clear clean seawater from the surrounding ocean. That water is brought to a boil in what is basically a giant tea kettle.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   At this point the steam is floating at the top of the kettle, losing its heat and turning back to water. But it does this in stages. The purest steam turns back to the purest water at the top. The most impure steam with most of the salts turns back to impure water at the bottom. So if you build a kettle with a system for catching the pure water at the top and draining it off, you're in great shape.  The process is really very simple and it’s called distillation. If you do it with water you get distilled water. If you do it with a mash of corn or barley you get whiskey. If you do it with molasses you get rum.  Here in Aruba they only do it with water. But the water that comes from the plant is so pure that even though it's perfect for your car battery, it doesn’t taste the way we like our water to taste.

They actually need to add back some mineral elements to give it the flavor that we associate with good water. So they let the distilled water, which is still quite hot, drip down through some local coral stones from the nearby reef. and now it’s ready for drinking.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   It’s one of the purest waters in the world and it tastes great. Because the plant is located in a part of Aruba known as Balashi, the people of Aruba refer to a glass of water as a Balashi cocktail. Cheers.

The primary food gathering activity of the original Arubian natives was fishing.  They also did a little farming. Corn, manoc root, potatoes and sweet potatoes were the most common field crops and their favorite seasonings were hot chilies.  When the Spanish came in they brought along sheep, goats, cows and pigs.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   When the Dutch arrived in the  1600's they brought with them their beer, cheeses, east Indian spices and their general love of good eating. I think  in the end the single most significant gastronomic influence that the Dutch will leave behind in Aruba is their love of quality. There are over a hundred excellent restaurants on this island, all interested in delivering good food. And because the island is small and the competition so great, they’re interested in delivering good food at good prices. Let me take you on a little tour of the places I’ve been eating in.

Brisas del Mar has one of the most beautiful locations of any restaurant I've seen.  It sits right out on the ocean, and they haven't bothered to put in any windows because the island's weather is so dependable.  The owner, Lucia Rasmijn, tells you how to find the place.

LUCIA RASMIJN:  You’re passing the airport, coming straight up.  You get a sign on the highway, you turn to your right, and a couple minutes you will be on Brisas side.  The food is very nice.  If you like fish, you can have fish Aruban style.  We fry two pieces of fish, with a sauce of tomato, green pepper and onion and we boil it for a couple of minutes.  Then with fried bananas... Aruban corn meal pancake --oh, that’s nice!  It’s a piece of a little bit of corn meal, flour, sugar, milk and baking powder.  Oh, it’s delicious.

Chez Mathilde is Aruba's Paris amongst the palms... an excellent French restaurant. The indoor dining room is filled with so much light and greenery that it feels like an outdoor garden.  Mi Cushina is the place for the real Aruban food. It's as authentic as the meal you would get in someone's home.  Le Petit Cafe is right in downtown Oranjestad. It has a rather unusual kitchen... the only thing that's on the stove are large rocks. When they're very hot the food gets put on, and the cooking actually finishes off at your table. Could this be the real hard rock cafe?  And there are spots that will feed you after the regular restaurants close.

BURT WOLF:   How you doin’?  I’d like a satay sandwich, aaaand an orange juice.

They’re kitchens, set up in trucks... with their own special menu and location. Each night as the sun goes down and the tide goes out, the vans drive around and the people start to shout... Hey Hey Uncle Buck... It's a treat to eat some meat from an all-night sandwich truck.

What's going on here? ... Aruban cannoli?  No... Aruban donuts? ... Aruban Bagels???

ALAN LAVINE:  About four years ago we hit on the idea that maybe a bagel store would be a good idea.  There are lots of tourists coming here, bagels are very healthy.  It’s very different to come four thousand miles approximately from the United States and see a bagel shop that you might see on the corner of your street, you know.  So they’re very happy with it and very excited, and the local people are getting more and more involved in the bagels as well.

Aruba has an amazing ability to absorb food styles from all over the world.

One of the earliest migrations of people to the Caribbean were folks who came here from India. Some came to work as laborers in agriculture and construction.  Others came to open up their own businesses.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   All of them came along with their traditional approach to cooking, especially when it came to seasonings.

Here at the Papiamento Restaurant in Aruba, Chef Edward Ellis shows that Indian influence with his recipe for Curried Shrimp.  A little olive oil goes into a pan followed by a half cup each of chopped onion... red pepper... and green pepper. That cooks together for a few minutes.

BURT WOLF:   One of my early surprises when I was learning about food was to discover that a red pepper is just a green pepper that’s been on the vine longer.

Then a little fresh ginger goes in.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  When you’re using fresh ginger, it’s important to remember to slice it or mince it, but not to grate it.  If you grate it, you lose a lot of the juices, and that’s where a lot of the flavor is.  It’s “de-grating” for the ginger.

Then six jumbo shrimp are added.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Edward’s using jumbo shrimp, and we figure three of them is enough for each person.  As a general rule in terms of weight, four to six ounces of shrimp per person should do it.

Next Edward adds some chopped celery leaves...a tablespoon of curry... salt.. fresh pepper... and a quarter cup of cream. The cream cooks down for a few minutes and the dish is ready to serve.

The island of Aruba has a unique weather pattern. Being the most southerly of the islands that make up the Caribbean chain, it is well out of the way of the hurricane belt. It is consistently warm, sunny, breezy and dry. It’s perfect for strolling beaches, but bad for storing bread. The result is a nationally-beloved pudding based on stale bread and called Pan Bollo.  Eduardo Ellis, the owner and executive chef of Aruba's Papiamento Restaurant, demonstrates a classic example.

Stale bread is broken up into small pieces until you have about four cups’ worth. Two cups of milk are poured over the bread, and the bread is mashed into the milk and set to soak for an hour. Then in goes a half-cup of sugar, a half cup of honey, six eggs, two tablespoons of baking powder, two tablespoons of vanilla, a cup of raisins that have been soaked in water, or juice, or rum. And finally a cup of dried fruits.  A loaf pan gets a light coating of oil. Then in goes the bread mixture. Bang the pan on a flat surface to get out any air bubbles and set it into a 350 degree oven for one and a half hours. When it's fully cooked, it has a rather dark brown top. The finished bread pudding is flipped over onto a serving plate and sliced.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  In 1824, a 12-year-old boy by the name of Wilhelm Rasmijn came out of his house after a heavy rainstorm and started herding his father's sheep across the north shore of Aruba. As he came up over a hill, he noticed a sparkling rock. He brought it home to his father. His father found it quite fascinating, and brought it into town to show it to a merchant.

The merchant realized it was gold and bought it from the sheep-herder for $17. The merchant then resold it for seventy.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   There are some very important lessons to be learned from this story. First of all, always teach your children to bring home all the shiny rocks that they find. Second, sheep-herding does have its exciting moments. And finally, always get a second opinion on the value of anything before you sell it.

This is what remains of the Bushiribana smelting works that were built by the Aruba Island Gold Mining Company during the 1870's. Since that day when the young sheepherder discovered the first nugget, over 3000 pounds of gold have been exported.  And there is still gold in "them there hills". It's not easy to find, but almost every Aruban that I met during my visit had some tiny bit of gold that they found during a childhood search.  Even today, you can spot the real Arubans after a rain.  They are all walking along looking down at the ground. Though in all fairness, I should point out that it almost never rains in Aruba, so you'd better have an alternate source of income.

The oldest building on Aruba is Fort Zoutman. It was built in 1796 to protect the new capital city of Oranjested, a name which derives from the House of Orange, which was the ruling family of Holland at the time.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   When the fort was originally built, it was actually on the edge of the water, and armed with four cannons. Shortly after it came into service a British warship named the Surprise tried to surprise the fort, but the fort surprised the Surprise by attacking it first. And the old fort is still capable of a couple of surprises.

First of all, it is presently the home of the Aruba Museum which has a small but interesting collection of local artifacts, including some cooking equipment left by the native tribes.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  It’s interesting to see how much of our modern cooking equipment takes its design from ancient forms in nature.  The museum has a collection of blending or whisking sticks.  Obviously they’re twigs, where the intersecting branches come out at just the right angle and just the right thickness.  They’re held like this and spun around, and they have an amazing effect.  They’re just like a blender or a whisk.  There are four different forms here, and each of them has a slightly different effect on the food.  I guess the real question now is, were they offered as a set of four, and did you get a gift with purchase? This was a masher; it was used with root vegetables like the potato, which happens to be indigenous to South America, which is just fifteen miles off the coast of Aruba.  They would take the potato, heat it in some way, either in water or directly in a fire until it was soft, and then mash it up.  Wonder if it was dishwasher-safe. ... Obviously the top of the line in nested mixing bowls in the pre-stainless steel days.  You have the large, the medium and the small.  All made from natural gourd.  Comes along with our Easy-Grip Spatula, and our serving spoon with its abrasive cleanser back.  Pretty good.  $29.95, whaddya think?

Fort Zoutman is also the location of the Bonbini Festival that takes place every Tuesday evening from 6 pm to about 8:30.  The walls of the fort are lined with booths that sell local foods and local crafts.  The old parade ground is used to present an evening of traditional Aruban music and dance.  And if you don't know the traditional Aruban dances, they'll teach them to you.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Great weather, nice people, good food.  That’s what I found touring the southern half of Aruba.  Please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I’m Burt Wolf.

[end of closing credits]  BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Well, that’s all folks!

Burt Wolf's Menu: On the Royal Viking Sun - #118

They are the ultimate marriage of luxury, comfort and technology -- the great cruise ships of the sea.  And the Royal Viking Sun is a perfect example of the class.  It’s the place to look at the history of these magnificent vessels... to find out what great ocean passages are really all about... and to get the recipes that have made the Royal Viking chefs famous.  So join me on the Royal Viking Sun for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

The great oceanliner is the largest moving object on our planet. The old Queen Mary was almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall. They are an amazing display of artistic and technological skills.  The first ship that could really be called an oceanliner was named The City of New York and it was launched in 1893. The hull was made of steel instead of wood and complex steam engines provided the power instead of sails.  These turn-of-the-century ships had many of the comforts that we now associate with modern oceanliners... large public rooms for entertaining... electric power... elevators... and excellent food.  In 1907 the Mauritania came on line and set a new standard of luxury. The objective of the companies that built these ships was to create an environment of great opulence. To make the passenger feel that he or she was in the most elegant surroundings. They also did everything possible to keep their guests from remembering that they were on a ship.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  One of the most important technological breakthroughs in the history of the ocean liner was the introduction of the oil-powered turbo engine. Before then, ships used coal.  And as they burned up coal on their voyage, they got lighter and lighter. By the time they reached their destination, they’d be bobbing around like a cork. Not too comfortable for the passengers.  With the oil burners, they were able to replace the burned oil with ocean water.  That kept the ship heavy and gave the passengers a much nicer ride.  When one of these ships did their job properly, the passengers felt that they had just spent a week or two at the home of an extremely wealthy nobleman.

NEWSREEL NARRATOR:  Its grand foyer and main dining hall rival the decorative splendor of a palace.  One thousand feet long, weighing eigthy thousand gross tons, the ship posted artistic murals created by France’s greatest painters.

By the early twenties, exercise had become an important part of the ships’ services. There was a Promenade Deck for long walks. A swimming pool. A fully equipped gym. Some ships had squash courts, steam baths and saunas. One vessel actually had a tennis court, and the game of miniature golf?  It was invented for oceanliners.  During the 1930's the Italian Line introduced the Lido Deck, an outdoor sports area with a swimming pool. The Italian ships used the southern route to cross the Atlantic and could take advantage of the warmer weather.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  But of all of the comforts associated with the great oceanliners, the most important were those that dealt with eating and drinking. Food has always had the ability to be more than just physical nourishment for the body. Food can be a symbol of wealth. It can be a source of emotional comfort. It can be a distraction or an entertainment.  And there’s a considerable amount of scientific evidence that indicates that just eating can reduce fear. And the great oceanliners?  They used food and wine for all of the above.

The first liners had dining rooms with long tables and swivel chairs that were bolted to the floor. By the early 20's there were sumptuous dining salons with free-standing chairs and extraordinary staircases that gave guests the opportunity to make a grand entrance. ... The Hamburg-American Line even went so far as to reproduce London's chic Ritz-Carlton Hotel restaurant right on board their ships. Cunard introduced the Verandah Cafe, designed to look like the front porch of a great hotel.  It was located at the rear of the ship and had potted palms and wicker furniture. And almost anything that a guest might want to eat or drink was stocked onboard.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  However, by the 1950's, the airlines had pretty much taken over the passenger traffic and it looked like the oceanliner was about to become extinct... kind of a man-made dinosaur of the sea.  Ahhh, not so fast, sports-fans.  Once again, love conquers all. Only this time love came in the form of a television show, a television show called The Love Boat.  The Love Boat gave millions of people all over the world an opportunity to see how much fun they could have on a cruise.  There was also a change in the way people wanted to spend their leisure time. Lots of people had more time and more money, and wanted to take a few weeks in a more leisurely way. And so the oceanliner became transformed into the cruise ship.

These days, just about the most perfect example of what a cruise ship can really be is the Royal Viking Sun. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The Royal Viking Line was formed in 1970 by three well-known Norwegian shipping companies. From the very beginning, it was conceived of as a cruise line, designed to bring people around the world in an state of extraordinary luxury. And to tell you the truth, they must be doing something very, very well, because on any Viking cruise, over half the passengers are repeat customers.

The ship that I am on today is the Royal Viking Sun. It's 673 feet long, 95 feet wide, and it was launched in 1988. It's interesting to see how the oceanliner standards for luxury have remained in place.  The ship has four elevators. Only these days they have glass walls so you can have a panormaic view during the ride.  There’s a casino...

BURT WOLF:   Wealth beyond my wildest dreams!

The spa has a lap pool, an exercise area, a massage room, and a beauty salon.

STYLIST:  ...and above the ears?

BURT WOLF:   It could be above the ears, below the ears; the beard is below the ears, I like that, that’s good hair, too...

STYLIST:  That’s good too.

There are two wind-sheltered pools with heated salt water, a pool with a swim-up bar, and a whirlpool.  Of course, there is a shuffleboard court, but there is also a croquet court and a spot for trapshooting.  The miniature golf course has given way to a practice area and a computerized golf simulator. And you can also play quoits and table tennis.  They even have a classic smoking room with a wood-burning fireplace, and a television camera so the captain can make sure the fire is burning properly.  In spite of the fact that the Coast Guard approved the fireplace in the plans, they later changed their mind, and these days the only thing that burns in here is a good cigar.  Every stateroom has a television set, a radio and a video cassette player. The captain has honored me during my visit by playing some of my old shows on the central system. Good man.  There are always seminars and lectures for the passengers to enjoy.  This one’s on wine tasting.

WINE EXPERT:  Is it sweet, is it not sweet?  When you see the color, very pale color, and when you see there is no viscosity by swirling the glass gently.  On the glass it has to be dry.  You know just by sight this is a white dry wine.  It’s a young vintage, yeah, it’s ‘89, I would have said ‘89 or ‘90.  It’s still a little bit oaky.  You don’t have to be very clever; you have to know a little bit about wine, but as I told you the other day, to have a good memory -- taste and taste and taste and remember.

When it comes to places to eat, the choice is awesome. The Royal Viking Dining Room can accommodate all 750 passengers at one seating. But I doubt whether that happens very often, because you can also dine at the Royal Grill.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The Royal Grill has a program where they invite world-famous chefs to come onboard and prepare their signature dishes.  They also like to do recipes associated with the areas in which they’re sailing. When they are off the coast of Italy they do Italian food, when they’re off the coast of China, they do Chinese food. When they’re off the coast of California, near President Reagan’s house, ketchup becomes the vegetable of the day. Just joking.

There's a Garden Cafe for a luncheon buffet, which always includes a freshly baked pizza. Interesting... pizza has become a universal food... thanks to traveling Americans.

BURT WOLF:  Thousand Island Dressing.  I’m working on a new recipe for that; it only has five hundred islands and half the calories. 

There’s a Wine Bar that serves top wines by the glass.  The ship has more good places to eat than most cities... quite amazing. Each day, the chefs on the Royal Viking Sun whip up dinner for just over a thousand people. They also whip up the same number of breakfasts and lunches. Plus a midnight snack. For their annual 103-day around the world cruise they do some rather heavy shopping... 130,000 eggs... 15,000 pounds of beef... 3,300 pounds of shrimp... 600 tons of fruits and vegetables and get this... 900 pounds of chocolate. And since they must do their shopping every week in different cities all over the planet, they end up with some complex logistical problems. Everything that is dry is fairly easy. But fresh products are much more difficult to handle. They use a very sophisticated computer system to estimate their needs and plan the purchasing months ahead. And they try to take advantage of what is going to be in season when they eventually get to a particular port. Johannes Lindthaler was particularly impressive. He’s a Food and Beverage Manager, but his skills with a computer is right out of Star Wars. He and his associates have designed programs that bring in fresh fish from vendors, all over the world, just when the ship needs it.  They even control the flight of lobsters from Maine... and I thought they only swam.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   So next time I make dinner for my three sons and their girlfriends... no complaints.

The Royal Viking Sun, following the tradition of the great oceanliners, places considerable importance on the quality of its food. But they have also set up a program to take advantage of the fact that their kitchen travels around the world. When the ship gets to a port where there is a talented chef with a well-respected restaurant, that chef is invited on board to teach. An example of the program is this Chicken Cacciatore, prepared by the ship’s executive chef, Manfred Jaud.  A little oil and a little butter go into a saute pan.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   There are lots of recipes that start off with the chef putting oil into the saute pan and then adding butter.  The reason for that is, the chef wants the flavor of the butter, but butter burns at a very low temperature.  So he adds the oil to raise the cooking temperature, and also the oil keeps things from sticking to the bottom of the pan. 

Two boneless, skinless, chicken breasts that have been cut up into half-inch wide strips go in, and saute for about three minutes.  At which point they are removed from the pan and strained of the cooking fat.  A little butter goes into the pan... some chopped onion... mushrooms... sliced stuffed olives, both green and black... a tomato... a few pickled onions... red wine and pre- prepared gravy.  Everything cooks down for about 5 minutes to thicken up... then the chicken goes back into the sauce, and it's ready to be plated. Strips of potato that have been cooked into a pancake go on first... then the chicken and finally a few vegetables.

The coastline of Portugal -- with a monument that celebrates this country’s historic relationship to the sea. For hundreds of years, the Portuguese have been some of the world’s greatest navigators and mapmakers.  They sailed around the globe and charted the oceans.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Even though Columbus set sail on Spanish ships with Spanish sponsorship, he got most of his navigational information in maps from the Portuguese. It also appears that the Portuguese knew about the New World long before Columbus. For decades, their boats had been crossing the Atlantic and fishing off the coast of Canada. They just never told anybody because they didn't want any competition in the business.  Basically they had a choice between  big reputation and big bucks.  And they went for the bucks.  In those days, navigation at sea was basically a hit or miss affair.  You usually missed what you were heading to and hit something you couldn't see.

These days, however, a oceanliner like this has state-of-the-art technology that tells the crew exactly where they are, literally minute to minute.

CAPTAIN OLA HERSHEIM:  The navigation system on this ship works on satellite navigation which is so accurate and it gives such a good position that if you could move the antenna up on the top a foot, it shows up on the screen.

BURT WOLF:   GPS are satellites that are up there and our computer talks to their computer?

CAPTAIN OLA HERSHEIM:  Yes, yes.  There is a communication between the ship and the satellite and they, and they give us the position.

BURT WOLF:   That’s the Global Positioning System?

CAPTAIN OLA HERSHEIM: That’s the Global Positioning System, and you know, you can buy these small hand-held sets today and you can move around...

BURT WOLF:   (over)  Oh, that’s right!  And you know where you are.  I’m in the bedroom, I’m in the living room, I’m on my way to the shower now... it’s important to know these things.  If you get old, you get lost...

CAPTAIN OLA HERSHEIM:  We’re right here. 

BURT WOLF:   Right...

CAPTAIN OLA HERSHEIM:  And the screen on this radar is like a map; you have north, east, south and west.  And we’re heading almost due north.  These are ships.  As you can see, they have a line, and this line is made by the computer.  And the line tells me that these two ships are heading approximately in the same direction as we are, while these two ships up here are heading south.

BURT WOLF:   Oh, you really can see it visually very quickly.

CAPTAIN OLA HERSHEIM:  You can see the speed, the course, where they’re heading. 

BURT WOLF:   And these little lines over here?

CAPTAIN OLA HERSHEIM:  These are rainclouds, and these small targets here in the center, they’re swells from the ocean.

BURT WOLF:   What a swell piece of equipment!

In 1991, the Royal Viking Line started an interesting program. They formed an association with Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and began to bring professors on board to speak to the passengers about the places that their ships were visiting.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  All of the Royal Viking Line cruises are now accompanied by one or two faculty members that have been appointed by Georgetown University. They are experts in various subjects that relate to the lands that the ship is heading to.  And in the days before the ship reaches port, they educate the passengers as to those subjects.  So when they head to land, they know what’s going on.

Today’s lecture is on geography... and the on-board expert for the subject is Professor Charles Sargent.

CHARLES SARGENT:  Geographers study today what they’ve always studied, but in a different way.  They study the relationship of man to land, of people to their, their landscape.  Today geography is a lot more involved than that.  We have geographers who study the physical environment itself, climate change, heat islands, environmental pollution; things of this nature are all parts of what the physical geographer deals with.  The other half of geography, the, sort of the man/land relationship, the “man” side of that relationship, looks at people themselves:  their institutions, their inventions, their customs.  The urban scene is a very major core of geography today.  So there are many geographers looking at various elements of, of the city around the world.

BURT WOLF:   You’ve also looked at geography in terms of food.

CHARLES SARGENT:  Yes, I used to teach a class, “The Geography of Food and Drink,” and it’s a marvelous way to teach students about simple principles of diffusion, movement and so on.  Fascinating story.

BURT WOLF:   As I look at the history of the way people eat, I see this trend toward isolation.  We get further and further away from each other and from our food.  We used to sit on long benches together.  Now we each sit on individual chairs.  It used to be that a big pot came to the table and we all reached in with our hands and ate it.  Now we each get our individual plates.  We don’t even have it come to the table in a big plate and serve it to our plates; we bring our individual plates from the kitchen.  We used to touch our food.  Now we have knives and forks and spoons between us and the food.  A real movement away, a kind of isolation from each other and from our food.

CHARLES SARGENT:  On the other hand, the food keeps coming to us from everywhere.  And so you can go to a place, any major metropolitan area and you have food from Place A, B, C country, from China, from, from Vietnam, from Italy.  The tomato, after all -- a New World domesticate.  It had to sort of make its way over to Italy before there could be pizza.  And then pizza had to make its way back here, and I think essentially since World War II when G.I.s brought it back.  So I guess my view would be, is that, while we may eat at separate tables, in fact, of course, the world of food is coming to us, and it’s much more a heaped table with a tremendous variety of things.  And that theme of food gets us into the whole basic story in human geography of plant and animal domestication.  And so that is an absolutely fantastic story that geographers deal with, too.

BURT WOLF:   We seem to be narrowing the number of foods we eat in terms of the variety within a particular type -- the number of potatoes, or the number of apples that are available.

CHARLES SARGENT:  But you know, if we go back, if we think back in time, in the Middle Ages, people living in a medieval village, the fields were one element of their food chain, the waters were another.  And those waters had frogs and snakes and eels and fish, and it was a tremendously broad bounty.  And I think you’re absolutely right -- we’re restricting ourselves very much, down from this breadth down to a very narrow range of foods.

BURT WOLF:   I think that’s going to change with young chefs.  They’re demanding greater and greater variety within any type of food.

CHARLES SARGENT:  Because they’re very tasty and very remarkable foods. ... This is a pretty nice campus.  You can’t walk very far across it, it’s a long, narrow campus, but a very nice one, this ship.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  These days we are sailing off the coast of Portugal, and it is Portugal that spread peanut cultivation around the world.

The peanut probably got its start in South America. Peanut seeds have been found in the ancient tribal tombs of Peru, and the Incas cultivated the plant as part of their regular diet.  The early European explorers first saw them in Haiti and Mexico, and Cortez and Columbus brought them back to Spain and Portugal. The peanuts that go to make things like peanut butter are actually not nuts like almonds or walnuts; they’re legumes like lentils and peas -- which is why we call it a “pea” nut.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  They’re very high in protein, they also contain thiamine, niacin, iron, magnesium and folic acid.  And they’re a great source of dietary fiber.

Almost every home in America has a jar of peanut butter, and the average American eats 3.3 pounds of peanut butter each year.  Today the pastry chef on board the Royal Viking Sun is making a batch of peanut butter cookies that are going to be served at afternoon tea.  That service, of course, is dependent on my camera crew leaving some for the passengers.  The batter is made by softening sixteen ounces of butter in a mixing bowl and then whisking in one and a half cups of sugar, one and a half cups of peanut butter (creamy or chunky, your call), and finally, three cups of flour.  When that is fully combined, the chef scoops out golfball-sized portions and puts them onto a parchment-covered baking sheet.  Then a sheet of parchment paper is placed on top, and the cookies are flattened out.  Into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for fifteen minutes, and when they come out, they’re allowed to cool -- at which point they are ready to eat.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  One of the great joys of sailing around the world like this is you get to stop in cities all over the planet and shop.  But shopping may be more complicated than you expect.  So to make sure you get the most for your money, Royal Viking has a shopping expert who will teach you how to do this properly.  What do I need to know?

CAROLE KLEIN:  There are definite techniques for negotiating, when a price is not fixed.  And for a lot of us, the expression on our face gives ourselves away that you love something and can’t live without it.  So you have to use your best acting ability to conceal your true desire if there’s something that spots your eye right off the bat.  And for good negotiating, you should not have your eye draw attention to that item, but instead, look at something else.  Ask the price of that, then maybe of another item; then maybe the third item you ask the price of will be the one true thing you can’t live without.  And if you act like you don’t really want it, generally the price will come down in the negotiating process.  So there’s a whole psychology to, to bargain shopping here.

The Russian city of St. Petersbourg: a major port. Paintings from the 1700's show docks and trading houses along the waterfront. An interesting stop for the Royal Viking Sun during its round the world cruise. And an ideal spot for its chef, Manfred Jaud, to brush up on his Russian recipes... like Beef Stroganoff.  A little oil goes into a saute pan... a little butter... and a pound of tenderloin of beef cut into strips about a half inch thick. The beef cooks for about 5 minutes.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  What the chef is doing is called sautéing.  It means to cook something in an open pan with a little bit of butter or oil.  It’s a French word, and it means “to jump.”  And when you’re sauteing a food properly, it’s jumpin’ in the pan. 

The cooked meat is removed from the pan and drained of the cooking oil.  A little butter goes into the pan... some chopped onion... a few sliced mushrooms... paprika... cognac... prepared gravy... a little mustard and some sour cream.  The beef is returned to the pan.  Everything heats up and it's ready to plate.  Noodles... a few steamed vegetables... the beef... and a little garnish.  A favorite of Chef Jaud, and of the passengers too, is this dish of baked fish with a tomato crust.  A little vegetable oil is heated in a frying pan.  Then in goes a fillet of fish.  That cooks on one side for two minutes, then flips over and cooks on the other side for two minutes more.  A mixture goes on top that is made by cooking together chopped tomato, onion, mushrooms and parsley.  A topping for the tomato layer is made by combining a few tablespoons of butter, an equal amount of bread crumbs, a little Gruyere cheese, thyme and chives.  That’s piped on top.  The crusted fish goes into a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for fifteen minutes.  While the fish is cooking, a sauce is made.  Vegetable oil is heated in a frying pan, chopped onions are added, chopped tomato, a little of the tomato juices, salt, pepper, some fresh basil, and some fresh parsley.  That cooks for a few minutes and goes onto the serving plate.  The fish goes on top of the sauce, and then a garnish of grilled vegetables.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Well, that’s the Royal Viking Sun.  Please join us next time as we wander around the world looking for good things to eat.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Santiago - #117

Santiago, the capital of Chile. The gastronomic center of one of the most interesting parts of South America... where excellent wines are produced in some of the world's most beautiful vineyards... Street foods as varied and interesting as the best of Europe. And just down the road you'll find Chile's own Riviera. And the entire area is packed with excellent restaurants.  So join me in Santiago for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Santiago is a major city with some five million people living and working in the metropolitan area. Many of its inhabitants have parents, grand-parents or great-grand-parents who immigrated here from Spain, Italy, France, Germany or England.  And much of Santiago has a very European feeling.

In the center of town is a plaza, which is the resting place of Bernardo O'Higgins. O'Higgins, the son of an Irishman, became a major Chilean military figure during the early 1800's and a leader in the wars that led to Chile's independence.

The Plaza de Armas is the city's historic center.  It was actually laid out by Pedro de Valdivia when he founded the city in 1541, only 49 years after Columbus's first voyage.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Every Sunday morning and Thursday afternoon there’s a wonderful concert here in the bandstand, except during the month of February.  It’s Sunday morning, and you can probably guess what month it is.  But all is not lost -- my gaffer Igor, who lives in Santiago, made a tape of the music last week, and we’ll play it for you while we take a tour of the plaza.

Santiago's railway station is the Estacion Central. All the trains that connect southern Chile with Santiago depart and arrive from this imposing building. It was actually designed by Eiffel who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Eiffel did a number of projects in South America during the first part of his career. But when he got the big spire job in Paris, he decided to stay home next to his "tower of power". Poor guy began to believe  his own press. Always a danger.

Santiago has a mild Mediterranean climate. The median temperature in the winter months is in the fifties. And though the summer days can get into the eighties, lack of humidity makes it quite comfortable.

There are a number of excellent examples of South American colonial architecture, some beautiful parks, and as a permanent backdrop, to make sure you don't forget that you are in Chile, there are the Andes Mountains with peaks that go up some 23,000 feet.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Some towns have street food and some towns don't. It's usually a function of how the people of the city feel about food in general, and that city’s particular history. A city like London has almost no street food at all.  And that seems to be true for places like Sydney, Australia or Montreal, Canada. Other towns like New York, Amsterdam and Rome seem to be lined with streets of eats.

And that’s also the case for Chile's capital city of Santiago. The town is perfect for a street food lover, but the trick to getting the most pleasure for the calories is to have a guide. Someone who really knows what's good and even more important, where to get the best of it.

My tutor for taste is a young Chilean named Mario Artaza.  He’s followed his father's footsteps into the Chilean Foreign Service and I am following his footsteps into the street food shops of Santiago.

MARIO ARTAZA:  We’re in Domino’s.  Domino’s has been open since 1952, and they’ve kept the same recipes for all their sandwiches since then.  As you can see, we have barros jarpa and barros luco, two sandwiches named for two famous Chilean politicians of the last century.  Barros jarpa is hot ham, hot cheese.  And barros luco is hot cheese and hot meat.  Now, you can also have venesa sola and venesa completa.  Venesa sola is just, just a hot dog, all by itself with the bread.  Venesa completa is what Domino’s is famous for.  Comes with avocado, tomato, and mayonnaise -- like the Italian flag?  The red, the white and the green.

BURT WOLF:   Let’s eat!

MARIO ARTAZA:  All right -- this is the Italiana.  See, it has the tomato... watch out.  Gotta have a lot of these.  Part of the art of eating the completa is getting your hands dirty.  If you don’t get your hands dirty when eating a completa, it’s not a good completa at all.

BURT WOLF:   On my shirt, on my pants, on my shoes --

MARIO ARTAZA:  The whole deal, Burt.

BURT WOLF:   People have got to see you when you come out of here and know that you’ve eaten a completa.

MARIO ARTAZA:  And you’ve stayed away from work, too.

BURT WOLF:   (Laughs with mouth full)

MARIO ARTAZA:  After the completa it’s always good to have a mid-day coffee.  We’re going to the Cafe Haiti, famous for its Brazilian ground coffees.  It’s where all the businessmen here in Santiago hang out mid-day.

BURT WOLF:   Is that true for women also?

MARIO ARTAZA:  Well... you see sometimes you see some women in the Cafe Haiti, but mostly businessmen.

BURT WOLF:   It’s good coffee!

MARIO ARTAZA:  Straight from Brazil.  It’s the only place that imports Brazilian coffee in Chile.  They own the whole share of selling Brazilian coffee in this country. 

BURT WOLF:   The idea of serving water with coffee is quite traditional.  The Austrians were the first people to have coffee houses in Vienna, and they always served water with the coffee because they thought that coffee was too strong for your stomach, too acidic, and you have some water with it, it cuts down the acid.  It’s a good idea.  What are we eating next?

MARIO ARTAZA:  Well, from the Spaniards and the Italians we inherited our love for bread.  And in Chile, people eat a lot of bread.  These are coliza.  Some families buy one of these for a whole weekend, so when it’s dinner or lunchtime you part it out.  And it’s like a family bread.

BURT WOLF:   And you can see the pattern of the wheat that the baker has pressed into it.  That’s very nice.

MARIO ARTAZA:  Ayulla... whole wheat integral...

BURT WOLF:   Ayulla is also used for sandwiches.

MARIO ARTAZA:  That’s right.

BURT WOLF:   We had one of those before, okay.

MARIO ARTAZA:  That’s right.  And cachito.  Cachito, like the bull? 

BURT WOLF:   Ahhh!

MARIO ARTAZA:  The horns.

BURT WOLF:   And there’s the baker.

MARIO ARTAZA:  And the baker’s located down there. ... Here we have a whole variety of pizzas that Chileans love to eat.  We have pizza completa --

BURT WOLF:   Ah, that’s like the completa which we saw as a frankfurter.

MARIO ARTAZA:  That’s right.

BURT WOLF:   Okay...

MARIO ARTAZA:  A meat pizza, but here you have the whole piece of meat.


MARIO ARTAZA:  With shrimp...

BURT WOLF:   Right...

MARIO ARTAZA:  ...with pork loin, and with mushroom.

BURT WOLF:   And that’s a sandwich I never saw before.

MARIO ARTAZA:  Oh, that’s a chacarero.  “From the farm.”  Has meat, tomatoes and green beans.

BURT WOLF:   Nice.  It’s a meal really put together.

And those are just some of the street foods of Santiago.

Santiago is divided into very distinct neighborhoods, each with its very own character.  Providencia is a neighborhood that is associated with excellent residential areas, both in private homes and apartment buildings.  It also has some fabulous shopping.  Providencia is also known as the home of Santiago's most elegant hotel, the Park Plaza.  It only has about a hundred rooms, which makes it small enough for the staff to really give very special service to the guests.  It's nice to get to know the people here, and to get the feeling of home.  The hotel has also gone to great lengths to detail the entire building in a way that reinforces the feeling of quality.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the 1800s, and the first decades of the 1900s, hotels were famous for the high quality of their cooking.  But by the 1950s, they were equally famous for the low quality of their cooking.  Fortunately that has begun to change.  It’s particularly true here in Santiago, and very true at the Hotel Park Plaza.  They have a restaurant that is so good that it is constantly packed with locals.

The chef, Joel Solorza, is one of the city's most respected professionals.  The first dish that Joel is preparing is a very traditional homestyle beef stew that comes from the south of Chile. He starts by heating a little oil in a sauté pan. Then in goes a pound of beef cut into bite-sized strips. Two cloves of garlic go in, a dried red pepper... hot stuff. Instead of the whole red pepper you can also use dried red pepper flakes.  Those ingredients cook together for a few moments.  Then in goes some oregano... salt... a cup of sliced onion. Five more minutes of sautéing.  A sliced potato.  A half cup of white wine.  As soon as the wine has cooked off and the beef is beginning to look dry on the surface, everything is transferred to a deep-sided pan. Four cups of beef stock are added and the soup simmers for 20 minutes. At the end of the simmering time, four egg whites are whisked in. Then the soup is ladled into serving bowls and just before the soup goes to the table a half of an egg yolk is stirred in and topped with a pinch of oregano and some fresh parsley. As I was writing down the last part of this recipe my producer commented that she could just hear me saying "the egg yolk is optional." So I'm not going to say it.  But I'm thinking it.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   In 1535, a Spanish expedition headed south from Peru in the hopes of finding a civilization similar to the Incas. The Spanish had just discovered the Incas, and that was thrilling. Thrilling for the Spanish, that is. The Incas were into gold and so were the Spanish. As a matter of fact, the Spanish were into the Incas' gold. Anyway, the expedition came up empty-handed, and frustrated and exhausted, they headed for the coast to meet up with a group of Spanish ships. As the young, homesick lieutenant broke through the woods at the top of these hills and saw the magnificent bay below, it reminded him of his hometown in Spain.  And named the area after that town, Valparaiso.

Valparaiso was the first Spanish coastal settlement in what was to become Chile. It also became the country's most important port. The original town was built around the central dock area and for many years was greatly influenced by big English corporations who settled into Valparaiso as Great Britain became Chile's largest trading partner. The old Grace shipping building and the Queen Victoria Hotel are reminders of the period. And so is the downtown commercial area, which was built under the influence of British merchants to look like London. They even installed Turri Clock, their own version of Big Ben. As the town grew, it was forced to move up the surrounding hills. The result is a very unusual city with a population that moves up and down a series of very steep elevations. The residents make the trip many times throughout the day, and often the journey is made in cable cars.

Valparaiso's central market hasn't changed in over a hundred years, and its energy is still at an extraordinary level.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Because Valparaiso has such a long history, it holds the record for a number of Chilean firsts. It had the first gaslight, the first telephone, the first firehouse, and it holds the record for the oldest continually-published Spanish language newspaper in the world; it is called El Mercurio, it started in 1827, it is still published everyday, it’s as influential as ever, but I cannot find the comics.

Valparaiso is also the seat of the national government. That's the new Congress Building, the symbolic home of Chile's new democracy. A democracy, by the way, with a voter turnout of over 90 percent. Democracy may feed the soul, but across the street is a man who for over forty years has fed the body. The Mani Tostado shop toasts and sugar-coats nuts. They are the national snack of Chile and when you buy them here they are still hot from the roaster.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Gracias.  The owner wanted to know whether I thought a shop like his would do well in North America. I told him I thought it would. North Americans love sugar-coated nuts... just look at some of the politicians we elect.

Just down the street from Valparaiso is the luxury resort town of Viña del Mar. Viña del Mar is to Chile what Monaco is to the south of France. Long wide streets lined with palm trees... Long wide beaches lined with señoritas... And long wide casinos lined with money. Viña del Mar has a great deal of charm. The people are very pleasant. There are dozens of restaurants with excellent food and the whole place is designed for having a good time.

Sergio Lopez-Pugh was my guide.

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:  We're in a rather new part of Viña del Mar.  The actual city was developed in the land which is that way, along the hills in the back.  This part, and the whole city, actually, was mostly farmland.

BURT WOLF:   Farms.

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:  Yeah, and they belonged to a single family.

BURT WOLF:   One family owned all the land.

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:   The whole place.  And the land was inherited by this family, and in the early 1800s, around 1830, 1840, a member of this family decided that it would be just a shame to waste this beautiful sun and the weather and the water and everything else, so they decided to build a city.  And they used to have a vineyard.  And since the vineyard was close to the ocean, they called the city Viña del Mar --

BURT WOLF:   "Vineyard Near The Sea"

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:  -- meaning "the Vineyard Of The Ocean." yes. 

BURT WOLF:   Okay.

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:  Now, if you look at that pier to our left, the story of that pier is quite interesting.  They used to, when they built it, they used it to load minerals from ships.  And so the only things you had were the railroad tracks that went all the way to the end of the pier, and the track ties.  And I recall that when I was about twelve years old, we used to come fishing here.  And the fishing was great, I'll tell you.  But the thing is, you would have to go jumping from one tie to the next, and underneath there was nothing, just the ocean.  So you'd have to be very careful and balance yourself with all the fishing gear in one hand and the pole in the other one, walking along these railroad tracks and hoping they wouldn't return home all wet.

BURT WOLF:   Ah, the things you do when you're a kid.

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:  I know, if my mom found out, she probably wouldn't have liked it.

Chef Joel Solorza at the Park Plaza Hotel has a home near Viña del Mar, and has mastered many of the local seafood recipes.  This fish soup is a perfect example.

The recipe starts with 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 cloves of garlic going into a hot sauté pan, plus a dried chili, or if it’s easier, some dried chili flakes. Next a cup of sliced onion... a large tomato, sliced... a clove of sliced garlic... some paprika... oregano... chives... bite-sized cubes of fish... about a cup's worth... a cup of shrimp... some with heads on, some without... the shrimp heads, of course, are optional. Then a cup of baby shrimp and a half cup of oysters. Those ingredients cook for a few moments and in goes a cup of white wine. A little salt and white pepper. Three cups of fish stock or clam broth or chicken stock are added. Ten minutes of simmering and the soup goes into serving bowls. Just before it goes to the table a tablespoon of cream is spooned on top, along with some chopped chives.

Roast pork ribs with spicy mashed potatoes is often prepared for a family gathering. Having tasted it a number of times on my visit to Chile I decided to join a family just for the food of it.

The preparation starts with a slab of pork ribs. The size and number of slabs depends on the number of guests at the meal. A general rule of thumb is one pound per person. A little oil that has been sitting together with a few garlic cloves gets rubbed onto the meat. Next comes a light coating of chopped garlic, followed by a slathering of a sauce that's made from one cup of ketchup mixed with 4 tablespoons of hot Chinese style chili paste. While that's going on I should point out that chili peppers got started here in South America and were taken to China by European explorers. Next some oregano goes on, salt, white pepper, and a few dried chili flakes. Then the meat goes into a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. When it comes out, the ribs are sliced into serving portions and come to the table along with some spicy mashed potatoes.  And here's how those potatoes are made.

Potatoes are peeled and boiled for 20 minutes or until they are tender. Then they go through a potato ricer that breaks them into tiny pieces that look very much like rice. It's a nice gadget for mashed potato lovers, but you can mash the potatoes with a fork and end up in just about the same place.  Whatever you use, don't use a food processor; they can easily turn potatoes into glue.

Once the potatoes are mashed, Joel adds a half cup of milk for every 6 potatoes plus a tablespoon of butter... a little salt... and a heaping spoonful of chili paste. Being the artist that he is, he then puts them into a pastry bag and pipes them onto the dish.  Pork ribs with spicy mashed potatoes -- ¡Muy bueno!

The missionaries who travelled with the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s planted the first grape vines in Chile. The wines that were made from those grapes were used as altar wines in the services of the church.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  And that was pretty much the story of Chilean wine for over 100 years. But then in 1851, a man named Silvestre Ochagavia realized that Chile had the perfect soil and climate to be a major wine-producing nation.  And so he set about importing both vines and wine makers from France, and building some vineyards. Well, his experiments were quite successful and he soon became known as the "Father of Chilean Wine."  Which really annoyed his children, but hey, that's life.

Today many international experts feel that Chile is becoming a very important wine producer, with the government playing a major role in encouraging quality.  The most successful wine-growing areas are just outside Santiago. Three of the most famous Chilean producers are Undurraga, who holds the distinction of being the first Chilean to export wine to the United States; The date was 1912.  Then there is Concha y Toro, which is the largest and probably the best-known in North America.  And finally Santa Rita, who makes excellent wine in one of the most beautiful estates I have ever seen.  Roberto Rivas is giving us the grand tour.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  ...like for example the araucaria, which -- they are a very unusual tree.  Here is the, the new generation.

BURT WOLF:   Oh, it has these daggers that come out; I read about this.  The daggers come when they’re young so no animals can get on it, including people, and when the tree gets big and strong it loses the daggers.  It’s a natural protective system; very clever.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  Well, this tree is very useful in the southern part of Chile, because from the seeds it will become the bread for the Arucanians.

BURT WOLF:   Oh, they make bread from the seeds of the tree.


BURT WOLF:   No wonder it’s the national tree.  What’s that?

ROBERTO RIVAS:  That is a Romanic swimming pool.  Swimming bath.  It’s a very small swimming pool, and it’s everything covered by the walls.  And the main idea was to make this for the females swimming at different times than the males, so they won’t see each other in swimming costumes.  And the other thing is they won’t see each other’s, their pirellis.

BURT WOLF:   Oh, Pirelli, the tire manufacturers -- oh, in English we say “you won’t see my spare tire. 

ROBERTO RIVAS:  Spare tire.

BURT WOLF:   Ohh, pirelli.  What a great word.  Of course, they could have had an exercise and diet program, saved all than money on the building.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  Yeah, but at that time, you know how they used to be -- sitting and relaxing, enjoying themselves. ... This church, it was a wedding present for the daughter of the founder of the winery.  And it was done by a very famous French architect.

BURT WOLF:   It was a wedding present?


BURT WOLF:   Difficult to wrap.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  Yeah, well, they worked very hard at it.  And inside the chapel, you can see a part especially for the family, and the other part is for the rest of the people.  As you can see that we’re restoring everything back again.  It’s beautiful. ... Well, here, we will open this Medalla Real cabernet --

BURT WOLF:   Mmmmm.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  -- which is coming from the grapes we have here in the background, means it’s a cabernet sauvignon variety.  So I hope you like it.  This wine has been aging in a barrel like this one for a period of time of three hundred days.  Cheers.  It’s very round.  Very fine.  Doesn’t stick out.

BURT WOLF:   I won’t be talking for awhile; I’m just going to be drinking.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  (Laughing)  Enjoy, then.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   I once heard Chile described as a long, thin country, similar to the west coast of North America, running from the very top of Alaska to the bottom of California, only flipped over into the southern hemisphere. One of the results of that flip is the North American winter is the South American summer. Another result is a reversal of harvest seasons for many fruits.

Somewhere along the line, someone in Chile realized that New York was directly north of Chile's major farmlands and that their summer harvest was perfectly timed for North America's winter. Nice deal for everyone. Chile is now a major exporter of amazing apples... precious peaches... perfect pears... plump plums... great grapes... and kiwis, for which I could not figure out an acceptable alliteration. Anyway, from December through April, the United States and Canada are the importers.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Of all the information that has come in in recent years about the relationship of food to good health, I think my favorite is the material on fresh fruits. It appears that a diet that is high in fresh fruit is very good for us. As a matter of fact, just a single portion a day can make a difference in terms of your heart. I really like it when we find out that something that is healthy is also easy and tastes good.  Well, that’s our tour through Santiago, Chile.  Please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat, and the reasons why people eat them.  I'm Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: North Side of Aruba - #116

The north coast of the island of Aruba... one of the world's great centers for watersports.  We'll visit a bar that's become a national monument...  discover trees that tell tourists how to find their hotels... find out how to keep food safe for a picnic.  We'll take a look at a plant that can help heal our skin and we'll cook along with some of the island's best chefs.  So join me on The North Side Of Aruba for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

The first people to settle down in Aruba were members of the Arowak tribes, who came over from the north coast of South America. It wasn't a very big trip, though. It's only about 15 miles from the shores of Venezuela to the shores of Aruba. As a matter of fact, a few years ago a couple of Arubans made the point by swimming up and back between the two countries. The Arowaks, however, came here about 5,000 years ago and they came because the fishing was good. It still is.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The Spanish stopped by in 1500, but they didn't see any gold so they just moved on. About 25 years later, however, they came back and turned Aruba into one giant ranch, raising cattle and horses. You know, when you're out there conquistadoring, there are two things you really love:  a good horse and a big steak. The Spanish maps at the time showed Aruba as if it had a road sign on it that said "ENTERING THE NEW WORLD. EAT HERE, BUY GAS."

Then in 1636 the Dutch popped in with just the right number of soldiers to convince the local population that it was time to go Dutch. And since then Aruba has been part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

To get a good look at what Aruba is like today I have asked Adri De Palm of the Aruba Tourist Commission to tour us around the island.

ADRI DePALM:  If you notice, we have a lot of cactus on the island.

BURT WOLF:   Yeah.

ADRI DePALM:  Beside of the cactus we have a lot of trees, and those trees you see here, those are the divi-divi trees.

BURT WOLF:   “Divi-divi trees.”

ADRI DePALM:  Yeah.  Besides being a tree, this is also a natural compass.  Why?  Because this natural compass always points to the west.  So it grows in the direction of the wind and it always points to the west.  That’s for the tourists to know, wherever they are on the island, they need a tree like this, it’s pointing to their hotels.

BURT WOLF:   That’s funny!

ADRI DePALM:  So they just follow this tree’s direction and they will be reaching their hotels.  It’s very funny but it’s true. ... Yes Burt, this is Natural Bridge.  As you can see, this is one of the most well-visited landmarks of the island.  Everybody, every tourist that really comes to Aruba comes to this site.  It’s carved by the sea and also by the rain, so it’s really carved from both sides. 

BURT WOLF:   Do you charge a toll to go over the Natural Bridge?

ADRI DePALM:  No, we don’t charge a toll here in Aruba.

BURT WOLF:   Very natural.  Actually, in North America it would be unnatural not to charge a toll.

ADRI DePALM:  They would love it, though.  (Laughter) ... So Burt, this is Casibari, yes.

BURT WOLF:   Uh-huh...

ADRI DePALM:  This area is a very, very nice area, it’s well-visited by the tourists.  Most of the tourists that come to Aruba come to this area.  And this, you can even have a taste of how the people live here in Aruba.  Every house is completely different from the other.

BURT WOLF:   The cactus is used to make a fence...

ADRI DePALM:  ...and the cactus was used.  We did it in many ways because we also use stone to make a fence besides that, but the cactus was more better because the goat wouldn’t really get into this.  So the stone fence, the goat can get on the stone and jump into the yard and eat all the plants you have inside. 

BURT WOLF:   The goats can’t jump over the cactus.


BURT WOLF:   Ahhh, good plan.

ADRI DePALM:  On the other side you have the mountain, over here you have the airport, the city, the harbor with the tourist ships, then you have the hotel area -- low-rise hotel area, high-rise hotel area. ... Burt, this is Baby Beach; this is one of the most famous beaches, especially on the eastern side of the island.  This is also like a landmark for many people; why?  Because here is where you can really get your kids into the water without no problem.  Okay?  So the water really reaches up to your tummy, your belly, and that’s the deepest you can get here.  That’s why we call it Baby Beach, and it’s very very safe for you to bring your kids over to this area. ... Okay Burt, here we are on the western part of the island.  Besides the high-rise hotel area we have here also the place where they do windsurfing.  Every year we have here the big competitions going on, which are “The High Wind Races of Aruba,” where people from all around the world come to do this sport here in Aruba.  And everything that you can imagine that you can do on the water, we do it here on this part of the island.

During the 1800's landowners in Aruba were addressed by their first name preceded by the Dutch word "Shon" which means "master". The man who owned this area was named Nicolaas van der Biest, so he was called "Shon Nicolass" which soon became St. Nicolas. Which is why the town that now stands on this property is called St. Nicolas.

In 1924 The Standard Oil Company of New Jersey began the development of the Lago refinery in St. Nicolas. The actual oil came from Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. Small tankers brought the crude oil to Lago where it was refined and then shipped out, primarily to the east coast of the United States. For 50 years the story of Aruba was also the story of Lago.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   As long as I'm next to a famous oil refinery, I thought I’d say a few words about cooking oils.  If all cooking oils have virtually the same amount of fat and the same number of calories, why should one be healthier for you than another? The answer is to be found in the element hydrogen.  All cooking oils also contain hydrogen, but the more hydrogen there is in an oil, the more it tends to cause your body to produce cholesterol.  And cholesterol can be dangerous for you.  The cooking oil with the most hydrogen is called saturated -- saturated with hydrogen is the point.  Next is monounsaturated.  That has less hydrogen.  The least hydrogen is found in polyunsaturated oils.  So if you’re worried about the cholesterol in your blood, reduce the amount of hydrogenated oil in your diet.

Just outside the front gates of the Lago oil refinery is a legendary watering hole.  It was founded in 1941 by a Dutch immigrant named Charles Brouns.  Being a straight-forward fellow and rather direct, he called the establishment Charlie's Bar.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Does get directly to the point, doesn't it?  No confusion. Not like trying to figure out what your doing in a place called Fridays when it’s only Monday.  When you're in here you are in a bar, and it's Charlie's. And because the unusual history associated with Charlie’s Bar, it’s become somewhat of a national monument.

During the World War II, the oil refinery in St. Nicolas supplied almost twenty percent of the fuel used by the Allied troops in Europe.  German subs would attack the area and at the end of each attack everyone would go to Charlie's to make sure that everyone else was still alive and to celebrate that point with a few drinks. Those meetings made Charlie a regular part of the support and morale-building efforts that were directed to Allied seamen, and his activities actually earned him a Knighthood which was awarded by the Royal House of Holland.  These days Charlie's Bar is operated by Charlie's son, Charlie Jr. The old man really had a way with names, but he also had an even more interesting approach to interior design. You have got to see this place to believe it.

CHARLIE BROUNS, JR:  The steel pan.  I got that from one of the local boys who worked for the refinery about seventeen or eighteen years ago...  The clown.  We bartenders are psychiatrists of the people.  My grandmother, she kind of found that out, and made that for me by hand.  It’s there for at least forty years, I wouldn’t really know...  My mother, the real Charlie.  Three Charlies involved in Charlie’s Bar -- Charlie Senior, Junior, and the third one somewhere in the States right now.  She kept us together, the three Charlies that made Charlie’s Bar become what it is today -- a tradition in Aruba and especially in this town of St. Nicolas.  My mother. ... The ship’s bell.  We have eighteen hanging around here in Charlie’s Bar.  Charlie’s Bar was formed by seamen, was founded by seamen and made famous by seamen.  And in Aruba the customer is not to hit the bell, because you just bought the bar a drink. 

CUSTOMER IN BACKGROUND:  Okay, you bought it!  (Laughter)

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   You know, if anybody from House&Garden sees you in here they might cancel your subscription. And Martha Stewart could easily come to your home and just take back all of her books. On the other hand, Charlie’s the kind of guy that might just take ‘em all on, and publish a fabulous full color picture book entitled "Decorating With 20,000 Things You Thought You Loved."

Most of the islands of the Caribbean have a similar geological history. They got started as volcanoes. Many also shared a similar history of habitation by tribes of Arowaks and Caribes. And they all passed centuries as European colonies.  As a result you will often see a dish with local adaptations island by island. An example is a recipe that is basically a hashed fish fillet. It’s often called Keri-Keri, and here's how its prepared by Chef Scott Scheuerman at the Costa Linda Beach Resort.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN: Okay, we're using shark here.  This is the ideal fish because of its, because of its fine grain texture - any white fish will be fine.

He starts by taking skinless, boneless fish fillets that have been baked and breaking them up into small bits.  Then a little oil goes into a frying pan followed by some chopped onion, green pepper, hot chili pepper, celery, and tomato.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  When you look at the recipes of Aruba, you notice that many of them contain hot chili or hot pepper.  The reason for that is a hot chili or hot pepper will bring moisture to the outside surface of your skin.  As that moisture evaporates, you cool down.  So it heats up your inside but cools off your outside.  Kind of a natural air-conditioner.

That cooks together for two minutes at which point in goes the fish, plus some capers, paprika and ketchup. That's the Keri-Keri.  That holds for a moment while Scott takes a few lettuce leaves and wilts them over the range heat.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN: Just for a few seconds.  What that's gonna do is wilt the lettuce so that when we roll it up later on it's not going to break on us.

The wilted lettuce leaves go onto a work surface. A quarter cup of Keri-Keri goes on an the leaf gets rolled up.  Some Creole tomato sauce goes onto a serving plate. The rolled fish on top and finally a little more of the sauce.

During the middle of the 1800's the farmers of Aruba began to produce aloe plants on a commercial scale. Aloe, also known as Aloe Vera, was brought to the Caribbean by traders from the Mediterranean. By the early years of this century, Aruba was a major producer of aloe and famous for supplying the best quality in the world.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The interesting thing about the aloe plant is its ability to help protect our skin. The juice from an aloe plant will help heal a cut or a scrape, but it has an amazing ability to help heal a burn.  During the 1950's scientists discovered that it not only helps with regular burns, but with radiation burns. And there was a rumor that the US federal government was stockpiling aloe plants as part of its national nuclear defense program. Cosmetic companies use aloe in suntan lotions, facial cremes, hand cremes and shampoos.  And Egyptologists believe that Cleopatra used aloe in all of her facial cosmetics.  I’m going to have to check with Elizabeth Taylor and see if that’s really true.

I always try to keep an aloe plant in my kitchen.  If I get a burn I submerge the burned area in cold water to take the heat away, and then I cut off a little bit of one of the plant's leaves and rub some of that sap on the burn.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Aloe has always had a healing and soothing effect, and in many books it’s actually referred to as "The First Aid Plant," and for many years Aruba was referred to as "The Aloe Island".

The 17th century was the golden age of Dutch history. The great houses that line the canals of Amsterdam. The furniture inside those magnificent buildings. The works of art that were commissioned by the people who lived in those buildings, works painted by artists like Rembrandt and Frans Hals. These are things that were funded to a great extent by the enormous wealth that was produced for the businessmen of Holland as a result of that country’s trade with Indonesia.  A trade which introduced Indonesian cooking to Holland and to its other colonies, including Aruba.  Today, Scott carries on that tradition with a recipe for Indonesian Rice.  A little corn oil gets heated in a wok. A little sesame oil is added for flavor.  Sesame oil has a great flavor but a low burning point so the actual cooking should be done with another type of oil like corn or peanut.  Then in goes a half cup each of chopped onion, carrot, celery, cabbage, and scallions. All those vegetables are stir-fried for a few moments.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN: We're using a small, stove-top wok here.  You could use any kind of a broad skillet, but you need to have enough surface area that we can convey all the heat.

Next we add a cup each of chopped chicken, roast pork loin, and ham. Another few moments of stir-frying.  We add a tablespoon each of curry powder, chili paste, and soy sauce.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN: This is an Indonesian-type soy sauce which is a little heavier, a little sweeter, a little bit maltier than most of the Chinese soy sauces. 

BURT WOLF:  It really has the flavor of Chinese soy sauce with a little bit of hoisin mixed in.

SCOTT SCHEURMAN:  Exactly, it's got a sweetness to it, as well as a heavier body.

In go four cups of pre-cooked long grained rice.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Scott’s using long grain white rice that cooked in about 15 minutes and ended up giving us individual fluffy grains. You don’t want to wash long grain white rice before you use it, because it has usually been enriched enriched with thiamine, iron, and niacin.  And washing will only take off those nutrients.

At this point two eggs are mixed together with a few tablespoons of water and cooked in a large non-stick frying pan into a thin, flat omelet. The omelet is rolled up and sliced into strips.  A serving of the rice mixture goes onto a plate. Some of the omelet goes on one side, and some sliced iceberg lettuce on the other.

The Caribbean weather pattern that surrounds Aruba provides it with a climate that is warm and dry. The island is also brushed by constant trade winds. At a number of points on the island those winds come ashore across a stretch of sandy beach, and they come across with sufficient strength and regularity to produce sand dunes. A dune moves along rather slowly, usually covering no more than 30 yards in a year, but once they get going they are very difficult to stop. Dunes have buried individual homes, whole towns and giant forests, which can eventually be uncovered as the dune moves on. That's never happened here in Aruba, but the story of a dune is a rather fascinating bit of nature and the perfect spot to spend a day near the sea.

And if we are going to spend the day here we might as well take a look at some of the “dunes and don'ts” of food safety for picnics.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The general rules for food safety on a picnic are very simple. Keep hot foods hot. Keep cold foods cold. Keep raw foods away from cooked foods. Keep your hands and your utensils clean and don't drink any water that hasn't been properly processed. That's basically it, but here's some more detail on that information.

We live in a world filled with bacteria. Bacteria so small that it’s impossible to see with our naked eye. Some of the bacteria is good for us, and helps us get through life. Some of the bacteria is bad for us and can put an end to our life.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  When it comes to food, the bacteria that produces yogurt or sauerkraut is on the "friendly list". Botulism and salmonella spores are definitely on the “unfriendly list,” and they can kill you.  But we’re also talking about numbers.  The more bacteria that is present, the more dangerous it is.  Bacteria has a favorite range for reproduction, between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, they really reproduce. So if you keep your food below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, you should be okay. And the only way to make sure is to have a tiny instant thermometer, put it into the food, check the temperature.  If you’re below 40 or above 140, you should be okay.

It's also very important to keep uncooked foods away from cooked foods or foods that are normally eaten raw. And keep any uncooked foods like hamburger meat or chicken carefully wrapped and away from everything else. When you do cook those hamburgers, chickens, fish or anything else, make sure that they are fully cooked.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Eating rare or raw meat, fish, or poultry is in my opinion like playing Russian Roulette. It's just a question of time before you get hit.

Your hands and your equipment also transfer bacteria from place to place. Wash your hands carefully before you start handling food. Wash your hands between the handling of raw food and uncooked food and wash all of the equipment before you use it.  And all the water you drink or use at the picnic should come from a safe tap or be properly processed water that you purchased in a sealed container

Here are a few additional tips that might make life on the beach better. If you're bringing hamburgers, make them thin and take them to the picnic in a frozen state.  A big supply of disposible wipes can be a great help in keeping you and everything else clean.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  As a general rule, if the outside temperature of the day is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, you can keep your food out for up to 2 hours; if the outside temperature of the day is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, your food shouldn’t be out for more than an hour.

And finally, mayonnaise is not really the big problem many of us thought it was. Store-bought mayonnaise produced from a commercial formula usually has enough acid to keep it safe in the sun. It's the meat, fish, or eggs that we mix it with that give us the trouble.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): During the early 1800's most of South America was involved in a revolutionary movement designed to free it from the Spanish Crown. In Venezuela, the head of that revolutionary movement was a man named Francisco de Miranda. Whenever Miranda got in trouble in Venezuela he would pop over to Aruba. Aruba was only fifteen miles away, it was an island, it was Dutch, and it was safe.  While he was here, he promised to pay the local Commander for everything that he and his 300 revolutionary troops used, but when Miranda left, the only thing he left behind was a letter that said “Yes, I do owe you 528 pesos.”  That letter still exists and so does the debt. Miranda's behavior, however, was not unusual for revolutionaries of the time. They were always very short of money and when they had some, they wanted to use it to buy guns. You know all those inns on the east coast of the United States that have these signs that say "George Washington slept here, during the Revolution"? I'll bet you that George didn't pay either. Politicians and money...

Anyway, over the years, Aruba became the place to seek refuge when things were not going well for you in Venezuela. In general these political refugees were rather wealthy and since they had no business to do in Aruba they literally became Aruba's earliest tourists. They often stayed for such long periods of time that many Venezuelan-Aruban families were formed and much of Aruban life took on a Spanish quality. Even today, Aruba is still the favorite get-away for the people of Venezuela, but only for vacations.

One of the most traditional desserts in any country with a Latin heritage is Flan.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Basically a custard of eggs, milk, and sugar, in the hands of a knowledgeable cook it can really become a work of art. I was sitting around, talking about flan with Eduardo Ellis. He owns Aruba's Papiamento Restaurant.   He said that the absolute best flan that he had ever tasted was made by a woman on the island named Nelida Tromp. So we called her up and said “Come on over to the restaurant and teach us how it’s made.”

Nelida starts by putting a cup of sugar and a cup of water into a three-quart heat-proof mold and heating the mixture until it caramelizes to a dark brown color. The mold is then tilted from side to side in order to give the inside a coating of the sugar syrup.  A total of eight eggs, sixteen ounces of sweetened condensed milk and sixteen ounces of water are mixed together in a blender and poured into the mold. Four tablespoons of vanilla extract are mixed in and the top goes on. The mold goes into a larger pan and water is poured into the larger pan until it goes halfway up the outside of the mold.  The baking takes place in a 350 degree oven for one hour. Then the mold comes out of the water bath to cool, and the flan is unmolded. Every drop of the sauce goes on and it's ready to serve.

Eduardo Ellis was born in Aruba. His wife Lenie was born in Holland. Together they run one of the best restaurants in the Caribbean. It’s called Papiamento. The Dutch have been in business on Aruba for over three hundred years so the relationship between Lenie and Eduardo has considerable historical precedent. And to keep that history running, they have brought their sons into the business. Edward was born in Aruba and represents his father's history.  Jaap was born in Holland and represents his mother's culture.  Antoine was born in... Milwaukee?  Ah, yes -- Antoine represents the fact that 70 percent of the tourists who come to Aruba come from the US. Today Antoine is preparing a dish called Chicken Picasso.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   I was told it was called Chicken Picasso because of all of the beautiful colors in the fruit. But I thought it was called Chicken Picasso because all the fruit was cut into little cubes and therefore representative of Picasso's cubist period.

The recipe starts with a little salt and pepper going onto a boneless, skinless chicken breast. A little Worcestershire Sauce goes on.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Here’s an interesting story about Worcestershire sauce.  It tells of two Englishmen who had been living and working in India, returned to England, and were unpacking the stuff from the trip.  They found a cask with a liquid in it.  They didn’t know what it was, and kind of put it in the cellar.  Couple of years later they stumbled upon that cask again, opened it up, tasted the liquid, loved the flavor, decided to call it Worcestershire Sauce, figured out the formula, and introduced it as a product in England.

Next some chopped garlic and oil go onto the chicken. At which point it gets a light coating of flour. A little butter is heated in a pan. The chicken goes in and cooks until done. A selection of fruits are cut into bite-sized pieces. Antoine is using papaya, mango, kiwi, pineapple and strawberry. The fruits go in and cook for two minutes. Then in goes a quarter cup of Grand Marnier brandy, which is cooked down over high heat.  If you don't want to use alcohol in the dish it will work just as well with some orange juice.  The chicken goes onto a pineapple boat.  The fruits and the sauce go onto the chicken and that's it.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  That completes our tour of Northern Aruba, so I guess it’s time to move on to our next location.  But I must say, I’m not in any hurry to leave.  Though I guess if you’re ready, I’m ready.  I hope you’ll join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: The Malay Community of Singapore - #115

Singapore -- it’s the place to take a look at the ancient food traditions of a city that is world famous for good eating.  We’ll discover the great recipes of Singapore’s Malay community, and the secrets of their spice mixtures.  We’ll tour the town and discover some edible love letters.  So join me in the Malay Community of Singapore for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

The nation of Singapore sits on a group of islands at the tip of the Malay Peninsula.  Just north of it is Malaysia and just above that, Thailand.  Below it are the straits of Singapore and they are the key to the country’s history. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Commercial trading between India and China has been going on for about five thousand years.  And for all of those years, the Malaysian Peninsula has rested right smack in the middle.  Ships would come down to the west coast of the peninsula from India to do a little business in spices -- pepper, ginger, cinnamon.  Along the east coast you would find Chinese junks doing a little business of their own.  And eventually Arab traders joined in.  The area became a center of commerce.  Actually, it was more like a point for piracy.  The waters around Singapore are kind of narrow and as the trading ships came through, local pirates would come out out to do... what local pirates do.   For hundreds of years the land around Singapore was just a jungle with a specialty in local piracy.

But all that changed in 1819.  The British and the Dutch had been jockeying for position in the area.  The British were thinking about moving out of the neighborhood and leaving it for the Dutch, if the Dutch would give them a nice bit of property in India that the English had been coveting for awhile. Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles was the English Lieutenant-governor of Java and he hated the idea. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Raffles saw his opportunity when the old Sultan of Johor died without leaving a clear heir to the throne.  The sultan’s oldest son was in exile.  So they put the youngest son of the sultan on the throne.  But there was some real question as to whether the youngest son had the right to sit upon that seat.  So Raffles brought back the older kid, had him declared the new sultan, and then made a deal with him for exclusive English trading rights in Singapore.  He paid his new sultan three thousand Spanish dollars a year for those rights, and five thousand Spanish dollars a year went to the local Malay chief.  Raffles was in business.

Raffles had been able to obtain an important site for British trade in the area and he drew up a plan for the development of his new town. It was divided into areas for each of the major immigrant groups and its commercial strength was to rest on its location as a port.  His plan set the basis for the history of Singapore during the past two centuries.  When Lord Raffles showed up in 1819, Singapore was little more than a Malay village.  The majority of the small population were Malaysian Muslims who had drifted down the peninsula, but their cultural influence has always been greater than their numbers.  Today fifteen percent of the population of Singapore is Malay. They are very much part of the modern city, and the fact that they were here first is reflected in many subtle ways, including the fact that the national anthem is sung in Malay.

Today Singapore is a major Asian city. Its downtown business district is as modern and up to date as any city in the world.  Almost the entire population of Singapore lives on one island, which has a limiting effect on expansion, but only in the horizontal plane; vertically, the sky’s the limit.  For thousands of years the major economic activity of Singapore has been trade.  These giant buildings house the corporate offices of the major companies that manage much of the world’s oil business.  Because Singapore is in the middle of the most important shipping routes of Asia, it has become one of the busiest ports in the world.  Each year more than 100,000 ships pass through the facilities at the Singapore yards.   Singapore is also an outstanding financial center; its banks handle hundreds of billions of dollars in international transactions.  But if you’re not interested in making money, hey, that’s OK, Singapore will help you spend it.  Orchard Road has an impressive shopping area.  Mile after mile of stores, representing designers and manufacturers from all over Europe, Asia and the Americas. 

Clearly business is important, and so is shopping -- but neither may be the single great compulsion for a Singaporean.  The consuming passion in this town is consuming good food.  No matter who you are talking to, within a few minutes the subject will come around to eating. Singapore has some 25,000 places to eat in and a population that is slightly over two and a half million.  Lots of competition, and lots of great food.

Within Singapore’s Malay community there is no more traditional dish than Satay.  It’s on the menu of hundreds of restaurants throughout the city.  Satay as it is presently presented is simply a bamboo skewer with three or four bite-sized pieces of shrimp, chicken, or lamb that have been marinated, and grilled and served with a peanut sauce.  Satay probably got started in Indonesia and over the years became a standby throughout Southeast Asia. It has even became a regular part of the service on Singapore Airlines.

Chef Mohammed Sharif works with the airline and is a specialist in Malay dishes.  He starts his Chicken Satay by preparing the marinade.  Shallots, lemon grass, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and a little water are blended together into a paste.  When the mixture comes out of the blender, one pound of chicken cut into bite-sized pieces is added in. Before the meat is mixed into the paste, two tablespoons of each of the following get added in: cumin, coriander, salt, sugar and oil.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  That gets covered and rests in the refrigerator for four hours.

Next a dipping sauce is made.  A quarter of a cup of peanut oil goes into a sauce pan, to which is added a quarter of a cup of chopped shallots, two tablespoons of chili paste, a cup and a half of chicken stock, a cup of ground peanuts, a quarter of a cup of sugar and a little salt.  All that is boiled together for three minutes.  A charcoal grill is fired up, or you could use a broiler.  A little oil goes onto the grill to give it a non-stick surface. The chicken gets put onto the skewers, and grilled.  Traditionally a fan is used to bring up the temperature.  Because the skewers here are made of bamboo, the end you hold is kept to the side, away from the direct heat.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The fan’s also pretty good for cooling off the chefs!

The chicken, lamb or shrimp satay is served with the peanut sauce, and a few pieces of onion and cucumber.

The indigenous food of Singapore was originally the cooking of Malaysia and Indonesia.  In Singapore these foods are presented as four different cuisines.  The first is Sumatran Nasi Padang.  It originated in the Padang area of Western Sumatra.  Many of the dishes consist of coconut cream combined with various spices and chilies to produce a sauce which is then used as the cooking base for fish, poultry or vegetables.  White rice comes in to dampen down the heat of the chilies.  Second is Javanese.  The most famous of the Javanese dishes is satay.  Next up are the Malayan dishes.  There is a considerable similarity between Malayan and Javanese cooking but the approach to spicing is somewhat different.  One of the best of the Malayan dishes is seafood coated with a sauce made from coconut milk and spices, and then grilled in a banana leaf.  The fourth of the traditional cuisines is called Nonya.  Nonya cooking combines many of the traditional ingredients and cooking techniques of both the Chinese and the Malaysians.  Laska is a good example; thick noodles and shrimp drawn from a Chinese recipe, then blended together with Malaysian coconut milk and spices.  

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Start with these four indigenous cuisines, add the eight regional styles that came from the Chinese, and the two forms that were imported by the Indian settlers, and you will see why Singapore is famous for its good cooking.  Of course, you also must give the people of Singapore credit for not being influenced by English food during the colonial period.

Violet Oon is one of Singapore’s leading food authorities.  She writes for major newspapers and magazines, represents the nation at important food events around the world, publishes a magazine devoted to food called The Food Paper, authors cookbooks, runs her own restaurants and educates people, like me, who want to know about Nonya cooking and Nonya culture.

VIOLET OON:  Well, I belong to what is known as the Paranakan culture; it’s a cross-culture of Malay and Chinese culture, mainly ethnically Chinese, but we’ve been here for generations and generations.  It’s also known as Nonya; Nonya is a term for the women of the culture.  And it’s also known as Baba culture; those are the men.  Now you know --

BURT WOLF:   Nonyas are the women, Babas are the men.

VIOLET OON:  Yes.  And the food, which is our most spectacular sort of part of our culture, is known as Nonya food, because cooking is a feminine art, and I think that’s why that word is sort of very much in use.  Now, we are walking down Emerald Hill Road in Singapore.  It’s become a very chic address.  The houses were where the rich people of my culture stayed at the turn of the century and this century, and the architecture you see is very like a, I call it a “wedding cake,” you know?  A bit of a bad-taste wedding cake, very colorful.  Our culture is  -- you see our motifs are the furniture, the dress, the crockery is very , very colorful.  The motifs are, if you look at it, very Arabesque.  So that’s the Malay influence.  Floral, rather than Chinese, which would be more symbolic -- animals and bats, and they would have all those other things.  Well, our culture uses the more floral motifs, which is sort of inspired by the Malay culture.  And our food would also be a mixture of Malay and Chinese.  You get the blandness of Chinese food, the fineness of it, with the spiciness of Malay cuisine, and I think people like it because it’s a mixture of two, two flavors, two textures, and two cultures.  And it’s been sort of developed into a classic cuisine with actual set dishes for festivities, for wedding feasts, for funerals, for births.  And all these are sort of big celebrations in a person’s life.  The Chinese have a saying that there are three big occasions in their life:  the day you’re born, the day you’re married and the day you die.  In our culture, we celebrate the feasts of the Chinese culture.  The first big birthday would be your sixty-first birthday.

BURT WOLF:   I have to wait ‘til I’m sixty-one before I get a big birthday?

VIOLET OON:  Three score and ten, yeah.

BURT WOLF:   Okay.

VIOLET OON:  Well, it’s like into your seventh decade...

BURT WOLF:   (over)  Right...

VIOLET OON:  ...then the second one is your seventy-first birthday, and normally the biggest birthday celebration is the eighty-first, ‘cause most probably by the time you’re ninety-one you’re dead, you know?

BURT WOLF:   You wanna get it in while you still can.

VIOLET OON:  (Laughing)  Yeah, so when it’s the eighty-first birthday you find that Chinese families will come from all around the world --

BURT WOLF:   --for an eighty-first birthday.

VIOLET OON:  --for an eighty-first birthday. 

BURT WOLF:   Interesting.

VIOLET OON:  And normally you’ll have noodles, which is also part of our Paranakan culture for --

BURT WOLF:   Right, a symbol of long life.

VIOLET OON:  Yes, and you mustn’t cut the noodle --

BURT WOLF:   Okay...

VIOLET OON:  -- especially if it’s your mother-in-law’s birthday... [BURT laughs]  ...she thinks you have a message somewhere if you cut the noodles up, you know?

BURT WOLF:   Aah, I’ll be very careful about that.

VIOLET OON:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, very careful of that.

BURT WOLF:   Okay...

VIOLET OON:  And noodles would have, in a birthday, [“So we would have noodles at a birthday”]  but sort of in our Nonya culture we would also have the spicy foods, things like Sambal Udon, the Shrimp Sambal, and we would have certain Chinese soups like Hipyu soup with fish more[?], so it’s a mixture of sort of different cultures.  So I think that is, to a lot of people, the fun of Nonya cooking, the fun of Nonya food.

VIOLET OON  (NOW IN KITCHEN):  Well, this is Beef Rendang; it’s Nonya cooking but it comes from Indonesia originally, and... would you like to know what spices go into it?


VIOLET OON:  Yeah?  Well, we have garlic, which goes into the spice paste, about five cloves of it; and then there’s a chili paste, which is made from dried chilis; and then you have about a thumbful or two thumbsful of ginger.  And this here is lemon grass, which is citron -- citronella; and about two handsful of shallots.  And what you get out of all this is this spice paste that you have here, which you put in a blender or a food processor to get it into a fine paste.

BURT WOLF:  If I can’t get lemon grass, what should I use?

VIOLET OON:  Use nothing.

BURT WOLF:  Ah, nothing.  My supermarket always has that, and it’s usually on special.

VIOLET OON:  Mm-hmm.  Ahh, could you sort of pour some oil in here for me?  Now, you add two to three tables -- you have to add a bit more oil, actually; it may seem a lot, but you need the oil to cook the spice paste in, and if you’re sort of very health-conscious you remove the oil at the end of the cooking time.  And you sauté it over sort of medium heat.  You know when your spice mixture is done, and the secret is that it’s done when you have a sneeze.

BURT WOLF:  Enough of the volatile oils come up --

VIOLET OON: (overlaps)  Enough, yeah -- AH-CHOO!




BURT WOLF:  AH-CHOOOOO!!!!!  I think the dish is ready.

VIOLET OON:  Yes.  Well, at this point the spices are done, you add the coconut milk, about two to three cups of it, into the spice, yeah, so it doesn’t burn, and then I would add stewing beef, about maybe two pounds.  Or you could add chickens cut into pieces, and cut into -- the meat will be cut into cubes.  And then a bit of sugar, about a quarter of a cup of sugar... salt, maybe about one to one and a half teaspoons.  And then you could add these kaffir lime leaves, which could be replaced by lemon zest or lime zest in the States.  It’s sort of a -- gives it a beautiful aroma from the leaves.  And then you would stew it on sort of medium heat for about two hours, if you have this sort of stewing beef, two to three hours, ‘til it’s tender and the oil exudes again and the gravy gets thick.  Or if you like a nice gravy, you could sort of cook it less reduced; you could have a, a sort of creamier gravy.  So it depends on how you like it done, actually.

BURT WOLF:  That’s it.

The high value placed on hospitality in the cultures that make up Singapore has affected many aspects of the city’s life.  On the smallest scale it is the friendliness that greets you when you enter someone’s home; on the largest scale it is the government’s desire to keep Singapore as the number one convention city in Asia.  The Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, which everyone calls Suntec City, is designed to be the place to meet in the Asia-Pacific region.  It is a state-of-the-art facility with an ideal location, right at the center of the city.  And because of the size of the project, it has attracted a considerable amount of additional development to the area.  Particularly in terms of hotels.  A prime example of a top hotel is the Marina Mandarin.  It’s 21 stories high, and designed by John Portman of Atlanta, who pioneered the use of spectacular atriums in hotels. There’s a skylight that lets you feel like you are outside while having all the comforts of being inside.  Every room has a view and all the other elements that you would expect from a really first-class facility.  But because the Marina Mandarin is in Singapore, it has a gastronomic responsibility that is considerably more challenging than it would have in any other city.  Let me show you what I mean.  This is the kitchen of a famous hotel in Paris.  Many chefs, many talents, many recipes. One food... French.  This is the kitchen of a famous restaurant in Italy. Again, many chefs, many talents, many recipes.  One food, Italian.  But here the hotel must cater to at least 15 different gastronomic cultures.  The House of Blossoms presents the dishes of six different regions in China. 75 percent of the population of Singapore is of Chinese ancestry.  The Tatler serves the foods of India, which is representative of about 15 percent of the population.  It also cooks the four traditional foods of the indigenous people of the Malay peninsula, which constitutes about 7 percent of the population.  Of course they didn’t want to miss out on the great traditions of the west, so there is the Ristorante Bologna, which is one of the only Italian restaurants in Asia to be admitted into the International Association of Italian Restaurants.  The hotel’s Executive Chef is George Fistrovich, who has an impressive set of credits from restaurants all over Europe, Asia and the United States.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  But the thing that impressed me the most about George’s background is his mother.  She lives  in Indiana and is a regular viewer of my reports.  As an expression of our appreciation we tried to find a recipe that we thought she would truly enjoy.  It’s called Fish Sambal.  It’s made from a boneless, skinless filet of fish with a really interesting collection of seasonings.

GEORGE FISTROVICH:  Is that okay, Mom?

The recipe starts with two tablespoons of oil going into a hot sauté pan. As soon as the oil is hot, in goes a quarter of a cup of minced shallots, a quarter cup of minced garlic, and a quarter cup of pureed red chilies. 

GEORGE FISTROVICH:  You take the garlic and chili and the shallots, and you stir it about ten to twelve minutes over moderate heat until all the oil comes penetrating throughout.  And that way you’ll know that all the flavors are even throughout.

After a few minutes of stirring three tablespoons of sugar are added plus a pinch of salt and two tablespoons of water. 

GEORGE FISTROVICH:  Some people might find this mixture a little bit hot.  So by adding ketchup, it will sweeten the mixture up a little bit and also add a nice color to it.

BURT WOLF:   Traditional Asian ingredient.


George puts a little oil onto a banana leaf, but if banana leaves are not big in your neighborhood, some aluminum foil will do the job.  Then the fish goes onto the leaf and the sauce on top of the fish.  The leaf or the foil gets wrapped around the fish.  A little oil goes into a pan and then the wrapped fish.  Six minutes of cooking on one side, six minutes on the other and the fish is ready.  While the fish is cooking George prepares a sweet chutney.  Three tablespoons of sugar go into a hot sauté pan.  Then three tablespoons of lime juice.  Within a minute or so the sugar will dissolve into the juice.  At that point take the pan off the heat and hold it aside.  Put a quarter of a cup of sliced green chilies into a bowl, plus a quarter of a cup of sliced red chilies, a sliced mango and a cubed apple.  Then pour the sugar and lime juice mixture on top.  Two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar are added, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of chopped chives.

GEORGE FISTROVICH:  This mixture can be kept in your refrigerator for three to four days, if you just minus the chives and add ‘em when needed.

The banana leaves go onto a serving plate, the fish, the chutney and a few chopped chives.

GEORGE FISTROVICH:  Finish the plate by two pieces of chives... and that’s home cooking, Mom -- but in Singapore!

This is Peter Wee, a leading authority on Paranakan culture.  He collects valuable examples of Paranakan history, and even offers traditional foods for appropriate holidays.  His antique shop is at the center of Singapore’s Paranakan district.

PETER WEE:  Now, in every Paranakan home, especially of this type, you have this little peephole, because we can look into the main entrance and see who is knocking at the door.  And the ladies of the house are not supposed to be found outside, and so they can peep and see who is in, who is downstairs. 

BURT WOLF:   Very functional, too.


BURT WOLF:   You drop the keys down?


BURT WOLF:   What does “Katong” mean?

PETER WEE:  Well, Katong is, in the eastern part of Singapore, this area is known as Katong.  And at this time of the year, the shop is full of Paranakan cookies.  We get these from the several bibis that make all these traditional cookies and bring them to the shop.

BURT WOLF:   Bibis?

PETER WEE:  Bibis are elderly ladies.  Now here is a tin where we keep all the “love letters,” or Quay Blanda.  Now, blanda, to the Paranakan, is “Dutch.”  So I suppose this must have been influenced by the, by the Dutch in the Paranakan culture.  And the basis for this is, of course, coconut, flour, sugar, and pandan leaves.

BURT WOLF:   Pan -- ?

PETER WEE:  Pandan leaves, fragrant, green pandan leaves.  And, talking about pandan leaves brings me to the idea, at the early days of my grandfather’s time, we used to boil hot water and put it in a, in a teapot, and they’d just put the pandan leaves into the teapot, and the entire pot of water is fragrant with pandan leaves.  And if you cool it, you drink it, my goodness, it’s so fragrant.  Pandan leaves! ...  Now that is what we call the aga-aga.  It’s made into the shape of a rabbit.  Now, we make this out of seaweed we collect from the sea and we dry it up...

BURT WOLF:   And that’s dried seaweed?

PETER WEE:  ...for at least a month or two, you dry the seaweed; you leave it under the sun, rains, and then you wash it until it turns white. 

BURT WOLF:   And then it becomes like a gelatin.

PETER WEE:  Gelatin.  Then once it is formed, it will last from five to six months.  Now this --

BURT WOLF:   What is that?

PETER WEE:  Ah, now this soft-looking little cake here is what we call quay bakul.  Bakul is “basket,” because it is steamed in a basket, and it is steamed for eight hours...

BURT WOLF:   Like a plum pudding.

PETER WEE:  Yes.  The longer you steam it, the darker the color will be.  So this is --

BURT WOLF:   The sugar carmelizing in it.

PETER WEE:  Yes.  So you get that -- this is made of glutinous rice.  Now this is very important to the Paranakan Chinese New Year because this is the main cake that has got to be offered to the deity. 

BURT WOLF:   I like the symbolism of that; the stickiness of the rice holding the family together, the roundness, all in one place, and those two things making life sweet.

PETER WEE:   And it is also stated that if the family is mourning that year for someone who has passed away, they cannot make this cake; because if they make this cake it would not stick together.  But they will receive gifts of this cake from their relatives.  So if one is mourning, it’s very superstitious -- you cannot make this cake. ... It’s a photo of my father and mother’s wedding day; they were dressed in the traditional Chinese costume, which is also a Paranakan costume.  You can see that she wore a very unique aspect of Paranakan bridal headgear, which is made of a hundred and forty-four hairpins.

BURT WOLF:   A hundred and forty-four hairpins!

PETER WEE:  And she walked into the Church of San Teresa and she was married in a Christian manner, wearing that traditional costume.  We believe -- the Chinese believe, and the Paranakans also have that feeling, that you know, life has got to be complete with longevity, prosperity and happiness.

BURT WOLF:   You wouldn’t want to be old and rich and not happy.

PETER WEE:  Yes.  You have to have all these three, so that is why we have these three star-gods representing, you know, the new year, the wishing of the new year, wishing one happiness, prosperity, and longevity.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Well, that’s our report on the indigenous food of the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula... an island known to the world as Singapore.  It’s done an amazing job of bringing together six different cultures and helping them preserve their ethnic traditions... especially when it comes to food.  Please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Santiago, California - #114

Sonoma, California... one of the world's most important places for the production of great wines and the foods to go with them.   We'll take a look at the unique environment that makes all this good food and drink possible... and the people who farm these valleys.  We'll also get some easy and great tasting recipes from some of the area's best chefs.  So join me in Sonoma, California for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Drive north from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge... past the houseboats of Sausalito... through the hills and shopping centers of Marin County... and in about an hour you will arrive in the valley called Sonoma. There are two theories about the meaning of the word Sonoma. One says that it is a Native American word that translates as "the land of Chief Nose," a reference to a local chief who had a very big sniffer... the Cyrano De Bergerac of his neighborhood. Eventually, Sonoma became the birthplace of the California wine industry, where a big nose is still important. The other story claims that Sonoma is a native word, from a different tribe, meaning "valley of the moons"... the validity of which can be confirmed on any clear night.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The first European to establish a residence in the Sonoma Valley was Father Jose Altimira, a Franciscan missionary who established himself here at the Sonoma Mission.  This was the most northerly outpost of the Spanish colonies on the west coast of the New World. Their missions ran from the bottom of South America all the way up here to this spot in northern California.

In 1834 the Mexican government sent General Mariano Vallejo to Sonoma. His orders were to secularize the mission and establish a Mexican settlement.  Vallejo immediately set up a system of land grants for his friends and relatives.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   I can just see General Vallejo poring over his map. "This land by the river... I give it to my sister... no charge. Aah, and the stuff by the mountain... perfect for Uncle Carlos... also no charge. This stuff in the valley would be perfect for my brother-in-law's brother but I don't like him so much, so I charge... but just a little."  Of course, the fact that this land had belonged to the native tribes for the past 35,000 years or so was one of those little subtleties that was lost in the "big picture". Governments love "big pictures,” because it allows them to ignore "little people".

The very first vineyards in Northern California were planted by the Franciscan missionaries so they could make sacramental wine. When General Vallejo secularized the mission he also secularized the vineyards and planted additional vines behind the army barracks.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   General Vallejo was able to combine making war with making wine and in 1841 became the valley’s first commercial vintner. A little lancing, a little labeling... a little bottling, a little battling... a little cannon work, a little cork work... For General Vallejo, life was good. And for today's winemakers in the valley, it still is.

The northern coast of California has a unique weather pattern.  Fog filled with moisture comes off the Pacific Ocean and tries to head inland.  As it does, it’s confronted with a mountain range that forces it into the river basins.  The result is an area with warm days and cool nights, and a series of valleys that are ideal for growing the finest wine grapes.  The locality is called Sonoma County, and it’s one of the world's most important vineyard regions.  It’s also a place where a major commitment has been made by one of the world's most important wineries -- E. and J. Gallo.  It was started in 1933 by Ernest and Julio Gallo, who at the time were 23 and 24 years old, respectively.  This photo is a little earlier.  I actually have an even earlier photo of Ernest; that's him sitting next to his dad.  Julio got onto the bulldozer and got the land ready for planting... Ernest got dressed up and went east with his wife to take orders for the wine.  1933 was a good year to start a winery; it was the year that the federal government's prohibition against the manufacture and sale of beverages containing alcohol came to an end, and once again people could enjoy a glass of wine with their dinner and not create a federal case.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The brothers had learned the Old World approach to growing grapes from their father, but they had absolutely no idea of how to produce wine. So they went to a local public library and took out a book  on how to make wine. They used that book to produce their first vintage.  The book had a rather scientific approach to winemaking, and that’s still a basic part of the Gallo philosophy.  As a matter of fact, some of their research has led to major breakthroughs in wine production. Today Gallo is the world’s largest producer of wine.  One out of every four bottles sold in the United States is a Gallo bottle.  And I think that makes a perfectly good reason to always have a valid library card.

DAN SOLOMON:  Look where we are; we’re about four hundred feet off the valley floor.        

Dan Solomon has been with the Gallo winery since 1974.

DAN SOLOMON:  Most farmers, the first place any farmer wants to go will be down there on the valley floor.  I don’t care if you’re growing almonds or zucchini or walnuts or kumquats, down there you’ve got an easy source of water, the soils are deep and fat, you can plow a straight furrow very easily right down the valley floor -- why then are all the Gallo vineyards here in Sonoma County up here on the hillsides?  Up here the soils are very rocky.  If this were in my tomato garden, I’d be in deep trouble.  These rocky soils permit water to percolate through.  The grapes don’t like wet feet.  So this permits the water to stay in some of the soil, but doesn’t pool around the grapes.  And that directs the vine into producing grapes of better quality with more intense flavors because they have to suffer a little bit.

BURT WOLF:   A little suffering is okay.

DAN SOLOMON:  Always a little.  (Laughter)

BURT WOLF:   I tell that to my kids all the time -- just a little.

DAN SOLOMON:  Interestingly, for every acre of vineyard that we plant, we keep another acre in forest land watershed preserve.  This is wonderful; this is very helpful to Mother Nature, but it does create problems for us as grape-growers.  Because living in the forest are an awful lot of deer who come down and want to munch on our vines.  So to keep them out, we discovered a method.  We are hanging bars of Dial soap around the periphery of the vineyard; we think it creates an odor barrier and keeps the deer out.  Unfortunately, the latest crop of fauns seem to becoming accustomed to this Dial soap, and we may have to up the ante to Irish Spring.

BURT WOLF:   Ah, Irish Spring.  Manly, but deer hate it too. ... People often wonder which wines go with which foods.  What’s your recommendation?

DAN SOLOMON:  Well, Burt, there are certain general rules that apply, that are traditional.  The basic thing to remember is that wine and food should compliment each other, just like a happy marriage.  Neither partner should overwhelm the other. 

BURT WOLF:   I like the idea of a happy marriage.

DAN SOLOMON:  Good.  In the case of wine and food, white wine goes well with more delicately-flavored foods, like chicken, fish, vegetables perhaps --

BURT WOLF:   Salad...

DAN SOLOMON:  -- salad... red wine tends to be more strongly-flavored, and goes well with strongly-flavored foods like lamb, beef, all kinds of red meats, perhaps foods with a hearty red tomato sauce.  The bottom line is that neither should overwhelm the other and make a happy marriage.

BURT WOLF:   I always worked with a system of “red wines with red foods and white wines with white foods;” I’ll often have salmon with a red wine because I think salmon is pretty strong and intense.

DAN SOLOMON:  Mm-hmm.  And I think that’s fine; your palate is your palate.  No one can dictate to you what your taste should be, and that’s a primary rule for tasting wine:  what you enjoy is the right wine for you.

BURT WOLF:   Your metaphor about marriage is absolutely perfect; if you have a pre-nuptual agreement you can put together whatever you want.

DAN SOLOMON:  (Laughing)  I agree; I’ll drink to that.  Cheers.

Just before dawn on April 18, 1906, the tectonic plate that sits under the Pacific Ocean took a few baby steps to the north. At the same time the tectonic plate that sits under California took a few baby steps to the south. As they rubbed past each other in opposite directions they created an extraordinarily violent tremor on the surface of the earth, which just happened to be the city of San Francisco. For 48 seconds the town rocked and rolled and then the fires started... fires that destroyed almost the entire city.  The average person saw San Francisco as a total wreck. But some of its citizens saw the area as a fantastic opportunity for development. One of the visionaries was a man named Frederick C. Clift and his vision was that of a top-notch luxury hotel that would feel like a home away from home, but most importantly... it would be earthquake-proof. In 1916, his Clift Hotel opened at the corner of Geary and Taylor streets with Frederick himself living in a stone house that he built on the roof. These days the Clift is managed by Four Seasons Regent International Hotels, and remains a standard for luxury and service.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   In order to produce my television reports I live in hotels about seven months of the year... so I'm always on the lookout for something new and improved. And the Clift has made the list. I’m familiar with V.I.P. programs for Very Important People, but the Clift has a V.I.K. program... for Very Important Kids. Actually it applies to all kids that check in, under the theory that all children are important.

They will child-proof a room with protective covers for electrical outlets... unusual guards for bathtub faucets... and nightlights. They have terrycloth robes in children's sizes... children-sized furniture... toys, videos, balloons, a goodie bag, and prior to the child's arrival, a special children's menu is placed in the room.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   It’s really nice to have this program available to you if you check in with a child, but if you’re on your own and feel that your own childhood was a bit more stressful than you wanted it to be, and you would like to relive a portion of it in a more nurtured environment, well -- the hotel will deliver all this stuff to your room... no questions asked.

One of the questions, however, that is often asked is, why is the food in and around San Francisco so good?  One of my favorite good cooks in California is Chef Martin Frost.  I first met Martin when he was working at the Four Seasons in Toronto.  These days he is the executive chef at the San Francisco Clift.  And he's preparing a dish made from local salmon... local red wine... and local baby lima beans. Martin starts by pouring a bottle of red wine into a sauce pan and heating it to a simmer. A fillet of salmon goes into the wine and cooks for 12 minutes. While the salmon is cooking, Martin heats a little butter in a non-stick pan followed by a few sliced mushrooms, cooked corn kernels, and blanched California baby lima beans.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  California has been growing baby lima beans since 1927, and has become a major producer.  Baby lima beans are high in complex carbohydrates, high in dietary fiber, and low in sodium and fat.

Next in, some slices of scallions and salt. A little of the wine used to poach the fish is put into a sauce pan and heated. A little butter is whisked in to make a sauce.

The lima bean sauté goes onto a serving plate. Then the fish comes out of the wine... gets sliced in half and placed onto the limas.  A little of the sauce goes onto the plate.

In addition to the local fish, wine and lima beans... California is a major producer of dried fruits and dried tomatoes... and a leading authority on the subject is Ruth Waltenspiel. Ruth Byrd was raised on a farm in Newhall, California.  When she went to college she went off to the University of California at Santa Barbara to study agriculture. While she was there she met and married Ronald Waltenspiel, a fellow agricultural student. Together they started their own farm in Healdsburg, California. In spite of the first comment you are about to hear they are a happily married couple and thoroughly enjoy their business partnership.

RUTH WALTENSPIEL:  Well, the very first time I wanted a divorce, we had been married three months and it was harvest and it started raining.  And we were out there on our hands and knees picking prunes up off the ground and trying to save what there was of the crop left, and I was sure at that point that I did not want to be a farmer’s wife or have very much to do with agriculture.  But, like with most things, you survive, you reconsider and you go forward.

BURT WOLF:  What made you change?

RUTH WALTENSPIEL:  Well... the one thing about agriculture is, it isn’t boring.  There’s always a new crop, a new season, something new to look at, some new way to use the food, to use the product. 

BURT WOLF:   Then you started to dry foods.

RUTH WALTENSPIEL:  Yes, yes.  You have to remember, this was the Sixties.  This was the hippy-dippy back-to-earth scene, and this was the time when everybody wanted to leave the city and go “back to the earth.”  They had no idea what they were gonna do when they got back to the earth, but they were going back to the earth.

BURT WOLF:   So you dried fruit for a while...


BURT WOLF:   ... and then you got famous for drying something else.  How did that start?

RUTH WALTENSPIEL:  Well, about 1979 I was lucky enough to go to New York City to the Fancy Food Show.  And I took our unsulphured, organically-grown dried fruits and nuts to show to the fancy food industry.  I guess about the best thing that could be said about that, Burt, is that industry was underwhelmed.  They were totally uninterested.  But what we did see while we were there was little-bitty jars of sun-dried tomatoes from Italy, and they were selling in the New York market for twelve to fifteen dollars a jar.  So I came back to California and I said “Ladies and gentlemen, we grow an awfully good tomato in California.  Why don’t we try to do the same product?” 

BURT WOLF:   What happened?

RUTH WALTENSPIEL:  Well, in the first year we dried two truck-and-trailer loads of dried tomatoes.  Here we are, a little over ten years down the road, and last year I did nine hundred truck-and-trailer loads of California tomatoes and put them up under our Sonoma Brand labels. 

BURT WOLF:   How do you use the tomatoes at home?

RUTH WALTENSPIEL:  Well, they’re how I jump-start my meals.  I like to add the intense flavor and the bright color to make things that are sometimes a little ordinary, special.  For instance, you can put them in stew, they don’t disintegrate.  The flavor and the consistency stays there with you.

BURT WOLF:   What else?

RUTH WALTENSPIEL:  Salads; wonderful in pasta salads.  A really, really favorite of mine is spinach salad.  That deep green of beautiful spinach and the bright, robust red of the tomato, and the flavors are both strong so they compliment each other. 

BURT WOLF:   A little piece of French bread, toasted... a little cheese on top, tomato...

RUTH WALTENSPIEL:  Aah.  We’ll never make it to lunch.

BURT WOLF:   This is lunch!!

RUTH WALTENSPIEL:  This is lunch!  Do you think this is enough tomatoes to make it through the day?

BURT WOLF:   Yeah; I’m waiting for the truck to come with the pasta, though.


As I was leaving, Ruth sent me off with some samples to test, which is precisely what I did that evening when I got back to Martin Frost's kitchen at the Clift. Martin put those dried tomatoes to particularly good use in his recipe for chicken breasts with a dried tomato stuffing.  A pocket is cut into a skinless half breast of chicken. In goes a light coating of pesto sauce which is made by blending some basil leaves together with a little oil. Next a few dried tomatoes go in and the flaps of the chicken breast are folded over the dried tomatoes.  A little oil and butter are heated together in a sauté pan. The chicken goes in and cooks for a minute on each side. Then the pan goes into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for ten minutes. While the chicken is cooking Martin prepares some bell pepper flavored risotto.  A little oil is heated in a sauce pan. In goes some butter... a quarter cup of chopped onion... a cup of rice... then three cups of hot chicken stock are added... about a half cup at a time.

MARTIN FROST:  ...and every time, you’ll see the risotto just absorbs up all the liquid, you add a touch more.  Don’t give it too much; it may be thirsty.  Just give it a little bit at a time.

Then Martin takes a yellow pepper, roasts it, removes the skin, purees it, and adds it as a coloring and flavoring agent.  When the rice is finished it goes onto a serving plate. The chicken comes out of the oven... gets sliced... and placed onto the rice... a garnish of greens and it's ready to serve.

The farmers and ranchers of California have made their state one of the world’s most important areas for the production of foodstuffs.  The chefs of California seem to take a particular delight in preparing dishes that utilize a number of local products in one recipe.  Martin Frost makes the point in his dish of medallions of beef with a sauce made with California dried plums... which also go under the name of prunes.  Medallions of beef are salted and peppered. A tablespoon of butter goes onto the hot surface of a sauté pan to melt. The medallions go into. They cook for thirty seconds on each side... then out of the pan and onto a work surface.

MARTIN FROST:  We’re just sealing off the beef before we put the prune and barley topping on, and that seals in the juices.  If you just put the beef in the oven, then all the blood runs out and it becomes very dry.

Two pitted prunes are chopped and go into a bowl. An ounce of cooked barley is added. An ounce of bread crumbs. An ounce of mixed chopped herbs... chervil, chives, and tarragon.  A teaspoon of butter. Salt and pepper. Mix that all together into a paste and put a tablespoon or so of the mixture onto the top of each piece of beef.  The beef goes into a heat-proof pan and into a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for ten minutes.  While that's cooking... a tablespoon of butter goes into a sauté pan followed by a minced clove of garlic, some spinach leaves... sliced mushrooms... small cubes of pre-cooked yellow squash, zucchini and carrots.  As soon as the vegetables are hot they go onto a serving plate... followed by the beef and the pan drippings.

The discovery of gold in California was the most important thing that had happened there. In the month before it was discovered, the population of San Francisco was 812. Two years later, the population was over 25,000.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Many of the fortune hunters who showed up were from France and they were often nicknamed Keskeydees because they were always saying "Qu'est-ce qu'il dit?" to each other. Qu'est-ce qu'il dit is a French phrase that means..."what is he saying?" Not all of the Frenchmen spoke English, and the ones that didn’t were always saying "Qu'est-ce qu'il dit?" to the ones that did.  “What is that guy saying to us?”  Two of the guys who showed up from France were Louis and Pierre Pellier. At one point Pierre wanted to go back to France and marry his childhood sweetheart. Louis said, “hey, it’s fine, but when you come back here, I want you to bring a cutting from a special plum tree.  Pierre was a good brother.  He went home, married his childhood sweetheart, returned to California and brought the plum cutting.

Louis grafted the cuttings onto the rootstock of wild American plums and the California dried plum industry was born. Today California is the world's largest producer of dried plums, also known as prunes. The state supplies about 70 percent of the world's prunes and it's proud of it.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  And why not?  A prune is a good source of fiber, vitamin A, potassium, iron, and complex carbohydrates. It’s also totally free of fat and sodium. And if you want to call it a dried plum, go ahead -- because that's what it is.

The chefs of California also take advantage of the grape crop.  The grape growers of California have gotten to the point where they are producing some of the finest grapes in the world.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Most table grapes are eaten just the way they are because they a make a healthful snack. They also show up in salads.  But we were trying to think of a recipe that actually cooked grapes, and it wasn’t easy.  The only one that we could come up with is an old French dish called Sole Veronique.  The grapes are peeled and they come in a heavy cream sauce... not a very modern recipe. So we decided to update it, and we came up with something called Monkfish Monica... but quite frankly, it’ll work just as well as Salmon Sally and Chicken Chelsea.

Martin starts by dipping the monkfish into a mixture of chopped green herbs.  Today he's using chives, chervil and parsley.

BURT WOLF:   How did the monkfish get its name?

MARTIN FROST:  Well, back in the Mediterranean, the fishermen used to come in with their catch, and they used to catch in just one net, they didn’t sort it out at sea, and they’d just throw it back in.  It was the ugliest fish you’ve ever seen, so they didn’t want any of this.  So then, the monks would be standing there and they’d just wade in there, pick up the fish as it was struggling for oxygen, and that’s how it got its name.  Believe It Or Not.

BURT WOLF:   Only the monks would eat it!


A little salt and pepper and the fish gets wrapped in strips of Italian bacon, which is called Panchetta. At this point a some oil and butter go into a sauté pan.

MARTIN FROST:  We add the butter for the flavor, and we have to cut that then with the olive oil to stop the butter burning.

Then the fish goes into the pan. 

MARTIN FROST:  So if you can’t get the pancetta bacon, what you could use is the regular bacon and then you’d just use... even ask your butcher to slice it thinner or use less of it, ‘cause it’s a stronger flavor.

The fish gets browned for about a minute on all sides... then into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 8 to 10 minutes.  While the fish is baking... a little oil and butter go into a second sauté pan.  Some sliced snow peas or green beans are cooked quickly and go onto a serving plate.  The monkfish comes out of the oven and gets sliced into cylinders and placed on the dish. Finally, some frozen seedless green grapes.

MARTIN FROST:  The reason why I freeze them is because it concentrates the flavor of the grape, and it also cuts very well with the panetta bacon and the fish.

A few added touches of color and it's ready to serve.

Grapes have been cultivated for at least 6,000 years, and we have scientific evidence to support that fact from Bronze Age settlements that are being excavated in Switzerland. The ancient Greeks were big deal grape growers, and so were the farmers of the ancient Roman Empire.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Most grapes that are grown commercially are grown for one of three reasons:  to make raisins... to make wine... or to make grapes that are eaten fresh as table grapes.  97 percent of the table grapes eaten in the United States are grown right here in the valleys of California, and they are grown from vines that are direct descendants of the vines that were grown during the Bronze Age. It's nice to have a family history.

Since 1972 grape consumption has increased faster than that of any other fresh fruit. They are a good source of vitamins A, B complex and C. They are also low in sodium and low in calories. A cup of grapes only contains 100 calories. They are very easy to use... no prep... just a quick rinse. And most importantly, people like the way they taste.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   I like to use grapes as a general snack. They were particularly useful when my kids were growing up. I would lay out individual grapes on a tray... freeze them... and then store them in a bag. The kids considered the grapes a frozen sweet... which, of course, they were. And the kids were pretty sweet then, too.

Thanks for being with us here in Sonoma, and please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I’m Burt Wolf.



SOUNDMAN:  Put it down.

PRODUCER:  Do it the same way you did before -- “Erk-Erk.”


SOUNDMAN:  Let me see something; I’ve gotta clean it out.

(very lame:)  SQUEAK!  SQUEAK!  SQUEAK!  SQUEAK!

BURT WOLF:   That’s why I did it upside down.  It works better.


PRODUCER:  I think we got it.

CAMERAMAN:  I’m sure we got it.


Burt Wolf's Menu: Chile - #113

Chile... The world's longest mountain chain to the east.  The world's driest desert to the north.  The world's deepest ocean to the west. And to the south... the end of the world.  And in the middle... wonderful people with a great sense of history and culture and some fabulous food... a magnificent local salsa.... and corn from the continent where it first grew.  So join me in Chile for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The word Chile comes from one of the ancient dialects of the native tribes of this country, and it means "the spot where the land ends," and that's a pretty good description of Chile. It has over 2,500 miles of coastline where the west side of South America ends and the Pacific Ocean begins. The most southerly part of Chile is a spot called Tierra Del Fuego, which is right opposite Antarctica; clearly the spot where the land ends.

If you take a look at a map of South America you see Chile running down the western side of the continent like a ribbon, 3000 miles from top to bottom but only 100 miles wide.  Chile is so narrow that you can stand on the peaks of the Andean mountains that represent the country's eastern frontier with Argentina and see the beaches on the Pacific Ocean that make up the western border.

The Atacama desert in the north is the driest place on earth; as far as anyone knows, there are parts of the Atacama that have never had a single drop of rain.

In the middle of the country is the nation's agricultural center... with thousands of acres of exceptional soil. The area's farms, orchards, and vineyards are constantly being irrigated by a flow of fresh water from the melting snow in the Andes.  To the south of the farms is the Lake District with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  And finally, as Chile comes to an end, the land breaks up into a thousand islands.

Chile also has 2,085 volcanoes. Two thousand and thirty are quietly sleeping. Fifty-five are awake, active and very busy doing their thing.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The first European to see Chile that we know about was the Portuguese explorer Hernando Magellan. He sailed through the straits at the bottom of Chile and gave the passage his name. Then he sailed up along the coast but he never really settled in. I always considered Magellan a guy in the food business, because he had been sent out to find a short cut to the spices of Asia.  The king wanted to buy those spices at wholesale, bring them back to Europe, and resell them at prices so high that he would end up making big bucks.

Francisco Pizarro was one of the leaders of the Spanish conquistadors in South America. Pedro de Valdivia was one of his, shall we say, associates, and was given Chile as a reward for his loyalty.  De Valdivia then became the first European to settle in Chile.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Those were the good old days when loyalty was really appreciated. "Soooo Pedro, you have been a good and loyal friend, and for that I give you Chile.  And because it's Friday, I throw in a nice slice of Argentina." These days if you’re the head of a government and you have a loyal supporter, that loyal supporter becomes the ambassador to Paris.  Hey, don’t get me wrong -- being the ambassador to Paris is a really great job.  But it’s not like being given your own country.  We have devalued loyalty.  Sad.  Anyway, in 1541 Pedro de Valdivia founded the first city in Chile. He did it right on the mountain on which I am standing, and he called it Santiago.

For the next 200 years or so the Spanish fought with the native Mapuches tribe for control of the land. The Mapuches had never seen a horse, and in the early years of the conflict they thought that the Spanish soldier and his horse were one animal. Kind of like the way I felt about my son James when he got his first motorcycle.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   For the first 300 years or so, Chile was more or less under control of the royal house of Spain. Then in the late 1700s, those ideas that eventually led to the revolutions in America and France began to filter  down to Chile. They were ideas whose time had definitely come, not only in Chile but all over South America, and on the eighteenth of September, 1810, Chile declared its independence. Today Chile is a democracy with a government that is freely elected by over 90 percent of the people.

The two forces that usually exert the strongest influence on the gastronomy of a nation are its geography and the culture of the people who have lived on its land. When it comes to Chile, both geography and cultural history are quite dramatic.

Chile is nearly twice the size of California, with some 2,650 miles of Pacific coastline that drops off into the world's deepest ocean. The north is the world's driest desert. The south is a wall of frozen ice fields. And the world's longest mountain chain, the Andes, runs down the length of the country and seals it off from the its eastern neighbors.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The first human inhabitants of Chile that we know about were probably a group of native tribes who came across the Bering Sea from Asia to Alaska and down the Pacific coast of the Americas about 35,000 years ago. Then the Spanish conquistadors showed up, the English, the Germans, the French, the Italians, the North Americans and just about everybody else who got a good look at the beauty of the place. Well, if all of those people are living here, what's for dinner?  Actually, some pretty great  stuff. Those thousands of miles of Pacific coast produce some wonderful fish, which has made Chile the fourth leading fishing nation on the planet.

Opposite the ocean are the Andes mountains. They have made their gastronomic contribution by sending rivers of fresh water into the valleys below and that has produced mile after mile of fertile farm land. Land that yields some of the world's best fruit. The roadside stands are overflowing with plums, peaches, apricots, apples, and melons. I’ve had a serious weakness for watermelon since I was kid, and the Chilean watermelons are absolutely topnotch.

The original native tribes were responsible for the growing of corn which you find in some excellent recipes. Pastel de Choclo is a like a shepherds' pie: chicken or beef at the bottom of a casserole, a layer of mashed corn on top.

Another corn recipe for a very traditional Chilean dish is Humitas. They are easily made by steaming mashed corn that has been wrapped in a cornhusk.

The Spanish influence results in the empanada. Little packs of pastry filled with cheese, meat or seafood.  They originally became popular because the ingredients were so inexpensive. Now they’re popular because they taste great.

Even though Chile does not have a lot of land for raising cattle they still produce some excellent beef, and their pork products are very good. They have a type of restaurant called aparilladas, where cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken and sausages are grilled in the kitchen and then brought to the table on a mini-BBQ.

When it comes to pastry and dessert, the Germans have transported just about everything that Bavaria had to offer. Torts, pies, cakes and creams. And the Italians have introduced gelato. The most Chilean of desserts, however, are based on manjar which is condensed milk that has been heated until the sugar in it has caramelized.  Manjar is used in many common sweets.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The major meal of the day is lunch. It begins around one o’clock and kind of slices along until 3:30.  In case you get hungry later in the day, they have something called once which is the Spanish word for eleven. It’s kind of a high tea with little sandwiches and pastries, and it’s something to hold body and soul together until dinner, which usually begins around 9:00.  Now, my friends here tell me that the reason this break is called once is because some people are not drinking tea in their teacups.  They’re actually drinking a powerful locally distilled spirit called Aguardiente, which just happens to have eleven letters. Very clever bit of coding, eh, Bond?

The national before-meals alcoholic beverage is called a Pisco Sour. Pisco is distilled from Muscat wine. It arrives with the impact of straight tequila, and leaves with a slight flavor that reminds me of pears.

A traditional Chilean cooking method is called "curanto", which means "hot stones."  A master of this technique is Coco Pacheco, the owner and chef of Coco's Restaurant in Santiago.  His assistant, Francesca Ciani, tells us how it's done.

FRANCESCA CIANI:  This is a typical Indian, native -- um, Indian / Chilean type of dish.  Basically what they did here is that they heat up stones for two hours.  This is their kitchen; instead of using coal, they heat up their food on top of these stones.  You dig it up with dirt -- this is how you maintain the heat.  And it has these sacks on top.  And these leaves here that you see on top, these are typical from the south of Chile.  This is the chicken... so you see, it’s all hot.  There’s a lobster -- this is all a combination of dishes.  This is meat, meats with the seafood... there’s shrimps, kind of made into like shish-kebobs, and they’re wrapped in between cabbage, cabbage leaves.  The whole idea here is that they’re all cooked naturally; there’s no, there’s no sauces, there’s no spices.  This dish is like more than a thousand years old by the native Indians, and it can include practically everything.  Seafood, meats... this is salmon that is roasted.

COCO PACHECO:  (Speaks Spanish)

FRANCESCA CIANI:  He says the most beautiful thing is to feel and taste the natural taste of all the seafood and the fish.

COCO PACHECO:  Es excellente.  ¡Whew!  ¡Rico!

FRANCESCA CIANI:  Eating something from -- that, that comes from -- that’s cooked on, from the dirt is something completely different from eating it from the oven or from the stove.  This is, this is what gives the taste, and this is something that’s, that’s natural, which --

COCO PACHECO:  (Speaks Spanish)

FRANCESCA CIANI:  The vapors on all the tastes trespass between each other and you taste the different tastes, which is the best.  You have a combination of tastes, which -- that’s what, this is what makes the plate unique.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   During the middle of the 1500's, say 450 years ago, a man named Juan Jufre y Montero was travelling  through South America with the conquistadors. His job was to make a list of what those guys were doing and send it back to the King of Spain.  Well, Juan was doing such a good job that the king decided to give him a bonus. And so in the year 1545, Carlos V, King of Spain, Ruler Of The Americas, Defender Of The Faith, and Keeper Of A Fabulous Recipe For A Cup Of Cocoa, amongst other things, gave his dear and loyal friend 10,000 acres of fabulous farmland just south of the city of Santiago. It was good to be King.  Let me tell you, it wasn’t bad to be the king's good friend either.

Since then the land has been passed down through the family, and today it’s known as Los Lingues.  It's owned by German Claro Lyon and his wife Maria Elena.

It is a working farm that breeds Aculeguano horses, which are often described as the best horses in South America. They trace their bloodlines back to the Moors who bred these horses in Spain during the 700's.

The hacienda and the nearby outbuildings have been turned into a rural guest house, with an excellent kitchen.

Maria Gomez has been the household’s chief cook for over thirty years.  Her skill at producing the classic dishes of Chile is unbeatable.  She starts with pebre, which is the salsa of Chile. 

A chopped onion goes into the bowl, followed by two peeled, chopped tomatoes and a half cup of minced Italian parsley.  Next a green chili pepper is rolled between your hands to loosen the seeds and sliced lengthwise.  The seeds are removed, and the pepper is chopped and added to the bowl.  A little vegetable oil is drizzled on top, and all the salsa ingredients are mixed together thoroughly and rest for a minute.  That’s it!  And it’s excellent.

The next recipe is for Maria's empanadas.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The recipe starts by making the stuffing, which is real easy.  You heat a little olive oil in a saute pan, you add in a chopped onion, some chopped beef, cook that for a few minutes, and then the seasoning, which is just salt and cumin. That's what we've got there.

Then a dough mixture is made from flour, water, salt and shortening and rolled into small balls, each with about a half cup of dough. Those in turn are rolled out into six-inch circles.  A raisin goes into the center, followed by two slices of hard-boiled egg... an olive... and a spoon's worth of the meat mixture. The bottom half of the dough is folded up to cover the mixture and pressed down to seal it in. The top flap of dough is trimmed with a pastry crimper. Folded over... Pressed down on the sides... Trimmed and folded again. Then baked in a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes.

At the edge of the city of Santiago is a church called Vicente Ferrer.  It was built by the Dominican fathers during the mid-1500s, and has a long history as the favored church of many of Chile's most famous heroes.

Behind the church is a small village called Los Dominicos.  It’s a village of craftspeople who have set up small shops where they practice their craft, and sell their artwork.

A perfect example is the shop of Pablo Manns.  Pablo has taught himself to work with wood, and makes wonderful marionettes.  Each piece is totally made by hand, and as you would expect, Pablo is a fabulous puppeteer.

About 75 miles south of Santiago, resting against the side of a mountain pass, and looking down a river that races out of the Andes is the Termas De Cauquenes. For over 400 years there has been an inn on this spot... an inn where people come and rejuvenate themselves...  a rejuvenation that takes place in the hot mineral baths that come up from deep inside the earth.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The idea of resting in a mineral bath actually goes back for thousands of years. The ancient Roman soldiers would stop into a small town in Belgium on their way home from the wars in Northern Europe and sit in the mineral pools. One of the reasons they felt better resting in those mineral pools is because the water was filled with warm salts.  The salts made their bodies float. That gave them a sense of lightness, which in turn gave them a sense of well-being. The name of that small town in Belgium, by the way, was SPA.  The Termas here never hosted any Roman soldiers, but many of the most important people in Chile's military history came by, including Bernardo O'Higgins, who was the head of Chile's army of independence.  The scientific community was represented by Charles Darwin, who vacationed here to rest his evolving bones.

Today the Termas is as also an excellent resort under the direction of a Swiss hotelier and his family. Rene Acklin is his name and he has been living in Chile since 1972. During those years he has become one of the country's most respected chefs.

RENE ACKLIN:  Now we are preparing one of the best fishes from the south, the South Pacific -- this is merrow, called in United States “Chilean Sea Bass.”

BURT WOLF:   Chilean Sea Bass.  I can ask for that.

RENE ACKLIN:  I think this is one of the richest-flavored fish you can ever find; rich in Omega-3 fat content, which is very healthy.  Therefore, we are not going to prepare it very heavy; we just add a little olive oil, a little bit vegetable, and that’s it.

BURT WOLF:   Let’s do it!

Rene is also an exporter of fish and quite an authority on the subject.  The recipe starts with the Sea Bass fillets being salted and peppered. Then one side is dipped in flour and it's off to a waiting sauté pan that's been used to heat a little oil. The fish goes in, flour side down. Two minutes of cooking on each side. A little lime juice. And into a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, a little butter goes into a pan, to be joined by a cup of cubed zucchini, some thinly sliced yellow, green and red bell peppers, and a large chopped tomato with its juices. While that's cooking for a few minutes, some pre-cooked black beans and a little water are pureed in a blender, then heated in a sauce pan. At this point everything is ready to go to the serving plate. First the pureed black beans go on, then the Chilean Sea Bass, and finally the bell peppers. That's it. An interesting and attractive collection of colors and flavors for very little work.

Rene's second recipe is for one of the most traditional dishes in Chile. It is called Pastel De Choclo.  Rene starts by putting a little oil into a saucepan, followed by a chopped onion, and some cubed beef. That cooks for a minute. Then in goes a little paprika and some salt and pepper. Rene divides the mixture into individual heat-proof serving dishes but it can just as easily go into one big heat-proof family sized dish. A few olives are added, and a piece of chicken that has been cooked in boiling water for 5 minutes. A few raisins and a couple of slices of hard-boiled egg. At this point the dishes are held aside for a moment while a little butter is melted in a saucepan. Some corn kernels are pureed in a blender an added to the melted butter. A little milk, salt, pepper and a touch of sugar go in. Whether or not sugar is added appears to be a function of where in Chile you learn the recipe. Rene is from the sweet school which is in keeping with his overall disposition. The pureed corn is then used to give a top crust to the casserole, and it's into a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. When it comes out it's ready to serve. Great dish.

Carne Mechada Con Porotos Granados.  That's the next recipe at the Termas, and it's being prepared by Rene's daughter Sabine.  It's basically a pot roast with fresh beans, and the national down-home recipe of Chile.

She starts with a 6 pound rump roast. A series of holes get poked into the meat and filled with strips of carrot and garlic cloves. A little oil is heated in a large pan. The meat goes in and gets seared on all sides for about 5 minutes. Chopped onion goes in. Chopped garlic goes in. Chopped tomatoes and their juices go in. Followed by a little oregano, rosemary, parsley and two cups of boiling water. The pot cover goes on and everything is simmered for 50 minutes.

While the meat’s in the oven she makes the beans. Two tablespoons of butter are melted in a casserole. Then in goes a chopped onion, and two cups of fresh pumpkin cut into small cubes. If fresh pumpkin is not in season you can use any other squash. A cup of chopped tomatoes. Two cups of white beans. Two cups of green beans. Both pre-cooked. Two cups of corn kernels that have been pureed in a blender along with a half cup of fresh basil. Top goes on and all that simmers for 20 minutes.

When the meat comes out, its sliced and everything is ready to serve. The beans go onto the plate first, followed by the slices of beef with their polkadots of garlic and carrot, and finally some of the sauce that came from the meat.

The government of Chile has organized the country into thirteen districts, or regions. The area known as The Lake District covers most of district number Ten, which is also called Los Lagos. Los Lagos is one of the most beautiful areas in the Americas. It has lakes, rivers, ocean beaches, the extraordinary eighty million-year-old peaks of the Andes Mountains, ten million-year-old volcanoes, and a subtropical rain forest.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   When the government of Chile wanted to encourage European settlers to come to the southern half of Chile, they set up an immigration office in Kassel, Germany.  They offered great land at low prices, no taxes for the first twenty years, and the right to practice any religion you wanted to.  So many Germans came here during the last three decades of the 1800's that the place began to look, and sound, like Bavaria. It also began to taste like it. The Germans set up the first brewery in Chile, and began to reproduce their favorite dishes from their homeland.

In 1905 the settlers brought trout from Germany and began to stock the southern lakes of Chile. They also started the cultivation of salmon. Today you will see the quantity and quality of bratwurst, sauerkraut, and pastry that you would expect in most parts of Germany.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   And yet this is clearly not an expatriate German community. The people who live in the Lake District are Chilean first, with a German heritage, in the same way that everybody who lives in the United States and Canada has an ancestor who came there from someplace else. And though the food is clearly German in origin, it has a Chilean accent. I never forget that the completo, the most popular street food in Chile, though it is clearly a frankfurter, on a frankfurter roll, does not come with a topping of mustard and sauerkraut.  What goes on top is guacamole.  Well, that’s our tour of Chile.  Please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I’m Burt Wolf.

[Under the end titles, Burt attempts to make an empanada]

BURT WOLF:   Well... it’s not bad for a gringo.MARIA GOMEZ:  Ah, muy bien.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Chinese Community of Singapore - #112

Singapore... almost 75 percent of the people here descend from Chinese settlers, and their community has preserved much of their ancient culture. Food and fashion, old and new.   It’s the place to take a look at the 5,000 year history of herbal recipes for good health, and find out how they work. Plus some dishes that just taste great.  So join me in the Chinese community of Singapore for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Thousands of years ago Chinese traders started sailing down through the South China Sea, turning west at Singapore and heading for the Bay of Bengal to do a little business in India.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During those centuries a few Chinese traders settled in Singapore, but the numbers were very small.  When Singapore became a member of the British Empire, Chinese immigration increased considerably.  And by the middle of the 1800’s sixty percent of the people in Singapore were Chinese.

Most of the Chinese immigrants had come here as indentured workers.  Their plan was to earn as much money in Singapore as they could and then head back to their hometowns in China.  When Singapore became a Crown Colony under the direct control of England, it began to play a key role in Britain’s world trade.  Commercial sailing vessels were on their way out and steamships were taking over.  When England opened the Suez Canal in 1869, Singapore became the place to refuel when steaming between Asia and Europe.  Much of the work associated with the port fell on the backs of the Chinese laborers.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The Chinese that settled in Singapore are known as the Straits Chinese.  The word Straits is a reference to the waters around Singapore.  Their history around here goes back for hundreds of years.  Originally their families lived in the southeastern part of China. Over the centuries they came wandering down along the coasts through Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia, ending up in Singapore. The Straits Chinese are as Chinese as any other Chinese.

The Straits Chinese of Singapore keep the same lunar calendar as traditional Chinese all over the world. They share the same cultural influences of great thinkers like Confucius and Lao Tzu, they write with the same pictorial language, and sign their important documents with the same type of chop.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  As more and more Chinese showed up in Singapore during the 1800’s, Singapore became primarily a Chinese town.  By and large, the laborers stopped showing up, and the new immigrants were traders, shopkeepers, and businessmen. At one point, the government encouraged a policy where all of the Chinese were to learn to speak Mandarin, the mother tongue of China, and in that way, all of the regional groups could communicate with each other.  And since almost everybody in Singapore speaks English, they can communicate with me.

Madame Ng Siong Mui comes from a long line of food professionals.  She writes for magazines in both Europe and Asia, and authors a series of very successful cookbooks.  Today she’s taking me on a tour of her local Chinese market.

NG SIONG MUI:  Burt, this is the best time to see Singapore because all our local people are getting ready for the Chinese New Year.  So we have dried goodies... look at all these decorations!  This is the time, you see, all these waxed ducks.  The duck are killed during the autumn period, and because of the oil covering, laminating the duck, that’s why it’s called Waxed Duck.

BURT WOLF:   Waxed duck.

NG SIONG MUI:  And waxed sausages. 

BURT WOLF:   And all New Year.

NG SIONG MUI:  All ready for the New Year goodies.  Guess what is this?  Persimmon!

BURT WOLF:   Persimmon!

NG SIONG MUI:  Yes, and it’s pressed flat.

BURT WOLF:   I want to taste this.  Sweet?

NG SIONG MUI:  Yes, very sweet.  Try it.

BURT WOLF:   Mmmmm.  That’s very nice.

NG SIONG MUI:  Nice?  And we can eat it as a snack.  It’s very good for children, because this will help them to have a good diet.  Very good digestion.  So to the Chinese, this is our snack, like potato chips. 

BURT WOLF:   Much better.

NG SIONG MUI:  Thank you.  Oh -- these are... these are not cannonballs.  These are fruit from the Hubbard tree [?] and we call it “Buddha’s Fruit.”

BURT WOLF:   Buddha’s Fruit.

NG SIONG MUI:  Buddha’s Fruit, because they always come in a bunch of eighteen.

BURT WOLF:   Is that a special number for Buddha?

NG SIONG MUI:  Buddha has eighteen gospels, the very close followers [note - we think she means “disciples” rather than “gospels”].  So because of that, we call it Buddha’s Fruit.  ... Oh, this is the Chinese sea moss.  It is actually a vegetable, but because it’s so minute, and its black color is like our hair, that’s why we call it fat choy.  Fat choy in Cantonese we mean the “hair vegetable.”

BURT WOLF:   Hair vegetable.

NG SIONG MUI:  Yeah.  We use it for stew.  And because the is punched with good luck --

BURT WOLF:   Right...

NG SIONG MUI:  -- and good prosperity.  So it is a must during our Chinese New Year.  Oh, this is our birthday fruit.  You have people having their birthday, we usually have not one pair, but nine.

BURT WOLF:   Nine peaches.

NG SIONG MUI:  Yeah, nine peaches.  We have a story behind it.  We believe that the peach tree will need three thousand years to flourish, three thousand years for flowering, and three thousand years before the fruit is ripe.  So it’s nine thousand years.  And we wish the recipients longevity.

BURT WOLF:   So you get nine peaches to represent nine thousand years of life.

NG SIONG MUI:  (over)  -- nine thousand years, yes. ... These are not coffee beans.  This is pebbles mixed with sugar, and after that we put the chestnuts in --

BURT WOLF:   Very nice!

NG SIONG MUI:  -- the chestnut is all even, and the sugar content will penetrate during the cooking so the nut will be very sweet like sugar.  You see the roasting?  Now we can go back and do some cooking!

Just up the street from the market is Madame Ng’s cooking studio where she conducts classes, and where she keeps part of her collection of Chinese cooking equipment.  And now let’s cook!  Madame Ng’s first dish is for strips of pork, stir-fried with slices of soy bean cake.

NG SIONG MUI:  It’s a very healthy dish.  Here we see mushrooms...

BURT WOLF:   Right...

NG SIONG MUI:  ...and this is dried bean curd, shredded bean curd, and we have the chive buds.  Chive flowers, but they are left to bloom with the buds here.  If you have in your place you can use chives, just chives will do it...

BURT WOLF:   (over)  Just plain chives.

NG SIONG MUI:  Yes.  And we have our bean sprouts.  And here we have a little bit of shredded pork; you can use chicken or beef or mutton, your choice.  Or even if you use seafood, it will do.  So we’re going to have a very colorful dish.  Shall we start?

BURT WOLF:   (over)  Okay.  Yep.

Stir-fry recipes move along at just under the speed of light so it’s a good idea to have all of your ingredients ready.  A tablespoon of salt goes onto a half pound of pork loin that has been cut into thin slices.  The salt is followed by a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of cornstarch and a tablespoon of oil.  Those ingredients are mixed into the pork to form a marinade, in which the pork rests for about ten minutes.   Then the stir-frying starts.  A little oil goes into a wok.  To which is added a few slices of fresh ginger, some shallots and some garlic.  A moment of stir-frying. Then in go the chives and bean sprouts, along with some sugar, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of soy sauce.  A few more moments of stir-frying and everything comes out of the wok.  Then into the wok goes a little more sliced ginger, the mushrooms and bean curd cake, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar.  A little more stir-frying. The chives and bean sprouts return for a moment.  Then everything gets turned out of the wok again. 

NG SIONG MUI:  Burt, at this stage, if you are vegetarian, this dish is ready.  If you want to add meat for more flavor, you can have chicken, you have meat and beef.  And today we are using a little bit of shredded pork.

Into the clean wok, two tablespoons of oil, followed by a few slices of garlic, and a few slices of fresh ginger. The pork comes in.  Some stir-frying.  A splash of Chinese wine or sherry or a touch of brandy.  Then the vegetables return and as soon as everything is hot, it’s ready to serve.  Madame Ng’s second recipe is for beef and apples, and I’m the cook!

NG SIONG MUI:  This is beef; we’re going to add some marinade to it.  We’re adding salt, sugar, a little bit of soy sauce -- okay, that’s not too much, that’s right.  And add a bit of cornflour [cornstarch].  Yes.  Add in a little bit of oil to seal up the juice.  That’s right, and give it a good stir, and we leave the marinade on for about two or three minutes.  And we add Chinese wine later, before the cooking.  And now we are ready, you have the spatula --

BURT WOLF:  Spatula -- suture -- scalpel --


BURT WOLF:  -- clamps --

NG SIONG MUI:  Okay, first of all we have the oil first.  That’s right.  A little bit more.  That’s right.  We’re going to add in the three important ingredients:  ginger, garlic and shallots to fragrance the oil.

BURT WOLF:  Don’t add oil.

NG SIONG MUI:  Yeah, half of that.  Good. 

BURT WOLF:  Okay...

NG SIONG MUI:  Yeah, give a good stir-fry.  All right.  Ready?

BURT WOLF:  Mm-hmm.

NG SIONG MUI:  We’re gonna add in all this -- Choose as many colors as you like to make the dish colorful.  And the soy sauce... now we’re gonna add the apples.  Soak the apples in a bit of salt solution to keep the color.  And we’re ready, we’re gonna dish out this dish again... lift it up here.  Look at the beautiful color.  Thank you.  Now, this time, same as usual -- put them all in.  Now -- and just before cooking, we add the Chinese rice wine.  If you don’t have Chinese rice wine, you can add in sherry or brandy.  Give it a good stir, but you must be done quick.  You see?  Once they reach the correct temperature, when the beef is eighty percent cooked -- at this stage, medium rare -- we’re gonna add in the vegetables.  Give it a good stir; combine them together, and then we add a dash of sesame oil.  And the dish is ready.  Look at the beautiful color. 

BURT WOLF:  That’s enough for our first serving.

NG SIONG MUI:  Very well done.  And now, to top it, we’re gonna have the cashew nuts.

BURT WOLF:  Looks great.  Let’s eat.

NG SIONG MUI:  Shall we?

Clyde Min is a citizen of the United States, who grew up in Hawaii. In 1991 he moved to Singapore to become the general manager of the Marina Mandarin Singapore Hotel.  Soon after his arrival he became interested in the complex issues confronting a community with an extraordinary heritage that needs to be preserved, and at the same time is under pressure to expand and develop.  He joined the Singapore Heritage Society and works to find appropriate solutions to these issues.  Today he’s taking me through Singapore’s Chinatown.

BURT WOLF:   I understand that part of this area was scheduled to be knocked down at one time.

CLYDE MIN:  Well, luckily I think, someone in government saw that they were actually destroying a lot of the charm and a lot of the history of Singapore, and they decided to save the buildings.  And by acquiring them from the private owners, they were able to restore them -- and then, of course, Singaporeans being great business people also, sold them back to the private individuals.  And of course now they’re worth a lot more than when they were first sold to the government.  ... Well, the fresh green coconuts are extremely nutritious; they actually have a water content in here, and a lot of people actually have found this to have been life savers.  And if you’re on a deserted island or on long journeys, the water that’s in here has sufficient food value to keep you alive.  Of course, the meat is used to make the milk. ... This is probably egg which has been marinated in a herbal sauce, probably a tea base; is this a tea base?


CLYDE MIN:  This is interesting...

BURT WOLF:   What is it?

CLYDE MIN:  It’s to open the watermelon seeds! 


CLYDE MIN:  My goodness!

BURT WOLF:   I never -- there’s a piece of cooking equipment I never saw, a Watermelon Seed Opener.

CLYDE MIN:  Very clever. 

BURT WOLF:   You put a watermelon seed...

CLYDE MIN:  ...inside, on the other side...

BURT WOLF:   On the other side...  I’m gonna buy some of those.

CLYDE MIN:  These are dried meats.  You know, during Chinese New Year, it’s not looked on favorably if the housewife has to keep cooking or doing anything like that, so they eat a lot of dried goods...

BURT WOLF:   (over)  Ahh, interesting...

CLYDE MIN:  ...which have already been cooked and prepared. 

BURT WOLF:   So everything is preserved so they don’t have to do any cooking.

CLYDE MIN:  (over)  Exactly, of course it’s the winter months, so things are left out to dry in the dry winter months.  We’ve got duck, pork sausages done different ways, oysters --

BURT WOLF:   Oh, dried oysters!

CLYDE MIN:  Right. 

BURT WOLF:   So again, we’re seeing all these dried foods so that people don’t have to cook during the New Year.

CLYDE MIN:  (over)  Exactly; dried scallops...

BURT WOLF:   I always enjoy shopping on an off-day, you know, when the stores are empty and you can just wander down the street like that, and... no problem getting service and no lines...

CLYDE MIN:   (Laughing under)

Many of the emperors of China encouraged the art of Chinese herbal medicine.  The Shen Nong period, which dates back some 5,000 years, was a time when many of the important concepts in Chinese herbal medicine were first formulated.  It was a time when philosophers were particularly interested in the opposing forces of nature.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  ... Forces that were eventually codified into the theory of yin and yang.  Yang is the male force -- dry, hot, active.  Yin is the female force -- moist, quiet, cool.  Everything in the Universe has been divided into neutral or one of these two forces. The trick, of course, is to keep the forces in balance. 

Food has always been the primary method for controlling this balance, and the individual’s good health.  If your system has too much yang, which is to say your engine is running too hot, then you need more yin foods to cool you down.  If the doctors feel you have too much yin, then yang foods are prescribed to heat you up.  In traditional Chinese medicine, only when food had failed to do the job were drugs prescribed.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Today in the Western world, we are constantly faced with the increasing costs of our high-tech, quick-fix medicine, costs that it appears we can no longer afford.  Maybe it would be in our best interests to take a closer look at a system that has helped prevent illness for over 5,000 years by using the individual diet.  There may be things here that we can learn and incorporate into our own Western technology.

One of the easiest ways to see the historic relationship between Chinese food and Chinese medicine is to stop into a restaurant that specializes in herbal recipes.  The Imperial Herbal Restaurant in Singapore is directed by Mrs. Wang-Lee.

MRS. WANG-LI:  The aim of this restaurant is actually to promote healthy eating, the Chinese way, using Chinese herbs.

BURT WOLF:   What are the most common medical reasons for people to come to the restaurant?

MRS. WANG-LI:  Well, we have a Chinese, a resident in-house Chinese physician from China, and a lot of people come here to, just to check their balances, the yin and yang, whether they are in balance and healthy, and we see what he can recommend but -- mainly because the taste of the food attracts the people here, not as -- it’s not a cure, you know, this kind of food is just for prevention.  And to the Chinese, tonics are very important because it helps to maintain health and also to prevent illnesses.  This is what we offer in the restaurant; it’s just like any other Chinese restaurants.  You have soup, you have dessert, and all that.  But the only thing is that every dish is designed for your good health, and there are certain herbs added to each dish; all this has been blended by our herbalist, Mr. Li.  We have this eggwhite with scallop, which is served in a nest made of potato.  It’s pretty to look at, but it’s also very tasty.  And this is good for the production of body fluid and also very good for complexion, so it’s a very popular dish with the ladies.  And then you have the shrimp with walnuts.  And of course, walnuts go very well with shrimp, as both are supposed to be good for, um, virility.  And of course, the walnuts also resemble like a brain, so it’s supposed to be a brain food.  (Laughs)

BURT WOLF:   So from that one dish I’m going to get smarter and more virile.

MRS. WANG-LI:  (Laughing)  Yeah.

BURT WOLF:   Can I get an extra portion of that?

MRS. WANG-LI:  No problem, yeah.  And then we have the eggplant with pine nuts, okay?  Eggplant, it’s a cool energy food.  This is deep-fried to balance it so it does not become too cool an energy.  For some people, Chinese people do avoid eating eggplants because they felt it was too cool for their body.  And pine nuts are supposed to be good because they lubricate the system and also retard aging. 

BURT WOLF:   I’ll take an extra portion of that one, too. 

MRS. WANG-LI:  (Laughing)  Okay.

BURT WOLF:   I guess it’s time for the doctor to come over and see if I’m well-balanced.

MRS. WANG-LI:  Yes, I’ll get Mr. Li to come over and check your pulse. ... Take off your watch.

BURT WOLF:   Okay...

MRS. WANG-LI:  The other side.  (Laughs)

BURT WOLF:   Okay...

MRS. WANG-LI:  Have you ever been checked by a herbalist, a Chinese physician?

BURT WOLF:   No, this is the first time for me.

MRS. WANG-LI:   (over)  First time.

BURT WOLF:   Feels good, though.  (Laughter)

MRS. WANG-LI:  Stick out your tongue.  Okay.

BURT WOLF:   So how am I doing?

DR. LI:  [speaks Chinese]

MRS. WANG-LI:  Oh, he says you are very balanced...

DR. LI:  [speaks Chinese]

MRS. WANG-LI:  Ah.  He would recommend an American ginseng soup for you, a double-boiled soup, because that will help to boost a little bit of your energy, and also it’s good for reducing a little bit of heat in your body.

BURT WOLF:   Can I also have a portion of the virility and longevity dish, too?   I’m ready to eat!

MRS. WANG-LI:  Superman!

BURT WOLF:   Superman?  Not quite...  (Laughter)

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Does it all work?  Well, eventually we’ll find out.  When Chinese chefs work with Chinese doctors, however, the real issue is always taste.  No matter how good a food is for you, if it doesn’t taste good you’re not going to eat it very often.  In terms of the meal I just ate, if it was good for me from a medicinal point of view, fabulous.  I would prescribe it once a week just based on flavor.

As I left the Imperial Herbal restaurant, Mrs. Wang-Lee gave me a copy of the recipe for shrimp and walnuts so the next time my yang was greater than my yin I could bring things back into balance.  As a general rule I try to test a new recipe as soon as possible after I have tasted the original dish. I want to try and recreate the flavors while they are still fresh in my mind.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  So I came back to the kitchens at the Marina Mandarin to work with my friend George Fistrovich, to test the recipe.  Mrs. Wang-Lee said that next time I take a long flight and unbalance my yin and yang I should use this dish to help reduce jet lag.  So I’ll give you the recipe; you do the cooking.

A half pound of shelled and cleaned shrimp go into a bowl with an egg white and a tablespoon of cornstarch that has been dissolved in a little water.  The shrimp sit in that mixture for about thirty minutes.  At the end of that time a wok is heated over a high flame and three tablespoons of oil are poured in.  As soon as the oil is hot in goes a quarter cup of green bell pepper cut into small cubes.  The a quarter cup of celery also cut into small cubes.  A little stir-frying.  A pinch of salt.  Then a half cup of chicken stock is added.  The shrimp are drained from the egg white mixture and go into the wok.  A minute of stir-frying and the final set of ingredients go in.  A little sherry, some soy sauce.  Sesame oil.  Mushrooms. And at long, last the walnuts. 

BURT WOLF:   I feel my yin and yang balancing out as I watch it.

As soon as all the ingredients are warm, the dish is ready to serve.

Many of the Chinese who immigrated to Singapore came from a district in Southeastern China known as Hainan.  They had a strong influence on the development of Singapore, especially in the area of food.  One example is a dish called Hainanese Chicken Rice.  It is one of the most popular dishes in the country.  So popular that it is always available as a special order on Singapore Airlines. Chef Lim Ah Chye demonstrates the techniques that he uses to prepare the dish.  A two-and-a-half-pound chicken has been cooked in boiling water for twenty minutes and then plunged into cold water to stop the cooking and make it easier to handle.  Then it’s cut into pieces. If you prepared the chicken meat from boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of the whole chicken, that’ll work fine too.  A few tablespoons of oyster sauce are poured over the chicken, plus some chopped cilantro leaves.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Oyster sauce is a condiment, comes in a bottle, and you can buy it in the Asian food section of your supermarket.

Next a flavored oil is made by cooking a quarter cup of oil together with some slices of red onion, fresh ginger and garlic.  All that sautés together for two minutes.  Then the solid ingredients are strained from the oil.  The result is a flavored oil which is used on the rice, which is cooked next.  Two cups of white rice go into a rice cooker or a large sauce pan, along with two and a half cups of chicken stock. The stock can be canned or you can use the water that the chicken was cooked in.  Then the top goes on and the rice cooks for twenty-five minutes.  When the rice is ready, the flavored oil gets mixed in and the rice sits, covered, for five minutes more.  Then the rice goes into a serving dish to join the chicken.  The final element is a dipping sauce.  A blender is used to puree some red chilies, fresh ginger slices and garlic.  To that puree the chef adds a little salt, sugar, red wine vinegar and lime juice.  Slices of cucumber and tomato come along to the table.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): Well... my yin feels in pretty good balance with my yang so I guess it’s time to conclude our report from the Chinese community in Singapore.  When I first took a look at the relationship of Chinese herbal recipes to good health, I was a little bit skeptical.  But now that I’ve had a closer look at the information, I’m kind of impressed -- especially when everything tastes so good.  Well, I hope you’ll join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Jasper - #111

Jasper.  The largest park in the Canadian Rockies and one of the most beautiful places in North America.   It shows you what’s been happening on earth for more than 600 million years.   Mountains that came out of the sea.  Glaciers that feed picture-perfect lakes.  An intimate look at wildlife... and a famous resort with some great cooking.  So join me in Jasper for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Archaeologists believe that native tribes have been hunting in western Canada for almost 12,000 years.  When the glaciers began pulling back to the north, and the area warmed up, that allowed plants and animals to return to the land.  Prehistoric groups of hunters and gatherers took advantage of the changed weather pattern and established temporary settlements during the summers.  The first Europeans into the area were French fur traders who came across Canada in search of a mountain pass - a mountain pass that would take them through the Rocky Mountains to the rich fur territory along the Pacific coast of Canada in the land that is now known as British Columbia. As part of western Canada's program to allow visitors to experience some of the area's history, there’s an organization called Rocky Mountain Voyageurs.  Knowledgeable guides like Art Jackson take you down the river in the same type of canoe that the fur traders used during the early 1800's.

ART JACKSON:  As we’re travelling down the river today, Burt, we’ll be going maybe, oh, upwards of twelve kilometers on the Athabasca River.  The Athabasca Valley is a very large valley, and it was basically a glacial-fed river, and it’s -- the Athabasca word means “reedy waters.”  We don’t see the reeds, of course, at this upper section, but we do lower down where the water’s quieter.  The Athabasca itself comes from the Athabasca Glacier, so it’s a glacial-fed river, and that’s why it has this creamy, milky colors to it.  It’s all glacial silt.

BURT WOLF:   That’s really just rock that was ground very fine by the movement of the glacier?

ART JACKSON:  Very, very fine rock.  And in fact, in some places you can actually hear the suspended particles tapping the bottom of the boat.  Sounds like static on the bottom of the canoe.  ... Well, the very first European that came into this area was in 1811, into the Jasper area.  His name was David Thompson.  And Thompson actually travelled up here in the winter of 1811, using the Athabasca River as his highway.  And the highway in summer was the water, and in the winter, of course, was the ice.  So he travelled over Athabasca Pass, which connects into the Columbia draining system, and from there, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.  As you can see from the size of these canoes, Burt, they’re very, very stable in the, in the river.  The Voyageurs would have canoes in this area about twenty-six feet long.  They were called canoe d’nord, the “northern canoe.”  ... The mountains on our right here are from the front ranges, Burt, so they’re the youngest ranges of the Rockies.  And over here on our left, we’re starting to get a view of Pyramid Mountain.  Pyramid is part of the oldest rock in the park; over six hundred million years old is the rock, and the ranges were uplifted about a hundred and seventy million years ago.  Part of the main ranges of the Rockies.  You’ll also notice in front of Pyramid Mountain, we have these terraces, and they’re called “cane terraces,” which are deposits from the last Ice Age that came through this valley between 60,000 and 10,000 years ago.  All these terraces are basically made from the debris from the glaciers as they travelled down this valley. ... We have a kingfisher chasing a sparrow hawk, and vice versa, the sparrow hawk chasing the kingfisher.  That’s what they’re doing in the water over there.  Diving at him.  ... The Voyageurs were a bit superstitious of the mountains, though; they thought they contained spirits.  And if you notice on the ridge line on the far right, you’ll see the profile of a man staring up into the sky.  And the Voyageurs named that Roche ban homme, “The Man of Rock.”  So he’s just -- his profile is very distinct today, even in the morning haze.

BURT WOLF:   He’s taking a morning snooze.

ART JACKSON:  Yeah, he does look like he’s sleeping. for sure.

BURT WOLF:   What did they eat?

ART JACKSON:  Well, because they were so busy paddling, they never had much time to trap, to catch game, so they actually traded with the native people, and it was a very important trade item called “pemican.”  And the pemican was produced by the natives in huge quantities from... basically, a basic recipe would be taking one medium-size buffalo, and -- I don’t know if they added dashes and, sips and dashes of various things, but they did throw in berries from the season, fresh berries, they would take the meat and dry it, so that it was dried in the sun and then pounded, and then they would take all the fat from the animal and they would mix the meat and the fat and all the berries together and put it into skin bags.  And the Voyageurs would transport that down the river as their food.  Mind you, it was only -- there was only enough room in the canoe to last about a week for food, so they had to stop roughly every week at a trading post to replenish their pemican supplies.  The distances, actually, in many of the major cities in Canada are roughly one week apart; in distance-wise, five hundred miles, roughly.  And that’s because most of them were fur posts in the early days.

{NAVIGATOR sings in French]

ART JACKSON:  Our main purpose, of course, in taking folks down this part of the river is the unique view from the river of the park itself, the environment here, the river view, the sounds, the wildlife that we run into... we take our folks on a very gentle float down the river.

BURT WOLF:  It is so beautiful.

[Singing concludes]

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The fur trade in North America was based on a European fashion for hats that were made out of beaver skins.  Those very valuable beaver skins were supplied from Canada by a company called the Hudson Bay Company.  Their agent in this area was a guy named Jasper. He operated a trading post and sold supplies to the trappers. 

This is an actual photograph of the building in which he conducted his business. It was known as Jasper House, and eventually the entire area was called Jasper.  The first actual settler in Jasper was a man named Lewis Swift.  He came up from the United States in 1893, built this cabin, traded with the natives, and raised cattle.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  When the European fashion for beaver hats came to an end, so did the fur trade in Canada.  And Jasper settled back to the wilderness that it had been for thousands of years.  But just south of here, in an spot called Banff, the joint was jumping.  The Canadian Pacific Railroad had gotten the federal government to declare Banff a national park.  The railroad built a hotel that had become an attraction for international tourists, and both the government and the railroad were making lots of money.  When a second railroad was built across the country on a more northerly route, it cut through Jasper.  And the government soon realized that it had another opportunity to produce a federal park, and another opportunity to make big bucks. Which was only fair, because the government had spent a fortune getting the railroads started.

In 1907 they set up the Jasper Forest Park.  The original town was just a division point on the railroad called Fitzhugh.  It was really only a row of tents that offered, as the sign in this photo says... a place to "eat and sleep".  There’s an early example of honest advertising. In 1922 Jasper still offered a place to "eat and sleep," but things were getting a bit more elegant.  The Jasper Park Lodge had been built.  For $3.00 a day you could sleep in a log cabin and eat in the main lodge.  You could dance in the ballroom or sit out on the verandah.  Or you just might end up playing golf alongside superstars like Bing Crosby and Smokey The Bear.  In 1953 it became the location for the filming of The Far Country with Corinne Calvet.  I had a crush on her from which I am just recovering.  But life goes on, and today the Jasper Park Lodge is one of the world's great resorts.  It sits on over a thousand acres of majestic wilderness.  The cabins look as rustic as ever on the outside, but inside are the most up-to-date facilities.  The golf course was designed by Stanley Thompson who had the fascinating idea of lining up the holes with the local mountain peaks. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The natural, if somewhat unique, hazards for the course include elk, geese, deer,  and occasionally a bear who seems to enjoy collecting golf balls.  There are facilities for canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, biking and tennis.  During the winter, there’s downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, skating, you can ride around in a horse-drawn sleigh, or you can go snowshoeing.    And all year long, there’s great cooking. 

Jeff O'Neill is the Executive Sous Chef at the lodge and today he's preparing a salmon steak that was marinated as if to make a gravlax, but then it's grilled and served with a sauce of mustard and dill.  Four salmon steaks, about an inch thick, are set into a pan.  Four tablespoons of sugar are sprinkled on top.  Four tablespoons of salt go on top of the sugar.  The mixture of the two is pressed into the surface of the fish.  A sprinkling of fresh dill... about a half tablespoon on each steak... a grinding of pepper.  Then the salmon steaks are turned over and the sugaring and salting and dilling process is repeated.

JEFF O’NEILL:  Here you go.  And that goes in the fridge for about twenty hours, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

BURT WOLF:   See you tomorrow. ...

JEFF O’NEILL:  Ah, welcome back.

BURT WOLF:   Thank you, thank you.  “As we left off yesterday...”  What’s all the moisture?

JEFF O’NEILL:  The moisture is the liquid from the salmon that the salt has extracted, so that’s where we get the cured salmon effect from.  Right now, if you wanted to, you could probably eat it in the state it’s in.

At this point the sauce is made.  A cup of mustard is mixed together with a tablespoon of honey... two tablespoons of chopped fresh dill and a teaspoon of oil.  Now we are ready for the grilling.

JEFF O’NEILL:  Well, right now I’m oiling the grill; when you’re barbecuing salmon, I think it’s really important that you first scrub down the grill as best you can, heat it up to a very high temperature and then oil it with just a little regular vegetable oil or olive oil.  Either will work. 

The salmon goes onto the grill... and cooks for four minutes on each side.

JEFF O’NEILL:  So now at this point, what we do is we give the salmon a little turn; gives it some nice grill marks, and it also adds a little bit of flavor.

The fish steaks come off the grill and onto the serving plate... some zucchini goes on... a sprig of dill... pickled beets, and the sauce on top of the fish.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  For over 100 years the Canadian province of Alberta has been famous for its lamb. So it's only fitting that Jeff uses the local product for his next recipe. 

It's grilled lamb chops served with a ginger and tomato salsa.  First the salsa... two tablespoons of olive oil go into a bowl ... followed by two tablespoons of red wine vinegar... two crushed cloves of garlic... and two cups of tomato cut into small pieces.  All that gets mixed together. Then a yellow bell pepper and a green bell pepper are seeded and chopped and mixed in.  Three tablespoons of chopped cilantro and a tablespoon of chili paste are stirred in.  Finally... a cup of chopped green onion... and a quarter of a cup of Japanese pickled ginger that's been minced... salt... pepper... and a little sugar.  That should rest in the refrigerator for an hour so the flavors can blend together.  A rack of lamb that’s been frenched is sliced into individual chops. 

JEFF O’NEILL:  In this neck of the woods, when we mean a “frenched lamb rack,” is the meat’s been removed from one- third down the bone, and from between the bones.  And that makes for a nice eye-appealing look in the restaurant.

BURT WOLF:   Gives you something to grab onto when you eat with your hands, too.

JEFF O’NEILL:  Exactly!  And that’s what we’re gonna do today.

Then the chops go onto the grill... and a little salt and pepper go onto the chops.  As soon as the lamb is cooked to the degree of doneness that you like, take the chops off the grill and get ready to plate the dish.  The chops go on... roasted potatoes (these have been cut to look like mushrooms)... steamed carrots, and the salsa on top of the lamb.

During the 1840's a Jesuit missionary known as Father de Smet was traveling through this part of the Canadian Rockies.  He had so much trouble crossing one of the rivers that he named it "Maligne," which is the French word for "wicked".  Today Maligne is the official name of the river, as well as the canyon through which it flows, and a nearby lake. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The Maligne Canyon was created by what is called a “hanging glacier.”  During the last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago, the Maligne Glacier was making its way down this valley. 

It was coming out of that mountain over there and sliding down to the right.  At the same time, a much bigger and deeper glacier was pushing its way down the Athabasca Valley. That’s the valley which you can see at the right of your screen... crossing in front of the Maligne.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   So here’s the ice of the Maligne glacier working its way down the valley.  Along comes the bigger, more powerful ice of the Athabasca.  It just lops off the end of the Maligne.  The Athabasca is also much deeper.  So when the ice melts, the Athabasca valley is much lower, and the Maligne is left “hanging up” hundreds of yards above the Athabasca. 

And that's exactly what you see today as you look down from the mountains.  Maligne has become the longest and deepest limestone canyon in the Canadian Rockies.  For thousands of years the river took the path of least resistance and cut a crack through the bedrock that is narrow, deep, and filled with a rushing river.  It cuts through the rock at the rate of half a centimeter per year as it surges down this gorge to join up with the Athabasca River and then off to the Arctic Ocean. It is an amazing place to visit.  But it is only the beginning of the extraordinary display of nature that is on view in this valley.  As you continue up the canyon you come to Medicine Lake.  The lake sits on top of a bedrock base that is made up mostly of limestone... limestone which dissolves in water.  During the centuries since the lake was originally formed by melting ice, the water of the lake has been able to find its way into the limestone and create a series of sinkholes and underground caves that run down for almost three miles.  During the winter Medicine Lake virtually disappears.  The native tribes considered that "bad medicine" which is where the name comes from. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   When the water from Medicine Lake comes out in the valley on the other side of this mountain, it creates new lakes.  This form of underground drainage is known as a "karst" system.  And the one here at Medicine Lake is the largest in the world and one of the reasons that the area has been designated as a World Heritage Site.

A little further up the valley and you come to Maligne Lake.  This is the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies and one of the most beautiful sights in North America.  In 1928 a local guide named Curly Phillips built this floating boathouse on the lake and tourists began to come up to see the place... and eventually to fish.  Today there are tourboats that will take you out to visit this fascinating spot.  These days one of the local guides is John Auger.

JOHN AUGER:  The mountain range to the left of us, the Queen Elizabeth range, is all limestone.  Limestone’s a fairly solid rock, and most of the Canadian Rockies are made of limestone.  And why they call it the Canadian Rockies is because there’s such... (Laughs)

BURT WOLF:   Rocks!

JOHN AUGER:  Rocks, exactly!

BURT WOLF:   Those are big rocks!

JOHN AUGER:  Yeah, they’re big rocks, and just the, the sight of them inspires awe to people, and they never used to look like this before the Ice Age.  What they were is huge rolling hills with no trees, no nothing on them.  You can see to the left there’s a mountain range that’s called Sinking Ship Ridge; you can see grooves right in the side.  That’s where rocks have literally ripped the side of the mountains off.  And this is one of the largest rock slides in the Canadian Rockies, right at the end of the lake.  You’ll notice huge rocks to each side of the lake, boulders out to the left and to the right of us.  To the left of us, right under Sinking Ship Ridge, we have a “perennial avalanche chute.”  And that’s a very green, grassy slope where no trees will grow on.  Now, the perennial avalanche chute, what that means is we’ll have a minimum of one avalanche every winter.  We get so much snow in the mountains in the wintertime, and they almost look like ski slopes.  But that’s the last place you wanna ski on, ‘cause once those avalanches come down, they come down of a speed of about a hundred, hundred and twenty to a hundred and fifty miles an hour.  And it just rolls and rolls, and literally tons and tons of snow, by the time it gets down towards the bottom.  So that’s why there are no trees up here, and that’s why there’s not even tree that will grow up here. ... That’s a glacial stream coming into the lake, you can see it coming right from the toe of the glacier.  And that stream will come right into the lake in this point.  Now, they’re depositing so much silt, and we call this glacial silt, or rock flour... as a glacier moves, it picks these boulders up, crushes them underneath them, into the very fine powder, so that’s why the glaciers look very dirty, a bluish-gray.  As they melt, all this silt and rock flour comes into the water via the streams, gets deposited in the lake and slowly fills the lake up.  Now this point here is called the Samson Narrows.  Would y’all just believe in about a hundred and fifty to two hundred years from now, this whole point will close up, ‘cause of all that glacial silt?  So we’ll be have an upper and lower Maligne Lake, be able to walk across the point of the lake here.  And that’s just from all the glacial runoff. ... Eighty-five percent of the water in this lake comes from the glaciers.  On a day like today, one of the hottest days we’ve had, the top surface will reach perhaps fifty degrees Fahrenheit, but under, that’s constant thirty-eight to forty degrees Fahrenheit, so it is fairly cold.

BURT WOLF:   I won’t be swimming here today.

JOHN AUGER:  Not a lot of people do.  (Laughs)

By the end of the 1800's most of the important mountains in Europe had been conquered by climbers... and serious mountaineers were looking for new challenges.  When word of the Canadian Rockies reached climbing clubs in Europe and the eastern cities of North America, the climbers started heading to Canada's western provinces.  The railroads quickly realized that catering to mountain climbers could be a very profitable business.  They also discovered that the press coverage of the mountaineers brought hundreds of general tourists who just wanted to stay in hotels owned by the railroads and look at the mountains that were being climbed.  They began bringing in mountain guides from Switzerland and assigning them to the hotels.   Eventually it got to a point where any tourist who wanted to climb a mountain could safely do so.  They set up climbs that were more like uphill hikes for amateurs, as well as the real stuff for the real climbers. Of course, the primary objective for many of the early climbers in the Canadian Rockies was to make the first climb to the top of a specific mountain.  The challenge of setting a new record.  Which is precisely what is happening now.  You are witnessing the first ascent of Old Fort Point by a two-man culinary climbing team, with chicken. Actually Jeff is not scared at all... I'm the one who's chicken...and so is the recipe. 

Which is for chicken breasts sautéed with a sauce of onions, flavored vinegar, honey and spinach... with a little melted brie as the peak.  Jeff starts by putting two tablespoons of vegetable oil into a hot non-stick frying pan.  While the oil is warming up, two boneless, skinless chicken breasts are dredged in flour on both sides.  Then the chicken goes into the pan and cooks for three minutes on the first side.  A little salt and pepper and the chicken is turned and cooks for three minutes on the second side.

JEFF O’NEILL:  The way you can tell it’s time to flip the chicken, is by looking at the edges; you can see a little bit of browning on the edge. 

The chicken breasts come out of the pan and in goes a half of a red onion that has been thinly sliced.

JEFF O’NEILL:  I’ve chosen a red onion because of the strong flavor, and it lends itself to the color once the raspberry vinegar is added.

Three minutes of cooking and two tablespoons of honey are added. Then an ounce of raspberry flavored vinegar or balsamic vinegar or just a good quality red wine vinegar.  The sauce simmers for about three minutes at which point it comes out of the pan and is held aside.  A little oil goes into the pan, followed by a crushed clove of garlic and four cups of spinach that have been washed well.  Two minutes of cooking... the onion goes back in.  Two more minutes of cooking and once again everything comes out of the pan.  The chicken breasts go back in... the spinach and onion mixture goes on top of the chicken.  A few thin slices of brie cheese on top.  A cover.  Two more minutes of cooking to melt the cheese.  The cover comes off and it's ready to plate.  First the chicken... a few carrots... some zucchini and it's ready to serve.

JEFF O’NEILL:  Comme ça?

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): As I mentioned, the first Europeans into this area were French fur traders known as Voyageurs.  They got along quite well with the native tribes; at least I hope they did... they were always marrying each other.  And as often happens... when two cultures get together, they influence each other’s recipe.  An example is this Voyageur Stew.  Originally it was made by the native tribes.  They would take the intestines of an animal, or a large skin, fill it with the solid ingredients, cover that with water, and then, because they couldn’t put the skin over direct heat, they would drop in hot stones until the water came to a boil, and the food was... boiled. When the Voyageurs showed up, they had metal pots.  So all the ingredients went in, and you see this dish being sauteed for the first time... and it tasted much better.

The recipe starts by putting a little oil into a deep- sided pan.  As soon as the oil is hot... in go three pounds of lean beef cut into small cubes. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The original native tribes would have made this dish with moose, elk, or bear meat, and if you can get that in your supermarket, please use it.  My market tends to be out of elk and bear most of the time, and they never have moose on special, so I tend to make this with lean beef.   

The beef cooks for five minutes, then in go two cups of coarsely chopped onion... three quarters of a cup of maple syrup... a few minutes of cooking... three cups of potatoes cut into small cubes... two cups of turnips, also cut into small cubes... a few more minutes of cooking... a cup of minced green onions... four cups of beef stock... salt and pepper and an hour's worth of simmering.  The result is a dish that pays tribute to the history of Jasper.

Jasper is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  Mountain peaks that look across the top of the world at rocks that are over 600 million years old.  It's an amazing experience.  We talk about the wonders of our planet and the effort we must make to preserve them.   But when we make those statements in crowded and tense cities...in nations that seem always to be in conflict... it's sometimes difficult to remember precisely what it is that we are trying to save.   Not so in this place. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Jasper is here to remind us what home looked liked in the beginning, and what it feels like to be in the arms of nature.  And that's just a little of what Jasper is all about. I hope you enjoyed it... and I hope you will join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I'm Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Campania, Italy - #110

The Italian region of Campania has some of the most beautiful landscape in Europe.  Its resort village of Positano is world famous for its picturesque charm. And the entire district is the birthplace of what most North Americans consider their favorite Italian foods.  It’s also home to a group of extraordinary wines.  So join me in Campania, Italy for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The province of Campania is situated on the southwest coast of the Italian peninsula.  During the 800s B.C., the ancient Greeks settled in here, and by the first century A.D. everybody who was anybody in the Roman Empire wanted to have a vacation home around here.  The style of the place was a mixture -- a little bit of the Hamptons on Long Island, some Malibu beach from just outside Los Angeles, and a light dusting of Aspen, Colorado. Virgil had a place here, Horace, Ovid, even Cicero -- and the traffic from Rome on the weekends was murder. 

But the area was not just a spot for holidays.  The main city of the province was Naples and from the very beginning of its history it was a major port.  If you were going to do business, or make war in the ancient world, controlling Naples was a primary objective.  The Romans hung on for a few centuries, but when Rome fell, so did the fortunes of the region of Campania. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The German tribes came through and sacked everything.  Then the Moslem Saracens came up from the eastern Mediterranean.  Next were the Norman Knights.  They were passing through the neighborhood on the way home from their Crusades in the Holy Land.  When they got a good look at the land around the Bay of Naples, well, there was no going home for those boys. 

After a while the Normans lost control and the Germans of the Holy Roman Empire took over.  The French had a crack at running the place.  Spain controlled the area for a time, through the great power of the Bourbons. And the Austrians ruled for a while through the Hapsburgs. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  For over 3,000 years, Campania was just a pawn to foreign powers, but all that changed in the mid-1800’s when Garibaldi united the districts of this peninsula into modern Italy. Of course, more foreigners come here than ever before, but they are no longer tyrants, just tourists.

Both the ancient Greeks and the Romans were impressed with the quality of Campania’s soil.  It was an ideal place for growing fruits and vegetables, and olive trees produced excellent olive oil.  The hills were planted with vineyards that yielded highly respected wines.  The climate was mild enough for the planting of citrus crops and the growing season lasted all year long.  At about 600 A.D., water buffaloes were brought here from India and today great herds of their descendants are used to produce the finest mozzarella cheese.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  For just about a thousand years, foreign rulers made Campania a difficult environment for the average person.  So when the chance arose for them to immigrate to North America, many of them did so.  During the period from 1880 to 1920 over four million Campaniase moved to the United States and Canada. But unlike the groups that moved before them, they flatly refused to change the way they ate in the old country.  As a result, today, when we think about Italian food, most of the time we are thinking about food that comes from the area areound Naples.

Let’s start with pasta.  When you talk about pasta there are two basic types.  There is fresh pasta, traditionally made every day at home, usually flat, a specialty of the northern part of the country, and until very recently, not very common in North America.  Then there is dry pasta, produced in factories, and hard and round instead of flat and soft. This is the specialty of the southern part of Italy. Its most common form is spaghetti and it has become as basic to the diet of North Americans as hamburgers and hot dogs.  The factories of Campania have been producing dried pasta in the form of spaghetti, or in one of its variations, since the 1400’s. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Now if you think spaghetti is a major contribution to North American eating habits, as Jimmy Durante used to say, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Naples has an extraordinary reputation for great ice cream, and it was an immigrant to the United States from Naples, one Philip Lenzi who ran the first advertisement for ice cream made in a factory.  It was in a New York newspaper, and the year was 1777.  So:  before Breyers, before Sealtest, before Haagen Daaz, before Ben or Jerry, there was Lenzi. But as they say in television -- don’t go away, there’s more!  It was from Naples that North America received its first pizza delivery.

The word pizza means “pie,” and in one form or another it has been part of the diet of people in the near east and around the Mediterranean for thousands of years.  The pizza of Campania is descended from an ancient Roman breakfast which was made up of a flat piece of baked dough, with an assortment of toppings.  It had a raised edge so you could eat it easily by hand and not lose any of the topping.  When we use the word pizza in North America we are usually talking about the pizza of the Campanian city of Naples. It can be presented in a size that is big enough to give a course to a number of eaters at a dinner, or as a meal in itself for a single person.  In Naples there are two pizzas that are considered authentic, and truly appreciated by everyone. Pizza Napoletana, made with tomatoes and garlic and oregano... and what appears to be the hometown favorite, Pizza Margherita, containing tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil. Though sometimes there is an addition of oregano, or parsley.  The essential aspect of the Margherita is that the three major ingredients represent the colors of the Italian flag:  green, white, and red.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Now, this pizza comes along with a story.  It’s the story of a local pizza baker named Raffaelo Esposito. One day Raffaelo gets a call that the visiting King Umberto I wants him to come over and bake a pizza so he can have a taste of this local specialty. Raffaelo grabs all of his gear and his ingredients and heads over to the king’s apartment.  He bakes him a pizza, but he only uses ingredients that are the colors of the Italian flag.  And then, for extra points, he names it after the King’s wife, Queen Margherita of Savoy. Great shot.

Just around the corner from Naples is the town of Positano.  Positano clings to a semi-circle of cliffs that rise up from a cove in the Mediterranean.  The name probably comes from Poseidon, who was the ancient Greek god of the sea. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Positano has a long and interesting history.  During the ninth century it was one of the cities of the Amalfi Republic, and very powerful. A group of them actually got together and wrote the first laws covering the sea.  During the tenth century, Positano became a major trading center, and eventually did so much business with the Middle East that many of the merchants here became extraordinarily wealthy. A lot of that trade was done in the spice business. But when steamships came along in the 1800’s, business, and life, pretty much passed Positano by.  There were eight thousand residents at the time, and six thousand of them decided to get up and look for work in New York City -- many of them settling into buildings on Manhattan’s Columbus Avenue.  Now, for many years I lived and worked on Columbus Avenue, so I feel very comfortable and at home in Positano.

Positano is a excellent example of the picture-perfect Italian fishing village that has decided to welcome a limited number of English speaking tourists.  As you come into Positano there is only one street and it only goes one way.  Which is to say that all roads in Positano lead out, and once you are out all roads lead in.  Sounds confusing, and it is.  The waterfront has the required display of beach chairs and cafes.  There’s a shop that for over 30 years has been making sandals while you wait... which seems a long time to wait...  There is a vendor who is famous for pottery with a particular style that is associated with the Amalfi coast, and dozens of small boutiques that appear to be selling the same clothing.  Actually they are not the same, they are just all representative of a local fashion.  There’s also a shop that can show you the latest Big Town vogue. Positano’s geographic position places it just across the bay from a location of considerable importance in classic literature. In the ancient Greek story of the Odyssey, the hero describes the challenges of his journey in the following words:  “The first adventures that we had to overcome awaited us on the Isle of Sirens.  These are nymphs who sing so infatuatingly that they bewitch everyone who listens to them.  They sit on the green shore and sing their magic music.  Whosoever lets himself be enticed across to them will meet his end.”

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  And so Ulysses had himself tied to the mast, and his ears stuffed with wax so he could sail safely by the Sirens.  Legend has it that those islands out there are the very same islands that Ulysses was talking about.  They’re right opposite Positano.  For many years they belonged to the Sersale family, whose family has been in this neighborhood for over 900 years.  They’re still in view of the Sersales, who have taken up residence on the mainland. 

This is their home and it is called Le Sirenuse which means... The Sirens.  Actually their home is a series of apartments in the center of these buildings.  Very slowly and very carefully, since 1953, they have been adding additional rooms and turning the property into a beautiful resort. There are 60 rooms, all of which face out on the sea.  The entire property really has the feeling of a large family home in which you have been given your own living area.  The furnishings are mostly the property of the family and the public rooms are set up as small individual areas so that you always have a sense of privacy.  The pool... the outdoor bar... the terrace dining room... all look out on the sea.  These days it’s run by Antonio Sersale, whose love of good food has led him to open a cooking school in the hotel.  A school that is devoted to preserving and teaching the classical and traditional dishes of Neapolitan cookery. Today Antonio and Chef Alfonso Mazzacano are instructing their students in the proper preparation of Neapolitan meatloaf.  My kind of dish.

The chef is making two loaves, but I’m going to give you a recipe for one.  Start by placing five slices of white bread into a bowl and letting them soak in a quarter of a cup of milk.  The bread sits together with the milk for a few moments, at which point the milk is squeezed out and the bread is torn up and added to two pounds of ground beef.  Two tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese are added, some salt and pepper, a quarter cup of chopped parsley, a clove of chopped garlic, and three eggs.  All those ingredients get mixed together.

ANTONIO SERSALE:   Very important to mix it with your hands, making sure that all the ingredients are blended in together; really nothing better than your hands to mix the meat together.

The mixture sits aside for a moment while the chef makes a flat omelet with two eggs.  While the omelet is cooking, the chef makes two flat discs out of the beef mixture... they’re about an inch thick.  A few thin slices of ham go on.  A few slices of mozzarella cheese.  Then the omelet.  The meat is rolled up to make a tube with the ham, mozzarella and omelet in the center.  Sometimes the chef puts a towel around the cylinder to help shape it.  Then the loaf is given a light coating of flour and sauteed in some oil for a minute or two on each side to give it a golden brown outside color.  Then into a heat-proof pan and into a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for an hour.  When it comes out, it’s ready to serve.

ANTONIO SERSALE:   There is a variation on this preparation, insofar as that if you do not want the meatloaf to fry in oil, you can place it in silver foil that has been slightly oiled and then place it in the oven.

Either way, it’s sliced and served with potatoes, string beans and tomatoes. 

The second recipe from Le Sirenuse is not being prepared for the cooking school.  It’s just lunch for me, Antonio and the chef, and it is pasta with olives and capers. The chef starts by heating a sauté pan and then adding in a little olive oil.  As soon as the oil is hot, in go three anchovy fillets.  Standard stuff.  The same type of anchovy fillet that you would find in any North American market.  The anchovies are stirred around and broken up in order to flavor the oil.  Then two cloves of minced garlic are added, plus a pinch of crushed dried red pepper.  Those ingredients cook for a moment at which point they are joined by a half cup of black olives, and a half cup of green olives, both pitted and sliced.  Next in... two teaspoons of capers, a tablespoon of oregano, a tablespoon of minced fresh parsley and a quarter cup of chopped fresh basil.  A minute of cooking and stirring and a cup of canned Italian plum tomatoes are added with their juices.  That is the basic sauce and it simmers for about five minutes.  Meanwhile, four quarts of water are brought to the boil. Then in goes a pound of linguini pasta.  The pasta cooks for between six and ten minutes, until it is just done, but you can still feel a distinct firmness.  The only way to know when it’s ready is to keep tasting it.

ANTONIO SERSALE:   In the south of Italy, people like their pasta al dente; they want to be able to feel its crunchiness, and, in fact, when they sit to the table, the first fifteen minutes of conversation are dedicated to how well the pasta is cooked.

When the pasta is ready, it is drained from the water and goes into the sauce to be coated.  A few flips.  A little stirring.  A final addition of about a quarter of a cup of chopped basil and it’s ready to go onto the plate.

Positano is right next to Pompeii and Herculaneum and a number of other leading archeological sites of Italy.  Two thousand years ago this was a very important spot in the ancient Roman Empire.  It was part of the largest metropolis on the west coast of Italy, busy and growing.  The volcanic Mount Vesuvius had always stood nearby but the people who had the job of predicting the future by looking at the entrails of animals told everybody that Vesuvius was asleep, and not to worry.  Well, those guys should have used those chicken livers to make pate.  On the 24th of August, 79 A.D., Vesuvius blew its stack. Pliny the Younger, a writer of the time, described the event as a blast that sent flaming lava and hot earth into a cone that rose up into the sky for some 50,000 feet.  The hot gases and ash that came down into the towns suffocated the inhabitants and buried the area under more than 20 feet of debris. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The buildings lay hidden until the 1700’s when they were rediscovered, and archeological research like the one here is still going on.  We’re learning more and more about the way the ancient Romans lived, especially about the way they ate.  One of the most amazing buildings belonged to a guy who was a saucemaker.  He produced something like ketchup, and it was used pretty much the way we use ketchup in the United States and Canada today.  Or in the way the Japanese use soy sauce. It was called “Garum,” and the recipe appears to be to take a lot of fish and a lot of salt salt and some spices and throw it into a barrel, and leave the barrel in the sun for a couple of months.  When historians have tried to reproduce this dish, they found something that was very salty and kind of unattractive. But they have an explanation of why the Romans might have loved it.  The Romans cooked in pots that contained lots of lead, so a lot of them had lead poisoning. One of the symptoms of lead poisoning is an inability to taste salt. So they added more and more salt to their diet. Some of the historians also believe that lead poisoning was also a reason for some of the bizarre behavior in the Roman empire.  A good reason to watch out for lead in our own diets.

The Greeks and Romans and just about everyone else who has lived in or visited this part of the world has been impressed with the local wine.  Campania is one of the world’s oldest regions for the production of wine.  Historians tell us that the ancient Greeks planted vineyards here, and there is clear evidence that the ancient Romans produced some of their best wines in the soil of Campania.  Part of the reason that the soil is so productive is that it is filled with nutrient-rich volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius. I guess every volcanic cloud has a silver lining.

The ancient Romans had some favorite grape varieties from the area, too.  One was called Aglianico. The Romans had called this grape Vitis Hellenica meaning “Greek Vine.” Another variety was called Fiano.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  For years the it was thought that the Fiano grape was extinct.  Then in 1952 a local wine expert by the name of Antonio Mastroberardino discovered a small group of them growing wild.  He decided that what he was gonna do was bring them back to the quality that had made them famous during the time of the ancient Romans. 

The Mastroberardino family started making wine in the 1500’s.  By the 1700’s they were cellaring wines and today they are the most important winemaking family in southern Italy.  Antonio and his sons, Piero and Carlo, are the present generation.  In spite of the 400 years of winemaking tradition in the household, everyone is extremely interested in developing the most advanced technology for their production. And because their winery is really relatively small, the family has been able to do some interesting things.  It’s an ideal place to follow the more advanced methods for making wine.  Carlo conducts the tour.

CARLO MASTROBERARDINO:  Basically when the, when the grapes arrive, they are thrown into this vat, and from here they arrive to the crushing machine. 

BURT WOLF:   So the grapes come from the field here --

CARLO MASTROBERARDINO:  (over)  That’s right --

BURT WOLF:   -- and they’re dumped right in, and then they are pushed along and crushed.  The stems are separated out, and they go away --

CARLO MASTROBERARDINO:  What happens with the stems is that we collect them and we bring them back to the vineyards, because they’re an excellent natural fertilizer. ... The next step of the process is pressing.  What we have here is four soft horizontal presses.  As you can see, there are quite too many for a small winery like ours.  However, the reason for having them is the fact that we don’t like to press different juices one on top of the other at any part of this process; we like to keep separating all of the aromas and the flavors of the different juices.  Therefore, one press is, for the whole time of the harvest time, is going to be working on the juice that we use to make the wine Fiano.  The second one is only working for the juice that we need to make the wine Greco; the third one, for Lacryma Christi, and then, the fourth press is used only for the Aglianico juice, which is the juice that we use for our red wine, Taurasi. ... After pre-filtering, the juice, which at this point is left without the skins, goes to the second filtering machine, which is a more selective one.  As you can see, this is the output of a lot of solid particles that were left in the juice from the vineyard and that now are being taken away.  And you can see the difference, which is amazing enough, in these two glasses.  This juice is prior filtering, this is after filtering.

BURT WOLF:   Amazing.  ... The wood is a natural way of drawing things out of the wine that you don’t want in it --


BURT WOLF:   -- and putting flavors in.

CARLO MASTROBERARDINO:  That’s right, that’s right.  Now the wines are made, fermentations are completed, and the red wines arrive to the wooden casks, made of Slavonian oak, where they do their time of maturation in wood.  We use Slavonian oak casks for our big reds, Taurasi and Lacryma Christi red, as you can see on this side.  Instead, on this side, you see some concrete vats, which are not really used anymore, but they’re kept because they represent a moment of our history.  In fact, they were built right after World War II.  And they were built because the original casks were destroyed by the German army as they were leaving this area.  They didn’t want to leave any type of food or beverage to the enemy, the American army, and therefore they came here and they shot into the barrels.  After the war, we had to start working again right away.  There were no barrel makers, there was no money in the company, and therefore the concrete vats were the only escapeway to start working again.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   These days Mastroberardino is using these ancient grape varieties to produce some of the finest wine in Italy.  You know, in a time when we are losing many of our agricultural species, and farmers are being forced to choose from a smaller and smaller gene pool, it’s really nice to see someone preserving our ancient agricultural heritage.

In the center of the Italian town of Avellino is the Church of the Oblate, and opposite, a narrow side street without a sign.  But the serious eaters of the neighborhood know precisely where it is because the street is home to a locally famous restaurant, Antica Trattoria Martella.  The restaurant has made its reputation by presenting the traditional home recipes of the region.  And I think the reason there’s no street sign is that the locals want to keep the place a secret.  Today the chef, Joey della Bruna, is preparing Steak Pizzaiola.  The recipe begins by slicing off a steak that is about one inch thick and then trimming away the fat.  A little oil goes into a non-stick pan and as soon as it’s hot in goes the steak.  Two minutes of pan frying on one side, then over it goes for two minutes of pan frying on the other.  A pinch of salt and then off to a warm plate to wait, while the sauce is made.  I like Joey’s system for keeping the steak warm.  He puts a heat-proof plate over a pot of simmering water.  That’s it.  The dish stays warm but not so hot as to continue cooking the steak.

The sauce is made by pouring out the oil that was used to pan-fry the steak and pouring in a little new oil.  Some chopped garlic is added, and a cup of cherry tomatoes that have been cut in half.  If cherry tomatoes aren’t in your market you can use any good quality fresh tomatoes or some good quality canned tomatoes.  The tomatoes are pressed with a spoon to release their juices, at which point a little oregano goes in... some fresh basil... a little more stirring and five minutes of cooking with the cover on.  Then the steak goes into the sauce, the cover goes back on and there’s a final three minutes of cooking. That’s it.  The steak goes onto the serving plate and the sauce on top.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Well, that’s my report from the Italian region of Campania.  Whenever I think about it, I’m going to remember that it is from this area that North America got ice cream, pizza and spaghetti.  But I’m also going to remember that it is the home of Mount Vesuvius, that extraordinary volcano.  And as they say in the neighborhood... lava or leave it.   I can’t believe I said that.  Please join me next time; I’m Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Lake District of Chile - #109

The Lake District of Chile... one of the most beautiful landscapes in The Western Hemisphere.  Its culture comes from the native tribes, Spanish explorers and German colonists.  One of its most important centers is Valdivia, with its historic structures and botanical gardens.  It’s the spot to see what makes southern Chile an international tourist attraction.  So join me in The Lake District of Chile for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Chile’s Nobel Prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda, once described his native land as “a thin country”.  It was a reference to the fact that Chile runs down the west coast of South America for almost 3000 miles, and for most of that distance it is only about 100 miles wide.  Chile is also the world’s longest country.   Perhaps the nation’s most distinctive geographical features are the peaks of the Andes Mountain range.  They are distributed down the entire length of the country and present a constant backdrop to the scenery. They also have an interesting effect on the weather.  They act as a barrier to bad fronts that come in from the Pacific Ocean.  Their great height forces the clouds to deposit their humidity on the mountain crests. Beauty and function.  Chile has been divided into three geographic zones.  The north is home to the Atacama desert, which very well may be the driest in the world.  The central region, which surrounds the capital city of Santiago, is the business and cultural center of the nation and the core of its agricultural activities. And finally, one of the most beautiful parts of the Americas, the south. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The Lake District of Chile is in the lower third of the country, the south.  Though I think it’s only fair to point out that the only reason we consider the south “lower” than the north is because the guys who first made the maps that we use were in the north, and they loved the idea of being on top of the world.  Nevertheless, I think that any visitor to the Lake District in Chile would agree that things around here were definitely up. 

During the 1600’s the Bio Bio River was marked as the boundary between the Spanish colonists and the native Mapuche.  Since the Lake District is considerably below this line, the land was under the control of the tribes and not a very safe place for European settlers.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): The Lake District of Chile wasn’t fully colonized until well into the second half of the 1800’s.  Since then it has become a symbol for the people of Chile --a symbol of the honest life, the good life.  Clean, healthy, unspoiled, real people doing real things.  The district also has a number of geographic features that make it very popular. 

First of all it has the lakes, some of which are the largest in South America.  The lakes were originally formed by glaciers passing through during the last Ice Age.  As the ice advanced north from the South Pole it would dig out huge basins in the earth.  Then when things got too hot for the glaciers and they headed south again, their melting ice filled the basins and pure, clear lakes were formed.  The lakes are now fed by rivers that pour down from the snow melt in the Andes Mountains, and drained by the rivers that run from the lakes into the Pacific Ocean.  And then there are the volcanoes.  The eastern edge of the Lake District runs along what is called the Pacific Rim of Fire.  It starts out in Alaska, runs down the west coast of North America, Central America and South America.  Then it slides down into the Pacific Ocean and pops up again in New Zealand.  From there on it island-hops in a sweeping curve up through and past Japan.  It is this unique combination of volcanoes and lakes that give the Lake District its signature landscape.  But there are also the araucania trees.  They are only found in this part of the world, and they take about 500 years to reach maturity. Then they live for over 2,000.  They’re considered a national treasure and protected against cutting by the federal government.  And finally, there are the rolling green hills covered with farms that remind people of southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  The fact that the Lake District in Chile looks and feels very much like Germany has played an important part in Chile’s history. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the 1800’s there was an adviser to the president of Chile named Perez Rosales.  And he decided that it was time to fully colonize the Lake District. There were two things motivating him.  He wanted to fully pacify the local tribes, and he wanted to make sure that the Argentineans didn’t get in here. He felt that those things could only be achieved by a colonial group that was new, came from Europe, and was strong and fully motivated to do the job.

Perez Rosales went around telling everybody that the word for “foreigner” had been eliminated in the Chilean language. Colonization offices were set up in Germany with the objective of convincing people to immigrate to Chile.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The government was offering land at greatly reduced prices, a long period without taxes, and a clear promise of freedom of religion.  Three very important selling points to the Germans.  In no uncertain terms, Perez Rosales was saying “Come on down”.

By 1860 over 3,000 Germans had settled into this area.  By 1900 there were over 30,000.  Some had come from the German countryside and immediately set up farms.  Today you can drive along the roads in the Lake District and easily think you are driving through the German countryside.  The farm buildings are built to look as European as possible.  And the local names make the place sound German.  But many of the Germans who came into the district came not from farms but from light industry.  They moved in and set up small towns.  They practiced their     old skills.  The Lake District got Chile’s first beer brewery.  Woodworkers arrived and quickly reproduced the same furniture that they had been making in Germany.  The roots were in Europe... but the tree blossomed in Chile.

The German influence is also very apparent in the area’s food.  This is EntreLagos, which means “between the lakes,” though in this case I think the lakes we are talking about are filled with ice cream and chocolate.  This place displays the variety and quality that you would find in any major European sweet shop.  Like the folks of North America, the people of Chile love chocolate. The shop’s main area is given over to small tables where an assortment of ice cream dishes are served along with a great selection of real coffees and some fabulous cakes and cookies.  There’s even a special area for chocolates and marzipan.  It's actually a shop next door, and it's a major attraction for the people of Valdivia.  It has a wonderful selection of hand-made chocolates -- cremes, fruits, nougats, nuts, truffles -- the traditional stuff.  But there's also a collection of chocolate figurines; folkloric characters, including Santa Claus.  And a major commitment to marzipan.  Marzipan is always a big deal in German communities.  When sugar first started coming into Germany, it got mixed in with ground almonds and given to artists as an edible medium.  Frankfurters, cheeseburgers, Fred Flintstone, brides and grooms, and the Three Little Pigs.  And if I continue eating in here, I'm going to be the fourth.

Mauricio Peña is the master pastry chef at EntreLagos and this is a Sacher Torte recipe that has been adapted to the taste of the food lovers of Chile.  Fourteen tablespoons of butter, at room temperature, go into a mixing bowl and get beaten with an electric beater until smooth.  That’ll take about two minutes.  Three quarters of a cup of sugar is added and beaten into the butter.  Then five egg yolks take the same beating.  Seven ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate get blended in, after which a half cup of ground hazelnuts are added.  After the nuts, a teaspoon of vanilla extract is added.  Then the beater heads are changed, or just cleaned, because it’s time to beat the five egg whites.  They are beaten until they start to get stiff and then added to the batter.  But at the same time that you are adding them to the batter you are also adding one and a quarter cups of flour.  And to make sure that everything gets added evenly and without lumps, the egg whites and flour are added one after the other, a quarter at a time.  The final ingredient is a teaspoon of baking powder.  That’s the basic cake batter and it gets poured into a deep, nine-inch round cake pan that has a loose bottom and is lightly buttered. The batter is spread out to the corners and smoothed out on top. Then it’s into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for one hour.  While the cake is baking, the chocolate coating is made.  A cup of cream goes into a saucepan.  Eight ounces of semi-sweet chocolate are melted in a heat-proof bowl.  Then the chocolate is mixed into the cream and held aside to cool.  When the cake is fully baked, it is taken out of the oven and allowed to cool.  That takes about two hours.  At which point it is removed from the pan.  Then it is sliced into three discs.  Pastry chefs prefer to make the layers of a layer cake like this by making one cake in one deep pan and cutting it into layers, rather than in three individual shallow pans, because having made one cake to start with they are sure that all the layers will fit back together properly when they pile them up, which is not always the case when individual layers are baked, one at a time.  The top two layers are taken off and held aside and the remaining bottom layer is given a paint job with cherry liqueur.  The melted chocolate and cream mixture returns and a coating is put onto the layer and smoothed out.  Then a layer of cherry preserves.  Next... the second layer of the cake.  More cherry liqueur.  More chocolate cream mixture.  More preserves, and then the third layer of cake.  Some of the chocolate mixture is poured on top and then the cake goes into the refrigerator for two hours to set.  When it comes out it gets one more final coating of liquid chocolate. It rests for five minutes and gets cut into twelve serving pieces.  The cutting is done with a serrated knife which is dipped into warm water between each cut and wiped clean.  A clean, warm, slightly moist blade helps give you a much cleaner cut.  It’s a good technique to use with all moist cakes.  Like any work of art, this cake requires a signature.  A pastry bag is made by rolling some waxed paper into a tube, filling it with some of the liquid chocolate, cutting off the tip and using it to do the writing.  A slight pressure is placed onto the tube and the word “Chile” is written on the top of the cake.  This is probably one of those times when spelling counts.

EntreLagos also serves up a few main dishes with the same attention to flavor that goes into the sweets. Today the lunch special is Chupin De Pescado. It’s a simple but great-tasting fish stew.  Chef Edgardo Soto does the main dishes, and he starts this one by pouring two tablespoons of vegetable oil into a large casserole. As soon as the oil is hot, in goes a chopped clove of garlic.  Then a red bell pepper that has been seeded and cored and sliced into thin strips.  That’s followed by a green bell pepper that has also been seeded and cored and sliced into thin strips.  A little stirring and in goes a half cup of grated carrot, and a cup of sliced onion.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   When you’re working with a raw onion, that odor can be quite intense; it might even move you to tears.  What you’re dealing with is a form of sulfuric acid.  When you cut the onion, the acid molecules spread out into the air.  And as I learned many years ago in high school chemistry, those molecules will move more slowly and with less intensity if they are cold.  So I pop the onion into the refrigerator for five minutes before I cut it, and that helps a little.  In terms of getting the smell of the onion off your hands, the best thing I know is to take a half of a lemon, coat that open surface with salt and then rub that all over your hands.  It does a pretty good job.  If you don’t want to use half of a lemon you can take a cloth, soak it with some vinegar, and put the salt on that.  They’re not perfect systems, but they help. 

Now where were we? Okay --

Stir those onions for a moment and then mix in two cups of tomatoes that have been cut into small pieces.  These are about one-inch squares.  Next comes the fish.  Edgardo is using two pounds of local Chilean fish that he has cut up into steaks, with the skin left on and the bones still in.  That’ll add more flavor but also a lot more work when you start eating the dish.  My personal preference would be to remove the bones before the fish goes in or use boneless, skinless fish fillets cut into large chunks.  After the fish has been stirred in, the herbs and spices are added. A few bay leaves. A teaspoon of cumin, and two tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley.  The liquid used to cook all of those ingredients is made up of a half cup of wine and a cup of water, or fish stock, or chicken stock.  Chile is also a major wine producing nation and the use of a Chilean wine in this recipe will give it an authentic flavor.  If you don’t use wine in your cooking, you can just increase the water or stock.  The liquid goes into the pot and it’s brought to a boil.  Once that happens, two peeled and sliced potatoes are added.  The cover goes back on and everything cooks for ten minutes.  At that point the fish should be fully cooked.  The solid ingredients are spooned into individual serving bowls, some of the liquid goes on top.  A garnish of chopped fresh parsley... and an optional mussel.  The stew is ready to serve.   The EntreLagos sweetshop is in the middle of the town of Valdivia. And Valdivia is a classic example of the southern towns of Chile. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  It was founded by the Spanish explorer Pedro de Valdivia. Valdivia was an extraordinary man.  He came here from the north, crossing a desert... a desert so difficult to cross that even today, with the most modern technology, it’s still quite a challenge.  And Valdivia did it on horseback.  On one side of his horse he carried a statue of the Blessed Virgin.  On the other side rode his beautiful mistress Inez de Suarez.  What Valdivia was trying to do is the same thing that many of us are trying to do -- to balance our love of the pleasures offered in this world, with our hope for salvation in the next.  Valdivia showed up here in the summer of 1552,  which is only fitting, because the area has become a major summer resort.  But what really interested Valdivia was the same thing that interested the native tribes for thousands of years before Valdivia showed up.

This spot is at the crossroads of nine different rivers, sheltered from the open sea, and only a few miles up-river from the ocean.  It’s a perfect port town.  The same kind of ideal situation in relation to the sea that worked for London, or New York or Lisbon.  The Germans who immigrated to Valdivia during the 1800’s were not farmers.      For the most part they were professionals, craftsmen and scholars, with enough money to set up their own businesses.  The Hispanic community that was here when the Germans arrived were pleased to have them in their population and the two groups progressively fused together.  Today Valdivia is still a town of readers, thinkers and artists.  During the 1950s, Valdivia built its own university.  The work was done by the students and the faculty.  It was the idea of a local doctor who wanted to have a university in town and just made it happen.  In the early days the students and the faculty actually put the place together building by building.  Now it has 10,000 students and a thousand teachers.  There’s a general liberal arts program, a science department and an agricultural college, with a special division that just deals with milk and milk products.  Imagine going to school to study ice cream, I love it.  Ice Cream as a major, hot fudge as a minor.  The university also has one of the nation’s most interesting botanical gardens with an area totally devoted to the trees and plants that are indigenous to Chile.  Just across the river from the University is the city center.  Like all Chilean towns, there is a central plaza with a band that plays there on Sundays during the summer.  As you walk around town you get a good feeling of what urban life is like in the south of Chile.  There are strong family ties here and they are constantly expressed in the pattern of daily life.  There’s a street market that’s been at the same location for hundreds and hundreds of years.  Farmers come in from their fields and display their produce on the land side of the street.  Fishermen tie up their boats and display their catch on the sea side of the street.  At the end of the fish and produce stalls is a small area for local crafts.  Where the market ends, a promenade begins and runs along the riverfront for about a mile and a half.  It’s the place where people come to walk and talk and where I took my daily exercise march.  After which I took my gastronomic tour.  Haussmann’s Cafe is famous for its steak tartar.  Camino De Luna is a floating restaurant that is considered to have some of the best food in town.  And clearly the best view: it’s anchored along one of the nicest parts of the promenade.  The New Orleans is another local favorite.  For street snacks there are the cabritas stands. Cabritas is a form of sugar-coated popcorn that has a great local following.

For years Valdivia was one of the most important settlements in Spain’s New World.  The only problem with Valdivia was that the local Mapuche believed that the land here was part of the Mapuche Old World.  And in 1599, they destroyed all the Spanish settlements in the area.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  For the next 200 years everybody was pretty much forced to agree that this was Mapuche territory.  Then in the 1700’s the Spanish decided to try and fortify their settlements on the west coast of South America, and they began building a series of forts.

This is one of those forts, and it is called the Castle of the Pure and Clean Conception.  It was built at the point where the Pacific Ocean meets the river that comes down from Valdivia.  It was actually started in the 1600s, but the real work took place in the late 1700s when the Spanish were getting nervous about the possibility of a war with England.  They also built a fort on the other side of the river so they would have a concentration of firepower in the center of the channel.  The records show that in 1767, the chief engineer, Juan Garland, came here and installed these huge ovens. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The ovens were used to heat cannonballs until they were red hot; then they would fire them at enemy vessels.  When they hit a canvas sail, the sail would burst into flame.  When they hit a wooden deck, the same thing would happen.  Sometimes they were hot enough to burn through the deck and the hull and actually sink the vessel.  The cannonball was called a “shot,” and when it came out of the oven it was called a “hot shot,” and that’s where we get the English phrase “hot shot” from.  Now, I don’t know if there’s any relationship, but the guy who installed these ovens a couple of hundred years ago was named Garland, and Garland is also the name of a major oven manufacturer in North America.  I’m gonna have to check that out when I get back.

When the Chileans talk about their Lake District, they almost always start with the natural beauty of the area and then follow up with stories of the German immigration.  But there’s quite a bit of Spanish history around here, these forts, and some great stories from the independence movement during which Chile won its freedom from Spain.  One of the best sea stories took place during the early years of the 1800’s. The local fleet that was loyal to the king of Spain was here in the port of Valdivia. The Chilean independence squadron was under the command of a British soldier of fortune named Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  He was kind of a freelance soldier of fortune who had to leave England because his love of independence was in conflict with the English king’s love of dependents.  One night he took his marines and, though he was outnumbered two to one, attacked all of the Spanish forts and ships in this area.  He took ‘em on, fort by fort, ship by ship and knocked them all out.  Cochran was almost single-handedly responsible for breaking the hold that Spain had on the ports of Chile. Back home in England, he had been attacked as foolish, rash, unnecessarily daring. He answered his critics by saying that “where calculation was well thought out, rashness disappeared.”  Good point in combat; also in cooking. If you’ve got a well thought out recipe, you’re home. 

And for a well thought out recipe for a great tasting apple crumb cake, we can pop back into the kitchen at EntreLagos. Chef Mauricio Peña starts by taking his favorite pie dough and rolling it out to a thickness of one quarter of an inch.  The technique he uses to make sure that he gets an even quarter of an inch, all over, is to set up two guide sticks, each of which is a quarter of an inch wide.  Then he puts the dough into the center between the guide sticks and rolls it out.  When the dough is rolled out, the chef uses the bottom of his loose-bottomed cake pan to measure a circle and cut the dough out to that size.  Then the bottom of the cake pan goes back into the pan and the disc of dough goes on top.  More of the dough is rolled out and cut into strips that have a width of one and a half inches.  These strips are used to line the insides of the baking pan.  They’re pressed together with each other to make a complete circle and then pressed together with the dough at the base.  Now you have the complete pastry crust for the cake.  Three ounces of apricot jam are painted onto the surface of the dough.  At this point the topping is made by putting three tablespoons of unsalted butter into a saucepan, adding in one quarter of a cup of sugar, and melting those two ingredients together.  Then, off the heat, a quarter of a cup of flour is blended in.  That’s the topping and for now it is set aside, while the filling is made.  Peeled and cored apples are cut into rough chunks until you have five cups’ worth.  Then they are tossed together with a quarter of a cup of sugar, a quarter of a cup of currants or raisins, a quarter of a cup of ground almonds, the zest of a lemon and one tablespoon of ground cinnamon.  When all those ingredients have been thoroughly combined, they are placed into the dough-lined baking pan.  Then a mixture is made from a half cup of flour, a quarter of a cup of sugar, a quarter of a teaspoon of salt, an egg, and a cup of milk.  This mixture is poured onto the apples, and the pan tilted to make sure it spreads out evenly.  Then the topping that was made from butter, sugar and flour returns.  It’s become rather brittle and the chef breaks it up to form the crumb topping.  Then it’s into a pre-heated 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for one hour.  When it comes out, the crust is loosened by running a spatula around the edge between the crust and the pan. Then the cake comes out, and rather easily too, because we started with a loose bottom pan.  It’s sliced into eight pieces and it’s ready to serve.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Well, that’s our story from the Lake District of Chile.  Please join me next time as I jog around the world trying to burn off the calories that I gained making these reports.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Piedmont, Italy - #108

The Piedmont of Italy... at the foothills of the Alps.... It’s the land of the truffle-hunting dog... discovering white truffles worth more than their weight in gold.  This the place where vermouth was invented and where some of the great wines of Italy are still produced.  And wherever you find good wine, you usually find good food -- and that is clearly the case in Piedmont.  So join me in Piedmont, Italy for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

The Piedmont district of Italy is in the northwest corner of the country, bordering with both France and Switzerland, at the edge of the Alpine mountain range.  The word Piedmont translates into English as “foot of the mountain”, which is an excellent description of the terrain.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   During the 1500's, Turino, the capital city of the Piedmont, was also the capital city of the Kingdom of Savoy.  Savoy was an independent dukedom that ended up battling most of its neighbors in order to survive.  In those days, in addition to whatever else it is you did for a living, you were also a soldier.  This was a tough neighborhood and it toughened up the people who lived in it.  The mountains and the military shaped the mentality. The result is the people of Piedmont have ended up with a serious devotion to hard work in tough times, but it’s also balanced by a love of a good time.  And very often, that good time is found in good food and good wine.  In moderation, of course.

The Po and Tanaro rivers flow through Piedmont creating a fertile plain... a plain that has produced crops of the highest quality for thousands of years.  Barley, wheat, rye, and oats... some of our most ancient crops are grown here and used to produce excellent breads.  Corn is ground into meal and used to make Polenta. Polenta is an ancient corn pudding that for centuries was the food of the rural poor.

There are apples... pears... grapes and wonderful pomegranates.  Walnuts.  Chestnuts... and the famous hazelnuts of Alba.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The area is also famous for its rice.  During the 1780’s Thomas Jefferson was bouncing around Europe making friends and drumming up business for the newly formed United States of America.  Like most gentlemen farmers of the time, he was always on the lookout for something new and valuable to bring back to his land in the U.S.  As he passed through the Piedmont area of Italy, he began to collect local samples of the seed rice.  It was already famous as the best rice in Europe.  He took those samples back to North America and made a valuable contribution to our rice industry.  To say, um, “took” the rice isn’t totally accurate, though.  What Jefferson did was “smuggle” the rice.  The farmers of the Piedmont already knew how valuable their seed rice was and had passed a group of laws preventing its removal from the area. 

The cooking of Piedmont is often similar to the type of cooking that you’d find in the Alpine areas of France and Switzerland.  The older recipes took the heat that was being generated in the hearth to warm the home and gave it an additional role as the fire for cooking.  Roasting on spits... long slow cooking in big pots that hold the heat.  It is the cooking of mountain families. Cooking that is filling and healthful for the lifestyle of the people who created it.  The cows that graze up and down from the Alpine meadows produce some excellent milk that is used to make some of Italy’s finest butter and cheese.  Dense and flavorful fontina cheese is used to make one of the most traditional dishes of Piedmont.  It’s called fonduta. Fontina is melted and mixed with butter, milk, egg yolks, and white pepper.  On top, a layer of thinly sliced white truffles.  It is served in individual plates and eaten like a soup.  Another specialty of Piedmont is called bagna calda which literally means “hot bath.”  Olive oil, butter and chopped garlic are heated together in a sauce pan.  Chopped anchovies and salt are added and the mixture is served in small individual bowls that are kept warm over heaters or candles.  Slices of raw vegetables -- carrot, artichoke, celery, sweet pepper, and cauliflower, are brought to the table, dipped into the hot oil and eaten as a first course.

Bollito misto is beef, chicken, and ham cooked together and served with vegetables and dipping sauces.  And when it comes to sweets, Piedmont is unbeatable. Baci di dama means “lady kisses”. They are little cookie sandwiches made of nuts and chocolate.  Tiny triangles of hazelnut chocolate called Gianduiotto.  The torrone of Alba, a hazelnut and honey nougat.  Cookies called brut e bon, which means “ugly and good”.  I can’t spot the ugly but I can sure taste the good.  Chocolate truffles that got their name because when they were first made, they reminded everyone of the local fungi that grow wild in the forest.  Panna cotta, a cream and caramel pudding.  And those are only the sweets I can remember without checking my notes.  The most famous food of Piedmont, however, is the white truffle.  Often called “tartufo d’Alba” because they come from the area around the town of Alba. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Truffles are usually described as a fungi or a form of mushroom. But unlike any other form of mushroom, truffles grow completely underground.  They start forming during the summer and are ready for eating during October or November.  The trick, of course, is to find one.  The truffles of Piedmont are found by truffle-hunting dogs that are trained at the the truffle-hunting dog university of Italy. The place really exists.  And the dogs and the truffles are worth a fortune.   

The dogs have learned to pick up the scent of the truffle and lead their masters to the spot in which they are growing. The hunting is done at night, for a number of reasons.  The aroma of the truffle is stronger.  Also, the dogs are not distracted by other visual signs. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   And, though no one really likes to talk about it, the darkness hides the location of the truffles from poachers who might come along and steal the harvest. The truffles tend to grow in the same places almost every year, and the hunters don’t want anybody to know about it.  They also go out with tiny flashlights that only shed a little bit of light...no need to shed too much light on this subject.

Dario Renaldi is a one of Italy’s most skillful truffle hunters. Actually, Dario should be called a truffle “gatherer”... the hunting is really done by his dog Lea.

[Truffle hunt; DARIO RENALDI whispers in Italian]

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  That’s really impressive -- a dog that can find truffles!  But you know, what I would really like is a dog that could find the matching sock to my pair!  I wanna go “Fetch!  Fetch!!”  That would really be extraordinary. 

The truffles of Alba like to grow in the same soil that hosts the great vineyards of the area... Vineyards that produce the wonderful Barolo and Barbaresco wines. Now you would think that that would be great for the vineyard owner, but it’s not.  You need lots of rain during the late summer to have top-quality truffles, but lots of rain during the late summer can damage the grape harvest.  White truffles are almost always served raw... sliced paper-thin and dropped on top of a pasta or a risotto or the local cheese fonduta, or just a green salad.  They have an extraordinary affinity with cheese.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The Italian composer Rossini loved white truffles so much that eventually his name became associated with dishes that contain them.  If you see something on a menu with the word Rossini next to it, it means that when the dish was originally introduced, it probably contained white truffles.

Neive is a small, picturesque Piedmont hill-town that looks the way a Piedmont hill-town would look if it was built by a set director in Hollywood.  A main street with structures that have been standing on it for hundreds of years.  An ancient church.  And a good restaurant. The restaurant is called La Contea, and it’s owned by Claudia and Tonino Verro, a husband-and-wife team who do the cooking for the restaurant, and run a small inn that’s part of the establishment.  Today Tonino is preparing a red wine risotto.  He starts by heating a large frying pan; this one has a diameter of twelve inches.  As soon as it’s hot, in goes three tablespoons of olive oil, three tablespoons of chopped rosemary, which Tonino stores in oil, and three tablespoons of chopped garlic which Tonino also stores in oil.  If you’re going to use this technique of keeping your herbs in oil, make sure that you keep the bottle in the refrigerator.  Next in ... a half cup each of chopped onion, chopped celery and chopped carrot.  Cook and stir those ingredients together for a few minutes.  Then add the rice... four cups of standard long grain will work fine.  Two more minutes of cooking and Tonino starts to add some of the local Barolo wine.  The central technique to this recipe is to add the liquid to the rice a little at a time, allowing it to be absorbed before the addition of the next batch of liquid. The two liquids being used in this particular dish are red wine and chicken broth.  But if you wanted to do it just with the broth, you’d still end up with a fine rice dish.  Wine and broth are alternated until the dish is finished, which takes about twenty minutes.  When the rice is ready, a little grated parmesan cheese is sprinkled onto the serving plate.  Then the rice, a few slices of local white truffle, and you’re on the “rice track” to a great meal.

For the second recipe here at La Contea, Tonino and his wife Claudia will be working together as a team.  And they’re preparing a dish of braised beef with vegetables.

The recipe starts with two bottles of red wine being poured into a big pot.  Then a rump roast of beef goes in. Coarsely chopped celery.  Cloves of garlic that have been sliced in half with the peel left on.  Carrots cut into rounds.  Slices of onions are added.  Rosemary.  Bay leaves.  Cumin.  And cloves.  They make sure that the beef is fully submerged in wine, vegetables and spices and then they let it stand in the refrigerator for twelve to twenty-four hours.  When the marinating time is over, a large sauté pan is heated.  In goes a little oil.  About a half cup of rosemary.  Then a little cooking.  Garlic cloves, crushed in their skins, are stirred in.  Then some sliced onion, carrot and celery. 

The meat comes out of the marinade and goes into the sauté pan, where it is browned on all sides.  That takes about ten minutes.  Then the vegetables from the marinade go on top.  Two cups of wine from the marinade are added and the beef is cooked for another ten minutes.  At that point the meat is transferred from the sauté pan to a large roasting pan.  More vegetables from the marinade go on top and it’s into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for two and a half to three hours.  Every half hour during the cooking time the meat is basted with the pan juices and the pan is checked to make sure that there is still liquid inside.  When the beef is ready it comes out of the oven to rest for fifteen minutes.  That will let the juices in the meat settle down and make it easier to slice.  While the meat is resting the roasted vegetables are taken out of the pan and pureed.   The recipe is plated by putting down some polenta, followed by a slice of the meat.  A little of the sauce from the pan drippings.  A tablespoon of chopped red onion. Some parsley. And the always extremely optional slice of white truffle.

Piedmont is also one of the world’s great regions for the production of wine, and the greatest wines of the Piedmont come from the land around the town of Alba.  The most highly prized is Barolo.  To be called a Barolo, the wine must be made from grapes grown in a small, clearly defined area.  The variety of grape must be a Nebbiolo, and the wine must have spent at least three years in a wooden cask.  It’s a rich and full-bodied wine.  Two of the most famous producers of Barolo are Marcello and Bruno Ceretto.  As a matter of fact, they are often referred to as “the Barolo Brothers”. Barolo comes with a lot of tradition.  Tradition that often has more to do with what people liked in the past rather than what we enjoy today. The old Barolos would often overpower the flavor of the food that they were served with.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the 1960’s, the Cerettos decided to lighten things up, to start making a Barolo that reflected the flavors of the soil, and the natural tastes of the grape.  They wanted to avoid the oakiness and tannins that came from unnecessarily long aging in the oak barrels.  So what they did is they reduced the amount of time that the grape juice and the grape skins stayed together after the grapes were crushed.  They reduced the amount of time that the wine stayed in the oak barrels.  But they increased the amount of time that the wine rested in the bottles.  And that proved to be a more gentle form of aging.  Always a good idea.  The result is a Barolo that is lighter and has a lot more of the natural flavor of the Nebbiolo grape.

The Nebbiolo grape is also used to produce Barbaresco, which is the second great wine of the Piedmont.  Wine professionals often point out that even though Barolo and Barbaresco start out with the same grape variety, they are clearly different by the time they get to the glass. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   They are both wines with great strength and power, but the Barolo is a bit more massive -- kind of like the characters that Arnold Schwarzenegger plays.  And the Barbaresco a bit more stylish, kind of like the characters that Clint Eastwood plays.  But having either of those guys on your side is a great idea, or either of those wines on your table. 

The southernmost districts of Piedmont produce the Dolcetto grape.  It is used to make a dark red wine that has a light body and is called Dolcetto d’ Alba. Dolcetto is the wine that is taken to the table everyday by the families of the Piedmont.  One additional grape of the Piedmont that is of considerable importance is the Arneis, which is used to produce Arneis Blange, a straw-colored wine that has a slight spritz.  Once the Ceretto brothers began rethinking the approach to winemaking that had dominated their home town for thousands of years they began to see other things that could be improved.  They were among the first families in the region to own the estates that produced their grapes, and that gave them a real shot at controlling quality. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   They began to concentrate on making wine that would go well with the traditional foods of the Italian diet -- the pastas, the grilled meats, fish and poultry, vegetables, salads, even the desserts.  I think it is a giant step in the right direction.

As Piedmont towns go... Treiso is tiny.  If you blink while you are passing through it, you will miss it. Which would be a shame, because Treiso is home to an interesting restaurant called Tornavento.  Tornavento means weathervane, and in this case it will point you to a restaurant with a very contemporary look. Open and bright, with a wonderful attention to detail. It is owned by Leila Gobino and Marco Serra and they are reworking the traditional recipes of the region. Today Marco is going to start his menu with a recipe for pasta with a meat sauce.  Two tablespoons of olive oil go into a heated sauce pan.  Then two tablespoons of butter.  A sprig of rosemary, a bay leaf, a clove of garlic, a cup of chopped carrot, a cup of chopped onion, and a cup of chopped celery.  All that is stirred and cooked together for about five minutes.  At which point two cups of ground chuck go in.  The beef is browned for a few minutes... a little salt goes in... and then a cup of red wine.  Everything is cooked and stirred until the wine is completely absorbed by the meat.  Then three cups of pureed tomatoes and their juices go in.  Plus two cups of boiling water.  All that simmers together for an hour.  Then the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs come out and a half cup portion of the sauce goes into a saute pan.  A half cup of sauce is considered a proper portion for a single serving.  The general rule of thumb is that a pound of pasta will give six first course servings.  A pinch of butter is added to finish off the dish.  The sauce is kept warm while the pasta is cooked... drained... and added to the sauce.  A few tablespoons of the water that the pasta was cooked in... some freshly grated Parmesiano cheese and the pasta is ready to plate.

For dessert Marco is making a cake that is very traditional for Piedmont... it is based on the locally grown hazelnuts.  He starts by taking the bowl of an electric mixer and putting in one and half cups of ground hazelnuts.  The nuts were ground in a standard food processor.  Next one cup of white sugar... one cup of cake flour and a teaspoon of baking soda.  A half cup of unsalted butter is added.  Then seven eggs are separated and the yolks go into the dry ingredients. The bowl goes onto the mixer.  The paddle attachment goes on and all of the ingredients are mixed together.  That forms the basic batter which is then spread out into a lightly buttered round cake pan that has a nine inch diameter and a depth of about one inch.  A few hits on a flat work surface to get out any air holes and it is ready to go into a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes.  When it comes out, Marco runs a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake.  Then he flips it over onto a plate and then back... so it ends up top down.  You could also use a loose bottomed tart pan... which would make the flip a little easier.  Powdered sugar on top and the cake is finished.  Marco adds a few tablespoons of Zabaglione sauce to an individual slice just before it comes to the table.

The Cinzano family came from a small village in Piedmont called Pecetto. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Pecetto has a long history of growing vines that are used in the making of medical infusions and elixirs, and for over 500 years Cinzano has been involved in this craft.  The original family’s land holdings in the area were so large, that on many of the old maps the area is actually described as “the Cinzano region”.

During the 1780’s a drink came into fashion that was known as vermouth. And soon the Cinzanos began to experiment with a series of formulas for their own version of what is basically a flavored wine.  By the middle of the 1880’s Cinzano Vermouth had become quite popular and was already being exported to other countries.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   When the Cinzanos started their business, Italy had not yet been united into Italy.  The Cinzanos were actually living in the Kingdom of Savoy.  The King at the time was named Charles Albert and he was interested in starting a business for the production of high quality wine.  He was particularly interested in something with bubbles.  He wanted to stop drinking French Champagne and start drinking some of his own stuff. 

The king took part of his royal land holdings south of Turino and set up a winery.  The facility was called Santa Vittoria and the king asked Francesco Cinzano to go there and help with the work.  Francesco was soon producing top quality vermouth and a sparkling wine based on the Muscato grape that grew nearby. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   They called their sparkling wine Asti Spumante, and it became famous as kind of a  “champagne on a budget”.  It was the drink for celebrations with millions of Italians who had immigrated to North America.  But as the Italian community moved up from settlers to socialites, so did Asti. The winemakers were able to take advantage of a series of new production techniques to balance the natural sugar in the grape and end up with a drink that’s good before meals and with desserts. Francesco soon realized that he was in a position to build a large international clientele.  

That’s a portrait of Francesco Cinzano.  He organized a group of salesmen to represent his products around the world.  That’s a photograph from 1863 of two of his first representatives, the Carpaneto Brothers.  Lots of sibling rivalry.  The standing Carpaneto is using this photo op to sneak a look at his brother’s sales notes.  That’s Giuseppe Lampiano. He traveled for the Cinzanos from 1878 to 1922.  Giuseppe was very skillful at fitting in with the locals while introducing them to the joys of his drinks. The most important of which was Vermouth.  A vermouth is basically a wine that has been fortified to the strength of a sherry by the addition of alcohol and sweetened and flavored by the addition of carmelized sugar, herbs and spices.  Vermouth making goes all the way back to the Middle Ages when wine that had begun to turn sour was reflavored with honey and various herbs to bring back a positive taste. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  One of the most common flavoring agents was wormwood.  The German word for wormwood is vermuth, and that is where the modern word “vermouth” comes from.  In Italy the idea of a flavored wine all by itself became popular, and eventually a large industry developed with its own source of good wine.  These days there are basically three types of vermouth on the market. 

There is a dry white, a sweet white, and a sweet red.  The dry white is nice with a little ice or club soda as a before dinner drink.  The sweet white is usually served by itself with a little ice, also as a before meals drink.  The sweet red is best known as an ingredient in various cocktails, like the Manhattan. The most famous role for the dry white is as the flavoring addition to the martini, which thanks to James Bond is probably the most famous cocktail in the world.  The traditional Martini cocktail is four or five parts of dry gin to one part dry vermouth.  Bond used vodka instead of gin... and he shook, rather than stirred.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Well, that’s our report from the Piedmont region of Italy... good people, good food, good wine, good-bye.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Indian Community of Singapore - #107

Singapore... between the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea.  A modern city in the middle of Southeast Asia.  A nation that values its ethnic communities and uses their history to plan its future.  Ties to India go back for thousands of years and that influence can be seen throughout the country.  So join me in the Indian Community of Singapore for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

For well over 2,500 years, Indian trading ships have come across the Bay of Bengal to do business on the Malay Peninsula. At some point, the merchants began to set up permanent operations in the region.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The first Indians to settle in the area appear to have come here in search of valuable  metals and precious stones.  Amazing -- twenty-five centuries before television home shopping, and there was already a thriving direct-response business in gold jewelry.  The Indians brought the jewels back to India but they brought Indian culture here.  There are Hindu temples north of Singapore that have been standing over a thousand years.  And the name of the city, Singapore, is actually a Sanskrit word; Sanskrit is the ancient language of India. It’s a reference to the story of the founding father of the city seeing a lion when he first showed up in the neighborhood.

In 1816 Singapore became a center for British commercial interests and many Indian laborers arrived as indentured workers.  They staffed the rubber plantations and the coffee growing estates.  Some of the Indians who came here, however, did not come of their own free will.  For a number of decades the English used Singapore as a place to store Indian convicts.  They did the same thing in the American colonies and in Australia, so Singapore was in excellent company.  Indian convict labor actually built some of the more important historical buildings in Singapore, including St. Andrew’s Cathedral, as well as the official residence of Singapore’s president.  When the convicts finished their terms, they were allowed to remain here as free men and many of them did so.  Today the Indian community represents about fifteen percent of the Singaporian population and they make a vital contribution to the community.   With well over two thousand years of interaction between the indigenous people of the Malay peninsula and the provinces of India, it’s no surprise that Singapore has some of the best Indian cooking outside of India.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   For hundreds and hundreds of years, Indian cooks have been famous for their use of spices, and that had an interesting linguistic effect in North America.  The original explorers to the New World were looking for spices.  And when they got there, they thought they were near India, so they called everyone they met an Indian.  And that’s why our native tribes were called Indians and were called Indians for so many years.

The regional cooking of India is as different as the regional cooking of China, but in general the most important distinction is between northern Indian food and southern Indian food.  The south has always been home to hotter seasonings.  Fiery curries, and rice as the basic starch to cool things down.  It is also the part of India that developed some of the most famous vegetarian recipes. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The south coast of India is also home to the cooking of the Indian Muslim community.  Poultry, seafood, lamb and the hottest spicing of all.  Thousands of years ago people realized that certain spices would bring moisture to the surface of their body.  As that moisture evaporated, their body temperature went down.  A natural form of air conditioning, used in hot climates all over the world.

The northern cooking of India has more meat and less fish than the south and the starch is often wheat instead of rice.  The traditional cooking method is the tandoor oven.  Part open grill, part oven, the tandoor is used to prepare almost any recipe that is part of the cooking of northern India.  The classic eating style is to set a banana leaf on a flat surface, place the food on top, and eat with your hands.  To the untutored eye it may look like the food is just being picked up and eaten.  But there is actually a very subtle bit of gastronomic skill involved.  The spicier food is being kneaded together with the milder food so the diner gets the precise level of heat that he or she wants at any point in the meal.  Fingers are the ideal tool for this task. One of the most famous and respected Indian restaurants in Singapore is called the Banana Leaf Apolo.  The manager is David Kumar.

DAVID KUMAR:  You see, when you eat Indian, Southern Indian food, it tastes better if you use with hands.  Like -- items like fish, crabs and all that, you have to eat use with hands.  Then you can actually taste the spices and the curry, right?  And the technique of using it is, hold your, your palm like this, you put your four fingers together, you scoop the rice, right, and you use your thumb to push it up.

BURT WOLF:   Ahhhh.  So you scoop it --

DAVID KUMAR:  (over)  So as it goes, it becomes faster.

BURT WOLF:   (over)  -- push it this way.

DAVID KUMAR:  Right.  So when you come to your mouth, you hold it.  And you use your thumb and you push it in.  Not like that!  You see, you have to -- you have to have it here.

BURT WOLF:   Oh, in this part!


BURT WOLF:   Ohh, okay.

DAVID KUMAR:  The rice comes here, you push it to here, and then you push it back up.

BURT WOLF:   Is that right?

DAVID KUMAR:  Yes.  It’s the momentum.

BURT WOLF:   Okay.  I can do this.  Why one hand?

DAVID KUMAR:  The reason is why they use one hand is because they have to keep the other hand free to pick up the glass of beer they have to drink!

BURT WOLF:   I got this -- let’s eat!


For the majority of its early history, Singapore was a trading port with a mostly male society.  A large segment of the population was made up of laborers who lived in communal rooming houses.  No real homes and accordingly, no real home cooking.  Their meals were taken from street vendors who would set up a stove and start cooking. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Eventually the owners of these peripatetic pots and pans equipped themselves with chairs and tables, and became roving restaurants.  They would announce their specials for the day at the top of their lung capacity for which they became known as “hawkers”.  Each hawker had a series of favorite locations for cooking, and each eater had a series of favorite hawkers for eating.  In 1987 the government gathered the Hawkers together into Food Centers.  These centers are hotbeds of gastronomic activity.  And some really great cooking goes on.

WOMAN HAWKER (within montage):  What is this?  (Laughs)  You see the burger dancing in the oil, you see?  Rock and roll! ... Tango!  Breakdance!  Now is popular breakdance.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Even today, Hawker Foods are the favorite foods for many of the people of Singapore.  Thanks.  When I asked one of the cooks here whether he would ever be interested in cooking in a traditional restaurant, his answer was a hard and fast NO.  He says that when people come to a regular restaurant they might be coming for any number of reasons.  It might be decor, or price, or status, or location.  But when somebody comes to his hawker stall, they come for his cooking.  And he likes the uncompromised compliment.  Don’t we all.

Indian dishes are so popular in Singapore that they have become a regular part of the cooking in many hotels and restaurants.  George Fistrovich is the executive chef at the Marina Mandarin, and he makes the point with his recipe for an Indian Vegetable Sautè.  A quarter cup of oil goes into a sauté pan, followed by two bay leaves and a stick of cinnamon.  Then a quarter cup of chopped shallots and a tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger.  Next, a quarter cup of chili paste, plus a tablespoon of turmeric, and a tablespoon of chili powder.  This seasoning mixture cooks over a low heat for about eight minutes.  Then in goes a cup of water, three tablespoons of sugar, and a quarter cup of coconut milk.  What you now have is the spice-based sauce, which is held aside for a few minutes while George prepares the vegetables.  A little oil goes into a second sauté pan, and as soon as it’s hot in goes a couple of carrots cut into slices, a sliced red bell pepper, a sliced green bell pepper.  A moment of cooking.  Then a half cup’s worth of eggplant chunks, some parboiled broccoli flowerets, and some cauliflower.

BURT WOLF:   Mark Twain once said that “cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education.”

All that sautés for about 5 minutes.  Then the vegetable mixture goes into the spice-sauce, plus about a cup’s worth of Savoy cabbage that has been cut into chunks.  A few more moments of cooking and it’s ready.  It’s served as a main course in a ring of white rice.

Dhershini Winodan is a local authority on Indian culture, and the author of an outstanding book on Indian cooking.  Today she’s taking us on a tour of Singapore’s traditional Indian community.

BURT WOLF:   So this is the vegetable market!

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  This is the vegetable market, and I’m gonna show you some unusual Indian vegetables.  Guess what this is, Burt.

BURT WOLF:   Uhhhhh... I have no idea.

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  This is drumstick.

BURT WOLF:   Drumstick.  Do you play with it or just eat it?

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  (over)  This is drumstick.  Not the chicken drumstick, but the vegetable drumstick.  I had to clarify that in my book.  And that one in the corner there, that’s called Snake Gut.  It’s got no, no special flavor of its own, so whatever you add to it, it absorbs the flavors and it’s very tasty.

BURT WOLF:   What’s it called?


BURT WOLF:   Snake Gut.

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  Yeah.  And that’s a Ladies’ Fingers, or okra I think that’s...

BURT WOLF:   Uh-huh, right... these are the longest beans I have ever seen.

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  (over)  Yes.  That’s why we call it Long Beans.

BURT WOLF:   I like that, because you know you have to cut off the ends --


BURT WOLF:   -- on both sides and then you don’t get very much in the middle with the short European bean.  This way, for the amount of cutting I’m gonna get a lot of bean.

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  (over)  Yeah.  Yeah.  That’s an eggplant.  It’s very firm, and even after you cook it it does not get pulpy.

BURT WOLF:   That’s a real eggplant, I mean, that looks like an egg.


BURT WOLF:   Now I know where it got its name from.

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  Suits your shirt.  (Laughs) ... You never find a corner without a Hawker Center, which is part and parcel of Singapore life.  This is the container that’s holding the brewed tea.

BURT WOLF:   Right...

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  It’s kept piping hot, okay?  And there’s a little tap there.  Now what happens is the tea flows through that, and he mixes the tea with condensed milk now, and a little portion of evaporated milk.  That’s the secret.  He pours it into two cups; he juggles them (laughing), and --

BURT WOLF:   Fabulous.

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  Yeah.  And he gets this thick foam that’s right over the glass.

BURT WOLF:   That’s great.

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  Yeah.  And when you drink tea through that, it’s absolutely yummy. 

BURT WOLF:   Can I have a cup?

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  Yes.  Real good tea.  Cheers.  You like that?

BURT WOLF:   Mmmmmmmm.  Wonderful.

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  Okay, now I’m gonna take you to the temple.  It’s, it’s one of those small temples that have not come down and been built into a bigger temple, you know?  It’s a place where ladies come, especially on Tuesdays and Fridays, because those are the auspicious days for prayers in a Hindu temple, especially Friday.  So you’ll probably find a little crowd at this temple on a Friday.  And most of the Indian temples have this architecture, that’s called a goperum [?].  And it depicts the various gods that we pray to.  Now, every Hindu has a certain god that he prays to; we pray to everybody, but, you know, there’s one special god that we feel is our, is listening to our prayers. 

BURT WOLF:   Do you make that decision, or is it a result of your birthday, or...?

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  It could be that, you know, you’ve been brought up in your home, and your parents have been praying to, let’s say Lord Krishna --

BURT WOLF:   Right...

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  -- or you can grow up and you say, “I feel strength in Lord Shiva,” so... I mean, that’s the way I feel about it --

BURT WOLF:   (over)  So it’s your choice.

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  It’s, it’s, it’s our choice, yeah.

BURT WOLF:   Which is your god?

DHERSHINI WINODAN:  Actually, I come a lot to the Shivan temple, and that’s why I brought you here this morning.  And it’s always important when you’re entering a temple to take off your shoes, leave it on the side of the temple door.  And even if you’re going to a Hindu home, because we consider the home to be the temple, always important to take off the shoes.


DHERSHINI WINODAN:  We have now entered the Sri Shivan Temple; this is a beautiful temple, and as soon as you enter... as soon as I enter I get this extreme feeling of happiness.  And we have the different sanctums.  These are sanctums, okay?  And you’re not supposed to go too close to these sanctums, so they’ve put a sort of a barrier here.  You stay on this side and the priest will perform your prayers for you.  ... Burt, we are now going to make your offering.  You can take this and your incense sticks, we will give it to the priest, and you will say your prayer. 

BURT WOLF:   I just hand this to him.


BURT WOLF:   Okay.


DHERSHINI WINODAN:  All right.  That’s it.  And you can accept that with your right hand.  He says now, pray to the goddess Durgha [?] first, and then we go and do our prayers for the planets, the nine planets.


DHERSHINI WINODAN:  Okay, now here what we will have to do is to go around nine times.  Nine times.  ...  After you’ve visited the temple and you’ve done your prayers, you’re supposed to just stay around for awhile, just feel the holiness and then leave the temple.


Each year Conde Nast Traveler magazine asks its readers what they like and don’t like about their travels.  For six consecutive years the readers have told the editors that Singapore Airlines was the “Best Airline in the World”. Since I spend a lot of my life flying around the world I was quite curious to find out what it was about the airline that put it in first place.  They let me nose around a bit and I came up with some interesting facts.  The company got started in 1947 under the name Malayan Airways.  In the beginning it built its route structure in Southeast Asia.  For a number of years, controlling interest in the line was owned by both the Malaysian and Singaporean governments.  By the 60’s its worldwide business was growing but its real takeoff took place in 1972, when the airline was divided in half.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Part of it went north to become  the Malaysian Airline Systems and part of it stayed south to become Singapore Airlines.  The government of Singapore decided that the airline had to make it on its own without financial support from the government, a tough thing to do in a competitive industry.  So they did some research to find out the ten most important things to an airline traveller.  And they discovered that there was one of them that they could do better than any other airline in the world.  And that was inflight service.  So they mastered the art, and told the world about it in a campaign that became famous as “The Singapore Girl.”

In Singapore, most young men and women are brought up to help their family entertain guests.  And those family traits became the basis of the airline’s training program. Within a few years they really did have the most devoted inflight service in the business.  They also decided that they wanted to have the most modern aircraft possible.  Because Singapore is at the other side of the world for travelers in Europe and the United States, they felt that their equipment had to be the most dependable.  And the newer the aircraft, the fewer the problems you have with maintenance. Of all the major international carriers, Singapore usually has the youngest fleet.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   However, I would like to take a moment to point out that the theory that younger things don’t break down as often as older things may be true for airplanes, but it’s not necessarily true for people.  A good maintenance program for an older person will often give that person a better performance record than the record held by younger people.  You see, people get smarter as they get older and equipment doesn’t.  So there.

During the training of their cabin staff they have classes in, among other things, dress, make-up, service, diction, and water-safety.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Life-saving is important, but so is flavor-saving.  What’s for dinner?

Chef Mahendran is a member of the team that prepare the foods for Singapore Airlines. He specializes in the dishes of his native India and the following is his recipe for Indian Lamb Curry.  A half cup of oil goes into a hot sauté pan.  As soon as the oil is hot, in go two tablespoons of cardamom, cloves, and star anise. Followed by two sticks of cinnamon.  Then two tablespoons of fennel seeds and three bay leaves.  The traditional cooking techniques of India call for the cooking of the spices before the dish begins.  It’s a method that changes the taste of the spices and brings those flavors to the surface by heating the volatile oils in each spice. It does quite a job of enhancing the flavor of the dish.  Next a cup of chopped onion goes in, followed by two tablespoons of minced fresh ginger, two tablespoons of minced garlic and two tablespoons of turmeric.  Some stirring.  Then the addition of two tablespoons of coriander.  Up to now all of the ingredients have been things that are indigenous to this continent.  But the three tablespoons of chili powder and half a cup of pureed tomato that go in next are both foods that came here from South America with European traders during the 1500’s. The last ingredient at this point is chopped lamb, two pounds worth.  All that is mixed together, then simmered for 25 minutes.  When the simmering is over, ten ounces of peas go in and finally a cup of chopped cilantro.  It’s served with slices of onion, tomato, cucumber and a few rice puffs.

One of the attractions of Singapore is the zoo.  The space has been designed without traditional cages.  The animals are separated with hidden moats, or, in the case of those that live in the water, sheets of glass through which you can see.  In some spots they are allowed to interact with the visitors.

UNSUSPECTING TOURIST:  Oh, isn’t he adorable? 

The most famous attraction is the regular breakfast with an orangutan.

ZOOKEEPER:  Okay, why not try to offer some of these tropical fruits to Beetie, and at the same time put your arms around her so she feels much more comfortable with you.

BURT WOLF:   How’re you doin’?

ZOOKEEPER:  Okay.  You want her phone number, sir?

BURT WOLF:   (Laugh)  I’ve noticed that basically your diet has been fresh fruits in the last couple of months; do you feel that that’s been helping you to control your weight, and the complex carbohydrates are better for you?


Will we be sharing later?... Maybe, maybe not -- but if you’re in Singapore during July you can share an extraordinary selection of foods from all over Asia at the annual Singapore Food Festival.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): That’s our report from Singapore.  It is as clean and green as the tourist brochures say it is.  The people are friendly, the food is great, and they let me go swimming with the Singapore Girls.  What else can a middle-aged journalist ask for?  Clearly that was a high point in my career.  But I want you to know that I’m not going to rest on my laurels -- no pot shall remain covered in my continuing quest for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Show-Pucon, Chile - #106

Chile... it has some of the most beautiful and unspoiled landscape in the world... and some of the friendliest people to welcome you to it.  The town of Pucon is the spot in the northern Lake District and people come here from all over the world. The local volcano is the permanent backdrop. There’s great fishing... And traditional home cooking.  So join me in Pucon, Chile for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Pucon got started in 1883 as a military outpost and stayed that way for about twenty years.  During the early 1900’s a few German families immigrated into the neighborhood and set up a number of small businesses dealing in cattle and lumber.  From time to time someone would come here from Santiago and fish.  And like many fishermen, they displayed the result of their expedition but lost the precise details of exactly where it was that they made the catch.  Let’s face it, a really good spot for sport fishing is a trade secret.  And unless you’ve got something really good to trade for it, you can’t have it.  So the word about Pucon spread slowly.  By the 1920’s, however, enough fishing enthusiasts knew about the place to encourage the construction of a major hotel. In the early 30’s the Gran Hotel Pucon was built by the State Railway.  They also opened up a branch line to the area so people could get to their hotel easily.  In the 40’s Pucon became a summer hangout for Santiago’s artists and writers, and it still has some of that flavor.  There’S a big open town plaza.  A dozen or so establishments that will arrange for expeditions that will bring you into closer contract with nature.  You can go whitewater rafting, or just float down the stream.  There are treks into the mountains, and there’s a group that will take you right up to the edge of the local volcano, which is still active.

The original cooks in Chile were the Mapuche, which means “people of the earth.” Their family groups have lived in the land that is now called Chile for thousands of years.  They lived in huts that were moved from one area to another. The move allowed them to take advantage of the best hunting, fishing and gathering in each season.  But each of the areas that they moved to was considered part of their tribal lands.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The basic political and economic unit is the extended family, which can easily number over five hundred people.  The head of that family is called a Cacique, and his power and importance is based, not only on his material possessions, but on the quality of his wisdom, especially the way that wisdom is expressed in advice to younger people. 

The women of the group play a particularly important role as the heads of all things mystical.  A girl is identified during her childhood as having the necessary skills to be able to communicate with the gods, and she takes on that responsibility.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  They believe that all life exists in a perfect balance of positive and negative forces, similar to the ying and yang of Buddhism.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  One of the key turning points in our history of food was our shift from hunting and gathering to the domestication and breeding of animals, and agriculture.  It appears to have taken place between seven and ten thousand years ago and it set the stage for a more dependable food supply, and the worldwide increase in population that has taken place ever since.

When it comes to meat and poultry, we are all very much aware of the farming techniques -- but the idea of a fish farm strikes many people as a new innovation, and that is not the case.  The Chinese have had fish farms for over four thousand years and there are paintings in the ancient tombs of Egypt that show fish farms in action over 2000 years ago.

The history of fish farming here in Chile, however, is a bit more recent.  The first Chilean fish farms were set up in 1981. The southern part of Chile has a coastline with the Pacific Ocean that is made up of Antarctic water coming from the bottom of the planet and glacial run-off from the ice in the Andes mountains... all of which is crisp, cold and free from the pollution of industrialized shores.  The perfect environment for raising salmon. So perfect that Chile has become the second most important salmon exporting nation in the world.  They produce Coho and King and Salmon trout.  A little over half the export harvest goes to Japan... Sushi from Santiago. What an international marketplace this world has become.  A third goes to North America and the rest to Europe.  In the States, a Chilean salmon travels from the net to the table in a U.S. restaurant within 48 hours.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  And for guys like me, who are never going to be asked to do a guest appearance on “The Bass Fisherman Show,” having a dependable supply of high-quality fish in the market is very important.  You see, it’s not that I’m a bad fisherman; it’s just that I’m always put up against fish that have reached a higher skill level.  It doesn’t seem fair!

Well, life is not always fair, but often you can be dealt a tough hand and turn it around.  One of my favorite examples of a guy who really turned his life around is Guillermo Pollak.  He and his wife immigrated to Chile from Europe, and fell in love with an old hotel here in Pucon. They were somewhat short of funds to make the purchase on the property, so they approached an influential traveller who was passing through -- he just happened to be the President of Chile.

GUILLERMO POLLAK:  I told him that I would like to build something which is not yet here in Chile, not yet made in Chile, and I said to him frankly... it’s incredible.  I was a nobody and he was the president of the country.  And to plant yourself in front of the president and tell him that you are doing him a favor accepting his money, you see -- but that’s exactly what I told him.  It was just, it was just one fantastic day, beautiful day -- if it were, if it were raining he wouldn’t have come and Antumelal would not exist.  

Today the Hotel Antumelal is a small, rustic property, with rooms for only 40 guests, so everything is rather personal.  And that goes for the cooking too.  The restaurant is much more like a home dining room.  Very simple recipes.  There are three ranges in the kitchen... one electric... one wood... and one gas.  And, of course, the chef, Carmen Vargas, prefers the stove that uses wood.  She feels that it is more dependable.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the late Sixties I spent some time with a famous chef in London, who was in the process of renovating and modernizing a huge kitchen.  But he would not give up his wood-burning stoves.  He believed that the wood-burning stove made his young chefs pay more attention to what they were doing.  They had to gather wood, they had to watch the heat of the coals, they had to watch the level of the flames.  And paying attention to that made them pay more attention to everything else in the recipe, and the food turned out better.  So Carmen is working in a long and great tradition.

Today she’s is making a family recipe for Chilean Lentil Stew.  She starts by putting two cups of pre-cooked lentils into a stock pot. They get covered with four cups of boiling water to which she adds a half teaspoon of salt.  The cover goes on and the lentils simmer for about ten minutes while she continues the recipe.  Two tablespoons of vegetable oil go into a sauté pan.  Then a half cup of chopped onion.  A little cooking and a little stirring.  A clove of minced garlic.  A half teaspoon of oregano.  A quarter teaspoon of ground pepper.  A cup of carrots that have been peeled and chopped.  A minute of cooking and in goes a teaspoon of paprika.  Another minute of sautéing and that mixture is added to the stock pot. And as long as we’re putting things into the stock pot, Carmen adds two cups of pumpkin cubes, a cup of sausage chunks, and a cup of rice.  The cover goes on and everything simmers for twenty minutes.  About ten minutes in, you should check the pot to see if any more water is needed.  When the full twenty minutes of cooking are up, the stew goes into individual serving dishes and is garnished with some chopped chives, some grated parmesan cheese and some long chives.

The second dish that Carmen is going to prepare has a history that goes back for hundreds of years.  In its traditional form it is called a Curanto and it is one of the big-deal food events in southern Chile. The recipe starts with the digging of a large hole in the ground.  When the hole is large enough to accommodate the appetites of the people who are coming to dinner, it is filled with whatever seafood you have around, plus some smoked pork ribs, chicken, potatoes and nalca leaves.  The nalca is a native Chilean plant that is a member of the rhubarb family and grows wild throughout the southern part of the country.  The leaves often grow to a length of four feet.  Along with the general layering of these ingredients, you slip in a few hot rocks to do the cooking.  Finally, the nalca leaves become the pot cover.  Interesting, tasty, tricky to prepare in the average home kitchen.  So the Chileans came up with a recipe for Curanto in a pot, which they call Pulmai.

Start out by selecting a pot big enough to hold all the ingredients, and get it hot. Carmen, who appears to be preparing dinner for everybody who lives in a 25-mile radius, begins by dropping in two whole bulbs of garlic.  Next she pours in a bottle of white Chilean wine.  Now, what you are about to see reflects the selection of seafood that was available at the docks this morning.  But the ingredient list for the recipe is very flexible. In essence you can put in whatever seafood you like, and the quantities for all the ingredients are totally dependent on you palate and your pocketbook.  Now these little stones are called Picorocos; they are actually large sea barnacles, and they taste like the sweetest lobster meat. They were a great surprise to me when I first ate them. Look bad, taste good.  On top of the Picorocos go smoked pork ribs.  The Picorocos and pork ribs are kept on one side of the bottom surface.  On the other side of the bottom go a few chickens that have been cut into parts. The reason that half of the bottom is left open for the chicken is that Carmen wants the chicken to brown on the hot surface of the pan.  Next a few sausages, cut into chunks.  Clams.  Mussels.  Lots of whole potatoes.  A tablespoon or so of black peppercorns.  Some fish fillets.  In this case they are Chilean King Clip, which is available in North America and worth trying.  And now the top layer... leaves of Savoy cabbage, which are used to replace the nalca leaves.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The real objective here is just to cover all the ingredients with the cabbage to hold the moisture in, and that’s done, and Carmen says it’s enough, but I really love Savoy cabbage so I’m gonna put it all in.

The final ingredient is a second bottle of white wine.  You know, Chile is a major producer of some great wines, and I see no need to pour all of the wine into the pot.  At this point a cloth is placed over the top of the pot as an additional seal for the cover, which goes on next. Then a few large bricks to hold the top down.  Of course, you could use a pot with a tight-fitting lid and skip the routine with the cloth and the rocks, but then you would lose so much of the “look”.  For the next two hours everything is steamed in the wine and the natural juices of the ingredients.

Southern Chile is one of the world’s great spots for sport fishing, so I thought I would treat myself to the experience.  The best way to get into the subject is with an experienced guide, which is a perfect description of  Roberto Navarrete.  He picked me up at my hotel and we drove together for about half an hour to a river where he thought I had the best chance of making a catch.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  Well, Burt, I think we have a good place to, to change here, so we can use waders...

BURT WOLF:   Waiters?  I like that.  So lunch is coming. .. No, not those kind of waiters.  (Laughing)

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  No, you will wear these waders.

BURT WOLF:   Can I borrow these for Christmas?


BURT WOLF:   They’re just what I want to hang up in front of the fireplace.  [ROBERTO laughs]  Okay. 

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  Put this on top of your jeans.

BURT WOLF:   Okay.  They feel like the Doctor Denton’s I used to wear when I was a baby.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  (Laughing)  These are easier than yours.

BURT WOLF:   They certainly are easier than mine!

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  You will be able to go further into the river with those.

BURT WOLF:   Is that good or bad?  (Laughter)  It’s like pantyhose for the outdoorsman.  I love this.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  If you tied it well, the sand will not enter into your, into the shoe.

BURT WOLF:   I hope the fish are going to as much trouble.  What do you think? 


BURT WOLF:   (singing)  “Lovely to look at, delightful to hold...”  All right.  What next?

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  You have to put a fly on that rod.  Two types of lines, floating and sinking.  You will be using the floating line.  That means that we will work on the surface and we will work on the bottom of the river.

BURT WOLF:   Ah.  So one of us might catch something, huh?

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  One of us may catch something, that’s right.  Here we have some selection of nymphs that could work well today.  We could do some fly-fishing on dry flies, but the water is still, at this time of the year, is still a little bit cold.  So we have to wait for dry-flies fishing.

BURT WOLF:   I’m ready.

Fly-fishing is a fascinating sport.  Here in Chile you end up in a beautiful, unspoiled, virtually untouched stream, surrounded by an extraordinary landscape. 

BURT WOLF:   It’s certainly a beautiful way to spend the day.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  Lovely.  Now, stop there. 

BURT WOLF:   Okay.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  So I have to wear these Polaroid glasses because I can see better the different colors of the shallow and the deeper water.  So I can, I will know where to cast.

BURT WOLF:   What a great idea!

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  That’s why you need Polaroid.  Okay, since there’s a little bit, it’s windy, I will cast before and you’ll do it after.

BURT WOLF:   Okay, I’ll wait over here.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  Maintain the line as high as you can; you have always to remember to have the arm stop here and never lower the tip of the rod.  You have to maintain the line as high as you can. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The serious angler knows a great deal about the fish’s eating habits:  what he likes to eat, when, where and how.  He also knows a great deal about the meal:  is it the kind of meal that floats on the top, sinks to the bottom, swims in the middle?  Fly-fishing is a lot like setting up a menu for a new restaurant.  You’d better have a very clear idea of who you expect to come to dinner, and how to prepare what he likes properly.

BURT WOLF:   That’s a lovely trout.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  It’s a brown trout --

BURT WOLF:   Right --  I heard if you hold them over, they relax.

 ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  Yeah.  When you take them from the, the stomach --

BURT WOLF:   Right --

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  -- they will completely relax.  The brown trout.  The rainbow trout, you have to turn it upside down so they will relax like that -- the rainbows.  Not the browns.

Remember, this is a sport; if you’re only interested in having fish for dinner, you’re much better off in your supermarket.

BURT WOLF:   What do you think the biggest fish is you ever caught?

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  This is funny because you know, a fish is the only animal that grows after he’s dead!  (Laughter)  But sometimes I’ve caught big fishes!

Well, if I can’t have fish for lunch, I think I’ll just head back to the hotel for something sweet. One of the original uses for pastry dough was as a container for other ingredients. In many of the English-speaking countries we call them turnovers and we make them with both sweet and savory fillings.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  One of the most interesting uses that I’ve seen for a turnover was in an English mining town. Every morning the cooks would roll out a big piece of pastry dough, then they would take about a cup’s worth of sautéed meat and vegetables, put it into the center, fold it up into a pouch and bake it.  They would do the same thing with stewed fruits.  Then when the miners got ready to go off to work in the morning, they would take one of each; put one in one pocket and one in the other.  Then when they were working in the mines and they were hungry, lunch would be instantly ready, the main course and the dessert.  In countries like Austria and Hungary and the Slavic nations, you see lots of sweet turnovers.  In Italy, in the form of the Calzone, you find savory turnovers. 

Here in Chile, the turnover arrives under the title of Empanada and it is also a savory pocket.  However, here at The Hotel Antumalal in the town of Pucon, the owner’s middle-European background has shown its influence with an Empanada filled with fruit preserves.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Actually, the entire responsibility for this recipe does not rest on the shoulders of Señora Pollak alone.  In 1968, the Queen of England came here for a visit.  And she asked for something with her native and beloved orange marmalade. Well -- this is what she got. And I understand she really liked it.

The pastry chef is Noelia Balboa, who has been working at the Antumalal since 1968.  She starts by setting two cups of orange marmalade into a sieve over a bowl and allowing most of the moisture to drain out.  A standard pie dough is rolled out onto a floured surface until you have a strip of dough that is about a foot and a half long and about six inches wide.  Heaping tablespoons of the drained marmalade are set out about two inches apart, just slightly above the mid-point of the dough. The bottom half of the dough is then folded over the top half and pressed down around the marmalade.  Then the area around the marmalade is cut into triangles that are about three inches to the side.  The excess dough is removed to be used again.  The rolling and stuffing and cutting process is repeated until all the dough is used up.  Then the triangles are transferred to a buttered baking sheet and painted with a little melted butter.  A little grated coconut... a spinkling of sugar, and into a pre-heated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for thirty minutes.  When they come out, they go onto a serving plate... get a little powdered sugar and they’re ready to serve.

The rose and the apple come from the same biological family, and both come with very powerful folklore and imagery.  So powerful that the rose has often been used as the symbol for all flowers and the apple as a symbol for all fruits. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the 1500’s when explorers were constantly bringing back new fruits to Europe from the Americas, anything that was small and round and unrecognized was called an apple.  When the first potatoes showed up in France, they were called Pomme de Terre, “apples of the earth.”  When the first tomatoes showed up in Italy they were yellow and the Italians called them Pomodoro, “apples of gold.”  And when the Europeans began to colonize the New World and set up farms, one of the first crops that they plantedwas the real apple.

Here in Chile, apples are one of the most important fruit crops.  Almost fifteen percent of the country’s total fruit-growing land is given over to the production of apples, and as you would expect they have lots of apple recipes.  Here’s one for Chilean Apple Cake. Apples are peeled, cored, sliced and coarsely chopped into small pieces... about two cups’ worth.  Walnuts get chopped... about a cup full.  White raisins get chopped, also about a cup’s worth.  Then a cup of vegetable oil goes into a mixing bowl, followed by two cups of sugar and three eggs.  All of which is mixed together.  A half teaspoon of salt is added... then a little freshly grated nutmeg... and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Lots of mixing. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Now this kitchen actually has a fabulous electric mixer, but since we used up all of the electric power for our lights, the kitchen staff decided that I should become The Mixer.

Once those those ingredients are fully blended, the chopped apples are mixed in... then a tablespoon of baking soda... the chopped walnuts... and the chopped raisins. More mixing. 

BURT WOLF:   Gracias.

As all that comes together two tablespoons of vanilla extract are added... and then four cups of all-purpose flour.  The flour goes in about a half cup at a time in order to avoid lumps.  Finally, two tablespoons of baking powder.  The batter is then turned out into a baking pan.  The batter gets smoothed out.  The pan is smacked on a surface to get out any air bubbles, and then placed into a pre-heated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for one hour.  Just before it comes out an icing is made.  A half cup of plain yogurt is heated together with a cup of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of ground cinnamon and an ounce of butter. That’s mixed and simmered for ten minutes. Then it’s spread out on the cake.  As soon as it’s cooled, it’s ready.

The most dramatic element in the landscape surrounding the town of Pucon is the local volcano.  It is considered an active volcano, but sufficiently mellow to have become a major tourist attraction.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Scientists who study volcanoes tell me that volcanoes are formed as a result of plate tectonics.  There is a theory that the surface of the world is covered with giant sheets of rock which are called plates.  The rocks sit on top of a sea of partially-melted rock. But they don’t sit still; they float around, about a half inch to eight inches each year.  And as they float around, they bang into each other, rub against each other, or one plate will slide under another plate.  Most of the volcanoes that formed on land are the result of one plate sliding under another plate.  When that happens, an enormous amount of friction is created.  And the friction creates an enormous amount of heat... so much heat that it will melt rocks that are 50 to 100 miles inside the earth.

The melted rock is called magma, and it contains a great deal of gas.  From time to time the pressure of the gas and the magma are just too great and the whole thing blows its stack.  When the magma reaches the surface it is called lava.  The actual mountain is usually built up around the opening into the center of the earth by lava that has pushed out during the repeated eruptions.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Once the volcanic mountain is formed, however, the lava floes and eruptions don’t always take place at the top of the central vent.  It’s possible for the magma and gases to build up inside the mountain, and then explode through the sides.  Similar to the place where I’m standing now.

PRODUCER’S VOICE:  Hey, Burt!  Come back!  You’ve gotta  say goodbye!