One of my all-time favorite songs is Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order. I don’t even remember the first time I heard it – probably standing against the wall in my pegged white jeans at some awkward junior high school dance – but I do know that every time I hear it, I feel a shot right through like a bolt of blue...just kidding. It’s like my head detaches from my body and I go into some warped sense of time and space. That sounds oh-so cliché and Solid Gold lamé, but there are few things that do that to me. Food, music, and well, some other things that I can't write in public ;)
I never quite understood Bizarre Love Triangle’s lyrics. I don’t mean that I didn’t understand the deep philosophical meaning behind the poetry. I mean that at some points during the song, I have no idea what Mr. New Order guy is actually singing, and yet I still sing right along with the song at the top of my lungs. I have this uncanny ability to translate song lyrics into my own language, even if someone writes them out for me, even if we are at no-rae-bahng (private karaoke rooms of the Korean variety) and the actual words magically appear on the screen, even if I have heard the song a million times...I sing the words that are in my head.
But, I have finally found the lyrics, and I now understand all those strange stares from complete strangers when I was singing along. It’s not that I have a horrible voice! I'm just an idiot who doesn't know the words! I mean really, I might as well have been singing the words to Sweet Child O’ Mine.
Now that I know what the real words to Bizarre Love Triangle are, the title makes sense to me. I love the lyrics. I have memorized them. I now understand that the whole song is about a Christian guy who looks in the mirror and prays to become a Jew. Wow, just like me. LOL!
Okay, in all seriousness, the song does have new meaning because as I was thinking about my life as I often do as I’m flutzing about the kitchen, I realized that I too am living out this very bizarre love triangle. I am Korean. But don’t let this dark shiny hair, fair skin, and almond-shaped eyes framed by cosmetology textbook tattooed eyebrows fool you. On the outside I may look like a Korean girl who has no problem with Korean food, and in fact, absolutely loves her happy, natural relationship that she’s supposed to be in with kimchee and galbee, but on the inside, my dark and tormented heart is divided. It belongs to...everything else. Indian. Mexican. Peruvian. Ethiopian. Geezus, it’s like one giant global food orgy, and Spanish makes me feel fine and feel good, and feeling like I never should.
For all the Spanish language studying I did in high school and college, I don’t know much about the country, but I am learning. God knows this whole dinner party was like a crash course in all the different autonomous regions of Spain, one of which is Cataluña, in the furthest northeast corner, bordering France and the Mediterranean sea. Cataluña’s capital city is Barcelona – a city that bubblicious Brooke Burke got Wild On! back in the day. Though the national language of Spain is the Castilian form of Spanish, Cataluña also has their own dialect – Catalan. Who knew I’d learn so much from a simple beef stew!
Estofado Catalan is a long-cooked beef stew from the Catalan people, who are not only restricted to the Cataluna region. The language is spoken by the people in other Mediterranean areas including France, Andorra (Andorra? Never thought 5th grade social studies with Mrs. Galayda would be useful, huh?), and the Balearic Islands. That includes Ibiza, but Ibiza is an entire topic unto itself.
The end to a Spanish dinner party. I believe this is that final moment you'll say the words that I can't say...
Estofado Catalan Recipe
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Wash, pat dry, and cut into large chunks about 5 pounds of beef. This can be in the form of short ribs, though I used a few cuts of beef tri-tip. Generously salt and pepper the meat, then brown the meat pieces in a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep pan (or pot) over medium high heat. Remove the meat to a separate plate. If you have an oven-safe pot or deep casserole type dish, use it to brown the meat and eventually cook the whole dish. I don't have one, so I used a regular saute pan for the stove-top browning process, and a large rectangular baking dish for the oven-cooking process.
Cook 2 large carrots that have been peeled and cut into 1½-2" long pieces, 2 large onions that have been cut into eighths, and 3-4 crushed garlic cloves in the same pan for about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup red wine and 1 cup dry sherry to the vegetables and cook for another 10 minutes to reduce the liquids to about half.
Add 1 15 oz. can plum tomatoes that have been crushed by hand, 5 cups beef stock, ½ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, the zest-only peel from one orange, a sprig of thyme, a bay leaf, and the beef to the pot. Bring to a boil over the stove top, then remove, cover and bake in the pre-heated oven. The length of time will vary depending on your oven and how big you cut the meat, but mine took 3½ hours before the meat was as tender as I wanted it.
You can serve it as is, but I removed the orange peel, thyme and bay leaf. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with the rest of your Spanish meal. Or rice, polenta, or even smashed potatoes. But most importantly, don't forget the sangria.