900th rant: Liquid Barbies, tractor pulling and mas Tequila, por favor!

“GARGH!,” I yelled from the back of the car.. “This tastes exactly like I’d imagine drinking Barbie does: cloyingly sweet, artificial, pink and disgusting!” – this not so favorable review was produced in response to my drinking a can of Red Bull which I wholeheartedly believe to be one of the most disgusting drinks ever created and yet it was finding its way down my throat for one reason and one reason only.. I needed the energy and I was entirely too physically exhausted to stomach a cup of coffee, let alone the thought itself.. So Red Bull it was..

If you’re wondering what I was doing in a state of physical exhaustion in the back of Tina’s car, yelling out my frustration about Austria’s national drink, it’s all pretty simple really.. I was going to a major Danish indoors tractor pulling event, and I was doing it on a Saturday morning going on just over an hour of sleep along with my sidekick, Tina, and her boyfriend, Jeppe! Simple as that!

Okay, not quite as simple as that.. But the thing is, Tina’s little brother is quite a skilled mechanic and he’s doing quite a bit of work on a tractor which competes on the circuit, so it only seemed reasonable that we showed up and lend whatever support we had to offer on this Saturday where they were doing their first competition of the season. What didn’t seem too reasonable from my perspective was that we did so at 9:30 AM on a Saturday morning after a long work night. But these are the sacrifices I make working nights. The prospects weren’t made much better by the fact that I’d promised to supply a Mexican theme dinner for Tina and Jeppe later that night and as such was running behind with preparations.. Meaning that once I got home from work at 2 AM Saturday morning, I had about two hours of cooking to do before calling it a night at around 4 AM, pouring myself a drink and sitting down watching some TV, waiting to be able to fall asleep.. Sleep finally set in at some time after 6:30 AM which left me more than a little wobbly when I rolled/fell out of bed again at 8 AM.. But again, these are the sacrifices I make.. And this is why I, about an hour later, found myself in the back of Tina’s car, cussing and yelling at a can of Red Bull which had done nothing wrong other than trying to knock some life into me.

In case you’re wondering, the attempt was pretty futile and served nothing more than to thoroughly entertain Tina and Jeppe who were in the front of the car, trying to navigate us to our destination in the middle of nowhere. An attempt that proved a little more successful than mine as we did eventually arrive at our destination, bought our surprisingly expensive tickets and were guided into a field which doubled as a mud hole and parking area. I bolted from the car and prepared myself for my first real life encounter with the motor sport known as tractor pulling..

A rather surprising encounter to be honest.. As I hadn’t really expected such an event to be much of anything, yet was surprised to see hundreds, well, thousands of people flocking towards the arena, including tourist busses from as far away as Northern Jutland and Germany.. A fact that led me to conclude that I’d better keep my big mouth shut for the next few hours and not make more sarcastic and snide remarks about the sport, the countryside and people attending such events as I was clearly outnumbered and probably well on my way to getting my ass kicked if at any time during the day somebody didn’t appreciate the humor of my overly tired statements.

After some walking about, gazing at tractors, shaking of hands with Tina’s brother and staring at people in general, we made our way to the main arena and the pulling track where I was more than excited to find a beer tent and staggered right over to order my first beer of the Saturday, completely oblivious to the fact that the clock had barely crawled by 9:30 AM. Tina, not to be outdone, got in line right behind me whereas Jeppe decided to just sorta stand there, looking at us and shaking his head in wonder as we had the first toast of the day.. Oh, I also got myself some earplugs as I’d been smart enough to forget mine at home.. They turned out to be all nicely overpriced, colorful and disposable and nowhere near as pretty as Tina’s..

The next few hours were spent chatting a little with the members of Tina’s family that had shown up, watching a lot of big machines make a lot of noise and smoke, drink a few beers and, quite frankly freezing our asses off. We stuck it out long enough to see Tina’s brother’s team have their first very successful pull of the season then collectively (Tina, Jeppe and I) gave in and accepted Tina’s dad’s invitation to join him and his lovely wife for lunch.. Beers, schnapps and all included. We naturally felt very bad about leaving brother Kim behind on this big day, but we were all really hungry, quite tired and very, very cold.. So we piled into Tina’s car and after spending quite some time trying to find a way out of the field cum mud hole cum parking space that we’d parked on, we drove on over to Tina’s parents and joined them for a nice, cozy little lunch, a cup of coffee and a chat.. During which Tina’s dear mother again, and more than once, tried to convince me to start growing my hair again.. Which was pretty heartwarming, but I’m terribly sorry, mum Annette, but it’s even shorter now. While we were having coffee, we got news from Kim that their team had won their class which of course made us both happy and a little sad that we hadn’t had time to go back and watch the finals.. Oh well, turn up the heat a bit next time and we’ll be there.. Promise!

After coffee and some playing with Tina’s parent’s adorable little doggie Frida and some watching of pictures of Tina from when she was even tinier than she is now, we thanked the parental units for their time and headed on our way back towards Kolding. On the way, Jeppe, who is apparently still very young and apparently still has a lot of steam to blow, expressed a very heartfelt desire to stop in the hills surrounding our fair town and run around for a while. At this time I was crashing pretty hard from lack of sleep and the shit-ton of sugar in the Red Bull, thinking the fresh air might at least serve to wake me up again.. Which it didn’t, it pretty much only served to make me cold to the bones and generally upset with the situation.. For which I apologize.. I really was beyond tired at the time. Thankfully, though, my lovely sidekick sensed the situation as always, walked over and put a compassionate arm around me and gently rubbed my back at little till even this tired old hound couldn’t help but smile a little at her boyfriend chasing around and scooting down hills on patches of ice.. Still, I was quite happy to make it back to the warmth of the car.

Having watched Jeppe blow off most of his steam, we headed homebound, swung by my apartment to pick up the prepared dinner for the evening as well as a few good bottles of spirits for drinks later and some beers that I was determined to try to force into Jeppe who is most definitely not a beer drinker. Having thusly filled about four bags with supplies, we piled back into the car and finally made it back down to Tina’s where I stocked everything, produced a sigh of relief and opened a beer while Tina put on some music and got ready to help me with the final preparations for dinner. Now, I’m still not very good at letting people help me with my cooking, but I am getting better, at least at letting trusted kitchen personnel help me.. And the only thing that rivals my fascination with cooking is Tina’s fascination with guacamole.. So it seemed kinda wrong not to let her help me prepare the final side dish which just happened to be guacamole.. Lots of it!

So I put her to work mashing up six ripe avocados while I chucked in the rest of the ingredients and got some other preparations done. The end result was a bowl of guacamole so large that even Tina had to admit that we probably had enough to last us the evening.. Not to be outdone, I had in the meantime produced a mountain of grated cheese large enough to please even Jeppe who is apparently one of the most dedicated cheese munchers in the world.. And as such, we were about ready to get started with dinner.

For starters, I mixed up a bunch of Margaritas I’d made which Reposado Tequila, which is Tequila that has been slightly aged to remove some of what I consider the generally very uncomfortable qualities of Blanco Tequila, mixed with Cointreau, lime juice, sugar and a bit of Jalapeño chili. These I served in glasses rimmed with a mixture I’d made by blending kosher salt with more Jalapeño chili and a bit of lime zest. To go with these I surprised the socks off Tina by serving popcorn.. A favorite snack of hers that I can’t really stand.. But it’s apparently a central American thing, so popcorn it was.. Shaken with melted butter, lime zest, salt, Jalapeño chili, ground cumin, chili flakes and black pepper to at least invite some flavor to the party.

Following this snack, which I had to be wise enough to forcefully remove from Tina because I knew she’d eat her fill if I didn’t, I served my classic starter of Nachos with piles of molten cheese, homemade salsa and guacamole. I forgot to add sour cream to lessen the burn of the salsa, but it didn’t seem like anyone really missed it in the battle for the community platter.. Which happens to be my favorite way of serving Nachos because it forces everybody to kinda forget about their manners and just dig in, a nice way of breaking the ice at any dinner party.

After the Nachos, I went to prepare some simple quesadillas stuffed simply with cheese and salsa while Tina went through one of her now customary costume changes (which I by the way have now come to expect whenever I serve you more than three dishes, baby). This time not in order to get even more prettied up, but rather to slip out of her jeans and into something a little more err.. stretchable.. A behavior which I, by the way, wholeheartedly approved of because while I’m as big of a fan of tight jeans as the next man, I’m also a huge fan of girls who are not afraid to show their appreciation for good food, by actually eating a solid portion, something I’d imagine is inherently easier in a pair of stretchable leggings than in snugly fit jeans.. So good show there! She emerged minutes later in the kitchen to show me that she now had room for more of  my good food and I sent her off with a smile, an affectionate pat on the hair and three Coronas which I’d picked to go with the main courses. Then followed her back into the living room with a stash of quesadillas in hand.

Admittedly, serving beers to someone who doesn’t like the stuff is a bit of a gamble. But.. Mexican food more than anything in the world screams for beer rather than wine as a companion. That or Margaritas.. But we’d have been drunk off our asses if we were to drink Margaritas through all five courses of the evening.. So beer it was, and I figured that Jeppe would just have to try to suck it up.. That or leave more beers for Tina and I to enjoy. Amazingly enough, though, he seemed to enjoy the Coronas almost as much as he did the quesadillas which Tina and I attributed partially to my ability to pick the right beer for the right person and partially to the fact that Corona is a bit of a girly beer.. Yes, poor Jeppe took a lot of heat that evening, but we mean well, I assure you, and we gotta teach him to fight back one way or the other 😛

While the quesadillas were enjoyed by all, my two dining companions requested a bit of a break before the main course on account of not sporting quite as healthy an appetite as myself. I probably should have seen this coming as I might have been a little too hungry before we started having dinner and thus served some quite heavy dishes in pretty quick succession, so I wound it down a little, had a talk with my guests,  who weren’t technically my guests as we were at Tina’s place, but it was my dinner so there, sipped some beer, cleaned up a little of the mess that I per tradition had created in Tina’s kitchen, joked around a little, and then ever so slowly got started on the main course of the evening which consisted of Carne Asada Burritos which is basically thinly sliced, marinated flank steak served in tortillas along with salsa and guacamole. To this I served a bit of Spanish rice and some refried beans. Most of this I had already prepared but the flank steak needed cooking, so I took out the largest skillet I could find, got it steaming hot and seared the hunk of meat for a few minutes, cut it into strips and put it into a dish along with the juices. Then, borrowing a trick from the traditional French kitchen, I deglaced the pan used for the cooking with whatever flavorful liquid I happened to have standing around – in this case more Reposado Tequila. Having thusly wowed the kids, I decided to fully live up to my image as the rock n roll chef and deglaced my own insides with a healthy swig off the tequila bottle.

This kinda behavior apparently partially mortified poor Jeppe who apparently isn’t really quite used to my, at times, somewhat elaborate lifestyle.. Things weren’t made much better when the gorgeous, little blonde standing between us gave me a right scolding for not offering her a taste while I was at it, at which I simply handed her the bottle which she grabbed without hesitation, put to her lips, tilted her head back and took a healthy swig to match mine.. ROCK THE FUCK ON! \m/ We managed to talk Jeppe into taking a small sip as well, but he wasn’t really having any of it and we left him to wander off, shaking his head at us.

After some resting and a few phone calls made and received by various people, we were ready for the main course of the evening which was, of course, had with more beer to go along and went down easily.. After which we had another small break in dinner and Tina and I had some more Tequila.. I’m not exactly sure what happened and when exactly things started going downhill. All I know was that the two of us were in the kitchen getting ready for dessert and that someone started eyeing the bottle of Tequila.. One thing led to another and in true Johan and Tina style, we probably egged one another on a little too much.. At any rate, we ended up cutting a line into wedges and then passing the bottle between us, getting more and more giggly, less and less coherent and increasingly happy faced. “I can see why this drink is such a bitch,” Tina slurred, “with Tequila this good, you don’t wanna stop drinking it!” – “I agree,” I concurred, “and.. uhh.. I forget.. But if you’ll excuse me, sweetie, I’ll go pour some booze in the dessert!” – “Nonono,” countered the little one: “more Teuila!”

At this point I was honestly losing track of exactly who was trying to get who drunk and why. All I know is that I have a hard time arguing against this cute, blue eyed blonde to begin with and that arguing against her AND alcohol would be futile.. So more Tequila it was, the rest of the bottle to be exact.. And a couple of even more happy faced friends were the result.

Having thoroughly scared off Jeppe with our crazy behavior, we then set upon creating the desert which consisted of even more alcohol in the shape or rum marinated, grilled pineapple with Pernod custard, accompanied by a couple of healthy Mojitos. Creating this dish was pretty simple because at this point in the game I was pretty much just doing all the dosing by eye rather than by measurements – including the alcohol for the custard and the Mojitos. This radical behavior did not seem to affect the outcome of the dish, though, or the drinks.. Not in any way detectable to my slightly hammered tastes buds anyways, or to those of Tina and Jeppe. From what I hear, Tina actually did have a taste of the dessert the next day and deemed it to be still “excellent”, so I guess I must’ve gotten things somewhat right even in my intoxicated state.

With the dessert out of the way and the Mojitos as well, Tina and Jeppe decided that it was time for a game of Besserwisser, one of our new favorite board games in the Trivial Pursuit like genre. I, on the other hand, foolishly decided it was time for more Mojitos, so we sat down for a game and a drink. A game I somehow ended up winning which provoked someone into demanding a rematch. Long story short, we spent a good few hours playing board games and getting pretty hammered drinking first Mojitos, then the emergency bottle of wine I always keep at Tina’s in case of.. Well, emergencies.. By about 2 AM, I realized that both Tina and Jeppe were starting to look a liiiiiittle tired and decided that I should probably leave them to it and get on my way home, so I got up, packed up parts of my belongings, put on my shoes and staggered home, feeling ever so slightly sorry along the way for those of us who had to get up at 10 AM the next morning.. While, strangely enough, not feeling at all tired myself for the first time that day..

Good show, guys, I thank you for a wonderful evening and look forward to the second Mexican themed dinner featuring the dishes that didn’t make it into this one.. And possibly slightly fewer Tequila shots off the bottle.

(By the way.. Should you not have noticed from the title, this is incidentally the 900th post here on Random Drunken Rants.. Wow!)


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