By Paul Suplee
Years ago, we took the kids to Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono Mountains. It was a multiple-family trip, and one of the fathers made it plainly obvious that he would have rather been at a professional development day at work than on this trip with a commune’s share of wild-eyed children. You could read it in his countenance, body language, and in his language itself.
Not one to pass up a good opportunity like this, I decided to make some small talk, but the conversation was one-way. Nodding my head in that awkward-silence kind of way, I asked, “Hey, what’s the name of these mountains, anyways?”
“Poconos” was his surly response.
With a spry smirk I uttered, “Poke!” and poked his nose. He growled. I can honestly say that this was the only time that anyone has growled at me. I considered my harmless prank a clever witticism, but he did not feel the same. I sauntered away with a tight grin and a victory’s swagger. My work here was done.
The trip was enjoyable, with kids running amok playing wizard and castle games, all the while our nostrils burning from the near-lethal levels of chlorine in the waterpark that the kids were using for the better portion of their waking hours.
A couple of us were drinking a beer poolside when some kids came up and asked us to play basketball. Their accent was rather thick, and we didn’t think anything of it, but I swear one of the kids called me a jerk. It was vacation, though, so we acquiesced, making our way into the pool as their parents laughed and pointed.
One kid threw me the ball and yelled “Here, Jerk!”
Caught off-guard, I caught the ball and awkwardly dunked it (the basket was shorter than my arm’s reach, so it was not exactly any sort of special feat). “Yeah, Jerk!”
My feelings weren’t hurt; rather, I was confused. The parents were laughing and clapping amongst themselves, and my buddy and I were trying to figure out what in the world was going on with these rude little miscreants.
“Jerk” was my moniker assigned to me by these little tyrants, but I was on a mini-vacation as were these kids, and they were having a blast, so I just rolled with it. Finally the one kid, with a huge smile yelled “Jerk, pass the ball! I’m open!”
At that moment another father walked up to me, leaned over and quietly said “Bro, they think you’re Dirk Nowitski.”
So let me get this straight. Nowitski is 7-feet tall. He can actually play basketball, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t show up to vacation at the GWL in a beat up old Caravan with a bunch of snot-nosed kids. Besides, I really don’t look anything like the man.
Nevertheless, they thought I was Dirk Nowitski. At least I didn’t get confused for Beavis or Anthony Michael Hall, as has happened in years past.
Once the cat was out of the bag, playing basketball with the tykes was a blast. It made more sense, and I never corrected them. I mean, if they get to think that they played pool b-ball with one of the greats, who am I to shatter that dream?
Later, as we went to get some dinner at the restaurant in the outparcel of the parking lot, I chortled when I saw jerk chicken on the menu. I had to order it. It hit the spot and I reminisced of my CE classes at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park. My advisor was an American chef who was flown to Jamaica a few times a year to teach about jerk, because he is such an authority.
The biggest secret, according to him, is in using mounds of fresh herbs, rendering it greener than what we are used to here in the States. Either way, it is a great addition to the old repertoire and, since summer is almost here, it’s time to nail your own recipe and use it regularly.
Now, let’s go make some chicken, jerk.
1.5-pound Chicken breast, diced
2 Red bell peppers cut into 1-inch squares
- Coat chicken breast and bell peppers with jerk rub and marinate for 1-3 hours
- Skewer them on sticks that have been soaking for at least one hour
- Simply grill over the fire until the chicken is cooked through
- Top with pineapple salsa
makes about 3 cups
1 bunch scallions
1 jalapeno or habanero, seeded
4 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
1-inch piece of ginger, fresh
1 Tbsp. Hungarian paprika
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup light oil
1 cup Fresh basil leaves
1 cup Fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp. Molasses
1/2 tsp each of:
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp. Kosher salt
- Blend all ingredients together until smooth
makes about 2 cups
1 cup Diced fresh pineapple
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. Finely diced white onion
1/4 cup Cilantro leaves, minced
1/4 cup Cucumbers, skin-on diced
1 Tbsp. Orange juice
1 jalapeno, diced
S&P to taste
- Combine all ingredients
- Adjust seasoning and allow to mingle for at least an hour, keeping refrigerated
- Serve cold on top of spicy skewers