Robert P. Herbst
© Copyright 2001 by Robert P. Herbst
For several years now I have been
a member, in good standing, with several lists of men who are, or will
shortly be, married to
ladies from the Former Soviet Union. Although these people are scattered all over the United States, I have always thought it
would be great fun to get a bunch of them together for a good old fashioned dinner.
To this end I have worked tirelessly
to arrange some sort of get-together which would peak everyone's interest,
and local. Up to now, without success.
Recently it occurred to me, Borsch
seemed to be a common subject which everyone, who had anything to do with
one of these
ladies, had in common. Unfortunately, there were many different kinds of Borsch. Red Borsch, Green Borsch, Chinese Borsch,
Pork Borsch, Beef Borsch, Nutria Borsch, Rabbit Borsch, Fish Borsch, Chicken Borsch, Leftover Borsch and last but not in
any way the least, the dreaded Blue Borsch.
There is also the little known Tana
Leaf Borsch, three Tana Leaves to sustain the Mummy and nine Tana Leaves
to give life and
mobility, but this is another story all together..
I knew if I wanted to get everyone's
attention I'd have to come up with something radically different yet tasty
enough to get them
to come to Mount Perry, Florida, to try it. With this thought in mind I scoured the books of culinary artistry for a Borsch recipe
no one had ever heard of. The list went on forever with every conceivable kind of Borsch made in every conceivable way.
At long last, while sitting atop
a huge pile of cook books, I made up my mind to create a new borsch, one
no one had ever
heard of. Now, I scanned the many books for this one missing ingredient and finally found no one had ever made Alligator
Borsch. I had the answer!
I put out a call to all my E-MAIL
friends there was to be a gathering of Borsch lovers in Mount Perry, Florida,
Alligator Borsch. The response was overwhelming. I got literally thousands of replies from all over the United States. In all
about five hundred couples agreed to show up in Mount Perry to try the new Borsch.
The next question was one of logistics.
I needed a hall where I could comfortably seat one thousand people and
have a large enough kitchen to make the hundreds of gallons of Borsch which would be needed to feed a gathering of this size.
At long last I was able to arrange
to have my little gathering at the local National Guard Armory which had
the only, covered,
area large enough to seat one thousand people and yet have a big enough kitchen to cook enough Borsch to feed them all.
Having now established a time and
a place for this to happen I needed to find the cooks to prepare the Borsch.
Once again I
put out a call over the E-MAIL for volunteers to cook the Borsch. Within a few days I had about sixty people who were willing
to help cook the Worlds First Alligator Borsch.
This left only the procurement of
a suitable alligator, to do. Finding the vegetables was no problem, except
for Red Beets, as
they can be had at any Super Market. The Beets on the other hand did not seem to be popular here in Mount Perry, Florida.
When I asked for Beets at the farmers Market here they looked at me with great surprise and asked, "What's Beets? I thought
this was something you did to your wife." I guess this kind of answer went with the territory.
The alligator was a mobile item which
could move from place to place. This item was going to require special
Searching deep into the swamps surrounding Mount Perry, Florida, I found a local man who had a reputation for finding
His name was Alan White, he was tall
and slim to the point of being skinny but, judging from his handshake,
strong as a wire
cable. His faded blue jeans and shirt were clean but an old slouch hat which he kept pulled down on his forehead told of years
of hard living in the swamp. From under the brim of this hat shown his clear blue eyes surrounded by a friendly but weathered
and sunburned face. Much to my surprise he neither smoked, chewed, drank, nor used bad language. He did, however, have a
long stalk of grass in the corner of his mouth which he chewed at regularly. This in itself was unusual for Mount Perry, Florida.
As we talked I noticed his eyes riveted
on even the slightest movement out in the swamp. Nothing escaped those
eyes. This was definitely the man I needed to find a suitable alligator for the Borsch.
I told him what I wanted and we haggled
over the price for a long time. One Hundred dollars for an alligator large
feed one thousand people. Ridiculous! The argument raged on into the night, he wanted too much and I wasn't willing to pay
Finally, after much bargaining we
arrived at a deal which seemed acceptable to both parties. He would provide
an alligator large
enough to make five hundred gallons of Borsch and I would pay in advance the $500.00 we had agreed on. The deal was
As I left he turned to me and asked again, "Y'all sho we can't git together on jist a few dollars mo?"
I was adamant, "No!" I repeated, "This's all I'll pay!"
I left him shaking his head and mumbling to himself.
As the days passed, word spread around
Mount Perry within a few days there would be an Alligator Borsch Fest at
Armory and there would be around five hundred couples attending, all from out of town.
Mount Perry, Florida is a friendly
little town and the local people went out of their way to make every visitor
feel at home even
though the local folks had absolutely no idea what Borsch was.
At last the big day arrived. I stood
at the door and greeted one and all, explaining the alligator had not yet
arrived and the
Borsch would be served soon after it did arrived. The local man had an excellent reputation for arriving on time with the goods
so I wasn't very worried.
Everything in the kitchen was ready
and waiting for the alligator. The tension was electrifying. Six Chefs
in their white hats lined
up along the long table where the alligator would be hacked into bite sized chunks before it went into the huge steaming pots on
At long last a grey van, covered
with dried mud, wheeled into the parking lot and backed up to the rear
door where the kitchen
was. I moved inside the building to advise my guests the alligator had arrived and the Borsch would soon be served.
Suddenly there was a hideous scream
from the kitchen followed by the sounds of breaking glass and the screams
of terror from
all the cooks and cooks helpers at once. The kitchen door flew open and there was a scene of pandemonium in there. The
entire kitchen staff was headed out into the dinning area. As the kitchen staff exited the area, I could see through the open door
to the kitchen most of the vegetables required to make the Borsch were airborne. As were the huge pots with their contents
spilling out onto the floor. There were small pots and broken plates everywhere.
As I watched, rooted to the spot
on which I stood. The panic spread out from the kitchen door into the dinning
area. My guests
charged past me in a blind panic. There was still an awful racket coming from the kitchen but there was no longer anyone back
there to cause such a disturbance.
I couldn't for the life of me figure
out what was going on. About the time half the people in the dinning area
had made it out of
the building, the kitchen door burst open. There framed in the doorway was a fourteen foot long alligator, very much alive and,
judging from those red piercing eyes, not in the best of moods. It had, what looked like, someone's trousers hanging from it's
The alligator was not at all happy
about finding itself the center of attention, in a kitchen and was in a
great hurry to be anywhere
else but there. My guests had no trouble at all with the idea and were quite happy to let the alligator go where ever it wanted to
Seeing the front door was open, the
alligator made for it with little regard for the people trying to get out
through the narrow
opening. It only took a few seconds for the Armory to clear but the destruction of the place was complete and total.
As the dust settles and the alligator
disappeared down the road towards the nearest lake, I walked slowly out
into the parking
lot. There, beside his truck, cleaning his fingernails with his pocket knife and a long piece of straw dangling from his teeth was,
my alligator hunter. With a big toothy grin he tipped his hat back and said, "Y'all know, thet fer a few dollars mo I kuda killed it
and skinned it fer ya!"
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