The Inferno Steak

chef-boldek-2013-the-inferno-steak“I decided to create my own hellish steak recipe.  I immediately drew inspiration from outside of the culinary world: the first part of the 14th century poem, Divine Comedy.  Also known as Inferno, this part was written by Dante Alighieri to document the descent into hell.  That descent began at the gates of hell, which bore an inscription that ended with the words: ‘Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate”, or ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.’  That sounded like a fitting beginning for a hellish steak recipe.  After passing through the gates, Dante made his way through nine circles of suffering — Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud and Treachery — with each circle representing a gradual increase in wickedness.
“The nine circles got me to thinking.  Many people think of eating chiles as a kind of suffering … with the heat and piquancy causing sweating and discomfort.  I decided to use nine different chiles to represent the nine circles of suffering, with each subsequent chile being more ‘wicked’ (or spicier) than the last.” [. . .]    —Chef Bolek, January 2, 2013.

Blue Moon Burgers’ Halloween Special

blue-moon-halloween-special-2020“‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here…’

“Helping people feel good about making bad choices – it’s what we do here at Blue Moon Burgers. And we’ve got the perfect thing to help you through Halloween – we call it ‘Dante’s Inferno’

“Just as the exiled poet Dante made his voyage through the Nine Circles of Suffering/Hell, the Boys at Blue Moon Burgers are ready to help guide you through the Third Circle (gluttony!) with a spicy temptation offered all day/evening on October 31.

“The centerpiece of the Dante’s Inferno meal is our El Diabo Azul, a devilish burger coated with cayenne and cumin seasoning, topped with deep-fried jalapeno bottlecaps, pepper jack cheese and our spicy buffalo sauce. Fresh lettuce and housemade Pico de Gallo on a delicious Grand Central Bakery bun finish off this burner of a burger.

“The Diablo’s running mate is a full-order of our Jalapeno Bottlecaps,  which are floured and deep fried to a perfect crunch, and served with our own spicy buffalo sauce.

“Then to cool you off, we include a pint of one of our great beers on tap – or if you’d rather stay in the spirit of things (and off the spirits!), you can have a Pumpkin Pie Shake instead.  Whichever flies your broomstick is fine with us.

“There you have it – our Dante’s Inferno – offered Oct 31 only, at the special price of $10.31 – a devil of a deal!!!  There’s no punishment for gluttony here at Blue Moon Burgers…”    —Blue Moon Burgers.

Ariel Dorfman on Literature and the Pandemic (WaPo, June 2020)

“We would do well to learn from writers who were banished from their birth lands or who abandoned them to search abroad for opportunities and perspectives unavailable back home. Just to name a select few, take the achievements of Dante, Voltaire, Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Conrad, Marguerite Yourcenar, Ernest Hemingway, Mahmoud Darwish, Doris Lessing, Thomas Mann, Gertrude Stein and Marina Tsvetaeva; or contemporaries Wole Soyinka, Salman Rushdie, Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Assia Djebar and Gao Xingjian, to which I must add an array from my native Latin America, a continent that has known itself through the looking-glass that wandering artists such as Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Julio Cortázar, Elena Poniatowska, Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa have held up to its readers.

“What joins all these dissimilar figures, from unrelated nations and epochs, is how they transformed the curse of distance into a blessing, the need to see the world afresh. It is a lesson to be celebrated by those who wish to express what the pandemic has wrought as they sift through a landscape turned ferociously upside-down and inside-out. [. . .] Men and women from across the globe who at this very moment are thinking of how to wield the written word as an answer to the frightening uncertainty of events inflicted upon them and their fellow humans, might therefore be encouraged and reassured by the knowledge that the paths ahead of them have already been walked by their exiled brothers and sisters from the past.”   –Ariel Dorfman, “Writers of the past turned suffering into literary masterpieces. They might help us understand how to meet the challenges of our day,” Washington Post (June 3, 2020)