Down And Out In Paradise

ed note - all of AB's lines are voiceovers unless noted by "AB:"

horizontal rule

An Island somewhere in the Pacific
The Hovel: Present

GUEST: Wilber, the Floating Sea Monster Ring

[AB enters his hovel created from flotsam and covered with a parachute, he's holding a child's blow-up floating ring with a sea monster head which we'll later learn is Wilber; the night is dark and stormy]

AB: Whew. I think it's going to storm, Wilber. Nothing we can do about that. [he
      sets Wilber down]
Now I'll get a candle. You just stay. Stay. Stay. Good.

    [AB lights a bamboo candelabra with a Zippo lighter, he pulls down sheets of paper hanging from a line, he sits and writes with a shell pen and squid ink]


[AB's thoughts as he writes]

    Having abandoned any hope of rescue, I have decided to write down my story in the off chance that one day my fate might be known. I also want to leave a record of the foods that have kept my body sound and my mind sharp as a ...

[he turns abruptly and talks to Wilber]

AB: Well, of course I'm going to start at the beginning. Haven't you ever heard
      of an introduction, huh?

    As I was saying, I'm hoping these recipes, fine-tuned for tropical survival, might make it onto airline emergency cards or perhaps into military survival suits.

AB: Yes, I'm aware of the fact that all of the introductions on Good Eats end
      with "blah, blah, blah good eats." But this isn't an episode of Good Eats, now
      is it? [sighs] Heck, they probably gave my job away months ago anyway. You
      take that back. That's not true. They'd never give it to him. Then it would
      have to be Naked Eats and that's, that's just a silly name. [sighs] All right.
      Once. But just for you and then it's time for bed.

[to the camera]

AB: With the possible exception of whatever this thing is [angled luffa?], castaway cuisine can definitely be good eats.

[loud thunder clap]

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Present

GUEST: Intercom Voices #1 and #2

    Chapter one. The fishing trip had been my idea, a way of rewarding my crew for weeks of, well no, years of faithful service. We set off from Baja under azure skies. But sometime during the night, ...

horizontal rule

Tiny Ship, Alton's Bunk: Past

[is asleep on the bunk with an eye pad]

... the weather started getting rough. The tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of my fearless crew ...

IV #1: Abandon ship!
IV #2: Shhh. You'll wake him
IV #1: [whispering] Oh, sorry. [softly] Abandon ship.

... I might never have woken up.

AB: Hey. Hey wait. [sits up and bangs head on joist knocking him unconscious] Ooo.

    The problem is, I didn't stay awake for long.

horizontal rule

Tropical Island, The Beach: Past

[wakes up on a beach with the eye pad still on, he lifts it and looks around]

    When I came to, I noticed right away that something was wrong. The boat was gone. The people were gone. And unfortunately my glasses were also gone. [we see from AB's eyes, the world is blurry] To add insult to injury, the final meal on board wasn't that tasty, either. [pulls a long strand of seaweed out of his mouth]

[pulls out a $5 bill and a Food Network knife from his pocket]

AB: Bother.

horizontal rule

Tropical Island, The Beach: Past, Later That Same Day

[spells HELP on the beach with palm fronds]

    On the surface, my situation did seem bleak. But I was confident the Navy would be around to pick me up any minute. So, I left them a note and set out to slake my mounting thirst.


[AB wanders around, the world is blurred]

    This would, of course, be difficult since my glasses were at the bottom of the Pacific. But then again, maybe the beverage would find me.

horizontal rule

Stand of Coconut Trees: Past

[AB hits a coconut tree and looks down]

    Ah, a coconut palm. One of the world's most commercially important trees which happens to produce the most commercially important nut on earth. And to me, at least, the most important beverage. [finds and shakes a coconut, hears water, kisses it]

coconut palm

horizontal rule

The Beach: Past

[AB attempts to open the coconut against rocks, using sticks, etc.]

    Before you can get to the liquid inside, you have to make it through a very thick and very tough fibrous husk which can be fabricated into just about anything from floor mats to rope to army helmets. It's usually removed before coconuts make it to the local mega-mart. The problem is, I was a few thousand miles from the nearest mega-mart.

AB: [at the coconut he's trying to crack] Ooh, stupid ...

[goes to pick up the coconut and trips on something]

    Although the Navy was nowhere in sight, it looked like the army might just come to my rescue with a 50 year old supply box.

[pulls out a tarp, a parachute, sand bags, a metal mess kit, canteen which he opens but finds no water, a folding shovel, a Zippo lighter, and a hand grenade. He smiles and looks at the coconut.]

[a loud boom and the view shakes]

[looks at the remains of the husk on the ground while the inner coconut shell falls to earth barely missing him]

[drills into coconut and pours liquid into mouth]

    Once the outer husk is removed, getting inside the coconut is a snap. Just look for the three dots that look kind of like a monkey face and drill into two of them. Then you've got yourself up to two cups of a cool, refreshing, sucrose-and-invert sugar mixture. A liquid so pure that during World War II, it was sometimes fed to injured soldiers ... intravenously.

horizontal rule

The Hovel, Exterior: Past

[works on the covering for the hovel]

    After constructing a primitive hovel, I began to lay in supplies.

horizontal rule

The Hovel, Interior

[enters with an armful of coconuts]

    Of course in my case, supplies meant coconuts ... lots of coconuts. Now in the shell, a coconut will keep for two to four months depending on how long it's been off the tree. Just be sure that you buy specimens that feel heavy for their size. And although some sloshing should be audible upon shaking, a lot of sloshing means that the coconut is drying up. Also, avoid cracks and softer, moldy eyes, either of which can be a sign of trouble inside.

small air space

less liquid means old coconut

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Present

    Coconuts, by the way, like almonds or pecans, are actually the inner seed of a non-edible fruit called a drupe. Now when very, very young, there's really nothing in there but water. But as it matures, the flesh develops and it's like jelly at first. You can eat it with a spoon. It's delicious.
    By the time it's about ten months old, the mature flesh is hard and white and can be dried into something called copra which is pressed for coconut oil and used in everything from baked goods to margarine to soap. Of course, this substance can also be grated, but first you've got to get through that next shell.

10 months
hard flesh

7 months
soft flesh

3 months
no flesh

horizontal rule

4 Weeks Later
The Hovel, Interior: Past

GUEST: Coco the Coconut

    As the days and weeks passed, coconuts were my only comfort. I even made myself a little buddy. I named him Coco. But I don't think he liked me very much.

    Coco and I did discover that baking coconuts made them a lot easier to deal with. Now I didn't have an oven. So I filled a shallow hole with rocks from my fire and topped it with the old ammo box. Then I just chucked in a couple of fuzzies, closed it up and let them bake at 350 degrees ... I think ... for about half an hour.

1/2 hour at 350°

    Sure enough, the outer shells cracked nicely. But to help coax them the rest of the way out, I wrapped them in one of the old sand bags and gave them a good a whack. Besides cracking the shell, the heat had actually loosened the outer skin's hold on the flesh. I found that all I had to do was to score the flesh on the inside in two directions kind of, you know, 12 to 6 and 9 to 3, and the meat would just pop right off. You're still left with this little bitty, thin,  brown membrane but once you grate the coconut, you'll never know it's there.

score meat into quarters

    Now when it comes to grating, a box grater is the traditional method. But I found that a micro plane grater produces a finer result with less work. Of course if you're dealing with large amounts, you'd probably want to use your food processor.

horizontal rule

The Hovel, Interior: Present

AB: [to Wilber] Yes, I'm aware that we don't have a food processor. We also don't have any electricity. We don't even have a box grater. But for some reason, I don't think the people back home are going to want to use a piece of volcanic rock like I do. Is it worth it? Of course it's worth it. I mean, come on. Packaged coconut tastes as much like fresh coconut as, I don't know, corn flakes taste like corn on the cob. Silly sea monsters.

horizontal rule

Hole In The Ground: Past

    Now a coconut will go rancid in warm weather. So refrigerate your chunks or shreds in cold water or the water from the nut itself for up to a week.

store in refrigerator ... or deep, dark, hole in the ground

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Past


     For a while, Coco and I cooked everything with coconut. Sometimes these experiments didn't exactly work out.

[holds up a turtle or octopus shaped object covered in coconut]

    Actually, a lot of them didn't work out. But others showed real promise.

Coconut Little Fish
Coconut Clams
Coconut Sea Slug
Coconut Shikfish
Coconut Flat Thing
Coconut Sand Flea
Coconut Octopus

Coconut Shrimp

[mixes cornstarch, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper together]

24 shrimp, 15-20 count
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground white
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

[takes de-veined shrimp and covers it with cornstarch mixture, shakes excess cornstarch off] de-vein shrimp
[dips shrimp in egg white and then covers it with coconut] 4 egg whites lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups shredded fresh
[places shrimp in an electric skillet with enough peanut oil to come up half way on the shrimp, turns them over when golden brown on the bottom] cook batches of shrimp in 350° peanut oil for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.

For peanut dipping sauce recipe chick out

AB: Mmm. I've got to tell you, Coco, I really think it's the peanut sauce that
      makes it. I can't think of what would be better.
 M: [hands appear with a dish] Another coconut ball, dear?
AB: Mom's chocolate covered, nutty, coconut balls. It's too good to be true.
      [turns and Mom has left]  It isn't true. But it could be. It could be!

horizontal rule

Hole In The Ground: Past

[takes coconut out of the ground]

1/2 lb. shredded or flaked coconut

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Past

AB: Okay. And she uses, uh, nuts. She uses
      almonds. We're going to use almonds in it and
      macadamia nuts, a cup toasted and chopped.
      And about a cup of condensed milk. Good
      thing the Army left this stuff behind. Then
      almond extract. She uses—is that a
      teaspoon?—a teaspoon and a half of almond
      extract. Good.

Starch, Nuts, P. Sauce, Con Milk, Almond

1 cup toasted Macadamia
    nuts, chopped
1 cup sweetened, condensed
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract

AB: Now here's the fun part, Coco. You mix all
      this stuff up good with your hands. Sure you
      can help. Okay. Here's what you do. You take
      enough to make a little ball. About like that.
      And you squeeze it together into a tight,
      little ball. You gotta get it really tight, okay?
      And once you do, you want to set that down
      because we're going to let these dry.
      Ordinarily I'd do that on, like, some foil or
      maybe some parchment paper. But this mat's
      okay. Yeah, it takes a little time. Just hop on
      in here any time, okay? Fun, huh?

3/4 inch balls

AB: There. Now it's pretty cool in here so I
      figure in, maybe, 3 or 4 hours these'll be dry
      enough to dip. Well chocolate, of course.
      Yeah, sure we do. We've still got a couple of
      bars in the ammo box. Army chocolate! Heh,
         You ... you ... did? No, no. I'm not mad. No,
      no. Really. It's okay. Um, but you know, I
      think I'm going to take a walk, Coco. Just a
      little walk.

store at room temperature for up to 4 hours, or refrigerate for 1 hour

horizontal rule

Cacao Grove: Past

    As I walked off my anger towards my confection copping hovel mate, I stumbled across a cardboard box of all things. Strange sight on a deserted island.
    I also stumbled into some spindly looking bushes which, despite my ocular inadequacy, I recognized as cacao, chocolate. What luck. Now, although most of the world's chocolate is grown in Africa, its birth place is actually Central America. So I logically deduced that I had washed ashore some where on the equatorial isthmus.

    I harvested greedily, only the ripest of pods, of course. Of course it takes a lot of pods to make a very small amount of chocolate.

Cacao Pods

horizontal rule

Drying Hut: Past

    Once I had enough, I harvested the beans and left them to dry for several days in the afternoon sun. Oh, I built a drying hut out of leftover parachute material.

Dried Cacao Nibs

horizontal rule

The Hovel, Interior: Past

    Next came roasting. Just cook them to medium brown, stirring occasionally so they wouldn't burn over the rocks. Then I had to remove the outer shell. It was slow going and kind of bitter tasting but it was effective.

[chews on a nip, spits out the outer shell and drops the seed into a cup]

Roasted Cacao Nibs

    Next step, grinding. I ground the nibs on a rock until they turned into a paste. I added sugar that I made from drying the nectar of coconut palm blossoms and then kneaded or conched the chocolate to make it plastic and to drive off any nasty volatile tasting things.

Ground Roasted Cacao Nibs


[dips coconut balls into chocolate, lets excess ooze off and places on mat]

    The result, a very serviceable dipping chocolate.

AB: [sneering at Coco] Huh.

If you're not up to making your own chocolate, melt 1 12 oz.
bag of semi-sweet morsels with 1 Tbs. of shortening.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Present

    Time passed in a blur of tropical days and long, sultry, lonely nights. And then came the day I discovered I was not alone. It happened in a banana grove.

horizontal rule

Banana Grove: Past

GUEST: Little Piggy

AB: Bananas are ... Hey there, little piggy.
LP: [squeals]
AB: Hey, hey, hey. [runs from pig and climbs up a tree] Hey! Hey! Hey! You're,
      you're, you're a vegetarian. Now back off. Hey. I'm serious, pig. Don't you
      ... Get out of here! What are you, some kind of killer porcine? Beat it! Go on!

    The porcine predator had driven me up some kind of monster weed. And what was growing on this Seuss-ian stalk was none other than papaya.

Solo Papayas

    Now although some varieties produce fruits in excess of 15 pounds, this tree was growing one of the smaller solo varieties. Perfect for one diner. Now papaya's flavor—a little bit melon, a little bit vanilla, a little bit, well, turpentine—is best when the fruit has turned 80 percent yellow. But since ripe specimens can't survive shipping, papayas bound for the mainland markets are picked when they just begin to show yellow. They're then chilled ...

AB: [shinnying down tree] Oaagggghhh.

... to halt their metabolism, crated up, and shipped. When they get to America they're warmed to 68 degrees, and the ripening miraculously continues.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Past

    Now always shop for specimens showing as much yellow as possible. Small dark spots or even little patches of mold are okay, but large discolorations or bruises are bad news. Oh, and when you get your fruit home, set it stem-side down for faster and more even ripening.

steer clear of large bruises

    Papaya are loaded with a black seeds [sic] that are covered in a kind of a slippery membrane. They actually look like caviar. To get them out, cut the papaya in half longitudinally. Now they easily scoop out but real papaya lovers usually leave a few seeds behind to enjoy the contrast of their peppery crunch. They are so peppery, in fact, that in parts of India they're dried and used as filler in black pepper—an effective, albeit dirty, trick. 

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Present

    Happy to give my body a break from the laxative effects of coconut, I began a systematic culinary investigation of papaya, which back on the mainland I'd given nary a thought. Now since papaya contains a protein munching enzyme called papain which is often used in meat tenderizers, I thought of using it in stews and braises with tough shellfish. But, since there was no way for the enzyme to reach the inside of the food, the outer surface just kind of turned to mush.

[dumps latest papaya creation on the floor after tasting it]

    I did, however, stumble upon several excellent simple papaya dishes.  The first: use the papaya not only as an ingredient, but also a container for a ceviche salad. Now the word ceviche comes from a combination of two old Spanish words: cibus, or "bait," and cebiche, or "fish stew." And contrary to popular belief, ceviche is not raw fish. Of course, it's not exactly cooked either.

horizontal rule

The Hovel Floor: Past

    When a piece of high protein food—let's say a fish—is cooked, dramatic changes occur in its proteins. Now protein is basically just a long snaking molecule held into a ball by bonds along its length. When exposed to heat, these bonds release and the protein pops open like a spring. The process is called denaturing. Now once this happens, proteins are free to tangle up with each other. But as the heat continues, these tangles will tighten or coagulate, which is why overcooked meat always shrinks and toughens.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Past

AB: [to Coco] Yeah? Well thanks. It's not bad.
      Well yes, there are other ways to denature
      protein. In fact, physical agitation will do the
      job. That's how we get stable foams out of
      egg whites. You can also denature proteins
      with acid. In fact, there is enough acid in this
      6 ounces of lime juice to chemically cook a
      pound of seafood. That's how you make
      Ceviche. Never? Oh, come on. We've got to
      catch some fish. Come on.

6 oz. fresh lime juice

[places a whole fish on the cutting board, camera pans up, Alton slices with his pocket Food Network knife, the camera pans down and the fish is perfectly cubed]

1/2 lb. firm, white flesh fish
1/2 lb. bay scallops

[adds scallops and fish to lime juice]

Add scallops and fish to lime juice and toss to coat.

horizontal rule

Hole In The Ground: Past

[places lime juice/ seafood mix in the hole]
[removes bowl, assumedly the next day]

Marinate overnight in the refrigerator (or a deep, dark, cold hole).

horizontal rule

The Hovel Floor: Past

[adds papaya and tomatoes and mixes]

1 medium solo papaya, peeled
    seeded & diced
2 plum tomatoes, seeded &

[adds peppers, onion, cilantro and chile and mixes] 4 Serrano peppers, seeded
    and diced
1 cup Vidalia onion, finely
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and

Toss all ingredients to evenly combine

[adds worcestershire, hot sauce and tomato juice and mixes] 1 Tbs. white wine
1 Tbs. Mexican style hot
2 oz. tomato juice
[fills about a handful of mixture into papaya skin and tops with onions]

skins of 2 papaya

top with pink pickled onions

check out the pickled onions recipe at

AB: [as he finishes] You set the table.

[eating papaya with Coco sitting across from him]  

AB: Mmm. A delightful lunch. You're right. But you know, I really could go for
      some dessert. We've got some leftover papaya. Why don't I make up a nice
      papaya soup? No, it's easy.

AB: All you have to do is peel, seed, and dice up,
      say, 4 papayas and toss that with, let's say,
      two tablespoons of fresh mint shredded very,
      very fine. Put that in a bowl and then dissolve
      a cup of sugar and a cup of boiling water.
      And when it dissolves, add the juice of three
      limes and two lemons and then just pour that
      right over the fruit and let it steep. Then all
      you have to do is garnish, maybe, with a
      couple of blackberries, a raspberry or two.
      Ooo, and some ginger would be nice, either
      fresh grated or candied if you've got it.

4 papayas, peeled, seeded
    & diced
2 Tbs. shredded, fresh mint

1 cup of sugar dissolved in 1 cup of water

3 lime juiced & strained
2 lemons juiced

2 cups mixed berries
top with minced candied or
    fresh ginger

AB: Why is that so funny? Why is it so hard for you to accept a soup for
      dessert? Is a ... Wha ... That's it! All you've done is complain about the
      food from day one!. Oh yeah?!? Oh yeah?!? Well we'll just see about that,
      Mr. drupe! Bye, bye! Ha, ha, ha!

[puts Coco in the oven and closes the lid]

For a more elegant dish, soak the papaya in a
sweet wine for two hours before making soup.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Present

    Following the papaya incident, I admit I missed Coco for awhile, even though he was totally evil. Luckily it wasn't long before Wilber washed into town.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Past

    Yeah, I remember fishing him out of the surf. He really did look a mess. Flat as a pancake. Luckily with a little resuscitation, he bounced right back to life.

Wilber, Purchase Here

horizontal rule

Mountain Peak: Past

[AB climbs up rugged rocks]

    Best of all, I found someone to watch over the hovel again so I could turn my eyes towards that mountain peak that had been beckoning. After negotiating some rather inconvenient terrain, I came into a clearing and then a grove of trees which had a strange calming effect on me.

horizontal rule

Grove of Mango: Past

    Now as soon as I got a look at the red fruit dangling from their strange stems, I knew why. I was in presence of mango. The mango tree has long been associated with that sultan of serenity, Buddha, who supposedly did some of his best noodling in a mango grove.
    Now delightful of a discovery as this was, I was, again, a little perplexed geographically speaking. You see, mangos are native to India but several millennia ago they migrated naturally to the rest of South East Asia, especially Thailand, The Philippians and Vietnam. The fact that they could exist on the same island as cacao trees troubled and confused me. It did not, however, dent my determination to pick as many of the cashew cousins as I could. Of course, since mango trees can be a hundred feet high and a hundred feet wide, they can be a little bit tricky to get hold of them. Interestingly, these trees can bear fruit for up to three centuries making them the bristlecone pines of the fruit world.
    Now I had no idea which of the approximate 25 hundred varieties I was dealing with, but I didn't really care, either.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Past, Night

[AB is in bed and scratching wildly]

    What I should have cared about is that mango sap contains mangiferen, a resinous acid that causes a poison ivy-like rash. Now since the responsible oil can be carried by smoke, mango wood should never be burned as firewood or, heaven forbid, as a smoking agent. Also, mangos themselves should always be washed in warm water before cutting.

stay clear of mango sap, and NEVER burn mango wood

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Past, Day

    Now when shopping for mangos in the market or up a tree, you want to look for smooth, oval fruit. Like papayas, mangos will continue to ripen long after they are cut. The redder the skin, the riper the fruit and the less time you've got to enjoy it, so shop accordingly.

redder = riper

    Whatever you do, do not store them in the refrigerator or you'll literally turn off the genetic engine which allows for ripening off the tree. I picked a few that were fully grown yet completely green and left them at hovel temperature for two weeks. They were very nice.
    Now thanks to the mango, the ole chef's home is full of guys with 9 fingers. That's because just under the skin lies a sumptuous yet slippery pulp which surrounds a fibrous, oval disk of a seed. Now unlike an avocado seed which can be popped out with a quick blow from a chef's knife, mango seeds don't go without a fight. Now I found there are basically two techniques for dealing safely with the issue. Both require that you start by cutting off a small disk from the bottom and the top of the fruit.

    Then using a vegetable peeler, peel from the bottom to the top of the fruit, working your way all the way around.

Peel from bottom to top.

    Now feel around for the bottom of the seed. Now once you figure out which way it's running, use a thin bladed knife or maybe a sandwich knife or, better yet, a nice long slicer to slice off the large pieces or "cheeks" from the fruit. I usually start with the knife right in the middle and kind of arc out and then back in towards the bottom and just repeat on the other side, carefully. Then you can trim off the smaller "fingers" of meat from the sides of the seed. The seed, by the way, is used in some countries as livestock feed but, uh, there's no livestock here. Now you can safely cut the cheeks any way you like.



    Now when it's a little on the green side, not too mushy, mango makes for an excellent salad. Just slice the meat from two mangos into long thin strips and toss with one red onion that's also been cut into long strips. It's called frenching, by the way. Toss this with key lime juice, just, say, two limes' worth of juice and some fresh mint or even basil, about a tablespoon shredded fine, I'd say. Black pepper. Just a little or, actually, just a lot. This should have bite. And don't grind it too fine. Last but not least for some earthiness and saltiness, a little Feta cheese. Now you could leave this out but, heh, why would ya? Now let this sit at room temperature for about an hour and then serve.

2 sliced mangos
1 red onion, frenched
1-2 [juice of] key limes
shredded fresh mint or basil
black pepper
crumbled feta cheese

hold at room temperature for 1 hour before serving

    Of course as you might expect, there is more than one way to carve a mango. Method two we begin as before by taking a piece off the top and the bottom. Feel around for the seed and when you find it cut off the cheeks as before. But this time, don't peel first which makes it a little easier ... at least on the first cut. And then just turn it around and repeat. [with an Elmer Fudd voice] Be vewy, vewy caweful. [normal voice] Out around the seed and back down in towards the bottom. There.

    Now take a smaller knife and score the flesh, being very careful not to cut all the way through the skin. Go in one direction and then turn 90 degrees and go the other. Voilà, instant mango cubes. Now all you have to do is take a knife or even a spoon and just scoop them right off.

score the flesh several times lengthwise, then crosswise

    Of course you don't want to forget that finger meat. Just lay your knife down and kind of roll the skin right off. Now if you want to, you could just juice that. There's a lot of juice right there around that seed. It sure would be a shame to waste it.

Mango juice (nectar) can be found in the
international food aisle of most grocery stores.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Present

    As wonderful as fresh mango is, it takes on a whole other life when it meets the heat.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Past

AB: Hmmm. What am I going to do with all this mango? If I only had a sauce pan
      and a burner I'd be set.

[turns around to see a sauce pan and burner, he blinks twice]

    Now taking advantage of my hallucinatory state, I quickly heated the pan and added three tablespoons of vegetable oil, along with about a half a teaspoon of chili flake which I had dried from indigenous varieties I had found around the island. Now I tossed that in the oil and let it cook just long enough for the flakes to color the oil, a couple of minutes.
    Meanwhile, I diced a cup of red pepper and two cups of red onion. I just added that straight to the pot and then stirred over low heat, uh, for about 5 minutes. Then I gathered up 4 pounds of mangos which I peeled, seeded and diced large. I then added one of mango's best friends, ginger, a quarter cup of it, minced fine.

heat 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. chili flakes

1 cup small dice red bell
2 cups medium dice red

sweat for 5 minutes

4 lbs. mangos, peeled,
    seeded, & diced

1/4 cup minced fresh ginger

    Now I let that cook undercover for just a few minutes, say 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mango just started to soften. Now it's time for more flavor. I added half a cup of brown sugar, which I made from dates, by the way, a tablespoon of curry powder ... a box washed up on the beach one day ... about 8 ounces of fresh squeezed mango juice. You could use canned or frozen if you like. Oh, and some cider vinegar. I had to find it with my nose. Four ounces of that.

cover and cook for 3 minutes or until mangoes begin to soften

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. curry powder
8 oz. fresh squeezed mango
4 oz. cider vinegar

    Now I brought that to a simmer and just kept it there for 30 minutes. Now you've got to be careful to do this over relatively low heat because there's a lot of sugar in there and it will burn on you if you turn your back.

simmer over low heat
for 30 minutes.

"Chutney" is derived from the Indian word chatni, meaning a spicy relish.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Present

    Within half an hour, my entire end of the island smelled like an Indian restaurant.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Past

    But I wasn't done. Once the chutney was nice and soft, I decided to finish it off with half a cup of toasted macadamia nuts, chopped, and half a cup of golden raisins which I had dried on a ledge near my hovel. Yeah, that's it. Last but not least, seasonings. Some white pepper and, of course, some salt. I had to use sea salt. I'd have used kosher if I had it. But one must do with what one has.

1/2 cup toasted macadamia
    nuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins

Season with white pepper and Kosher salt to taste.

AB: Yeah. Stir. There we go. And turn off that heat. And ...
    Now, we just gotta figure out who we're going to send all this stuff to when it's ready. Well, yeah, a man who can make a batch of chutney with an imaginary pot and burner should be able to build a raft of some sort. But may I remind you The Professor built a bamboo generator, okay, and he still couldn't patch the hole in the bottom of the Minnow. So, just keep that in mind, Mr. Critical Sea Monster.
    How many raisins did we use? It was like 50 ... yeah, 50.

The Professor

The S. S. Minnow

horizontal rule

The Beach: Past

    Though I had amassed an impressive repertoire of recipes, something deep inside me, my stomach mainly, told me to keep looking. So one morning I donned my bag and struck out for undiscovered culinary territory.

horizontal rule

Pineapple Field: Past

    After fighting my way through several jungles and a nasty piece of quicksand, I found myself on a massive plain, surrounded by miles of what appeared to be a terrestrial herb. It was about two and a half feet high, with a spread of maybe three feet. Each had at its center a rosette of waxy pointed leaves, atop of which sat what appeared to be a large compound fruit, like a blackberry, only bigger, heavier and golden.

    Of course back on its home turf of Brazil, the locals had been calling it anana, or excellent fruit, for a few thousand years. By the time Columbus first set eyes on one in Guadeloupe in 1493, the pineapple had spread through Mexico and across the West Indies. Confused by its appearance, the Spanish decided to name it after the pine cone. The English added 'apple' soon thereafter. Of course, having never faced one in nature I was kind of confused by their appearance, too.


    Produce men often say that if you can easily pluck a leaf from the crown of pineapple, it's ripe. But I quickly found that all but the greenest specimens will abdicate their crowns. Color can also be a fair indicator but only if you know what species you're dealing with and I definitely didn't. So I decided to try the thump.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Present

AB: [writing] Okay. Just give it a thump in ... [stops writing] Thump. It's the curse of fruit buyers everywhere. Thump. Thump. What can the thump really tell us? Let's see. If we had an acoustical engineer here, he'd say that an echo-y thump signifies a lot of water inside the fruit. And with pineapple you can either have sugar or water. So an echo-y thump is bad. You want a nice, solid, thick [thumps the inside of this forearm] thump like the inside of your arm.

horizontal rule

Pineapple Field: Past

    In the end, I found the best flavor comes from large specimens that are half green / half gold in color and which have relatively small crowns for their size and a sweet aroma. Big crowns mean that most of the fruit sugars have been used up. No aroma means that the fruit is water logged. Of course, in the end there is no substitute for a taste test ... of course, I wouldn't try this down at the mega-mart.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Past

    By the way, since pineapples don't have starch reserves, they can't continue to ripen post harvest. And since they contain peptic enzymes just like papayas, they don't keep very well, either. So only take what you need.

[scene fades from a fresh pineapple with a fruit face on it to a shriveled up pineapple, AB picks it up with a slurping sound]

horizontal rule

The Hole In The Ground: Past

[pulls a pineapple up from the hole]

    Although it's perfectly fine to store pineapples in the refrigerator, you always want to bring them to room temperature before serving.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Past

    Of course, before you can enjoy your anana, you must coax it from its armor. I've tried every way around and I feel confident that an electric knife is the only way to go.

    So, remove the crown about half an inch from the top of the body. In Caribbean nations people set those out on fence posts as a sign of hospitality. Since I don't have any neighbors I didn't bother. Repeat on the bottom.

Remove crown about 1/2 inch from top.

    Now place the blade parallel to the body and simply roll the meat right off of the peel. You'll be left with a perfect column of juicy golden goodness which can be cut into long wedges or sliced into disks. Now although the core is just as sweet, if not sweeter, than the rest of the fruit, it is on the woody side. But hey, that's what cookie cutters are for.

Excessive consumption of pineapple cores can lead to the
formation of fiber balls in the digestive track ...  yuck.

horizontal rule

The Hovel: Present From Here To The End

    I found that grilled pineapple is my absolute favorite. Just roll the pieces in some salt, pepper, chili powder and any other spices you might have on hand and lay them out on hot rocks. Or, of course, the grate of your grill would be fine, too.

For grilled pineapple recipe log on to

[rolls up notes and places them in bottles]

AB: There we go. All right. Wilber, I'm going to take these down to the beach,
      get them in the morning tide. You know, this island's pretty good to us. I
      mean, sure, we had to vote Coco off and I do miss high-speed internet access,
      but gosh, I'm putting on weight and you've never looked better. Still, there's
      something I yearning for. Something missing. That's funny. I was thinking
      about sweet and sour ... wait a minute. [searches for and finds his last hand
      grenade] Yeah. Wilber, set the table. There's going to be good eats tonight.

horizontal rule

Banana Grove

AB: [whistles] Hey, piggly wiggly.
   P: [squeels and snorts]
AB: Hey, remember me? Hi, how ya doin'?
   P: [begins to charge]
AB: Whoa, whoa. Look. I brought you some fruit salad today. [reveals the grenade and tosses it] Go get it, big guy.
   P: [goes over to the grenade]


horizontal rule

The Hovel

[salts pork]

1 lb. pork, cubed
season with kosher salt

[mixes garlic, ginger, soy sauce, flour and starch in a container, and then adds pork and mixes]

2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbs. minced ginger
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch

Shake or stir to combine.

horizontal rule

The Hole In The Ground

[places mixture in ground]

Marinate in refrigerator overnight

horizontal rule

The Hovel: The Next Day Assumedly

[tosses the meat with the flour mixture and puts in a pan with oil, when brown he removes]

Dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper

Fry pork a few piece at a time in 375° peanut oil until golden brown

[adds carrots to hot oil in an electric skillet]

1/3 cup carrots
1 Tbs. peanut oil
2 tsp. sesame oil

[adds onion and celery, stirs] 1/3 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced celery

cook until translucent

[adds bell peppers and stirs]

Add 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper and 1/3 cup diced green bell pepper.

[adds the pineapple and pork, stirs]

1 cup pineapple, chopped

Add the brown pork

[mixes ketchup, vinegar, sugar and honey in another bowl and then adds it to the pork

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 oz. honey

Add sauce and cook over low heat until pork is tender.

AB: Mmm. Mmm. Wilber, that is the best sweet and sour pork I've ever had.
      Well, you're right. Fresh ingredients do help. Of course, we're not going to
      have any more fresh ingredients because we're all out of hand grenades. Oh,
      well. I'm going to finish this up and hit the hay. It's been an explosive day.
      [laughs] Mmm.

horizontal rule

Hovel Exterior, The Beach: The Next Day

GUEST: Surfer

[wakes up and exits hovel, sees a man walking down the beach]

AB: [sighs] Rescue. Rescue. Hey! Hey! I'm over here. Hey, hey, mister! Stop!
      Stop! [runs up and hugs him] Ooo. I'm so glad to see you. You're going to get
      a huge reward, man.
  S: For what?
AB: For rescuing me. Where's your boat? Oh, you've got a chopper, right?
      Helicopter? I thought I heard one come in to the island earlier this morning.
  S: It's a surfboard.
AB: Well, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's a surfboard. But, how did you get on the
  S: [no answer]
AB: It's a deserted island. How's you get here?!?
  S: I'm surfing.
AB: But where are you from? How'd you get here?
  S: This is Oahu, man. [That's] Waikiki over there.
AB: Oahu?
  S: Oahu. [walks off]
AB: See, I lost my glasses, man, so I couldn't see, you know ... Waikiki. Hey, look,
      you want to stay for lunch? I got some really good sweet and sour pork. I've
      got these little chocolate coconut things I made. And, uh, ... oh, these little
      coconut fish. It's really good. I caught the fish yesterday. I ... I've got
      mango chutney! And I got papaya salad. [walks back to hovel] Not that I'd
      give it to you. Waikiki. Oahu. I lost my, my glasses.

On June 1, 2001
Alton Brown was picked up
by the Hawaii State Patrol
and taken to a local hospital
for "observation".

Officials determined that he
had been living in his hovel
for only 7 days.

Meanwhile his crew,
having been rescued by
local fishermen, had been
staying in a luxury hotel.

Brown is recovering from
his ordeal and writing
"Marooned: The Cookbook".

He walks Wilber
twice a day.

horizontal rule

Be Square Production Graphic

horizontal rule

SCENE 52 & 53
Alton Brown Falling on Beach Bloopers

horizontal rule


Coco The Coconut Himself
Mario Little Piggy
Wilber the Sea Monster Himself
??? Intercom Voice #1
??? Intercom Voice #2
??? Mother's Hands
??? Surfer

horizontal rule

Proofreading by Sue Libretti.

Hit Counter

Last Edited on 08/27/2010