The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 12.21.04


Good to go for corned beef hash

A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe ~ Pierre Berton

I would love to have provided readers a recipe for corned beef hash the way Pierre Berton wrote it. Alas, I cannot ask his permission to reproduce his musings on how he prepared this simplest of dishes.

It's worth a mention that the tale he spun provided a good glimpse into his culinary cravings and that its descriptiveness has prompted me to make some this week. In respect of the man I'll respect the copyright.

Not so much a recipe as a story, his corned beef hash piece is a classic for late night reading and a snack. A little web research may reveal the recipe but you didn't read that here.

I've been doing some web research of my own and have assembled some items that I'll call "News you really need to know."


Have some chocolate -- it's medicinal. Researchers in London gave healthy volunteers tablets containing Theobromine (an ingredient in cocoa), codeine, and a placebo. They then had the volunteers inhale a gas containing capsaicin, a derivative of chili pepper used to test the effectiveness of cough medicines.

The result? Theobromine was 30 percent more effective than codeine in quieting coughing. Furthermore, the chocolate ingredient had no side effects, unlike codeine, which tends to make patients drowsy and/or constipated.

Get rich

A man has pocketed 415 British pounds -- after auctioning a piece of breakfast cereal resembling ET.

Chris Doyle came up with the idea after hearing how a US woman sold an old toasted sandwich, said to look like the Virgin Mary for 15,000 pounds. Mr. Doyle thought he too could be in the money when he spotted a piece of Nutri-Grain cereal resembling ET.

Collectors from around the world bid forty times over eBay for the thumbnail-sized grain, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Mr. Doyle, a graphic designer, said: "I was just trying to find someone who feels the same way about ET as they do about the Virgin Mary."


President George W. Bush has assured Americans that his administration was doing all it could to protect them after departing US health chief Tommy Thompson warned that the food supply was vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

Speaking candidly after his resignation, Mr. Thompson said he worried "every single night" about the lack of testing on imported food.

"For the life of me, I can't understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do," Mr. Thompson said. "We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East and it would be easy to tamper with that."

Mr. Bush tried to downplay his health secretary's worrying assessment, saying that Mr. Thompson was referring to the size of the US, which has "all kinds of avenues where somebody can inflict harm."

Here is a classic recipe for corned beef hash. I trust Mr. Berton is making his version in the heavens.

One Skillet Corned Beef Hash

Corned beef, taters, onions, pepper and vinegar make this a hearty, quick fix skillet meal. It's great with spinach on the side, and marvelous with fried eggs.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon grease
2 onions, chopped
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 (12 ounce) cans corned beef
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
5 tablespoons cider vinegar


Heat oil or bacon grease in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté onions and potatoes until slightly browned. Stir in corned beef. Season with pepper and add vinegar one tablespoon at a time, cooking for 3 to 5 minutes in between each addition.

Partially cover skillet, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Makes 6 servings.