Friday, October 14, 2005


In a moment I’m going to show you not only how you can make a very important decision about your family history, but also let you in on something that not only will turn a bad meal into a good one, but a good meal into the best!

Imagine my surprise when the only time in years that I’ve pulled out the old Thomson family tree was also the week I met a woman from the actual Scottish town that one side of my family comes from: Elizabeth “Lizzie” Thomson, Lizzie was born on May 25, 1851, on the old farm in Dhuloch, Kirkolm Parish, Wigtownshire, Scotland, and after traveling through Canada to the American Midwest, married my great-great-grandfather Samuel Allison Graham on June 3, 1869, in the Macksburg United Presbyterian Church, Iowa., and had a farm in Adair County.” The Descendents of Hugh Thomson, compiled by Donald C. Thomson of Stevensville, MD

Her grandfather, Hugh I, had three uncles who had been martyred during one of the persecutions in Scotland, which was one of the reasons, the Thomsons, like the Grahams (who had to leave Stirling and Dundee for Belfast and then South Carolina in time for the American Revolution), spent a lot of time in Ireland—a great number of Scots just kept moving west.

Now, Alison McQuade, who I met in San Francisco, reminded me of this back and forth between Ireland and Scotland, with the final run to the US of A. Her family is originally from Ireland, though she hails from Ayrshire, Scotland (where Hugh Thomson I first arrived back in Scotland): “a sunless place, where the moors stretch far”, but where her wee Granny McQuade prepared something so deliciously tropical—chutney!

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, and having spent 6 years in Singapore soon after independence from Great Britain, I have had a love of chutney ever since I can remember and jumped at the chance when she offered me some samples with which to experiment!

What is chutney?

As The Food Reference so well describes:
“The original chutney of India (Hindi: chatni) was usually a relish made from fresh fruits and spices. During the colonial era the British took it home (along with curry dishes) to their Island, and thence to their other colonial possessions, including South Africa and the Caribbean Islands. During this long journey the concept changed, until the commercially made mango chutney 'Major Grey's chutney' became the British standard chutney. Major Grey is a probably mythical colonial British officer who loved curries and made his own chutney to accompany them (no one has a copyright on his name - anyone can use it). These commercially made cooked chutneys are still popular in Great Britain, and are usually made of fruit (usually mangos, apples or pears), onions and raisins simmered with vinegar, brown sugar and spices for about two hours.”

Ask anyone about chutney and they always say it’s supposed to be served with Indian curry. Now, I can’t imagine enjoying a vindaloo, or tandoori without tamarind or mango chutney, but chutney goes a long further than that…especially with the numbers of chutney’s I’ve just been privy to through McQuade’s chutney product list....

I love figs fresh off the tree in our backyard and especially in chutney. That’s what I told Alison and within a week, I not only had her drop-you-on-the-floor-asking-for-more “Moray Fig and Ginger”, but also a jar of “Glasgow Spiced Apple” and “Mandarin Orange and Apricot”!

Now it’s a few days until duck season, and I’m out of wild boar, which would go well, I’m sure, with the apple chutney, but there’s fresh Columbian blacktail venison in the freezer and so after preparing my tried and true recipe I like to call Cerf aux Herbes de Provence, I matched it with the “Moray Fig and Ginger”.

First of all, if you know how to prepare good venison from field to freezer (age it a minimum of two to three days in 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit) there is no such meal as gamey venison. Secondly, if you pick a condiment effectively, it’s meant to not mask, but bring out the wealth of flavors already in the offering—some chutneys ARE just for curries, but then there are the others….!

You can save time by clicking on this link to get directly to Alison McQuade’s chutney page: McQuade's Celtic Chutneys

For my special recipe (works very well for bison meat): Cerf aux Herbes de Provence

I’m a strong proponent of “doing it right” by culling and butchering your own. But, if you can’t, these guys can help:

And while you’re enjoying your slices of Cerf aux Herbes de Provence, you might want to see who can do your own family tree, perhaps yourself? I guarantee you’ll meet some very interesting people if you do!

Genealogy Resources:

You Won’t Want to Miss This! (USE the RSS FEED/e-mail Links to the right to Subscribe):

TORTURE is always the question that comes up in conversation when an audience learns that I spent 11 months in a Communist re-education camp on trumped up charges of spying for the CIA: “Were you tortured?…What has your personal experience taught you about torture?” Considering the controversy of the John McCain torture amendment, in the next installment I’ll fill you in on the personal facts of torture and its effectiveness; and I’ll then introduce you to a best-selling author, ex-high level military and DEA operator with TOPSECRET clearance… a true master of persuasion, who gets paid a lot of money to help you in your business and personal interactions, making them more productive and enjoyable: and everything but torture!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

ASHAMED TO BE ECUADORIAN because of Fabian Basabe?

I like to see how the rich and famous are interpreted by Hollywood and the E! Channel, so I when I’m burnt after a long day of writing a new book or script, or sales copy that just has to get out to the client in time, I’ll lay back on the sofa and watch what they’ve got…

That’s when I was hit by this show called “Filthy Rich”…and I thought TV had reached rock-bottom when TV shows redirected their attention from high school graduate minimums to grade school…but, I’m always learning!

If it weren’t for the ranch hands trying to teach the spoiled rich kids something that might help them get out of just being known as members of what Donald Trump so aptly labels “the Lucky Sperm Club”, I’d be really ticked: those ranch hands (the Iacovetto family who owns the Saddleback Ranch) in Colorado have sure got my respect!

The one who really gets under my skin is Fabian Basabe, Jr…why? Well, like him, I also have an Ecuadorian identity…unlike him, I wasn’t raised as a spoiled brat!

My father met my mother in Quito in 1960, when he had come back from a trip to Peru: my mother was working at the Ecuadorian equivalent of the FBI and they met when he had his fingerprints taken for his visa renewal.

Hardworking my parents, and their parents, too. Sure, the Troncosos came from Spain with a lot of money in the 1800s. But, my grandfather was into wine, women, and song and blew all the family money on cards just after WWII!

I’ve wondered if he hadn’t would life have been much easier?…Would I have had the trials I had—no! Worse, I wouldn’t have been enriched by them…

Look at Fabian Basabe: his largest claim to fame is he has a wealthy father whose dealings with the IRS are shady at best. He’s famous for having dropped out of school, well I can relate…he loves to negotiate, I can relate, too…

But, when he interacts with people, especially when he’s drunk, he’s such an ass! And I can honestly say that if he was back in Ecuador: rich or not, he wouldn’t get off so lightly—shoot, I haven’t been back in awhile because I’m a prime target for FARC guerrillas kidnapping Americans and Europeans to bankroll their war in Columbia! I can only imagine what would happen to el bebe Basabe (who reminds me of “wasabi”)….

Then, you might ask, if I revile this person who shames the name of Fabian (one of my uncles in Quito is named Fabian) why do I even sully your time and mine with him?

Well, I’m always challenging myself to find the light and dark in everyone and everything: Fabian’s light is his keen understanding of LEVERAGE!

If you do any business successfully, whatsoever…interact with people in anyway…you are either affected by or using leverage…

“No!” you may say. All I do is write, or, program, or craft beautiful things out of wood—and I say, “EVERYONE EITHER USES OR IS AFFECTED BY LEVERAGE”.

And here is how el bebe Basabe used leverage according to a quote in the Washington Post:

"I was looking for somebody to help me in a marketing capacity," says David Drucker, formerly of Morgan Stanley, who hired Basabe. "He brought me a $10 million account for a publicly traded company and he handed the account to me on a silver platter. He's very street-smart, this kid, and knows a lot more about what he's doing than people give him credit for. I'll never say a bad word about him."

Now that is LEVERAGE…and do you notice how powerful leverage can be? David Drucker’s last words say it: “I’ll never say a bad word about him.” Now I’d never want to be in the same room as el bebe, but the kid has learned to wheel and deal: just imagine what would happen if he had a scrupulous bone in body, a sense of self-respect?

What good can you do if you consciously used leverage to improve the world?

It helped me get my first job as a foreign correspondent in Bangkok, Thailand, though I had no prior training and I was only 18 years old and had just graduated high school the year before. My leverage?

I would go anywhere, anytime to get a story: and I meant it!

Sure, those of you who’ve read my memoir say it got me thrown in a Vietnamese re-education prison for 11 months; and almost got me shot in an ambush on the Mekong River up by Laos…but those stories got me leverage in getting carte blanche on new story assignments throughout Central America and beyond…well worth it—YES, international FAME and NOTORIETY can be VERY EFFECTIVE TOOLS FOR LEVERAGE!

You don’t have to risk life and limb, like me, or face, like El Bebe, but fame, notoriety, and number of other qualities and components I’ll talk about soon can work wonders for your leverage and negotiations.

And so back to the original question so many of you have written to me about after seeing El Bebe Basabe on E!: asking, “Are you ashamed?”

Of course not!

Here’s why: Uncle Fabian Troconso, M.D.; Uncle Franklin Troncoso, architectural/construction engineer; Uncle Washington Troncoso, retired director of the Ecuador National Theater; cousin Eddy, environmental engineer and consultant; cousin Yvonne (Yaici), computer programmer; and my closest, Cousin Jose “Richard” Valencia Torres, Captain in the Ecuadorian Army Special Forces, highly decorated during the war with Peru in 1995, and who fell 12,000 feet to his death in 1999 during his jump team’s practice for the December 6th Founders Day celebration. The list goes on—big families in Ecuador (does el bebe Basabe even have a sibling?)…and the list in a very good way goes on for many others who also claim Ecuadorian heritage.

Every country has bad apples: but can we learn from them…if only how not to act like a spoiled little brat?

Here’s a Washington Post Article on Wasabi, I mean Basabe

NEXT TIME: Just met a wonderful lady from the “ole country” (Scotland), actually from near where the Thomson side of my family comes from. I’ll tell you what’s so cool about her business that’ll get you licking your lips and wanting to order what she’s got for your next family ceilidh…