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GOURMANDISE

Better than beer nuts

While you're eating the last of the Christmas cookies, it might be interesting to reflect on the fact that it's grasshopper-eating time in Uganda. During December, tens of thousands of grasshoppers swarm into Kampala, the capital city, after seasonal rains. The Los Angeles Times reports that everyone, from the wealthy to vagrants, gathers under street lights, which attract the nutritious bright-green insects. Once caught, the grasshoppers are stripped of their wings and legs and fried as a snack to go with beer.

No surprise

Instead of having folks fish through a box of cereal for a mystery trinket, General Mills has come up with a see-through panel that shows the actual toy offered in the box. Besides eliminating the temptation to pour the cereal on the kitchen table to find the prize -- sound familiar? -- children also don't end up with a toy they already have. Check out see-through windows on 14-ounce boxes of Lucky Charms and Honey Nut Cheerios.

His honor weighs in

The mayor of Porrino, a small town in northwest Spain, has entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's fattest mayor, the Spanish daily El Paiis reports.

"I did nothing to deserve this except eat nonstop," said Jose Manuel Barros, who weighed in at 179 kilograms (394 pounds.)

He has a particular penchant for tripe.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

You can follow it right into the kitchen, actually, if you become tempted by the recipe instructions in book called "Cooking in Oz."

The book is subtitled "Kitchen Wizardry and a Century of Marvels from America's Favorite Tale" and has just been published by Cumberland House.

Written by Elaine Willingham, who owns a mail-order business called "Over the Rainbow," and Steve Cox, the book contains all sorts of memorabilia from the ever-popular film. Recipes are also included but, to tell the truth, some of the recipes are a very ephemeral link to the movie.

But here's one that would be perfect for the season, though. It was contributed bu Anthony Landini, a man who in 1988, purchased a pair of Dorothy's famous shoes from Christie's East with a winning bid of $150,000 (supposedly the highest amount paid for a single item of Hollywood memorabilia).

RUBY SLIPPER POWER PUNCH

2large strawberries

1can (14-ounce) pineapple cubes

64ounces cranberry juice

12ounces cherry soda

12ounces ginger ale (or champagne)

2tablespoons lemon juice

Cherry or strawberry sherbet
Half fill a round mold with water. Partially freeze. (You can use a round cake tin.)

Place two large strawberries in the center and surround with pineapple cubes to represent ruby slippers and the yellow brick road. Freeze to anchor the fruit.

Fill mold with ice water and feeze until firm.

In a punch bowl, combine cranberry juice, soda, ginger ale and lemon juice just before serving. Top with the ice mold and float 5 to 10 scoops of sherbet around the mold. Makes 16 servings.

Quotable

"Anyone who is a chocoholic, as I from time to time am, can just imagine living in a place whose walls are held together by chocolate."

Reaction of Hillary Clinton when she first saw the creations of the White House pastry chefs who had used marzipan and chocolate to hold together gingerbread slabs in the shapes of well-known Washington monuments.

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