Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Vlad The Impaler: Just A Misunderstood Barbecue Chef?
The 15th-century Romanian prince, Vlad Dracula (a/k/a Vlad Tepes [meaning "the impaler"]), has been forever immortalized as a vampire, albeit in literature form, thanks to Bram Stoker. As the novel Dracula gained in popularity, so did the back story of the man from whom its inspiration came, and tales of his infamous savagery in war came to light. But recent evidence (see 15th-century woodcut at upper left) suggests it may in fact have been Vlad's love of great barbecue that gave him the nickname "Tepes" after all.
Shish kebab skewers were not yet the streamlined modern marvels they are today back in the 1400s, but they did the job—a job young Vlad Dracul came to love. Impaling succulent beef, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes became a dark obsession. Sure, being the Prince of Wallachia had its drawbacks—the especially hairy women, the Ottoman Empire constantly getting up in your face—but there was definitely some down time for a happenin' prince to cook up some great kebabs with Transylvania's finest ingredients. I hear his secret ingredient was wolfsbane. I mean, if you could have a delicious meal AND keep werewolves away, wouldn't you?
It's that kind of multitasking that made Vlad effective whether he was fighting hunger pangs or Turks. It may be quite a while for him to be fully recognized for his seminal barbecue work, but once this whole 800-year worldwide interest in vampires fad eventually fades, perhaps we can get back to reality and cook up some Transylvanian tasties!