Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Defending the World Against Bland Food

One of our life dreams came true when we were able to visit Avery Island and the McIlhenny Company. Tabasco sauce is on every table in almost every restaurant in the South, right along with the salt and pepper. When AdventureMan was serving in VietNam, soldiers had a tiny bottle of Tabasco in each ration, to spice up the food. The quote “defending the world against bland food” gave me a big grin. Rest in Peace, Paul C.P. McIlhenny. (This is from AOL News/Huffpost today)


Paul C.P. McIlhenny Dead: CEO Of Tabasco Company Dies At 68

AVERY ISLAND, La. — Paul C.P. McIlhenny, chief executive and chairman of the board of the McIlhenny Co. that makes the trademarked line of Tabasco hot pepper sauces sold the world over, has died. He was 68.

The company, based on south Louisiana’s Avery Island, said in a statement that McIlhenny had died Saturday. The statement, released Sunday, credited McIlhenny’s leadership with introducing several new varieties of hot sauces sold under the Tabasco brand and with greatly expanding their global reach.

McIlhenny was a member of a storied clan whose 145-year-old company has been producing the original world-famous Tabasco sauce for several generations, since shortly after the Civil War. The statement said McIlhenny joined the company in 1967 and directly oversaw production and quality of all products sold under the brand for 13 years.

Under his management, the company experienced years of record growth in sales and earnings, according to the company.

McIlhenny also worked to develop an array of items that could be marketed and emblazoned with the Tabasco logo: T-shirts, aprons, neckties, stuffed toy bears, and computer screensavers, the Times-Picayune of New Orleans noted. The newspaper first reported the death and noted that McIlhenny was an executive with a keen sense of humor, quipping days before he reigned as Rex, the King of Carnival, for Mardi Gras in 2006: “We’re defending the world against bland food.”

The Times-Picayune said he had taken up the post of company president starting in 1998 before adding the title of CEO two years later. It added that his cousin, Tony Simmons, took over as president last year.

“All of McIlhenny Company and the McIlhenny and Avery families are deeply saddened by this news,” said Tony Simmons, president of McIlhenny Company and a McIlhenny family member, in the company’s statement.

He added: “We will clearly miss Paul’s devoted leadership but will more sorely feel the loss of his acumen, his charm and his irrepressible sense of humor.”

The statement said McIlhenny led the way on new brand merchandising, taking an instrumental role in the company’s catalog business of licensed merchandise. He also was a driving force behind the growing global reach of Tabasco products, today sold in more than 165 countries and territories.

The company said McIlhenny, at the time of his death, was also a company director. He was a sixth-generation member of the family to live on Avery Island and among the fourth generation to produce the Tabasco brand sauce on Avery Island, where patriarch Edmund McIlhenny had founded the company in 1868.

Born on March 19, 1944, he grew up in New Orleans and spent much of his childhood moving between New Orleans the family compound on Avery Island, according to The Times-Picayune.

Reports noted he also had been an impassioned board member of America’s Wetland Foundation because of his longtime interest in preserving south Louisiana coastlines crumbling under the onslaught of decades of erosion.

Attorney Edward Abell called his friend McIlhenny “a well-known figure.”

“It really kind of puts us on the map here,” Abell said, “because the Tabasco products are known all over the world.”

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Biography, Cooking, Cultural, Entrepreneur, ExPat Life, Food, Road Trips, Travel | , , | 4 Comments


“Think you can move on?” AdventureMan asks me, and no, no, I am not ready to move on. I am still mad. So I am going to tell you about it so it will not happen to YOU, and then I will move on.

Outside of Carlsbad, I used my handy-dandy iPhone to find out if there were any Marriott Hotels in Carlsbad, and there was a Fairfield Inn and Suites, one of the Marriott Brands. We like Marriotts. We like their culture of CLEAN and SERVICE.

So I googled “Fairfield Inn and Suites in Carlsbad, NM” and wow, there was a phone number! I called the number, but when the lady answered, it was all sort of scratchy, maybe we had bad reception . . . or something. Anyway, I told her I was a Marriott Rewards customer and we wanted a room at the Fairfield Inn and we would be there in about an hour. She said “Oh so sorry, there are no more rooms at the Fairfield Inn. We can find you a room somewhere else, in fact, it is the last room in town, everything else has been snapped up.”

This has happened to us before, when we were heading into Louisiana, and every Marriott we walked into was fully sold out because of “the convention” or some such, and once before when the area had been hit by a tornado and the hotels were full with people living there.

So we said “Oh! What is the room?” and she told us about a nice room at a hotel we had never heard of and it was the last room left, did we want it? So we said ‘yes’ and gave her our credit card number to reserve it. When we got to the hotel, the desk clerk gave us a receipt for forty dollars less than the person I had called had said it would cost, so I asked about it, and was told I had gone through a booking agent who charged $40. I was livid. I checked again on the iPhone, and sure enough, the small print was some website – NOT the Marriott, even though the header was Fairfield Inn – Carlsbad, NM. Oh arrgh.

Here is what makes me so mad. I think they deliberately deceived me. I kept telling them how we loved Marriotts, thinking I was talking with Marriott people, and assuming they were helping me out because they were full, finding me this other booking. OK, OK, my bad, yes, probably the reason I am partly angry is that I am angry at myself for being so easily taken, but I was. Totally taken.

The room was nice enough, but I am willing to bet there would have been a room at the Fairfield Inn. I think this booking lady lied to me about the Fairfield Inn being full, and I know she lied about this being the last room in town – we could have gotten a room just about anywhere, and a lot cheaper.

Yes. I am embarrassed. That’s why I am writing this, so it won’t happen to you. Check whether the web site is the chain you are calling or a booking agency.

I don’t have any problems with a booking agency when I know it is a booking agency – like in Fredericksburg, the agency that handled all the B&B’s. That’s all aboveboard. It’s when you think you are calling a certain hotel or chain and they let you keep thinking that, oh, it makes me so mad.

OK, now I am moving on.

April 25, 2012 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Customer Service, Entrepreneur, iPhone, Lies, Road Trips | Leave a comment

7 Million Pounds

Many thanks to my Kuwaiti friend for sending this; if this is true, it is hilarious, and a wonderful story of the ingenuity of the human spirit:

Outside England ‘s Bristol Zoo there is a parking lot for 150 cars and 8 buses. For 25 years, its parking fees were managed by a very pleasant attendant. The fees were for cars (£1.40), for buses (about £7.00)..

Then, one day, after 25 solid years of never missing a day of work, he just didn’t show up; so the zoo management called the city council and asked it to send them another parking agent.

The council did some research and replied that the parking lot was the zoo’s own responsibility. The zoo advised the council that the attendant was a city employee. The city council responded that the lot attendant had never been on the city payroll.

Meanwhile, sitting in his villa somewhere on the coast of Spain or France or Italy is a man who’d apparently had a ticket machine installed completely on his own and then had simply begun to show up every day, commencing to collect and keep the parking fees, estimated at about £560 per day — for 25 years.

Assuming 7 days a week, this amounts to just over £7 million pounds……. and no one even knows his name.

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Entrepreneur, Financial Issues, Humor | 4 Comments

Doha Trade Fair Opens

I love these fairs – there are vendors from all over. One year, I bought bought fabrics from the Sudan and from Senegal – fabulous things I would never find anywhere else. It’s like a shopping trip around the world. 🙂

Huge turnout at Doha Fair
From today’s Gulf Times

Ahmed al-Nuami inaugurates the Doha Trade Fair 2010 at Doha Exhibition Centre yesterday

The eight-day Doha Trade Fair 2010 got off to a great start yesterday at the Doha Exhibition Centre in the presence of a large number of people.

The fair, organised by the Qatar Tourism and Exhibition Authority in association with Qatar Expo, has attracted more than 600 exhibitors from about 20 countries.
More than 15,000 square metres at the exhibition venue has been occupied by the exhibitors.

Bumper prizes and opportunities for bargains on an array of goods beckon visitors.
Products being sold at the venue include carpets, clothes, cosmetics, textiles, lighting accessories and brassware and handicrafts from many Asian, African, European and Middle East countries.

According to Qatar Expo, QR5mn worth of goods is expected to be sold at the fair in the next seven days.

“With 685 exhibitors this time, the fair is growing at an enormous pace every year. The event is expected to turn Doha into a top business destination of the whole of the Middle East,” an official of the organising company said. He also expressed confidence that there would be more participants at the fair next year.

Qatar Tourism and Exhibition Authority chairman Ahmed al-Nuaimi inaugurated the fair. Diplomats of a number of missions and senior Qatari community members attended the opening ceremony.

The fair timings are between 10am to 1pm and 4pm and 11pm. The event will conclude on January 24.

January 18, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Doha, Education, Entertainment, Entrepreneur, Events, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Marketing, Middle East, Shopping | 3 Comments

Barbaric. Animals Left to Starve to Death

It’s hard to believe that this could be happening. This article is from Kuwait’s Al Watan and I learned about it from Mark, at Unbelievable. Unthinkable.

KUWAIT: It only happens in Kuwait. No other country would demand money from people already paying rent.

Initially, those renting stalls at the animal market in AlـRai thought it was a mistake, but when their shops were shut down “because of rent arrears,” business owners went berserk. In addition, the animals displayed in the stalls were left inside the locked stalls, with the proprietors unable to tend to or remove then, thereby what was a municipal disagreement has ballooned into an animal rights fiasco.

It remains unfathomable to many where the decision to charge a second “Municipality rent” arose from, when the proprietors were already paying rent to the owners of the commercial space, the Ministry of Finance. With the Municipality shutting down the stalls, and the Ministry of Finance staying silent ـ only to say: “this is not our issue” ـ the business owners are helpless as the animals howl and cry for food, with every passing day the stench of death growing ever stronger.

Al Watan Daily went to the animal market in Al Rai area and witnessed the disaster first hand.
Shopkeepers told Al Watan Daily that the Municipality had closed all the stalls over two weeks ago, “and they haven”t opened the doors even once till now. All the animals are inside the stalls, and most of them have died due to lack of water, food and air. These animals have been in cages within the stalls for 15 days and they have not seen any light, nor eaten anything.”

Ridha Ashkanani told Al Watan Daily: “We signed contracts with the State Properties Department; we pay them 300 Kuwaiti dinars per year, and we also have been paying KD 60 per year to the Municipality as for the cleaning of the area. We were forced to pay this sum although the Municipality is not taking care of the area and the place is not clean at all. The problem now is that the Municipality is asking us to pay another rent for the stalls themselves. They want KD 3 per every square meter within the shop per month. They also want the money to be paid in arrears from 1995. We can”t afford to pay all this, and there isn”t any law that requires us to pay a second rent to the Municipality.”

The situation is this: according to the traders, they have been paying a normal rental fee since 1997, which continued when the Ministry of Finance relocated their businesses to the current location, but in 2004, a Municipal inspector came and asked them to pay a “Municipality rent.”

The proprietors explained to the inspector that they were not aware of any second “Municipality rent,” and that according to the contract with the Ministry of Finance, the rent was to be paid to the ministry, and the ministry only.

After receipts were shown to the inspector that payments were being made to the ministry, he quietly withdrew and disappeared.

However, in 2006, another inspector came demanding “Municipality rent.” The traders explained, once again, to the new inspector the same story, to which he accepted their argument but demanded a KD five monthly surcharge for cleaning.

The traders saw no qualms with the demand and agreed to the nominal fee, but then some months later, the inspector returned, requiring that the cleaning fees be paid in lump sum six months in advance. After some grumbling, they acquiesced.

Oddly, some weeks later, traders were informed that instead of 6 months, it would have to be 12 months in advance. Again, they reluctantly agreed.

Now you have the current situation, where the Municipality has shut all the stalls with the animals locked inside, and is demanding the “Municipality rent,” in arrears as far back as 1995.

“Our major issue is that the animals are trapped inside the stalls, and most of them died. We are losing our business and losing the animals we have in the shops, and we are not allowed to open the shops at least to feed the animals, which have not eaten any food for 15 days,” explained Ashkanani
Ahmed, another proprietor, said: “I lost all the gold fish I had in the shop, worth KD 5,000. We want the animal rights societies to help us in our problem. We went to the State Properties Department and they didn”t help us, and stated that it”s not their responsibility. We then went to the Cabinet and they told us to go to the minister, and he also refused to help us. We finally went to the Municipality, (which refused to open the doors until they are paid), and now we are filing a case at the court and we are waiting to see what will happen.”

Last updated on Monday 2/11/2009

November 2, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Civility, Community, Entrepreneur, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Kuwait, Leadership, Living Conditions, News, NonFiction, Pets, Shopping, Social Issues | 20 Comments


There was an article within the last few days in the Kuwait Times about Freecycle but this is not the recent article. It was the only article I could fine, from April 2007. The important thing is that it exists, and that setting up a Kuwait freecycle would be of benefit to many.

In the expat community, we do a lot of Freecycle on an informal basis. When we come, people help us out with things, and when we leave, we pass our things along. Sometimes we sell them, but often as not, we give them away and would love for them to fall into the right hands. We all hate waste.

(Oh my gosh! I just went to the Freecycle Website and found the Kuwait group and it has 122 members! Holy Smokes!) Click on the blue type and you can join the Kuwait group, too!

Don’t throw it away, someone might want it
Published Date: April 25, 2007
By Pete May

Our houses are full of them: old computers, fax machines, video players, fridges in the garage, vinyl records, unwanted armchairs – things we don’t want but still work. Research by reveals the British dispose of over £5.6bn worth of usable household items a year, including 1.35m working fridges and freezers, and 2.6m sofas. People out there want our redundant stuff – but how do we find them? A few weeks ago, I tried to shift a 10-year-old Apple Power Mac and a similarly ancient (in computer terms) Mac laptop. Both worked, so to throw them in a skip would have been wasteful and created toxic waste (computers can contain heavy metals and chemicals). I’d checked the likes of Computer Aid International ( and the Community Recycling Network ( Both accepted PCs, but the words “10-year-old Apple Mac” resulted in polite rejection.

So I tried Freecycle, an online forum where people give away and pick up unwanted stuff, free of charge. It has 4,009 communities worldwide and, according to its online counter, 3,401,532 users. I joined my local group and tentatively posted my message: “Offered: Power Mac with printer and Powerbook laptop, bought in 1997 but working fine, need to be collected.” Within three hours I’d had 30 replies. Suddenly my Macs were seen as a valuable resource. Jenny wanted the laptop for her 11-year-old son who was “a Mac fanatic”, while Julie wanted it for her soon-to-be daughter-in-law; Ben needed computers for his charity in Zimbabwe. It wasn’t easy to decide whom to give them to.

Freecycle etiquette dictates that you don’t necessarily give things to the first emailer – and you must reject anyone you suspect wants to sell the goods. I opted for friendly sounding people who could collect immediately: Andy, who’d been on disability benefit for three years, and Ruth, a cash-starved student. Since then I’ve used Freecycle to shift two fax machines, a Zip drive, an office desk, a child’s desk, a malfunctioning Hoover, some kitchen shelves, a washing machine and my local vicar’s sofa bed. Our fridge-freezer went to a woman with cancer who was on a special diet and needed it for her store of juices. Our rubbish was helping someone fight for life. Then I visited SwapXchange, which offers items to swap from all over the country via its website ( I exchanged a juicer and a Kenwood mixer for a bottle of organic wine apiece.

(Read the rest of the article by clicking on the BLUE Kuwait Times type, above.)

Pass it along. . . !

January 3, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Entrepreneur, ExPat Life, Experiment, Financial Issues, Kuwait, Social Issues | 2 Comments

Cretan Olive Oil

This response is to a post I wrote October 25th on The Olive Oil scandal, that even when you buy a brand you have thought is reliable, you may not be getting what you paid for. For me, it was particularly horrifying to discover they were adulterating the olive oil with hazlenut oil – I don’t have a severe allergy to hazlenuts, but they make the insides of my ears itch. I avoid hazlenuts!

I keep getting such good responses to the post – and I have a partiality (disclaimer!) to small producers of anything, from olive oil to soap to pecans . . . I love buying from the entrepreneur.

Which is why I have taken this response from the comments page and made it an entry. Thank you, Mr. Sassone, for your thoughtful addition to this subject:

It is indeed a shame that the majority of the olive oil on the American and world market has been adulterated by unscrupulous sellers looking for enormous profits.

That is why I started growing olives on the island of Crete, making extra virgin olive oil-EVOO, and importing it to the US. I personally observe all steps in the process from the time the olive flowers bud on the tree until the EVOO goes in the can. I know it is the cleanest, freshest, highest quality, and most healthful EVOO you can buy at any price.

I also offer all customers copies of test reports from independent laboratories that show the exact quality. Acidity is 0.17%. Total polyphenols are 165ppm. Peroxide value is 6. Nothing can compare at any price.

When people buy EVOOs that are labeled as a mix of oil from several countries, they must take this into account: How clean was process to gather the olives? How clean was the factory that processed the oil? How clean were the trucks that transported the oil to the ship? How clean was the ship that transported the oil? You can see where this is going. At any one or more of dozens of steps in the process, contamination can occur. Some of the olive producing countries do not have food the safety standards like the European Union or US Food and Drug Administration.

My curiosity got the best of me. Recently, I sent samples of 13 EVOOs sold in the US for lab testing to find out just how good or bad they are. I dont have a web site just yet, but will publish the results as a comparison to my oil. So long as I keep complete control of the entire process, I can improve the quality of my oil each year.

My EVOO is now available in the US. It is the finest quality and most healthful EVOO you can buy at any price. Send me and email if interested. Thanks. Tony

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Entrepreneur, Health Issues, Hygiene, Shopping, Social Issues, Technical Issue | , , , , | 7 Comments

Ivar’s Acres of Clams

In Seattle, there are three restaurants, Ivar’s Acres of Clams (the original, established in 1938), Ivar’s Salmon House and Ivar’s Landing in Mukilteo, and several smaller, more casual, fast-food kind of Ivars, famous for fish and chips.

This was one very smart man. The first Ivar’s Acre of Clams was built next to the ferry terminal in Seattle and provided both oceanfront dining and a quick place to grab some fish and chips coming to and from the ferries. It was a Seattle landmark; everyone knew Ivar’s Acres of Clams.

He also did a lot of promotions, appearing on TV in his own ads, often singing. The ads were very very bad, so bad that everyone remembered them, so in fact . . . they were so bad that they were good.

(Photo courtesy Paul Dorpat from the collection of Pacific Northwest History.)

(Kuwait needs this Wikipedia kind of historical page, gathering data and stories before the old Kuwaitis are all gone, and their stories with them. This would be a great thesis program, getting this set up and running.)

Some of my earliest memories are meals at Ivar’s. As a child, visiting from Alaska, the whole of my father’s clan, aunts, uncles, cousins, would all gather at Ivar’s for a grand dinner. Later, as a starving college student, from time to time a kind aunt would invite us to dinner or lunch there, taking us out of the university environment. As a young married, it was the restaurant where my husband-to-be met my extended family for the first time. Ivar’s is full of memories, as well as good food!

To this day, I often meet my old friends at Ivar’s. The food standards remain high – good Pacific Northwest Seafood, prepared so that their flavors come through. Dungeness crab Louis, salmon and chips, prawns and chips, halibut and chips – even plain old fish and chips, fresh out of the deep fryer. Even Ivar’s fast food is delicious, and as well as the fish and chips you can get their great clam chowder, also smoked salmon chowder, and a salmon ceasar salad, or a shrimp or crab cocktail – at the fast food Ivars. Great quality food, not the supersize me kind of food.

These are photos of the original Ivar’s Acre of Clams:

This is what their seafood cocktails look like (YUMMMMMMM!)

This is one of their dine-in fast food places; there is a long line of people ordering!:

This is the Ivar’s motto:

The Mukilteo Landing Ivars suffered so much damage in a recent storm that they were closed for over a year as they remodeled to be able to seat more people:


This big fish is part of the interior:

You sit in this beautiful restaurant, inside or outside, and watch the Mukilteo ferry come in and out of the dock. The restaurant is right next to the dock, and also has a fast-food Ivars outside to sell fish and chips or chowder to all the people in line waiting for the next ferry.

Ivar Hagland isn’t alive anymore, but his restaurants live on, thriving, after all these years. The concept holds true – have a great product in a great location and the profits will follow. You can read more about his restaurants, and even look at their menus by clicking Ivar’s.

August 3, 2007 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Biography, Community, Cooking, Customer Service, Eating Out, Entertainment, Entrepreneur, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Lumix, Photos, Seattle, Travel | 9 Comments