When you hear stuffed shirt, you get a mental image of a retrograde, an inflexible old-fashioned conservative, maybe an arrogant poseur with no substance. The latter is probably the closest to the truth, as the idiom was actually born as a literal description of a scarecrow, dressed in real person’s clothes and stuffed with whatever was on hand to create the shape: hay, paper, rags… In other words, no substance. It has done its job, however, scaring away not only crows, but also other potential enemies of the crops.
Scarecrows have existed for millennia but they had not always worn shirts, stuffed or otherwise. In Ancient Egypt, the fields were devastated not by crows but by quail. Inventive farmers would install wooden construction wrapped in nets. Stupid quail would get themselves tangled up in those nets and end up as a farmer’s dinner. Talking about killing two birds with one stone! No shirts, though, stuffed or otherwise.
The Greeks also made wooden scarecrows, but, being masters of sculpture, they carved a really ugly, flagrantly indecent-looking guy called Priapus, an offspring of the beautiful Aphrodite and a perpetually drunk Dionysus. It seems they were cognizant of the effect of alcohol on a fetus because Priapus was so ugly that even the crows flew away when they saw him. Somehow he morphed into a Norse deity Odin, who was just as ugly and quite nasty, and went right on slaying the poor crows with a broadsword.
The Japanese scarecrows, made to look like people, wearing round hats and sometimes raincoats, made threatening gestures to shoo the birds away. Occasionally, they even acquired weapons to fight the most persistent birds. Meanwhile,the Romans, as usual, borrowed ideas from the Greeks and brought the Greek wooden scarecrow concept to Europe.
German scarecrows, although still wooden, were dressed like witches and were believed not only to scare the birds away, but also to bring good harvest. And it’s the German immigrant farmers who brought the idea of a human-looking scarecrow to the United States, stuffed an old shirt with whatever – mostly straw – and put a final touch, red bandanna around his neck.
They called these guys “bootzamon” which eventually transformed into… boogeyman! So now you know that a boogeyman is actually a stuffed shirt with no substance to him, and you can stop scaring your kids (source for some historical references http://historybecauseitshere.weebly.com/scarecrows-historically-speaking.html).
There is plenty of substance to stuffed avocados, though, and plenty of goodness, too, but just like the “stuffed shirt” scarecrows, they could be stuffed with anything you have on hand. In my case, it’s tuna.
Tuna in water, plus some crunchy corn kernels, a nice handful of fresh fragrant dill, mixed with tangy wasabi sauce, and seasoned with salt and pepper – it’s delicious on its own, but wait! We also want to add some finely ground corn meal, for substance!
Here come two sweet and beautiful, ripe Haas avocados, waiting to be stuffed. We need to put tuna on the side and take care of these guys.
Cut them in half, discard the pits, and carefully clean up every particle of brown that mars their beauty. Mix the tuna again because some liquid will seep to the bottom, divide the mix in four, and stuff your avocado halves.
Press the stuffing down gently and refrigerate until ready to serve. I usually serve it on a bed of artisan lettuce, garnished with sweet pepper confetti, but go with your imagination – it’ll be an instant hit on your table!
I simply cannot finish this post without giving you a few minutes of the most famous scarecrow in America, if not in the entire world:
- 2 5oz cans of tuna in water, drained
- 1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
- 1/2 cup finely ground corn meal
- 2 teaspoon wasabi sauce
- 1/2 cup or more chopped fresh dill
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Haas avocados, cut in half
- Sweet pepper confetti to garnish
- Open tuna cans, drain well, Add the rest of ingredients, except avocados. Mix thoroughly. Put aside..
- Cut avocados in half, discard pits, carefully clean all brown spots.
- Mix tuna again, divide into 4 equal parts. Stuff each avocado with tuna mix, gently press down. Smooth the tops. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
- To serve, arrange on bed of greens, garnish with pepper confetti.