home     films     writings

  writings of  Peter Tammer  





Denver Duck Soup





Denver Duck Soup is a modification of Ed Baines' famous"Thai Duck Curry" recipe as presented on the wonderful world wide web:


Servings: 6


Level of difficulty: Easy  


Preparation Time: 10 minutes


Cooking Time: 2 hours 15 minutes


Obtain a freshly killed duck from Adrian and Marilyn's permaculture farm, not properly dressed by Adrian, so that half the feathers are still unplucked in variegated clumps and clusters. Innards partially removed and duck still kicking vigorously.


Call in the services of three world famous Chefs to assist with preparation and assign each member of the team to his own specific role.


First of all Groucho to organise everything that his associates will have to do. Then Chico will have to bear the brunt of any discussion concerning the finer points of the recipe, while Harpo will probably just rotate his eyes, toot his horn, and occasionally move heaven and earth to place himself in the path of any productive activity.




1 Duck, prepared, as described above.


2 tbsp Thai red curry paste, but green will do if red is not available.


2 tbsp vegetable oil.


1/2 red onion, sliced, or any other onion actually!


1 garlic clove, chopped, or crushed, even un-crushed, or smashed.


2.5 cm fresh ginger root, chopped or dropped.


50g mooli, or hooley dooley, peeled, chopped or scraped.


3 spring onions, or autumn onions, topped and flopped.


225ml chicken stock, but if you are preparing this soup for vegetarians, it's best to use vegetable stock.


2 litres of Denver rain water. Any water will do as long as it is not contaminated flood water. As floods are quite scarce in Denver, that's not likely to be an issue.


225ml coconut milk, very important and quite hard to find a substitute.


1 red chilli, chopped. Handle with gloves and don't rub your eyes.


Juice of 1 lime, but poor people may use a lemon instead.


1 kaffir lime leaf, or ordinary lime leaf if there are no kaffirs in your district.


1 handful of coriander leaves, in season.


1 tsp ground dried zedoary; if you haven't got any, turmeric will do the job.


1 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce). Chinese or Japanese fish sauce must not be used.


To serve:


200g mixed wild rice, cooked, much better than not cooked, and at a pinch "Home Brand" may be substituted.




1. Groucho suggests to Chico: "Take the duck and measure him up to fit into your best large saucepan, then smear him lightly with one tablespoon of the red curry paste. Work it into the flesh around the protruding feathers."


This is something that Chico doesn't want to do as he fears it will dirty his hands and smell a bit. He says,

"Yuk !"

but Groucho assures him it is absolutely necessary and cannot be avoided if the soup is to proceed as planned.


"It's gotta lotta fedders; you sure it's a-dead?"

"Sure it's a-dead. See, it's got no head!"

"It's gotta no head?"

"Yep, forgot to duck."

"We forgotta de duck? ... Den what's'a dis we're cookin'?"


Harpo interrupts with a helpful suggestion. He takes hold of  the duck by one leg, he holds him aloft and pours the coconut milk into the rear cavity of the duck, unnoticed by the others who are still engaged in discussion.


2. Now Groucho instructs Chico to heat a wok with the oil in it, until very hot, but Chico says,

"I no lika you call me wok, it's'a notta nice to calla me names!"

"Maybe you'd prefer me to call you a saucepan!"

"No, I no lika dat either."


Of course Groucho lets this pass with just the slightest elevation of his eyebrow, places the wok on the stove and using his cigar proceeds to light the gas jet, adds the oil and heats it through. Harpo dumps the whole duck into the wok and sizzle bang pop. Chiko takes one leg of the poor abused duck and stirs him round the wok awhile, until nut-brown on either side. Then Harpo removes the duck from the wok and drops it on the floor.


3. At this point Groucho decides it’s time to dispense with the wok and get with the large saucepan. He tells Chico to pour the two litres of water into the saucepan, and while Chico is arguing about this Harpo runs his hose from the tap, filling the saucepan to overflowing. Then Chico reluctantly picks up the duck from the floor, dusts him down a bit, and plops him into the saucepan, which overflows and quenches the flame.


This requires Groucho to light the gas again with his cigar, which takes quite a few tries. Now he instructs Harpo to add the onion, garlic, ginger, mooli and spring onions and stir for 2-3 minutes. He takes a sniff of the curry paste, sneezes profusely and drops it in as well.


4. At this point Chico finds the chicken stock and drops it in for good measure, together with the chilli, the lime juice, lime leaf, and coriander. But he has forgotten the instruction to use gloves when handling the red hot chilli and as he has rubbed his brow because of the sweat caused by the steam in the kitchen he is now howling with pain and great aggravation. Groucho takes the 2 litre jug of Denver rainwater which was not used when it should have been, and pours it over Chico's head with the desired result of cooling his eyes. Then with a great flourish he pours the Thai fish sauce into the pot and gives the whole lot a stir using a protruding leg of the duck, who's swimming gracefully on his back, both legs in the air, oblivious of all these indignities.


5. While the duck is cooking the boys go into the living room at Hotel Paradiso Denver, put their feet up and watch a couple of old movies they made way back then, when the world was a much better place. They are having a really great time watching the finale of "Go West" where they are fleeing the Indians who are attacking the train, and to outrun the Indians they are forced to stoke the engine with all the fuel they can muster. This eventually requires the consumption of all the wood from all the carriages, and there's not much left of the train as they make their escape. Harpo toots his horn, blows his whistle and rolls his eyes in admiration of the genius they once had before they were reduced to making Thai Duck Soup at Denver.


6. Now it is time to serve the duck. Groucho lifts the entire duck from the saucepan, places it upon the chopping block, and with a cleaver he comes down mightily upon the duck, but the cleaver bounces off the duck's back and flies off across the room to embed itself into the opposite wall. A normal group of mortals would perhaps be daunted by this turn of events, but not our glorious trio. Harpo grabs a ladle, pours some soup into a bowl and hands it to Groucho who takes a sniff and a sip and smiles his approval. Chico takes his bowl and has a sip. After wrinkling up his nose he says,


"I no like!"

"Why you no like?" says Groucho, "and by the way that's not correct grammar..."

"You leave our nonna outa dis. I still no like. I tink you leava sometink out."


Harpo nods in approval and holds up the much maligned duck.

"I tink you forgetta the zedoary."

"Of course I forgetta the zedoary, because we have no zedoary."

"Aha, I get it! Yes, we have no bananas?"

"That's right, we have no bananas."


Harpo extracts a banana from one of his copious pockets.


"Well, I still no like. It's notta proper Thai Duck Soup without the zedoary."

"Well, if it's not "proper" Thai Duck Soup, we'll just have to settle for "improper" Thai Duck Soup. We could always call it by another name."

"What name you tink?"

"How about 'Denver Duck Soup'?"


This line of reasoning seemed to do the trick. The brothers settled down to have their soup. While they were viewing another scene from one of their famous films, the good dog Holly snuck in and and rescued the discarded duck from the kitchen floor. This event went unnoticed during the mayhem from the finale of "A Night at the Opera", which caused so much merriment that quite a lot of the "improper" Thai Duck Soup was spilt upon the carpet at Hotel Paradiso Denver, noticed and commented upon by many recent guests.


 To which the owner has replied,


"Denver Duck Soup à la the Brothers Marx."


After which no further questions arise!