Friday, June 19, 2015

Like Sake? Then You'll Love It's Older Cousin Shōchū

Shōchū   In the land of the rising sun, night-lifers and dining patrons can quickly recognize the differences between shōchū and sake (sa-kay). In addition to recently established shōchū bars, a number of shōchū specialty stores have popped up throughout Japan. Some stores offer as many as 3,200 different varieties of shōchū from all over the country. I noticed in quite a bit of the research I did for this article, that the relationship between the two factions, those for shōchū, those for sake, seemed almost adversarial. An either or kind of thing. I have always enjoyed and been intrigued by sake, but admittedly, shōchū had not been on my radar until recently and it was a mystery. I figure the fun will be in the research, tasting all the variations. As I am a sake 'enthusiast,' I freely admit there are perks to this job.

Let's start with the Differences
The first and most obvious difference is in the manufacturing process. Sake is brewed, while shōchū is distilled. Shōchū is made with a variety of raw materials, some more abstract than others, including: Japanese basil (shiso), corn, chestnuts (kuri), milk (gyunyu), pumpkin (kabocha), green pepper (pimon), and carrots (ninjin) just to name a few.
  • Shōchū uses black (kuro), white (shiro), and yellow (kii) koji, and sake uses only yellow (kii) koji.(koji is mold)
  • With regard to final product, sake is more comparable to wine, while shōchū bears the likenesses of vodka and whiskey. Lastly, environmental climate requirements are different as well, with shōchū best in warm climates and sake best where it's cooler.
In all actuality, shōchū is sake. Sake, in Japanese, refers to an entire category of alcoholic beverages. As mentioned, the sake we all know and love is actually called Nihon-shu. In most of the world's locales, both here and abroad, when you order “sake,” the bar or restaurant will more than likely offer you a glass of Nihon-shu. Nevertheless, despite the dissimilarities between shochu and sake, they are still related in many ways. The similarities include:
  • Both beverages are traditional products of Japan.
  • They are both made using rice, koji mold, and moromi (mash).
  • Each product is representative of its origin of production, with a variety of ways to drink them.
In the geographic center of shōchū production, Kyūshū, the drink is far more common than sake. In this region, sake generally means shōchū, and the most common way it is prepared is mixed with hot water. First hot water is poured into the glass, then shōchū is gently added. The liquids mix naturally and stirring is unnecessary. After one, you may experience mild inebriation. Should you venture to have another, you will do so "at your own risk." To achieve a perhaps more authentic and subtle taste, mix the shōchū and water, let it stand for a day, and then gently re-heat.

In 1549, Francis Xavier, the missionary, visited Kagoshima Prefecture. He recorded, "The Japanese drink 'arak' made from rice, but I have not seen a single drunkard, because once inebriated, they immediately lie down and go to sleep." While mostly considered an old-man's drink, recently it has become trendy amongst young women.

Japanese citizen Shigechiyo Izumi, who up until recently, held the Guinness Book of World Record for longest life span (120 years), insists shōchū was a part of his daily diet. This even prompted some local Ryūkyū shōchū brewers to market a special Longevity Liquor shōchū bearing his likeness on the front label. Izumi's physician advised against drinking shōchū in his advanced age, but Izumi went on to say, "Without shōchū there would be no pleasure in life. I would rather die than give up drinking.

Types of Shōchū
Historically known as Otsurui shōchū, it roughly translates to "Genuine" shōchū. In other words, it is the real thing. The production of Honkaku shōchū dates back to the 14th century and it is widely known for its flavor and aroma. This contrasts with the common belief that distilled spirits possess very little flavor or aroma. Spirits like vodka, for example, usually undergo a double distillation process, which attributes to a loss in both flavor and aroma. Honkaku shōchū on the other hand, is produced by a single distillation process, allowing the beverage to retain most of the flavor and aromatic qualities found in the raw material.
Made using a variety of raw materials: sweet potatoes, barley, buckwheat, and rice are the most frequently used. Three koji mold types: yellow, white, and black. The alcohol content of Honkaku shōchū ranges from 15% to 45%. It can be drunk straight, on the rocks, or mixed with hot or cold water.

For a shōchū to be classified as Kourui, it must first undergo a multiple—and often continuous—distillation process. As a result of this distillation process, Kourui shōchū is usually quite odorless and tasteless, which makes it quite comparable to vodka. Some actually refer to Kourui shōchū as “Japanese vodka.” Kourui lacks most aroma and flavor characteristics. The alcohol content of Kourui shōchū can be as high as 36% . It is most often used to make mixed drinks. Common mixers include: green tea, Chinese Oolong tea, grapefruit and lemon juice.


Awamori is a distilled spirit that is indigenous to the islands of Okinawa and is thought to have been inspired by raoron, a distilled spirit historically produced in Thailand. Awamori actually predates the production of shōchū on mainland Japan and in a sense, paved the way for shōchū production throughout Japan. Up until 1983, it was labeled as “shōchū” by the Japanese government, but now Awamori bears its own label, "Authentic Ryukyuan Awamori."

Made exclusively with long-grain, Thai style indica rice and one koji type: black, it has with an earthy and robust flavor and aroma. In general, the alcohol content of Awamori ranges from 25% to 45%. Drunk in a variety of ways: straight, on the rocks, or mixed with hot or cold water, the most popular way to drink Awamori is oyuwari, or with hot water.

Rice shōchū is also produced in regions famous for their sake, such as Niigata and Akita prefectures.
Barley shōchū if cask-aged the taste can be quite sharp and strongly reminiscent of single-malt whisky.
Potato shōchū The taste of potato shōchū is particularly evocative of almonds.
Brown sugar shōchū has a mild and not particularly sweet taste, contrary to what might be expected.
Soba shōchū using soba from the local mountainous region as its base ingredient. It's taste is milder than barley shōchū.
Awamori with its method of production, could be made anywhere in Japan, but Ryūkyū Awamori is a protected geographical indication restricted to Okinawa.
Kasutori shōchū has also come to be known as sanaburi shōchū.

Shōchū By Region
Shōchū production can be found in practically every prefecture in Japan. But when these locations are inspected more closely, a pattern describing what class of shōchū is produced where, begins to emerge.

Honkaku Shōchū
With a strong emphasis placed on flavor and aroma, Honkaku shōchū production is far more concentrated. The southern region of Japan, particularly Kyushu, is boasted as the Honkaku shōchū capital of Japan. Kyushu is renowned for its production of sweet potato shōchū (imojochu) and rice shōchū (komejochu). The following areas in Japan not only comprises the top 5 points of production, it also accounts for over 90% of all of Japan’s Honkaku production:

Kourui Shōchū
The production of Kourui shochu can be found in nearly every region of Japan. Widespread production of rice and grain across the country, and a climate-friendly manufacturing process makes Kourui shōchū the most region-friendly shōchū. The top 5 points of production are as follows:

Noted both for its moderate weather and for a famous underground spring known as "Fushimizu". The area around the TAMANOHIKARI factory is surrounded by numerous groves of trees, planted and protected by the Imperial Household Agency to beautify the tombs of the Emperors Kanmu and Meiji. This natural surrounding contributes to the delicate taste of the Fushimizu spring:

Awamori Shōchū
With its method of production, Awamori could be made anywhere in Japan, but Ryūkyū Awamori is a protected geographical indication restricted to Okinawa.

What makes the history of shōchū so fascinating is its lack thereof. Like other distilled beverages around the world, shōchū was primarily used for medicinal remedies since the 9th century and after it was first introduced in Japan, it was used in the same way. The actual origin of shōchū remains a mystery to this day, but many experts and historians hypothesize that shōchū production methods were introduced by Thailand.

According to legend, it was first introduced in the islands of what is now known as Okinawa sometime around the 14th or 15th centuries. Following this, Awamori and its distillation method spread throughout the islands of Okinawa. Soon after, the island of Amami Ooshima, then southern most island of mainland Japan, which led to production in Kagoshima and eventually, to the rest of Japan.

In recent years, Japanese shōchū has experienced an unprecedented boom in popularity, not only in Kyushu, but all across Japan. It is truly an exceptional beverage in many ways; the countless number of brands; its method of production; the raw materials used and its history.

Based on data presented in the annual Liquor Tax Report, between the years of 1996 and 2003, shōchū consumption actually increased by 42%. With such a boom in popularity, many conventional bars were unable to maintain a selection of shōchū that was satisfactory for connoisseurs; thus the shōchū bar was born. These are comparable to whiskey bars, except they exclusively serve shōchū. Many of these boast selections of as many as 100 different kinds of shōchū.

In the United States, distributors of shōchū have also experienced a surge in sales, though the rise wasn't quite as dramatic as it has been in Japan. Despite a growing demand overseas, many shōchū producers don’t believe there is any need to further expand into international markets because they are satisfied competing within the national market of Japan. Furthermore, some producers are already operating at maximum capacity just to meet demand in Japan. I hope you have enjoyed this and it prompts you to learn more and try shōchū for yourself.

Bon Appetit,


Sources: , , ,

Monday, June 15, 2015

Up Close & Personal with Chef Michael Symon

I have known Michael some three years now, having first met him at the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland back in 2012. Relaxed, humble and completely accessible, if you are fortunate enough to spend any time at all in his presence, or watch him interacting with his family, or sit with him shoes off, feet up, watching a Browns game on a Sunday afternoon, you'd be hard pressed to associate this laid back everyman with the public dynamo we all know as the public 'Chef Michael Symon.' His trademark laugh and smile are always right below the surface waiting to bubble over at a moments notice. When he's back in his beloved Cleveland, friends and family are his focus. But, underneath is a man who is driven. A man who's aware of how lucky he is to have achieved what he has, but not one that takes it for granted. See way back when, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work, first cheffing, then as a restaurateur, then as a beloved TV personality. The accolades now, are the result of years of hard work and dedication. To his craft. To his family. To his employees and to his friends. 

I have watched as fans approach him, hoping for a minute of his time, or a smile, or an autograph. I have never seen him not stop to take the time to make someone who approached feel important, even if it's a simple hello, a smile or to request a picture. Onstage, I have watched him capture the audience, making eye contact as if he's talking directly to each and every person there. He makes folks feel like they could easily sit back and grab a beer with him, over conversation about food, or riding his motorcycle, or debating with him over his favorite Cleveland team, The Browns. I've heard folks remark of him, "Wow, he's just like me." Having spent time with him, I can honestly say, "It's real." It's what has launched him to the top of his profession, garnering the title America's Favorite Chef.  

I recently caught up with him between shoots of his hit TV show The Chew, which he co-hosts with Daphne Oz, Clinton Kelley and fellow chefs, Carla Hall and Mario Batali. His TV career is varied and lengthy. Since 1998, with appearances on Sara’s Secrets with Sara Moulton, Ready, Set, Cook and Food Nation with Bobby Flay, hosting over 100 episodes of The Melting Pot and his winning season one of The Next Iron Chef on Food Network in 2008, he has been a regular in our homes. He appeared on four Food Network/Cooking Channel shows, hosting Food Feuds and Cook Like an Iron Chef, judging season three of The Next Iron Chef and competing on Iron Chef America. In January 2012, his show Symon’s Suppers, premiered on Cooking Channel and in September 2011, he joined the cast of The Chew as one of the show’s five hosts. Most recently, Michael was a mentor on the first season of Food Network's All-Star Academy.

A successful restaurateur, Michael recently opened his 14th B Spot Burgers, to go along with his other eateries, Lola Bistro, Lolita, Roast, Bar Symon and Mabel's BBQ. With his hectic schedule, I asked him if he misses being in the kitchen, just cheffing. "No," he laughed emphatically, "You know, I think that the misconception of a chef, especially in my capacity as a chef-owner, is that we work the line every week. I'm in the kitchen yes, but not on the line at a particular station. If you work just a station," he expanded, "when it gets busy, you see just that one station. I prefer to work the kitchen. I expedite, I watch the cooks a lot, but I haven't worked a particular station in God knows how long. Now, I do spend time on each station with the cook the first week when we open a restaurant." 

Many of you who are fans of the Iron Chef, will be happy to hear that Michael has a new signature line of cutlery coming out with Ergo Chef, LLC., available for delivery beginning in mid July, 2015. About a year in the making, Ergo and Symon will produce five individual knives for the Symon series. The blades will include a 9-inch chef knife; a 6-inch chef knife; a 6-inch serrated utility knife; a 7-inch vegetable cleaver; and a 3.5-inch paring knife. A four-piece steak knife set will also be available. The knives will be ground in the conventional Western-style, rather than with a Japanese beveled edge that is growing in popularity. Michael has opted for a small selection of blades, rather than an extensive collection of knives. “I’m of the belief you don’t need a giant set of knives, just a couple that perform at a high level,” Symon stated. “they have a unique handle that is not only stunning, but also very comfortable and durable. 

With  Mike, Scott & Randy from Ergo
I asked him, "Why Ergo?" "I love doing business with people that I like being around," he offered. "and yes, they make a beautiful knife and they make it at a super reasonable price. But aside from that, Michael and Scott Staib are just great people. If you're going to work with someone or partner with someone, you want them to have the same beliefs you do and the same morals you do. They are just really good people." I asked Michael what was most important to him in making a decision to put his name on a knife or series of knives. "For me," he responded, "there were a couple of things that were important. First, it had to be a knife that I was very comfortable using in the kitchen myself. Secondly, I wanted it to be a knife that any one of my professional cooks in the kitchens of my restaurants would use and be comfortable with. Lastly, I wanted it to be affordable for the home cook. Chef knives can be crazy," he continued, "I personally have been collecting knives for 25 years and I have knives that are ridiculously expensive. I wanted to get the look and feel of those knives, but in a package that the home cook would be comfortable buying. I also wanted a knife that one of my cooks on the line would be comfortable using every night, on the line, putting up with the wear and tear of putting out 300 meals. It had to be at a very high level for me to put my name on it, from a quality and look stand point, but also something that would be accessible to the home cook." Michael has not been shy in stating in the past that a chef or cook only needs a few good knives and I asked him to expand on that thought process.

"I don't think you need every knife in the set in order to get everything done, We have 2 chef' knives, both a 9' and 6 inch, a good serrated knife, a pairing knife and a vegetable cleaver because I do love using a vegetable cleaver. Then, we also have our steak knives." I mentioned to him that some have remarked that even at the reasonable price, it's still a bit expensive. He answered, "Obviously life is about what you can afford. That said, to be able to get a knife for $69-$79 that will last you a lifetime, as opposed to a knife you can get for $20 that you have to replace in a year, it just seems like a pretty easy decision to me." You can purchase Michael's Knives here: Michael Symon Cutlery

Our conversation then turned to his new hit show, The Chew. Winner of the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host along with his co-hosts, I asked him if when he first started this journey with the show back in 2011, he had any idea it would be the juggernaut hit that it has become. "I think with anything in life you hope for the best and plan for the worst," he offered, "Obviously I knew when we started that I already had a long term relationship with Mario, so I knew that was going to work. The other three hosts I had not met before. To end up being paired up with 4 other people who all have ended up being best friends, God I mean, you couldn't ask for more than that. We all just immediately got along and it's only gotten better from there." He added, "All of us cherish it and don't take for granted for a second how lucky we have it."

I pressed him for a behind the scenes anecdote that I could share with you all and he immediately spoke to Clinton being the cast's practical joker. "We're like a family," he explained, "so there's definitely a lot of razzing, kinda like you get between brothers and sisters. Every one definitely can give a joke and take a joke. This past week for instance, Clinton got me a couple times really good, so I had the person in charge of wardrobe order all his pants two sizes two small. When he was getting ready he kept saying, 'You know these are cut really weird, these are not fitting correctly.'  He laughed, "It happens all the time and we really do have a good time with each other."

Michael makes his Grandma's Risotto on The Chew

We then moved the conversation to a bit of the person behind the persona side of these interviews, discussing his relationship with his wife, Lizzie and his home life. "We met in the restaurant business back in 1990 and we opened Lola about 17 years ago. My favorite thing I ever do is cooking dinner for Lizzie and my family and friends, just making a meal at home. There's nothing more enjoyable than that." I asked about his hectic schedule and how the two of them balance it and their personal life. "It's like anything else, you get used to it. It's all about the people around me. I am fortunate to have folks around me that I've been working with some 20+ years now. Liz is with me
at all times, no matter where we are. We go back to Cleveland every weekend. We shoot Tuesday through Thursday then we head back to Cleveland.

I asked him to describe a typical day off for America's Favorite Chef. "I'm an early riser," he offered, "so I'm up usually by 5:30am. I head out and putz around the garden for about two hours or so, then I'll head out on the Harley to the gym, get a quick workout in and hopefully sneak in 18 holes of golf. After that I head back home about 1 or 2 o'clock and see what Lizzie wants for dinner and we hang out the rest of the day, me, Lizzie, Kyle and the dogs. I asked him "What's usually for dinner?" and he said "Well Lizzie is a vegetarian so oddly enough, being the meat chef, and I do eat a ton of meat, a lot of days I'll cook a vegetarian meal for both of us. The good thing is that with Lizzie being vegetarian, it always keeps me balanced."

I then asked Michael for the most important advice he would give to someone looking to make cheffing a career. "Be humble," he answered immediately, "learn something new everyday and don't be afraid of hard work because if there is one profession that truly rewards the hardest worker, it's this one." I followed up asking his advice to young culinary students. "I went to culinary school to be a chef and only a chef and maybe someday, own my own restaurant. If you're going to culinary school to be a chef , be a chef. Forget being on TV," he warned. "If you're angle is to be on TV, then you should go to school for the arts and learn to cook along the way" He also offered some advice to the aspiring home cook who wants to up their game in the kitchen. "Learn the techniques, not the particular recipes. If you learn the techniques, then you can make any recipe and make it your own."

I then turned the questions to a subject we both have in common; Our love. respect and admiration for Chef Jacques Pepin. Michael's has been quoted as saying that Jacques has been the most influential TV chef of all time. I asked him to expound on that a bit. "The thing that I love about Jacques is every time you watch him on TV, you learn something. From that, he has still made it entertaining and fun. More so than all those things, he is one of the most humble, caring people you'll ever come across." I can attest to this. A few years ago, after sitting with Jacques and casually discussing food and cheffing over coffee, he suddenly invited me to spend the day with him and have lunch at the International Culinary Center in New York City. Little ol me! Truly a bucket list moment for me. I asked Michael if he had a personal anecdote about he and Jacques that impacted his life.

"I was really lucky." he stated, "I was the executive chef of a restaurant called Giovanni's in Cleveland. I was 24. Jacques was in town and I got a call from his culinary producer, Susie Heller, whom I knew, and she told me she was bringing Jacques and Julia (Child) in for dinner." He laughed, "Lou, I was literally a trembling mess. I went out after the meal to say hello and he said, 'I loved the meal. I loved it because it was so simple.' I'll always remember that and it's always how I've tried to cook. Clean and simple. I remember he had a veal chop with morel mushrooms" It was immediately obvious in that statement that this was a special moment for Michael and I remarked to him that I thought it telling that even 22 years later, he remembered the evening and exactly what he prepared as if it were yesterday. Cool story.

As we finished up I asked him one last question pertaining to the Fabulous Food Show held each November in Cleveland and the place where I first met him. As it his Michael's hometown, it seems a special show for him. Invariably as we sit backstage in the talent's Green Room as it were, which has the talent trailers, lounging area with food and so forth, it seems Michael's entire family comes to visit. I have met his mom, dad, aunts uncles and cousins as they've enjoyed these small family reunions. I asked him what's so special about doing the show. "I think that because of the size of it you really get to interact with the people that come to it. Though it's a big show, it has a very intimate homey feel to it. It has a warm Mid-West feel to it. I just think it's a special show. And, Lou, anytime you can do a show and your mom can come see you from 10 minutes away, it's a good show."

It's seems there is no slowing down for this driven, dynamic chef. Michael revealed that he has a new show debuting on Food Network, Friday July 10th, but that was all he could share. Long-standing contractual clauses containing stiff penalties for disclosing specifics regarding any Food Network shows in production remain in force.

Cleveland's Iron Chef says he will continue co-hosting his popular ABC-TV daytime show, The Chew. His most recent Food Network series, All-Star Academy, in which he mentored a team of home cooks while vying against star chefs Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli and Curtis Stone, just concluded.

To connect with Michael, visit his website, or connect with him via social media on Twitter: @chefsymon, Facebook; Michael D. Symon and Instagram: @chefsymon
Michael also has a series of cookbooks, t-shirts, hats and more, all available here: Cookbooks and more....

I hope you've enjoyed reading this brief glimpse inside the world of Chef Michael Symon as much as I did bringing it to you!

Until next time, 

Bon Appetit, 


Sunday, June 14, 2015

History & Origins of The Florida Keys & The Conch Republic

For centuries, The Keys have been the crossroads for pirates, writers, artists and bon vivants from Cuba, France, England and the United States. The cuisine has become a melding of all of these influences and combined with the abundance of fresh fish, shellfish as well as tropical fruits and vegetables, has given the keys its distinctive Floribbean moniker. Check out this article about Keys Cuisine here. Say 'The Keys' and most people immediately envision turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and palm trees blowing in the trade-winds. The phrase tropical party comes to mind.

Taking it back a bit further, I'd like to explore the very origins of life on the Keys and that means going back to the year 1513 and Ponce de Leon. He named the Keys, Los Martirs, the martyrs, and Spain's influence, while using the keys as a landmark in ferrying gold and silver back to Sapin, is still felt today.

When the first Spanish explorers approached the Florida shores in the 16th century as they searched for rumored gold and eternal youth, a number of native Indian tribes had long resided throughout the peninsula and on its surrounding islands. The southernmost regions were dominated by the Tequestas and the Calusas, who thrived on the abundance provided by the sea and the rich coastal lands.

Like the other early Florida tribes, the Tequestas and Calusas eventually disappeared with the coming of Western civilization and its accompanying diseases and conquering spirit. Some of the void was filled by other natives, Creek Indians who slowly moved into the southern states. They were neither welcomed nor beloved by the European and American settlers. They came to be called "Seminoles", a name perhaps corrupted from the Spanish word cimarron, meaning wild or from the Creek words ishti semoli, meaning wildmen, outlanders or separatists.

One contemporary chronicler of explorer Ponce de Leon, observing the chain of islands on the horizon, said they appeared as men who were suffering; hence they were given the name Los Martires or "the martyrs." No one knows exactly when the first European set foot on one of the Keys, but as exploration and shipping increased, the islands became prominent on nautical maps. The nearby treacherous coral reefs claimed many actual seafaring "martyrs" from the time of early recorded history. The chain was eventually called "keys", also attributed to the Spanish, from cayos, meaning "small islands."

In 1763, the Spanish ceded Florida to the British in a trade for the port of Havana. The treaty was unclear as to the status of the Keys. An agent of the King of Spain claimed that the islands, rich in fish, turtles and mahogany for shipbuilding, were part of Cuba, fearing that the English might build fortresses and dominate the shipping lanes. The British also realized the treaty was ambiguous, but declared that the Keys should be occupied and defended as part of Florida. The British claim was never officially contested. Ironically, the British gave the islands back to Spain in 1783, to keep them out of the hands of the United States, but in 1821 all of Florida, including the necklace of islands, officially became American territory.

In the early 1900's, travel between many of these islands was only possible by boat. A modern pioneer, Henry Morrison Flagler, claims responsibility for providing the first civilized access to the Keys. He dreamed of extending the Florida East Coast Railway from Homestead to Key West. His dream was realized in 1912, after years of extreme physical hardship for the engineers and laborers who designed and built it.

After the 1935 Labor Day hurricane destroyed the railroad, it was replaced by the Overseas Highway in 1938. The highway has since been widened and modernized and now more than 40 bridges connect these islands, like a Caribbean necklace, for more than 126 miles.

Though most of the Florida Keys remained remote and inaccessible until well into the 20th century, their history glitters with romantic tales of pirates, fortunes gleaned from unfortunate shipwrecks, brief heydays for several island cities, struggling pioneer farmers and occasional military occupation. Huh? Military Occupation? Really? Read on...

The Conch Republic: 

(excerpts are from the Brief History, on the official website of the Conch Republic):

"The Conch Republic was established by secession of the Florida Keys from the United States of America, on April 23rd, 1982 in response to a United States Border Patrol Blockade setup on highway U.S.1 at Florida City just to the north of the Florida Keys. This heinous act effectively isolated Keys Citizens from the U.S. mainland since the blockade was on our only land artery to and from the mainland. This roadblock portrayed Keys residents as non-U.S. citizens who had to prove their citizenship in order to drive onto the Florida mainland! Hardly an American thing to do!

We protested! A totally American thing to do! Key West Mayor Dennis Wardlow along with a few other 'key' Conchs, went to Federal court in Miami to seek an injunction to stop the federal blockade, but to no avail. Upon leaving the Federal Court House , on the court house steps , Mayor Wardlow announced to the world, by way of the assembled TV crews and reporters, that ; "Tomorrow at noon the Florida Keys will secede from the Union!"

At noon, on the day of secession, at Mallory Square in Key West Florida, Mayor Wardlow read the proclamation of secession and proclaimed aloud that the Conch Republic was an independent nation separate from the U.S. and then symbolically began the Conch Republic's Civil Rebellion by breaking a loaf of stale Cuban bread over the head of a man dressed in a U.S. Navy uniform. After one minute of rebellion, the now, Prime Minister Wardlow turned to the Admiral in charge of the Navy Base at Key West, and surrendered to the Union Forces, and demanded 1 Billion dollars in foreign aid and War Relief to rebuild our nation after the long Federal siege!

Thus began the Conch Republic journey, which still continues today! We are both Conchs and we are Americans and we are proud to be both. By act of Congress we hold dual citizenship as Conchs and as Americans and will fight for the right to be both!

Contrary to recent reports, the name "Conch Republic" refers to "all"of the Florida Keys, or, that geographic apportionment of land that falls within the legally defined boundaries of Monroe County Florida, northward to "Skeeter's Last Chance Saloon" in Florida City, Dade County Florida, with Key West as the Nation's Capitol and all territories north of Key West being referred to as "The Northern Territories." Be it known that these boundaries were established by the U.S. Government when they set up "THE" Border Patrol blockade in front of "Skeeter's Last Chance Saloon", in April of 1982, thereby establishing a new United States border!

To enforce the validity of our secession, the Monroe County Commission, in 1994, by unanimous vote, did pass a County Resolution recognizing Mayor Wardlow's actions, on the 23rd of April in 1982, as by, of and for the people of the Florida Keys.

The Conch Republic's Official Position

The Conch Republic has it's own Passports, and has had citizens and Diplomats received by thirteen Caribbean countries, Mexico, Sweden, Russia, France, Spain, Ireland and Germany. The Conch Republic has Conch-sulates in Switzerland, Havana, Maine and New Orleans.

The Conch Republic has as its stated Foreign Policy, "The Mitigation of World Tension through the Exercise of Humor." As the world's first "Fifth World" country, we exist as a "State of Mind," and aspire only to bring more Warmth, Humor and Respect to a planet we find in sore need of all three.

The Conch Republic has conch-ceived several World Firsts. We are the first country in the world to require its citizens to obey local customs as well as laws. The Conch Republic is the world's first functioning Meritocracy whereby anyone that sees a job that needs doing can do it, and be recognized in that position. We are the first country to recognize the conch-cept of the "World Principle of Human Rights and Ambitions," because what are rights without the ability to realize ambitions?

We celebrate our Independence annually in a "public and notorious manner" during a ten day Conch Republic Independence Celebration which is held in April of every year."

For more information, conch-tact: The Honorable Sir Peter Anderson, at: Office of the Secretary General P.O. Box 658, Key West, FL/CR 33041 - 6583 Phone: 305-296-0213, FAX: 305-296-8803

Bon Appetit,