Waterfront party complete with castanets and cassoulet

Nelson Lewis shares his life experiences as well as his favourite recipes

I don’t plan to write about the Mediterranean coast and the surrounding area forever, but I do have a great recipe for you from that part of the world.

But first let me tell you how I got the Cassoulet recipe.

We were tied up in the shipyards of Gibraltar fro a few extra days after the rest of the fleet had already gone back to sea. We had some problems in the engineering department if I remember correctly.

In any case, the staff of our favourite bar on the waterfront decided to throw us a party. After all, we were very good customers.

They set up a cookout for us about a mile from the shipyards in an area known as “no mans land” between Spain and Gibraltar. It was something to see: a whole lamb on a spit, salads of all kinds and platters of steaming vegetables that covered every inch of a big table.

Of course, there was plenty of good French bread on a side table, and then the Piece de Resistance—two huge pots of Cassoulet that had been simmering in a pit all day.

When they dug up that Cassoulet I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The aroma was well beyond fantastic.

We ate until we were stuffed and washed it down with lots of good Spanish wine. BY four in the morning, everybody was in a mellow mood and when the British shore patrol showed up along with some local cops and the american shore patrol, we invited them all to the party.

They were only too happy to join in the festivities. I guess it was a slow night what with most of the ships—and sailors—already at sea.

One of the Spaniards had a guitar and somebody else had a violin and in no time flat we had an impromptu band complete with castanets and dancing girls. Some party.

We got back to the shipping time for the “hands fall in”. Needless to say I headed straight to my hammock, but the chief cook had other ideas. In other words it was a long day.

Here is my version of that wonderful Cassoulet.


1 cup dry beans

2 cups water

1 cup meat (lamb, chicken or beef)

1/4 cup Dijon style mustard

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup ketchup

1/2 onion, diced

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 tsp. white pepper

1/4 tsp. thyme

1/4 tsp. marjoram

1/4 tsp. to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. salt


Soak the beans overnight in the water. Now add the mustard, soy sauce, ketchup, onion, garlic, sugar, molasses, pepper, thyme, marjoram and cayenne pepper.

Put everything in a casserole, including the meat, putty on a lid and bake for one hour at F 250. Season to taste(salt, pepper, etc.) and add one cup beer or red wine.

Bake another hour, correct the seasonings and add liquid if its dry. Check the meat and be sure it is very tender. Serve with French bread, a green salad and wine or beer. Enjoy.

See Ya Next Week!