Category Archives: Dining

Agatha Christie punks Plato; MacGyver, great inventions & perfect pencils…

A sub-continuation and tangentoid:

And the greatest of all inventors is: Accidents—

They happen…

522756_10150808745566041_675659681_nPlato may have been a bit of a know it all, back in the days when knowing nothing actually meant something— but I think he dropped the ball and let it run away from himself a tad, when he cited ‘necessity’ as the ‘true creator’, owing to ‘it’ being invention’s mother. I find that just a little bit creepy— and though it has a certain elegance to it; Agatha Christie’s rebuttal: I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention. Invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness— to save oneself trouble, hits closer to the bull.

So whether it is something creepy, idleness, dissatisfaction; or something quite accidental that compels us to create— there should still be somewhere to go, to help necessitate our clumsiness; especially if an emergency dictates it. The fact it works around the other way just adds to the flavour.

Have you ever been caught short with a dozen house guests on the way a day earlier than expected,and found you had nothing to feed them but rubber bands and shoe polish? Because I assure you that not only would it taint the entire evening and your guests ability to taste anything for a week— the vol-au-vent would end up a little— how does one put it? Chewy.

Fortunately, I’m not speaking from experience because, surprise-surprise it’s never happened. But if it had and I were someone other than me— I’d be crying out for the website that sadly does not exist— but should.

As good as Google or that Jeeves chap may be with the ins and outs of how best to bake the perfect plum-duff— He doesn’t really have the answers to practical, everyday problems involving malevolent computers; how to prevent your coffee from tasting of fish; or feed a dozen hungry people with household products without killing them; or without at least, turning their mouths a funny colour.

Now this could be simply, a matter of testosterone, but I don’t think suggesting we drug the poor fellow would go down too well. Not after all the tireless help he gives children with their homework.

This website could be the solution:

Ask MacGyver!

Just because he has the know-how to make Gatling Guns from paper clips doesn’t mean he’s going to divulge potentially lethal information to children. That sort of thing would be strictly limited to the grown ups.

So my idea is to entice MacGyver out of retirement, where ever that may be— and have him help salvage peoples’ dinner parties and protect them against invasion armies with nothing but the contents of a child’s pencil case…

Even perfect people buy pencils with erasures on them;

Except me of course…

And I’m quite aware of the consequences of writing that!

I used to love a bit of mouse with my vampirism until the cat started looking at me funny…

From Woman to mouse:

It’s a very odd thing—

As odd as can be

That what ever Miss T eats

Turns into Miss T.

Walter De La Mare, Miss T.

IMG_7102As much as I used to love turning into a mouse, it kind of gets to you after a while. The ears are pretty cute if cute’s your thing, which it’s not, wasn’t or ever likely to be, so I’m looking for something else to be— and if I’ve learnt anything over the last few days, it’s that the female of species is distinctly off-limits.

You could say I’m on the market for a new barrel— a furry one, something that floats and preferably— something that tastes goood. Especially since I am having an extended vowel sound day…

I was chatting with my friend Delfinus some time ago about a similar subject. She’s from Illinois and unfortunately for her, had a peculiar blood condition which left her symptomatic of something rather less than alive, so there was not much else to do other than find a way to laugh at it. This was all pre-vamp chic, so being bitten by a vampires wasn’t quite the vogue it is today; and for a Christian: becoming affiliated with the dark side, had certain social quandaries and a similar ring to a teen-aged boys first foray into Playboy ownership.

Why else do you think we would’ve been discussing eating our neighbours pets?

She was philosophical about it, though it did get her down at times. It can’t be easy making friends with people and then eating them, can it? I’d even toyed with the idea of getting Hag to give her a few tips on what species of flesh tastes best and how to prepare it when you are in a spot— perhaps even consider opening an eatery for other Lords of the Undead, calling it Killer’s, specialising in corpses to go. But then again, I thought it for-the-best that not too many people find out about either of them, unless there were to be incentives like how to carve a wooden steak.

Like I was saying first of all, this mouse charade had to stop. I loved the ‘eeek-ing’ and I loved the fact I got to eat my weight in cheese whenever the transformation took place; but Autumn had started to give me looks. Brave she may not’ve beeen— since ‘positively cowardly’ is the only ‘pc’ in her routinebut when it came to getting a scamper on with only a couple of ‘eeeks!’ to defend myself, there are few realistic stands worth a chance in hell to bet against surviving even if there was nothing remotely regimental about my cat.

This I suppose is still a dilemma, because it’s only a matter of time before I get eaten by something. And if I’m gonna get eaten, I want to taste goood!

Call me old fashioned, but I can’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant and found mouse on the menucat on the other hand? So I think I’m justified therefore, to conclude that they aren’t the best tasting rodent on the face of the earth. I wouldn’t even like to begin to imagine how much meat you’d get off one… Well, not again:

The last time I did, I declared that we should get a discount on the blind ones, only to be told that they were Chef’s speciality— reared in complete darkness in a cage strapped to the back of retired pit-ponies; something to do with the price of canaries spiralling out of control— and since they were gong to be killed anyway, it was cost effective to use them instead of the birds.

‘It all adds to the flavour’, said one old boy. ‘Thems there mices are bloody ‘eroes. Taste better then them others do too. ‘

To which I added very little but a wry smile and decided to try the fricassee’d panda. There is no doubt in my mind, that if they tasted like chicken there’d be millions of them— so dispute that at your peril.

So mouse-meat would not fill you up and in all honesty, would probably be bland. I find rabbit a little bland and they have a great deal more going for them then mice— but they don’t really have enough variation of sound to warrant a full coolness rating; much like the Martians, but they get discounted owing to their leathery skin; and our future monkey overlords who haven’t yet been introduced to the narrative— and besides I’ve already stated that I consider their meat to be a little tasteless.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is, that if I had to eat someone or something, I’m betting it’s the ones I love that tastes better. Take Autumn or instance. My special lady she may be, but if it came down to having to eat her or some dog of the street. I’d eat her. If I had the choice to eat someone I had genuine affection for or a contemptible prick— I’d choose my friend…

This wouldn’t land me in good stead if mine were the only family left standing after a catastrophic event leaving the globe unpopulated. Between the green blood coursing through Toebag’s veins and Hag— I’d rather suffer the fate of the Stephen King’s Survivor Type as opposed to tucking into either one of those two. At least I know I’d taste sweeet.

And so…

Since I’ve failed miserably in my attempt to make a point by neglecting the original reason for making it in the first place and ended up making several completely different ones; I’m not sure whether I should elaborate on my meat theories— which are rather wonderful; further my discussion on the animals I fancy becoming when the moment takes my fancy;  why Hag would make such a poor hor d’eourve; pointing-pictures, monkey kings; the website that does tell you how to prepare rogue flesh when you are in a spot; or why cosmetic labels are linguistic wonders.

I guess either way it’s going to be a busy week.

Back to the dinner plate; for it is my drawing board—

And today my pen’s a knife and fork…

By all means, you’re welcome to eat any way you see fit; I’ll just use the spoon…

Neither electricity nor pomposity is the silent servant; it is manners—

Recalled with the assistance of Conrad, The Wine Wanker

nouvelle_cuisine_cartoonThere are people who mean what they think, then say what they mean; and some are just mean and don’t think, then say whatever they damn-well please.

I am not renown for being pompous. It is however a useful tool to have in your armoury, particularly when it needs to be pointed out in others. As a communication method, it is practically impossible to take seriously, thereby lending its itself perfectly to other more declarative forms of expression. But under no circumstances would I advise for, the pompous rhetorical question: that would be in shockingly poor taste. Especially when it involves food.

When used for bringing volume to one’s airs in a manner more supercilious than enlightening however, I find the very register of immediate comic effect. It can sound so aloof and so lofty that I’d have little trouble receiving the positions of cannibals, revolutionaries, reactionaries, nuisance-callers, even vegans owing to the very towering nature of their argument. This is something I fail to see as bad thing, because in the end gravity always wins.

It’s actually a style I like to frequent from time to time, as it puts me in mind of a more civilised time and affords me the use of a lexicon that would otherwise look out of place and silly. Add to that an inwardly facing superiority, whereby rendering only myself as little foolish and it makes the business of remembering things a somewhat pleasant jolly. So with that throw-back in mind, I’d like to cast back some twenty years to Rheims, the world’s champagne capitol.

Rheims was hosting a week long, sister-city ceremony with the Germans, Austrians and Italians and of course the Britainnians for sporting events, drama, frivolity, art and food, with the intention to bring together the very best of our national and cultural identities and celebrating our differences. The Maastrict treaty was in its infancy, so it was a all a bit of a to-do.

Anyway, I had been selected for Canterbury’s cricket team and we had been selected to travel with the rugby squad— a term I use lightly: not before nor since have I ever witnessed beer-swilling quite like it in a bus, nor the heckling; as not a single lady escaped the collective cheers of Nicole Papa along the route, as our burly continent appropriated the same side of the bus to suck the windows. The driver was certainly nonplussed, harvesting fears, as some of us were, that we might at any moment capsize; fears, in no way allied by my impression that rugby was supposed to be a game played by gentleman. My dad however, was just praying they didn’t burst into the chicken song.

Upon arrival, we checked in to our hotels then made our way to the town-centre to be entertained by a gathering of troupes from our respective homelands. It was magnificent, the costumes, mediaeval weaponry, assorted acrobatics, the costumes and colour. It was pageantry at it’s very finest, all meticulously choreographed and splendid— until we found the British.

For all of the rich and vibrant history we boast, our contribution to this culturally dynamic affair, was Morris dancing: a side of black-faced, befeathered men and women in boiler-suits trying to brain each other with big sticks and bells. I cringed. There wasn’t a canon or spadroon in sight, just Morris dancing— and not even the type I mind least. Not only did it have an improvised feel to it, but when the mascot attempted to juggle with one ball, he dropped it.

To describe it as as a bit of a let down would be gross, but with the banquet at the mayor’s residence to look forward to, not to mention the cricket, the gala and evening laser-show— there was plenty potential to wipe the disappointment bare and salvage the experience. That was the hope anyway. Actual hope, and then the dinner happened…

You’ll have to imagine the dining hall for yourselves: hundreds of years old, a vast ceiling laden with gold leaf and quite the most exquisite carpentry. The tables were round and we were seated randomly for the most part— I found space for our group so we could dine as one and alighted with genuine excitement. It just so happened we ended up sharing a table with the chairman of one of the Arts Committees— no doubt the chap responsible for the fiasco earlier; and it wasn’t long before all the hopes and joy began to seep away.

If you’ll permit me, I must impress upon you how noisy his style was. He spoke loudly, his word choices thunderous. I think without labouring the point, you’ll know the type: he wanted to be in charge of the dinner table; in fact, left to his own devices, I’m sure he would’ve eaten our meals for us too. Unfortunately for us, he made it so we could hear everything he said, and the next table and quite possibly the table next to that.

I have mellowed a lot since then in a number of ways— I have become more tolerant of things others may say to me, about me or even near me— now whether or not these things are in the best of intentions or otherwise, what I do object to, now, just as I did then, is having manners thrust upon me. I deplore rudeness you see: it takes the same amount of time and effort to be pleasant as it does to be a dick; it never ceases to amaze me why certain fellows would choose the latter?

So, long before even the starters had been served, it had been impossible— quite impossible to ignore all the chat about etiquette. It was etiquette this and etiquette that and etiquette, etiquette, etiquette. To be fair to him, I had considered he may have been overcome by the splendour, but as long as he kept himself to himself. I may have been young, but I certainly knew not to eat from the inside out.

Suffice to say, I was taking an ever increasing dislike to him and his nose. When they are decidedly upturned, endearing yourself to another is quite the gift, and nostril-hair is the last thing you want to be thinking about before tucking into a posh meal. So when this chap leaned over, obviously mistaking us for riff-raff and reminded us exactly where we were and not to forget our etiquette, I turned to him and smiled and with as rounded and precise a smile as I’ve ever made, and told him ‘bollocks!’.

Then proceeded to eat my entire meal with a spoon..

Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential

True story…

Image: Royston Cartoons

Home is any four walls that enclose the right person…

Which wouldn’t be me. As for Asbo

Just the wrong kind of walls…

424980_10150708723606041_1819417037_nWere it not for the house-sitting I’ve been doing for my sister, I would no doubt have finished the few things I’ve been working on; I’d been looking forward to it too— but after spending most of today getting over yesterday; which was spent in much the same way as today; and then moving back: I’m in a full-blown phase-state. I’m sure you’ll all know a variance of it well: a lack of decent sleep leaving you feeling half-awake, physically drained and not too clever; have work in your head but getting to it requires the services of the part of your brain’s that’s already in bed.

This is what shifting houses can do to me, it can throw me out of whack, out of sleep and leave me rather worse for wear; and this is before factoring in Asbo the anti-social beast my sister calls a pet. I should ideally have come home during the day, sat at my table with my view, next to the kitchen and been irritated by my own cat: she’s allowed to do that, she’s a monster I can take all the credit for, but Asbo— though he’s a magnificent looking creature, he has an inherency to maim and strike fear into you. Physically, it’d be all too easy to describe him as low-maintenance because he’s either indoors sleeping or outside prowling— but that doesn’t take into account the time spent dressing the assorted wounds he inflicts as a matter of course. In deed, thirty seconds after arriving on Tuesday, I was bleeding from where my right calf used to be.

My sister thinks this is all wonderfully amusing, it’s just her way— she actually called me up to see how things were going and if she was surprised I was still able to answer the phone she hid it well. She said there was some chicken that Asbo and I could share if we wanted. I told her he hadn’t asked for any and of course, she felt the need to point out, he’s a cat, of course he hasn’t asked you… I told her I’d just eaten and’d left some for later— she said, Oh, you’d better check that…

“The little shit, he’s…”

What’s he done?”   *snorting*

“He’s finished my sodding dinner!”

What was it?”   *still snorting*

“Chicken… Don’t you dare!

“So he did want some chicken…”

“&%$£%$!”

*click*

Neither my dinner, nor the cat was anywhere to be seen…

Anyway, the other side of physical side is the stressy side— the anxiety of letting him loose, which isn’t much worse than knowing I’m in the house alone with him. It’s just I like to know that if he wants back in, I’ll be ready; maybe in some deluded way hoping that he’ll return the favour by not mauling me every time he sees me.

So naturally the knock on effect isn’t much fun; I feel slow and far, far duller than is usually the case. I need a quiet evening with the doorbell unplugged and a decent night’s sleep, then hopefully, I’ll be able to finish some work.

A man is like a cat; chase him and he will run—

Sit still and ignore him and he’ll come purring at your feet…

Helen Rowland

Mince & the disappointment of a meal gone wrong: if you cook in bad-taste, your product will be plentiful in it…

Food is an important part of a balanced diet—

Fran Lebowitz

522756_10150808745566041_675659681_nI like my kitchen, always have— I’m in it at the minute. I’m close to the kettle so a nice cup of tea is never far from reach; I tend not to snack particularly, but if I fancy a hearty round of ‘wiches, I don’t have very far to move.

As it happens, I’m also quite partial to cooking. I have a few signature dishes that I whip-up every now and then but one night decided to cook a simple mince-dish: easy-peasy right?

I like to think of a meal made from mince like a bicycle accident— easy to do but occasionally hazardous to health. I’m sure that if time were no obstacle I’d add mince to my already brimming list of clutter which really deserves a graph of some kind. But it isn’t on my list, yet— it’ll have to wait its turn along with experimental mathematics, back-burners, high-hopes and the probability of inevitable things.

Anyway, I’m digressing because my culinary plan was flawed before I’d began but it wasn’t until the mince had started to defrost that I realised I had too few ingredients. No peppers or mushrooms or any vegetation for that matter— greens-schmeens, just details, a minor over-sight, I thought. I’d learned long ago that any delicacy, mince-wise or otherwise can be made all the more fragile by bombing it with anything healthy.

I like to think of what happened next as a kind of playtime— egged on by the uncontrollable childish regression genie that’s almost impossible to re-bottle once out. I had what I thought was the wonderful idea: I could use kidney beans and tinned tomatoes to make up for the ingredient that wasn’t there … and blending the be-Jesus out of them.

Out came the Kenwood and with it, my utmost to make a mess and a mockery of the most basic kitchen etiquettes … and blend. Not because it would improve the meal in any way, in fact I distinctly remember thinking, how horribly wrong it could go, but— because it felt sneaky, and after realising, again long ago that cooking was just a caper for grown-ups; that knives and hand-held mixers were really just toys: how could I not? I decided to add three whole onions and blend those too.

And then I found the garlic…

I do like the stuff, but since I was being typically over-zealous, I got a little carried away and started mashing it, adding clove after clove— mainly because I enjoyed playing with the crushy-handle-thing you use to kill it. I couldn’t stop.

If you can imagine the properties of freshly mixed cement, you’d be on the right track in imagining what I had recreated it in my kitchen. It didn’t actually taste that bad at first. It was pretty fucking bad, don’t get me wrong— I managed to finish what I served myself up, bat I did with the rest is another matter.

If revenge is a dish best served cold, then the best dish warm would be mince; I shudder still, recalling it.

By the following day all the sense of fun and wide-eyed joy I’d had beating my ingredients as though harbouring ill thoughts against them was gone. The tearing and shredding and the foaming at the mouth over the really good bits was a distant memory. It was all replaced with the disappointment of allowing exuberance get the better of me. You see, If you cook in bad-taste; without any doubt, your product will be plentiful in it.

Leaving it over night a couple of times however gave me ample time with which to pull out all the stops and solve it’s mysteries and in due time found inspiration in The Great Escape— if you recall, they needed to destroy the dirt from the tunnels and found they couldn’t— not one of their most ‘positively brilliant’ pieces of thinking but maybe, just maybe … I could dilute it? Wean some of the vast quantities of garlic in it to a more palatable level. If I couldn’t, I’d just disguise it…

I remember it was an idea which had me grinning at the myriad possibilities. I even toyed with the notion of filling up a couple of socks with grated cheese, placing them in my trousers and using my feet to hide the offending taste, but I abandoned it, worried about becoming just another statistic. I don’t think any of us like to think we’re influenced by the what we watch— especially whilst preparing meals in a kitchen during peace-time.

It was such a horrid waste of cheese…

My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky.

William Faulkner

The purpose of Jasper & outwitting superstitious dining practices with sawdust…

I’m a firm believer that we make our own bad luck—

We can’t just have it the one way, surely— it’s just not democratic…

418838_10151214975596041_1406077767_nI like to think of the purpose of Jasper as a blessing; one of wonderment— and for those of you who find yourselves caught short at the dinner table; whether it be over-blessed with company, or under for that matter— a Jasper is a handy thing to have at hand, since no one would wish an unusual fatality to occur to someone you’d only just dined with.

There’s only one drawback, it’s fairly minor, to a point— but drawbacks by definition, does not plain-sailing make. Jasper is a stuffed cat; not the most ubiquitous of items I know. In fact I can safely say I’ve never had the fortune of observing; or the misfortune of having missed one being plucked from the bottom of a woman’s hand-bag instead of a lipstick. I’m sure however, that if I live long enough— it may just happen. I know enough to know that these are bottoms that do indeed hold some strange, strange stuff.

The story goes, that a hundred years or so— I’m not entirely sure when exactly but it’s usually a hundred years or so. Besides, if it wasn’t it should’ve been that a group of hungry people were due to meet for dinner at The Savoy, but one of the party members couldn’t make it, so naturally, as was the case a hundred years ago when everything was unexplainable and spooky: thirteen diners remained.

Now, with ‘thirteen’ being a number synonymous with bad luck even then— as if they didn’t have the monopoly on weird already, the last man to sit at the table was sure to became afflicted with doom of some kind; and this despite repeated warnings that congregating in such numbers was ‘not on’. Anyway, the gentlemen took his chair, the waiter told to ‘shoo’ no doubt flippantly at the same time assuring him that he was well aware of the risks and so on and so forth.

A couple of weeks later however, when word got back that the chap had died in the most bizarre of manners upon his return to South Africa, it was decided that for whatever the reasons: should a party of thirteen meet and dine together at The Savoy. Jasper, the stuffed cat, would take a seat and have a place set for him in the fourteenth chair…

Hemmingway was on the right track when he wrote—

The road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs.

But he was more into his cats with-many-toes, and would no doubt have approved…