Monday, September 21, 2009

A Cock-up on the Catering Front

Example of a Cock-up on the Linguistic Front (1)

For further explanation, go to footnote 1, for my story of a cock-up on the culinary front, read on:

You would have thought that someone with a food blog would want to cook for their friends, especially those they don't see all that often, those who have to travel a fair few miles, friends like my 'girls': 'my College friends'. -- 'College' and 'girls' both being somewhat misleading, as the place where we met was a Polytechnic, and the time so long ago that none of us fit the description of 'girl' anymore (though some of us try...).

I can't even start to express how much I wished I had cooked.

But as soon as we approached Monday, I knew I'd be working flat out just getting the rooms sorted. Somehow or other, I have never actually defined "A lot on my plate" in terms of the long list of items that I should be doing, or more precisely,
should have been doing for quite some time. For quite some decades!
Without going into the question which mental condition this is symptomatic for, beyond straight-forward procrastination, suffice it to say that the list has never got any shorter, or the plate any emptier. Empty, in actual fact, does not seem to be in my user manual - every room of the house is so crammed full of stuff that only on a good day may you venture from one end to the other and open the curtains or the window. (It isn't yet quite a case of "tunnels only"(2), but we're getting there.)

Now, instead of getting on with it immediately, Monday was dedicated to mourning the Crown Prince's departure, which prompted me to start a new blog. The usual delaying tactic of rather writing about your inadequacies than doing anything about them. To cut a long story short, it wasn't before Wednesday that I started attacking Ben's filthy room (I gathered 2 washing baskets full of dirty clothes in the process), and with a whole day spent at Aston University for the Matthew Boulton lectures on Thursday, it wasn't until the arrival day itself that I managed to cut trenches into the jungle that is Dom's old room.

There was no time to shop, let alone cook. A take away it was going to be. We ventured out and had a look at the plethora of restaurants/take-aways in walking distance (3 Chinese, 2 Pizza places, 2 Indian restaurants, and a Fish & Chips). We chose Chinese and ordered 3 Vegetarian dishes and one with King Prawns. To our utter shock and horror, when we got home and opened the dishes, we found that all of the Vegetarian options contained meat - chicken, beef, prawns, all thrown in, as if to say - you didn't specify which, so we've given you a mixture. It was awful, because our Vegetarian friend now didn't have anything to eat other than egg fried rice and noodles. What on earth were they thinking?
It was very late and we were very hungry, so we didn't even take it back.
Has anybody else ever had such a strange experience?

For the derivation and meaning of 'cock-up', see here.
For 'Lost in Translation in Swansea', see here.

For further reference, see here and here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

RIP Keith Floyd

Choucroute d'Alsace

I wonder how many of my fellow food bloggers in the UK felt the urge to cook something special last night in memory of Keith Floyd, the incorrigible cook and TV presenter, who had died the night before. It was a particular shock as on that very night, the BBC had broadcast a programme about him. I couldn't help wondering whether watching it had given him the heart attack - Floyd had looked frail enough during the filming, and I don't think the Keith Allen led documentary did him any favours.

Let's rather remember his larger than life exuberance, his lack of reverence, and the abundance and abandon he brought to British cooking. I got out Floyd on France, cracked open a bottle of wine, and Choucroute d'Alsace is what I ended up with.

"Trust you to hone in on a region the Germans invaded", was Mr ALOMP's reaction to the rather Teutonic, meat and Sauerkraut dominated dish. Hmm, yes, apparently due to domestic pulling powers, such as 'what do I actually have in?' (I'm German, so I always have Sauerkraut in) and 'what needs to be used up?' (smoked ham, smoked sausage - both Polish, but then, so were the ancestors if you go back far enough), I had to forego Floyd's maxims "careful shopping" and "fresh ingredients", and decided on an approximation of the dish featured on page 227. But maybe there was more to it? Maybe all that talk of good, honest, hearty home cooking had me salivating for childhood fare? (Come to think of it - at the Malmö Food Festival, of all the international dishes I could have gone for, I had plumped for Bigos - the Sauerkraut based Polish Classic, interestingly sometimes referred to as Silesian Bigos, Silesia being the area my Mum is from.)

In any case, it had made me block out the fact that neither of my remaining men (D eventually off to explore the Capital of the fatherland, or rather, in our case, the motherland) like Sauerkraut, a fact which wasn't helped by the only one of Floyd's maxims I adhered to - "an unhurried approach" - which resulted in the food being served very late. They ate it all but they didn't love it. Whereas I have to admit, I did. In rather colloquial German, "Ich hätte mich da reinsetzen können" - roughly translated, "I could have settled in it".

Oh yes, there was plenty of Riesling in the Sauerkraut and I also made Poires au vin rouge (p 33). Needless to say copious amounts of red and white were also imbibed. Ah, no one quite like Keith Floyd! I very much hope that he ended as he did in the epilogue of Floyd on France:

"And me? I am sitting - another fallen star - waiting for the early train. But happy."