Posts from 23rd July 2004

Jul 04


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 718 views


KIDNEYS = feted by joyce, annoyingly fiddly to prepare, unspoilable
SKIN = crackling!!
TONGUE = does anyone cook their own these days? you never see it on sale raw: cold tongue = called PRESSED tongue in the olden days
HEART = good strong taste but hard to cook so it’s not chewy
LIVER = actually my favourite but easy to spoil by overcooking, when it goes grey and gravelly
LIGHTS = lungs i think: inside of a haggis anyway (with liver and heart)
SAUSAGEMEAT = Ears, lips, anus! = you’d think it wd go lower down but NO!! (mrs beeton has a recipe for “pig’s face” which is kinda unminced sausage i guess)
STOMACH: ie what goes outside the haggis except surely these days this is no longer actually a stomach
GIBLETS = boiled up for gravies usually
SWEETBREADS = pancreas & thymus, a legendary delicacy (but i never had it)
“SWEETBREADS” = euphemistic testicles (ditto)
BRAINS: my mum says she does an excellent “brains in butter” but she has never served it to me: “saveloy” is in fact a corruption of the word “cerebellum” but i don’t think they are made from brains any more
EYES = i am squeamish abt brains but this is beyond my limit i think
GIZZARDS = ile’s Lucy ie Madchen_In_Uniform has a horrible story abt buying tinned gizzards by mistake and opening them by even bigger mistake!!
PIZZLEMEAT: apart from that german cannibal guy, who the hell knows? he said not that nice but he undercooked his (his guest’s i mean) cz the other guy wz in a “hurry”

Lawyers who cook.

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 567 views

Lawyers who cook.

When I was telling my girlfriend about Jeffrey Steingarten, she wasn’t at all surprised he’d been a lawyer before jumping into food writing: “Sure,” she said. “He had a lot of money and since you can take clients to lunch, eating [unlike other hobbies like painting, skydiving, Tagalog prescriptive grammar] is something he could do on the job.”

I suppose there’s something to that. Steingarten has a clear bias in favor of French food — not simply “food in the French style,” but specifically food in France — which is hard to acquire in the States unless you actually have the money to go to France a lot.

But after that, I noticed that two of the food blogs I read regularly are written by lawyers — and then just now I discovered that even my favorite Filipino cooking blog is written by a lawyer.

I don’t have anything against lawyers or anything like that: but I’ve known a lot of them, both in food cities like New Orleans and elsewhere, partly because my ex was a paralegal. I knew a few who were big on restaurants, but they always talked about it as a social thing more than seeming to be an “educated eater” like Calvin Trillin. The only lawyer I ever remember talking about cooking was a friend of my parents when I was a kid, the first person to tell me I should try Thai food because I was complaining I couldn’t find enough spicy food.

So what’s up with that? Is there something specific about writing about food that’s going to appeal to the same sorts of folks as lawyering does? Is it purely coincidence? Is it a red T-shirt coincidence, where I’m only noticing it at all because it’s been mentioned recently?

Go to bed, Mr Swygart

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Go to bed, Mr Swygart

It’s bizarre what manner of shit the crap-telly-enthusiast can persuade themselves to stay up and watch, sometimes. Last night, for instance, it got to about quarter to two. I found myself sat in front of ever-dire cop series The District, where Craig T Nelson stomps about Doing The Right Thing and Telling It Straight etc. for an hour, and thought I might want to go to bed now, when suddenly it ends and 2001…Forever comes on. For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it involves a string of thirty-second snatches of music videos from a given year or on a given theme being played back to back while a very bored man from South Coast regional television quips over them. It can occasionally dig up something quite interesting – for those episodes dealing with the late eighties or early nineties, the clips are often interspersed with clips of highly disinterested interviewees talking shite about themselves on ‘The Music Box’, the music programme that South Coast regional television man used to do but doesn’t anymore. Look, it’s House Of Love. How silly they look now. Oh, and here’s Warrant. How silly they look now. And so on.

Anyway, 2001…Forever didn’t have any of that because they couldn’t get interviews with any of these people. Instead, we got a succession of clips of stuff seemingly designed specifically to demonstrate that this year’s charts haven’t been that wretched after all. 2001 was the year of new-meddle, of course, which led to fifteen solid minutes of me going “Oh GOD” as laconic regional TV man reminded me of the existence of OPM, Crazy Town, Alien Ant Farm, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Blink-182 (pre-‘I Miss You’) and Sum 41, one after the other. We would occasionally get brief respite, spots of Missy Elliott and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, then they’d go and do something daft like decide that the ideal thing to follow on from ‘Miss Jackson’ is Samantha effing Mumba. In between, South Coast regional television man points out that Mis-Teeq isn’t spelt properly. Still, if nothing else, it did serve as a timely reminder that Claire from Steps really did have a staggeringly cavernous mouth.

Anyway, that’s followed by Cybernet, which you could sort of argue is one of the better television programmes about computer games by virtue of not featuring Iain Lee or Dominik Diamond. What you get instead is an American man doing voiceover in the manner of the commentary track for SEGA Worldwide Soccer over clips of someone playing, I dunno, Onimusha 3 or something. “You are cast as a – JAPANESE SAMURAI – who must battle – EVIL WARLORDS. On your way, you will encounter -VILLAGERS – who will help you with – ITEMS.” Then he reviews them: “The – GRAPHICS – are STRONG, but it is let down by – POOR OPPONENT AI – which serves to – WEAKEN – the – GAMEPLAY.”

It’s all very entertaining for a minute or two, but then I kept switching over to Channel 4’s KOTV Classics, which entails edited highlights of old boxing matches being strung together for an hour. However, it’s the presentation that’s really worth watching for, whether it be the old commentators from the 60’s and 70’s whose style consists of saying nothing for about a minute then piping up with “Nino Benvenuti is from Italy,” or the modern-day sports presenter who does the links between fights and occasionally has to do some over-dubbed commentary, and always talks in the manner of a man who’s just finished doing some woodwork that he’s really pleased with – “And nowww, over to Frarrrnce to watch tough Gharrrnaian Ike “BAZOOKA!” Quarrrteyyy…” The real icing on the cake, however, is that the producers have decided to preface each bout with a mock newspaper front page carrying notable stories of the year in order to set the mood. Hence last night, a fight from 1950 got “KOREAN WAR STARTS – Formula One Racing”. Oh, and regardless of whatever year the fight took place in, there’s always a picture of Roy Jones Jr. at the top of the page.

But anyway – we flitted through that till we got to last night’s real main event, the thing I’d been eagerly anticipating – Planet Rock Profiles: JJ72.

The Planet Rock Profiles series are twenty minute programmes in which the hip bands of the day are interviewed by Irish TV type Tom Dunne, interspersed with clips from their fantastic videos. Last night, Tom was a bit excited. His introduction began by outlining the apocalyptic climate of manufactured pop in which the music lovers of today found themselves, all soulless and icky and ugh. But wait! What light shineth from yonder window? It’s JJ72, who, as Tom explains, “are a real band… who make real music… they play real gigs… they played Glastonbury…”

We then get a bit of interview with Fergal Matthews (the drummer) and Mark Greaney (guitar, singer, visionary genius). Fergal will say something and then sit there and look like he wants to punch you. Mark, on the other hand, sits there and is quite possibly the most boring man alive. He starts wittering on about how they were backstage at U2 and he wondered how many of the sound crew they really needed because it was all about the synergy between the four guys out there on the stage who had the synergy. I went to the kitchen to make a sandwich. i then ate the sandwich. I went back to the telly and Mark is still talking about the synergy. He has a very high yet strangely monotonous voice that sort of twitters endlessly. They talk about starting the band and being in a band and how Mark said to Hillary Woods (the bass player) “D’you want to be in a band?” and she said “Yeah” and then he went “Yeah!” and then they started playing in Dublin in the pubs and then they started playing Glastonbury and Mark was like “Wow, yeah!”

Fergal liked playing Glastonbury. He also liked playing Reading.

Mark liked playing Reading and he liked playing Glastonbury and he liked the connection they got with the audience as well because that’s what really matters as well, like, you see a lot of bands and you think to yourself that’s not what I want to do, y’know…

We also get to see some of JJ72’s videos. This is slightly confusing because they all appear to be exactly the same, in so far as JJ72 are playing in a room in a house. Mark does his vocals and convulses a lot because he is feeling the genuine emotional connection with the music. Hillary just sort of stands there and plucks the bass occasionally. Fergal plays the drums with the face of a man who wants to punch you. However, there is the interesting variation of the video for ‘Oxygen’, where towards the end Mark flings his guitar into the drumkit. He then starts shoving the speakers and the drumkit over. Him and Fergal tussle. And then we go out into the woods, where JJ72 are running for some reason. And then Mark flings his guitar into a tree.

We then get on to the matter of JJ72’s second album, I To Sky (“already being called the most spiritual Irish album since U2’s October” according to Tom). Mark reckons that every lyric on the album is totally honest and they haven’t thrown in any lyrics just they because they needed to add an extra rhyme or something, ha ha ha, and they were really pleased to be working with the producers of the Smashing Pumpkins, (A Famous Record Producer Whose Name I Have Forgotten) and Flood, and you could tell Flood was a really good record producer because he’d just stand in the door and tell you what you were doing wrong, but really you just wanted him to tell you his stories about working with The Smashing Pumpkins. We then get the video for ‘Formulae’, the first single off I To Sky. This marks a progression for the band because instead of playing in a room, they are now playing on a rooftop. Also, Mark has a fringe and a leather jacket. Tom ends it with the statement “JJ72’s fans will hope that the band have a long career with a catalogue of landmark albums, that inspire other people to start bands.” I think they’ve split up now. Hillary’s left anyway.

Oh, and then ITV Nightscreen, where they screen the press releases for dramas about Alex Ferns on a battleship in popular ITV drama Alex Ferns On A Battleship to a funky house backing. I think I fell asleep instead.


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Mystery meat

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 2,393 views

Mystery meat
So the other day I had tongue for lunch.  It was helpfully labelled ‘lunch tongue’ on the deli counter in Safeways, as opposed to the slightly larger variety also available, which one could presumably slice up for use in delicate canap’s or incorporate into a souffl’ rather than snarfing in a sandwich.  I hadn’t had tongue for a good while, probably since I was a child on (a rubbish excuse for a) holiday at my (less good) grandma’s.  She was queen of the suspicious lunch product, what with her terrifying beetroot and Red Leicester combo and brown bread with butter scraped infinitesimally thin across its knobbly surface, but for some reason I never got the willies when presented with a platter of tongue and the even more mysterious ‘luncheon meat’ and/or corned beef.  This was probably because I was not a fussy child and they’re actually very tasty, even when paired with a not entirely delicious Golden Vegetable Cup-A-Soup.  Tongue’s just another eminently scoffable animal muscle and has an interesting close-grained texture, going nicely in a chewy fresh baguette sandwich, and yet I bet if offered to oooh, 80-90% of today’s (Western) youngsters they’d turn up their horrible little noses and demand some mechanically recovered chicken formed into amusing shapes and covered with breadcrumbs.  Meat that looks like more or less like it did when it was walking around scares people, and yet beats the processed sort any which way you like for taste and generally value (unless we’re talking grim own-brand sausages).  Bah humbug.

Speaking of cheap rubbish, I note that classy supermarket chain Netto are officially dissing offal.  Mind you, even I don’t particularly fancy beef genitalia in my lunch.


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FT Top 100 Films

So if The Dark Crystal is The Muppet Movie without the laffs, what is this? The Muppet Movie with Michael Caine as Scrooge? Pretty much. It keeps in the laffs, but it is also a pretty straight adaptation of the Christmas Tale. I think I would go as far to say that this version of A Christmas Carol, is the most faithful to Dickens aims. Very little of that is due to Caine (though he isn’t at his most sleepwalkerly), but it is all about the muppets.

The idea of having Gonzo The Great play Charles Dickens is a masterstroke. The film starts of as a meta-comentary on the Dickens story, but also is couched in Gonzo’s loveable loserness we cannot help but enjoy the way the story is told. Plenty of other Muppets characters are shoe horned in (Waldorf & Statler’s Jacob and Robert Marley are particularly note-worthy) but it rarely feels forced. Most importantly, the muppets represent fun. They represent a slightly anarchic view of the world. And thus the create a perfect contrast between Scrooge’s mean and miserly world and that of generosity and Christmas spirit.

In many ways it is a pity that Caine does not turn into a Muppet at the end to emphasised this (whilst he is not the only human in the film, he is pretty much outnumbered). Instead they make him part of a song and dance number which is fun to watch just because it is Caine – who does not really do song and dance numbers. I think this might be the last film I saw in the cinema with my Mum, and she loved it. And whilst it only vaguely touches on the thorny issue of misegenation between pigs and frogs, I think it is probably my favourite Christmas movie. Perhaps because it only just touches upon it?

Songs about or by puppets #4: Metallica – “Master Of Puppets”

I Hate Music3 comments • 1,019 views

Oh, they’re are a jolly band that there Metallica. There are plenty of stupid metal fans who saw Spinal Tap as a documentary, but only one band used it as a blueprint for a career. And Master Of Puppets is what you get if you have absolutely no sense of humour. When you don’t find grown men with long hair and impossibly faded T-Shirts amusing then you have probably lost all of your humanity to start off with and might as well be a puppet.

So what kind of puppeteer is this portentiously titled Master Of Puppets? Well he’s pulling our strings, no doubt, but he is also twisting our mind and smashing our dreams. I assume he is doing this by using sledgehammer riffs and singing which is just sub par for Neaderthal communication. Frankly this is a bit of a rubbish puppeteer, all he seems interested in is getting his puppets to fight and injure each other. And then it all becomes clear.

Master Of Puppets is about a Punch & Judy Man. Suddenly the reason for James Hetfield’s grunty vocals is that it is the only way he can make his kazoo speaking voice sound anything less like Mr Punch. Metallica are an end of the pier act – when will someone push them off? That’s the way to do it!

One of the world’s most beautiful

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One of the world’s most beautiful bridges at Mostar in Bosnia has been rebuilt.

Poker bids to become Olympic sport

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Poker bids to become Olympic sport. Despite not actually being a sport. The article mentions that they want to get recognition like chess or bridge, neither of which are Olympic sports. Because they are not sports.

I don’t want to drift into some sub-Wittgensteinian debate here, but what is it that makes a sport? Is it athletic ability, fitness, display of skill. I agree it is easy to think of counter-examples to nearly all of these (though darts plays are supremely fit in their arms). The poker chappies seem to think that an arternative definition of sport is “is it on ESPN/Sky Sports?”

My main reason for opposing this is rather enjoying watching competitive poker, especially in the Late Night Poker guise. But I utterly despise the Olympics. So the two really should not mix.

On the despising tip, I note that the BBC website has a “count down to the Olympics” clock. Only twenty-one days, and five hours to go. Well, at least that sorts out my dissertation. There is no way that guff will distract me. Distinction here I come.  

Cheat’s Culinary Compendium #3

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Cheat’s Culinary Compendium #3

“Sip your spirits and cure your cold, but I will take Port that will cure all things, even a bad character. For there was never a Port drinker who lacked friends to speak for him.”

Thackeray (quoted, unreferenced, in “The Compleat Imbiber” (#1, ed. Cyril Ray, 1956))