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Drumroll please

warrant

We’ve got the electrician coming tomorrow for a couple of odd jobs, so I’m cleaning house. As you do. And I found this thing (look up).

There’s a baker who has a booth in a local market, from whom we occasionally buy sausage rolls. He was forever telling me he used to be sausage roll maker by appointment to Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

One day, he flagged me down on the street as I went past on my bicycle and gave me a laminated copy of his Royal Warrant. (I happen to know, from professional experience, that a lamination pouch of that size costs 50p, so I was flattered).

I don’t even particularly like sausage rolls. Have a good weekend, everyone!

November 10, 2017 — 10:31 pm
Comments: 22

Newton’s apple. No, really.

apples

We went to an apple fayre this weekend.

You know you’re in for an authentic British experience when they spell ‘fayre’ with a ‘y’.

Over 200 varieties of apples were there. Which is nothing. There are thousands of cultivated varieties (and many thousands more of not very useful wild apples).

They have sequenced the apple’s genome and found an apple has nearly twice the genes of a human being. That means apples are complicated and don’t breed clones. I saw this program on apple genetics several years ago, so bear with me if my memory is generic.

If you eat an apple and like it, and plant the seed in your garden, you will get a tree that bears a fruit that almost certainly bears no resemblance to that apple you liked so much. Also, it will be tall and awkward, because natural apples are. If you see a grove of natural apple trees in the wild, they will all bear different apples. There might be a hidden star in there with desirable characteristics. On the other hand, you’re more likely to find sour and awful fruits, as the modern apple shares more of its genome with the crabapple than its true wild ancestor.

For commercial apples, they take cuttings from the successful tree and graft them onto other rootstocks with desirable traits — like, usually dwarf rootstocks that make little, pickable trees. All the modern Granny Smiths, for example, come from cuttings from the original Granny. So really, when you think about it, that apple from Newton’s garden really is from Newton’s garden, if probably many intermediate trees removed.

Yes, I bought an Isaac Newton. It’s in a bag with four other ‘heritage’ apples, though, so I don’t know who’s who. This could be a problem because it’s a cooking apple.

October 23, 2017 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 24

Not that, you bastards! Anything but that!

bacon

Food is one of the hardest things for an immigrant to cope with. This immigrant, anyhow. It’s one thing to visit a country and immerse yourself in the local cuisine; it’s another when, five years later, not love nor money can buy you a freaking saltine cracker for your freaking soup.

Bacon. Bacon is the cruellest food. British bacon is even weirder than the Canadian stuff. I mean, it’s pretty nice in its own way, but it’s some kind of salty country ham thing. It ain’t bacon. Nome sane?

For years, there was one supermarket (not a chain, a single supermarket) that sold Oscar Mayer bacon. Sure, it was made in Spain, but somebody from OM must have overseen the process, because it was what I call proper bacon.

Then, a couple of years ago, they dropped the “Oscar Mayer” branding and relabeled it “American style” bacon. That’s an actual packet of it in the picture. Well, fair enough – the name was probably costing them a lot of money and didn’t mean diddly to Brits. It was the same true blue American bacon.

And then the quality began to slip. First the packet wouldn’t peel open properly and had to be cut up the side. Then the bacon stuck together and wouldn’t come off in cohesive strips. It was more like baconfloss. That comes from losing the American quality control, I guess.

And today? Gone from the shelf. Nowhere to be found. Not even the thin comfort of bacon strings for weasel.

It’ll have to be pancetta. Dammit.

October 17, 2017 — 7:40 pm
Comments: 41

While we’re tearing down statues

juan

And Juan is on the left side of the door at the bulk spice company. Pretty sure this would be a hate crime in the US of A at the moment. It probably would be a hate crime here, if we had any Mexican presence at all.

If a statue promotes bigotry and no-one is offended, did it make a stereotype?

Carl wins the dick(™) with Bruce Forsyth, a man who holds the Guiness record(™) for the longest-running television career for a male.

NB: this is Carl’s sixth or seventh win. Do not fuck with Carl.

Too late for this week; come back next Friday for Dead Pool Round…who the hell knows. Rick Rostrom (whose records are better than mine) says it’s not really #100, it’s #97. Because I not math at good.

Have a great weekend, all!

August 18, 2017 — 9:08 pm
Comments: 29

I haven’t had the heart to tell them…

paolo

This large fiberglass vegetable sits outside the door of a store where we occasionally stock up on spices in bulk. ‘Paolo’, if you’ve not run across it, is the Italian version of Paul.

I’m pretty sure any self-respecting giant plastic chili pepper in a sombrero strumming a guitar would be Pablo, nay?

When cultural stereotypes go (slightly) wrong…

August 17, 2017 — 8:19 pm
Comments: 29

Behold, the head of a lettuce!

lettuce

Now is the time of the year when the vegetables come in thick and fast. I make a mean pot of cucumber soup, because what am I supposed to do with eight large cucumbers? Also, tomatoes, chili peppers, green beans. Soon to come: onions, bell peppers.

Early fruits (currants black and red, gooseberries) come and gone. Elderberries pooping up the pavements as we speak. Blackberries after that.

What’s going on in your garden and what the hell are you doing with all of it?

July 28, 2017 — 9:03 pm
Comments: 19

Comes the harvest

jam

Our first year here, we made tons of jam. We had such a fun time making it, and then we realized we…really…just…don’t eat that much jam. Even today, I find the occasional jar of gray glob from all those years ago.

We’ve learned to moderate our jam-making activities, but we still make a few jars a year. In the picture is the makin’s of a red jam — raspberry, tayberry, a few strawberries and gooseberries. That was several days ago, and it turned out real nice.

Tonight, we made redcurrant jelly. Two plus pounds of redcurrants cooked down to two little jars and a bit. I hate to think what that would cost if you bought the berries – they’re super expensive in the store. Oddly enough, redcurrant jelly is usually used on meat here. Brits, eh?

Good weekend, everyone!

July 7, 2017 — 10:51 pm
Comments: 28

Chikken!

chickensoap

This young feller, Daniele Barresi, is making a name for himself doing quick food sculptures. Though this particular one is a soap sculpture. BUT IT’S A CHICKEN. A friend of mine in art school used to do soap carving, so I have a warm spot. More soap.

Here’s some of the better food ones, on Bored Panda. Yes, despite the name “Daniele” it’s a he. And he bites his fingernails.

Unrelated note: I have just put into the oven the greatest meatloaf ever made — I suspect — and no-one will ever know. But me. AHAHAHAHA!

June 13, 2017 — 10:35 pm
Comments: 17

Mmmm…spiritual

friedeggs

That, my friends, is a batter-dipped and deep-fried Cadbury creme egg. Available from a fish and chip shop (know colloquially as a “chippy”) in Deal, next door in Kent. As the news site put it “Walmer Fish & Chips, in The Strand, near Deal, have begun battering Creme Eggs for the very first time to celebrate the rebirth of Jesus.”

A deeply spiritual people.

And don’t miss the sister article: the day the Cadbury Creme Egg Bus visited Kent.

Oh, and I’m sure you’ve heard — Don Rickles is dead. And, in a final insult to you all, nobody had him in the Dead Pool.

April 6, 2017 — 8:20 pm
Comments: 21

Yay! Candy bars!

picnic

Boo, candy bars will cost more in future. Is there nothing they won’t blame on Brexit? Though, in this case, they probably have a point…our currency hasn’t entirely recovered from the shock yet.

One of the great pleasures of being a nimmigrant is getting to try new junk food. I think I’ve worked my way down most of the candy bars — the novel ones, anyway — and this is my favorite. It’s called a Picnic. It’s raisins, peanuts and cookie stuck together with caramel and coated in chocolate.

It’s got an awesome texture. Me, I’m all about the textures. (No marshmallow. NO MARSHMALLOW).

Wikipedia tells me they’re sold in Australia, parts of Canada, New Zealand, New York City, India, Ireland, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa and the United Kingdom. New York City? New York City!

The Australasian version doesn’t contain raisins. Go figure.

The slogan was “Deliciously Ugly” — which. I dunno. Aren’t all chocolate bars somewhat turdlike in appearance?

One of the downsides of being a nimmigrant is I get blamed for all things American. Snickers bars, apparently, have always been sold as Marathon bars in the UK. And now Mars, Inc is selling them as Snickers here. And everybody is sore at me.

Mmmmm…Snickers.

March 6, 2017 — 9:32 pm
Comments: 20