There’s a scene in ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ where a squad of Israelite rebels, led by John Cleese & Co, are discussing ‘what have the Romans done for us?’ The debate centres around whether they should pursue a terrorist course of action, and everyone gets a bit stressed as they start to realise the Roman’s have actually done quite a lot….
‘…All right… all right… but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order… what have the Romans done for us?’
Now fast forward a few thousand years.
Here we are, in the glorious 21st century. For Rome, read Amercia. Now I haven’t spent too much time or effort considering the socio-economic influence of America on the planet. And I’m not going to start now. What I will do is consider the culinary influence of America.
And they have done some seriously important things for us. Fully Loaded Hot Dogs are a case in point.
First some things I noticed this week:
- Twitter is irritating. For every person that starts following you, 2 stop following you. Actually I think that every time I write a rude word, or controversial statement, like ‘Americans are crap at cricket’ then I lose loads of followers (-1)
- The opinion poll industry is a load of crap too (-1), in my opinion. We just had an election and all the polls said it was a neck-and-neck race. But it wasn’t – the Tories (right wing) won it by a mile and Labour (left wing) ended up looking a bit silly (-2)
- I am stupid. I have been haranguing my internet provider for the last week telling them their service is shit (-2). After ranting on the phone for hours over several days I finally booked an engineer. Then I checked the back of the modem, tightened the cable and now everything is fine
These are my top three observations of the week and I just realised they all related to communications, media, online; i.e. irrelevant twaddle and no one cares.
What people do care about is food:
I decided to make Sweet Chilli Mushroom Stir Fry with Pak Choy. As usual, I gathered all my ingredients…mushrooms, rice, pak choy, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce….
Disaster! Panic! Pandemonium! No sweet chilli sauce! None. Not a drop. What to do. Google.
Google provided a plethora of sweet chilli sauce solutions. All claiming to use ‘kitchen cupboard staples’, and so long as chillis and sherry are staple items in your cupboards, then you’ll be fine…
I have been following with interest these past few month Diane’s Kitchen Table, where the host of that blog has been undergoing a major kitchen refit. The results are spectacular to say the least. Wondering what was going to be created in this new space, I was informed that lobster risotto has already been completed.
Now in that part of the world lobster risotto might be an everyday dish; over here most people don’t even know what a lobster looks like (I know however that it is not supposed to look like the strange squashed frozen thing shrink-wrapped into a tube we Brits can find in the back of the freezer at the local supermarket).
And this got me thinking about what is common-as-chips or totally acceptable in one part of the world is completely outlandish and bizarre in another.
Take Sannakji for example, a dish I read about on a blog (sorry I cannot remember which one). It’s a Korean delicacy comprising octopus, sesame seeds and oil. Not bad if you like that sort of thing – straightforward, simple food. Except for one important feature. The octopus is still alive.
Yes that’s right. They chop it up, splash some oil on it and serve it with the tentacles still squirming around on the plate as you pop a yummy morsel in your mouth.
But here is the best bit. You have to watch how you eat it. Because the suckers on the tentacles are still working. People are known to have died because the suckers have attached themselves to the inside of the diner’s throat and choked them to death. Mother didn’t tell you to chew your food because she liked the sound of her own voice you know. She had a point.
Seriously ridiculous way to kill yourself. Better off sticking with chicken-based creations like this easy-peasy chilli dish. Mexican Chipotle Chicken Stew benefits from a smoky chipotle paste. Chicken is altogether less likely to wake up and nip you on the tongue than an octopus (although I am aware of the fact that chickens can run around the yard after their heads have been cut off). Seems a bit late to kick off about being beheaded though.
In the world of food some things were simply meant for each other. In fact some food items are so compatible it’s a bit of a mystery why God didn’t just save some time and bring them into existence in their final, delicious form.
Take, for example, bacon sandwiches and tomato ketchup. No one would even consider one without the other, so why bother producing them as separate things? And lamb with mint jelly. What else can you do with mint jelly except eat it with lamb?
And so the list of inseparable foods goes on – cheese and pickle, steak and scallops, chocolate and jelly beans…I’m stopping now before I start chewing the keyboard.
However you can go too far. Sometimes a food combination sounds better than it tastes. For example ‘Chocolate Chilli’.
Now on paper this sounds like it should work.