Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I cook therefore I am

You may not believe it but I am gainfully employed, I get up and go to an office every day, sometimes weekends too. I can be a workaholic. I used to be one of those awful people who went around telling everyone with not so secret relish how little time I had. My work was too important, too many things to do, look here's my organiser, my laptop, my spiffy phone!

Tripe, all tripe. One day the organiser died, my life did not end though I thought it might, then the laptop crashed and required huge transfusions of cash and time to be repaired. All was not lost, I had the numbers stored in the phone, sure I hadn't backed up everything else but I would soldier on. Until the night Zeus ate the phone. You heard me, the damn dog chewed the phone to bits as recreation as I lay in bed, clutching my hot pack and wallowing through a sea of painkillers to mitigate the pain caused by a car accident. Can I tell you the loss of the phone was worse than the car being in the shop for three weeks! I was truly traumatised.

I gave in a bawled at that point. All of this had happened in the space of three weeks! I was so incoherent that the man got frightened and went out and bought me a new phone just to get me to stop blubbering. Guilt may also have something to do with it but I've let all that go....

Now how does any of this relate to cooking you might wonder? Over the years I've evolved several survival mechanisms, one of them is cooking to keep me grounded. And I can cook, well, or so I'm told. I've never had a "career path", I've ALWAYS worked and found myself in the right place somehow. One of the things that make me laugh is how much stock some people put into titles and labels. Once, when I was being truculent and refusing to play the label game someone asked me what I did as though the answer would illuminate the world. My reply, I cook, therefore I am. Figure it out for yourself.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanks for the lovies

He arrived in a cardboard box as the rain pelted down, Pat handed him to me over the fence as I made a mad dash for the car. Bunged under the dash, he didn't make any noise at first, by the time the first whimper came I was navigating the twisty roads in pouring rain and couldn't extracate him without ending up off the steep drop. Stay in the box he would until Woodbrook.

I left him in the box as I ran into the pet shop to pick up puppy chow. Poor thing was truly traumatised, he'd been yanked away from his mummy, litter mates and kennel, thrown into a box and passed to a strange woman who'd only seen him once before. And yet, he forgave me all of that. I did take him out when I got back into the car, he sat on my lap in front of the steering wheel and looked up at me with his doggie face all trusting.

Don't get used to it he was warned, you're just the substitute. I'd lost my real friend a month before and I was fragile, no dog could replace Gator. Five years later our misadventures are still on. We'd forgotten to tell Zeus that he wasn't human and in return he deigns to share the house. The little fuzzy pup grew into a large beastie who will affectionately hit you with his head a few hundred times to get you out of bed at the crack of dawn, especially on a Sunday morning. Charming, especially when he wants to go walking, in the rain, before leaping back on to the bed, wet. Did I mention he guards? Against cats, other dogs, large tractors, motorcycles, the neighbour's kid are favorite targets. He will bark until they are safely out of his comfort zone. The neighbours three streets down know him, he wakes them up too. He will nag you to throw his ball at him, and is as happy on the three thousandth time as the first.

As maddening as he can be however, he never complains when I work late as I do most days. He never needs me to listen to how sucky his day was but will listen to me rant about mine. He never tells me I look fat in that dress, he loves my cooking (dry dog food!) and best of all, he's always happy to see me when I get home and will let me rub his tummy until he almost pukes in happiness. Need I say more.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Anthony Bourdain fan club

If you've never heard of Anthony Bourdain you must have been living on a dessert island somewhere for the past few years. He's a chef, he made cheffing look sexy with his wry musings on the culinary underbelly. He is a remarkably unsentimental, unabashed son of a bitch who pulls no punches. I LOVE this guy!

He's not one of your "pretty" chefs. But he gets around and his programmes are usually done in his own voice or so say his producers. Guess he's not too affected by the writer's strike! Bourdain has written several books about his life and a few novels.Despite his seeming SOBness he's an entertaining read and you find that you are hooked, he seems not to care whether you like him or not.

Now you know having said this there is no way in hell that he would be found on the Food Network, America's food version of PBS, sanitised and prettified to within an inch of life. Ever notice how few black people there are, I guess we neither appreciate food nor do we cook. You tend to find people with melanin on Bobby Flay's Throwdown, and more power to him. Now I don't have so much of a problem with that, I like good food and I don't care much where or who it comes from.

BUT, I do have a problem with perky, annoying women in skimpy blouses, fake nails and hair flying all over the place purporting to be "chefs". My friend Debbie is a chef, an award winning one. I have NEVER seen her cook in anything but her whites, no clevage showing. Her longish hair is usually restrained oh yeah, and her nails are carefully trimmed. So don't get upset when Tony Bourdain takes stabs at you Rachel. He's not pretty but at least he's not telling you how fabulous and wonderful everything is every five minutes...and he looks like he knows what he's doing.


I might have previously mentioned that I spend a fair amount of time, not while on the job boss, reading Other People's Blogs. Some of them are very entertaining, some are educational and some are downright bizarre but I have few moments to enjoy light relief so I make the most of them.

I've taken to reading Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, the exploits of a gal living on a ranch making babies with her husband. Her name is Ree, she's quite funny and she cooks too. Of course her "reality" is a little initimidating for us bloggers, she's married to "Marlboro Man", she's got four kids and she has a number of blogs which she writes. Hell, she must be Superwoman!

I can barely get my underexercised ass out of bed in the morning to walk the hound far less to be posting blogs at FOUR A.M. When does she sleep?d When did she find the time to make those babies? I bow in the face of her superior time management.

And then, the thought occured, it's the Internet, who's to say she does not edit her reality? And more power to her if she did because she has a lot of fans including me. So Ree, whether you do or whether you don't, I hope you keep writing, at least I too can avoid reality TV and pretend that I too can have it all like you.

“Reality” TV sucks

Why anybody would get hooked on so-called "reality" TV is beyond me. Frankly, there's enough reality going on around me, why on earth would I want to go home and watch that crap? Okay, sheepishly I admit to a former "Amazing Race" addiction that lasted through the first two and a half seasons. Then the scripted tantrums etc got on my nerves and I changed the channel. CSI is about the limit of my endurance, yes I know it's fiction, my point exactly!

I worked in TV, I understand how programmes are done, I made enough of them, it’s hard to take reality TV at all seriously. We all know that they’ve already picked the winner, the trick is how to engage the audience with seeming “realness” to make us watch every single bloody week. There are lots of borrowed soap opera techniques; the dramatic music, the significant pauses from the hosts, the teary farewell speeches. In the studio, it’s even worse; they’re the lights and studio audience or canned tracks to add emphasis. Face facts friends, reality TV shows are soap operas in disguise. It is about entertainment for small minds and someone making money, that’s all.

Despite myself I watched “The Next Iron Chef” on Food Network. How did they pick the first four Iron Chefs one wonders? Their perkiness, ability to look serious while cooking…it must be hard to keep a straight face sometimes really. These guys and gal used to be serious chefs, cooking in real restaurants, but that’s another rant. Anyway, Food Network stages this whole “battle” complete with “The Chairman” ranting…Mark Dacascos, failed martial arts “star” should really learn how to act, at times he appears to be on some kind of drug. Weird tests, overbearing, pretentious judges, the drama queen ingredients were all there. Even knowing that there probably was a winner, you kept hoping for something different. It came down to "rough and ready American" vs " good old Southern Charm Boy".

But, hold on, there is Dancing with the Stars. Even I admit this is purely entertaining just listening to the judges’, the hosts are better on mute I'm afraid! The dancing however, well, let's say that all are not created equal and leave it at that. The pros must spend a lot of time eye rolling. The sad part is that even if you are a great dancer you're basically screwed if someone can out ham you since half your score comes from the average viewer. They must all be ballroom dance experts, their choices are sometimes hard to understand.

I wouldn't care, it is only tv after all, but last night Marie Osmond made it into the finals. I remember her from Donnie and Marie, she was only passing entertaining then. What relentless sentimentality was at play here? Oh, was it "poor her", something has happened to her every week soap opera like. She's fainted, her father died, her son went to re-hab, wow, the writers over at the Young and Restless must be in awe! She should have gone home weeks ago and now she’s in the final? No, I'm not being ageist, nothing wrong with her ACTING skills but this is DANCING with the Stars! Poor Cheetah Girl Sabrina, now that would have been a dance off, her Mel and Helio.

To review, my reality is that I will no longer be watching either Dancing with the Stars or Iron Chef America. Predictably the rough and ready American "Chef" won despite that the other chef had much better technique,was certainly more polished and can we dare say, better looking. These programmes represent some of the worst traits of reality TV, talent and superior skills being traded out to feed some network execs idea of “reality”, though he may be right, the viewers seem to keep watching. By the way, Mike Symon, you may have won but John Besh is still the best.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

And finally...

Twas the night before elections, outside not a creature was stirring or so it would seem. The poll cards had been delivered, the jingles had rocked the windows for hopefully the last time at 6:00 pm and we all breathed a sigh of relief. People scurried indoors early tonight, almost as though everyone wanted to be tucked away in their homes, huddled around the proverbial campfire or something.

The microwave dinged, my sweetbread is warm, the cup of tea steaming gently as I blog. No, I'm not eating offal, sweetbread is a heavy, coconut based loaf that every West Indian knows and turns to when in need of comfort food. You can hear the frogs singing their own ode to rain, the air is heavy with it and the island should sleep well tonight. The past few days have been hard on the nerves. By this time tomorrow it will all be over bar the counting and shouting when results are announced. With any luck we will escape the tribulations that have plagued out last few elections. People get out there and do your civic duty or contain your whining when you get something you don't like!

Yes, I will be trekking to the polls myself. After all is said and done, despite how little credence I place in the process sometimes, it is still the only process that we have so i'll be staining my finger. See you there.