Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tale from an Accelerated Culture

Saturday morning, I'm on my way to get the train north to watch the football. I am hungover, I need food, I need a pen. Huge queues for every single shop in the station at King's Cross lead me out of the terminal building, through the underpass [newly refurbished and free of the odour of piss, drink and urgent sex you might once have associated with the area; well, so far anyway] to resurface on the opposite bank of the endless torrent of traffic, outside McDonalds. I stride purposefully to Ladbrokes, note that Leeds are 4/1 to beat Swansea, pick up a stubby red bookies pen [does anything look more rakish behind the ear?] and swiftly exit before the urge to waste a few quid on the lovely horses becomes too pressing.

The hunger is upon me now, and yet the thought of paying £3.79 for a bagel in the station - I'll say that again just in case you thought it was typographical error, THREE POUNDS AND SEVENTY NINE BRITISH PENCE for a BAGEL - is quite beyond me. I skulk 'neath the Golden Arches and, slightly dazed by the breakfast offreings blazoned across the back wall, I order a bacon, egg & cheese bagel and a small sprite, no ice. £1.79 for the bagel.

I take a seat under the T.V screen, which is playing Sky News... enmeshed in the Hegemon, there is to be no escape. I have just informed the counter slavey that when I say 'no ice' it's because I want a cup full of liquid, not half a cup of ice and some liquid, and further that his attempted explanations are useless because I used to work in McDonalds and I have retained certain useful information. I only want a cup to put my wine in on the train, I add under my breath as I slide into the seat and unwrap the bagel.

What the FUCK is this abomination? I am committing an act of eco-terrorism on myself. It is categorically the worst food I have ever eaten, slathered in oil from the cheese which tastes of nothing, and revealing one disappointment for the palate after another: the bacon which is perhaps only on nodding terms with actual pork, the defrosted bagel and the cuilnary feat of transforming an egg into bathmat. I grimly force it down as there is not time to turn into one of the Roux brothers now. I have made my bed with dirty sheets and must lie in its squalour.

On the screen, as I chew my way through this excuse for food, is an advert for the third season of Ross Kemp on Gangs, which is being teamed, for this advertisement, with a new season of Prison Break, one of which [now I come to look at them with sober eyes and without a miasma of grease clouding my mood and vision] looks moderately interesting and one of which looks like total incarcerational cobblers. On Saturday morning both programmes - bagel and feelings of oppression weighing heavily on my heart - serve only to reinforce the sensation of being trapped in the Panopticon. It's a bad world out there, and it's bad food in here.

I sit with my mouth open, flavourless oil dabbed from the corners as the ad reaches its climax. 'How much more can you take?' the gravel voice of excitement demands. 'None whatsoever,' I announce to no one at all, and crumple the bag, wrapper and clarty napkins into the Last Bin before Kings Cross. I'm leaving it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

See, Naples and Diet

I have got over myself. Adopting the nickname 'Two-Blogs', let's rock. Life's too short and all that.

Now, turning our attention to the world wide web... Italians have this week gone bonkers about rice ['Having a paddy' if you won't]. Context... [shimmery screen and harps flashback]

Mass protests were being encouraged in Italy [apparently, as yon link notes, with [stereo]typical Italian ambivalence in response] over the rising price of pasta... downing forks, disgruntled diners and chefs took a stand against the rising cost of the famous staples of Naples [I've checked to see that I'm not making a gastronomic gaffe here, it is a staple in Naples, though not as famous as pizza but that doesn't rhyme, anyway... and elsewhere. As a respondent on one discussion board suggested, 'Well, I live in Milan and we prefer rice anyway...' or words to that effect.]

Underneath all this rubbish is the now becoming more discussed notion about biofuels raised as early as 2005 by the usual suspects, which is that they are being touted/grown as the wonder solution to the oil crisis, but at the expense of both food for humans and other creatures' habitats [not that this has ever stopped us]... which seems a somewhat fuellish [sorry] response to a different issue [transport] which might be better resolved by not 'keeping the cars moving whatever happens', and in turn creating a further problem, i.e. mass starvation AND other species extinction AND gridlock... different meeting...

However, Adelaide Ajroldi and compatriot lovers of the risotto may have a fight to contend with. There appears to be a stirring in the rest of the country not just against this biofuelled threat to the traditional Italian menu, but also against other staples. Not just protests about the rising price of pasta [and other traditional ingredients], but a movement AGAINST RICE...

First of all, the news from Venice that in a [supposedly anti-pigeon] move, the Mayor's office has considered banning rice at weddings. Taken on its own, this might be nothing to do with food-related disgruntimento. However, the VERY NEXT DAY, it appears that the Vatican has taken the issue so seriously [as usual] that even people called Rice aren't to be tolerated [perhaps a good thing, although maybe genuinely nothing to do with oil/environment/aggressive foreign policy and all about diaries].

What this all means to Italy's former status as leading producer of rice in Europe one can only speculate. The people of Lombardy etc should take note: this may be a ricepaper thin premise on which to waste some time bringing a blog back up to speed, but from small grains... etc etc.

Meanwhile, back at the old homestead:

Matt's Presto Pronto Matt Surprise:
White long grain rice
Green olives (no filling)
Green or classic pesto (half a jar)
Pepper (optional whole grain)

The trick is to fry for 30 seconds when cooked/combined.