(Image by Beau Bo D’Or)
One of my favourite artists, Julie Fowlis:
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An ancient Greek goes to a tailor with a torn pair of trousers.
“Eumenides,” he asks?
“I don’t know,” replies the tailor, “Euripides?”
Karl Marx goes to visit his friend Friedrich Engels, they have tea and cake, and Marx excuses himself to use the bathroom. As he flushes the toilet, he hears the unmistakable sound of a string quartet. He shrugs and goes back to Engels.
Over the next few weeks, Marx continues to visit Engels and use his bathroom, and every time he flushes, there’s the sound of a string quartet.
Finally he confronts Engels: “Look Friedrich, every time I flush your toilet, I hear a string quartet, what’s that all about?”
“Oh that,” says Engels, “That’s the violins inherent in the cistern.”
I realise it’s quite a tall order to completely boycott Chinese products, given that nobody else seems to bloody well make anything these days, but the sheer inhumanity of China’s totalitarian so-called communist1 government requires a response that goes beyond hand-wringing and toothless criticism.
I’ve been trying to avoid Chinese-made products for years, because I don’t want poor quality stuff made by wage-slaves which has been shipped halfway across the world, but in the light of this morning’s execution of a seriously mentally ill man who was duped into smuggling some drugs into the country, I’m going to redouble my efforts not to buy anything made there.
According to Jiang Yu, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, “nobody has the right to speak ill of China’s judicial sovereignty”. Yes they do. You can’t gag people outside your own country, however much you’d like to do so.
As I’m sure you’re aware, there’s no shortage of appalling acts perpetrated by the Chinese authorities (unless you happen to live in China, in which case they’ll make sure you don’t hear about it). Human Rights Watch highlights many such examples:
Twenty years after the army killed untold numbers of unarmed civilians in Beijing and other cities on and around June 3-4, 1989, the Chinese government continues to victimize survivors, victims’ families, and others who challenge the official version of events.
I’m a sucker for good octopus, if you’ll pardon the pun, and Pulpo a la Gallega is a supremely easy, wonderfully tasty and very impressive dish – be it as a main course or a starter.
Octopi are fairly difficult to get hold of, at least in my experience in the UK. If you are fortunate enough to live in Spain, you shouldn’t have any problem. Here in Manchester, though, the only place I know where fresh, whole octopus can be bought is the wonderful Bury Market.
So, once you have your octopus, you will need to clean and tenderise it. I just bashed it all over with a rolling pin for 5 minutes, and it turned out OK.
Done that? Good. Now bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. I have heard various people swear by using a copper pot, but I don’t see how that can possibly matter. Once the water is boiling, dip the whole octopus in it three or four times, just enough that the tentacles start to curl.
Now boil the octopus for between 20 and 30 minutes. The bigger the octopus, the more time you’ll need, obviously.
Once this time has elapsed, take the pot off the heat and leave the octopus submerged for a further twenty minutes or so. You can use this time to boil up some spuds – floury or otherwise, the choice is yours.
Once the taties are ready and you’ve cut them into bite sized pieces, remove the octopus from the water and cut the head away from the tentacles. Most people discard the head, as it isn’t used in this recipe as a rule, but it’s less wasteful to keep it and use it in a salad or something the following day. Cut the tentacles into pieces.
It doesn’t say so in any other recipe for this dish that I’ve read, but I tend to flash fry the octopus pieces and the potatoes together for a minute or two, and add some sea salt and a dash of pepper in the process.
Arrange on a plate (a wooden dish is more traditional – I must remember to get some sometime), add parsley and sweet paprika/pimentón to garnish, and enjoy.
Taken near Chatillon-sur-Indre, France, in August.
Getting myself together, slowly but surely. Will blog, but for now, just the funniest 5 second clip I’ve seen in a long while – a dramatic chipmunk:
flaneur AT flanerie.co.uk
- Pavel and I by Dan Vyleta
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- Age of Extremes : The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991 by E.J. Hobsbawm
- Das Reich: The March of the 2nd Panzer Division Through France, 1944 by Max Hastings
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein
The Quincunx: The Inheritance of John Huffam by Charles Palliser
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- Paperweight by Stephen Fry
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- A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
- Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
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