Saturday, March 31, 2007

Where are the zombies when you need them?

Also known as the 'ultimate organ meat'.

In preparation for my upcoming trip to Italy, I'm researching a variety of regional specialties to try while I'm gadding about.

Many of the varied areas have special cheeses and breads, or delicious fish dishes (and, mmm, wine) that they hold as their gifts to the world.

Not Rome, though.

In Rome, it's offal.
And I'm just not sure how I feel about this.

I like to think that I shouldn't be squeamish about eating things like brains, pancreas and the innocent sounding thymus gland.
Curiosity about these dishes makes me want to try them, but part of me is already making it's feelings know.
My stomach doesn't seem to care, it's my own brains which are causing the ruckus.

Considering that I like to partake in a plate of liver and onions (and the occasionally kidney has been known to pass these lips) one could argue that I shouldn't have any problem savouring a bit of pan fried brain.
But even casually disguised behind a delicious sounding 'smoked maple-buttermilk puree', I'll know it's still brains.

I know I will have to try them.

I mean, if Anthony Bourdain (my culinary hero) can eat freshly chopped off seal face, surely I can indulge in some delicately cooked, tender morsels of sweetbreads. No?

Hope it's not (oh, forgive me) awful.

Excerpt from: 'The Nasty Bits' - Anthony Bourdain

(If I may just interject here? This following passage is very...uh...juicy. May I suggest NOT eating while reading the following passage? Just, you know, in case.)

At eight a.m., swaddled in caribou, I climbed into a canoe and headed out onto the freezing waters of the Hudson Bay with my Inuit guides and a camera crew.
By three p.m., I was sitting cross-legged on a plastic-covered kitchen floor listening to Charlie, my host, his family, and a few tribal elders giggling with joy as they sliced and tore into a seal carcass, the raw meat, blubber, and brains of our just-killed catch. Grandma squealed with delight as Charlie cracked open the seal's skull, revealing its brains -- quickly digging into the goo with her fingers. Junior sliced dutifully at a kidney. Mom generously slit open one of the eyeballs (the best part) and showed me how to suck out the interior as if working on an oversize Concord grape.
From all sides, happy family members were busily dissecting the seal from different angles, each pausing intermittently to gobble a particularly tasty morsel. Soon, everyone's faces and hands were smeared with blood. The room was filled with smiles and good cheer in spite of the Night of the Living Dead overtones and the blood (lots of it) running across the plastic.
A Bonanza rerun played silently on the TV set in the normal-looking family room adjacent as Mom cut off a piece of snout and whisker, instructing me to hold it by the thick, strawlike follicles and then suck and gnaw on the tiny kernel of pink buried in the leatherlike flesh. After a thorough sampling of raw seal brain, liver, kidney, rib section, and blubber, an elder crawled across the floor and retrieved a platter of frozen blackberries. She generously rolled a fistful of them around in the wet interior of the carcass, glazing them with blood and fat, before offering them to me. They were delicious.
Words fail me. Again and again.
Or maybe it's me that fails the English language. My depiction of the day's rather extraordinary events is workmanlike enough, I guess…but, typically, I fall short. How to describe the feeling of closeness and intimacy in that otherwise ordinary-looking kitchen? The way the fifteen-year-old daughter and her eighty-five-year-old grandmother faced each other, nearly nose to nose, and began "throat singing," first warming up with simultaneous grunts and rapid breathing patterns, then singing, the tones and words coming from somewhere independent of their mouths, from somewhere…else?
The sheer, unselfconscious glee (and pride) with which they tore apart that seal -- how do I make that beautiful? The sight of Charlie, blood spread all across his face, dripping off his chin…Grandma, her legs splayed, rocking, rocking a crescent-shaped chopper across blubber, peeling off strips of black seal meat…How do I make them as sympathetic, as beautiful, in words as they were in reality?
"Without the seal, we would not be here," said Charlie. "We would not be alive." A true enough statement, but not an explanation. You'd have to have felt the cold up there, have seen it, hundreds and hundreds of miles without a single tree. You'd have to have gone out with Charlie, as I had, out onto that freezing bay, a body of water nearly the size of an ocean, watched him walk across a thin, tilting layer of ice to drag the seal back to the canoe. Heard, as we did, the resigned calls from other hunters over Charlie's radio, stuck out in a blizzard for the night, realizing they would have no shelter and no fire.
You'd have to have been in that room.

From The Nasty Bits. Copyright (c) 2006 by Anthony Bourdain. Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury USA.

Top Picture: Sweetbreads with smoked maple-buttermilk puree, smoked grapes, marjoram, caper-mustard chips and ground espresso. (But it's still a bit of brain.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My favorite things (Part I *)

My blog has been a bit drab these days.

I thought ('cus it takes the pressure off having to really THINK) that I would present a few of my favorite things:
So here it goes!

I love fresh green peas.

Those sweet little morsels of green just waiting to be heated up and given a gentle bath in butter and lovingly sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Heck, even frozen green peas are fine as long as they retain that delightfully green explosion of sweet and fresh when they meet your teeth.
Nothing says spring quite like that.
(I know that some of you are wincing and recoiling, but I'm not talking about the mush of canned peas! Heaven forbid!! No, no! I speak of garden fresh succulence.
The essence of summer and forbidden garden raids.
Any other pea is to be shunned and reviled. Even in England where 'mushy peas' are proudly displayed on restaurant menus. Run.)
Unexpected people.
I've lived in this little city for almost half a year and haven't 'run into' anyone.
Then today?
They're popping out of the wood work.
First, a fellow pool player who used to live in my 'hood in Vancouver came up to me. "Excuse me, do you have an older sister who lives in Vancouver?"
It was pool playing Bob!
A quick chat about new times and old, then off he went; I'm sure both of us wondering if the old place still really existed anywhere but our memories.
My best friends younger brothers' wife (Hi Kira!)
I was dreaming near the broccoli when a voice announced itself.
My brain wasn't working exactly and it took me a moment to place her.
Ah! Kira!
So sorry I didn't have more time, but was delightful to run into someone that I KNEW.
Someone I've had dinner with and whose in-laws I've known since time immemorial.
That's one of my favorite things.

Fleetwood Mac. Rumours. It makes me happy, it makes me weep. It's a beautiful and heart wrenching album.

My mom.
Of course.
It's as though I can't quite get enough of her.

She's happy and sweet and boy oh boy...I love that she knows how to curse.
If you were to work with her, you would find each of your birthdays replete with flower tributes and balloons and cake.
Her mission is to make people happy.
And she succeeds.
She makes people happy like no one else I know
I just realized something.
There are so many things that I have in my life that make me happy.
My fabulous friends and What's-His-Face.
The fact that I can sit on a computer and tell all of you about all of my joys.
My dinner tonight!
That made me happy. (Food seems to be a major part of my happiness!)
It consisted of a moist and flavourful pork chop, baby potatoes (whole heartily recommended by the green grocer), and (of course) crisp green peas. I can't think of anything else that might have been required.

Except a glass of white wine. Wine...which was wonderful!

Oh! More music.

I choose Jack Johnson.

One of my favorite albums today is his "In Between Dreams".
It's simple, happy music.
No complications and no issues; just easy melodies and light lyrics.
It's been called 'pap' and that's true.
I'm okay with that.
As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing that makes a sunny day a little brighter then the sweet, lilting lyrics of "Better Together".

Sometimes it's nice to have simple music to act as a background to new tulips and fresh mown grass...and that's how his music sounds to me.

So many things make me happy.
I have such a good life...and my joy is found in relatively 'minor' things.

Good food, good music, a happy home life and dear friends
I am rich beyond imagination.
I wish all of you the best of meals and the happiest of memories; including the ones that have yet to transpire.
*Yes. So that means that there will be a "Part II" Happy things. You keep your fingers crossed and so will I!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


This damned block has got to give at some point....right?
It's been said that a writer...ahem.
That is, a "Writer" ought to write some everyday just to keep the machine oiled.

I've heard that. So...does this bit of dribble count?
Well, here's a lovely picture instead. It's Dante's Dream. By Rosetti.
"It represents the episode in the 'Vita Nuova' when Dante dreams of seeing Beatrice in death. Dante is led to Beatrice by the winged figure of Love, dressed in red, wearing the scallop shell of a pilgrim. Love carries a branch of apple-blossom, a spring flower and a symbol of unconsummated love, plucked before it comes to fruit. Poppies, the flower of sleep or death, litter the floor. The veil is laden with may-blossom, perhaps alluding to the season of Beatrice's death (June 9). A view of Florence is seen in the background."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I didn't need to hear that.

We all do it, to some degree or other.
It's so EASY to do.
To judge someone.
To take a look at their exterior presentation and base our reaction, decision, judgement on that alone.

The other day while at the gym a young woman well she wasn't that young came in strutted in did a turn about the gym and then left thank goodness she left, I wouldn't want to have to stare at THAT all day

She was not very tall, and she had a rather stocky build with tits pushed up high enough to rest her chin on She was wearing a smallish gray sports bra and black tracks pants on which the waistband had been rolled down so that we could witness for ourselves the fact that she had a pubic bone and a butt crack

And she had a tan! All of her was the same gleaming brown, top to toe guess she's some one's idea of beautiful but she looks rather harsh maybe she didn't look at herself in the mirror before she left maybe she's trolling for something I think her pants are going to fall off

AND ON AND ON that nasty little voice in my head kept spewing ugly thoughts until I almost had to literally cry, "Cut it out!"
When did I become so judgemental and catty?
This is NOT the person I want to be.

So I'm trying to curb that.
It's not easy though.
I see the world through my perceptions, misconceptions and beliefs. The way I do things is the best way. It's difficult to view something that is alien to my strongly-held notions and be able see it as 'okay' and 'acceptable'.

I thought maybe thinking to myself, "What an interesting way to dress", or "That's a unique approach to manners" might help, but those are still judgements, aren't they?
So how to get around that.

Perhaps simply ignoring things that don't fit my beliefs is the way to approach the situation?
Whatever works I suppose.
I just want that horrid, judgemental voice to stop whispering in my ear because sooner or later it turns it's baleful proclamations on me and and I don't fare any better.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

How it looks from here.

I've been travelling up and down Vancouver Island for the last week, visiting friends, hanging out with my mom, hunting ghosts and wolves and taking pictures along the way.
I'd been away from this place for such a long time; I'm really trying to reacquaint myself with every nook and cranny again.

It's so beautiful here.

Here's a collection of pictures from this week...and it may just be a built in excuse as to why I haven't been a diligent blogger as of late!

So, without further ado, may I introduce my much loved mom, and my much loved island.

This is the view from atop the 'Malahat'. The drive from Victoria to head north requires traversing a precariously perched highway. It's a tight cornered and sharp curved road, but the view from the top on a clear day is worth the white knuckles.

And, of course, my dear mom.

And the camillia's are out, spreading their pink blossoms everywhere.

This dark and brooding picture is from the opposite end of the island, closest to Washington State. (In fact, I think you can SEE Washington from there on the horizon. Or maybe that's Japan.)
This picture is the furthest point of Vancouver Island, the very southern tip looking across the gray expanse.

This is a...daffodil? I'd never seen one quite like it. In fact, it's the only one I've seen like it.

So once the Malahat is conquered and you continue driving north, Qualicum Beach is eventually reached. Between the blue and the green and the snow sits a lovely little town where everyone drives under 50km (realllly slow) but it's okay because the view is sublime.

The last photo looking out from Willow's Beach in Victoria. This was taken earlier this month.

In the immortal words of Dorothy, "There's no place like home!"

Thursday, March 08, 2007


"Hey Aaron, what's your girlfriends last name?"


"Oh. Is she immortal?"

"Dunno, I haven't tried to cut off her head."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Still here!

While it may appear that I've fallen off the edge of the earth, in truth, I'm still firmly planted here.
Gravity has a way of doing that.

Since my job ended, it's as if I don't have time to blog any more. Interestingly, I did most of my blogging at work!

So, there you have it. I'm still out and about, still plugging along.

Oh! Good news!

My money (which had been depleted from my bank account by persons unknown) is going to be restored to me!
I guess they finally concluded that I didn't orchestrate this theft myself and after a further investigation (they weren't going to refund my money until I shed a few tears) they did find that my debit card had been compromised some where along the way.

I'm so glad...and I guess it shows that...that...I'm not sure. Shows that the 'system' works? Nah, that's not quite what I mean.
Shows that being a good person will eventually see positive results? Nope, that's definitely not it.
Well, anyway.
My faith in something is restored.