Saturday, December 31, 2005
Happy New Year!
Friday, December 30, 2005
I'm making: panzerotti (fried bread twists)
I'm listening to: You Could Have It So Much Better, Franz Ferdinand
I'm reading: The Kitchen Diaries, Nigel Slater
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
2. What happened to Neil Pearson's cheekbones? And along with them, his career? Why would he appear in Booze Cruise 2 on ITV - and why would I watch most of it?
3. Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas edition was irritatingly addictive. Poor Evander Holyfield!
4. The National Lottery's Millionaire Manor was just bizarre. And a waste of time and money. And I only won 10 quid.
5. There are too many "list" shows: Top 10 comedy moments, Top 10 comedy films etc (all of which date from the past two years as anyone stupid enough to vote in these things is likely to have long-term memory problems).
6. Er, but this blog entry doesn't count as a list. Oh no.
Monday, December 26, 2005
Friday, December 23, 2005
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Off to the local shwarma house to get a falafel broodje for lunch. The floors were spotlessly clean. The obscenely shaped breadcrumbed sausage sticks and frikandels were carefully wrapped in clingfilm, protecting them from stray germs. And the "chef" was wearing the regulation cap to prevent loose hairs falling into my food. However, as he headed back from the freezer with my falafels in hand, I heard him sneeze – wetly. And then cough - loudly. And then – and only then – did he place my falafels in the deep fryer.
Luckily, he proceeded to deep-fry all the life out of those poor falafels, so it seems unlikely that his nasal emissions survived. I should be thankful for such small mercies, I guess.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
To wit: Is it normal to:
1. Apply vast quantities of make-up (badly) before entering the exercise theater?
2. Stand around in the changing room chatting with your friends – completely starkers?
3. Do 2 (slow) lengths of the pool and then sit in the sauna for 20 minutes and regard that as an exercise session?
4. Block the entrance gates by chatting up the receptionists/chatting to the receptionists about what atrocious cowboy boot/overly tight trousers/luminous thong combination you’re going to wear that evening?
5. If male: Do 2 reps on a high weight, admire self in the mirror, chat with friends and flex your muscles for 10 minutes. Repeat ad nauseam, ignoring the queue of people (me) waiting to use said weights machine.
If female: Do 5 reps on an insultingly low weight on the inner thigh machine. Sit back and stare vacantly at the TV. Do another 5 reps, this time using your hands to push the weights. Check nail varnish for chips. Repeat ad nauseam, ignoring the queue of people (me) waiting to use said weights machine.
Well, is it?
Sunday, December 18, 2005
So, what about me? Sure, I can cook, I can train my virtual puppy, and I'm damn good at tidying up, but they're not really creative activities. In fact, I much prefer ripping into other people's creative efforts (hence my job as an editor) than putting my own stuff out there. Perhaps I should just be happy with being able to indulge my "destructive" tendencies in a well-paying job . . .
It was remarkably hard to find a maple pecan cookie recipe online yesterday, so I ended up making these biscotti. I initially thought they weren't sweet enough - I didn't have any icing sugar so couldn't make the maple glaze that was part of the recipe and which would have added a considerable hit of sweetness - but on reflection (and after eating four or five), I came to the conclusion that they were just right. A hit - a veritable hit!
Recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens Web site.
Unlike the 25 minutes of obnoxious, entitled behavior demonstrated by the overindulged brats on another MTV show, "My Super-Sweet Sixteen." Is this program supposed to inspire loathing or envy on the part of its viewers? What parents would allow their daughters to take part in such a showcase for avarice and stupidity? I could only watch a few minutes before my blood pressure hit dangerous levels and I had to head to the weights room to work off my ire. Gah!
I'm listening to: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
I'm baking: maple and pecan biscotti
I'm donating to: Menu for Hope 2
Friday, December 16, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
“Victoria Beckham was involved in a slanging match with a Spanish TV star earlier this week at an exclusive Madrid gym. Posh told 50-year-old Ana Obregon, who has made no secret of her affection for David Beckham, to leave her man alone. ‘Why would he be interested in an old lady like you?’ Posh reportedly asked Ana. ‘Go get some clothes on and act your age.’”
My long-held admiration for Victoria has just increased yet again – it’s about time someone called La Obregon on her publicity-seeking bullshit, and who better than Posh! Ana Obregon dominated the prensa rosa while I lived in Spain, representing all that was ridiculous in the world of Spanish celebrity gossip. Her overly taut skin and inexplicable fondness for wearing skin-tight high-necked tops over her Zeppelin-esque funbags were permanently splashed over the pages of Que me Dices! and Diez Minutos, along with the latest “secrets” of her relationships with Davor Suker and her equally foul male counterpart, Alessandro Lequio. A friend once remarked “Whenever I see one of these putas with a new fur coat, I know that they’ve sold another story to the press” – and Ana was their queen.
However, Ana has ridiculous artificial breasts, scarily skinny legs, and dodgy hair extensions - you can see why David might find that not only attractive, but strangely familiar.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
1. Look over left shoulder to see what's coming up behind you.
2. Lift left arm to indicate the direction you wish to turn.
3a. If no one is behind you, turn to the left.
3b. If someone is behind you, slow down to let them pass, then turn left.
The Dutch Way (as practised on the streets of Amsterdam)
1. Get out your mobile phone.
2. Make a call.
3. Slow down and wobble to the right.
4. Turn sharply to the left, into the side of the cyclist who decided to overtake you when you slowed down and wobbled to the right.
5. Grunt "sorrie" in a tone that indicates that you are, in fact, not at all sorry.
6. Rinse and repeat.
Yeah, so I'm not comparing like with like. But I do it the British way and it's my damn blog!
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
And after mistaking an oddly shaped log for two Scottie terriers today, I'm thinking that I should probably get my eyes tested again soon. All this blogging is clearly leading to blindness.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Questions, questions - I'm starting to sound like a more intelligent (I hope) version of the idiotic Carrie Bradshaw. But without the fabric flower. Or Manolo Blahniks. Unfortunately.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Mischa Barton has vowed never to get her melons done - 'cause that would make her too sexy.When the OC star was probed at to whether she'd like bazookas like Rachel Bilson, who plays Summer in the same show, she said:'No!' Oh. There's more.'I feel tall and lanky next to her, but I'd be scared of having her boobs and voluptuousness.'I would never have a boob job.'I like being understatedly sexy.'Rachel's curves make her more overtly sexual than I am.'
I think that's what's called a backhanded compliment. Or is it just downright bitchiness? I'm confused.
God, Mischa Barton makes it SO easy to hate her! She truly is the new Gwhiney.
But in general, I love the winter. Not the dark mornings and icy roads, so much, but the food, the clothing, and never needing an excuse just to stay in. Summers here aren't all that warm but you're still expected to sit outside on a terrace surrounded by thousands of beered-up cloggies while the icy winds sweep in off the North Sea, carrying clouds of cigarette smoke over your bitterbollen. Not so in winter. I can retreat to my lopsided apartment, turn the oven on full blast, and get baking - and no, that's not a Dutch marijuana metaphor.
Ten things I love about the winter:
1. Soups - sweet potato; carrot and ginger; curried parsnip - although parsnips are hard to come by. Annoyingly (no really!), the Dutch regard the mighty white root as animal feed, knowing nothing of the joy of a parmesan-roasted parsnip.
2. Carbs - pasta bakes, risotto, gnocchi, mashed potato, and lots of bread: rosemary and onion cornbread, focaccia, my easy-to-make wholewheat Italian low bread . . . And the cookies: choc chip, choc choc chip, and current favourite, peanut butter and jelly shortbread - with additional chocolate chips. Mmmm.
3. Sixty denier tights from Hema - no shaving required.
4. Fleece - hats, scarves, gloves, sweaters, jackets, blankets, socks - you name it, I have it in fleece. I don't care if that makes me middle-aged, Trinny & Susannah - it also makes me warm.
5. My new winter coat from Zara. Toasty. And cheap.
6. Our new fake fur throw from Habitat. Also toasty. Not so cheap.
7. Dogs in tartan jackets. In paniers. On the back of bikes.
8. Hot chocolate. Particularly the kind you get in Spain, which is so thick you eat it with a spoon. Or with churros, at 5 in the morning on your way home from the bar. Oh churreria on the Calle Zamora in Salamanca - how do I miss thee!
9. No leaves on the tree outside our apartment, making it much lighter - and easier to spot the cute Jack Russells across the canal. And see people removing their clothes in the apartments facing. Fun.
10. Fewer tourists wandering the streets or ineptly cycling slowly on their MacBikes. Fewer frat boys in the coffee shops or hen parties in the red light district - unless you're from Newcastle, it's not much fun wandering the streets in a glittery miniskirt with an L plate when there's freezing fog outside.
Winter - bring it on!
Thursday, December 08, 2005
I really want to move back to the UK. I miss my NHS.
Normal (for Norfolk) service will resume shortly.
Monday, December 05, 2005
As for you black van driver, don't be surprised if people get a wee bit pissed off that you parked your car on the corner of the 'gracht, effectively blocking two streets, and then disappeared into a house to get a piece of wood. Car horns will be honked. Particularly if one of those pissed-off people is sitting in a taxi and paying by the minute and through the nose - like me.
And listen, Etos: If you open a new store, make sure the damn barcoding system actually works properly before you let paying punters in. While I was happy to point out two of the errors on my bill - to your advantage, I might add - your tight-fisted cloggie customers won't be so generous.
Must. Not. Kill. Muppets.
After a few days back in the People's Republic of Norfolk, I knew what my next outpouring of angst should be - the Dutch don't smile. I walked around Sainsbury's and a lady almost hit me with her trolley. Instead of the Dutch response of glowering at you for getting in their way, the nice Norfolk lady gave me a big smile and apologised. Checkout assistants look you in the eye, smile, and chat - to everyone. Cars stop to let pedestrians cross roads, and the grateful pedestrian smiles and waves her thanks. I love it. Thank you citizens of Norwich for making eye contact and making me feel happy.
Smiling: so easy to do, so rarely encountered (over here). So normal for Norfolk.
I'm reading: The Food of Love by Anthony Capella
I'm eating: mushroom stroganoff with mustard mash
I'm avoiding: the rain - the interminable rain
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
A big cup of STFU to car drivers who don't realize that a) bikes have right of way, b) this is particularly true when cars are turning right across a bike lane, and c) insisting on going through a set of traffic lights to join a stationery line of traffic on a cross-junction is just going to bung up the entire junction, rendering it impossible for other cars, trams, and most importantly my bike, to get across. Why the Dutch haven't introduced the yellow boxes you see in Britain is beyond me, especially given that their drivers show no common sense whatsoever.
I'm listening to: The Cloud Room (thanks Erin!)
I'm cooking: nothing - we're off for dinner at NOA tonight. Let's see if the service has improved at all in the past five years.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I'm cooking: chocolate chip cookies
I'm reading: Natural History by Justina Robson
Monday, November 28, 2005
It occured to me this morning that this love of the production-related documentary is rooted deeply in my childhood. Playschool had one of these each day - you went through the round window, the square window, or (the excitement!) the arched window, and were transported to milk bottle factories or food processing plants. Was this an attempt by the Labour government of the day to get kids interested in manufacturing (or accepting of their fate)? Is this why Thatcher's subsequent decimation of the manufacturing industry in Britain hurt so much? Could this explain why I feel that my job is, essentially, worthless? After all, I produce nothing and Big Ted, Humpty, and the others taught me that only jobs that make things are worth documenting.
Oh Playschool - what psychic damage have you wrought!?
Sunday, November 27, 2005
However, what didn't I encounter on my hellish ride in? Dutchies! Don't be fooled by the Cloggies telling you that they cycle regardless of the weather: It's lies, all lies - I passed only a handful of hardy souls/idiots, and the buses and trams were packed. This goes hand in hand with the other 'fiets' legend - only expats get their bikes fixed by professionals, because every Dutchie is born with the inate ability to repair their chain using just their teeth (their hands being occupied with their fags and mobiles). If that were the case, why is there a bike shop on every corner? Offering such lousy service that it makes you wish you could master the teeth-chain interface, but still - we can't be supporting them all, can we? No, it's just another myth put about to make gullible expats feel bad (along with the language, the tax office, and the housing market).
Bitter, moi? Just a little.
I'm reading: The Light Of Day, Graham Swift.
I'm watching: Rome (BBC/HBO).
I'm cooking: Celery and blue cheese soup.