Saturday, 24 June 2017

Food stories.

Beware of electronic kitchen itensils. "A popular French fitness blogger has died after a whipped cream dispenser exploded into her chest. Rebecca Burger, 33, who wrote about fitness and travel on social media, where she had 55,000 Facebook and 154,000 Instagram followers, died last weekend in what her family described as a “domestic accident” at her home at Mulhouse, eastern France." I read about this and, while sorry that she had died, found myself with a couple of questions. What was a fitness blogger doing using whipped cream? And what's wrong with just whipping it with a fork or a hand whisk? Far less dangerous!

Belgium is famous for chips. The French used to make jokes about it, rather like people used to make jokes about the Irish being potato eaters. I doubt if any of those jokes are acceptable these days. Whatever the truth of that might be, Belgian chips have been in the news because the European Commission is trying to tell the Belgians how to cook them. Apparently local politicians say this amounts to an attempt to ban the national dish, the frite – or frieten, as they say in the Flemish-speaking north of the country. "Whether eaten with mayonnaise or taken au naturel, the Belgian chip is up there with chocolate, beer and the national football team in the nation’s psyche." Or so they say.

"No public square is complete without a frietkot, or chip stand, where sellers swear by double frying bintje potatoes in beef or horse fat to achieve the ideal combination of a succulent centre and crispy exterior. In a move that appears to demonstrate a dazzling lack of common touch on the part of EU officials in Brussels – which is both the capital of Belgium and the home of the union – the commission is proposing that the potatoes should be blanched first to prevent the formation of acrylamide, an allegedly hazardous compound that can form in the frying process when certain foods are heated to a temperature above 120C."

There I was, prepared to be full of sympathy, until I read the bit about frying the chips in beef or horse fat. Quite gross! I know of a fish and chip shop near our home in Greater Manchester, a fish and chip shop of some renown, where they fry the chips in dripping. It's the same principle: animal fat! I am sure both lots of chips, Belgian and English, taste fine but the animal fat thing is rather off-putting to someone like me who rarely eats red meat!

Here's another quite gross food item, from Wednesday:

 "Police in Canada have launched an investigation after a patron at a Yukon bar allegedly stole the famed ingredient of their signature drink: a mummified human toe. For more than 40 years the Downtown hotel in Dawson City has served up the sourtoe cocktail, a shot of whisky with a blackened toe – nail and all – bobbing inside. Those who manage to touch the gnarled, severed toe to their lips earn a certificate.

On Saturday a customer took it one step further, allegedly making off with the wrinkled digit after swallowing his drink. “We are furious,” said Terry Lee of the hotel. “Toes are very hard to come by.”

The man had apparently boasted of his plans to steal the toe earlier in the evening. He later convinced a staff member to let him try the drink outside of the designated two-hour window known at the bar as toe time. “And this is how he pays her back,” Lee said in a news release. “What a lowlife.”

The  tradition claims to trace its roots to the 1920s, when a rum runner preserved his frostbitten, amputated big toe in a jar of alcohol in his cabin. Fifty years later, the pickled toe was discovered by a Yukon native who brought it to the Downtown, where it became a celebrated ingredient in its drinks. After Saturday’s theft, the hotel contacted the police and began offering a reward to anyone with information. “We fortunately have a couple of back-up toes, but we really need this one back,” said Lee. It was the newest addition to their collection, donated by a man who had had to have his toe surgically removed. After curing it for six months in salt, the staff had only begun adding it to drinks this week."

"Toes are hard to come by"!!! "Back-up toes"!!! Some things are just too disgusting to think about. Worms in drinks are quite enough, without human body parts.

 On a more cheerful note, this is part of what we had for our evening meal quite late yesterday.

Since it was "la noche de San Juan", there was a smell of bonfires on the air, and the delicious aroma of sardines grilling. We got a free sardine with our first drink but we did not leap over any bonfires.

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