Monday, 21 September 2009

Meme, Myself & I

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea have nearly never done this most bloggerest of blogger things: A meme. I’ve been tagged before, but did not respond. Since Angel regularly posts memes, I’ve decided to ask her to suggest one. Angel responded with this one: I have to write about ten things I love. There is a snag though... she assigned the letter ‘J’ to the instruction, so every item on the list must start with the letter J. In the end it did not prove that easy, but I came up with a list which I am satisfied with and this is in no particular order or ranking: 1. Jeep clothing: It is the most comfortable clothing around. Especially if you are big like me. It actually makes your shoulders look bigger and your tummy smaller. I cannot wear Truworths Man clothes for example. Their largest size is XL and is too small for me. A Large Jeep shirt on the other hand fits me comfortably. 2. Johannesburg: Although I do not live there, it is the best city in SA. I really like Jozi. Cape Town is good for a long weekend and I cannot stand Pretoria (en omtrent 50% van alle Pretorianers). 3. Jockey briefs: Pure cotton comfort. (It is an ADD thing – clothing must be extremely comfortable) 4. Java-jolt: Strong cup, freshly brewed, good quality - first thing in the morning! 5. Jalapeño Peppers: Not too strong like Habañero – but lots of flavour 6. Jack Russel Terriers: We’ve got 2. 7. Jelly Tots: Reminds me of childhood 8. Journal: On-line – this one and other people’s 9. Janis Joplin: Boy, that girl could sing! 10. J&B: Amongst other Whiskeys

Friday, 18 September 2009

Observations on the R59

Two years of commuting alone in my car on the R59 from Vereeniging to Johannesburg and back each day made me realize a few things. The observations to follow are what I have discerned from countless trips on a very busy highway. These observations exclude the obvious (BMW drivers (men) Mercedes drivers (women) and large trucks (very many between the Vaal and JHB)). Here we go...

  • Fastest bakkies = Late model company branded (usually machinery) Toyota bakkies – both double and single cabs.
  • Slowest bakkies = Old Ford bakkies (baby blue with an orange driver’s door) driven by an old oom with a hat. Fuck knows where he is going at 5:30 AM travelling on the R59.
  • Taxis = Perceptibly fewer taxi’s than on other highways. (thank God for small mercies)
  • Cars sticking too close on your tail =Toss-up between VW Polo tdi’s driven by some young @#*&! with a shark-fin hairstyle or a Mercedes Delivery Van driven by a man in overalls.
  • Preferred lift-club car for women = VW CitiGolf. Usually 4 large middle aged ladies with big hair and big earrings. As one cruise by you see a lot of mouths opening & closing, bangles flashing, heads turning to & fro, tight perms bobbing up and down and earrings swinging. I also imagine 4 strong clashing perfumes. A lot of talking & gesticulating. Kids, husbands and bosses, I guess the main topics to be. Sometimes there would be a pale thin young man stuck between the two ladies on the back seat. Blue is the preferred colour of the attire, so I fancy them to be working at Standard Bank in downtown Jo’burg.
  • Preferred lift club car for men = Men from V-town do not lift-club.
  • Most out of place and overly cautious = Middle class family looking uncomfortable in their Sunday best. I’ll put money on that one family member needs to see a specialist in Sandton and the rest go along for support. Daddy reckoned that you’ll never know what the traffic’s gonna do, so let’s leave early so that we make our 12:00 appointment comfortably. We can stop for burgers in Alberton on our way back, Mommy’s going to be too upset to cook tonight anyway.
  • And who said ADD’ers aren’t observant?! Ha!

And on the way back in the afternoon I thank God for 94.7 Highveld Stereo. Imagine the crap I would have thought out if I did not have a radio in the car! I wonder if someone categorised me...? I wonder if the new Heineken Brewery halfway to Vereeniging will have a factory outlet? Should I stop at the Blockhouse for a colddrink? Aah! My favourite song! I wish they would play .... for a change. That *Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored* at work today *Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored* will get his comeuppance *Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored* Bliksem 94.7 Highveld Stereo irritates the hell out of me sometimes, let’s see what is on the other stations: Radio 5 - no, Radio Oranje - no, Classic FM - no, 702 - no, Khaya- no, Metro - no, aaaarrrrgghhhh – JACARANDA!! – back to Highveld thank you very much. I am sure my penis just moved. TOET VIR JOU FOKKEN GAT MAN!!! I forgot to pray this morning. Meyerton, finally I am nearly home. What shall we eat tonight? I need to have the shocks on the car replaced.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Braai 4 Heritage

The Braai 4 Heritage initiative started off as National Braai Day on the 24 of September (I think 2 or 3 years ago), coinciding with Heritage Day (SA public holiday). This became a politically tinged issue in the press and subsequently the initiative was re-named Braai 4 Heritage. I’ve never been one for celebrating public holidays (Exept the Christian holidays of Christmas & Easter). I did not celebrate The Day of the Vow or Republic Day in the old SA and I am not celebrating any of the ‘New SA’ holidays. I just couldn’t be bothered. To me they can call it Bank Holidays like they do in the UK. The only benefit to me is a day off, especially if it falls on a Friday or Monday, so one can have a lekker long weekend. However, having a day to celebrate the South African Braai... now that is worthwhile commemorating and celebrating. For the past two years we’ve been a group of friends that comes together on the 24th of September and have a good and proper SA braai with all the trimmings. We do it in the form of a cook-off, but no one takes the competition part seriously – it is done just for fun and for the braaiers to mock each other. This year we will be doing it again and I can’t wait and guess what I will be braaiing. Please check out the site for interesting bits and for a good laugh (especially the braaictionary. Also check out this site dedicated to the wonders of the braaibroodjie Are you having a get-together something on Braai Day? Well, start arranging and may the wors be with you (and the chops, and the steaks, and the pap & sous, and the braaibroodjies and the potato salad...)

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Cubes of meat on a hard spear

I am not going to be able to NOT blog about this, so (and I hope I won't regret this) but here goes: I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, am officially South Africa's Sosatie champion. The Afrikaans women's mag Sarie has a seasonal food edition, the Sarie KOS. In this they have been running competitions where they ask the readers to send in there recipes looking for SA's best. So far the emphasis has been on very traditional SA fare. The first one was melktert (a traditional SA tart with a baked egg custard filling in a flaky- or short crust and cinnamon sprinkled over), the second one was - tamatie-en-uie-smoor (warm tomato and onion relish) which are served with pap at a braai. The winning entries were exceptionally good. Sarie food actually prepare the entries and have a panel of foodies select the winner. They then do a spread in the Sarie KOS on the winning recipe and a photo of the winning entrant. In the winter 2009 edition they announced that they want SA's best Sosatie (curried lamb kebab). Sosatie is as traditional South African as you can get. Very popular in the braai culture and has it's roots firmly in Cape Malay cooking. I decided to enter. I developed my own recipe, made it and tested it. The result was PERFECT! I e-mailed my entry and waited. The other day I had a call to say that I won! I am over the moon! So - unfortunately not in time for Braai 4 Heritage Day, please buy the Spring Edition of Sarie KOS - on the shelves 30 September 2009. It is one of the best food mags around (Sarie Food Editor Barbara Joubert won a speciality editor award) and their website publish the recipe's in English as well.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Weird Food...or Drink? Kopi Luak Coffee

It takes me, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, a long time to select a topic for a weird food post. I do not want it to take the form of “did-you-know-that-in-Outer-East-Mongolia-Yak-penis-broth-is-considered-a delicacy...’ type of posts. If you look at previous weird food entries, you should be able to see what I am trying to do here. So it takes a bit of research and a lot of thought before I do a weird food post. Kopi Luak coffee is now better known because of the movie, ‘The Bucket List’ where Jack Nicholson’s character has a particular affinity for this coffee. As a result of this affinity of his and Morgan Freeman’s character’s mockery of the origin of this coffee, they achieve one of the items on the list, which is laughing till they cry. So, from Wikipedia...the story behind Kopi Luak. Kopi Luak (pronounced [ˈkopi ˈloo - uck]) or Civet coffee is coffee made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) and other related civet populations. The civets eat the berries, but the beans inside pass through their system undigested. This process takes place on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago, in the Philippines (where the product is called Motit Coffee in the Cordillera, or Kape Alamid in Tagalog areas) and in East Timor (locally called kafé-laku). Local lore in Vietnam has given the name "weasel coffee" to civet coffee, in what is considered the closest recognizable translation to English. Kopi is the Indonesian word for coffee, and luak is a local name of the Asian Palm Civet. The common palm civet is normally found in Ceylon, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, India and Pakistan, Myanmar (Burma), and Southern China, south to Sumatra and Java, east to the Philippines, Borneo, Celebes and the Lesser Sunda Island. In Malaysia, the common palm civets are wild-spread on the mainland, in Langkawi, Pulau Penang, and Pulau Tioman. Palm civets are primarily frugivorous, feeding on berries and pulpy fruits, including those of Ficus trees and plams. They also eat small vertebrates, insects, ripe fruits and seeds. Civets are often casually referred to as "cats" or "weasels" (Vietnam typically) but they are not in the cat or weasel family. In Sumatra they are in the family of Viverridae, and in the Philippines they are known as Paradoxorus Philippinensis, an endangered species currently aided and protected by the cultivation of civet coffee. Civets consume the red coffee cherries, when available, containing the fruit and seed, and they tend to pick the ripest and sweetest fruit. Thus there is a natural selection for the ripest coffee beans. The inner bean of the berry is not digested, but a unique combination of enzymes in the stomach of the civet add to the coffee's flavor by breaking down the proteins that give coffee its bitter taste. The beans are defecated, still covered in some inner layers of the berry. The beans are washed, and given only a light roast so as to not destroy the complex flavors that develop through the process. Light roasting is considered particularly desirable in coffees that do not exhibit bitterness, and the most pronounced characteristic of Kopi Luwak is a marked reduction in bitterness. In early days, the beans would be collected in the wild from a "latrine," or a specific place where the civet would defecate as a means to mark its territory, and these latrines would be a predictable place for local gatherers to find the beans. More commonly today, civet farms allow civets to roam within defined boundaries, and the feces produced are then processed and the coffee beans offered for sale. Many consumers question whether civet coffee is safe and sanitary, and whether it contains e-coli bacteria. The civet is not known as a carrier of e-coli or other bacteria potentially dangerous to humans, and there is no public record of any illness conveyed by civet coffee. It is professed by producers that the enzymes in the digestive tract, as well as the rigorous washing and sun drying of the beans, help to eliminate bacteria, along with the high temperature roasting process, and that the coffee is entirely safe. Kopi Luak is the most expensive coffee in the world, selling for between $100 and $600 USD per pound, and is sold mainly in Japan and the United States by weight, and served in coffeehouses in Southeast Asia by the cup. It is increasingly becoming available elsewhere, though supplies are limited; only 1,000 pounds (450 kg) at most make it into the world market each year.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Double Ritalin on Coffee with two sugars please – oh, and lots of milk.

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea know I should not take double doses of Ritalin, but last week I did. The new job is very hectic. My predecessor left and I am coming on board ¾’s of the way through the project. So I have a lot of catching up to do. My predecessor did NOTHING so everything on my project role is a mess. Now remember Ritalin is a stimulant. So I worked like a man possessed on the double dosages. I also had to do a personal financial management cum team building on the side on Saturday. My colleague worked out the teambuilding part, but I had to work out the presentation for the personal financial management bit. That had to happen out of work time. So you can imagine... I did pay dearly though. By Sunday I was klaar, klar, klarrrrr. Monday I walked round like an automaton. Yesterday I started to recover, but I nodded off during a meeting (9:30) in the morning. I think one lady saw me, because I caught her trying to suppress a smile. Today I feel my old self again and I am only on Chai Tea.