Saturday, 18 December 2010

Lady Gaga Beefsteak, lychee and sheep’s milk cheese salad with green mango achar and lime dressing

J'veux ton amour
Et je veux ton revenge

You cannot possibly imagine how good this is. I do not have Nigella’s vocabulary, but I’ll try.

So, I have decided to take better food photos. And yes, not perfect, but much better than previous attempts:

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that blood-rare beefsteak salad is my favourite ‘alone’ food. It is quick, easy and really very... VERY good. I make a different variation every time.
Due to the lots of rain we had Angel had to postpone her birthday party and Lamb and I couldn’t make the new date. Lamb & Image went to visit grandma, so I was home alone.

Part of Angel’s gift would have been the most delicious sheep’s milk cheese I picked up in Smithfield in the Southern Free State. The Smithfield farmer who produces these cheeses is a woman and she won loads of prizes for this cheese. It is called Ovis Angelica – heavenly sheep’s milk cheeses. As Angel’s Angelical Sheep’s Milk Cheese went into my salad – alas, only the inedible part of her birthday gift survived.

So here’s what went into J. Hardspear de la Azotea’s Man Salad for 1 hungry man. *I’m a free BASTARD baby!*

1 large thick cut rump steak. We South Africans love our rump steak. It may not be as tender as rib-eye (The Americans like this one), or fillet (tenderloin), but it definitely s’got loads more flavour and if you do not overcook it, it is tender enough. The Brits & Jamie Oliver agree with me on this one

grated rind & juice of 1 lime
half a teaspoon grated fresh ginger
crushed clove of garlic
sprinkling of Thai Seven Spice
1 table spoon of soy sauce
1 table spoon of sunflower oil

Marinade the steak in this for 15 mins. Take out and pat dry with kitchen towels. Heat cast iron griddle pan till very hot (the air should start making waves above the pan). Sear the steak for about a minute or two on each side and put in a clean plate to rest.

THE SALAD (Oh boy you’ve left me speechless!)
I used a bag of mixed leaves containing a mix of mild- and strong flavoured schtuff – butter lettuce, radiccio, rocket etc.
skinned and pitted fresh lychees
carrot shavings
spring onion

THE CHEESE (Retro Dance Freak)
Ovis Angelica’s Labneh cheese. Labneh is a Middle Eastern yoghurt cheese. It is formed into small balls and preserved in bottles filled with oil. It has a soft crumbly texture and tastes very creamy and ever so slightly acidic.

THE DRESSING (In your brown eyes)
The juice of 1 – 2 limes
1 table spoon of green mango atchar + extra little bit of the oil from the atchar. (In South Africa we call Indian Pickles – Atchar)
1 table spoon of soy sauce
Mix well

Assemble the salad in a large flat serving dish, carve the meat in thin slivers, add the juices which collected in the plate to the dressing and drizzle dressing over. The combination of crunchy leaves, tender, near raw strips of meat, the delicate fragrant translucent white flesh of the lychees, the creamy cheese and the piquant, astringency & sourness of the dressing, makes for a most satisfying experience of tastes, textures, flavours and aromas.

I had a bottle of Jacobsdal Pinotage during the preparation and consumption of this salad. This salad is best eaten with your body sprawled on the couch with the serving dish on your chest, fork in one hand, glass of wine in the other and your big toe operating the DVD remote on the coffee table. Preferably a lekker Action or SciFi movie playing. I watched Inception and thought it to be a really good movie.

“En soos Tibbie sê: “Hierie wyn is Goddelik!”

Alehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhandro! Do you know you love me boy, hot - just like Mexico!

I am decidedly drunk now, so with dick in hand I salute you! [Telephone – Lady Gaga & Beyonce together is enough to make me come in my Hemishphere cut-off jeans.] My chest (and tummy) may be too big for Truworths man but my waist ain’t not!!

Friday, 17 December 2010


I am still contemplating coriander.  Will do a proper post soon, there is many in my head, but I can't seem to find the time to pen it down.

Friday, 3 December 2010

ADD, Instant Gratification & Gardening #2

[wtf, wtf, wtf!!!  Blogger KEEP on publishing only half of my posts - here's the rest which should have been part of the post below]

So why do us ADDers seek INSTANT gratification all the time??? – The simple answer is to either stop the noise or to stop the boredom. Angel put me on this track with her recent post on the same topic. Angel discusses also the fact that ADDers are not motivated by long term rewards nor deterred by long term consequences. But what is interesting is this… It is not that we cannot see the reward of sometimes having to wait for something (or consequences of doing something very satisfying THIS VERY INSTANT), it is just that we couldn’t be bothered. Even feeling regret soooooo many times for missing out on a reward as a result of not having done something/not putting an effort in/not having waited is enough motivation for next time round (Unless the missed-out reward was whoppingly massive or the punishment cripplingly severe.)

To you this may seem like stubbornness and bad attitude, but it is not. It is not impossible for us to make the right decision, put in the required effort or wait for a reasonable amount of time to achieve something or gain a reward, it is just very, very difficult at times. This frustrate people close to ADDers, but it the effect is much worse on us. It discourages us, depresses us and frustration does not even start to describe the aggravation we feel. And that is why they say the ADDer’s behaviour is self limiting.

With your encouragement we can get out of the cycle of course.

Now today I need encouragement. Here’s the story of the need for instant gratification is stealing my joy:

Recently I started to put much more effort and time into our garden. And yes, I feel good when I have don hard manual labour in the garden, I feel at peace when I have planted schtuff and cleared out weeds, but that is not always rewarding enough for me to continue. I must also mention that there is a VERY big difference between negative consequences and discouragement. A big negative consequence may not deter us, but a little insignificant thing can discourage us real bad.

As I then have commented on dbawiw’s blog – something is eating my lovely chilli plants. What on God’s earth eats chilli plants (except us of course)? So, already not being able to wait for the little plants to bear shiny green & red chillis, something now cause further delays, or even NO reward at all! I know it is not rational, but if I plant a lemon tree and water it once, I expect it to be in full bloom the very next day and the day after it must be laden with heavy, fat, juicy fruit. So here the cycle starts… At first I take it as a personal affront that something would eat MY chilli plants, which I have put time in energy into. Then I feel that they can eat the whole bloody thing for all I care and I won’t plant another green thing for as long as I live. But wait, here the Ritalin kicks in, as well as what I have learned from reading about ADD, therapy etc etc. Don’t give up. I then go into over-do mode. I want whatever is eating my precious chillis DEAD now. Surely a little undiluted insect poison would not do any harm (yes I know the bottle says to mix 1 drop poison with a kiloliter of water, but it sounds a bit weak to me). I administer some vile smelling schtuff to my chillis. When I rush out tomorrow to check for new growth and masses of upturned insect carapaces, I’ve found that the chilli’s leaves turned yellow. Over-doing can produce either spectacular or disastrous results; you can never know which…

In the meanwhile, the dogs have wrecked my coriander and the harvester ants are having a feeding frenzy at the expense of my soft, luxurious green front-lawn. The very thought makes me want to jump in the car to go and buy an i-Phone 4 or eat 6 curry mince vetkoeke or harass Lamb for some nooky or drive to Durban. Barbara Streisand Barbara Streisand Barbara Streisand Barbara Streisand Barbara Streisand BAR-BA-RAAAA STREEEEIIIIIIISAND!

Con-tem-PLATE coriander, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, contemplate coriander…

ADD, Instant Gratification & Gardening

Let me just start off first with my rant of the day… I HAVE ADD AND I FIND IT VERY D I F F I C U L T TO FOLLOW AN INSTRUCTION OR PERFORM A REQUEST IF YOU WON’T GIVE ME THE REASON FOR DOING IT!!! Sommer is nie ‘n rede nie – skilpad het nie vere nie! “Just because”, “Because I asked you”, “Because I SAID so” and “Just do it!” does not WORK for me. I cope with enough distractions without having to figure out WHY I have to do what you asked/instructed/commanded me to do! For FUCK sakes man, is it so HARD to give my just a one liner reason? YOU try to get a day’s work done with Duck Sauce’s “Barbara Streisand” playing loudly in your head for 4 consecutive confounded days. Over and over again – it is the last thing I hear before I go to sleep and the very first thing I hear when I wake up. I hear it when I work, I hear whilst you talk to me (and I need to concentrate because you are in the background) I even here it when I’m in the kakhuis. It is not that I do not WANT to do schtuff, just remember your MOTIVATED wish is my command. I know it is frustrating to always give a reason for everything, but I am TRYING on my end – so do not make it HARDER for me still…

OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way…

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Bridging the Kindle Digital Divide in South Africa – My third Afrikaans Post

Intro = English
Content = Afrikaans

As I tell everyone I know about my Amazon Kindle, a few people have approached me for more information before acquiring their own Kindles. Mostly it is some of my IRL friends, who are not very IT or WEB savvy. I have written them the simple instructions below, indicating how I optimised My Kindle Experience so that I can  - in South Africa - have the same benefits as someone in the USA and NOT PAY MORE (Kindle books are more expensive here in SA), but if you follow these steps below, you can save a lot of money and read a much wider selection than what is available in the Amazon store. Example – George Bush’s new book cost $21 if your Kindle is registered to a SA address and $9 (NOT that I want it for FREE) if registered to an address in the USA. (How are we ever going to bridge the digital fucking divide if companies schnaai us Africans like this!?). Prolly the Publishers fault and NOT Amazon's...  So here goes:

Ek het redelik die storie nagevors voor ek myne gekoop het, en my grootste bekommernis was dat ek net Amazon e-boeke op dit sal kan lees, en dat ek ook weens Uitgewers regte nie alle Amazon boeke in Suid-Afrika kan aflaai nie. Ek het die volgende raad gevolg en dit het baie goed gewerk. (Daar is steeds baie baie baie beskikbaar op Amazon, maar as jy soos ek is, wil ‘n mens nie ingeperk voel nie.)

1. In die proses om jou Kindle se unieke reeksnommer op jou naam te registreer op Amazon se webtuiste – gebruik ‘n adres in die VSA. Ek het sommer vir $10 (STANDARD OPTION) vir myself ‘n adres in Amerika gekoop by ‘n aanlyn-inkopiediens (MyUS) wat dit doen vir mense wat buite Amerika woon, maar goed vandaar wil bestel (veral ondat ons op plekkie soos hier in SA nie ons eie posdiens kan vertrou nie). Ek het die adres gebruik en toe my Kindle met die adres geregistreer. Onthou as jy dan ‘n soektog doen met die rekenaar op Amazon, om die land in die linker boonste hoek se aftreklys-hokkie te verander vanaf Africa na ‘USA’. Die voordeel dan is dat jy uit meer boeke kan kies op die Amazon webtuiste en dat hulle boonop beduidend goedkoper is EN dat jy toegang dan tot hulle gratis boeke ook het. As jy op jou rekenaar hierdie proses gevolg het, is jy dan in staat om direk van jou Kindle af boeke te koop op Amazon se webtuiste.

2. Indien jy direk vanaf jou Kindle wil boeke op Amazon koop moet jy ook jou kredietkaart details op Amazon registreer. Dit is ‘n aparte registrasie proses, en daar kan jy jou plaaslike SA adres gebruik.

3. Die Amazon Kindle gebruik hulle eie unieke eienskap e-boek formate. Soos ‘n Word dokument eindig met .doc en excel met .xls en Adobe met .pdf eindig Amazon s’n met oa. .mobi. Plekke soos Kalahari se e-boeke is weer ‘n ander formaat bv. .EPUB. As jy boeke op ‘n ander plek as Amazon wil koop (of gratis aflaai) kan jy dit nie direk op jou Kindle doen nie. Jy moet dit eers op jou rekenaar laai, die formaat verander en dan die Kindle se kabel gebruik om dit aan jou rekenaar to konnekteer en van die rekenaar na die Kindle oor te laai. (Dis in elke geval hoe al die ander e-boek lesers soos SONY s’n werk) Daar is ‘n programmetjie wat jy van die internet moet aflaai wat enige e-boek formaat na enige ander e-boek formaat kan omskakel – Calibre

Die Calibre programmetjie werk regtig baie goed en het selfs ‘n grootmaat omskakelings funksie. Ek het ‘n ruk terug 1000 wetenskapsfiksie e-boeke op ‘n data geheuestokkie by ‘n vriend gekry en op ‘n Saterdag middag die hele spul deur Calibre gejaag (of gedrentel, want dit het die hele middag geneem op my super-stadige skootrekenaar. Maar enkel boeke vat darem net ‘n paar minute). Die proses stel ‘n mens dan in staat om selfs Afrikaanse boeke by te koop, om te skakel en dan op jou Kindle te lees.

Onthou ook om Amazon se Kindle for PC af te laai. Dit skep dan outomaties ‘n “my kindle content” leêr binne jou “my documents” leêr op jou rekenaar waarin al die boeke wat op jou Kindle toestel is, ook op jou rekenaar gestoor word. Jy hoef dit nie eers oor te kopieër nie, maak net die Kindle for PC oop en kliek op ‘Archived Items’ en jy sal ‘n lys kry met al die boeke wat jy reeds op Amazon gekoop het. As op die individuele boeke kliek sal dit op jou rekenaar aflaai, jy kan dit op jou rekenaar lees en dit word in genoemde leêr gestoor. Ek lees nie graag boeke op die rekenaar nie – maar dit kom nuttig te pas as jy nie die Kindle toestel by jou het nie en jy wil net gou iets check.

Nou ja, ek weet die meeste bloggers is vaardig op die web en met allerhande tegniese foefies soos e-lesers, maar ek hoop hierdie post help iemand wat nie is nie, en wat ook die maksimum gebruik uit hulle kindle wil kry.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Hardspear stats

According to Blogger’s (newish) stats application, this is what people are reading most on my blog.  After Google and other search engines, I get the most referrals from Angel & Tamara’s blogs – thanks you two beauties for having me on you link lists!  Brigit is my best Twitter referrer.

25 Sep 2007, 11 comments 1,006 Pageviews

16 Sep 2009, 5 comments 490 Pageviews

10 Mar 2009, 3 comments 306 Pageviews

23 Mar 2009, 5 comments 288 Pageviews

30 Apr 2009, 5 comments 276 Pageviews

18 Sep 2007, 1 comment 179 Pageviews

17 Sep 2010, 3 comments 101 Pageviews

18 Mar 2010, 8 comments 93 Pageviews

16 Jul 2009, 4 comments 71 Pageviews

11 Nov 2010, 4 comments 66 Pageviews

Keywords which bring most people (apart from regular readers) to my blog are:

“I hate ADD”, “Afrikaans Swear Words”, “Swearing in Afrikaans”, “Cursing in Afrikaans”, “Afrikaans Insults”, Swearing in Africaan”(sic), “Afrikaans Swar Word”(sic), “Bad tasting Arginine”, “Greek Lamb”, “Roast Leg of Lamb”, “Leg of Lamb in the Weber”, “Peppermint Crisp Tart Recipe”, “Raspberry Charlotte”, “Charlotte aux Framboises”, “Cafe de Paris Sauce recipe”, “Sosaties Recipe”, “Kitch Paintings”

“Braai Day”, “Braai for Heritage” – I got loads of hits for this during September.  It peaked on Heritage Day, the 24th and steeply tapered off ever since.

I get quite a number of hits on picture searches.  The highest picture hits I get on one of my own pictures (and NOT on those which I in turn copied from the web) is the one for Indian Butter Chicken.

My Afrigator stats indicate that for some reason I get a lot of hits on my blog’s archive tag for March 2010.  I wonder why, maybe it is because of the Kindle posts during that period?

Alexa adds “Bread”, “Sourdough” and “Star Trek” to the above.

The most hits I received in a short time was on the “Vodacom Complaint Letter” right after I posted a complaint on Vodacom’s facebook page.

etc, etc, etc, [maybe I am al little obsessed with my blog’s stats..]

Do you check your stats?  What does it say?

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Movember and the Avatar

[WTF?? Blogger did not post the whole post yesterday, here it is again]

For the first time ever I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, the Avatar, am going to discuss the In Real Life (IRL) me as if we were separate. For purposes of clarity, I’ll call him by his African name – Johannes Assegaai Maroleleng (Assegaai for short).

Now we are not really different personalities, we are the same person and when I talk about me I mean him and me and when he talks about him he means him and me. The only difference is that I do not mind my online friends meeting him IRL and know what his real name is, whereas he does not discuss me with his IRL friends and his colleagues. You’ll see that I never discuss work in this blog. Also, I have a much bigger online presence than him. He does not like facebook very much (neither do I – we prefer blogging), but in this day and age, one cannot NOT have a facebook profile. Also, he only follows 1 person on Twitter – a strange guy called Karl Bohlin. Not that he ever goes into his twitter account. – we sommer use mine. The only on-line schtuff he has and I don’t is a Linked-In and a Skype profile.

So why am I, the Avatar doing such a strange post... It is because of it being the end of the Movember Grow-a-Mo drive. As I have said in a previous post, he’s growing this Snor like many other guys in support of Movember. So I have blogged about it, facebooked about it, tweeted about it. He also facebooked about it. However, none of us have done much more in terms of raising money etc. He only got the mail from CANSA on the 1st of November and immediately decided to take part, but was a bit unprepared for it. Now we sit with the question – who are doing this Movember thing – him or me? Tricky one..., but this is what we have decided to do. For this year, he’ll donate money for Bongani from Highveld Stereo’s effort. Next year however, Assegaai will take the lead with the Movember initiative, raise funds, get is IRL friends involved etc, and I’ll only blog about it. He’ll have to be more active on HIS facebook page and do more about creating awareness.

So anyway here’s proof of my his our effort at various stages of growing a mo. The pictures are a bit strange because he took all of it himself, apart from the ones with the shades and with little Image which are also the final ones. He also took one of his new haircut, especially for Arkwife, since she’s asked.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Weird Food Scripture Cake

When I started the ‘weird food’ posts, I never would have imagined that most of the weird food and recipes in the posts would come from America.


I found a real treasure trove of very old recipe books (e-book format) for free on the Gutenberg Project website. One of these is an Amish Cookbook, called ‘The Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook’. In this cookbook I first saw a recipe for Scripture Cake.

No one knows where or when this cake was invented, but having encountered it in an old Amish cookbook, it is easy to imagine. It may have come from Europe or it may have been created on the Eastern Shore of early North America. It was sweet to eat, and a chance to modestly exhibit knowledge of the Bible. It was fun in the form of an early trivia game, and a great dish to take to a church supper.

As women moved westward across America, the recipe went with them as a small, treasured bit from “back home.” It usually travelled along as part of a prized collection of recipes.
The historical cake can still be made today. The instruction to girls probably was something like this; “Read the Biblical list of ingredients and write down your knowledge of the scriptural ingredients. Then, to be on the safe side, look in the Bible to verify your answers. You are now ready to make the cake and to your share in continuing an historical friendly tradition.”
I J, Hardspear de la Azotea certainly won’t be able to do that, so following the old Amish recipe I quote the scriptures (King James Version) with the conventional recipe right at the end.

1½ cups Judges 5:25
3 cups Jeremiah 6:20
6 Jeremiah 17:11
3½ cups Exodus 29:2
2 teaspoons Amos 4:5
2 Chronicles 9:9 to taste
A pinch of Mark 9:50
1 cup Genesis 24:17
1 tablespoon 1 Samuel 14:25
2 cups 1 Samuel 30:12
2 cups chopped dried Song of Solomon 2:13
2 cups slivered or chopped Numbers 17:8
Follow Solomon’s advice for making good boys, Proverbs 23:14

From the King James Version:
Judges 5:25: “He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish”.
Jeremiah 6:20: “To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.”
Jeremiah 17:11: “As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.”
Exodus 29:2: “And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them.”
Amos 4:5: “And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”
2 Chronicles 9:9: “And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance, and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the queen of Sheba gave king Solomon.”
Mark 9:50: “Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”
Genesis 24:17: And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.”
1 Samuel 14:25: “And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.”
1 Samuel 30:12: And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.”
Song of Solomon 2:13: “The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
Numbers 17:8: “And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.”

Proverbs 23:14: Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

1½ cups butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
3½ cups flower
2 teaspoons baking power
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
A pinch of salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups raisins
2 cups chopped dried figs
2 cups slivered or chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 160 ˚C.

Cream together butter and sugar, beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Sift together flour, baking power, salt and spices. Add alternately with water to creamed mixture.

Stir in honey, fold in raisins, figs and almonds. Mix well. Turn into two well greased 23 x 13 x 8 cm loaf pans. Bake about 60 minutes, making sure not to over bake, until loaves test done by the toothpick test. Let cool for 30 minutes in pans before turning out onto rack.

Therefore, I tell you, don't be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food, and the body more than clothing? See the birds of the sky, that they don't sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you of much more value than they? Matthew 6:25,26

Monday, 22 November 2010

Don't touch my wife on her studio!

I haven’t given the whole Movember thing enough attention, although my snor is coming along nicely. My hair grows extremely fast and gets real curly, so by last week the curly hair and wide moustache made me look like a 70’s porrrnstarrr.


Soooo, I decided it was time for a haircut. I am very often dissatisfied with the haircuts I receive, since it only looks good for 1 day. Because of the curly hair, I cannot just have it trimmed with a trimmer. (I only do it for the savathon in march though). Since I drive past Tanaz hair salon in Corlett drive every day, and since I know they have a barber shop as well, I decided to give them a try. The stylist really knew what he was doing and I got a great haircut. (They need to use that funny scissors with the toothy comb-like blades to thin out my masses of hair and tame the curls). First time in my life I had my hair cut by an Indian guy. His name is Abdul and I will definitely go back. In fact, come 1st Dec, I think I am going to get my snor shaved off there!

My appearance is also not enhanced by the fact that I drove over my brand new glasses, and now having to wear a very old pair.

Saturday we went to see the pantomime at the Jo’burg theatre (Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates). It was our company’s year-end function and the boss sponsored the play as well as lunch beforehand (and drinks, and parking vouchers and programmes). We were really looking forward and arranged to drop Image off at Lamb’s sister in Kempton Park. On our way there we had such a spectacular fight in the car, that by the time we reached Kempton Park, Lamb stated that she wished we stayed at home. I nearly rolled the car, so fast I turned around and started speeding back to V-town. We were already passing Bedfordview when Lamb said, “Ok, you’ve proved your point now, turn back again!” So there we were, on our way to Kempton Park yet again. We dropped Image off and I sped through Bruma, Bez Valley, Doornfontein & Braamfontein and got us to the Jo’burg / Civic / Nelson Mandela / whatever-the-latest-name-is-theatre not too late.

Lamb was her gregarious self (despite her chronic laryngitis which she picked up on account of talking REAL loud and being a teacher, which necessitates her to talk REAL loud for long periods of time – but more about that later). So as per usual Lamb was going on regaling everyone with funny anecdotes – she can make the most boring and insignificant event sound hysterically funny, when suddenly some COW from Scotland told Lamb that one of her stories was hardly the topic for dinner conversation! Now listen, I am allowed to fight with my wife, but if YOU touch HER on her studio, you touch ME on my studio! So off I went and told the whole table of my experience as Social Worker in the UK and that I think the dole has made the Brits weak, and how undisciplined their children are and that they all need a jolly good hiding, and teenage pregnancies just to get a flat and higher dole, and how the Brits think they can say whatever they want, whenever they want and to whom they want. A deathly silence went down all around the table and I ended my rant by saying: “Anyone for dessert?”

I ignored this woman flat out for the rest of the event and I could see that she was real uncomfortable. A pity though, because her husband is very nice and I wanted to talk to him – he has some very interesting job as social media analyst (on the security side) and he gets used by companies, governments etc.

Janice Honeyman & the cast outdid themselves again and the panto was very entertaining. One of the characters parodied Helen Zille and that was extremely funny!

I continued being contrary for the rest of the weekend...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Vodacom Complaint #2 & Automatic Complaint Letter Generators

I, John Hard Spear De La Azotea wrote the previous post in a fit of anger. As I have indicated in an earlier post, I have started a new project and I am VERY busy. I need to prepare for yet another project starting in January. I have also been invited to do a proposal & pitch for a very big project at a multi-national next week.
I have so much to do on the current project, it is just not funny. The current client is situated in Hyde Park. You would have thought that I would get good 3G reception in Hyde FUCKING Park. Again, I do at a restaurant in Jan Smuts Avenue, but 1 Kilometre down a road off of Jan Smuts, the signal is like the trickle of piss of an old man with an enlarged prostate! Weak and halting!

Where did I get the time from to do a 4-page-in-msword long post? Well, I wrote the first quarter of a page and then used Scott Pakin’s Automatic Complaint Letter Generator on the web! I can’t really accuse Vodacom of all the stuff randomly generated by this website, but it was intensely satisfying to read and post onto my blog. So... that post was done in no time at all! also check out

How do you feel about your cellular service provider?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

VODACOM complaint

Due to the nature of my work, I work all over Johannesburg visiting clients. I only EVER find good 3G Broadband receptions in restaurants and at the airport. Everywhere else it is downright shit!

Two weeks ago I worked at one of my clients’ offices in Isando – DIAGONALLY OPPOSITE THIS BILLBOARD! (Cellphone photo – not good quality). It proclaims: BESTEST BROADBAND IN SA. This, whilst 500 metres away from this billboard (I could see it from the window) I had WEAK and INTERMITTENT signal!

I am SICK and FED-UP with VODACOM or VODAKAK as they are also known. And this is not by far the only complaint I have about them. I have had it with their HOPELESS and HAMFISTED SERVICE as well.

This is my opinion of VODACOM:

I am not short on words, so please bear with the length of this letter. First and foremost, Vodacom's pouty attempt to construct a creative response to my previous letter was absolutely pitiful. Really, Vodacom, stringing together a bunch of solecistic insults and seemingly random babble is hardly effective. It simply proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that knowledge is the key that unlocks the shackles of bondage. That's why it's important for you to know that I see how important Vodacom's disgraceful, tactless hijinks are to its faithfuls and I laugh. I laugh because if you think that this is humorous or exaggerated, you're wrong. I, hardheaded cynic that I am, find that some of Vodacom's choices of words in its crusades would not have been mine. For example, I would have substituted "brain-damaged" for "Broadband" and "meddlesome" for "Yebo." The truth hurts, doesn't it, Vodacom? I had a conversation recently with some unprincipled prevaricators who were trying to intensify race hatred. That conversation convinced me that Vodacom is addicted to the feeling of power, to the idea of controlling people. Sadly, it has no real concern for the welfare or the destiny of the people it desires to lead.

Vodacom's worshippers employ carefully developed psychological techniques to influence the attitudes of dominant culture towards any environment or activity that is predominantly cacodemonic. In reaching that conclusion, I have made the usual assumption that I certainly have a hard time trying to reason with people who remain calm when they see Vodacom guarantee the destruction of anything that looks like a vital community. Vodacom has declared that it's staging a revolt against everyone who wants to institute change. Vodacom's revolting all right; the very sight of it turns my stomach. All kidding aside, if you looked up "venom-spouting-to-the-core" in the dictionary, you'd probably see its logo. I call this phenomenon "Vodacom-ism". The same might be said of irrational, mischievous pillocks. The problem is, if you're the type who dares to think for yourself, then you've probably already determined that Vodacom thinks it's good that its convictions weaken family ties. It is difficult to know how to respond to such monumentally misplaced values, but let's try this: I plan to hinder the power of asinine insurrectionists like it. This is a choice I have made; your choice is up to you. But let me remind you that Vodacom insists that individual worth is defined by race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. Sorry, Vodacom, but, with apologies to Gershwin, "it ain't necessarily so." I'm sorry if I've gotten a little off track here, but if I were a complete sap, I'd believe Vodacom's line that statism can quell the hatred and disorder in our society. Unfortunately for it, I realize that Vodacom's callow game of chess -- the ultra-uppity chess of cynicism -- has continued for far too long. It's time to checkmate this malodorous pickpocket and show it that its apparatchiks are tools. Like a hammer or an axe, they are not inherently evil or destructive. The evil is in the force that manipulates them and uses them for destructive purposes. That evil is Vodacom, who wants nothing less than to canonize fatuitous fast-buck artists as nomological emblems of propriety.

At times, we all have an axe to grind. Currently, I'm grinding my axe in regards to Vodacom's writings. Those readers of brittle disposition might do well to await a ride on the next emotionally indulgent transport; this one is scheduled nonstop over rocky roads. As soon as you're strapped in I'll announce something to the effect of how Vodacom presents itself as a disinterested classicist lamenting the infusion of politically motivated methods of pedagogy and analysis into higher education. It is eloquent in its denunciation of modern scholarship, claiming it favors what I call dishonest, rebarbative witlings. And here we have the ultimate irony because it wasn't so long ago that people like you and me were free to free people from the spell of commercialism that it has cast over them. Recently, that's become a lot harder to do. What happened that changed things so much? To put it briefly, Vodacom happened. By breaking down traditional values, Vodacom has managed to shatter and ultimately destroy our most precious possessions.

Vodacom's delusional accusations often resemble an inverted fairy tale in that the triumph of innocence comes at the start and the ugly sisters of nativism and colonialism enter on stage in triumph for the final curtain. I and Vodacom part company when it comes to the issue of demagogism. It feels that science is merely a tool invented by the current elite to maintain power while I claim that those who have most injured and oppressed humanity, that have most deeply sinned against it, are, according to Vodacom's standards and conscience, good people. Apparently, bad people are those who have noticed that Vodacom's froward ebullitions lobotomize everyone caught thinking an independent thought. Vodacom then blames us for that. Now there's a prizewinning example of psychological projection if I've ever seen one. Vodacom practically breaks its arm patting itself on the back when it says, "It takes courage to go down into the muddy trenches and shank the working class in the back to keep the cash spigots flowing." As if that were something to be proud of. At this point, our task is to address a number of important issues. Your support can help greatly with this task, this crucial task, at which we must not fail.

I don't know how to tell you this, but Vodacom's bons mots are exemplary of the forces minorities must fight in their struggle to achieve equal footing with the rest of the community. Before I start, however, I should state that to understand what Vodacom's particularly mischievous form of interventionism has encompassed as a movement and as a system of rule, we have to look at its historical context and development as a form of complacent politics that first arose in early twentieth-century Europe in response to rapid social upheaval, the devastation of World War I, and the Bolshevik Revolution. We need to oust Vodacom and its cold-blooded apologists from anywhere we find them handing over the country to the worst types of antisocial phlegmatic-types I've ever seen. Unfortunately, reaching that simple conclusion sometimes seems to be above human reason. But there is a wisdom above human, and to that we must look if we are ever to reach the broadest possible audience with the message that this is a contributing factor to the apparent decline of civilization and culture around us. Vodacom would have me wander around in a quagmire of self-pity and depression. Nevertheless, I can state with absolute certainty that it is squarely in favor of interdenominationalism and its propensity to fleece people out of their life's savings. This is so typical of Vodacom: it condemns bigotry and injustice except when it benefits it personally. Vodacom's cajoleries are a pastiche of beer-guzzling moral relativism and rash, lewd resistentialism.

Unless you're a newly hatched pod person you already know that there is a political agenda behind the "Vodacom answers to no one" malarkey. But let me add that no clear-thinking individual would have the temerity to lower this country's moral tone and depreciate its commercial integrity. To plunge right into it, Vodacom twists every argument into some sort of "struggle" between two parties. Vodacom unvaryingly constitutes the underdog party, which is what it claims gives it the right to channel the pursuit of scientific knowledge into a narrow band of accepted norms that are based exclusively on its truculent biases. Vodacom always looks the other way when one of its trucklers gets it in his head to ransack people's homes. Apparently, the principle laid down by Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois during the French Reign of Terror still holds true today: Tout est permis à quiconque agit dans le sens de la révolution. Let's play a little game. Deduct one point from your I.Q. if you fell for Vodacom's ridiculous claim that it is omnipotent. Deduct another point if you failed to notice that Vodacom needs to stop living in denial. It needs to wake up and realize that there are those who are informed and educated about the evils of terrorism, and there are those who are not. Vodacom is one of the uninformed, naturally, and that's why it is inherently devious, officious, and unscrupulous. Oh, and it also has a muddleheaded mode of existence.

It is pointless to fret about the damage already caused by Vodacom's sinful, larcenous opuscula. The past cannot be changed. We must cope with the present if we hope to affect our future and denounce those who claim that ethical responsibility is merely a trammel of earthbound mortals and should not be required of a demigod like Vodacom. With friends like Vodacom, who needs enemies? I mean, everything I've said so far is by way of introduction to the key point I want to make in this letter. My key point is that it ignores a breathtaking number of facts, most notably:

Fact: Its slogans are the opiate of the doctrinaire.

Fact: When it asks a question it's usually intended more as an insult than as a request for information.

Fact: Its dupes will leave us high and dry as they twist the teaching of history to suit Vodacom's nefarious purposes.

In addition, even when Vodacom bespeaks us fair to our faces it expresses quite different thoughts behind our backs. No joke.

Those of us who are too lazy or disinterested to provide a positive, confident, and assertive vision of humanity's future and our role in it have no right to complain when it and its drones create a climate in which it will be assumed that our achievements reflect not individual worth, talent, or skill, but special consideration. When I say that it may be helpful to take a step back and follow knowledge like a sinking star beyond the utmost bound of human thought, I consider this to mean that Vodacom has never gotten ahead because of its hard work or innovative ideas. Rather, all of Vodacom's successes are due to kickbacks, bribes, black market double-dealing, outright thuggery, and unsavory political intrigue. Vodacom has stated that a richly evocative description of a problem automatically implies the correct solution to that problem. That's just pure statism. Well, in Vodacom's case, it might be pure ignorance, seeing that Vodacom's insidious, addlepated paroxysms leave the current power structure untouched while simultaneously killing countless children through starvation and disease. Are these children its enemies? The key to answering such questions is to realize that for Vodacom, all roads lead to sadism. The time has come to choose between freedom or slavery, revolt or submission, and liberty or Vodacom's particularly dysfunctional form of stoicism. It's clear what Vodacom wants us to choose, but it's our responsibility to disentangle people from the snares set by it and its pals. That's the first step in trying to uplift individuals and communities on a global scale to make efforts directed towards broad, long-term social change, and it's the only way to shape a world of dignity and harmony, a world of justice, solidarity, liberty, and prosperity. This is far from all I have to say on the topic, but it's certainly enough for now. Just remember one thing: There is considerable evidence to show that Vodacom is serious about wanting to torment, harry, and persecute anyone who crosses its path.

If ever I had a tough letter to write, this is it. My challenge is to convince you that Vodacom's pleas are based on some deep-rooted personality disorder. Before I get moving here, let me point out that Vodacom will create some poxy, pseudo-psychological profile of me to discredit my opinions because it possesses a hatred that defies all logic and understanding, that cannot be quantified or reasoned away, and that savagely possesses impetuous perjurers with supercilious and uncontrollable rage. If Vodacom can overawe and befuddle a sufficient number of prominent individuals then it will become virtually impossible for anyone to contribute to the intellectual and spiritual health of the body politic. Nevertheless, Vodacom's plan is to lead us into an age of shoddiness—shoddy goods, shoddy services, shoddy morals, and shoddy people. Vodacom's intimates are moving at a frightening pace toward the total implementation of that agenda, which includes stifling dissent.

To pick an obvious but often overlooked example, Vodacom can't fool me. I've met intolerant fence-sitters before so I know that I have a scientist's respect for objective truth. That's why I'm telling you that Vodacom's failure to overcome the obstacles that people like it establish is so noisome that the grossly fallacious reasoning behind Vodacom's effusions can be confirmed by some simple fact-checking. Now that that's cleared up, I'll continue with what I was saying before, that the justification it gave for wasting taxpayers' money was one of the most bookish justifications I've ever heard. It was so bookish, in fact, that I will not repeat it here. Even without hearing the details you can still see my point quite clearly: Even when the facts don't fit, Vodacom sometimes tries to use them anyway. It still maintains, for instance, that it is a paragon of morality and wisdom.

Since most people oppose Vodacom's loquacious epigrams, it has had to torment, harry, and persecute anyone who crosses its path using every manipulative means imaginable. The irony is that Vodacom's most coprophagous accusations are also its most self-centered. As the French say, "Les extremes se touchent." It's a well-known fact that I have always lived my life by the mantra, "A good person will deal stiffly with mad cockalorums who foment, precipitate, and finance large-scale wars to emasculate and bankrupt nations and thereby force them into a one-world government". It's an equally well-known fact that I, unlike Vodacom, refuse to view countries and the people that live in them either as economic targets to be exploited or as military targets to be defeated. When logic puts these two facts together, the necessary result is an understanding that on several occasions I have heard it state that all it takes to start a rabbit farm is a magician's magic hat. I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a comment. What I consider far more important though is that if I am correctly informed, Vodacom's writings are not just retroactively ineffective but proactively inert. In any case, its attendants like to say, "Vodacom's press releases enhance performance standards, productivity, and competitiveness." Such frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. If someone wants me to believe something squalid like that, that person will have to show me some concrete evidence. Meanwhile, I intend to show you that many, many people have been hurt by Vodacom for daring to make efforts directed towards broad, long-term social change. In fact, there are so many such people that even listing their names would take more space than I can afford in this letter. In their honor, though, I will say that if Vodacom's thinking were cerebral rather than glandular, it wouldn't consider it such a good idea to replace our timeless traditions with its unambitious ones.

One thing to keep in mind is that I call upon Vodacom to stop its oppression, lies, immorality, and debauchery. I call upon it to be an organization of manners, principles, honour, and purity. And finally, I call upon it to forgo its desire to shatter and ultimately destroy our most precious possessions.

Although I can find only circumstantial evidence of misconduct and rule violations, over time, Vodacom's philippics have progressed from being merely rummy to being superrummy, hyperrummy, and recently ultrarummy. In fact, I'd say that now they're even megarummy. Now, lest you jump to the conclusion that doing the fashionable thing is more important than life or liberty, I assure you that idle hands are the devil's tools. That's why Vodacom spends its leisure time devising ever more deplorable ways to have more impact on Earth's biological, geological, and chemical systems during our lifetime and our children's than all preceding human generations had together. It's incredible to me that anybody could be so twisted. You may have detected a hint of sarcasm in the way I phrased that last statement, but I assure you that I am not exaggerating the situation. I suppose that's all I have to say in this letter. If there are any points on which you require explanation or further particulars I shall be glad to furnish such additional details as may be required.

Vodacom is utterly dotty. We all are, to some extent, but it sets the curve. As I've said in the past, Vodacom's sympathizers insist that Vodacom can achieve its goals by friendly and moral conduct. I say to them, "Prove it" -- not that they'll be able to, of course, but because every time Vodacom tries, it gets increasingly successful in its attempts to force some to live by restrictive standards not applicable to others. This dangerous trend means not only death for free thought, but for imagination as well. We must inculcate in the reader an inquisitive spirit and a skepticism about beliefs that Vodacom's trained seals take for granted. As mentioned above, however, that is not enough. It is necessary to do more. It is necessary to make Vodacom answer for its wrongdoings. I close this letter along the same lines it opened on: Vodacom plants false evidence to incriminate its adversaries. That's all I have to say. Thank you for reading this letter.

I am going to put this on their facebook page as well. Maybe if I complain long and hard enough, they’ll offer me a position as Trevor Noah’s Counterpart!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Severe Blogging withdrawal symptoms

I started on a new project on Monday - things a bit hectic - cannot quite get round to blogging.

Suffering from severe blogging withdrawal though! 

Be back soon!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Movember - Grow a Mow for Cancer Awarenes - CANSA Campaign

Hi there!

CANSA is the one cause I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea try to support.  Every year in March back the shavathon campaign by having my hair shaved off with a nr 1 clipper.  This year will be the first time I support their men's health campaign by growing a lipwig during the month of November.

Please advise me as to which style I should go for...  maybe one of those thin pencil stripes.

Please also visit the campaign page, and get the large version of the different styles (picture below)

Do you also wonder where the word mustache come from... I've saved you the trouble and went to have a look on the Online Etymology Website:  Here is what they say...


1580s, from Fr. moustache, from It. mostaccio, from Medieval Gk. moustakion, dim. of Doric mystax (gen. mystakos) "upper lip, mustache," related to mastax "jaws, mouth," lit. "that with which one chews," from PIE base *mnto- "mouth" (see mouth). Borrowed earlier (1550s) as mostacchi, from the It. word or its Sp. derivative mostacho. The plural form of this, mustachios, lingers in English. Dutch slang has a useful noun, de befborstel, to refer to the mustache specifically as a tool for stimulating the clitoris; probably from beffen "to stimulate the clitoris with the tongue."

...the Dutch... [shaking my head]

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Where have all the good men gone ...

...and where are all the gods?
Where’s the streetwise Hercules
to fight the rising odds?

I need a hero...

Yesterday I read a post in which the blogger reminisced about old TV programmes like Night Rider, Buck Rogers, MacGyver, Airwolf etc.

I thought about it again as I started to make my way home after work. It struck me that I do not have a hero and I really felt like I should have one... like when I was little. I mean, Buck Rogers and Steve Austin - Die Man van Staal (The Six Million Dollar Man) – they were my ultimate heroes.

When did I stop having heroes and why?

Why should it be different now that I am nearly 38? I thought about it long and hard, and the issue really bothered me a lot. I then decided from now on I am going to have heroes again and I chose the 1st 3. In no particular order I chose as follows:

- Riaan Cruywagen. He has been reading the news since I was pre-school. I promise. All you Saffers will know that I am not exaggerating. He is such a gentleman, with his stupid jokes at the end of the news and all, and his slightly too green eye make-up and his toupee. I mean, like how old is he?

- Miles Vorkosigan. My favourite SciFi character from my favourite SciFi author – Lois McMaster Bujold. One cannot describe Miles, you have to read the books.

- Natalie du Toit. For obvious reasons.

What purpose will it serve for me having heroes? I don’t know, but I feel better for having heroes again...

What about everybody else? Do you still have heroes?

Monday, 25 October 2010


Slegte Kos! (Bad tasting food).  I am still stuck on this - what makes something taste good to some and horrible to others.

I do not like tripe, liver or kidneys and I do not drink milk.  That is not too uncommon - many people do not eat tripe.

I cannot stand cotton candy (candyfloss)(spookasem).  I cannot touch it and I cannot put it in my mouth.  I know people who won't eat cheese.  I know someone who are positively revolted by fresh fruit and someone who shuns butter, margarine & mayonaise.

Do you have any particular food dislikes and why?

Friday, 22 October 2010

If dangerous driving does not get me, clogged arteries will

I know this is so WRONG on every level, but like Dexter I, J. Hardspear de La Azotea like eating junk food whilst driving. Also the messier, the lekkerder. Here’s a list of my favourite drive food:

• Wimpy Bacon & Cheese Burger with Extra Relish. (Toasted version is slightly easier to eat in the car, but then you have to hold the sandwich/burger horizontal to take a bite. It takes a while to scrub the pink stains from the cheap tomato sauce off your fingers again.

• Woolworths Pie. Just be careful – they are always extremely hot. Take a bite out of the crust at the corner to expose the filling and hold in front of the aircon vent to blow cold air in. You’ll be able to take a safe bite within the first two kilometres. Your whole car will be covered in flaky crumbs.

• Quattro Stagioni Pizza with extra cheese. Just wash the grease off of the steering wheel at your destination.

• Soft Serve Ice Cream on a Cone (at least 4 turns of Ice Cream) on a hot day you have to eat especially fast. If you break hard it usually ends up in crotch of your black work trousers.

• A mega lemon & poppy seed muffin from a garage cafe.

What is your favourite car food?

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A Twitter Song

Mark Pilgrim called this 'The Twitter Song' on the radio yesterday.  Since then the "tweet tweet twee-twee-twee tweet tweet" part got stuck in my head.  I hear it over and over and over and over and over again.

Here is Pack Up by Eliza Doolittle:

ps.  DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SOCIAL NETWORKING, YOUNG LUKE.  Or shall we say Woolworths.  Christian mags are back on the Point of Sales "cattle passages" at Woollies!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Woolworths bans Christian Magazines

Wow. You should see the reaction over Woolworths’ decision not to stock Christian magazines any longer. See News24 Article.

Personally I do not buy them. I once bought the Christian-endorsed magazine “Intiem” which proved to be quite risqué in terms of its target market. I was surprised by the quality of content, topics of discussion etc.
However... although I find most South African Christian Magazines a trifle boring, just as I find the Cosmopolitan, Huisgenoot, You and GQ boring, there is in essence nothing wrong with them. They are aimed at a specific target market and are enjoyed by many.

Getting to my point... I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea think it is very hypocritical of Woolworths doing this and calling it a “business decision”. Woolworths started unpacking Christmas stuff in their stores on the 30th OF SEPTEMBER ALREADY! They are always and forever welcoming their Jewish Customers during Rosh Hashanah, Hindu Customers during Diwali, Muslim Customers during Ramadan, etc. They stock Halaal and Kosher products, but they serve Mammon! (Stop me, I am starting to sound like a manic street preacher!)

I wish I had more backbone to join the Woolies boycott, but I am dreaming of Butter-Caramel filled Mini Swiss Rolls. Maybe I am as much of a goody-goody-two-shoe as they are...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Awarding an Angel

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea are for the first time honoring another blogger with an award.  Angel consistently scores as the best commenter on my blog.  Thanks Angel, you mean so much to me.  Go add this to your wonderful collection!

Julia says...

New Blog Alert! 

"Julia says, she doesn't know what it's all about..."

Now I have that frigging Wet Wet Wet song stuck in my head.

Anyway, go have a look at what Julia says over at Unwritten

Monday, 18 October 2010

Pee on your lemon tree

My pen-pusher hands took some severe mauling this weekend. As you may or may not know people with ADD tend to overdo things a bit at times.
The previous weekend Lamb bought a few trays of seedlings in order to get some colour in our garden. I bought a few herb plants. We never got round planting it, so it spent the week under a tree on the front lawn. Then this past Saturday, Image and I went to the nursery again, they had a special on lemon trees (R44.00 for shoulder height) they cost up to R300 sometimes! Now with Lamb not there to put some restraint on me, I ended up spending R500.
I am not a good gardener, and have not spent time in the garden in AGES (other than watering it). So, unlike Tamara, with her green fingers, I generally do not know the names of plants (unless it is of the edible variety of course). This is what (over two weekends) we bought: Lamb: seedlings (petunias, I think), geraniums-which-is-actually-pelargoniums (I looked it up just now – we call it ‘Malvas’ in Afrikaans – but it has nothing to do with the pudding) and a few bags of compost. Hardspear: more seedlings – I don’t know the name but conical shaped ones with 2/3rds dark green leaves at the bottom and 1/3 dark red pointy flowers on top, 3 lavender bushes, the on-special-lemon-tree, a shrub of some sort, a shitload coriander, basil and chilli plants (very small), a larger basil and coriander, traditional curly leaf parsley and chives. I bought more compost, bone meal and LAN lawn dressing.
Then... yesterday (Sunday)... after church we went to the shops and got home at 12:00. I donned myself in old clothes, wide brim floppy khaki hat, slathered sunscreen on (Lamb’s SPF 30 ROC on neck shoulders and her SPF 50 Vichy on my face – which I sweated off within 10 minutes) and my trusty old Crocks on my feet. I then proceeded with serious back-breaking work:
• Prepared the built-in flowerbox by the kitchen door for Lamb. Tilled the soil & mixed with compost. Watered.
• Dug 3 holes next to the back wall in the garden. Arduous – since the soil is extremely poor and hard packed. Not even the recent rain loosened it much.
• I have two large loquat trees on the sidewalk (left of the drive-way) – and schtuff does not grow well under it, but I managed to get the better part covered in small-leaved ivy. It took years. To the right of the driveway is a small ugly square, where I managed to get a rectangular frame of dessert roses growing. So inside the frame I dug another 3 holes and planted the lavender in a row from the wall to the street. In-between I put some of the pointy red flowers.
• Dug a yet another big hole in the hard packed stretch next to the back wall. My mother-in-law says it is better to put compost/potting soil mixed with ordinary soil in large outside planters, since it keeps water better. Proceeded to mixed soil with compost as per the old woman’s advice.
• Planted a dying indoors potplant, the shrub and lemon tree next to the back wall. Took out a few waist length weeds (my fortnightly gardiner spends all his time in the beautiful shady front garden, but avoids the massive back garden totally. My back garden is like The Beginning – formless and empty. (Though I don’t believe the Spirit of God hovers over the water since we do not have a pool). I do hope he (or his Angels) hovers over the whole property though – I pray that anyway...
• Screamed at the dogs who got hold of the bag of bone meal and licking it and rolling in it where they spilled it.
• Put layer of rocks and gravel at the bottom of two big empty planters and then filled it with compost & soil mix. Shouted for Lamb that flower box & planters are ready, she can come and do the very tasking sticking-in of seedlings & pelargiums.
• Nearly gave myself a hernia by picking up a very large planter (full of wet soil – but devoid of plants) in the front garden, loading it on a wheelbarrow and taking it to the back. My boardshorts split from my crotch right down the left leg as I was straining to lift the damn thing. Lamb nearly wet herself. Repeated the process with second large planter, pants split further.
• Arranged one narrow tall planter, two large squat planters and a number of small pots in a corner near kitchen door. Planted most of the larger herbs in the big planters. Took all the small ones out of their trays and re-planted them in the smaller pots.
• Suddenly got MASSIVE headache – ate a sandwich, drank gallons of water and one of those migraine kits one get from the pharmacy.
• Watered everything – swept up the dirt, cleaned up and stashed the garden tools.
• Peed on the lemon tree through torn shorts. Cool, only had to negotiate out of my Jockey’s no zippers or waistbands to hamper.
Finished by 19:00. Took a bath and really had to scrub to get myself clean again. Lamb then got a very bad allergic reaction, sneezing, coughing and itching all over. Drove to emergency pharmacy to get Allergex. I am wondering if perhaps the moist compost from the sealed plastic bags contained high levels of spores or something, hence my sudden headache and Lamb’s allergic reaction.
My long departed uncle had the most beautiful healthy lemon tree in his garden bearing massive fat, juicy lemons. He believed that this was due to him and my cousin taking their last pee at night before going to bed, next to the lemon tree.
Looked it up on the web. Seems to be a good old Aussie tradition. When having a barbie, the men pee on the lemon tree. Apparently urine is also a very good compost activator.
I am still in a daze from whatever they put into that migraine kit...

Friday, 15 October 2010

Friday Morning

Woke up at 2am, got up at 4, left home at 4:45, arrived at work at 5:40, made coffee, peed, played freecell, stole biscuits, tweeted, blogged, re-arranged my balls - ready to work at 6:20.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Tongue Orgasms – What makes something taste good? The elusive fifth taste?

This post has been inspired by James Bond, Tamara and my own curiosity and quest for the perfect dish.

What makes something taste good? Well what? It is more than something being sweet, salty, bitter our sour and your preference. Oh so by the way, for the last ten years, they have added ‘umami’ to the list of primary tastes. So let’s digress...what is umami? Robin Rinaldi wrote:

“For this experiment you need five things: a pinch of sugar, a little table salt, a lemon, a cup of good black coffee and some chicken bouillon. Start by putting the sugar in your mouth. You'll notice an instant sensation you recognize as "sweet" up on the tip of the tongue; you may even feel a tiny head rush. Then do the same with the salt. This registers intense and mineral-like, spreading to the sides of the tongue. For the remaining three, you must hold your nose tightly to prevent the aromas from interfering with your taste perception. Bite into a wedge of lemon and feel how the whole mouth reacts against "sour." Next sip the coffee, whose steely "bitter" hardness lingers at the back of the palate. Now take a slow drink of bouillon. See what happens, how the whole tongue seems to light up? There's saltiness, yes, and a little sweetness, but there's something else. It leaves an almost warm, creamy trail as you swallow. You might call it "meaty" or "savoury."”... or UMAMI. Umami is a loanword from Japanese meaning "good flavour" or "good taste". In as much as it describes the flavour common to savoury products such as meat, cheese, and mushrooms, umami is similar to Brillat-Savarin's concept of osmazome, an early Western attempt to describe the main flavouring component of meat as extracted in the process of making stock. Umami is a pleasant savoury taste imparted by a NATURAL glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products.

As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavours, most people don’t recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays an important role making food taste delicious.

Umami is beef, pork, certain types of fish. Umami is potatoes, seaweed, carrots, mushrooms and sun-ripened tomatoes. The sun-riper – the umami-er. Über-umami is dry cured ham, parmesan cheese, MSG, fish sauce, dried fish, biltong & beef jerky, Worchester Sauce, A1 Sauce, HP Sauce, Bovril, Marmite, Vegemite and anchovies. Bacon is the King of Umami. Aromat is umami in a can. Umami is that what makes you scream “Ooooh Mommy!”

James Bond’s cover in ‘You only live twice’ was that of an industrial spy, trying to steal Osata’s formula for making Monosodium Glutamate. Tamara over at Doodles of a Journo cannot see what the great big fuss is over a juicy steak. She likes oriental dishes – also high in umami content.

Soooo, what is it that makes something taste good? It cannot be the umami thing on its own... There is no umami in Dulce de Leche Ice Cream...

The picture above is self-explanatory – it is a combination of so many things. However... I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea will still give you my own spin on this. We forget that other things play a role in what we perceive as good tasting and not. Sound... ‘Snap-Crackle-Pop’. The sound of insect legs rubbing together, a bubbling stew, sizzling meat/vegetables. You cannot properly taste a curry dish if you have a cold and your nose is blocked. Is it acceptable in your culture to eat live insects or do you gril?

I can even bring ADD into this. Tactile Defensiveness. Your little fussy-eater may not as much be averse to the taste of something, than not being able to tolerate the texture of it.

Fat. Cuts of meat marbled with fat throughout the muscle tissue is tastier that extremely lean meat. Oil, butter, lard, dripping etc. makes food just so much more tastier.

Method & preparation. Some people have the ability to assassinate the taste in even the best of ingredients. Some lovingly coax the very best out of quite mediocre stuff.
Gender? Generally men would classify meaty, starchy food as comfort food and women sweet stuff like chocolates & ice cream.

Piquanteness? Spiciness? Astringency? What about the pungents (onions, garlic, shallots, chives)? How does it look? Is it pleasing to the eye?

Now, MSG...MSG...MSG. MSG is fake umami. It is like using lurid yellow banana essence instead of real bananas. The fast food & ready-made-food industry can dress up the most horrible tasteless substance by adding MSG, excessive fats, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, excessive (hidden) salts, colourants, flavourants, additives, solidifiers, emulsifiers, preservatives etc, etc. When in doubt – cover in bacon and melted (processed) cheese.

Some research says these additives are safe, some say it is harmful, some say it’s addictive. Hell, I don’t know? Common sense dictates that it cannot be good though. Personally, too much fast foods, snacks etc makes me either full but not sated or sated but not full or whatever. It is not the same satisfied feeling one has after a proper square meal made from scratch.

The challenge then is this: To be able to make extremely tasty good food from fresh ingredients, bring out the natural umami, salt, sweetness, bitterness and sourness and by combining different tastes in such a manner that the introduction of that to your taste buds will cause them to experience multiple spontaneous and long lasting orgasms.

...and who is Robin Ronaldi...? I haven’t the faintest...

I wish all I have said in this post is original and my own, sadly it is not, I have just quilted bits from different websites & blogs together into this. It is however essentially what I WANT to say. (The thread for stitching the different pieces together was spun by me though...)