Monday, April 26, 2004

Found another review in the Sunday Star people might enjoy.

Thursday, April 15, 2004


For various reasons, I've been eating a lot of salsa, curries, and kim chi lately -- I find kim chi almost the perfect late morning breakfast snack food, which is sure to turn the stomach of most readers -- and had plenty of time to think about the nature of these foods yesterday while working on the near hour process of making a proper big batch of salsa.

First off, no matter how hard I work, my salsa will never be as good as the Platonic ideal of salsa in my head, because no matter how much I would be willing to pay for good tomatoes, they simply aren't available. In about two weeks, my partner and I will go to the garden centre, I will pick unrealistic white flowers that will die in four days and he will get tomato plants, hot pepper plants and something odd like corn. I will make fun of him but in four months I will have to retract everything when we have two weeks of tomatoes that actually taste like something.

Yesterday, I had a good conversation with a film guy (our neighbourhood is littered with them) in the produce section as we despaired over the avocados. I told him "It's that Canada problem," half expecting him to recoil and respond with some knee-jerk reaction about how we have the best produce in the world or some claptrap like that, but fortunately, he immediately seized on to my line of thought and began complaining about the utter tastelessness of practically any fruit available to us. "We used to just eat tomatoes, without even any salt, back in California". He left me trying to find 25 limes (margarita night) with any juice in them whatsoever, and summed up our conversation with the departing thought "We're perennially screwed, my dear."

Sometimes the film people are all right.

So, as I was preparing my cursed bland salsa, I thought of all the things I could be doing other than spending an hour making a bowl of salsa. Revising my book, for instance. Working on the Sisyphean task of getting somebody in publishing to read it. Pitching my story idea about food porn to some magazine. You get the picture. And I wondered if there was some relationship between cultures with really labour intensive staples and their advancement in other areas. Ever have to make hummus from scratch? Mojitos? Ceviche?

Still, there's something about properly made salsa that makes the whole efffort worthwhile. But it will be much, much better in August.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

He ain't heavy

The news that heavy social drinking may lead to long-term impaired skills may not be entirely surprising -- but what had me intrigued was what qualifies as "heavy" social drinking. Apparently a hundred drinks per month (80 for women) makes one a heavy social drinker. Sounds like a lot when put into a monthly consumption, but that works out to about, forgive me, it'll take a second here as my processing skills are permanently damaged, less than three drinks per day (for women), except in the month of February.

And, in February, we should all be allowed an extra ounce or so, it being such a depressing month.

At any rate, last I heard, two glasses of wine per day was considered medicinal, so clearly there is a problem somewhere in that last two-thirds or so of a glass that'll put you over the edge and drive you from clear arteries, good blood presure and reduced cancer to brain damage.

Standard tests of verbal intelligence, processing speed, balance, working memory, spatial function, executive function, and learning and memory were given to the volunteers.

"Our heavy drinkers sample was significantly impaired on measures of working memory, processing speed, attention, executive function, and balance," the researchers wrote.

It seems that the definition of moderate drinking is being continually re-defined and narrowed, much like the ever-reducing blood alcohol limit for drivers. MADD and other esssentially prohibitionist groups won't be happy until they have managed to criminalize the previously inoffensive practice of having two glasses of wine with dinner and proceeding to drive home. The brain damage study is interesting, alarming even, but it's the odd re-defining of what constsitutes a problematic consumption of alcohol that has me intrigued.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Saw a small review in last weekend's Star I thought people might enjoy.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

The Hendrick's is gone!

Well the gang came over to try a Hendrick's martini, blackened chicken livers and bacon-wrapped scallops. The martini was pronounced the finest they'd ever had, which made me very happy. When we ran out of Hendrick's we made Bombay Sapphire martinis, which to be fair, were made with ever-so slightly watery ice, which killed a bit of the bouquet. Even so, it was clear that the first was far, far, superior and a mere two weeks ago, I would have been perfectly satisfied with Bombay Sapphire (still my choice for second best).

What surprised me most was how impressed all (including the cat who made off with two) everybody was with the bacon-wrapped scallops. Truly the simplest thing to make, in fact, almost impossible to screw up, and a staple at Keg-like places. Siobhan (our martini connoisseur who initially introduced us to Hendrick's) called it 70s food and expressed surprise at the tenderness of the scallop. Instructions are as follows: do not overcook. Simple as toast. For a variation, try prosciutto-wrapped scallops or bacon-wrapped water chestnuts.