Secret Ingredients

Swine Flu Anyone?
Photo by Ben Chau
CW hasn’t been very well and for once it isn’t something she got from me.  Oh, and for the dirty minded amongst you, I mean she has a cold…or swine flu, possibly..nothing else.

I have been trying to do the caring boyfriend bit…you know guys, trying to persuade her to have a sleep to feel better…thus leaving you free to do your thang without running around all day (j/k CW).  However, there appears to be another way, one guaranteed to make someone feel better, at least there is according to my youngest, Brandon.

Brandon: “Make her some hot chocolate Dad, that always makes you better”

Me: “I would son, but I don’t have any in the apartment”

Brandon: “So go to the shop and get some Dad”

Me: “I am in Germany and it is Sunday…all the shops are closed”

Brandon: “Were the shops open yesterday?”

Me: “Yes, all the shops are open on a Saturday”

Brandon: “So why didn’t you get some Hot Chocolate then?”

Me: “Umm, well, CW wasn’t ill yesterday, so I didn’t know I needed some”

Brandon: *sighs* “Well, you can make your own you know…and it will make her better”

Me: “I can?  Great, how do I do that then?”

Brandon: “Ok, you need to get some coffee, tea bags, milk, sugar, flour and chocolate”

Me: “Riiiight…and what do I have to do then?”

Brandon: “You put the coffee and the tea and the flour together with some sugar and mix it all together.  Then put milk in all the way to the top, and then put it in the microwave for 10 minutes”

Me: “10 minutes?  Really?  That seems like a long time”

Brandon: “Not really, put it in the microwave and count to 10”

Me: “10 seconds, gotcha..then what?”

Brandon: “You gotta stir it, then put more sugar in and stir it again and put some chocolate in”

Me: “Ok, anything else?”

Brandon: “No, she just needs to drink it and she will feel better”

Now, I have to say that I can’t recommend this particular homemade Hot Chocolate enough…as soon as I told CW what I was going to make her, she started feeling a little better…imagine how much better she would have felt if I had been able to make it before she fell asleep.

Still, good to know for the future….and something tells me that CW may not get sick for a while ;-)

Anyone else got any interesting recipes from their kids?

Discombobulatory ramblings

Movable Type galley. Galera con tipos móviles.
Photo by Xosé Castro
I don’t know if I can say that I am completely suffering from writers block right now…writers malais possibly, writers half a job definitely…the problem I have is that I have ideas…see things, hear things that would normally dump me in front of my PC for a decent writing session.  Now, having ideas is not a bad thing, and definitely suggests that I am not blocked..but therein lies the trouble.  I can’t seem to get a cohesive post together about any of them…or when I do, it becomes a couple of paragraphs and consigned to the draft posts cold storage…never to return.

With that in mind, I thought I would just throw a few things in a post, lest these things never see the light of day at all

Oil Paintings
Today I saw, what can only be described as, the inspiration for every witch every artistically rendered.  Proper, proper ugly…hooked nose, sunken eyes…warts on the face, the whole shebang.  If you visited her house in the evening and she had one of those green facemasks on, that they always show in the movies, you would scream your bleedin’ head off…and possibly set fire to her.

Now, those of you that no me would probably say that I am not exactly Johnny Depp myself..followed by a series of bleeding heart “someone for everyone” and “beauty is in the eyes of the beerholder” nonsense..but seriously, proper ugly…I saw one guy actually stop eating his lunch after she smiled at him** Mothers and Fathers were shuffling their kids off to one side (in fairness, not out of fear of the childs trauma…more out of fear of kids propensity for pointing out things that parents DO NOT want pointing out).

Now, I am not suggesting that she should never leave the house again (unless she wants to), all I am doing is pointing out the wide range of technological advances that have been made in the home delivery arena…nothing more.

Football fans
Are rarely as bad as you think (at least not these days).  Some time ago, I took Zak and Brandon to a Liverpool match here in Germany.  It was only a friendly, so I didn’t really anticipate a full house, especially in the travelling Kop.  I was pleasantly surprised (and a little apprehensive) to see a full visitors section of over 700 fellow reds.

The kids were in awe, and having a great time…and when we went a goal down, a particularly hardened and haggard (old) fan, started chanting some rather abusive anti-german slogans.  He was all on his own, and immediately told to shut it by the rest of the fans.  Other fans took it in turns putting Zak and Brandon on their shoulders and making sure that they had room to stand was amazing, a proper family atmosphere.

There were a couple of stand-out moments though…bearing in mind that Liverpool fielded a team of people who weren’t even going to feature in the coming season, and in some cases…ever again.  Firstly, as I was a sell out…but it was also a sell out for the home fans too…and it would appear that they were there to see us, the LFC fans.

LFC fans always sign You’ll Never Walk Alone both before the kick off and just before the game ends.  We were a couple lines into it when I realised that the whole stadium was silent, apart from us lot singing.  I thought it was a little strange, but carried on you do.  When we finished..their fans gave us a standing ovation…it was bloody mental.  The second stand-out moment can be put down to the cultural differences between fans from different nations.  In the UK, stadium announcers announce the squad one by one.  Each name is read out in full and the crowd cheer or boo respectively (depending on which team you follow).  In Germany, the stadium announcer announces the first name of each player…and the crowd chant their last name.

So, in a perfect world in England…it goes something like this:

Announcer:  Number 9, Fernando TORRES

In Germany, this would be:
Announcer:  Number 9, Fernando
Crowd:  TORRES!!

At this particular match, therefore, it went something like this:

Announcer:  Number 9, Fernando
Crowd:  YEAHWOOPRARGONA…uh, hey what the TORRES..RES

I love football me

Why do fools….
…irritate me so much?  I can’t quite pinpoint the moment where my intolerance outgrew my tolerance.  I guess it could be age and I am just on the wonderful route to being a grumpy old man..which isn’t too bad as I hear that it means that I get a country for myself***.  I think I am still holding onto some vestiges of my previous easygoing nature, but more and more I find myself hitting rant mode (as anyone reading this blog recently will no doubt have noticed).  It could be something little like repeatedly pressing the open door button on the train whilst it is still moving, only to then not press it at all when, wait for it, THE GREEN LIGHT COMES ON TO TELL YOU TO!.  Maybe I have just reached an age where I expect a certain level of intelligence from the people around me, or maybe I am just a miserable git who expects everything to happen how I would do it…but is that so wrong – I mean, my ways clearly work….mostly :-P

It isn’t like I am really asking for much.  A little courtesy…some of my seat being available to me and not taken up by YOU with the giant paper to, no doubt, show your importance to the rest of the train.  Papers are sooo last decade should at least be annoying everyone with incessant, psuedo-important, phonecalls and constant checking of the latest jokes important work related emails from your colleagues.  Or the smokers that insist on sparking up on the platforms in the No Smoking train stations, and worse than that….in the trains themselves.

The rocket scientists smoking dope on the street…not even remotely covering it up.  The police that check my ID for 40 minutes when doing a random bar check…and try to stop me going outside for a smoke…even though they HAVE MY ID.  Or worse, the guy that was playing with a knife right in front of the police officers when he was told that he couldn’t go in the bar until they had finished, and on top of that decides to try and engage CW in conversation as if we were with him….moron.

What about the ridiculous contract situation with, well, pretty much anything over here.  Forget to cancel a few months before and it automatically renews for a year (or two) with no method of cancelling except paying in full.  The way that you are supposed to be greatful for being allowed to pay for their service.  The ability to freeze your accounts for a ?10 bill….fortunately not something I have dealt with.

I could go on and on…and I am speaking from a position of loving the country that I am in :-)

You have to be Joker’ing…

I read a while ago that Batman fans feel that Heath Ledgers portrayal of the Dark Knights arch nemesis was so good, that they want to retire the character and not allow any more Joker related storylines for any future movies.

Now, forgetting the fact that the Joker is arguably the best villain in the Batman story arcs, meaning that stopping useage of the character would effectively kill the Batman series…Penguin anyone? liked him, ok, what about Mr Freeze?  Need I say more?  Still, I said we would forget that though.  So my opinion is this, Heath Ledger was a great Joker…a superb Joker in a great film…but the definitive Joker?  I don’t think so…and I genuinely believe that the discussion wouldn’t have even arisen if he hadn’t died.  I actually thought that Jack Nicholson was at least as good as Ledger in the role…but all of them, including any that may come in the future, pale into insignificance when compared to Cesar Romero…the quintessential Joker if you will.  This man played the original Joker on the Batman TV show..alongside, may I say, probably the finest Batman ever portrayed.  You want “Faithful to the comic books”?..these guys even had the Zapp, Kerpow, Zing, Splats that were daubed all over comics of the time.  Gen-I-Arse I tellsya.  Can’t beat it…

There were others, but some of them were deleted and others were…well…shite.


** Ok, ok…that would be me….but still!!
*** Sorry, couldn’t resist

Valentines Day

Saint ValentineSo this Saturday is the official made up day of lurve.   I say made up as it does seem to be a little too commercialised..looking into the whole “St Valentine” thing just results in admittance that there was nothing romantic in it at all.

As Barry White once said “I’m gonna love you, love you; Love you just a little bit more baby”

Obviously Barry can’t have been married, otherwise his lyrics would have referred to his “Non-Birthday blowjob, providing you don’t have a headache…baby” or something.

Over here in Germany, it is nowhere near as big as the UK…but, as with Halloween, they are catching up…fast.   Expectations will soon be raised and guys all over the country will be waking up on that fateful 14th February and heading down to the nearest petrol station to pick up a bunch of wilted flowers and a box of Ferrero Rocher, or be faced with the wrath of their nearest and dearest.   Restaurants will be double booked and charging double the price.   At least here they don’t appear to have reached the level of the UK, which translates into parents sending their kids Valentines cards, just in case.   I know that Mums and Nans are just trying to help and ensure that their special little boy/girl isn’t left cardless and leperlike at school…but when you get older, and start to recognise the writing…the only card you will need then is the card for the therapist appointment hotline.   Tantamount to child abuse that is…in the long term obviously.

I think Jimmy Carr said it best:

“Valentines day is the only day of the year where you can recieve an unsigned card from a complete stranger saying they want to fuck you, and you go…Aaawww”

Why do valentines cards have to be unsigned?   Surely that defeats the purpose of expressing your underlying stalker nature love to someone.   The idea of spending money (in a recession no less) on a card, possibly flowers and maybe chocolates..then sending them to someone signed “your secret admirer”, seems more than a little dim to me.

Also, if the person happens to be with someone (which is the only logical reason to not announce yourself), and you believe this person isn’t worthy of their love, because they are an arsehole or something….the chances are that they have forgotten to send anything…and you sending an unsigned gift allows them to instantly get credit (and the blowjob) for your purchase.

Far from show this person what life could be like without this arsehole, you just made him look good… Not the brightest idea you could ever have.   Sure, signing your name on a card/flowers/chocolate combo to Sue in accounting, knowing that she is seeing Psycho the Bouncer (and former kick boxing champion)..who happens to know exactly where you live…might be a little scary.   I understand that but, think of the adrenalin rush…and the possible interesting sexy times that might ensue after you get out of hospital and physio..

For my part I am doing the modern thing this year, I will be cooking for CW…we will probably settle in to watch a chick flick, drink wine and talk about our feelings..wait, hang on.   Let me try again… I will be cooking for CW..there may be a movie comedy to watch, some alcohol and who knows what else.   There will be a Do Not Disturb sign on my front door, and the paramedics just outside in case of gastronomical disaster.   I am nothing if not thoughtful.

Right, I am off down to the shops to stock up on Rennie, Gaviscon and Peptobismal.

Enjoy your very own night of luuuurve.

My first thanksgiving

Feuerzangenbowle......GeniusSorry for not posting so regularly, my bloody social life is getting in the way.

So after 35 years on this planet, most of them spent watching American films and TV shows…I finally got to my very first Thanksgiving dinner.   Ok, so it was in Germany..with 4 Germans, an Aussie and a Brit…but there were two bonafide Americans there that was good :-)   In fact..there is probably an episode of How I Met Your Mother in there somewhere, if you put your mind to it.

It was a lot like a British Christmas dinner, but with specially made gravy (based on JDs mums recipe) and American style stuffing.   There was even pumpkin pie…something I have avoided like the plague my whole life, seeing as I have hated pumpkin in every other form I have tried it in.   Pumpkin pie is to pumpkin as carrot cake is to carrot.   In short, bloody lovely.

Great conversation was had and serious quantities of wine were drunk…after the symetrical table was photographed (thanks to K).   The whole thing was topped off with a German stylee…thanks to the biergarten table and homemade Feuerzangenbowle.

Ahh feuerzangenbowle…how I love thee so.   Copious amounts of red wine, various spices and fruit with rum soaked sugar melting into it via serious flames.   Un-be-lievable.   A drink that is traditionally drunk outside in the freezing cold winter to warm you up…drank inside..after a seriously good and, dare I say, big turkey dinner (I had 3 helpings) coupled with lots of wine…and the effects were, instantaneous to say the least.   I honestly don’t get why people call it “Pot of Evil”, or maybe it just made me forget…

JD says she enjoyed the first thanksgiving that she had prepared on her own, but she was struck down partway through with a really nasty headache type thing…being the caring and warmhearted dinner guests we were, we made our excuses and left…approximately 3 hours after we found out.     Sorry JD :oops:

I am definitely looking forward to my next thanksgiving :-) although my more immediate concern is getting to the Christmas market here so that I can get my hands on some more of that wonderful feuerzangenbowle..hopefully drinking it in the cold will stop me falling up my stairs (oh, and almost off the tram onto my face) this time.   I make no promises however, especially with the quantity I intend to drink.   It is MKs birthday on Thursday, so we are all meeting at the Christmas market….not that I need an occasion.   To quote Ed Byrne…”You are drinking again Dave, what’s the occasion?” – “I’m sober”

Then I get to go back to the UK for Christmas in a few weeks and spend it with my family.

Good times…genuinely good times :-)

Hot stuff


So I was begging for inspiration, when IP delivered a recount of a story where two people were snogging each others faces off and Z put his finger in the girls mouth.   She enthusiastically started sucking on his finger, realising a little too late that Z had dipped his finger in Tabasco sauce….

Now, I am not sure if she was speaking about herself or not, but it did remind me of a party I had many many years ago.   It was standard house party rules, too small a place, too many people, never enough booze….you know the type.   We had put on a spread of various chips and dips and a good time was being had by all.   Then there was Mark, he took a liking to a particular tomato dip, and was using tortilla chips like spoons to demolish it.   After going through 2 batches of this stuff, I decided to slow him down.   I took the now empty bowl and headed to the kitchen to refill once more.   Rummaging through the cupboards, I discover a bottle of “Dan-Ts Inferno – White Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce” this isn’t as hot as the name suggests, however, it does make Tabasco taste like mayonnaise in comparison.   So I empty the bottle into the bowl and replace said bowl on the table.   Mark dutifully grabs some tortilla chips and starts spooning this stuff into his mouth.   I think it was the 4th scoop where his tastebuds caught up with what was happening, immediately shutdown and sent all sensory responses directly to his pain receptors.   First he went bright red and broke into a sweat, then his eyes became wide and a look of abject terror moved into the real estate of his face.   Mere microseconds after this took place, he bounded to the kitchen where he shoved his head under the cold tap and stayed there for around 10 mins.   You need a moral?   Never eat all of my fave dip at my party… :twisted:

A few years later and I am staying at my Aunts place for a weekend, she introduces me to her new fella (who would eventually become my Uncle).   He seems pretty cool, we go out for a few beers and generally have a good laugh.   At some point during the night, the subject of hot/spicy food comes up.   As I have said before, we like our food quite hot in our family so of course, when he suggested a curry eating competition I was well up for it.   We arrive at the Curry House, and decide that we will order 4 different Currys..each one hotter than the last.   I forget their names, but if I tell you that Vindaloo was the 2nd of the 4, you will possibly understand the level of heat we are getting to.   Now, the curry house made up our order and packaged it up to take away and we headed home.   We started to unpack the currys and noticed that they all came with plastic lids that had been heat sealed onto the container.   Good idea thinks I, no spillage.   Getting this frickin glued plastic monstrosity off each container though proved somewhat difficult, the plastic would split and you would end up with a load of the curry sauce on whichever finger fell through.   Still, no problem…lick sauce from finger and carry on.   We begin on the first of the 4 and I distinctly remember checking the container for the telltale number 3 written on it by the curry house…unfortunately this was most definitely number 1 and I realised I could be in trouble.   A casual glance towards my soon to be Uncle determines that it is barely registering as a curry…He even talked about giving some to his dog as it was weak….At this point I have already lost bodyweight through sweatloss.   Cue curry number 2…again I get some of the sauce on my finger and proceed to lick it off…at which point my tastebuds shut down…long enough for me to finish it.   Once again “Uncle Asbestos Mouth” is quite content.   I have a slight ringing in my ears and can’t see from the sweat pouring down my face.   Most people would have stopped at this point and conceded….most people….not me….I don’t do losing very well.   Bring on curry 3.   I had assumed, wrongly, that my tastebuds shutting down would last.   I didn’t anticipate them springing back to life just in time for the first mouthful of curry 3….excruciating pain…how the hell do people enjoy this shit!?!?   Still, I somehow get through it and may have spent the latter part of it sitting inside the freezer…but finish it I did…somehow.   Then came curry 4, it should be pointed out that Uncle “Thermonuclear” was merrily chatting away and seemingly unaffected by anything he had eaten thus far…for my part, I was talking like I had just had a stroke.   I open curry 4 and again, end up with sauce on my finger.   I take a lick…and my head exploded, seriously, pain the likes of which I can probably never fully explain.   I dish it up and Uncle Volcanoe tucks in….and I conceded.   I think I managed to get about halfway through before passing out…   I was just glad that we remembered to put the toilet paper in the freezer when I woke up the next morning…

All these years later, I have just about got the feeling back in my lips..but my tastebuds will probably never recover.

Ah well, Vindaloo anyone?


Bambi Platter

BambiSo I went out last night for Hs birthday.   We went to an olde worlde German restaurant where a number of us were instantly of the opinion that we must eat Bambi.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not an emotionless vessel of hate (not right now anyway)….I can get upset at films, books, people on the street even.   I do find it difficult to get upset when an artist stops drawing something though, even if he does get overzealous with the eraser.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have any Bambi available as we should have ordered it in advance.   It left me with visions of phoning up, asking for the Bambi Platter with the reservation and having the guy hang up the phone..and yell “We need more Bambi!”.   Whereupon the Chef sighs, gets a gun from the wall and, with an apologetic shrug to his children, walks outside…..fade to his children looking forlorn, tears streaming down their faces as they dry cry the words “why daddy why?”, over and over.

That left us with, basically, serious steak or Pumbaa…. Being the Disney hating real men that we are, we decided that Pumbaa was the choice for us.   A delicious bowl of…well it looked like a pot plant I gave to my grandmother a few years ago as a random gift…turned up.   Being as it obviously contained no Disney characters that I could discern of, and appeared far too healthy…I passed.   Plus, I had chowed down a seriously good muffin (fnarr) provided by KH and MK.   I am not sure if it was for me or for H, but I only stopped to consider that halfway through…. ah well.

Many starters were delivered, much old style German beer was brought to the table.   Then came the vegatables, spaetzle and … well … warm, soft sugar puffs, sans sugar.   I chose to pretty much ignore these things in view of the impending Pumbaa explosion.

Turns out that the rule that TV adds 10 pounds is a lie, either that or Pumbaa has been on a serious diet recently (or eaten too many healthy bugs/grubs, or whatever it was he ate in the Lion King).   A positively anorexic Pumbaa was brought to 5…count ’em (I know you won’t) 5 full grown men.   Some of these men were considerably more grown than others….ok 1 of these men…ok me…dagnabit.

Still, what there was of it was fantabulous.   Cue complaint from one of the other guys regarding the size zero Pumbaa and we get free pudding….Result!   I don’t know what it was, but it was nice.   Halfway through, it was established that the fruit on the plate were cherries, beyond that I am not so sure.

We then head back to my living room so that H may enjoy a birthday cigar (thank you German smoking laws) and I get home around 01:30 this morning.

The moral of this story?   There isn’t one….other than be careful which Disney character you try to eat, there may not be that much of it.

Karma is a bastard

Cake or death….

Not even close....but you get the ideaSo it looks like there is a possibility I will be in England for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my folks.   It goes without saying that I will do my damndest to get to see the kids at the same time, and I am sure I will manage to achieve it.   That said, it will be Christmas with the parents, and I am the son that lives furthest away….

Now, being the oldest of 3 boys means that certain expectations are placed on you to be responsible, level headed and able to look after yourself (and your brothers).   Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t spoiled and went without….far far from it.   I have mentioned before that I had a great childhood and wouldn’t change it for the world.   However, I didn’t always get the option for certain things..the options were normally delivered to the younger brethren before me.   Where the hell am I going with this??   Oh yeah, eldest son..far away…got it.

As it is now a rarity to see me, I am pretty much a shoe in to get the option of a special thing to be prepared.   This is guaranteed to be my Mums very special and never matched…Devils Food Cake.   It should be said that, despite my ample girth (and my belly ;-) ) I am not really a chocolate lover.   However, when you have tried some of my Mums Devils Food Cake, you could easily become a chocaholic…instantly…followed rapidly by a chocolate induced coma…with possible drowning by double cream.

It is one of “those” recipes… in that it is a closely guarded secret, has changed over time and consists of a plastic wallet with random pieces of sort of resembles a kidnappers ransom note starter pack and would probably have reduced the guys that cracked the Enigma device to tears trying to recreate it.   I was given the recipe, once…and subsequently lost it in the great hard disk crash of ’01.   Subsequent attempts to gain access have been futile, so I am left with the rare occasion when I can ask for this creation of the gods to be made for me.   Serious pleasure is all I am saying.

All of my 35 years on this planet will count for nothing when I regress into a mewling babe whislt simultaneously begging my Mum to make me this cake… I may ask for two to be made…specifically so I can have one with “Daves…keep off” iced on.

Now, I just need to work on getting Mum to make me a chilli and a lasagne, and I may weep a little.   It’s pretty pathetic really, but I am just about to embark on a new diet…and it is one of those 4 days on 3 days off things…I worked out my optimum start day to ensure that the 3 off falls outside of 2 events.   The first is the visit of my Dad next month, and the second being Christmas at my folks place.   The logistics of doing this should really be added to my CV…creative accounting, time management…political lies…it has it all, but all things considered…I will be drinking with my Dad quite merrily next month without feeling even the least bit guilty and then eating my bodyweight in Devils Food Cake at Christmas guilt free too.

Don’t get me wrong, I know all of you (well most of you….some of you at least) believe that your Mums cooking is better than anybody elses Mums cooking and you will never be swayed by any argument that anyone would care to make.   This is fine, but there is a difference…you are all wrong!   It’s a subtle difference I know, but an important one nevertheless.

I am quite looking forward to it now :-)

What is you favourite (albeit inferior to mine) Mums cooking that you would regress to your childhood for?

Bring on the heat

pimentasI was talking to the guys at work yesterday, as it would appear that some of them are missing the national food of Great Britain…namely Hot Curry (and yes, the capitalisation is necessary).   Apparently, a place has been located that understands the term “English Hot please”.

Germans don’t do spicey food..they place a 3 chilli warning sign on what are essentially tomatoe flavoured crisps.   They consider standard, run of the mill bell peppers as excessive.   When you ask for chilli on your kebab…they look at you strangely when you ask if they have real chilli anywhere.   Not a spicy hot food nation is all I am saying.   Very occasionally, I will concede, you get a surprise…I went to a kebab shop some months ago and went through the usual routine:

Me: With chilli please
Kebabman:   *lightly introduces concept of chilli to kebab*
Me:   No I said chilli please… I am English, the hotter the better
Kebabman: I have put chilli on
Me:   No, you have given the kebab a theory lesson on what chillis are
Kebabman: *sighs* Ok, more chilli
Me:   Thankyou
Me:   Bites into kebab
Me:   Head explodes
Me:   Recovers and (hopefully) successfully hides the nuclear reaction going on in my mouth

Suffice to say, he is my favourite Kebabman.

So consequently, the curries here (whilst full of flavour), do not require a gallon of beer to cool off…which of course increases the enjoyment factor…as long as you get in touch with your inner lager lout.   So, a “proper” curry house has been discovered and we will be going for a heat competition in a couple of weeks.   For my part, I will be ensuring that there are plenty of toilet rolls in my freezer for when I get home.   I will also place paramedics on standby and maybe eat some candles…Homer Simpson stylee.   When I return from my dream walk with the talking fox…I may blog about hallucenigenic curries and their effect on inner city Frankfurt.

I digress…. the conversation about thermonuclear curries reminded me of a Chilli that my Mum cooked many years ago.   We like reasonably hot stuff in our family, but my Dad had a friend coming over..and Mum said she would cook a Chilli for everyone.   This prompted said “friend” to ask if it was going to be a proper Chilli or some weak thing.   My Mum insisted that we like our food HOT, but that wasn’t enough and it turned into a macho “I can eat food so hot, they can power small countries with the ‘output'” conversation.   My Mum assured him that it would be suitably hot and she felt sure he would enjoy it.

So the night arrived, and I stumble into the kitchen to get a drink and notice that Mum appears to be making 2 individual pots of Chilli.   One of the normal family size variety…and one of the somewhat smaller and, dare I say it, sinister…evil..child of Nosferatu variety.   Various spoons and possibly the bottom of the pan were most definitely melting.   My Mum may have been cackling as she dropped small and unassuming ingredients into this smaller pan…each of them met with a cloud of purple smoke, a smell of the sulphurous pits of hell and a distinctive gurgling sound.   I think what gave away her intentions though, was the leather apron…welders mask and lead gloves she donned whenever she went anywhere near this smaller pot.

So dinner is served and we all tuck into our Dads friend failed to notice that all of the plants with 10 feet of him had withered and died the second that Mum walked past with his Chilli in a specially reinforced bowl, and began to munch away.   No sooner had he got the first spoonful to his mouth, he broke out in an instant sweat.   His head was so red, I literally thought he might pass out…every few seconds he would glance across at us..quietly munching away, chatting normally and generally enjoying the experience.   After the 2nd mouthful..I believe he lost the use of his tongue, and his speech became slightly slurred.   He made some pitiful excuse shortly after, something about having a big dinner and he was really sorry, but couldn’t eat anymore.   At least, that’s what I think he said…to this day I couldn’t understand him properly.

The moral to this story is of course…do not cast aspersions at my Mums cooking…she may try and kill you.

Wish me luck…

Oh…thought I would leave you with this Chilli cookoff story :

Notes From An Inexperienced Chili Tester Named FRANK, who was visiting
Texas from the East Coast: “Recently, I was honored to be selected as a
judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last
moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table asking
directions to the beer wagon, when the call came.

I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili
wouldn’t be all that spicy, and besides, they told me I could have free
beer during the tasting. So I accepted.”

Here are the scorecards from the event:



JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.

JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

FRANK: Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried
paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope
that’s the worst one. These Texans are crazy.



JUDGE ONE: Smokey, with a hint of pork. Slight Jalapeno tang.

JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken

FRANK: Keep this out of the reach of children I’m not sure what I am
supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to
give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they
saw the look on my face.


JUDGE ONE: Excellent firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.

JUDGE TWO: A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of peppers.

FRANK: Call the EPA, I’ve located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I
have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now get me more
beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is
in the front part of my chest. I’m getting shit-faced from all the beer.


JUDGE ONE: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

JUDGE TWO: Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or
other mild foods, not much of a chili.

FRANK: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to
taste it, is it possible to burnout taste buds? Sally, the barmaid, was
standing behind me with fresh refills; that 300 lb. Bitch is starting to
look HOT, just like this nuclear waste I’m eating. Is chili an



JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding
considerable kick. Very Impressive.

JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit
the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

FRANK: My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can
no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed
paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili
had given me brain damage, Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring
beer directly on it from a pitcher. I wonder if I’m burning my lips off?
It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming.
Screw those rednecks!


JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spice
and peppers.

JUDGE TWO: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic.

FRANK: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous,
sulfuric flames. I shit myself when I farted and I’m worried it will eat
through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that
slut Sally. She must be kinkier than I thought. Can’t feel my lips
anymore. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone!


JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

JUDGE TWO: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of
chili peppers at the last moment. I should take note that I am worried
about Judge Number 3, He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is
cursing uncontrollably.

FRANK: You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn’t
feel a damn thing. I’ve lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like
it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid
unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava-like shit to match my
damn shirt. At least during the autopsy they’ll know what killed me. I’ve
decided to stop breathing; it’s too painful. Screw it. I’m not getting
any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I’ll just suck it in through the 4-inch
hole in my stomach.


JUDGE ONE: A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe for all,
not too bold but spicy enough to declare it’s existence.

JUDGE TWO: This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor
hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge Number 3 passed
out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure
if he’s going to make it. Poor Yank, wonder how he’d have reacted to a
really hot chili?

Tradition or slow suicide?


We have a tradition in our family…created I think by a series of drunken bets on behalf of my parents and their friends.   The tradition is that we will barbequeue on New Years Day…regardless of location and weather conditions.   It is something that I have tried to maintain over the years….it just seems like a bloody good idea.

Some of the conditions that we have achieved this in:

Torrential Downpour…protected by a series of strategically placed bin bags
8 inches of snow (thanks Berlin Christmas weather)
Actual sunshine

These bbqs have been carried out in a number of different countries and the food is not always traditional.   I believe Mick (RIP) and Andrea once told my Mum that they wanted Swordfish steaks…..and sure enough, Swordfish steaks were bbq’d on New Years Day.

It has been bizarre sometimes, and the reason for the title is down in large part to my own attempt at keeping the tradition going a few years ago.   Everyone was invited, beer and food were purchased…when the heavens opened.   Now, having no real location to work with where the bbq could be located and covered with the aforementioned bin bags…I felt no option but to move the bbq into the garage.   I figured that the doors being open would provide plenty of ventilation….. I figured wrong it is fair to say.

I also failed to notice that the garage roof was made of asbestos and technically should have been pulled down a long time before.   So, after cooking in the asbestos garage for around 4 hours, it was of little surprise to people when I started feeling really ill and had to go and lie down.   Still, asbestos burgers have a little more zing to them I feel.   Also…totally worth it.

I do struggle to accept food from other peoples bbqs though.   Not that I am the best bbq chef in the world or anything, but I at least recognise when food is cooked and when it isn’t.   For example, burned on the outside does not always mean cooked on the inside.   I will always be seen cooking with a water sprayer to keep the flames down and the heat up…if anyone asks me why I am spraying water onto the coals, I make a mental note never to accept an invite to one of their bbqs.   A decision that has kept me virtually salmonella and botchulism free for many a year.   Unfortunately frostbite, man flu and asbestos poisoning are somewhat harder to avoid with my families penchant for bbq’ing in ridiculous weather.

We also like to play drinking games…and as with all drinking games, the aim is to drink even more should you make a mistake.   We have things like Fuzzy Duck, Railway Stations, Rippy Tippy, One Hand and various others.

One hand is my favourite – It is simply a repetition game, you all go round in a circle..someone starts off with a phrase (in this case “one hand”) and everyone takes turns to repeat it.   Then another phrase is added “One hand, and a couple of ducks” then another “One hand, and a couple of ducks, and three brown bears”.   It gets progressively more complex as it goes on….for example “Five pairs of Donald Veezers Tweezers” and “Six thousand screaming Mastedonians charging over the hill in full battle array”…”Eight sacred Egyptian monkeys from a sacred Egyptian crypt”.   It is normally around number 6 that people start emptying and refilling their glasses with terrible rapidity.

We like it…not that we drink in our family…oh no – Drink is the devil



P1030527.JPGOK, put the paramedics on alert….for soon….I shall run.

I have visions of my athletic prowess from my youth springing to the fore and running a record time around Frankfurt, passing professionals with consumate ease and mocking them mercilessly….. Visions that are definitely suggesting that I am not entirely in my right mind.   There may well be a number of small quakes measuring well into the Richter scale in Frankfurt shortly……followed by the headline “Escaped Panda found shaved and dead” in the following mornings paper.

That said, I have decided to give up smoking, go on a diet and start exercising.   Oh crap, now I have put it out there, I will have to do it for fear of humiliation.   It is a bit like not telling anyone you have your driving test, so you don’t risk the ignominy of telling everyone you failed.   What people don’t know can’t hurt you I suppose.

I am a little unprepared for it though..if there is some type of festival thing going on (there always seems to be in Frankfurt), everyone will assume I am in an Uncle Fester costume and will be waiting for Morticia or Cousin It to be following somewhere behind.

I don’t mind though, I have been moaning about my extra poundage for a looong time now and done precisely…nothing about it.

Now is the time.   Never in the field of human conflict has so much been drunk by so few and added so many pounds….. or something.

I have been to the Doctors and got myself a prescription for a miracle stop smoking drug…although apparently my health insurance won’t cover it and it will cost me â??150 8-O That said, I spend that on cigarettes every 15-20 days……

As a smoker of many years, it is difficult to analyse it, but if you have to produce the money that you will spend on cigarettes in one seems impossible.   But you can produce the money every day for the month with relative ease.   I don’t fully get that, but I will try it in the next few days and see how it goes.   I have used this wonder drug before and gave up smoking for 4 and a half years, so I am pretty confident it will work again….hopefully for longer than last time too.

So there you have it, a statement of intent.   Intent to stop the procrastination and actually do something for once.   Women will want me and men will want to be me, I will be the perfect physical specimin and probably compete in the next olympic games.

Now, I am just off to MacDonalds to bulk up…that’s how you do it right?