Thursday, 20 December 2012

Playing with food words

Meatloaf - but I won't do that.

Family GP had a bit of a riot around the table the other night.

I'd managed to pull off one of those meals that was both made up on the spot (along general guidelines provided by Mrs G) and evoked actual "wow"s from the minions. I don't like to brag, but I like telling you how impressed they were. OK, I'm bragging.

I'd made individual meatloaves in silicon muffin forms. In the mix was your standard onion, beef mince, salt and pepper to taste, but I added a very finely grated carrot, some finely minced mushroom, and left out the egg and breadcrumbs, which are really just stand-ins for reasonable food. I also added a good dollop of hoisin sauce to the mix, and another sneaky one at the bottom of each form, so that it bubbled up through the stuff as it baked.

I don't think this is exactly restaurant-grade anything, but the result impressed.

Conversation moved to how it could possibly be improved. The first suggestion was for a little blob of fetta in the middle. Then the fetta had to be poked inside a potato gem (a tater tot, for any Yanks reading) before the meatloaf mix was formed around it. Then the fetta-stuffed potato gem needed a bacon blanket before disappearing inside the meatloaf.

About then we got sidetracked by how it should be described. Following the example of the "turducken" (a turkey stuffed with a duck, itself stuffed with a chicken), and after much hilarious experimentation, we settled on "me-baco-tater-fetta-loaf" to describe this entirely fanciful concoction.

Nobody at any point actually thought we would ever make such a thing, it was just a silly conversation where everybody got to throw in a ridiculous idea and see where it led.

Do other people have dinner table conversations like this? I remember well the terrible punning conversations I and my brothers (and Dad) would have when we were young, while our Mother groaned and sighed. When I married Mrs G, Mum advised her to ignore us when we started to try to out-do one another with ever more terrible puns. Anything else just encourages us. We still do it, because the only encouragement we need is each other.

There's a harmless, silly kind of fun in creative wordplay. I'd much rather be collaborating in the naming of a "me-baco-tater-fetta-loaf" with my minions than talking about the weather, or what they might have seen on television.

There's also laughter.

It's so good to laugh with your minions. The healing power of laughter should not be underestimated.

For all the trials we've faced this year, getting around the table and being silly quickly restores a bit of perspective.

Mrs G and I are blessed to have families which are only mildly dysfunctional. For those of you less fortunate, yet who are obliged at this time of year to share meals with the odd people you're related to, I hope you're able to spot some absurdity and run with it.

You never know who'll try to keep up.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Strange victories

Tomorrow I'll be eating leftover crumbed fish and potato gems, and this is a victory.

Those with even a passing familiarity with the kitchen will realise that leftover crumbed fish fillets and potato gems don't react well to microwaving at lunchtime the next day. They might resemble the cheap tastiness of last night but they by no means resemble the exciting crunchy texture that makes it worth taking things out of the freezer and treating them to heat in a way that makes them acceptable on the plate.

And yet I will be thankful, and here's why.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

On Pro-Am Theatre

There's some bitter chatter going on in Canberra's amateur theatre community about Free-Rain Theatre's decision to import professional leads for its upcoming production of "Phantom of the Opera".

Umbrage has been taken that the decision implies that the production team believes there is noone amongst Canberra's performers who can do justice to the lead parts of the Phantom and Christine. There is also the perceived injustice of unpaid performers sharing the stage with paid professionals.

This is a conversation which could turn quite ugly, if it hasn't done already, and I thought I'd take the time to lay out the pros and cons and give you my take on the situation.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Ear-worm central

I am really pleased to have discovered, and re-discovered, some fantastic music over the past couple of weeks. I've also been introduced to an incredible ear-worm.

I have always valued diverse sounds and unique musical perspectives, and I am ashamed to have forgotten how great James Morrison's album "Manner Dangerous" sounds.  Great, modern jazz without the bebop or ridiculous discordance.  Just smooth, rhythmic wonderfulness. I was mucking about on Spotify and blundered into the James Morrison canon, and all of a sudden there I was, soaring up and down with an album which I hadn't heard in probably 20 years. It was a trip and a pleasure and a truly moving experience.

Also in the last two weeks my attention was drawn to the existence of the Queen Symphony, a full symphonic work based on, but by no means a simple orchestration of, themes and melodies from the Queen catalogue.

What a great piece of work that is. I've said to Mrs G that the Third Movement needs to be played as the recessional at my funeral, it is that great.

So I've got some great tunes buzzing around my head.

If you missed Melbourne Metro's public service announcement in the last two weeks, I'd like to know what rock you've been hiding under. Nevertheless, if you've just crawled out from that rock, take the time to look at this. Sublimely ridiculous and horribly, viciously catchy. Minion X has been walking around inaccurately singing the chorus for a few days, which both annoys me and gives me back the ear-worm. But he's singing and recalling stuff and I don't have it in me to stop him.

Unfortunately if you go looking for that video on Youtube now it's pretty difficult to find because of the swiftly growing number of parodies, videos teaching you how to play it, karaoke versions and other spin-offs. Someone's even put together an hour-long loop of the original.

Imagine subliminally giving that ear-worm to someone by looping the loop (so to speak) quietly next to them as they sleep!

(No, dear, I'm not even remotely considering doing this! Really.)

All of which reminds me of the ultimate ear-worm antidote, which I share with you here for free: Kylie Minogue's "I Should Be So Lucky". Memorable enough to get stuck in your brain; forgettable enough to disappear pretty quickly. Hey, presto! Ear-worm begone!

You're welcome!