Saturday, 16 November 2019

Ethnic Food Binge 2 - The Holy Land (which for me is ENGLAND! )

 Glory Be For Pork Pie.


A pork pie is a traditional British meat pie, usually served at room temperature. It consists of a filling of roughly chopped pork and pork fat, surrounded by a layer of jellied pork stock in a hot water crust pastry. It is normally eaten as a snack or with a salad.


I am claiming Pork Pie as an English Ethnic Food.
The description above ( Wikipedia)  hardly does them justice,  (and I would never think of them as snack food).  We Brits often  eat them as an early evening meal, alongside good tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, spring onions, pickled red cabbage etc.,  and maybe even a hard boiled egg. 


A sight, or a smell, or a taste can easily trigger the memory.  I tasted Pork Pie in my memory the other day.  That memory taste sent me in search for the real thing.  ( There is a English owned and operated pie store in Sarasota  (it's called Four and Twenty but they do not make Blackbird Pies).   Their pasties and hot meat pies are very good. They also make and sell pork pies, which  are O.K. but not great.

Mail order came to the rescue via a British Foods vendor named Parker's U.K. High St.  I used them to buy  a couple of pork pies.


There is a rivalry in England between ***Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, and Yorkshire Pork pies, so I bought two -  one for me, and one for my anglophile friends Jack and Donna.

I'll leave you to decide which one I kept for myself.

Hint, hint!

I am told that Yorkshire Pork Pies are often served hot, with good gravy and vegetables.

I like my Pork Pies cold, always with the great British condiment/relish known as

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Yorkshire is a great County, but heated pork pies with gravy are an abomination for my south west English taste!


***  It is all but certain that Pork Pies were first made by a baker in the Leicestershire (n.b. Americans, the word is pronounced Lestershur!) town of Melton Mowbray, so......

Thanks to the good work (or knavery) of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, in 1999 a group of seven local manufacturers, applied to the EU to have their products categorised as having Protected Geographical Indication, to ensure that only pies made in an area around Melton Mowbray could use the Melton Mowbray name.

The PGI application was finally granted on 4 April 2008  and the PGI status came into effect in July 2009.

The name Melton Mowbray can now only be applied to uncured pork-filled pies cooked without supporting hoops and made within a 10.8 square mile (28 square kilometre) zone around the town. Permissible ingredients are fresh pork (pies must be at least 30% meat), shortening (usually lard), pork gelatine or stock, wheat flour, water, salt and spices (predominantly pepper). Artificial colours, flavours and preservatives are not allowed.

Oh, so much happiness for the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association!

Friday, 15 November 2019

Ethnic Food Binge #1 SCOTLAND

I am on a bit of an ethnic food binge; getting ready for the next and inevitable "Brexit" economic depression, and collapse of  U.K. international trade.

My first purchases have been from Scotland.

1.  Dundee Cake

I had a taste memory a few months ago, which led me to buy some Dundee Cake from a Scottish Gourmet mail order company here in the U.S.A.  Sadly the Scottish Bakery which supplied the mail order co. has gone out of business.

But I was able to buy some Dundee Cake (made in Hull, England) from my local "Scots Corner" retail store on 17th St. in Sarasota.

Forget all the jokes about the fruit cake which is given as a gift at Christmas, and then re-gifted for donkeys' years.

You'll never re-gift Dundee Cake; it  is a rich and delicious fruit cake which you will want to hoard.  Rich and moist, it is topped with almonds.  Many people eat  a slice with a topping of Seville Orange Marmalade, or of fine Preserves.

2.  Ecclefechen Tarts.

Named for a small village in Scotland (not far from the border with England), these are a kind of pimped up and more flavorful mincemeat tart; with sultanas, almonds, currants and cherries.

I will eat mine warmed up, with a dollop of vanilla Gelato on top.

(Eccle   related to the word Ecclesiastical, meaning Church; and Fechan, meaning small).

3.  Haggis 

Oh yes, the traditional Scottish dish; mocked in other lands.

I am way too old  for my first taste of haggis; but enjoy it I will!

Sadly the U.S.A. government regulations forbid the importation of the "real thing" from Scotland, so I will be eating a Haggis made in the States by good Scottish folks.

The ingredients include venison, oatmeal, beef liver etc, and Scottish whiskey. Not bad eh?

Foods such as Haggis, Chitterlings, Hoppin' John; Biscuits and Grav; and the English Faggots, (no silly jokes please -  my Mum made the best ones ever),  were the necessary foods for the ordinary poor people.

And here is what the "experts" tell us about these good ethnic foods from Scotland.


Thursday, 14 November 2019

Homespun wisdom, and a bit of silliness. (via David LaD)

Image may contain: text

Homespun wisdom


Weird humour

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Dafty old coot. Yes, me!

There are two strains of old coot behavior:  the Grumpy and the Daffy.  I can be both.

With that in mind,  perhaps I should not have mentioned in my blog yesterday of the possibility of being pulled over by the Police under suspicion of driving whilst being an old coot.

For today I was clearly a daffy old coot.  Utterly daffy!

I was at my barber shop -  the one I have used for thirteen years.    I opted to wait in for the owner (Patrick) even though his chair-rental barber was not busy.

The chair-rental barber began to speak to me.  I responded as best I could,  given that his voice was very soft.

In due course I asked him to speak up 'cause I could hardly hear what he was saying.

At which point  Patrick and the man in his chair burst into laughter.

"He's not talking to you"  Patrick said  -  "he is having a conversation with someone via his mobile 'phone".

I was exposed as a "daffy old coot",   in public!

I could not restrain my laughter.  You should also have a giggle about my daffy old coot-ness! 

In praise of public servants - three cheers for Sarasota County

Terrace Building, Sarasota.

In an off the cuff conversation last Friday some friends reminded me that I should always have my driving licence, insurance certificate, and registration certificate readily available should I be pulled over by the Police or Sheriffs whilst driving.

It could happen to me, not on account of my driving, but on suspicion of being an old coot.

I always have my driving licence and insurance card on hand, but what about the registration document?

Back home I discovered that I had filed it so well that I had lost it.

So off I went to the Sarasota County Collector of Taxes office (at the Terrace Building) bright eyed and hopeful soon after they opened on Tuesday  (Monday having been a holiday).

The office has a parking lot which accommodates (maybe) sixty vehicles.  All well and good except that I was not the only Sarasotan who wanted to conduct business that day.

I circled the lot four times but could not find a vacant parking place.

So I did what any wise person might do -  I delayed my attempt at parking - in my case  by driving the approximate mile to Battlefront Park and sashayed around the park with my elegant dog.

Forty five minutes later I was back at the Terrace building.  The parking lot was still full, but I spotted a parking place on a side street.

Then came the hard part.  I had to park between two other cars,

My car may be a Forte, but parallel parking  is not. (attempt at a poor joke).

In many places throughout the U.S.A. a visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles has the same level of joy as would having a root canal and an appendectomy at the same time -  without anesthesia.

'Tis not so in Sarasota County.  I was greeted by a welcoming receptionist, and then served by a friendly clerk.  I was in and out of the office in eight minutes flat, and had a duplicate certificate of registration for the princely sum of $3.

YES INDEED   In praise of public servants in Sarasota County.

In the interests of transparency you should know that the Collector of Taxes, Barbara Ford-Coates, is a friend and a member of St. Boniface Church.

I once thanked her for the great service her office offers.  She replied  "Michael, it's not rocket science.  You recruit good people, you train them well, and then you tell them to go and have fun!

Monday, 11 November 2019

Hated it as a child. Think that is wonderful now!

Hurrah for Trader Joe's which  (for the time being) is stocking and selling the most delicious Lemon Curd ever!

Sunday, 10 November 2019

He, dammit, was beating his dog; and a healing visit to the Symphony Orchestra. We weep at cruelty and we weep at beauty.

My neighbour Barbara and I walk with Zion on Sunday mornings and then decamp to Panera Bread (outside) for a mug of coffee.

Our pattern is that Barbara gets her coffee whilst I walk Zion around the parking lot, and then Barbara holds Zion's leash as I get my coffee.

As Z and I walked I saw a gentleman (?) walk into Panera with his dog.

By the time I got back to the outdoor seating the man and his downtrodden dog

Stock photo', not the actual dog,
were close to Barbara.  She enticed the dog, but his owner said that he had been spooked and was not too friendly.  The man and dog wandered off. I went into Panera and encountered another  man who was fit to be tied. "Why" he said, is "that man beating the hell out of his dog?"

Back outside, Barbara was in tears.  She had also seen the man beating his dog.   She assailed the man with the kind of language which would shame a sailor.

The man and his dog disappeared into the side streets.   There was nothing, that we could do apart from kidnapping, to rescue this poor sad dog; who longs to be loved.

The image of a beaten and downtrodden dog haunted me all day.

This afternoon I was at a Sarasota Symphony Orchestra Concert.

First on the bill was Richard Strauss' Don Juan Tone Poem . Lots of sound and fury signifying nothing!

Then Mozart's Piano Concerto #20 with the very wonderful French pianist Lise de la Salle at the keyboard.

What fabulous music.  What a terrific pianist. What a privilege to  see and hear it.

Lise was called back for an encore. She played the Siciliano  from Bach's Flute Sonata # 2, as transcribed for piano.

Oh what bliss.  I said to my seat mates  "that was exquisite". 
The man replied "exquisite is the only word".

You can listen to it here:

The healing power of this music has not obliterated my images of a beaten and downtrodden dog;  but the music has reminded me that this oft time cruel and ugly world also produces exquisite beauty.