I posted recently about a new Thai cookbook that Marcy got me for my birthday.
What has been kinda neat about learning how to do this traditional Thai cooking thing is how it can start to work its way into some of my everyday cooking.
Last weekend we had some company for dinner, and I prepared one of my favorite dishes – medallions of brined pork loin cooked in a slow cooker with herbs, onions and dried apples, served with smashed redskin potatoes. When it came to an accompanying vegetable, I decided to cook up a Thai recipe for stir-fried Brussels sprouts! They turned out to be an excellent complement to the pork.
Then, last night I had some quarters of red cabbage left over from a slaw I also made as an accompaniment to that pork dish (thin shavings of cabbage and granny smith apples marinated in a mixture of apple cider vinegar, apple juice and toasted caraway seeds). I decided to make some braised cabbage with steamed rice for dinner, but for the braising liquid, I used the same ingredients that went into the stir-fried brussel sprouts (fresh garlic, oyster sauce, fish sauce and a Thai pork stock). Again, this turned out really good.
Suddenly I have a whole bunch of new ingredients with flavor profiles significantly different from the European or Southern US cuisine I normally prepare.
I’m not gonna be coy about this – I have a crush on Imogen Heap.
She’s probably nowhere near as charming in person as she is on stage or in the videos she shares of her progress when working on a new album, but considering I’ll probably never meet her in person, I can indulge my foolish crush.
Immie is an absolutely brilliant songwriter, producer and performer. She won a Grammy a couple of years ago for best engineered album of the year. Her writing eschews conventional song structure, she has an angelic but familiar-sounding voice, and she has the technical skill to use all the modern electronic tools to create the richly textured and layered production achieved by the best techno artists. Marcy & I were fortunate to see Immie in concert at the Fillmore a couple of years ago, and it proved to be one of the most enjoyable concerts I’ve ever seen.
The first of the two videos below shows Immie performing Hide And Seek, the first Imogen Heap track that caught my attention. She has her keyboard configured as a voder – she’s playing her own altered voice via the keyboard to accompany her singing. She closed her concert with this track, but first started playing it in the middle, at the point in the recording where she is singing over a loop of her own voice. She stopped suddenly, revealing that the audience was singing that accompanying part, and said “OK – you all know your part”, and then started the song from the start, knowing the audience would come in on queue!!
The second video is a demonstration of a set of “magic gloves” that she uses with a whole bunch of technologies to play her accompaniment through body movements, finishing off with the performance of a song using the magic gloves. Pretty amazing stuff, and actually gives a very good feel for how Immie comes off in concert.
For those born after WWII, that war seems to dominate our view of 20th century history. It was only after I read some scholar’s comment that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc from 1989-1990 was the final echo of World War I, did I begin to study WWI in earnest. What spurred my interest still further was the realization that the map of Europe after the collapse of the Soviet bloc is almost identical to that of Europe prior to WWI!
If you look at the world depicted in James Cameron’s Titanic, you get a glimpse of the world prior to WWI – a world in which monarchies and the aristocracy still exerted significant influence; every nation with the exception of France initially involved in the conflict were either absolute or constitutional monarchies. The world was so drastically changed as a consequence of WWI that I believe future historians might identify WWI as the significant geo-political event of the 20th century. Not only did it put paid to hereditary monarchies and aristocracy, but it further entrenched the concept of modern “total war” which has been the pattern of warfare ever since, including the activities of current global and local terrorist organizations. (Commander of the WWI German Zeppelin Corps, Peter Strasser stated “We who strike the enemy where his heart beats have been slandered as ‘baby killers’ … Nowadays, there is no such animal as a noncombatant. Modern warfare is total warfare”)
In literature, Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August is a must-read. However there are two excellent and highly complementary documentaries readily available that have helped to fill in the blanks in my knowledge of WWI.
The first is a 10-part 2003 series, The First World War produced by the BBC and based on the book by Oxford professor Hew Strachan. This series does an excellent job of portraying the truly global nature of the conflict, rather than concentrating on the trench warfare in Europe.
The second series is World War I – The Great War, a 26-episode 1964 joint production of the Imperial War Museum, the BBC, and the Canadian and Australian Broadcasting Corporations. This production bears more than a passing resemblance to the 25-part BBC documentary The World At War, in no small part because it was made when many WWI participants were still alive and could provide first-person eyewitness accounts of the events of the war. In addition this series gives great emphasis on the public attitudes and the social and economic forces of the combatants that all played a part in the conflict.
Both documentary series are available in their entirety on YouTube.