June 2008

The sixth and final episode of The Supersizers Go was dedicated to the Regency period, the time of Jane Austen and the lecherous, gluttonous, foppish, trend-setting Prince Regent, later George IV. Again, Giles and Sue play a well off middle-upper class couple of the day--he is a small landowner with an inheritance of around £50,000--but instead of being married as in other episodes they are brother and sister. This is so that they can portray the difficult state of an unmarried woman (Sue) with not much of her own income. The cold and sometimes horrified expressions on her would-be suitors' faces reacting to her desperate advances seemed a bit too genuine. Here she is trying to hang onto a gentleman.

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alimentum_summer2008.gifThe Summer 2008 issue of Alimentum is out. This quarterly journal of food writing which includes non-fiction, short stories and poetry, is one of my favorite magazines of any genre, let alone food. In my current purge-decluttering mood, it's one of the few magazines that I am keeping all issues of. See my first review of it here. The summer issue is as wonderful as usual. Did I mention that the illustrations (proper illustrations, no photography) are as great as the writing?

If you're in the New York area, they are having an issue launch party this Sunday, June 29th. There will be a reading, wine, cupcakes(!) and maybe even omelettes. Details here. (This kind of event makes me almost with I still lived in New York, except for the July weather...)

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This is a mostly non-food related question. I have hinted around about this a bit, but I'm in the process of moving (not sure where yet, but that's another story!) and I'm taking this as a good opportunity to seriously declutter. I have a bunch of cookbooks and craft books in Japanese and English that I want to part with.

Most of the books I want to find homes for are in new or very good condition. No splattered books with stuck-together pages! There are a few that are a bit worn, but are out of print so may have a rarity value.

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The erstwhile food time travellers went back to the earliest era covered in the Supersizers Go series, the Elizabethan period, which would be the equivalent of the Renaissance in the rest of Europe. It was a great time in British history, with adventurers exploring the world and bringing goods back from the New World, and the arts thriving, especially in the form of the Great Bard William Shakespeare.

It was also a quite exuberant and uninhibited society, one of the reasons why it's one of my favorite periods in history. Here you see Sue Perkins contemplating Giles Coren's massive codpiece with amusement.

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I am sort of the road this week, so it's hard to cook much. When I get settled back at home, the first thing I want to make is cold noodles. What I'm craving most right now:

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Since watching the '70s edition of The Supersizers last week, I've been on a bit of a nostalgia kick. I was lucky (or unlucky, depending on the perspective) enough to have spend my '70s childhood in three countries due to my father's job--England, the U.S. and Japan. I have fond memories of food, especially sweet snacks and candy, from all three places, my tastes have changed so much as and adult that I can't stand many of them anymore. The one sweet from that era that I still love is Meiji Chelsea butterscotch candy.

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There are some food combinations that you think just shouldn't belong together, but do so well. Strawberries with sweet beans? Surely not, you think, until you taste an ichigo daifuku - a strawberry wrapped in some azuki an and thin gyuuhi, a dough made of rice. I've had ichigo daifuku on my mind lately but have been too lazy to make the dumplings. This is a very easy alternative. Arguably it's even better.

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Near the end of the fourth episode of The Supersizers Go in which the food time travellers go to the 1970s, Sue Perkins says that she saw the '70s through the banisters of the staircase, as she and her siblings peered downstairs at the goings on of the adults. This was how I experienced a good chunk of the '70s too. I used to peer through the treads of the very '60s open wooden staircase in the house my parents rented in Wokingham, Berkshire, head upside down, spying on my parents and their guests when they entertained.

In any case, the '70s episode was a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be, purely for the nostalgia value. I kept on squealing in recognition at many of the various foods trotted out. It did help that I actually spend a few years in the '70s living in England with my family, since the Supersizers focused naturally on a very British version of that decade.

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2 or 3 times a year, my mother sends me a big care package from Japan. She sends it by seamail, which takes forever, but that's because she always includes a bag of rice.

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