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It is a whirlwind in here

Eating Fine Food In 13th Century China

In my novel, China Lily, my main characters, Cepa Cannara and Matzerath, are on a year-long trading voyage from Italy to China on the good ship The Pegasus, thirty years before Marco Polo did the same. In this segment, they have a meal with their host, Lu-Hsing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

delicious-oyster-omelette

“You boys are in the Port of Zaitun.” Lu-Hsing speaks in an authoritative tone. “Fish a speciality.”

“There must be something else.” Matzerath points. “Look at all the cooks.”

“No soup?”

“Pah!”

“Trouble-making Round Eyes.” Lu-Hsing points to a wok near the end of the aisle and starts to walk. “We’ll try there.”

“What does he have?” Cepa falls into step behind Lu-Hsing, followed by Matzerath.

“Oyster omelette.”

“Eggs?” asks Matzerath.

“As many as you want.”

“That will take a big pan.”

“He can use a high-sided wok.” Lu-Hsing pretends to whisk something in a wok. “Plop it right onto a plate.”

“We don’t have dishes.” Cepa suddenly realizes the fact. “We haven’t been back to The Pegasus all day.”

“Lu-Hsing share you his.” He barks an order at the cook, then turns back to Cepa. “Stay right here. I’ll get them from my table.”

Cepa and Matzerath stand and watch the cook. Cepa notes he is using wood and not the black rocks for his fire. Some oil is dropped onto the metal and immediately sizzles. The cook holds up his hand and extends his fingers; one, two, three, four, five.

“Will you want some?”

“God – yes.” Matzerath nods.

Cepa holds up five fingers and the cook grins. He takes an egg in each hand and hits them together. The upper shell is flipped off and they pour into the wok. He repeats the gesture and the eggs land on top of the others. The last egg is dispatched on the metal rim of the wok and added to the rest before a hint of cooking has begun. The cook then begins to whisk and slide the eggs along the side of the wok before Matzerath has time to make a comment.

“I’d like to see you do that on The Pegasus,” says Cepa.

“I break eggs all the time.”

“I know.” Cepa laughs. And we eat the shells to prove it.”

The cook now twists and shakes the wok by its two handles over the fire. The eggs slide up and along the sides, then settle more thickly near the bottom. With a grin and a twist of his hands, the cook turns the wok right over. The eggs start to slide out with a couple of drops hissing into the fire. Matzerath’s mouth falls open as the cook rights the wok so quickly that the eggs drop right back into it, now cooking on the other side. The cook puts the wok back on the fire.

“Bet you can’t do that,” says Cepa.

“Just once.” Matzerath laughs. “But the whole ship was heaving at the time.”

The cook begins to nudge the eggs together with a spatula. With his other hand he sprinkles a few drops of brown liquid. Then he adds some coarsely chopped shoots of a green onion.

“Hah!” Matzerath slaps Cepa on the shoulder.

After a quick swirl of these ingredients the cook plops in a bowl of small oysters. He takes his time with these, spacing them with deliberation over the quickly cooking eggs. Then – with a flourish – he scoops up a handful of flower blossoms and sprinkles them over the whole bubbling mixture.

“What are those?” Matzerath peers into the wok.

“Chrysanthemums.”

“We’re eating flowers?’

“When in Rome …”

The cook adds a further dash of the brown liquid and then folds the eggs neatly in half. He flips the whole omelette to the center of the wok and sprinkles a palm full of spring onion – this time finely chopped – over of the still-bubbling omelette. He presses the onion in place with his spatula then removes the wok from the fire.

“Timing is everything.”

The voice startles them both. They turn to see Lu-Hsing standing behind them, holding a large platter. He barks instructions to the cook, speaking too quickly for the two men to understand.

“Stick to ribs – make you happy.”

The cook divides the omelette in half and slides it onto the platter. He then takes the wicker top off a steamer and starts to add heaping ladles of red rice along the sides of the platter.

“What’s that?” Matzerath sounds suspicious.

Hong  qu mi.”

“You can see its rice,” hisses Cepa.

“But it’s red.”

“Fermented with yeast.” Lu-Hsing scoops some into his palm and eats it.’”Looks good. Tastes great.”

DE

(image)http://www.funnymalaysia.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/delicious-oyster-omelette.jpg

Picture The Loon In Nature

common_loon

The surface of the lake is so smooth that the flow of the differing currents can be clearly seen as shimmering streaks reflecting the sunshine.

Breaking through these jewelled bands, like shadows over unrecognized borders, are three loons – one Red-throated, and two black-capped Common. They stray apart, become lost in shafts of sparkling water, and as unexpectedly re-appear further along the shore.

The Red-throated keeps a slight distance from the other two, is usually the first to dive. Dive and disappear so cleanly that only the barest ripple betrays it. The other two quickly go without a sound, a liquid dive which leaves the water empty, save for the dancing sunshine.

And then a head.

And then two more bodies break the surface, far from where they went under, moving away with an ease that makes them seem part of the water. One of them wallows slightly on its side, and reaches far down its breast to preen. After a few nibbles, it rights itself and unhurriedly joins its companions.

They become a distant trio of sleek shapes, and disappear in the haze of horizon and glinting sun.

DE

(image)http://www.bioexpedition.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Common_Loon.jpg

canadian_dollar_-_reverse(image)https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ef/Canadian_Dollar_-_reverse.png

Thanksgiving As Kafka Gives It

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In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I follow a couple of years of Kafka’s life through diary entries. Admittedly, I never had him comment about a US Thanksgiving. But this is one take on his giving thanks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

30 September 1917

There was a knocking at the window this morning. A polite and concise rap rap rap. It awoke me while the room was barely light.

Who could want me so early? And then again, an insistent rap rap rap. I was confused, wondering where I was. The panic of Prague weighted down the covers, and I was sorry I had opened my eyes. The room, the smells – even the bed – was not familiar, so I was both bothered and assured by the strangeness.

When I realized I was not in Prague – for who could knock on my third floor window – I remembered I was in Zurau, where things were different. Here my window looked onto a yard, and anyone could  be at it. Was there something wrong? Was Ottla after my help? I even wondered, as I searched for my slippers, if her young man had somehow arranged leave from the army, and after much travail had managed to reach the wrong room. I could understand that very well.

I walked hesitantly over to the window, and cautiously pulled back the curtain. Such a commotion ensued that I stepped back in some fright. A bird flew immediately past the glass, its wings frantic as it screeched in agitation. It had been perched on my window ledge, pecking away at the frame. Ottla says it may have been after insects or grubs settled in for the winter.

“Insects in the walls of the house?” I asked.  “Yes.” She was quite matter-of-fact.  “It is a warm place for them during the cold months.”  I was not inclined to argue with the logic, but neither had I thought I would be existing in such close proximity with the tenants of nature.

Houses for warmth and bugs for food. It is a blend of the base and the subtle which I can appreciate. Much – I like to think – as does the annoyed bird.

DE

Joebama Walk Into A Bar

kafkaestblog

gilbert-scott-bar

~ What’s your poison, Joe?

~ I think it’s a rum night.

~ Any reason?

~ It’ll encourage me to give him a rum for his money.

~ Joe. You know you’ve got to stop.

~ Yeh, Boss. In January.

~ Messing with his head isn’t going to do any good.

~ It can’t do any harm.

~ True – we’re past that.

~ Gotta have a bit of fun.

~ Hillary could use a bit of fun.

~ I’m not a magician, Boss.

~ True.

~ Though I have a few riffs on The Glass Ceiling surviving Kristallnacht.

~ Joe!

~ Too soon?

~ Not even this time next year.

~ OK.

~ I’ll pretend it’s the rum talking, Joe.

~ OK. I’ll stick to dealing with the 45th.

~ My successor.

~ The old Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief.

~ Joe.

~ I’ve put a few “For a good time, call –…

View original post 41 more words

#Joebama Walk Into A Bar To Ponder

kafkaestblog

bar-e1455884974812
~ What’s your poison, Joe?

~ A Moscow Mule.

~ Since when are you a vodka man?

~ Just trying to fit in with the 46th.

~ Joe!

~ Make him feel at home.

~ That is so not-politically correct in so many ways.

~ Neither is he.

~ Point taken, Joe.

~ Did you just say Putin, Boss?

~ Joe!

~ So, I’ve gone around the mansion.

~ Joe.

~ And I’ve put red stickers on the art work.

~ What?

~ Like they’re sold.

~ Are you messing with him again?

~ Yeh.

~ Joe.

~ But I’m being subliminal as hell.

~ What do you mean?

~ The stickers are really little red squares.

~ What the –

~ He’s going to be on the hot line faster than a goose to the bathroom.

~ Joe.

~ That’s politically correct, isn’t it?

~ Are you shittin’…

View original post 14 more words

#Joebama Walk Into A Bar To Ponder

bar-e1455884974812
~ What’s your poison, Joe?

~ A Moscow Mule.

~ Since when are you a vodka man?

~ Just trying to fit in with the 46th.

~ Joe!

~ Make him feel at home.

~ That is so not-politically correct in so many ways.

~ Neither is he.

~ Point taken, Joe.

~ Did you just say Putin, Boss?

~ Joe!

~ So, I’ve gone around the mansion.

~ Joe.

~ And I’ve put red stickers on the art work.

~ What?

~ Like they’re sold.

~ Are you messing with him again?

~ Yeh.

~ Joe.

~ But I’m being subliminal as hell.

~ What do you mean?

~ The stickers are really little red squares.

~ What the –

~ He’s going to be on the hot line faster than a goose to the bathroom.

~ Joe.

~ That’s politically correct, isn’t it?

~ Are you shittin’ me, Joe?

~ Boss!

DE

(image)http://i0.wp.com/b-live.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/bar-e1455884974812.jpg?resize=350%2C200eview=true”>Obama And Joe Walk Into A Bar To Ponder

Obama And Joe Walk Into A Bar To Ponder

bar-e1455884974812

~ What’s your poison, Joe?

~ A Moscow Mule.

~ Since when are you a vodka man?

~ Just trying to fit in with the 46th.

~ Joe!

~ Make him feel at home.

~ That is so not-politically correct in so many ways.

~ Neither is he.

~ Point taken, Joe.

~ Did you just say Putin, Boss?

~ Joe!

~ So, I’ve gone around the mansion.

~ Joe.

~ And I’ve put red stickers on the art work.

~ What?

~ Like they’re sold.

~ Are you messing with him again?

~ Yeh.

~ Joe.

~ But I’m being subliminal as hell.

~ What do you mean?

~ The stickers are really little red squares.

~ What the –

~ He’s going to be on the hot line faster than a goose to the bathroom.

~ Joe.

~ That’s politically correct, isn’t it?

~ Are you shittin’ me, Joe?

~ Boss!

DE

(image)http://i0.wp.com/b-live.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/bar-e1455884974812.jpg?resize=350%2C200

Roasted Squash Crème Brûlée

This is sooo oddly tempting.
~ This roasted squash crème brûlée perfectly embodies the warmth and taste of Thanksgiving. Watch a video and get the recipe from PBS Food.

Source: Roasted Squash Crème Brûlée

Joebama Walk Into A Bar

gilbert-scott-bar

~ What’s your poison, Joe?

~ I think it’s a rum night.

~ Any reason?

~ It’ll encourage me to give him a rum for his money.

~ Joe. You know you’ve got to stop.

~ Yeh, Boss. In January.

~ Messing with his head isn’t going to do any good.

~ It can’t do any harm.

~ True – we’re past that.

~ Gotta have a bit of fun.

~ Hillary could use a bit of fun.

~ I’m not a magician, Boss.

~ True.

~ Though I have a few riffs on The Glass Ceiling surviving Kristallnacht.

~ Joe!

~ Too soon?

~ Not even this time next year.

~ OK.

~ I’ll pretend it’s the rum talking, Joe.

~ OK. I’ll stick to dealing with the 45th.

~ My successor.

~ The old Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief.

~ Joe.

~ I’ve put a few “For a good time, call – ” notes in the washrooms.

~ Joe.

~ I left Melina’s phone number.

~ Joe!

~ Gotta have fun, Barack. There’s only so much rum.

~ True.

~ And I haven’t even started on Pence.

~ Joe!

DE

(image)http://www.stpancraslondon.com/media/1640/gilbert-scott-bar.jpg?anchor=center&mode=crop&quality=90&width=1120&format=jpg&slimmage=true&rnd=131129703970000000&height=549

~

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