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Onions And Eggs Feed A Crew On A Sailing Ship To China

Excerpt from the novel “China Lily”

In 1293,  Cepa  and Matzerath  were part of the crew of The Pegasus, a ship that had sailed from Italy to China on a trading mission. After a couple of months, they arrived in the port of Zaitun,  where they encountered a local trader, Lu-Hsing.

Lu-Hsing takes the two men to a communal dining hall. This is part of their meal.

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

Compared to others of his experience, the crew of The Pegasus appears content with their lot. They are certainly fitting in well in the dining hall, and even mingling with other diners. Thanks to the Captain’s instructions, they are willing to try any of the dishes they encounter, though it helps that they are ignorant of many of the ingredients.

“You want something other than onions?” Lu-Hsing jabs Cepa in the ribs with his shoulder.

“I want something with my onions.”

“You’ve been looking intently at everything.” Lu-Hsing opens his arms expansively. “What do you wish?”

“What do you suggest?”

“Look at me.” Lu-Hsing rubs his belly with a roar. “I am not a picky eater. I’ll suggest anything.”

“You’ve already warned me away from soup.”

“Not warned.” Lu Hsing points back to the bubbling soup they had been looking at. “You can add a lot to soup and make a stew.” He grimaces. “But you still slurp more than you chew. Lu-Hsing wants to use his teeth when he eats.”

“We can stay away from soup.” Cepa smiles. “And I’d just as soon avoid fish.”

“Me, too.” Matzerath puts his hands up in surrender. “We eat enough salted fish to swim.”

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

“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, and 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, and 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.”

“Aren’t you having a meal?”

“Lu-Hsing eats later – with family.” He moves his hand over the top of the platter and inhales the aroma. “We eat at home – wife is a great cook.”

“I thought you’d be joining us.” Matzerath is clearly disappointed.

“Too crowded. Too smoky.” Lu-Hsing laughs. “Just the place for Round-eyes who want to make contacts. I already know people.”

Lu-Hsing abruptly steps behind the counter and stands beside the cook. He takes a look into the bubbling pots and lifts the tops off of steamers. He finally points with a barrage of Chinese. The cook gets two porcelain bowls and ladles a heaping amount of food into each.

“Got your spoon?” asks Cepa.

Matzerath takes a spoon from his pant’s pocket and holds it up.

“You?”

“Yes.” Cepa has his spoon on a chain around his neck. He takes it out from underneath his shirt and lets it dangle against his chest.

“You boys prepared – good.” Lu-Hsing takes the platter with the omelette and rice. He then points with his chin. “Take your bowls and follow me.”

Matzerath anxiously sees the platter of steaming food being taken away. He nudges Cepa and they again get into step behind Lu-Hsing, who again clears a path through the crowded eating hall. They approach a raised platform under a row of windows, much like the noble’s section in the Cannara’s own tavern. It is still a crowded space, with ten tables set not far apart from each other. Half are vacant, so Cepa can’t tell if Lu-Hsing heads for his ‘own’ table, or has the use of any that is available. He places the platter crosswise near one end of the table.

“You need drink.” Lu-Hsing unrolls a half dozen chopsticks from a cotton napkin, so they lay beside the platter. “Tea or rice wine?”

“Dear God – wine!” Matzerath plunks his bowl on the table. “It’s been a day.”

“Bring both, please.” Cepa sits across the table from Matzerath. “For both of us.”

“Tea is for thirst.” Matzerath takes his spoon from his pocket. “I want drink for more than that.”

“We can’t have you getting drunk.” Cepa lifts his own spoon from around his neck. “Even the crew has orders not to get drunk.”

You are sticking to tea?” Matzerath begins to wield his chopsticks over the rice.

“No.” Cepa laughs. “Although I am also thirsty, I have no objection to feeling ‘mellow’ as I eat.”

“And it will help you sleep.” Lu-Hsing slaps Cepa on the back. “Like mother’s milk.”

“I wish my mother had had tits of wine.” Matzerath wipes some rice from his chin and sucks his fingers. “I would have been a better child.”

Alison Alexandra Ponders Whilst Under The English Channel

The London platform is abustle, though, in reality, she is boarding a train to take her to a train waiting in Calais. Still, it is under the umbrella of the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express, and she is happy to board and take a very cushy seat.

Two hours and fifteen minutes to Paris. Nice scenery at either end. A glass of Bellini, in a champagne flute, before the actual undersea part. Nothing could be finer.

Alison Alexandra assumes that a quaff of peach infused Prosecco sparkling wine is to ease the anxiety of anyone going not only underground but also undersea. She appreciates the glass of – expectedly – high-toned champagne regardless, but she does not need a drink to assuage any fears, for she has none.

She has always enjoyed the thought of actually moving under streets and buildings and cars and people and parks and dogs and folk in restaurants spooning soup while other folk high up in business towers give power point presentations about the fluidity of market shares or the expert way to niggle a wire into an explicate brain to stop one form of behaviour or to restart another. Thousands of snips of humanity and civilisation wending their way over her head as she wends her way from one underground station to another.

And then – to add the volume of the sea – well, what now floats overhead? How many fish and how much plankton and seaweed and eels and lobsters and oysters and snails and perhaps even whales swimming and eating and probably eating each other in the liquid beauty which is the water which is the ocean which is the sea that slaps against the cliffs that she watches from her prow-of-a-ship windows when she is on the other side.

And the ocean that slaps the rocks at the base of her cliff is full of fish gurgle and whale song and lobster clatter and crab scuttle and perhaps even the mermaids singing. And then there is the screw screw screw of all the propellers of all the ships carrying crew and passengers and cargo of all sorts and conditions, from cases of the champagne she is drinking to the host of automobiles like the Black Ghost that Gabriella drove when she shared some champagne delivered by ship and not aged on the delivery truck two cities over.

And other cargo, floating and steaming over her head, food and drink and oil and bourbon and stiletto-heeled shoes and prayer books and cotton and smart phones and insulin and jet engines and books and railway ties and sheep dip and textiles and spices from the Far east and tongue dispensers and sugar and steel beams for steel bridges and fishhooks and guided missiles and holy missals and buttons and bows and those tiny umbrellas for fruit punch cocktails and things that Alison Alexandra doesn’t even know exists but she has her suspicions.

All over her head and moving the waves and making whales sing their cautionary songs to warn other whales to get the hell out of the way or they will get bumped on their noggin. And they do. Get out of the way.

Alison Alexandra finishes her underwater pilgrimage and pops above ground in France. And although Alison Alexandra has been somewhat offended by having to take an actual bus shuttle under the actual English Channel, she still shouts “Alors!”

(Image) http://www.jpellegrino.com/img/eliot-mermaidssinging.jpg

When They Poured Across The Border / I Was Cautioned To Surrender ~ L Cohen

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I crossed the border yesterday, in this time of Pandemic. On an intercity bus. Restricted to nine passengers. At least I had a seat to myself.

The last time I crossed a border under threat of reprisal was decades ago. I entered (and left) Czechoslovakia (as it was then called) by train. I had gone to Prague to follow the footsteps of Kafka. Then the concern of authorities  was all about smuggling. Dire consequences that could put you in prison. And, on my way back out of the country, I was subject to a random search. Open my luggage, and spread what items the soldier decreed upon the seat and aisle, as he poked and prodded. He took interest in an object ( I forget what it was) which quite quickly could be seen to be a commercial souvenir. Thankfully. My careful packing had then to be shoved helter-skelter back into my luggage. Better a jumble than a jail.

So, crossing the border in the same country in this time of Pandemic was not as filled with anxiety, though anxious I still was. Although travel restrictions are being loosened and (at least in this neck of the woods) the Curve is being flattened,

Death stalks the Land / and keep washing your hands.

I did change my seat once, because a passenger changed seats to “have a better view”. That seat was across the aisle from me.

I was handed a form to fill out by the bus driver at a transfer station (nearly empty of people) to give to the border guards if they asked. Apparently they did not ask for it all that often. Where are you coming from/where are you going to. Name. Full address. Reason for travel. Do you have any symptoms?

So, with mask in place (well … a lot of the time  – though always when off the bus) I had a reasonably pleasant trip on a reasonably pleasant day. Lots of elbow room. There was an hour’s delay at the actual border. When it was the turn for the bus, no officer actually did board to check us out. Or take our forms. However, the driver handed his PA microphone out the window so the officer could tell us that: “Anyone breaking the fourteen (14) day quarantine upon arrival was subject to a $1,000 fine.”

I’ve got thirteen (13) days left.

 

[image] https://cbsnews2.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2018/08/06/8ae2e881-5500-4b09-876f-e1cf5bdecaad/thumbnail/1200×630/bda4ff327e62a7e92030aad7cc2e1693/ctm-0806-canada-us-border.jpg

Kafka Travels In His Dreams

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Franz Kafka recorded many dreams in his diaries. Thus, I gave him many dreams in my novel, Kafka In The Castle. The novel ‘fills in’ all the days where there are no entries in his actual diaries.

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

04 April 1917

Dreamed I was to take a train journey.

I tried to find my travel papers, but all the drawers were jammed shut. The cupboard doors refused to open. My wallet was stuffed with money – colourful bills worth thousands of marks – yet no passport, no police clearance.

I could find no proof of who I was, and no permission to cross borders. I feared I was going to be late, so I put on an overcoat, grabbed a small bag off the bed, and hurried from the room.

The door led directly to the station platform, and I was quickly caught in lines of people. A man in uniform  harshly requested to see our tickets, but when I explained I had been unable to find any of my documents, he pointed to my case.

Inside were passports and papers from every country in Europe. I handed him one, but over my name was a photo of hog. Another had a picture of a donkey. A third showed sheep. Rodents, insects, and finally an ape, all appearing over my name and signature.

“You are Doktor Kafka?” he demanded.

“Yes,” I answered. I was terrified – what face did I have now?

“You are the veterinarian,” he said, finally satisfied. “Down to the end of the train.” He pointed the way, and I hurried along.

I walked and walked, but the train just became longer. Box cars and cattle cars were filled with the most terrible animal clamour, and reeking of filth. And I wondered, as I searched in vain for the end of this endless train, where would my destination finally be?

[Image] https://farm1.staticflickr.com/145/424520905_d05592a972_z.jpg

The Moon Looms And Man Lands

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In my novel, The Rags Of Time, travel to the outer edges of Earth’s solar system has been accomplished. But the Moon still holds its sway – literally.

To celebrate the space outing of fifty years ago. Here is the group of segments of my written ascent through the heavens. My crew are returning  from their trip to the outer reaches of our solar system. and something goes awry. There is no Huston to contact, but there is a problem.

And, finally, is the connection to the spiritual/supernatural aspect of the novel, where the Druids of the old religion become a conduit to what is happening in outer space.

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

It is a navigator’s moon.

That is how Eric the Red thinks of it, as his space craft enters Earth’s solar system. He is called Eric the Red for his facial hair, and his ancestry. But behind his back, his romantic notions of the ancient ways is more the reason for his name.

Even when they fly past it, Earth’s moon generates little influence upon their return. A minor compensation of the thrusters, and its only effect on the ship, is the ritualistic kiss which crew members bestow against the aft window for the man in the moon. However, as soon as his gravity sensors register the distant presence of Pluto, Eric the Red enhances their output to catch the faintest twinge of the Earth’s moon.

His navigator’s moon.

Tomorrow, Eric will alter course to sweep past Pluto’s satellite, Charon. He plans to use the combined gravity as a sling to amplify his own trajectory, although he will lose some directional control to achieve speed.

Opportunities to observe this unknown planet are still scarce, and he makes adjustments to confront the dual gravity. He decides to attempt the `Film Technique’, which met with success among the moons of Jupiter. The Technique is named after the way film had been threaded in the antique movie projectors of the Twentieth Century.

He plans to wind through the gravities of the various moons, in such a manner that each helps accelerate his ship around the next. There are many factors to consider which affect the interplay of gravities between solar bodies. And they will, in turn, exert their control over his vessel. At times like this Eric wonders how much really has been learned since the existence of gravity was acknowledged.

**************************************************************************************

Eric the Red decides to get back to business. He keys the delay coordinates for the radioscope, and checks his map.

“Follow through on your consoles.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ll admit, Malcolm, the surprises of Pluto will be inconvenient to experience. Until the surface is accurately defined, I agree it’s too dangerous for a landing.”

“Transfer at fifty percent, sir.”

“Acknowledged.” The captain glances at the various instruments. “As you know, our probes to Pluto can not be retrieved.”

“That might not be due to the surface, sir.”

“True. There seems to be an electro-gravitational bind.” Eric the Red looks intently at his view screen. “Reason enough to keep our distance.” He magnifies the image in front of him. “Personally, I feel as uncomfortable attempting a landing on Pluto, as I would setting out to explore Iris.”

“The mysterious tenth planet.” Malcolm whistles softly into his microphone. “That might be for our children, sir. The scientists don’t even understand the orbital path of Iris. I don’t imagine I’ll ever get to look at its surface.”

“You sound interested.”

“Iris is intriguing. During its centuries of orbit, it has penetrated space far more deeply than we ever have.”

*************************************************************************************

The Captain turns to again look at Pluto.

“If it’s not internal, then it must be external.”

He shifts the image of Pluto to a larger screen.

“Although, quite frankly, that concept isn’t much better than its alternative.”

He tries to sharpen the focus on the large screen. After a minute of adjusting the controls, he shrugs his shoulders in failure.

“That indistinct picture is not due to our sensors. Have the other stations turn their view screens to Pluto. See if they get the same results.”

“Yes, sir.”

While Malcolm checks with the other observation officers, Eric the Red again runs a sweep of his instruments. As he thoroughly goes over each one, he pays attention to the responses received by his first officer. It is quickly apparent the same fuzzy image appears over the whole ship.

“Any ideas, Number One?”

“I think our movement is being disrupted.” Malcolm looks at the same sequence of instruments. “I’d guess there’s agitation in our centrifugal rotation.” He peers closely at the view screen. “It can’t be much. Our artificial gravity doesn’t seem affected.”

“You don’t look in danger of floating away.” The captain smiles. “So I doubt this explains my `light-headedness’.”

“No, sir.” Malcolm can not tell how serious the older man is. “The rotation alteration is minimal. It is just enough to make our cameras waver.” He taps the view screen. “Considering how sensitive they are, I would judge this force to be weak.”

“Any guess what it is?”

“No data suggests a malfunction within the ship.” Malcolm moves a dial a millimetre. “Which leaves an outside cause.”

“Well.” The captain leans so close his nose touches the view screen. “I think we’re being influenced by the mysterious Tenth.”

“Iris?”

“Yes.” He turns back to his first officer. “With Pluto and Charon positioned the way they are, and our attempt to execute the Hohmann-ellipse to take advantage of the Film Technique, we may have added the weight of Iris to our backs.”

“The alignment shouldn’t be intense enough to – ”

“Iris is so perversely inconsistent, it doesn’t have to fit into our ideas of alignment to make itself felt.” The captain makes some inclusions into the library computer. “After all, we’re the ones entering its sphere of influence.”

“It is a minor influence.” The first officer makes some quick calculations in his head. “We could accept a reduction of our artificial gravity for the duration of the manoeuvre.”

“That’s a viable option.” Eric the Red looks up co-ordinates to enter into the computer. “But we can negate the problem without weakening our reserves.” He inserts a bar of information into the computer. “Run an evaluation of our solar cells.”

“Yes, sir.”

Malcolm walks to the banks of light-activated monitors surrounding the doorway. He takes a laser probe from his instrument pouch, and traces it across a screen. As the figures appear, he reads them aloud. Most are at full capacity.

“Do you see what I’m getting at, Number One?”

“Yes, sir. We use some of this power to counter the effect of Iris.”

“Exactly.” The captain smiles. “We don’t touch our reserve fuel, and we replenish the solar storage during our last month of earth approach.”

The captain pauses to read a number off his computer screens. He performs some equations on his hand-calculator, then turns to look at his first officer.

“If the Film Technique is successful, we’ll save nine to fourteen days.”

Eric takes a binder from under his work station, and flips through its pages. He enters data into both his computer and his calculator, and talks over his shoulder.

“If we use solar packs A7, A12, A17, K12, K13, O2, O5, S37, then form a Perpetual Loop between the GOT Terminal and the S37 Positive Outtake, we’ll only exhaust 252 of the solar cells. The depletions will be uniform, and restricted to known sectors.”

Malcolm is also doing calculations from the laser screens. He doesn’t look up as he speaks.

“That will give us more excess power than necessary to confront the drag from Iris.”

“Yes.” The captain closes the binder. “But with the Loop, we have the option of creating a surge to replenish some used cells, instead of venting the surplus.” He swivels around in his chair. “We should begin the manoeuvre at the first opportune time.”

“That will be five hours and thirty-seven minutes.” Malcolm crosses the floor to stand beside the captain.

“Advise the crew, and have them double monitor until we correct the interference of our rotation.”

******************************************************************************

Ogma has never been to the moon.

He takes a certain satisfaction in the fact. He is the object of some good-natured banter by the other members of the council, although most of them have not made the trip either.

Ogma has been told such a voyage is expected of him, since he is the scientist of the group. Even the Head Druid, who has not only gone to the moon, but far beyond, occasionally jokes about it. Because the Head Druid has a quiet sense of humour, Ogma is never sure how serious the laughter is.

Ogma does not fear the travel, nor is he disinterested. The descriptions of the Head Druid make such a trip sound appealing. However, Ogma has a strong affinity for tradition – and the weight of tradition centres on the earth. According to Ogma, these two centuries of travel from earth are a drop in the bucket of the universe.

He often refers to examples from the past to explain his own reasoning. This causes the comment to be made that he should have been the historian of the council, instead of the expert on the sciences. His response is acute, and often times lengthy.

“You don’t realize who actually goes to these places.” If the Head Druid is present, Ogma always makes an exaggerated nod in his direction. “Male and female of the Homo Sapiens species enter their protective suits, and board an extravagant machine. They put themselves at the far end of a cylinder of all-consuming fuel.” Here Ogma will pause and look quizzical. “Then these inquisitive – and sometimes reckless – people, leave their terrestrial or lunar surfaces, and set out on a quest of knowledge or commerce.”

Now Ogma will stroke his beard.

“They use magnified eyes, and radio-wave ears. Every particle of information is ingested by computers.” Here Ogma leans forward, his eyes moving from face to face. “But what makes sense of these sensors and compilers? What is the final arbiter of all this knowledge?” A wink – one of Ogma’s knowing winks. “The irreplaceable human brain.”

Out of Ogma’s hearing, the Head Druid agrees with him totally. He points out that the anomaly of having a scientist so interested in the ways of the past, adds strength to the continuance of their traditions. Without traditions and beliefs, they can not be part of the order – the progression – which their religion and knowledge has shaped through the ages. They must never make the mistake of living in the past, but they must never make the error of forgetting the past.

If Ogma is present however – particularly at one of the full council meetings – the Head Druid allows this banter at Ogma’s expense to continue. He realizes Ogma can well use balance to his own opinionated attitude. Although Ogma listens carefully to what others say, he has no patience with unfounded speculation. He is vicious with those found in error.

It is not just travel to the moon, or any of the stations and colonies beyond, which draws Ogma’s ire. Although he ranges extensively over all parts of the earth, he does not even like the fuss and upheaval these trips cause. As he so often states: “Man can move through the air only so quickly – and it is never quickly enough.”

Ogma has not moved `quickly enough’ on his present trip, though it has taken him as close to the moon as one can get, and still be on planet earth. He is in the mountains – the familiar mountains of the Druids’ traditions and tales.

He is here because he is certain this is the place where a conjunction of knowledge, space, and elusive time will occur. If it is not already occurring. Or has always been occurring, ever since time itself became a concept.

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

As A Bonus – here is a link to:

APOLLO 11
IN REAL TIME
A real-time journey through the first landing on the Moon
This website consists entirely of original historical mission
material.
https://apolloinrealtime.org/11/
(Image) https //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/34/Moon_landing_sites.svg/1920px-Moon_landing_sites.svg.png

Will A Lucious Cake Help Seduce Alison Alexandra?

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Alison Alexandra is back for her second trip on The Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express – and why not? The first led to a supper with three sisters/widows (none of them wearing black) that is as memorable as any Alison Alexandra has had. And that’s saying a lot.

But on this trip, Alison Alexandra dines alone, and piques the interest of the chef. And there is no better sweet talk, than with a sweet dessert.

So, I went in search of a decadent dessert, looking as gorgeous as I am sure it tastes. And up I end with a Fragilité Cake, which I would appreciate having delivered to my door after the sun has set, whether I was on the The Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express or not. And, I would not automatically be predisposed to ignore any other intentions in the eye of the beholder.

Just be sure to bring a fork.

++++++++++++++++++++

The classic fragilité cake with coffee buttercream originates from the same Danish pastry chef, Johannes Steen, who also made The Sarah Bernhardt cookie. And must originate from the beginning of the 1900s, when Denmark was very influenced by everything French.

Fragilité means fragile, and it describes the cake well. It’s made with delicate layers of crispy meringue with hazelnuts, layered with a mocha/coffee buttercream. The cake feels very light and fluffy, but don’t let it fool you, it’s filled with great tasting calories😋

Ingredients:

Meringue:

  • 100 g hazelnuts
  • 200 g confectionary sugar
  • 4 egg whites

Mocha buttercream:

  • 3 pasteurised  egg yolks
  • 100 g confectionary sugar
  • 150 g butter, salted and room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1,5 teaspoons instant coffee

Directions:

Preheat the oven for 400℉ (200℃).

Chop the hazelnuts. I used the mini chopper that came with my immersion blender, and ended up with a coarse hazelnut flour. Mix the hazelnuts with half of the confectionary sugar.

Whip the egg whites, in a stand mixer, until you have soft peaks. Add the sugar and keep whipping until you have a shiny meringue with stiff peaks. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down.

Fold the hazelnut mixture in.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper, spray it and sprinkle with sugar. I used a 9″ x 13″ (20×30 cm) pan.

Spread the meringue evenly in the pan, and level of the top.

Bake the meringue for 2 minutes at 400℉ (200℃), then lower the temperature to 305℉ (150℃) and keep on baking foe another 40 minutes.

Buttercream:

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, and whip the buttercream until thick and fluffy over a double boiler. I used a saucepan with very hot water, and placed my bowl on top of that. I didn’t have it on the stove. It takes some time to get the buttercream nice and fluffy.

 

Cut the meringue in two, and place the one part on a cake stand, spread all the buttercream  on it in an even layer. Put the other half of the meringue on top.

Decorate the cake with some melted chocolate or a sprinkle of confectionary sugar.

(Found At) https://sweetsoursavory.com/blog/2014/2/16/classic-fragilit-cake

(Image) https: //i.pinimg.com/originals/14/b6/49/14b6491cfc731a143c195a3927623c4c.jpg

Going Through Checkpoint Charlie Where East Meets West (Berlin)

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[Checkpoint Charlie]

30 May

I first visited Europe years before the Euro was the accepted coin of the realm. In fact, there were many coins of many realms, and all that money caused a fuss.

I kept a daily diary of this trip, and plan to make it a part of any memoirs I might write. So I’ve hauled it out and will make some blogs from it. But they will be greatly abridged.

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30 May

Around ten o’clock I set out for Checkpoint Charlie. I say that I set out for Checkpoint Charlie, but i would be less than truthful if I stated I got there easily. In fact, I threw my destiny into the hands of Fate to get there at all. For the first time I did what I understand is a favourite pass time of tourists, I executed a complete circle and returned to the Hostel. At least I wasn’t lost.

I set out again, knowing I was to go past a particular building, and also go through a large field. Surprisingly enough,  after a ten minute walk, I unexpectedly came to Checkpoint Charlie. And there were the people from the group I was travelling with, who shuffled me into their midst and thus near the front of the line.

Going past the British soldiers was a matter of seconds. You gave your name and the time you expected to return and that was it. Then told you were not allowed to take any photos, you headed to the East German barrier. Here they took your passport; you filled in forms; you had to exchange some of your money for East German money (which you had to spend in the East); got little slips of paper stuck into your passport; walked to a further barrier where you again showed your passport, and then the next thing you were doing was walking in East Berlin.

We had been told to walk along the street until we came to Unter den Linden and then stay on it. We could go down side street, but always return to Unter den Linden. And that is what we did – more or less.

What I had expected of East Berlin was a dark, grey, dirty city, with haggard, suspicious-looking people in 1950’s clothing slinking along the streets with large bundles in their hands. I actually saw little difference in the people, or the place, than what I had seen in West Berlin.

Yes, it was more run-down looking, and there were more ruined buildings, and even buildings that were war-scarred, but it was clean and neat, and the people were like anyone else, though there were far fewer on the streets.

[More to come another day]

 

 

 

At Work And Play In Europe Long Before The Euo

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I first visited Europe years before the Euro was the accepted coin of the realm. In fact, there were many coins of many realms, and all that money caused a fuss. This was partially rectified by using Traveller’s cheques. And though Traveller’s cheques are still available, their use is not recommended, as so many places won’t even take them.

I kept a daily diary of this trip, and plan to make it a part of any memoirs I might write. So I’ve hauled it out and will make some blogs from it. But they will be greatly abridged

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May 28

Berlin, a city (to say the least) that I had heard about, once upon a time. It’s most noteworthy fame, in my opinion, the capital of Hitler’s Germany. And the present, the only city cut in twain by a wall – that infamous wall which causes so much consternation. And I was landing there – and walking into history.

We eventually arrived at the Youth Hostel, or Red Cross building, or whatever it really was. It was a cold, grey, imposing stone structure that reminded me of a second-rate castle somewhere in the Alps. It was plain and simple, there was never any hot water. I was very tired and dead feeling, so I grabbed a bottom bunk and rested/slept for a few hours. I eventually roused myself and went to take a shower. I do not know how the Germans managed to do it (they manage to do many things), but they were able, by some device, to get their water straight from the head ponds of Siberia.

I went out for a walk after my shower, not so much to sight see as to thaw. I didn’t go very far, just looked in some store windows, and went down to the end of the road, a short distance really, for it ended quite quickly with an old, decrepit-looking wall. I thought to myself, that if this were all the East Germans had to get over, there wouldn’t be much trouble to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel and Dine on The Orient Express With Alison Alexandra

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A few days ago, Alison Alexandra unceremoniously ended my chapter. I had planned another week of work to arrive at the ending. She did away with my ending, put in her own, and ignored the intricate back story I had planned.

So, I sat myself down and wondered what would happen in its place. It turns out Alison Alexandra wants to take a vacation, and the one place where she might just get away from herself (as she seems to desire) is the . She previously had a few pages (literally writing-years ago) on the train.

Sounded good enough for me.

A half hour later, the Face Book page for the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express popped up in my feed.

Full steam ahead, think I.

The following is a portion of Alison Alexandra’s previous trip on the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express.

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In the reflection in the glass of her for-the-time-being-stateroom window, Alison Alexandra notices the glances from people on the platform watching her peering, and she doesn’t want to give them any ideas of turning into spies themselves so she stops and turns from the train and continues to walk its length to the engine. Of course, she is looking for spies herself, as befits the aura of the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express. Spies and temptresses and writers and countesses and moustached gentlemen of natty appearance with zee little grey cells working overtime. And criminals and murderers and explorers and adventurers and (no doubt) adulterers and placid businessmen with fettered imaginations and the old wealth and the nouveau rich and folk on the run from the past and folk hoping to run to the past and not once in her complete walk to the engine did she once stop for all those posing to take a Selfie with the Orient Express in the background because – really – if you can’t remember it with your own memory then what’s the point?

She looks up at the engine and realizes that it has never belched billowing smoke and that it never will and she has been prepared for this disappointment – but still. It is a pleasant fantasy as is the whole trip as is the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express itself since the *real* train stopped years ago and even then there had been so many variations with so many destinations that someone could have taken several “Orient Express” trips and travelled on several different routes. In fact, two of the most famous books set on the Orient Express”, Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express and Greene’s Stamboul Train, are set on two different trains, neither of them the “Orient Express”. So Alison Alexandra is not really miffed there is no smoke-belching engine with escaping steam. She can make her own fantasy as others have done before her.

She returns along the platform, rubbing her fingers across the side of the blue-and-gold Waggons-Lits Sleeping Cars. She has kept out of the way of the ceremonial line-ups of the train staff greeting passengers. Enough attention has been paid. She again peers into her compartment window of the S-Series sleeper – slightly smaller and slightly less ornate – more suitable for a sole traveller who plans no assignations. The train is five minutes away from leaving. Alison Alexandra will indeed change for her evening meal. Not all her interests in the fashion of her youth have dissipated. And- after all –she is on the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express. She is not present only for the transportation.

Alison Alexandra wants to blend in and not be either a fashion statement nor a fashion disaster. Black is always the new black, so she enters her Waggon-Lit, enters her compartment, opens a travel case much older than she, and slips into spiffy clothing and accessories that would have allowed her to slip into any of the fantasies of the fantastic Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express with nary a comment of discord but with a nod of appreciation.

In the Etoile du Nord dining car, she has the desire to sit with three other people instead of one. She has made her request known, and will be hailed by a seated trio. She hopes for the best but her anticipation is tinged with a trace of concern. She does not want to be bored, nor does she want to spend the meal warding off unwanted attention. She felt it futile to make such stipulations up front. Sometimes you have to go with the flow.

“Hello.” A face turns up to her. “Are you Missy Alison?”

“Alison Alexandra.”

“I told you so.” Another head turns in her direction. “Your black attire will slide right well into a trio of  three widows.”

“Now, Blanche.” The third voice speaks without raising her head. “We’re sisters first, and widows second.”

“Which one of our husbands would have gone on this trip?”

“True.”

“So that’s why we’re here.”

“Is that why you’re here, Alison Alexandra?” The sister who has yet to look at her now does. “Death allowing you to escape into life?”

“No widow me.” Alison Alexandra looks at each face in turn. “Nor wife neither.”

“Do you still want to sit?”

“Oh, yes.” Alison Alexandra pulls out the final chair. “And as I am the only one in black, might I suppose your widowhoods are not recent.”

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