Poutine – Cultural Cuisine Or Misspelling?

We are just about to encounter Canada Day. It’s the 1960’s revision of the first of July –  Dominion Day – that allows Canadians to make slightly sad cultural asses of themselves throughout the world…or throughout the world that actually notices. This would be about 0.08% of humanity…

Shorn of its fun features – picnics on the shores of freezing lakes, fireworks, and a couple of months off school – Dominion …Oops…Canada day is a time of wild celebration for Canadians overseas. All through Kenya ice hockey and curling is breaking out. The mountains of Holland echo to the sound of gunshots as Canadians open fire on moose. The Indians dedicate another temple to Justin Trudeau and then flush it…

Just kidding. We go out a buy a carton of Molsons or a bottle of rye and some ginger ale and  scuff round the kitchen to see if that recipe for butter tarts has turned up. And we contemplate poutine.

I say contemplate, because I do not know any Canadian overseas who has eaten the stuff. Indeed, I passed a childhood and youth in the Dominion of Canada without ever seeing it, and I lived in Montreal and Chicoutimi for years. I did see strawberry pie in Quebec, but my parents were wise not to let any of it get on me.

Poitine would seem to be French fries with cheese and gravy. I should like to hear the Canadian Heart Association’s take on the dish, as it seems to be comprised of equal quantities of cholesterol, oxidants, and toxins. I am surprised it is not linked to Donald Trump. In an age that views anything other than salad as sin, how has poutine become a star dish? Is it because it is French Canadian, and is therefore excused from any goodness? Is it the culinary version of the Cirque du Soleil?

Well, for me, I shall celebrate Dominion Day with the aforementioned rye highball and something else Canadian enough to do the trick. I am going to get a pound of small fish, split them and roll them in cornmeal, and fry them in Crisco like Fraser River Smelt. Add some PEI potatoes and creamed corn and it will be as close to the True North Strong And Free as you can get in Western Australia. Unless I can gun down an elk on St Georges Terrace.

I may even put up a picture of the current Prime Minister, if I can find the dartboard, eh?

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Two Wheel 2018 – Part One – The European Peasant’s Vehicle

I am the Sergeant Schultz of motorcycles. I know nothing. Nevertheless, I am prepared to be captivated by the things when they are presented as static objects.. I should run a mile if you asked me to ride one…

Here was the first nest of finds at the WAHRS this year. Someone loves motor scooters, and strange foreign ones at that. Of course, it might be argued that all motor scooters are foreign-built but some are further offshore than others. The Vespa and Lambretta seem to have been a staple of the city roads here in Perth in the 1960’s and I do remember being arrested on a Puch in the back streets of Nedlands in 1967 – 68…but a lot of the others are exotic birds indeed:

Ariel Leader.

DKW.

Heinkel. Yes, that Heinkel…

Rumi. This one almost thinks that it wants to be a motor bike rather than a scooter but the position of the kick starter is the part that baffles me. It looks like it protrudes to a place that cannot be ignored.

The use of a motor scooter in city traffic of the 21st century is both wise and foolish. The crowded roads and short distances needed make it ideal but the unprotected nature of the ride plus the under power of most of them make them nearly as great a hazard as the middle-aged lycra cyclists on the bike paths. I should love one out in a country town or on Rottnest Island.

 

The Perils Of The Opening Act

I should not like to be an opening act for anyone – whether they were famous or obscure, whatever occurred after my turn on stage would be inevitably detract from my own performance.

The same with the first car to be seen in a hot rod show. It’s going to be rushed by no matter what. I saw this today and took deliberate care that I gave the first act full attention.

It was a depiction of the yellow ’32 Ford coupe that featured in the film ” American Graffiti ” so many years ago. I was taken with the film, puzzled by the title, and receptive to this coupe in the entry hall of the 2018 West Australian Hot Rod Show. Note, I know it has an official show name but it is just the WAHRS to me.

Yellow is always a good choice for a rod, as it attracts the eye. Also probably safer on the road for just that reason, though it also would attract the official eye in blue so you’d better have the official papers right to run it. The problem with the hall that the WAHRS is run in is the lighting – it can have a colour temperature that ranges from water pump to Alsatian dog without ever getting to any of the conventional measurements. In the past I have tried to predict it with finely tuned custom WB. These days I just accept my fate and leave the camera on Auto WB. Take it from me that it was yellow.

It was also well-built, with a fair adherence to the spirit, if not the letter of the original. I must re-view the movie to see how close they got. Suffice it to say that it was a very satisfying reminder of the times. I was particularly taken with the shake tray…having seen a fully loaded one rip the top chrome moulding off the front window of a Pontiac in a Canadian drive-in in 1962 myself, I appreciate the feature.

Also appreciated was the period approach to the interior and the engine fittings. I admire some alternative rod styles but always default to the classics.

And finally – two good pieces of showmanship: the display stand that let people know what the intent of the rodder was, and the free stack of printed posters that let them take home a souvenir. That’s what gets the punters’ eye.

 

 

No Day Is A School Holiday

Because we all go to several schools.

We may pass our time in primary school and high school when we are young and hang out every week day for the weekend…thinking that we’ll be out of school on Saturday and Sunday. Wrong – we just go from one learning environment to another. If we are lucky we never see the seam between school learning and home learning.

Take an example. We learn how to do cooking in Home Economics in school. We practice it at home as soon as we can. We fail miserably, and then we fail partially, then occasionally, and then not at all. We’ve learned the theory and gained the knowledge – time to move on to the next failure.

Or a more academic subject: mathematics. We can struggle through geometry for years and then bring it home to our shed and then instinctively use it to find the centre of a piece of wood for the turning lathe. We can go blank in algebra and then all of a sudden find ourself using it to apportion paint to walls. Learn, do, no gap.

Even if there are no striking examples of learning on the holidays, we still discover how personal interactions do or don’t succeed. We travel and are gawping students wherever we go. We work at a vacation job that has more complexity than the moon launch.

Learning. In school, out of school, night and day. And none of us need be afraid of it at all.

 

Good Morning, Sir. How May I Hell You?

Everyone should work retail at some point in their lives.

Indeed, I’ll go further than that – they should also, at some point:

a. Work personal service – wait tables, attend a public desk, man the complaints counter.

b. Work publicity. Write copy, draw illustration, serve at a promo show. Think up the bullshit and then have to spread it…

c. Work in dirt. Even if it is just a personal garden, everyone should work in dirt until they get a good result.

d. Work in a position that is monitored by a jealous and vindictive overseer. This may be a person or a professional board.

e. Work in a workshop. Whatever they produce makes no difference – it will cement their character if they can eventually do it well.

f. Work to a deadline. And fail once, and then succeed once, to know the difference in the way it feels.

g. Work to a financial bottom line. Unless they have had to watch the pennies, they’ll never know how to accumulate the pounds.

h. Work in a job where they were in command. Command of the job and command of other people.

If they have done all or most of these things, they are well-rounded individuals. But they mustn’t get cocky – so is the Michelin Man. And he gets tyred sometimes…

No… back to the topic. People who vault to command without ever experiencing the reality of work live in an unreal world and make false decisions. People who never rise also never see what command should be – there is always a battle between them and others that is detrimental to business. There needs to be a shared experience to share in effective management and effective employment.

 

 

Up. On. Off. Coffee.

Did a talk yesterday to an audience in the old folk’s home. It was easier than I thought it was going to be because I’m also one of the old folks – and my audience was prepared to listen to me.

Public speaking is a lot of fun:

a. If you have something to say.

b. Someone will listen.

c. They serve coffee and cake afterwards.

You can make it work if you take the advice of the title. Get up, get on, then get off. If you are lucky you can also get away, though for some audiences I would advise a smoke screen and plenty of jinking.

I had a good introduction from someone who was a former patient and who still had enough teeth to talk with. I gave a 20-minute show covering two main ideas, and this was enough time to engage them with a question, satisfy them with an answer, and then shut up before they became restless. There were enough visual aids to engage their eyesight – without having to look at a charts or words on a screen. There were familiar things as well as new items.

And there was coffee and cake afterwards. You can dissolve a lot of impatience with morning coffee.

 

 

Being Kind To People For Fun And Profit

We need not spend our days devising traps for our fellow men. Or women, for that matter. We can devote part of the time to good works and kindly activities. We can radiate sunshine and happiness. We can bless all around us.

And after we’ve lulled them into a sense of security we can fall on them like avenging demons. They’ll have slowed down enough during the good times to make for much easier targets.

Of course there are people who say this is cruel and deceitful upon our part – who say that we are merely taking advantage of people to wreak a more terrible revenge upon them. Well they said that about Lady Macbeth and Vlad the Impaler and that hasn’t stopped people from visiting Scotland or Transylvania, now has it? And what’s a little blood between friends? A sticky red pool, that’s what.

A lot of people think of kindness in big terms – like valuable gifts or especial politeness and suchlike. Really, it can be accomplished for very little outlay, after you pay for the knife sharpening. Try doing one kind deed for someone today and see how far it goes. For instance; if you see a pensioner on the side of the road struggling to escape the deadly toils of terrible poisonous serpents, don’t just speed away. Slow down or stop, wind down the window, and say Good Day. They appreciate these things, the pensioners and the serpents.

Children can sense kindness. They respond to it as flowers do to the sun – by wilting. So remember to water the under-5’s when they come to visit. And a sprinkle of chicken manure wouldn’t go astray, either…

Finally, remember that the key to a good marriage can be made in Heaven. Or by Yale. Get two cut and put one under the mat.