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The universal rules for guaranteed good cooking

guaranteed_stampBreath in, breathe out and relax. It’s all going to be fine. You’ve found the Universal Rules for Guaranteed Good Cooking.

Your culinary troubles are over. All you need for gustatory nirvana is to follow these few simple steps exactly.

No need to sweat through Jamie, cower before Delia or moan over Nigella. Cookbooks begone! All you need is here.

Padmini this is for you. Men wave goodbye to kitchen anxiety. Women flex your spatulas. And let’s go…

The 20 Universal Rules for Guaranteed Good Cooking

1. Choose a bottle of red wine.. Not a carton. Not a box. Not a plastic bottle from a plane. A proper long-necked bottle.

2. Open it. Sniff it. Pause in anticipation.

3. Slowly pour it – savouring that obble-gobble obble-gobble sound. That sound is the spiritual fanfare of the kitchen.

jaqee4. Choose your music and press play. [Inappropriate music: The Pogues*, anything about prisons*, anything rubbish.] [Appropriate music: When the night feels my song – Bedouin Soundclash, Moonshine – Jaqee (looking cool and sultry on the left there), Desaparacido – Manu Chao, upbeat reggae or ska.]

5. Adjust the setting on your music player to a higher temperature. That’s better. By now you should have tasted your wine. (NB: Be sure to pour the wine before turning on the music, otherwise you may miss the soul-lifting obble-gobble obble-gobble.)

6. Stir yourself and dance (or at least sashay) round the kitchen. This is to be repeated frequently during the cooking process.

7. Take your measuring jug, scales and specially designed half teaspoon/teaspoon/half table spoon/table spoon device. Carefully hide these and any other oppressively exact tools in a cupboard out of sight. (NB: A glass doored cupboard will NOT do – unless the glass is opaque.)

8. Prepare your mushrooms. Rinse them. Peel them if it makes you feel good. Peel them slowly. Drink some wine. Then chop them and gently fry in three sauces – dark soy, teryaki and mirin. And the greatest of these is mirin Continue reading

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China: Is it the future of world politics – or not?

Colonel Sanders is looking young - and Chinese - at the opening of a new KFC outlet in Beijing.

It’s well past time that people woke up to China’s role in the world and I don’t just mean noticing “Made in China” on the base of that thing you’ve just bought. (It’s probably from Vietnam or the Philippines these days anyway – or perhaps Madagascar if it’s clothing.) And eating Chinese doesn’t count either.

It’s crazy how tightly schools cling to European languages to the exclusion of Chinese. Sure, Spanish can be number one – it’s on the doorstep, good weather, world language, beautiful songs. But why should Chinese be relegated below French, German, Russian (!), Italian, Latin, Greek, etc?

Then again, there are some people who are in a constant tizzy about the spread of Chinese influence – soft power, economic investment, military infiltration. The panic has reached such intensity in parts of the blogosphere that it reminds me of that old cartoon (anyone know it?) that had Americans imagining that it was Vietnam bordering Texas instead of Mexico. (Though with the low intensity warfare going on in Mexico these days…)

So is China really the future? Is western democracy tired and doomed to go down with the listing economic ship? Have the Chinese actually got it right in terms of development and never mind the niceties of freedom?

Two Continue reading

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