Wednesday 29 September 2010

The Food of Travel 1- Going East

Recently I had the pleasure of flying to and from Europe with Singapore Airlines. We had some intriguing meals along the way. They serve two choices in cattle class- one asian and one western. I learned to ask for the asian choice nearly every time, and came off better I believe, given the pallid scramble eggs and ordinary chicken that my Western eating husband was served.

It was early morning, and I was astonished to find decent looking food at Charles Kingsford-Smith, so I got the eggs and silverbeet hash from the  Danks Street Bistro outpost. The eggs were ok, but the silverbeet hash was awful- potatoes that were the wrong texture, and so hot I managed to burn my hard palate as my final act before leaving the country.

Imagine how thrilled I was to get an airline version of the same meal just a few hours later. I remember eating the eggs even though they were overcooked and somewhat rubbery and the yoghurt.

Some kind of fish curry from memory. It was kind of hot actually, and the cauliflower undercooked.

Imagine my absolute terror as a parent who has to fill out a permission note about once a week so that my child can eat a piece of birthday cake that another child might bring to school, to see Singapore staff blithely handing out packets of peanuts! Do they not know that a large proportion of the Australian population suffer from peanut allergies so severe that a mere sniff in a playground can kill them? What about when a  whole section of economy rips open their cheap packet of peanuts at the same time? Surely that's an antigen load likely to knock off even the hardest Aussie? But do you know there wasn't one call for a doctor or an epipen after the peanut serving? Shocked I was, shocked. 

Changi airport in Singapore  is allegedly one of the best airports in the world. It's certainly big, and seemed nearly empty all the time we were in it, which was quite a bit with the coming and the going. Still it's not that easy to get a good feed there. I remember ordering this because it had a ridiculous name, and I'd been in Singapore for a week by now, and was somewhat emboldened.  It was perhaps the worst thing I ate in Singapore. 

Flying over Afghanistan at something like 0400 local time and what do they give you? Chili prawn noodles. Naturally. Given the flight originated in Singapore those were proper chilies too. Not namby pamby ones. I can't remember if that's apple juice or wine. I hope it was wine, but fear it was apple juice. 

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Top Ten Books I'm Dying to Read

Of course there are many more than 10 books that I'm dying to read, but here's todays list (in no particular order).

I've read it now
See my review

Harriet the Spy

If only because then I will be as well read as Lisa Simpson (in one episode at least), and will have read Yertle the Turtle ("Possibly the best book ever written on the subject of turtle stacking."), To Kill a Mockingbird and Harriet the Spy.

The Girl Who Played with Fire

Because a lovely friend lent it to me last December and I still haven't read it. It was meant to be my Singapore book way back in June. And I felt slack about not having read it then.

I've read it now
See my review

The Three Musketeers
More a book I'm dying to Finish rather than Read.

I've read it now

When it Rains
A local author, I went to the launch of this book last week, of course got merchandised, and now I must read it. 

The Sparrow
I've been wanting to read this for years, and then a lovely friend even sent me her copy all the way from America.

The Curse of the Labrador Duck
I got hooked by the reviews for this book when it came out, I bought it, and of course haven't read it. 

I don't imagine that I'll ever get through all 6 volumes but I'd like to think that someday I'll have the time to try

Notre Dame de Paris
This was meant to be my Paris book for this year. I was planning to read it at night having had walked past Notre Dame every day. Will I wait til my next Parisian sojourn or read it in the interim? Time will tell. 

I've read it now
See my review

Old Yeller
Because I just recently watched the movie of this for the first time, and now I'm intrigued to read the book. I'm sure I could learn even more about hydrophobe. 

I've read it now
See my review

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
I know it's Wrong. I know I probably won't like it. But I bought it and I want to give it a go.

I never get my Top 10 out on a Tuesday, it takes a while of mulling it over, and waiting for it to bubble up to the surface. The folks at brokeandbookish do a better job of it. 

Sunday 19 September 2010


Is there anything more magnificent than magnolias in bloom? Their peak is short, they still look nice when the foliage starts to come in but for me I just love those glorious few days when they burst into bloom. I haven't had much of a chance to capture images of this years magnolias, what with work, rain and courses, but I still managed to capture a few moments of stunning beauty.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I've Never Read

I'm really a somewhat haphazard book blogger. I've blogged a couple of books here. I really should get around to starting a blog about my experiences reading 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. I think that would make a half decent and interesting blog. It's an amazing ride, and I will be much better read, if not Grown Up at the end of it.

I do follow a number of excellent book blogs, for both adult and childrens books, but I do that haphazardly too- it all takes so much time. Similarly, I'm not much of a meme reader or follower. I'm not even sure why they're called memes. But this one has been nagging at me for a few weeks. I came across it on the wonderful Deb Nance's readerbuzz blog. I found her list both interesting and inspiring. Imagine having never read Enid Blyton! It's almost unimaginable for an Australian of my vintage. But of course we share many similar holes in our reading too.

I've been having random thoughts about what I should put on this list for a few weeks. I'm not sure how I'm going to round out my Top Ten at this stage, but let's have a look, and see where it takes us.

1. The Bible

Yes it's true. I can hear the shocked intakes of air. I'm pretty sure that I read some childrens bible stories when I was a child, but I've never read a Bible as such. Or The Koran, or whatever it is that the other major religions read.

2. Dickens

Yes, ALL of it. Well, I have read half of Bleak House twice, and it is just about the best book I've never read. I'm planning to read A Christmas Carol this December, perhaps that will count for something.

I've read it now!
see my review

3.The Diary of Young Girl
Shame. Shame. Shame

4. The French Classics.
I think to convey the gaps in my reading from here on in I must largely use clusters of books, rather than individual books or authors. I am a Francophile, tis true. And yet, I've read so very little of their literature -modern or classic it must be said, but the classics seems the bigger omission at the moment. I've dabbled at the edges of this wonderful French world. I read Madame Bovary last year, and it was a revelation. Not just the descriptors of 19th century French life, or the casual mentions of famous French surgeons, who are now more known because of their eponyms than their actual deeds. But my goodness, I have yet to come across an English language equivalent to Emma Bovary. Currently I'm two thirds of the way through The Three Musketeers, and this is just as scandalous. It's a ripping yarn. These two little glimpses into the vast array of French Classic Literature make me hungry for more. I want to read Hugo, Zola, Moliere, de Maupassant, Proust, Verne. Sadly of course it will all be in English translation. But one day, perhaps one day, my French will be good enough again to let me try reading in the original.

5. Australian Childrens Classics
This is not to say that I have read every adult Aussie classic that I should have either. I've read only one Patrick White. It was of course a herculean effort on my behalf and took 3 months of my life to read. Still I do feel like I should try to read him, and in this lifetime too, and not save him til I'm dead, as I plan to do with all the unread Virginia Woolfs. And there are many others too of course. But there are also some yawning holes in the Aussie kids classics that I've never read- well I don't believe I have. Blinky Bill. Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie. The Magic Pudding. This must be corrected.

6. Shakespeare
Or even Tales from Shakespeare. Yes I've seen some of the plays. I've perhaps even understood some parts of some of the plays, and laughed at some of his jokes. Still I find it difficult to read plays. It's not something that I try all that often to be honest. The most successful attempt to read a play would have been The Importance of Being Earnest, which I've read twice.

7. The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde
Speaking of Being Earnest, I do think that Oscar Wilde was possibly the best wit who has ever lived (or at least the best one I've come across thus far). I'm always in awe of his work, but still have much to read, fairytales included, even though once again I have actual copies of these books that I've bought with my hard earned cash that languish, unread on my bookshelves.

8. Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything.

This is quite an abject failure. I even own three different versions of this book, and still I haven't read it. The original, the Illustrated one (hey, the mere sight of the illustrated version of The DaVinici Code made me buy it instantaneously, and then read it, when I had been completely uninterested until the very moment that I saw the illustrated version in the shop, and here I am with the illustrated version of a book I really want to read sitting on the shelf), and I've even bought the children's version (A Really Short History of Nearly Everything). I think I've got through half the first chapter of the illustrated one.

9. Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Because I must be the only person in the world who hasn't actually read it. Or even seen the movie.

I've read it now!
See my review

10. The Wind in the Willows

So it seems the Top Ten is a bit blurry round the edges.... it was fun to do, and good to think about how I can get some of these books read some stage soonish.