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As I’ve said before in this blog, I’m very big on lists. Give me a list- anything I need to add to, fill in, write, read… you name it: basically a  list with which I can procrastinate, and I’m a happy girl. So, while browsing through other food blogs I regularly read, I came across an interesting list that I could actually blog about.

great-britain

What’s this particular list about then? Well, people usually say (oh, at least they do in Greece!) that the British know nothing about cooking and / or eating. My experience, in the last years that I’ve lived here in London, is somewhat different. I actually love british cooking. So… without procrastinating any further, here is the British 100, as compiled by Helen of Food Stories...

And here’s the rules…

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Link back to Food Stories, if you would be so kind.

MY BRITISH 100

1. Grey squirrel

2. Steak and kidney pie

3. Bubble and squeak

4. Spotted dick

5. Hot cross buns (delicious)

6. Laver bread

7. Toad in the hole

8. Shepherds pie AND cottage pie

9. Scotch egg

10. Parkin

11. Welsh rarebit

12. Jellied eels

13. Stilton

14. Marmite (although I really really don’t like it: you know, you’re either a Marmite person, or you’re not)

15. Ploughman’s lunch

16. Cucumber sandwiches (surprisingly these are quite nice, in an old-fashioned, English tea-time kind of way)

17. Coronation chicken

18. Gloucester old spot

19. Cornish pasty

20. Samphire

21. Mince pies

22. Winkles

23. Salad cream (hate it. NOT a good idea to put bottled cream onto your salad)

24. Malt loaf

25. Haggis

26. Beans on toast

27. Cornish clotted cream tea

28. Pickled egg (no way Jose)

29. Pork scratchings

30. Pork pie

31. Black pudding

32. Patum Peperium or Gentleman’s relish (interesting. Didn’t know about this).

33. Earl grey tea

34. Elvers

35. HP Sauce

36. Potted shrimps

37. Stinking bishop

38. Elderflower cordial

39. Pea and ham soup

40. Aberdeen Angus Beef (excellent beef)

41. Lemon posset

42. Guinness

43. Cumberland sausage

44. Native oysters

45. A ‘full English’ – and a full Scottish!

46. Cockles

47. Faggots

48. Eccles cake

49. Potted Cromer crab

50. Trifle (love it love it love it. My mother used to make trifle all the time when we were kids, even though we lived in Greece).

51. Stargazy pie

52. English mustard

53. Christmas pudding

54. Cullen skink

55. Liver and bacon with onions

56. Wood pigeon

57. Branston pickle

58. Oxtail soup

59. Piccalilli

66. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (with gravy)

67. Pickled onions

68. Cock-a-leekie soup

69. Rabbit and Hare

70. Bread sauce (this is an acquired taste. Very strange for Greeks to get used to. But now I’ve come to actually love it, & I include it every year in my Christmas lunch menu).

71. Cauliflower cheese

72. Crumpets

73. Rice pudding (not really British, this. But excellent all the same).

74. Bread and butter pudding (perfect comfort food).

75. Bakewell tart

76. Kendall mint cake

77. Summer pudding

78. Lancashire hot pot

79. Beef Wellington

80. Eton mess

81. Neeps and tatties

82. Pimms

83. Scampi

84. Mint sauce

85. English strawberries and cream

86. Isle of Wight garlic

87. Mutton

88. Deep fried whitebait with tartare sauce

89. Angels on horseback

90. Omelette Arnold Bennett

91. Devilled kidneys

92. Partridge and pheasant

93. Stew and dumplings

94. Arbroath smokies

95. Oyster loaves

96. Sloe gin

97. Damson jam

98. Soda bread

99. Quince jelly

100. Afternoon tea at the Ritz

…So there you have it. I’m actually playing with the idea of compiling a Greek 100 very soon!

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Here I am again…

It’s been more than 2 months since I’ve updated my blog… they say images are stronger than words, so you can easily tell what the reason behind my disappearance is!

I thought long & hard about what I should do with my blog. For a while of course, after the birth of my boy, I just put the whole thing on the back burner. Those of you who have kids know very well how those first couple of months are with a new baby: there’s no time to take a shower or even to have a coherent thought, let alone to update a blog! I initially found it shocking how much of a difference there was between my previous life (before-baby) and my current one (after-baby).

However, my boy is now 2 months (god, how the time passes) & I’m ready for some new blogging adventures, as I’m gradually starting to feel a connection to my previous self & my before-baby life. I’ve thought about the direction I want the blog to go in, and to be honest, achieving my 202 goals just doesn’t seem realistic anymore (particularly the having-to-read-novels-by-authors-like-Dostoevsky bit!) I do want to continue blogging though, so I’ve decided to be realistic & plan something that I can actually achieve within the time frame I’ve set myself. This blog has been, from the beginning, more a food blog than anything else… so what I’ve decided is that I will cut my list in half. I’ll go from the overambitious 202 goals to a more modest 101 goals, concentrating on the food-related ones. I won’t actually delete the non-food-related goals from my blog, since I feel they belong here, & I may feel that I want to write about some of them from time to time. But my main objective will be to focus on goals 102 to 202, all about food! I hope to achieve most of them by the end of the 1001 days, so wish me luck.

Any changes you see on the blog are due to this change in direction.. So. Hello again to everyone who’s still out there, I look forward to reconnecting with everyone, & even more than that, I look forward to reconnecting with my kitchen & cookbooks!

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Reasons to watch Mamma Mia (the movie) when you’re ready to pop & have a baby any moment:

  • Being mentally transferred to beautiful, crystal-clear-water-and-white-sand Greek beaches
  • …and so forgetting momentarily the basketball-sized bump you’re carrying, preventing you not only for any kind of holiday but also from simply- at this point- going to the local pool for a quick swim
  • Singing along (hopefully, in your head) to all those cheesy Abba songs & imagining dancing with friends, through the night, to that same music, with no care in the world & a couple of lovely cocktails to help you along.
  • Watching Meryl Streep sing ‘Slipping through my fingers’, about her daughter growing up & leaving her, & starting to cry imagining that the foetus in the tummy will soon- VERY SOON- become a real live baby, and then a real lively toddler, and then a real annoying adolescent, and and and… (Don’t ask, anything makes me tearful at this point, even an Abba song). The thing is, there’s nothing like pregnancy and having children to make you think hard about time passing, and the changes that involves.
  • Watching- and hearing- Pierce Brosnan singing ‘When all is said and done’ and cringing at the sound of his voice at the same time as laughing hysterically by the sheer camp quality of it all. And at the same time- late pregnancy emotionality again- feeling inexplicably moved & tearful by the whole thing too!!
  • Feeling completely nostalgic for long, lazy, delicious summer holidays in remote Greek islands- especially the tiny, non-touristy ones… (this shouldn’t be seen necessarily as a plus, now that I think of it)

Reasons NOT to watch Mamma mia when you’re ready to pop & have a baby any moment & to wait until your baby is about one year old:

  • Walking out of the cinema & realizing, that yes, you really truly will have a baby any moment now, and so for now there are no crystal-clear blue seas, cocktail-drinking-and-dancing nights with friends well into the night, nor any carefree love affairs on remote Greek islands with an Abba soundtrack. Hopefully other pleasures lie ahead though…

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If you’ve ever been plagued by those torturous two little words ‘what if’ then this is the book for you. Lionel Shriver’s ‘The post birthday world’ is all about the choices we make in life, and the what ifs that those choices inevitably leave behind them, like shadows, always following us from a discreet distance.

The story is simple- a woman- Irina- is in a long term, content relationship. At some point, during one particular dinner, she reaches a crossroad where she is momentarily tempted to start an affair with another man. She can go this way or that, there’s no two ways about it. What Shriver does is try to answer the million-dollar what if question: so what happens if Irina goes off with the new, exciting, interesting man, leaving behind her long-term partner? What future does that lead to? And on the other hand, what if she decides to stay, and not rock the boat?

Like Shriver’s ‘We need to talk about Kevin’, a disturbing, brilliant book which caused an uproar when it was published, the ‘Post birthday world’ doesn’t offer any easy answers about ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choices. All in all, an excellent read, highly recommended.

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A book for food-bloggers

Goal number 1 (reading a novel every 2 weeks) is progressing nicely… I’m already on to my third novel; still not reading any Dostoevsky, but I will get round to it at some point! For some strange reason, I grew up thinking that women who are at the end of their pregnancies (like I am) tend to read overlong, preferably Russian, classic novels. Not sure where I got that idea, but there you go. What I’m finding is that at least for now I haven’t yet got round to reading books that take great concentration, because I’m much more tired than normal. So relatively pleasurable, easy to follow & quick reads are my preference for the time being (any suggestions welcome!)

I thought I’d make some comments then on novel number 2 (novel number 1 since I started my blog is discussed here). This time I read ‘Julie & Julia’ by Julie Powell. I think this book would make a fascinating read (and a great gift) for any food-blogger, but I’m not sure I would recommend it to other people.

In ‘Julie & Julia’, Julie Powell documents her journey to cook all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s 1961 classic cookbook Mastering the art of french cooking, Vol. 1 in 365 days. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? This project was initially documented in Powell’s food-blog (you can find Powell’s current blog here; I’m not sure where the online Julie-Julia project can be found nowadays). The Julie-Julia project became very popular during those 365 days & invited lots of attention, including articles in the NY Times. I understand that there’s also a movie in production, based on the book, to be directed by the wonderful Nora Ephron (who herself has written a great book, ‘Heartburn’, which I highly recommend to all food-lovers who haven’t yet read it).

What ‘Julie & Julia’ is about, essentially, is the journey of a woman who finds her way out of a slightly boring and stagnating life (and job) through cooking & writing about cooking. The most fascinating & interesting bits that will appeal to any food-blogger (or anyone who loves cooking, for that matter) are the passages that document Julie’s struggles with difficult recipes, some of which few of us would even attempt nowadays: cooking brains & kidneys; making aspics (including eggs in aspic!); extracting marrow from a bone in order to make a sauce; braising lettuce; blanching bacon… and so much more. The rest of the book, however, I didn’t enjoy that much. I think Julie Powell makes a wonderful food-writer but not such a great novelist. The non-cooking bits of the book seemed like unnecessary fillings to me, but that was ok, because Julie’s cooking adventures were more than enough to keep my interest piqued throughout the book.

A quick note: The book was actually brought to my attention by a reader of my own blog who suggested I read it since I’m trying to cook my way through Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to eat’, plus have thought up for myself a whole list of impossible-sounding food-related goals! So: thanks Bethany!

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Goal 58: Kew gardens

Here in London we’ve been enjoying lovely weather lately, and so on Sunday about a week ago we ventured out to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. This is a very very big park, near Richmond in London, and is renowned for its large variety of different plants, trees & flowers that are contained within its 300 acres. It’s impossible, of course, to really explore Kew Gardens in one day, but we got a first lovely taste, and we plan to visit again soon. I recommend this place for anyone visiting London, and of course for anyone already living in London who hasn’t been yet: it’s a really special place. Just keep in mind that the admission price is a bit steep (13£ for adults) and also that you’ll need a lot of time- perhaps more than one visit- to fully explore the gardens. Here’s a taster of our day there.

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I’m sure I’m not the only one: whenever I feel slightly down or moody or premenstrual or whatever, I sit down with my Sex & the City DVD shoebox/box-set, choose a couple of episodes & indulge. The experience always has the same effect as eating a large slice of chocolate cake or apple pie or some other decadent dessert. Comfort eating / comfort viewing at its best, only in this case less calorific & thus less filled with guilt.

Watching the Sex & the City movie last weekend was a similar experience, only better, because I shared it with two close friends. It was a weekend filled with cooking, eating, late (VERY late) night discussions… and of course watching the movie, the tickets for which we had booked ages ago.

The movie itself is as you would expect. Or, to be more precise: as those who are already fans of Sex & the City would expect. Those who aren’t fans (mainly- but not only- men) probably won’t like it. It’s light, feathery, funny, at times emotionally intense, ultra-glamorous & filled with amazing clothes & shoes that had us gaping for 2 and a half hours. So you either go for that kind of thing, or you don’t- you know in which category you place yourself.

I won’t go into any details concerning the plot- I don’t want to spoil the experience for anyone who’s planning to see it soon. I also won’t let myself think of this movie in ‘serious’, review-like terms. It’s not that kind of movie. Not that it cannot be judged in terms of its script, or acting, or whatever. Of course it can. It’s just that for me the experience meant something very different. It was part of this wonderful, indulgent, rare weekend with my close friends, a weekend made even more special (and a bit bittersweet) by the fact that I’m expecting my first child in about a month, and so this was certainly the last time that it was just us.

I’m sure there’ll be other weekends, other chocolate-fudge cakes (we made a really great one, will post about it soon), other movies… but at that point things will be very different on my part, as I’ll be a mother, and I’m sure this will make for an inevitable shift in my relationship with my friends. Hopefully a positive shift, but still… There’s something sad about it as well.

So this is the way I’ll remember the Sex & the City movie. Thanks to Carrie, Samantha, Miranda & Charlotte for keeping us such good company throughout the years, and many special thanks to my wonderful friends T. & N. for 3 days that I’ll definitely remember always. What a great ending to my non-parent life, I see it as a gift, so thank you so much for giving me this gift.

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