Haggis it’s OK.

30 01 2013

Now, despite my proud ownership of a blue Canadian passport, it can’t be denied that I was born in England. Yorkshire to be exact (as Yorkshiremen often are in such emotive matters of origin). I went to university slightly further North, in Durham. Slightly further North still (at least in galactic terms) lies Scotland, or Écosse as the more trendy Jacobeans would have it. The recent Burns Night celebrations reminded me of my collage days back in the early ’80s. The local Woolworth’s in Durham used to sell fresh (I use the term loosely)  haggis.

Being at a collegiate university, there was no need to cook or otherwise fend for myself during my undergraduate years. This was a major godsend (or Darwinsend, I suppose) to the hapless teenager I was then. I later matured and developed into a full-grown hapless adult, but that’s another story. In any case I remember acquiring at least one haggis (hey – it was 30 years ago – memories fade! I couldn’t swear to the exact number)  and cooking it.

Wikipedia: Durham Cathedral and Mill-house

Now, if you’ve never “partaken” of haggis, you’re missing out on one of life’s great experiences. Great as in large. It’s a personal decision whether it’s also great as in good. Memorable either way. Suffice it to say at this juncture that boiling up a haggis is a somewhat, er, pungent affair. Popularity was never one of my goals at university, and haggis-cooking pretty well excluded popularity from the horizon for a while.

Fast forward to a few days ago, and a cheeky exchange I had at work with a Scottish colleague. He proudly flies a St. Andrew’s cross on his desk, and I engaged in light-hearted nationalistic jest. I asked if he’d received a discount for said flag, as most of the white, and all of the red was missing. We both shared a laugh, but had to explain to the blank-faced “proper” Canadians about the various component flags making up the Union Jack. Anyway, conversation came around to wee Rabbie, and the Scots capability of making up a drinking excuse out of pretty much anything. From there, I lamented my failure to find haggis in the 12 years I’ve lived in Canada. I did however have to qualify that by admitting that I hadn’t actually, in all honesty, looked!

Wikipedia: Flag of St. andrew

Wikipedia: Union Jack

So tonight (there is a point to all this – stick with me…) Mrs E told me she’d bought me a present. Now this in itself is a massive event, so I rushed home with my mind’s eye full of Lamborghinis and holiday cottages. On arrival, I was told it was in the fridge. Strange place to keep a sports car, but hey ho. I gave up looking in the end, having incorrectly guessed that several bags of frozen blueberries and a loaf of unsliced bread were the goal.

No – there, hiding timorously  in the bottom tray, unassuming and shy was… a haggis! Frozen obviously, but a haggis nonetheless. The brand is Goodricks from New Westminster, BC. Purveyors, the label assures me, of quality meat products since 1987.

38846_143416432354535_3753815_n(Not sure how good their meat was before 1987, but that’s not the point here really, is it?) The ingredients list on my new haggis is short and to the point. In this day and age that in itself is a rare thing not to be undervalued.

The haggis itself does seem to be in a traditional sheep’s stomach, though it’s hard to tell through the frost-coated plastic. Nice to know there’s still a role for traditional sheep. Modern sheep with their piercings and tattoos remind me of a great New Zealand comedy-horror. But enough frivolity. The ingredients, I am assured in writing, consist only of the following:

  • Lamb Pluck
  • Oats
  • Spices
  • Onions
  • Stock

“Spices” of course can hide a multitude of sins, but otherwise pretty innocuous. Hang on though… “lamb pluck”? What in the name of Jamie Oliver is lamb pluck when it’s at home? It sounds like belly button fluff.

Enter my good friend Google…

Lamb Pluck, it would seem, is esophagus, lungs, heart, liver, kidneys… all still connected.

Lamb Pluck

egullet: Lamb Pluck

Well I guess that’s OK then. I thought it might have been something unsavory for a moment. What can I say? Well – “waste not, want not” springs to mind. I guess it depends on your upbringing. I frequently ate and loved the taste of lambs kidneys and liver too as a kid. I think I’d have drawn the line at lungs or heart – even in onion gravy – though on my trip to Brazil, I enjoyed many chicken hearts from the grill. (They’re like almonds – you can’t just have one. You need at least a handful.) I have also eaten “duck entrails soup” in a newspaper press-hall in China which I guess has pretty much the same ingredients… just with a dash of soya sauce.

Anyway, the haggis is defrosting in the fridge, and no doubt there will be complaints from the neighbours once I start to cook it. That’s OK – I’ll offer them a slice. Then tell them what’s in it.

I can be like that sometimes…

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I like my body

30 01 2013

e.e. cummings was such an odd chap. The shift key on his typewriter was presumably broken as he wrote much in lower-case only. A lovely piece though – thanks for sharing on Redamancy Lit

Redamancy Lit

I like my body when it is with your body.

– E.E. Cummings

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The politically correct 4 F’s – via Tostimonster on Tumblr

29 01 2013

Bored Panda has 33 similar “text books with humour” examples, such as the following:





It was 25 years ago today…

28 01 2013

Today I got a shock. I’d even go so far as to say it was a nasty one.

Driving home, I heard a news piece about how today was the 25th Anniversary of a legal decision in favour of Dr. Henry Morgentaler. He’d been running an illegal abortion clinic in Toronto I believe, and had finally won his case that denying Canadian women timely access to safe abortions was a denial of their rights under the Canadian charter.

My shock though was that 25 years ago… was 1988!

1988?!

That was when I bought my first house in the UK. Surely it was too recent. Surely abortion in Canada can’t have been illegal that recently. Actually, it turns out that it was actually de-criminalized in Canada in 1969, following the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, amending section 251 of the Criminal Code. However, this only allowed abortions to take place at accredited hospitals, and even then it was subject to the approval of a three-doctor committee, when the health of the mother was at stake. Unfortunately “health” was not well defined, and so it basically came down to who was on the committee as to whether a woman got access to safe and legal abortion or not.

In the UK, a similar law was passed in 1967. According to Wikipedia, it said “…a person shall not be guilty of an offence under the law relating to abortion when a pregnancy is terminated by a registered medical practitioner if two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith … that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated…

So – broadly similar, except the registered medical practitioner performing the abortion need not be in an accredited hospital, and only 2 medical practitioners were needed to decide.  The clincher seemed to be the following:

In R v British Broadcasting Corporation, ex parte ProLife Alliance, Lord Justice Laws said: There is some evidence that many doctors maintain that the continuance of a pregnancy is always more dangerous to the physical welfare of a woman than having an abortion, a state of affairs which is said to allow a situation of de facto abortion on demand to prevail.

It took nearly 20 years for Canada to catch up. That, dear reader, I find shocking.
To be clear – I am not suggesting abortion is a trivial thing in any shape, size or form. But a woman must surely have the right to safe choices where her own body is concerned. Of course she should have access to counseling and be made aware of other options. But ultimately that is the point I believe. She should have access to options, and sympathetic support to help objectively make the choice that is right for her.

Historical Morgentaler decision marks 25th anniversary | The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti | CBC Radio.

Supriya Dwivedi: Morgentaler 25 Years Later: We’ve Come a Long Way Baby.

25 years on, Canadians don’t want to reopen debate on abortion, Ambrose says – Health – Times Colonist.

http://www.timescolonist.com/life/health/25-years-on-canadians-don-t-want-to-reopen-debate-on-abortion-ambrose-says-1.57974

Times Colonist: DR. Henry Morgentaler addresses a news conference in Montreal, Oct. 27, 1999.





Judgments

27 01 2013

Not for the first time, I found myself in some backwater or other of the information stream that flows unceasingly through chez moi. This time I ended up at CBC, ironically itself a relatively new influence on my opinions. And there I came across this image. Provocative to be sure. Of thought, opinion, debate. “Art” by pretty much any definition.

Judgments artist Rosea Lake | Q with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio.

So – who is “Rosea Lake” (aka rosea posey on Tumblr)? The CBC tells us she’s a Vancouver-based artist and student, and clicking on the image or link above will take you to a CBC page letting you hear her 12 minute interview on the Q programme.

The image it seems has “gone viral” (despite “PRUDISIH” – what do they teach kids in High School these days?!), so I suppose I am actually showing my lack of coolness by having only just discovered it, and even then on the website of the national broadcasting corporation! Despite her being a local, to-boot.

It seems she simply posted some of her old High School work on Tumblr to show people her work. By lunchtime it had 30+ hits and she was really happy. By midnight it had 100,000!

She’s a first year at Capilano Uni, but the image was created while she was still at High School in May 2012. The 12-part project only got her a B. I bet some teacher is smarting at THAT one…

There’s also a piece in the local Vancouver Province, along with a lovely portrait of the young lady herself.

Rosea Lake

An up-coming book about SlutWalk has asked permission to use the image on the cover – kudos! The whole point of the piece it seems was to comment on Rosea’s own reflections on how readily she judged women based on what they wore. It didn’t sit comfortably, and so she made a piece to illustrate societies judgmental attitudes.

San Francisco SlutWalk

I am often drawn (largely unprepared) into discussions and debate on sexuality, gender roles and the like. It’s a discussion that often becomes emotional and entrenched and therefore ultimately unrewarding. But I do think it’s an important one. I am reminded of Robert the Bruce and the tale of the spider. We need to keep trying, to keep opening the discussion – it matters!

Even if a particular discussion ends in repetition or stalemate, I nearly always learn something about myself, my views, prejudices… and judgments.

I wish Rosea much success in university and her subsequent artistic quests.

UPDATE: For another interesting twist, read On Curvy Kate’s gaffe on BRAVOLUTION





CBC.ca – Image Gallery – Week in pictures, Jan. 19-25

25 01 2013

Saw this image in the paper yesterday. Thought it was awesome! It’s available via the CBC…

cooperage

Speyside Cooperage in Craigellachie in Speyside, Scotland, on Jan. 13

via CBC.ca – Image Gallery – Week in pictures, Jan. 19-25.





Why did men stop wearing high heels?

25 01 2013

Gender questions can be quite vexing.

We tend to make vast assumptions based on our own current experience and be uneducated on historical aspects.

For example, in the 1600’s the height of masculinity was to be indicated by the wearing… of high heels!

Today? Not so much…

The BBC has an interesting piece on the matter: BBC News – Why did men stop wearing high heels?.

The Why Factor is broadcast on BBC World Service on Fridays at 18:30 GMT. Listen to the heels episode via iPlayer or The Why Factor download.