Thursday, April 30, 2009

Frog dessert

Watch out for the frog behind your gelato... Remnants of a good afternoon on Lygon Street.

On the 'international confusions' notepad, I've realised that while 'gelato' is just Italian for what we call 'ice-cream' in English (but usually made to a better quality in Italy than mass-market junk we get in the English speaking world) it's shifted meaning. It seems some Americans regard 'gelato' as a cow's milk based item rather than buttermilk based ice-cream. While in Australia, it seems gelato stands for sorbet. (Others have the misconception that the word 'gelato' is related to 'gelatin'. It's not.) More here. It's interesting that a different change has occurred in two countries (with a significant Italian immigrant population) for a very basic term. Spaghetti and pizza, despite adulterated versions (Heinz and 'Deep-Pan' bletch please stand up) still essentially mean the same thing!


PS: Another one pic post that isn't. Sigh.

Friday, April 24, 2009

ANZAC Day 2009

It's ANZAC Day. Just pictures.

The Australian War Memorial, Canberra (AWM).


'Weary' Dunlop. AWM gardens.

Bell recovered from HMAS Perth, sunk Suda Strait. AWM.


Embroidered 'Sweetheart' cards. RAAF Museum.

The Shrine, Melbourne.

Sikh family picnic, Australia Day, the Shrine, Melbourne.

Vietnam Memorial, ANZAC Avenue, Canberra.

Omaka, New Zealand.

'Simpson & his donkey' sculpture, Canberra.

Merchant Navy Memorial, AWM, Canberra.

Kiwis in Canada. RNZAF Museum.

'Boy in a Bomber'. GB Shaw. RNZAF Museum.

Eternal Flame, AWM, Canberra.

Bomber Command cost. AWM, Canberra.

'Old Fred' Imperial War Museum, London.

'The Death of the Red Baron', Omaka, New Zealand.

Australian Nurses Memorial, ANZAC Avenue, Canberra.

RNZAF Kiwi. RNZAF Museum.

'Over the Front' film, and schoolgroup, AWM.

Boat, Gallipoli. AWM.

(All photos by James)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cry "For England, Bill and Sam!"

Today is the official birthday of Bill, and England's saint's day, St George, him of the dragon et al. Today's correct quote would be:
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and St George!’

The second Globe, from Hollar's 1638 'Long View of Southwark'.

So one has to wonder who Sam might be. Sam was an American tourist, who visited London, and being (like many American tourists) a fan of William Shakespeare (but a lot smarter than the apocryphal American tourist who thought Bill was a clever dude because he used all those quotes...) went to see the monument where the Globe Theatre had been. He was shocked to find there wasn't one, only a grubby marker.

The New York Times:
On his first visit to London in 1949, he had sought traces of the original theater and was astonished to find only a blackened plaque on an unused brewery.

He decided to do something about it. He was Sam Wanamaker, actor, director, and clearly a visionary. The NY Times again:
He found this neglect inexplicable, and in 1970 launched the Shakespeare Globe Trust, later obtaining the building site and necessary permissions despite a hostile local council. He siphoned his earnings as actor and director into the project, undismayed by the skepticism of his British colleagues.

The world has another Globe in it, where it should be - on the south side (the better side) of the Thames. And now there's a marker there for Sam, voted for by 'the people'.

Sam's spot. James.

Shakespeare's Globe is a magnificent piece of experimental archaeology; one of the most critical sites for the understanding of humanity on the planet, and a bargain day out for a tourist in London - with, if you time it right, a gloss of culture and art and history over a ribald, rattling good evening out and tall tales and swordfights enough for anyone. Not to mention patter enough to knock a rapper.

From Wiki:
While many had said that the Globe reconstruction was impossible to achieve, he persevered for over twenty years, and eventually a new Globe theatre was built according to a design based on the research of historical advisor John Orrell.
Shakespeare's Globe at night, 2008. James.

I'm no ardent fan of Shakespeare; the shadow he casts over English is too large too allow any debate, not a territory I like; but he has a number of things going for him that don't usually make the list. He saw, like many of his time, spelling as a convenience, not a rule, and stretched and kicked-wider English to the extent he is the single most quoted author in the language. (Most people would think of the great declamations, but in fact most of us use will a Shakespeare quote a day without even realising. He is in the very warp and weft of our language.) His spelling is so appealing to a poor speller like me right down to not even spelling his name consistently in the few of his signatures we have. (A fascinating insight to them here.)

'Why are we waiting?' Groundings (And band) pre-performance. James.

We have visited the Globe on many occasions; in fact it was a given stop on our return to the UK last year (and some of the pics are from then - and a great evening out with friends and ex- colleagues Xanthe and Nick) and we have been lucky enough to 'introduce' many friends and family to this theatre.

It would be simplistic to assume that what you get is theatre in Shakespeare's day. It is not, and cannot be; but it is as live as Shakespeare's theatre must have been, with a passing jet airliner or incautious move by a 'groundling' worked into the day's performance by the cast, and theatre where the audience are integral to the story. It is as close as we can get, within reason.

Take a bow. James.

Shakespeare obviously did not live to see the hold his plays would have on the world. Sadly Sam Wanamaker didn't live to see the new Globe completed, either, but I'd hope he realised what a tremendous achievement it is.

Even it's making is of note. It's the first thatched building allowed in London since the Great Fire (for which, of course, there was already a monument in 1970...) and the first thatched building in London to have a sprinkler system fitted - on the outside. But most important of all, it's heart is of English oak - a wooden wall of art.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

A visit to the Mediterranean Wholesalers

It's Australia's largest continental foodstore, not where you can get a 12 pack of seas or Greek islands.

Lots of different foods and cuisines are catered for, but it is predominantly Italian, Greek, and eastern Mediterranean. You'll hear impenetrable Sicilian accents slides into broad Aussie mid-sentence here. that must mean there's Pasta, right? Yes. 25 metres or more of pasta. Little mushroom jars of mushrooms, and black clad grandmothers barricading off the good stuff at one end, and setting the evil-eye on anyone after the interesting pasta shapes (or grandsons who don't show respect).

Which, of course, requires a good deal of olive oil. Mmmmm.

And cheese. Honest, it is cheese. Mozzarella!

But hold the fish, today at least.

These are Stock Fish. Presumably you use them to scrub your back in the bath. Or something. We just grab a couple of salamis from here and move on.

Then there's biscotti and the like. Unfortunately many Italian biscuits contain traces of huge nuts embedded in them, so they're not a great hit with Bev.

Eyeing up some of the biscuits. Well, wouldn't you? Careful though, because behind him is:

Yes, it's Chilli Lady! (One of the lesser known superhero pantheon because her agent hasn't got her the best gigs, or indeed the best skintight outfight, either, in fact. However she's scary.) Mess with her and she'll heave a giant chilli from her head onto yours. Presumably these are used in some kind of Italian ritual. The 'gift to lower the neighbourhood tone' kind. Today we decided that she may be a tribal memory of the Minoan snake goddesses who held snakes in each hand - of course most snakes are much milder than chillis when cooked.

And then there's the booze section. Remember, folks, Italian wine has to come a long way to get here and is the premium product; not as I remember the vino da tavola of my youth.

One of the secrets of the Med Wholesalers is the fact that they serve the best cappuccino in Melbourne. (This is no easy achievement, Melbourne being a place that takes it's coffee extremely seriously - and the competition is cutthroat.)

It may not look fancy, but the coffee's done on the spot, by a man who can knock out a couple of cappuccinos in seconds and rattle the spoons down in the saucers and the chocolate on before you've got your change out. And in Italian, too.

Of course you'll need a bun with that, won't you? It's hard shopping, after all.

I had the chocolate-stuffed cannelloni (they sell the cases should you wish to make your own at home).

While Bev suffered with a ricotta and raspberry tart. "It was really good." she reports.

Makes shopping a pleasure.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wascally Wabbits and Beleaguered Bilbys

Easter is an odd time of year anyway, pre-Christian fertility rites co-opted in the spring. In Australia it's even odder, occurring as it does at the onset of autumn and winter (this year autumn is when the grass has started to grow again as the rain comes and the sun retreats, so perhaps not as odd for fertility as all that).

Two bilbies lurking on top of the cupboard.

However someone noted about a decade ago that celebrating the rabbit was a particularly obtuse thing for Australians to do, as the exotic, introduced rabbit is responsible for huge amounts of habitat destruction. One of the creatures particularly suffering from the depredations of rabbits (along with just about everyone else) is the Bilby, or given it's even neater longer name, the Rabbit-Eared Bandicoot (although a bilby isn't a bandicoot really, and is actually a Thylacomyidae for its sins). Rabbits think the bilby's niche fits them just fine, and so they've been even more marginalised than a small, tasty, squeeky marsupial usually is.

The bilby decides a dash for freedom is off, as the coffee table is being encircled by Toby, and dogs shouldn't eat chocolate, but will - given a chance. Such self sacrifice.

So they decided to introduce the Easter Bilby, funds going towards bilby protection and conservation, and bilby habitat reclamation. We bought a couple of Haigh's chocolate bilbies for our Easter, and I can't think of a better 'feel good' donation.

As one of the many Easter Bilby websites says:

The Australian Bilby Appreciation Society urges you to buy Bilbies not bunnies this Easter. For we will only be able to pressure the chocolate companies to donate money to help conserve the Bilby if people are buying chocolate Bilbies. However, we also suggest that you buy your Bilbies from companies that are supporting Bilby conservation and that you buy a few less chocolates this Easter, and use the money saved to make your own donation to Bilby conservation. Also, if the store you are shopping at doesn't stock Easter Bilbies, make a point of asking, "Where are all the bloody Bilbies?".

Too right mate. If you want to know a bit more about the real bilby, have a look at the wikipedia page here.

These two chocolate bilbies won't live to see another day (to protect those of a nervous disposition, and because we were eating, there are no further pictures of these bilbies) but because of them, maybe some other bilbies will. Ahhh.