Monday, May 24, 2010

A Diet Of Crow ...

Or if I'm not actually sitting down to a hearty meal of cooked corvidae, I'm at least contemplating munching on some sparrow tailfeathers ...

And all this because, to my surprise, Margo's sparkly little red Samsung arrived yesterday and despite rebooting itself about 73 times during the two hours or so it took to go through the Windows initialisation process and the installation of the Samsung crudware (which disappeared rather rapidly once I could get my hands on the keyboard), it all went swimmingly and - gasp - in English! Yes folks, the install package was the full multi-lingual one.

So I nuked MS Office Home & Student, the McAfee nagware, the gormless games and other such crap, downloaded AVG and Open Office and Firefox and set all that up - gotta set up her email accounts and such but that can wait until tonight. Then there'll be all her files to transfer over from the ancient Compaq that serves as her desktop machine, and then it can go back to being a boat anchor. (Unless you know of anyone that actually wants a '98-vintage Compaq Deskpro, fully kitted out with 512Mb of RAM and a - gasp - Celeron PIII clocked at 500MHz. If they're willing to pay postage I'll chuck in the power cord and a licensed copy of Windows 3.1 for free.)

And before you ask, I've decided against installing Linux on the Samsung, at least for now.  For one thing I'm not sure that Margo will let me play with it, because it's shiny and it's HERS, and she won't take off the plastic film on the lid for fear of scratches spontaneously appearing. (A bit like the evil bacteria that lurk in fridges, waiting for the use-by date on the yoghurt to come up so that they can turn it green and slimy overnight. Which might, now that I come to think of it, be an improvement in some cases.) For another, Windows 7 doesn't seem as bad as I'd feared - not bad enough, at least, to make me really itch to get rid of it - and if Margo can get used to it I'm not going out of my way to look for extra things to do just to keep me occupied. Sorry if that disappoints you, but I'm just not that masochistic.

I was, on the other hand, sufficiently so to head down to the garden on Tuesday night and give it a short back and sides. Despite their usual track record the met offices' assurances that it would get finer over the week, promise really we mean it this time, turned out to be true so I thought I'd better get the grass a bit below thigh-high before the barbecue on Sunday. Don't want to lose too many kids, some of them have loving parents.

Lunch with Sophie again on Saturday, and this time we'd decided we wanted something really simple involving absolutely no slaving over anything in the kitchen. At which point she had an absolutely brilliant idea. Ever had really fresh sardines, with just a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice, dusted with gros sel and thyme and then grilled on the barbecue? If you have I probably don't have to wax all lyrical about it, but if not you really ought to rush out and try it. Because it is, quite simply, bloody marvellous.

Of course, the little buggers are full of bones, but they're so fine all you really have to worry about is whipping out the backbone and slinging it at the cat or something. And the other advantage is that they're small enough that you can easily eat at least three, which suits me just fine.

And naturally enough, they're much better accompanied by a nicely chilled-out rosé. Now back in the day, unless you were willing to pay vast sums of money for a Tavel, you'd probably have had to go for a cabernet d'Anjou or a Touraine. Or if you liked gargling low-grade industrial alcohol, you could have got ratshit Provençal rosé, which had the advantage of being cheaper than water and you could also use it to clean the floors.

Which, after a party spent guzzling the stuff, you would probably have to do. For a long time I did not drink rosé, because I personally find the Anjou stuff too sweet and there's no way I'm going to swill drain-cleaner: there are some things even I won't stoop to. Unless, of course, there's absolutely nothing else to drink except pastis. (Which, personally, I wouldn't even use to clean floors. Too much risk of removing the top layer of cement.)

Fortunately, things have changed a lot in the years we've been here: the Anjou wines are still too sweet, but the Côte du Rhône wines, which used to be a synonym for something concocted in a cement vat by someone who was more at home behind a cow, have undergone a complete transformation and now represent, in my admittedly humble opinion, some of the best value for money you'll come across in French wine. Which is rather a lengthy parenthetical aside, the point of which is simply that my favourite rosé is a beautifully dry Costières de Nîmes at all of 2.50€ the bottle. A bit more expensive than water, but not much.

That's all very well, but I was kind of forgetting that you're currently enjoying winter, aren't you? Such a shame. You may want to try this another time - say, in about six months. You really, really should.

And while we're on the subject of fish, aren't these beautiful? Rouget-barbet, which have the advantage of having no gall bladder and therefore require none of the messy business of gutting and cleaning. Which makes them a great pleasure to work with. And they taste good.

Anyway, people are going to start arriving soon so I suppose I'd better go get my glad rags on and open a few bottles. Or probably rather more than a few. I just need to fling a match onto the barbecue, there are vast quantities of meat in a chilly bin sitting in the stream (I just hope like hell it doesn't float away down to the Isère, I'd look a right prat if it did), Jerry's done his manly duty and washed down the garden furniture ... I think we're all ready. I just hope we don't wind up living on left-overs for the next week or so.

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