She's doubtless right, even some of the places we did get to go to when we were there lo! these many years ago were wonderful, and she's been off to the islands which are supposedly savage and marvellous. Although I suspect I could happily give them a miss in winter: I prefer the sea to be more or less horizontal.
We had our 4th of July barbecue, just a bit late this year ... usual story, of course: after weeks of baking heat (what the French call a "soleil de plomb" from the sheer oppressive weight of it) it really bucketed down Tuesday night and Wednesday.
So Thursday dawned gray and overcast, but the sun started to break through around midday - ie about an hour before people finally started to turn up in dribs and drabs - and it turned out not too bad.
With, unfortunately, the inevitable side-effects: by the end of the day I was, as the French are wont to say "lamentablement cuit" or, put otherwise, in no fit state to drive anywhere. A good thing then that I didn't have to, really. It's kind of odd because I swear I had only three or four glasses - I have to admit that my glass holds a bit more than half a bottle, though.
Whatever, before dedicating the afternoon to lovingly marinating my liver I prepared some piginnabun (cheated, and cooked it in the oven, though), the making of which I shall now relate to you. It's basically steamed pork buns, without the steaming - one of my favourite quickies because it's delicious and also uses up left-over roast pork, which would otherwise get chucked or go and lurk in the freezer for years (not good).
At this point you may congratulate yourself on having got so far and make the bread dough, which is bog-standard except that I like to use lard as the fat, and sometimes a 50:50 mix of rice flour and standard flour. Of course, if you don't happen to have rice flour lying around in the cupboards this won't be an option, and you will not be confronted with hard choices. (One of these days I shall have to find something to do with the foufou I have in there. Any ideas?)
Place the balls in a deep pie dish (do not forget to oil this, or you will regret it), the idea being to create a sort of daisy (which is why it's called a marguerite over here), then brush the top with milk or sesame oil and sprinkle with nigella or sesame seeds or whatever takes your fancy: that's it. It just needs to rise for a couple of hours before baking - if you are, like me, super-organised you would get it all ready the night before and stick it in the fridge overnight.
After which an immersion blender could come in useful, if you want a smooth sauce. We actually have one lurking in the pantry, dating back to the time when we were Good and Dedicated Parents who had sworn to feed our darling first-born on nothing but healthy, home-made purée positively oozing with vitamins and stuff. That didn't last long, truth to tell.
And now for something completely different: have to like the title, but I really hate the lack of proof-reading 'cos maceration is NOT that. As usual, go see the sordid details here: "Unhappy Man's Manhood Macerated in Garbage Disposal" - of course, it's The Register.
In further good news guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your lips, it would appear that the Rio Pescado Stubfoot Toad of Ecuador has been taken off the list of vanished amphibians, due to its no longer qualifying as such. Because it's been found, and can thus no longer be considered to be "vanished". (Exceptionally for this blog, this item is in fact true. For a given value of "true", anyway, knowing that this may tend towards "false". Whatever.)
The 14th of July marks the unofficial beginning of the holiday season: some people do head off before then, but some people will do anything. The righteous and upstanding wait, on starter's orders as it were, and once Bastille Day arrives the mad rush starts.
Apart from wreaking havoc on the roads, it also means that my blood pressure takes its annual hike as the camper-van season opens. Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against them in the abstract, but when you're at the arse-end of a line of six of the frikkin' things, pootling along at 70kph the better to admire nature's wonders, you begin to understand how Genghis Khan must have felt on coming across a tranquil, isolated nunnery after a furious argument with his mother.
Which leads me, albeit circuitously, to the discussion on kissing that Bryan, Beckham and I had at the Modesto as we guzzled our vitamins. (I think they like us there. Even gave us free drinks, to make up for making us shift from a table to the bar, as someone wanted to eat. Now that's good customer relations. But I digress.)
Anyway, Becks was trying to describe a kiss she'd had, and the best simile she could come up with was "like, you know when you're making potato purée, not too stiff but not runny either, and before you've put the butter in? So you've got it in a bowl, all mashed, and you bend down, and you put your lips in it? Well, that's what it was like."
I hope, incidentally, that this convinces you - should more proof be required - that our Saturday gatherings are in fact dedicated to the improvement of our minds and the lot of humanity in general, and not just an excuse to swill alcohol.
Anyway, I'm off: it's bucketing down with rain right now and I have some work I really feel like avoiding, so I need to go do some seriously creative procrastination. Mind how you go.