Sunday, September 10, 2017

It's a symbiotic function, I keep the city so clean: Emma and the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet ...

So the other night Johann brought Emma back kind of late and then I thought I'd take Indra out for an easement and sod me if little Emma did not decide at that point to squirm through the half-open gate and have a bit of free time running around the neighbourhood. She bustled purposefully off hither and yon, and every time I got close she would turn and look at me with an expression that very much resembled a huge grin, and bustle off again. Eventually she'd had enough - or there was no more cat-shit to be found - for she allowed me to put her leash on and trotted happily back home.

On the bright side, the quartier has never been so spick and span. But I will spare you the sordid details of the clean-up operation in the verandah the next morning, for this is a family-friendly publication.

On the other hand, I sometimes have doubts as to Johann's suitability for looking after Emma. He is now teaching her to turn tricks: there is a German sentence which, roughly translated, goes "What do all the girls do in Paris?", at which Emma lies on her back and puts her legs in the air. In her case, to have her tummy scratched.

I seem to recall that one Peter Piper, of this parish, once nicked a peck of pickled peppers - an offense for which he was eventually deported to Norstrilia where, thanks to the ineluctable workings of narrative (not to mention the state of politics in the West Island), he became Pry Mincer - and this being the anniversary of the crime, I think it only fitting to give you the recipe for the peppers in question.

First of all, you must find some nice ripe sweet red peppers : the ones that look like horns are best, due to how as they is has very few seeds, and the few that there are all lurk up at the top, by the stalk. This makes the de-seeding of them rather easier, when it comes time to do that. And having tracked and caught your peppers, stick them in a hot oven for 30 minutes or so, turning once, until the flesh is soft and the skin starts to blister and get black spots.

Then comes the fun part, where you take them out, cut the stalk end off, slit them lengthways, scrape what few seeds there are off, flip them over and pull off the papery skin. If you can't get it all it doesn't really matter, it'll come out in the wash. When they're all done, stack 'em up and slice cross-wise into thin strips, and put the whole mess into a bowl. Do yourself a favour; if you haven't got a good sharp knife, go buy one now. I'll wait.

Now work out your garlic tolerance. Personally we find that an entire head of garlic for seven poivrons is not excessive, but your mileage may vary: whatever, take as much as you deem adequate and chop finely. Please, do not put it through a garlic press. You could also, if that floats your boat, take a dried hot chili, slit lengthways and seed, then chop really finely and add to the garlic. (Handy Health & Safety hint: if you choose to do this and you are a male person, do not forget to wash your hands well should you feel the urge to go off for a quick slash. Ouch! Hot! Burny!, just saying.)

Finally, heat about 20cl of decent olive oil in a small pan and, when hot, fling in the garlic and chili: let it simmer for a couple of minutes; you want the garlic to soften, but on no account to start going brown and crispy. Pour everything over the peppers, add a bit of salt and stir gently until well-mixed, then spoon the lot into a preserving jar. If the fancy takes you, you could layer cubes of mozzarella or a chèvre demi-sec in there, but this is strictly optional. If necessary, top up with moah olive oil so that everything's submerged. Close the jar and leave to marinate for as long as you can bear: one day would be the bare minimum. Do note that these are not, as such, sterilized; so keeping the jar in the fridge would be a bloody good idea if you don't plan on eating it all in the first few days.

Our elderly dishwasher started making strange noises at us a few weeks back, such as it might be it was chewing glass and trying to spit the bits out through its bottom, and then the alarming flashy lights came on, and it refused to work anymore. It may well be that the pump is full of broken glass, for we have had a couple of mysterious disappearances in there recently, and in any case she has form in that department - but whatever, Ets Cathala, specialists in such things, were closed for the summer (because of course, white goods never break down in summer) and we did not wish to wait.

So I wandered from shop to shop, looking for a dishwasher that would fit into the limited space we have and which did not require me to take out a second mortgage, and finally found a Bosch which looks, to my layman's eyes, to be bloody ginormous - no-one seems to make small Paris-apartment-sized stuff like that any more - but which would do the job adequately. So I wandered up to the sales-person and said "Hello squire, I will take that, thank you very much." "No you won't", he replied, "we are fresh out, also I suspect that the cat piddled on it. We can probably do you one in about a week."

Which was still better than three weeks of actually hand-washing dishes, so I signed up for it and ten days later headed off with little Suzy to finally pick it up. It took a bloody age to install, due to a lack of space under the bench, but finally it got done and as far as I can tell there are no leaks. So now we have another sparkly-new appliance in the kitchen, which we can't actually turn on for a month or so when some of the shine has worn off. Also, it is rather bigger than I would have liked: will happily gobble up twelve plates and a few dozen glasses just as an appetizer, so I guess we won't be running it every other day.

In other news, my ancient SyncMaster monitor is starting to act up, which kind of reminded me that the flesh is, indeed, weak - so I thought that a little preemptive action might be a good thing and ordered a new laptop, because when they fail I do not wish to find myself in a mad panic trying to reinstall everything and copy data over ... A few days later a shiny new 17" Asus turned up and I took it home and cuddled it and made reassuring noises as I turned it on so it didn't get frighted, and together we started on the big adventure of terminating the Windows 10 installation.

I swear to the gods that this supposedly simple operation took longer than the wait for the thing to turn up, what with an interminable number of reboots and a few multi-gigabyte downloads and Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all, and although I'd specified during the installation that yes, my language was UK English I had a French keyboard, Windoze still defaulted to a UK keyboard layout - go figure. And then of course I had to go into the settings to say I wanted to use a local logon rather than needing an Internet connection every time I wake it up - I know, I know, you may supposedly do that at installation but the option is very well hidden, that will serve as a lesson to me next time.

And none of that was helped by the fact that Asus include their own shitware which, on startup, wants you to select the applications you'd like to install before proceeding, and which very thoughtfully sticks itself full-screen and always-on-top, which means that although you can start task manager in the hope of killing the crap, you can't actually see the task manager screen, which makes it a pretty bloody pointless exercise. Truth to tell, I don't know why I bothered, because I shall, if I can, just install Linux on it: that being the whole point.

I mean yes, I also have to replace the Windoze laptop in the near future, so at least I know what I'm letting myself in for, but it's still a rather soul-numbing experience.

You may recall that we have form with our Dear Leader: Réné Mazet, maire of this parish. (Incidentally, our itinerant bar Chez Réné has absolutely nothing to do with him, and everything to do with 'Allo 'Allo, glad to clear that one up.) Personally I have nothing against the little tit - apart from the undisputed fact that he's a complete and utter prat - so we exchange civilities and occasionally discuss the weather in tones approaching cordiality: he's never once dared to raise his voice at me, preferring to reserve his bile for the weak; women and foreigners.

Sadly (for him) he once mistook Margo for one such, and took her to task on the (admittedly lamentable) state of parking on place St-Régis. He started off by criticizing her for having dared, once a car-load of drunken revellers had freed the parking slot in front of The Shamblings™, whipping off and parking her car there in its usual place: from then on it degenerated and I fear it did not end well. Not for him, anyway.

Whatever, there was a wedding in Moux this afternoon and some innocents had the temerity to park right in front of M. le maire's house. And so it was with some glee that, out with a cigar and a glass of sherry just before midnight, I noted that as soon as they left Réné - who had obviously been peeking through the lace curtains every five minutes - opened the door and skipped down the road clad but in slippers, a T-shirt and starched boxer shorts, to hop into his car and put it back into its slot. Delicious. Amazing what some people will wear to bed.

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