A monk, a policeman, Darth Vader, a pilot, oh yes and Two Fairies and many more……

I was travelling on a suburban train in Germany early on Thursday evening. It normally looks just like this.Without really paying much attention to my fellow passengers initially…….. then I looked up and saw that in my carriage was a Franciscan monk, a nun, Darth Vader, two policemen, a pilot, a selection of fairies, an elf and some more people whose ‘uniform of occupation’ baffled me but I assumed they worked in ‘entertainment’ of some shape or form. I was slightly troubled by the monk swigging from a beer bottle and the nun applying more make up. Being one of only one or two ‘normally’ attired individuals, somewhat ironically I felt out of place and the object of attention rather than them!Yes, its carnival time in Germany…only really celebrated in a few cities such as Cologne (yes, they really do it big time!!!!) and nearby Dusseldorf where although the celebrations are big, they don’t quite match near neighbour along the Rhine. You really don’t go out that day to have fun unless you are suitably attired in fancy dress.I am a very regular traveler in Germany for both work reasons and also socially with having family there, but I realised this was the first time I have been there for Carnival weekend.Ok, its not quite the Mardi Gras of Rio but Germans do know how to have fun and use the opportunities that avail themselves. In the same way that Oktoberfest starts in September and not October, celebrations of Carnival start way in advance of the last day prior to Lent starting.In the Uk we too do something that day, but in a very low key way.For those not familiar with UK customs, on this same day we have Pancake Tuesday (also called Shrove Tuesday – Shrove derives from the old English word Shrive which is to obtain absolution for ones sin, hence the tradition to be Shriven before the start of Lent)Anyway, yes, we eat pancakes. For the vast majority of the population, it is the one and only day of the year when we will have a pancake. I can hear the horror now from our US and Canadian cousins who have these as a regular part of breakfast fayre and from our French cousins , likewise ‘desolee’ that a Crepe never passes our lips from one end of the year to the next.So why eat pancakes then – the tradition being that eggs, flour, fat and sugar were being used up before the fasting that took place in Lent.Oh and being the UK, some further traditions have evolved such as races with people tossing pancakes in frying pans as they run….well, why not?Happy Pancake day to everybody!Enjoying this blog or bemused by this blog? Please subscribe and share on Social Media.Please also feel free to comment if you feel so inclined.As is very evident, this blog has no particular theme other than thoughts or observations what would otherwise only get shared with ‘captive’ listeners such as the supermarket cashier, or my more polite and tolerant family and friends.

I Wish I Loved Gingerbread…

The list of foods I wish I loved or even just liked, but don’t, is relatively small.

People rave about Macaroni Cheese, but I don’t feel a gap in my life for not liking it.

Likewise asparagus is not on my list either

or indeed any kind of shell fish. I work on my principle of if it swims in the sea , it’s a yes, if it walks about…or doesn’t move then it’s a no!

But I do have a problem with gingerbread…I really don’t like ginger flavoured anything…but gingerbread looks and smells so nice. I feel do should like it…..

Last week in the beautiful English Lake District I even queued up to buy the stuff as gifts for family and friends and our own household…but all I can do is look at it.

Thankfully the Lake District has a lot of really good ‘take aways’ in terms of majestic scenery and tranquillity so there was plenty for me to enjoy. Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter knew what they were talking about.

Always so good to visit but next time I will be in the scones and cream queue.

It’s our other national food…

Growing up as a teenager in Scotland and influenced by both TV, cinema and bill board advertising I strongly remember adverts for Irn Bru stating ‘it’s your other national drink’…that first drink in question being Scotch Whisky.

The two drinks actually have a similar (ish) colour but not much else in common other than being produced in Scotland. One of the other advertising straplines for Irn Bru was ‘made from girders’.

They actually went on from that to have some clever and sometimes risque advertising…a quick Google search will enlighten and amuse you.

For those of you from outside the UK as a whole (as Irn Bru can be purchased in England and Wales and many other places worldwide where there is Scottish ex pat demand for it), it’s a very sugary soft drink that does have some iron content (albeit a tiny percentage) hence it’s name.

It was a bit of a dentist’s nightmare although sugar free versions now exist and the original has now had sugar content reduced to comply with UK sugar tax regulations.

However the title of this blog is about food not drink but there is a similar conumdrum. I was asked last week by an overseas colleague…what is the traditional British food eaten most often? The natural reaction to this question is Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.

Yorkshire pudding for those not in the know is not a dessert but a savoury dish served alongside beef.

Indeed for so long was this the stereotypical meal was that French people sometimes refer to English as ‘Le rosbifs’. But things have moved on…the traditional Sunday lunch of a roast has changed.

As a child I remember this almost religious event of sunday roast. Mother and Father cooking, Father carving..that had a rotating timetable..one week beef, then lamb, then pork, then chicken…and start again.

Interrupted really only by events such as Christmas when we had Turkey. Easter Sunday was always lamb…even if not a scheduled lamb Sunday! Things have changed…the cost of meat joints, the whole concept of family Sunday lunch and a host of other factors now mean these meals in many families are exceptional events, rather than normal certainly when at home. So what is traditional or commonplace food now…ignoring junk or fast food (that is probably top of league table for volume) in terms of popularity for a shared meal both at home and in restaurants one has to say curry..and probably even more specifically chicken tikka masala.

The widespread availability of ‘Indian’ food as take away from restaurants, ready meals in supermarkets and of course being actualy cooked from scratch at home combined with the huge number of ‘Indian’ restaurants means this is definitely our No. 1 food. I put ‘Indian’ in parenthesis as actually many of these restaurants and take aways are actually Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Nepalese or Sri Lanken. But the phrase shall we eat Indian food has stuck…rather than using the term Indian sub content style food!

Will Roast beef decline into oblivion…no, but certainly our choice of food get a ever wider and reflects the multi cultural world we live in. Ironically restaurants serving ‘roast dinner ‘ are probably now more prevalent on Spain’s Costa del Sol to feed the holidaying and ex pat Brits than on the average UK High Street!

The Three Bears

When it comes to porridge making, the three bears really have the market sown up.

Not for them the concept of one size fits all.

Want a big Daddy size bear portion? …sure we can do that. Want it quite sweet, just as Mama bears likes it?…of course, not a problem. Temperature, naturally we can serve it ‘not too hot, not too cold’. Although it’s never been officially documented, I am told Goldilocks gave them a 5* Trip Advisor rating in her most recent review.

Sadly though, for most of us, stopping off at the cottage in the woods is just not an option for us as we journey through life and have a need for sustinence.

My day job from time to time necessitates me travelling by train and a fate will often dictate me just missing a train and having an hours wait for the next one meaning a late evening arrival home.

Now one hour is questionably not long enough to exit the station, find a restaurant, order food, wait for food, eat food , request bill, wait for bill, pay bill…and then hot foot it back to the station.

Simple answer…fast food? Hmmm..well maybe, but I think I said goodbye to actually enjoying McDonald’s, KFC or even the more upmarket 5 Guys after it becoming an inevitable ‘go to’ for sustenance when in need on just too many occasions.

That’s not to say they don’t serve a purpose..but it’s not for me.

So back to the Three Bears.. how do you find something that’s not to slow to prepare, gets served to your table by friendly and personable staff and you actually can have a potato that doesn’t have to be of the chipped variety?

Well somewhat late in my life I discovered Nandos. I appreciate people from across the globe read this blog and Nandos are big…but not global. For those who haven’t experienced it, in summary they are South African-Portuguese themed Peri Peri chicken restaurants.

Fast food style, but table service and restaurant ambience. They can be found in UK, North America, Middle East , India and South Africa. Ok perhaps not for everybody but if you were like me and had assumed they were ‘not for you ‘…you may be pleasantly surprised! And if you do want chips..they do them too,as well as mash and a host of other choices!

And for the avoidance of doubt I have no commercial or affiliation with them…I just thought it worth sharing this…

Enjoying my blog?…yes the subjects are varied and esoteric ..but so is life! Happy saturday

How to be a breakfast chef – use your mobile

I am sure I am not alone in my frustration with seeing couples or sometimes entire families at tables in restaurants all deeply engrossed in their phones. To me it seems a real waste of time to share and engage with others.

Now don’t get me wrong…I am a big user of my phone with a blog to write (!), friends to be kept in contact with, places to find and a desire to know what is going on in the world. But I do choose my moments – train journeys, waiting in airports, coffee stops (if I am alone) all provide good opportunities to do the electronic conversations!

So true to my word, last week I was in a hotel walking down to breakfast and decided to use that moment to quickly respond to a What’s App message. Well as most women know, men and multi-tasking aren’t always found in the same place ….and that sure applies to me. Walking purposely into the hotel’s restaurant, a place I am familiar with having stayed several times before, I was a bit too purposeful and instead of making a sharp left as I entered as I should have, I just kept walking. Now this is quite a sizeable and modern restaurant with an open kitchen but behind counters which the customers can see, but are separated from the various chefs and kitchen staff as they prep the food and prepare customers special order breakfast items .

I suddenly found myself amongst chefs supervising pans of frying eggs, juicers squeezing fruit and everything else needed for the delivery of this hotels impressive buffet.

Bemused faces everywhere…bearing in mind my attire – suit, laptop bag and phone in my hand they may have thought this was a dawn raid from the International Scrambled Eggs Standards body or some other such authority!

This event took place in Muscat, and as anyone who has visited will know, the Omani people and their guest workers are polite, friendly and welcoming people….so no screams of get out of my kitchen…just smiles, good morning greetings and best wishes for good breakfast.

And just for the record it was!!!