Sunday, 18 October 2009


As we journey through life, discarding baggage along the way, we should keep an iron grip, to the very end, on the capacity for silliness. It preserves the soul from dessication. ... It has enabled me to look back with some equanimity on a life that has had its fair share of downs as well as ups. The redeeming quality of silliness should not be ignored.
It Just Occurred to Me... pp.45-6

my current recipe for scrambled egg that, with the advance of domestic science and technology, has now reached the peak of refinement:

Two or three eggs, depending on how concerned you are about your cholesterol.
Smoked salmon, if you live in the southern half of England where it is not regarded as a symptom of elitism, snobbery or decadence. (I once asked for it in a small supermarket in Crosby, Lancs. The shop assistant's response, a high-pitched shriek of disbelief and derision, attracted a small crowd of shoppers and some passers-by who dashed in from the street thinking that some free professional entertainment had been laid on.)
Garlic Salt.

The Method
Break the eggs into a bowl, which must be deep enough to avoid splashing. Add a dollop of milk. Using a fork (or one of those ingenious wire gadgets, if you can find it in the chaos of your kitchen drawer), whisk the mixture enthusiastically until it has blended to the colour and consistency of anaemic custard. Add a generous sprinkling of dried tarragon, and pepper and salt to taste. Whisk again with the manic vigour of one who senses that something rather hazardous is about to take place.
Put the bowl into the microwave and set it at three minutes on full power. Start the microwave, but do not go off to watch a bit of television till it bleeps. You will only get involved in a gripping episode of The Bill and return, fifty minutes later, to find that you have made something black and crumbling that will offer no pleasing visual contrast to the slice of toast that you are going to burn later. Stay by the microwave and, when you begin to feel a bit edgy, open the door and peer into the bowl. Microwave ovens rather pride themselves on being unpredictable, so you must repeat this inspection at frequent intervals, ignoring the urgent warnings of friends who still believe that if you expose your hands too often to the electromagnetic waves, your fingers will drop off. They may, but not for sixty years, when most of us are past caring.
The principle of the M-wave (let's start using trendy abbreviations - everybody else does) is that it cooks from the outside inward. Thus before your very eyes the egg mixture will soon start to show some creeping solidification round the rim of the bowl, leaving a liquid lake in the middle. And this is where the process demands acute concentration. With each inspection, the lake will be seen to have shrunk. It is important not to allow it to disappear altogether - if that happens the egg will have overcooked and fragmented into bits that will bounce about uncontrollably on the toast, evading capture like so many hyperactive grasshoppers on amphetamines. (If we never get around to actually scrambling the egg, we're learning the heck of a lot about biophysics on the journey.)
At some stage round about now, you should tip the chopped smoked salmon into the mix so that it will not have long enough to cook, but can be evenly dispersed when we come to agitate or, as we say, 'scramble' the egg. But I've forgotten to tell you about the chopping bit, and things are moving so fast that it's too late to do so now. So, quickly smooth back the cover that you have ripped off the pack of smoked salmon, replace the fish and put the whole caboodle back in the fridge for another occasion. That way, you will avoid finding yourself, when you come to eat the egg, chewing on the squares of invisible plastic film that separate the salmon slices. By the time all that's done, the lake, as I have described it, will have dwindled to the size of, say, a two-pound coin. Quickly remove the bowl from the microwave, go at it with a fork like one possessed, blending the still-liquid egg with the rest. When the mixture is poured on to the slice of toast, it will look soft, shiny and appetising.

I have assumed that the reader who has got thus far will have known how to make the slice of toast; if not, a few words of advice. Few households nowadays have the sort of roaring open fire before which one used to be able to toast the bread on a fork, achieving a wonderful golden-brown finish that spread evenly over the slice and up the hand, wrist and forearm as far as the elbow. Nowadays the popular alternative is the electric toaster, which is indeed a boon. But be sure the machine is fully run-in before use. If not, it is likely to fling the finished slice up to the ceiling, and thence into some distant corner of the room, where it will be pounced upon and devoured by a dog, a cat, or even perhaps a swan that has entered the house unannounced. Swans will eat anything, which is why I hope you haven't thrown away those charred remains of overcooked egg. Bon Appetit!
Ibid, pp. 22-25

People often speak of an 'English sense of humour', and it's no more accurate than most such generalisations. It's not a matter of nationality. The distinction is between lateral and literal thinking.

Ibid, pp. 77-8

For readers who have only seen Radiohead on stage or screen, the following bit of dialogue may reassure - or perhaps destroy a cherished image. Backstage earlier in the day, I was chatting with Jonny Greenwood when his brother Colin came up:
JG: 'Have you rung Mum to say we're on tonight?'
CG: 'Not yet - if she watches, she'll only say whgat she always says.'
HL (unable to restrain his curiosity): 'What does she always say?'
Both: 'She says, "I watched like you said, but it wasn't you."'

Ibid. p.155

No comments:

Post a Comment