John F. Kennedy
I’m a reader, I’ll read anything and everything; fiction, non-fiction, biography, graphic books, classics, chick-lit, true crime - whatever. But I must admit I read more fiction than anything else. The husband of a dear friend of mine is very disparaging about fiction, he says that it is tantamount to reading kids’ comics. I totally disagree, a novel can teach you as much if not more than some factual book - more about a place, a time, a situation, it can inspire you to find out about something you didn’t know.
The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak is just such a book. Now that I’ve finished it I am keen to read and learn more about the relationship between Turks and Armenians, and the historical background to the ousting of Armenians from
Asya Kazanci is the bastard referred to in the title. A rebellious 19 year old, she lives in
Mustapha’s American wife, Rose whose first husband was an Armenian. He now lives in
Her arrival into Asya’s slightly crazy family, causes a stir. Questions about the past, and long-forgotten secrets start bubbling up. These make both Armanoush and Asya re-evaluate themselves and their families and consider how much they should let old tragedies influence the course of their own lives. The book ends with a double twist - one strand of which seems very likely, though the other stretches credulity somewhat even though it ties everything together neatly for the reader.
The Bastard of Istanbul caused Elif Shafak to be put on trial in Turkey for “denigrating Turkishness” under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and if found guilty she would have faced a three year prison sentence. The charges brought against her were because of some of the words spoken by Armenian characters in the novel. Thank goodness the charges were eventually dropped. I cannot understand how
One of the lessons I recall from my schooldays was that one should always avoid the use of jargon in speech and writing, and I have always tried to do so. However, some words have jumped from being jargon into the general vocabulary and very useful they are too.
One such word is ‘brainstorming’ – I’m sure you know exactly what it means, a group of people getting together to gather ideas on a particular topic. The word was first coined by an advertising executive called Alex Osborn in the 1930s and it has been in regular use ever since.
However, the local Council in Tunbridge Wells has decided that the term is potentially offensive to people who suffer from epilepsy and other mental illnesses, and they have banned it from use. They want the term ‘thought showers’ to be used instead……..I am not making this up.
I think the dunderheads on the council who came up with this need to have a brainstorming session/ full frontal lobotomy/ total cranial transplant (choose which you prefer).
If I didn’t live in
Summer is here at last, and summer always means entertaining in the garden. Since I got back from my trip we have had no less than two Sunday lunch parties, and both days we had fabulous weather. A cold buffet is the easiest option for me to produce, everything prepped in advance so I can relax and chat to people - not to mention enjoy a glass or two of wine. This year I have rustled up my own variation on the old Coronation Chicken theme, and I think I will stick with this version from now on as it was so popular. As you will see, it is all a bit of a cheat, in that I already had the Chilli & Coriander Jam which I'd made some months ago, and I didn't make my own mayonnaise - life is too short. You could subsitute a good quality commercial chilli jam if you don't want to make it yourself. I also cheated by buying two
rotisseried chickens from the supermarket so I didn't have the hassle of roasting or poaching them myself, which was much quicker and easier
SPICY CHICKEN SALAD
Serves 16-20 on a buffet
2 cooked chickens
1 jar Sweet & Spicy Chilli & Coriander Jam*
Equal quantity good quality mayonnaise (eg Hellman’s)
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 large red chilli
1 dozen quail eggs
Bring approx 8cms water to boil in a large saucepan, when boiling add the quail eggs and boil for exactly 4 minutes. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and plunge into cold water immediately. Gently crack the shell of each egg while it is in the water to make shelling the eggs easier. When cool shell each egg. This can be done 24 hours in advance and the shelled eggs can be kept in cold salt water in a container in the fridge until needed.
Remove all the meat from the chickens and cut or pull into bite-sized pieces. The carcasses, skin and bones can be used to make chicken stock.
Mix together the jar of Chilli Jam and an equal quantity of mayonnaise to make a cold spicy dressing.
Gently fold the chicken meat into the spicy dressing.
Roughly chop the fresh coriander, leaves and stalks, and fold into the chicken mixture.
Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves and garnish with the halved quail eggs and sliced, de-seeded chilli, plus an extra scattering of chopped coriander.
* see separate recipe given in the blog on 1st April 2008