Thursday, September 18, 2008

FLITTING DAY

"all that morning a packing up, a sending off, a pushing in—upholstery meeting upholstery in deadly contention; streets encumbered with card-tables and arm-chairs in the most awkward irrelation to their proper circumstances; articles even more sacredly domestic exposed to every idle passerby—a straw-and-ropiness everywhere."

Thank heavens it will all be over by the weekend.

READING:

The Diplomatic Corpse by Anne Marshall Zwack is a wonderfully light and frothy tale of love, revenge and diplomacy, and just what I needed after an exhausting day of packing boxes prior to moving house.

Maggie has spent 25 years being the perfect wife, dutifully following her upper-class husband, Jeremy, from one European city to another as he advanced up the diplomatic ladder. She has attended innumerable boring diplomatic dinners and receptions, hosted cocktail parties ad nauseum, chatted amiably with the wives of other diplomats, and has never put a foot wrong.

Jeremy is British Ambassador in Vienna when he suddenly drops dead of a heart attack. Hours after the funeral, when Maggie is still numb with shock, she finds out that he did not, as she had been told, die at his office desk in the Embassy but in the arms of his blonde Viennese mistress, Mausie.

Consumed with grief and rage, Maggie decides she will exact revenge on Mausie, and with the help of Zoltan, their lugubrious Hungarian chauffeur, she concocts a plan.

It is only after carrying it out that she discovers that Mausie was but the latest in a line of mistresses, Jeremy having had a liaison in each of the cities to which he had been posted ever since the start of their marriage.

Enveloped in fury, and feeling robbed of the life she thought she had lived, she embarks on a round Europe quest to wreak havoc on each of Jeremy’s other women.

The whole process of planning revenge takes every ounce of cunning that Maggie possesses. Aided and abetted by Zoltan and his whacky Italian girlfriend she careers round Paris, Budapest, and Rome plotting ever more hilarious ways of getting her own back.

Eventually she and her co-conspirators end up back in Jeremy’s London flat where they start a new business as matrimonial investigators. And it is through a case that comes to them that she realises that, in fact, Jeremy has had the last laugh.

Rated 4*

RANTING:

I wonder if the word “elitist” has the same meaning in American English as it does in English. Perhaps not.

Sir Evelyn de Rothschild is an immensely wealthy, incredibly well-connected British financier, born into the famously rich Rothschild banking family, He owns racehorses, is a patron of the arts and active supporter of various worthwhile charities. He is what would be described in Britain as one of ‘the great and the good’.

His third wife, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, is a well known American business woman who has made a fortune in her own right. A life-long Democrat who has raise huge amounts of money for the party, and close personal friend of Hillary Clinton- she and her husband spent their honeymoon at the White House – she divides her time between homes in New York, London and the English countryside.

Yesterday she announced, out of the blue, that she was ditching her long term allegiance to the Democrats and would now be backing Senator McCain in the forthcoming presidential election. This, she said, was because she felt that Barak Obama was too “elitist”.

Excuse me? A woman who is a fully paid up member of the business elite, who has married into one of the most elite families in England, who uses a title and has houses on both sides of the Atlantic, regards Barak Obama as elitist…

Hmm, pot calling kettle methinks.



RECIPE:

When you've been packing up boxes prior to moving, the last thing you want to do is think about what to give everyone for supper, so it was fortunate for me that the decision was made by what I found lying around after emptying kitchen cupboards. This is comfort food, easy to make**, and ideal for students to make at uni as it is cheap as chips. Kids love it because apart from being very tasty it looks mushed together in the way that mothers usually object to; "stop messing your food around and just eat normally" is the phrase I remember using long ago.

Anyway, it is perfect house-moving fodder and we all fell on it like starving vultures.

**The most difficult part of the recipe is opening the corned beef tins. In the interests of health and safety I should warn you to be very careful, I suspect more people get a nasty cut off a corned beef can than from anything else. Wrap your hand in a tea towel to hold the tin, or better still, abandon the stupid little opening key provided and use a normal tin opener to open the tin at both top and bottom so you can just push the beef out.


CORNED BEEF HASH – MY WAY

Serves 4

2 tins corned beef
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 – 6 potatoes, depending on size
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Worcestershire sauce
Tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (not essential)
Salt & Pepper

Peel the potatoes and boil or microwave them until just cooked. Drain and cut into bite sized chunks.
Cut the corned beef into bite sized cubes.

Saute the onion in a large frying pan until soft and just beginning to colour, add the corned beef and continue cooking, use a kitchen fork to break down the beef.

Add a good slug of Worcestershire sauce, and about a tablespoon of tomato ketchup, then add the cooked potato and mix everything together.
Continue cooking, stirring so that as the underneath browns, it breaks up.
Mash down the potato pieces slightly as they cook.
Stir in the chopped parsley if you have any.
Test for taste and add more Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and salt and pepper if needed.

Serve piping hot with a fried egg on top if you are really hungry.



27 comments:

Burr Deming said...

The endorsement by Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild will be among McCain's most valued. Here's why.

Nick said...

Lady Lynn is probably just using the elitist tag as an excuse, because she's too embarrassed to say McCain will protect her finances better. A bit like all those British lefties who furtively supported Mrs Thatcher because she would make them better-off.

realdoc said...

Corn beef hash, yum

Jeanne said...

I am so going to read that book - it sounds like rollicking good fun! And the recipe sounds a lot like what we used to have as kids - bully beef hash on Smash ;-)

Around My Kitchen Table said...

How can anyone called Rothschild call someone else "elitist"? The mind boggles.I haven't had corn beef hash for YEARS. Now I'm tempted...

lincoln said...

I used to make almost exactly that recipe when my kids were young (oxo cube instead of worcester). The kids called it "cowboy food" and loved it. It's not exactly healthy, I now realise...

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