Michael Pollen – Cooked

He is a famous author and chef who has written several books on the history of food that are on Blinkist and I’m working my way through them. He also has a four part series on NetflixCooked after the title of his book that it follows. The episodes deal with the effects of Fire, Water, Air and Earth. It comes as no surprise that he has worked closely with Samin Nosrat on her Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat cookbook. He taught her how to write while she taught him how to cook.

In Fire he ventures around America looking for the secrets to bbq and grilled meats. He compares traditional methods to the ones used to industry. He goes in for the science and analyses the proteins present in meat with the transformation they undergo when being cooked – denaturalisation. He also indulges in some male bonding too while learning the secrets of southern cooking in addition to the history which is rooted in slave culture.

In Water he looks into the changes that have taken place in the American food industry since the 1950’s. He also tackles the rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes. I’m shocked to find that there is no longer an adult onset diabetes as type 2 used to be called. It’s now often found in children. This is directly linked to the fact we spend less time the kitchen and more time working. Even in India, one of the poorest countries in the world, you can’t live off one income and processed food is becoming the norm.

In Air he looks at the importance of bread to the daily diet in Morocco. He gets political about what happens when the price of bread rises too much; and how these conflicts cause shortages all over the world. Due mostly to over reliance on imports from bad harvests because of changing climatic conditions. He also gets scientific examining the role that gluten performs and why it’s so difficult to get a good gluten free loaf.

In Earth he examines the process of fermentation. Here he discovers that cacao beans are first fermented for a week before they are dried and then turned into chocolate etc. I didn’t know it was necessary to do this because the raw beans are so bitter as to be unpalatable. If you’ve ever eaten cooking chocolate you might know this taste. In contrast to chocolate, cheese is a another food that undergoes fermentation that we all know about. Here still there are more secrets to be discovered by looking into the science of the rind on cheeses. He also experiments by making his own beer to continue on from when he learnt to make bread.

I have found this series fascinating to watch to realise that there is a lot to learn from traditional methods of cooking that we can’t replicate in our modern high tech kitchens. The culture of disgust in relation to the French appreciation of stinky cheese is an amazing topic to have a discussion on. Our overuse of antibacterial sprays to clean with and antibiotics to cure to disease is causing a backlash in the health of our gut biome which is only just starting to be looked into seriously. I liked the anthropological look into ancient cultures and how they would pickle vegetables to get through the winter which is why vegans need to eat kimchi etc to remain healthy. Its a source of b vitamins and even vitamin c.

Best wishes

Angela

Chasing the sun and my heritage

As you all no doubt know by now, I am a child of the British Empire and the Ancient Raj. Being an army child but not having the companionship of any of the army families around me is incredibly isolating.

You start out with all of these morals and ideas from a bygone era that immediately sets you apart from the rest of the civilian world. I had a very structured and disciplined upbringing which was good for me in general but it wasn’t when it came to socialization. This made me rather awkward as to properly socialize you need to both know yourself and be yourself. This requires you to be an individual and as part of the army mindset you are just another cog in the machine. You don’t think for yourself, you just do as your told, blindly and without question as that is the nature of hierarchical authority.

This probably explains all the trouble and problems people like Lord Byron caused. They were born with a different mindset so they had to go on extended tours of the continent to find themselves. When they had and realised they were never going to fit in to the closeted English society – they stayed abroad in the many outposts of the British Empire.

This is possibly why I’m attracted to people like Patrick Leigh Fermor and Lawrence Durrell as they echo the upbringing of my parents. They were both well travelled enjoying the benefits that living in foreign countries brings. This way of living compels you to always travel, think, research, to understand the meaning of things.

There is so much history out there that has been reported in a biased way. It was always to the benefit of the victors neglecting the other side of the conflict for wars are fought by 2 sides but only 1 is recorded. Even then it was only men who recalled their lives for prosperity.

So in order to correct this I have been watching The Rise of Empires – The Ottoman Empire on Netflix and I have been reading feminist retellings of classic books like the Odyssey and the Iliad. I have written about my findings and I hope in the not too distant future to go on holiday to places like Sicily, Rhodes and Cyprus to further explore my background.

Best wishes

Angela

On listening, enjoying but not understanding (Hyperlexia or just Autism?)

I’ve just realised that as much as I enjoy listening to the songs by Giorgios Sabanis and especially his Logia pou Kaine (Words that burn) album; I haven’t the faintest idea what he is talking about upon reading the English translations – Giorgios Sabanis lyric translations.

I’ve listened to the lyrics as he has sung them with accompanying written lyrics, even reading them at the same time but there meaning seems to have slipped my mind. I’ve watched the videos to his songs and thought that I had intuited the meaning since there are generally evocative and seem to go well with the song but I haven’t grasped the finer points in the slightest.

This should make me depressed but I see it as another aspect of autism. It is after all a social communication disorder. It took until I was a teenager to start to get the finer points of socialising in English so you could look upon my progress in Greek as though I am a teenager again. If I have to do this with every language I want to learn it’s going to be one painful nightmare repeated over and over again. I really hope this isn’t necessary. The emotional growth is nice but does it have to be so painful each time?

Best wishes

Angela

Grammar is essential to interpretation in foreign languages

https://lyricstranslate.com/en/se-sena-stamatise-i-kardia-σε-σένα-σταμάτησε-η-καρδιά-heart-stopped-you.html

My heart stopped with you

This is a song that immediately struck me the first time I heard it. It’s a pop/ rock song but it’s also strangely calming as it’s streamlined. I’ve listened to it countless times and I thought I understood the lyrics as they are quite passionate and evoke your emotions. I therefore thought I knew what the song was about because his speech is relatively clear and distinct. To me it was about love but an all encompassing love that disables you from functioning. It describes the feeling when you are head over heels for someone and it’s just like a bolt from the blue as we say to explain something completely unexpected.

While this is not completely the theme of the song upon reading the actual lyrics, it never occurred to me before despite the fact I have most likely looked up this song before and I’ve certainly tried to analyse its content. I have been passively watching and listening to songs for years with an inkling of their meaning from the emotions that I perceived from the videos but they haven’t been correct. I need to translate the words to get the full picture. My arrogance at my own ability and my naïveté have probably both contributed to this. Plus being selfish and not allowing anyone to critique me as I was too emotional and sensitive myself. I didn’t have enough life experience or emotional maturity to comprehend the message of the song.

The song explains that love is blind as the guy is still stuck on his ex. He can’t get over her as much as he wants to as there are still so many reminders of their relationship. He is still wondering what he has done to lose her. He wants to get back with her as he still loves her and thinks that this will stop the pain he is feeling. He is becoming bitter towards the end and wants to cut out all trace of her from him.That’s certainly different to usual and no wonder I never picked that up.

Have you ever had that before?

Best wishes

Angela

When you try to control everything, it ends up controlling you

With one look – Μ´Ενα Σου Βλέμμα by Γιοργιος Σαμπανης Giorgios Sabanis and the lyrics https://lyricstranslate.com/en/μ’-ένα-σου-βλέμμα-your-sight.html

Pop music doesn’t usually make videos that makes you think about real world issues but this one was so evocative that I had to watch it again and again to get what it truly was about. The words went too fast for me to read initially so I paused it several times and with the help of Google to make sure I was translating correctly, I managed to get the full gist of things.

The first girl’s story,

I thought I was stronger than food. I could put it in me whenever I wanted but also take it out again. Finally I got what fed me to destroy me….

Νόμιζα ότι είμαι πιο δυνατή από φαγητό. Όποτε θέλω το βάζω μέσα μου, όποτε το βγάζω. Κι έφτασα τελικά ο, τι με τρέφει,να με καταστρέψει …

The first guy’s story

I had a passion for and was addicted to social media. This was the only way that I could cope with my life. But this was not living.

Το πάθος μου κι ο εθισμός μου για την εικονική πραγματικότητα, ήταν ο μόνος τρόπος που είχα για να αντέχω την πραγματικότητα. Αλλά η δειλία δεν είναι ζωή.

The second girl’s story

Sometimes he beats me to show me his love. Afterward he asks for my forgiveness. He tells me that he will change. Eventually I changed.

Καμία φορά με χτυπάει, για να μου δείξει την αγάπη του. Μετά μου ζητάει συγνώμη. Μου λέει θα αλλάζει. Τελικά άλλαζα εγώ.

The second guy’s story

I didn’t care how I made the money. I just did it to ensure I had a good standard of living. The resulting guilt and loneliness made all the victories pyrrhic.

Δε με ένοιαζε ο τρόπος. Μόνο να βγάζω λεφτά για να ζω καλά … Με νίκησαν στα σημεία, η ενοχή και η μοναξιά …

Its a distillation of what it is to be Greek but a modern Greek who is worldly so experiences what everyone else in the world struggles with – Food in the form of Anorexia and Bulimia, Internet addiction, Monetary Greed in the form of being a ruthless and cutthroat business man, Gluttony, Loneliness, Domestic Abuse, Depression and feeling subhuman like you have lost yourself and your humanity.

I feel this needs to be part of the Thriving Autistic Adult Series

Best wishes

Angela

Telling tales in Greek

For Christmas I got this book. It is a children’s book to help English speakers learn the Greek language. It is the tale of the Odyssey and Odysseus. However the Greek that is taught in this book is the original Ancient Greek. This means extra learning of words that they no longer use. It’s interesting looking at the origins of the language though. Some words however remain the same.

The best part of this book is it’s focus on grammar including the most difficult point I have come across so far – the genitive sandwich.

This is very difficult for an English speaker because we don’t really have cases, declension or even gender in our language anymore. We therefore don’t ever need to worry about genderised conjugation or even really conjugating.

English is a hodgepodge of rules that have been adopted from all of the different invaders. This makes it a difficult language to learn because it’s not as pure as older languages are. You do however get compensated by having many cognates with other newer languages.

Another reason for the inherent difficulty in processing Greek from an English speakers perspective stems from the genitive case being the one that you use to indicate possession. In our enlightened times we wouldn’t ever think of saying ‘of Daniel’ to indicate that something belongs to Daniel unless we were referencing The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s anti feminist and very archaic to think in terms like this.

Grammar wasn’t taught much in schools when I was attending in contrast to previous eras. I believe they have changed that now with an emphasis on more exotic foreign languages like Mandarin instead of just European. This means that today’s school children are better equipped to handle the linguistic diversity that is present in the world. At least in my opinion.

Best wishes

Angela

Architecture

I recently went to Tenerife on holiday and while I was there I took numerous pictures of the different styles of buildings. I’m a very visual person so I like line, shape, form, colour and all those things which an architect might consider when designing a building. I had also been watching the Art of Design on Netflix along with the Art of Architecture on Sky Arts.

Amistrad Circus
Amistrad Circus

Whenever I go anywhere the buildings are what interest me as I like to see the craftsmanship that has gone into making them. You can tell just by looking whether it was put in a hurry or whether it was a labour of love over many years. This may seem an odd thing to contemplate while you are away but I’ve never been like anyone else. Also when everyone your surrounded by is in involved in building or property in some way it seems in if it didn’t already reside in you.

Since I like drawing, painting and photography it would seem natural for me to be drawn to art galleries and museums. While in Tenerife I went to pretty much everything available in Santa Cruz which is the capital. I gained an insight into their culture and the light which is available there.

College of Ildelfonso
College of Ildelfonso

When I was in Berlin I also went to many art galleries and museums but there is so much more to absorb here that you need to take a break. I got overwhelmed with the amount of information that I was taking in and physically couldn’t read anymore. The architecture here is more of the kind that while is impressive, it’s so dark that it’s not the kind of thing you want to be pictured by. The history associated with these buildings is immense and thought provoking. There certainly not the happy colours of Tenerife.

The Reichstag - German parliament
The Reichstag – German parliament

Sanitation

I was recently watching on Netflix a show examining Bill Gates brain(I’m not allowed to link to it?). In one of the episodes it demonstrates the fact that most of the world still doesn’t have clean water with flushing toilets. There is in fact a lack of water. There has been much money raised to build sanitation plants all over the world but they are too expensive to run. They sit idle while the inhabitants still use pit latrines and catch all of the diseases that are associated with having raw untreated sewage lying around.

This is also brought up in a comic way in the The Book of Mormon play that I have seen twice but that doesn’t mean it’s a laughing matter. It is far from this in fact.

In the news we have also had reported to us the drying up of Victoria Falls. The drying up of Victoria Falls.For such a huge thunderous waterfall to dry to a trickle is devastating for our planets ecology. Global warming is upon us as also espoused by Greta Thunberg. She is young and full of fire but she cares deeply for the environment.It is her dedication to her cause that may bring about change.

I’m also disgusted about the amount of countries that I travel to (Greece, Mexico, Tenerife, Morocco etc) where the sewage system means you can’t put the toilet paper down the toilet! These are not third world countries that receive massive amounts of aid to help them raise out of the direst poverty. These are countries that earn millions in tourism yet can’t provide toilets with big enough pipes to prevent their airport toilets from blocking!

It’s the 21st century and almost 2020 yet we still live in a world where we have to deal with unhygienic conditions such as the ones mentioned above. I wish I didn’t have to write this article for I grew up in a country (UK) where I didn’t need a bin beside my toilet for my used toilet paper. However if I had grown up in Greece, Mexico, Tenerife and no doubt Morocco too then this would be the norm. They just deal with it but I think it’s time for someone to make a stand to correct this injustice.

If we can’t change our planet through money and influence aka Bill Gates, if we can’t change our world through humour aka the Book of Mormon and if we can’t change our planet through activism aka Greta Thunberg then what is going to motivate us to change our habits?

Shadowing

  • This is a new technique that I have learnt that helps to address what is usually lacking in your language studies if your an introvert like me and really dislike talking to people.
    1. You need to get hold of some clear audio (an audiobook) that is at your current level.
      You also next to get hold of the corresponding text (e and physical is the most beneficial but you choose which is the best for you).
      Next you need a recording device, there is one on your phone.
  • When choosing your text make sure that the subject matter is interesting to you otherwise it will not be as useful to you and you will be wasting your time.

      Have the text in front of you and listen to the audio at the same time.
  • If you are someone like me this is quite difficult because I absorb information at light speed. I’m not really reading but seem to pick up the gist as quickly as a sponge sucks up water. (Most of the time)

    1. In this example though we are going for pronunciation practice here. So we’re trying to assimilate as much of the sound in terms of its physical qualities. By that I mean it’s intonation, spacing, pitch, rhythm, accent, emotion etc as possible. All of the different components are important here to get an authentic sound which is what we are aiming for.This is so that we can repeat it into the recorder as accurately as possible. This round is on a phrase by phrase basis.
      Then we try to repeat as much of it as possible listening to the audio recording from the beginning again. This is so that we can get a flow to the whole piece rather than isolating each sentence.
      Next we are going to compare our recorded speech with that of the prerecorded speech to check for differences.
      Finally we repeat the process until we cannot distinguish our own speech from that of the recording. (This maybe optimism as you may get bored if this doesn’t happen quickly).

    Again if you are like me, your reluctant to listen to your own voice recordings because what you hear doesn’t sound anything like you think you sound. It’s sounds pretty awful as it’s weak, pathetic and indistinct a bit like a newborn mewling kitten.

    This is the link if you wish to learn Russian from Max its creator Shadowing.

    If you have been following my blog you will know that this approach is next to impossible to apply in Greek. I have recently found audio books on YouTube but I have had to separately purchase the e and physical books from Amazon. It took quite some time to arrive as even though they were on Amazon UK, it had to be shipped from Germany.

    I have started to follow a lady on WordPress un petite bibliophile (this platform unless your reading this on my fb page) who reviews Greek children’s books in Greek. However, without access to the texts themselves; they are of limited use to me for this particular technique. They are simple children’s books but they can still teach valuable concepts. I like to use them for grammar and reading practice. It helps my comprehension and understanding having her texts there to consult.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    How to adjust your language learning strategy to make sure your always learning

    www.youtube.com/watch

    This is a very informative video that I came across on YouTube about how to progress through the different learning levels. Turn the subtitles on because he is Russian but he speaks using the words that are closest to English. He makes more sense than most Russians but that might also be because he is talking about something I’m very interested in.

    Best wishes

    Angela