Tag Archives: Food

Ratburger and dead bird wrap

How long is a piece of string?

You tell me. The British Airways member of staff at Heathrow who felt the need to ask a line of weary, and by then furious, passengers this, beat a retreat after asking. So perhaps she never found out the length of string.

What we wanted to know – although it wasn’t actually me who asked – was how long we’d be there for. She couldn’t very well know this, but her reply might have been more tactfully phrased.

‘Did you see how the lights in the corridor came on as we walked along?’ asked the excited Resident IT Consultant. By the time we walked this particular hotel corridor belonging to Sofitel, I was past noticing anything, least of all the illuminations.

Here is a travel moan especially for Candy Gourlay, who claims to like this kind of thing, and for Hilary McKay and her darling, darling Rose,* who – almost – kept me sane, when I had nothing to eat on our British Airways flight other than a Virgin Trains mini-portion of dried cranberries.

I could have had the Ratburger. No, my apologies. It was the dead bird, wrapped. Again.

The Ratburger* was the book by David Walliams, so delightfully read by small child in the immigration queue at midnight. It warmed a Bookwitch’s heart to witness this. Not that I’ve read the book, but any reading under traumatic circumstances is good. He (she?) ought to have been in bed.

That went for me too. My body-clock was an hour ahead and I’d gone without a meal for too many hours. If you don’t count the train-related berries. Sometimes it’s a good thing I squirrel small items away in my bag.

The fact that I had walked round Gothenburg airport staring at the cinnamon buns and bananas for sale should have told my inner witch that I’d be regretting not buying them, very, very soon. And I did.

Terminal 5’s holding area for the seriously delayed is entirely food free. I suggest they put in a vending machine if they are ‘entertaining’ quite that many irate travellers on a regular basis. It might almost repay what they have to fork out to put people up for the night.

Once we actually got to Sofitel of the corridor-lighting cheme, I had very few bad comments left to make, having run out of both steam and a reason why. But I suppose I’d like to have received advance warning that the corridor-light nerds mentioned earlier would also sneak around in the middle of the night, turning off the bathroom light if you don’t wave your arms enough. Or whatever the weary traveller is meant to do to stay all lit up and happy.

Other than that, the hotel was pretty good. Glad I wasn’t the one paying.

So, back to BA. They are usually pretty good, too. Hence me turning my back on the cinnamon bun. I was certain they’d feed me adequately. And if they ran out of everything, as they did, I had expected the usual BA good manners, and maybe even some initiative, finding me a bread roll from ‘first class’ or something. What I got were two crew members who firmly believe chicken is practically vegetarian.

And then we had me, who stupidly believed that once we got to Heathrow, having missed our onward connection – despite being misinformed by the chicken fans on board that we should leg it, and we’d be successful – I’d be sorted soon-ish, and I’d come face-to-face with some food. The queue moved one metre in the first hour. Staff left for the day as we stood there. Fellow (hah!) delayed passengers queue jumped merrily until the annoyed father of two small children told the last one to try it to go to the back where he belonged.

String-woman could have been gainfully employed doing some queue order-keeping, and not left it to the tired and worn out. Her colleagues worked hard, but why it should take staff, who presumably do this every night, quite so long for each passenger, I can’t work out. Maybe the Resident IT Consultant could offer his services to improve the software they use.

Eventually – two hours later – we emerged carrying two new boarding cards for the day after, one hotel voucher, two emergency overnight packs and two M&S vouchers to make up for the hotel not serving dinner after midnight. I say emerged. What I meant was we then joined the Border Control queue, the UK and EU light version, which lasted a mere 25 minutes. But at least the child in front had The Ratburger.

Mercifully this migraine trigger fasting failed to give me one. Must have been the train cranberries. Small, but good. We repaired to our Sofitel room, gobbled down a half past midnight M&S dinner and fell into bed for all of five hours.

Now that the queue is merely an unhappy memory, I mostly object to being kept in the dark. In the bathroom. With no warning. (Although if the free wifi had materialised, I wouldn’t exactly have objected.) Consistent and truthful information from BA would have come in handy, too.

On the final approach to Bookwitch Towers, the Resident IT Consultant walked ahead, to open the door and shove five weeks’ worth of books** out of the way. Which is why he wasn’t picked up by Little Flower’s grandparents and given a lift the last 300 metres. Little Flower’s Granny then proceeded to offer us some emergency milk at about the same time we discovered Next Door Neighbour has been mowing the grass in our absence.

So that was good. Very good. So was the fact that we survived the 25 minute taxi ride before the point where I didn’t buy a cinnamon bun. My last personal best was 30 minutes from School Friend’s house to airport. But a texting maniac who drives well past the legal speed limit can probably arrive before they left, if they really try.

* Reading is good for you. Especially when under stress. In queues. That kind of thing.

**Might tell you about this some other time. Right now all but Candy are snoring from sheer boredom. Sorry.

(But surely BA have stats on their passengers’ fondness for cheese sandwiches and make more of them? Dead bird isn’t all it’s made out to be; wrapped or not.)


Tying the knot

There was never any need for me to doubt the strength of the cake-ribbon knot. I have carried cakes from such a young age, that it simply didn’t occur to me that there could be a mishap. Yes, you could drop the cake. But it wouldn’t be for poor ribbon-tying.

Swedish bakers put fancy cakes and gateaux in a cardboard box, which is then closed with, and given a carrying handle by, a gift type ribbon in a garish colour. Twice one way and once the other and then securely knotted. It looks effortless, but I imagine it’s something they train shop staff to do from day one. Unlike when you wrap a book, you can’t swish the gateaux around.

You can – and should – carry the box by the ribbon.

When we used my local bakers’ 20% off a cake the other week, the Resident IT Consultant carried it in his arms like a baby, until I told him to be normal and grasp the ribbon. He was doubtful, but it worked (even for him). It was then I realised I’d just never had to think about it. I was born to carry cake.

We discussed this, Daughter and I, as we bought another cake a week later. I mean, we discussed it. I’m not saying there was another cake bought. At all. Absolutely not.

Although, it did call out to me, as I went in to buy a loaf of bread. It said ‘I’m a lovely little cake. Buy me and take me home.’

Who could refuse a request like that? And this being a bakers’ coop, I get 10% of it back in coupons for next year’s 20% off a cake (I hope you are keeping up with the percentages?), so really, I had to. It was out of my hands. The decision, not the cake or the box or the ribbon.

Red Herrings

Today is May 1st. I have generally learned to forget about it in the UK, since our streets aren’t filled with marching people. (For all I know, neither are Swedish streets these days.)

Something else that you lose touch with in exile is who is alive and who has died. I need someone who will tell me the relevant news, and so far the list of dead ones kept by the Retired Children’s Librarian works OK, ish.

C-H Hermansson, article in Vi

I’m glad C-H Hermansson is still around, at the grand old age of 95. He was leader of the communist party in Sweden 40 to 50 years ago, and most notably the one who was leader when I became aware of politics. (It’s easy to forget those who came after.)

He was famous for a couple of things, aside for the usual. He swore on television (according to Wikipedia; at a time when you just didn’t), as he got annoyed with all the in-fighting in the party (the most rightwing of several communist parties, and the only one in parliament). You need to keep your house in order, so to speak.

And he’s famous for the herring recipe. He took part in a cookery programme on television in the 1960s, where he ‘buried herring.’ Gravad strömming, is what it’s called, and that might tell you it’s the herring version of gravad lax, which now seems to be an English word as well.

Gravad means buried, which is what you did back in the really olden days. Then you dug up the food a bit later and ate it.

C-H still gets requests for ‘that communist herring.’ A whole life in politics, and it’s a fish recipe that he will be remembered for. He was crafty back then, realising the power of television. Apart from the swearing, we don’t really recall much of what he said.

Here’s to Red Herring!

Sweet and refreshing

After reading Terry Pratchett’s Dodger, I know so much more. Having ‘met’ that Peel chap in Terry’s book, I now understand what and who he was, and also why his men were peelers. Before, I only knew they were the police, just like the Bow Street Runners.

But still.

The Resident IT Consultant brought home some peelers the other day. They are (or at least were decribed as) seedless and easy. Also refreshing and sweet. Lovely policemen, in other words, and not in the slightest seedy – unlike their customers – and easy (perhaps like some of their clientele).

They came from Waitrose. Can you tell what was on my shopping list yet? Because it doesn’t actually say on the numerous labels of these peelers what they are. They are described, but they are sweet and easy whatsits?

Nadorcott, to be precise. Size 64 to 69 mm, class 1. And they taste fine.

My shopping list had the word clementines on it. I needed to google to see whether that’s what the Resident IT Consultant brought home.

According to one, he did: ‘A high quality, mid to late-maturing Clementine. Easy- peeling with great depth of flavour and sweetness, with a good acidity balance.’ The next entry offers a slight difference of opinion: ‘A new variety of Mandarin Tangerine, … the fruit is easy peeling with a superior rind and juice color.’

So, a clementine. Or possibly a mandarin. Or tangerine. One of those orangey things.

Why not say so on the label? It feels weird to tell myself I’m eating a peeler, however sweet and seedless. The label even mentions love life. Whose?

(As for the small print, ‘all care is taken but on rare occasions fruit may contain seeds.’ Meaning someone was meant to de-seed and might have missed a few? Also ‘wash before use.’ I’m generally clean. And I peel the peelers. So what wants washing?)

Bookwitch bites #98

In my hand is the label off a recent dinner chez Bookwitch. (I don’t mean that we had a convenience meal; I cooked it all myself.) In fact, I feel as if I cooked myself. The label bears the words ‘British Swede’ and ‘Reduced.’ The things I’ve been reduced to…

The Resident IT Consultant bought a (veggie) Haggis during a bout of patriotism, and brought it home. I could tell he was hoping for the real deal for his meal, even if it was after Burns’ night. I thought sprouts. No, wrong country. Neeps, is what it has to be, with the tatties. So, Swede. Or maybe just swede. Which had been reduced (because swede goes off so fantastically quickly!). Cheap swede.

It was surprisingly good.

I’m now trying to work out how to get from Haggises to Melvin Burgess. Oh dear.

One of my most favourite of Melvin’s books – An Angel For May – was reissued this week. If you haven’t read it, now is your opportunity to remedy this oversight. I’m fairly sure you won’t regret it.

Today we will finish with a photo, which explains everything. Swedes, bags, angels. You know.

Book bag

The A-Z of Träslövsläge

Now that Daughter has informed the world – via fb – that I spent most of Friday eating all over the place, I suppose I needn’t hide this ugly fact from the rest of you.

We ate. Lots. Often. And it was good. You need to get your annual requirement of certain foods and eating places dealt with in a limited time, so slacking is to be avoided at all costs.

We got more lost than even I thought was possible, considering it was just one day, and we were in familiar territory. Must have been a curse. I firmly believe some road signs had been altered with me in mind.

The book we could have done with was the A-Z of the various places we went to, and through. Or tried to. Except I don’t expect there is an A-Z of Träslövsläge. It is a small fishing village south of Varberg. Which is itself not enormous. Nor is the smaller town of Falkenberg.

So, Träslövsläge looked beguiling enough when we stopped on our way north, that we decided to call in for ice cream at the place I sort of recalled in ‘downtown Träslövsläge’ on our way home in the evening. The same thought had occurred to a hundred other people, so we didn’t even bother joining the queues.

Tre Toppar, Träslövsläge (picture borrowed from Loulas Kök)

Instead we drove on. We could have retraced our steps. That way we wouldn’t have got lost in a mere fishing village. With the backseat passenger complaining, we finally found the main road again, at a spot much further south than I had imagined to be possible.

Earlier in the day we had found an unusual way into the centre of Falkenberg. So had a number of other motorists. The way wasn’t ideal, but the company even less so. We visited the museum for its summer exhibition of ceramics icon Stig Lindberg. Very good, and so was the teabread which was cheap on account of it being yesterday’s. (Yesterday’s yesterday.) We could choose our own mugs to drink from. The Resident IT Consultant then helped himself to a free map of Falkenberg.

You can just tell this isn't going to go well - the Falkenberg map

This was to aid us in the leaving of Falkenberg. I mean, it was intended to do this. It didn’t. We just knew where we were as we lost ourselves deeper and deeper into the northern suburbs (if there is such a thing in a small town) of Falkenberg. Again, we found the main road eventually.

We spent the intervening journey discussing how to find a car park not yet full in Varberg, and where, and how not to get lost while doing this. The only map I had was the minute one on the permanent car parking ticket one has to carry to park in this lovely town. It is where I spent my childhood summers.

The little train in Varberg

Didn’t help – much – as we ended up driving a very interesting way into Varberg. But whereas we didn’t find the place we wanted, we found a better place to park (next to the cemetery), and all was well. We even knew how to find the Pizzeria we were after. (It’s a holiday tradition. It’s where the gulls eat half pizzas in one fell swoop.)

We walked after this, which is fine, because no one got lost. We watched as a Norwegian car tried and failed to drive up a steep road. The same road the Resident IT Consultant then had us go up. I closed my eyes. I can understand why that road has a curfew on cars and motorbikes between 10pm and 6 am. The gunning of engines would drive anyone demented.

Cruising in Varberg

Having failed with the Träslövsläge ice cream, we went on to the Salmon restaurant where we had very large ones (ice creams, not salmons), half freezing by sitting outside, next to the motorway. Nice train on the other side.

This was going to be a short Saturday post. But at least you now know why we ate a lot and lost ourselves a lot. And that lovely red car is not our car.

A glut of Bank Holidays

What I really intended to mention yesterday, but was too distraught by the lack of Rolf Harris in my life to remember, was this glut of Bank Holidays. The left-behind UK has two and then Sweden has one, so three days in a row. My mind can adapt to the fact that normal business will not be in business on certain days, but which and where and when?

We will be enjoying close contact with the dentist while many of you are doing the bunting and other Royal stuff (it will rain!). By the time you are back in the office, I am going to swallow my slight irritation over GP Cousin stealing my birthday. (Who needs an older brother, when you have a birthday stealer cousin?) So, it’ll either be two cakes, or none, because if I decide to wait for his, it will turn out he’s not doing cake. Actually, I doubt the silly boy can manage 60 candles. (Especially on the wrong day!!)

Särdals Kvarn

Dodo and Son have joined us (sensibly not travelling by any ferry routes), and we all behaved in a most British manner and went for afternoon tea out on Saturday. That’s out as in out-of-doors, and also very cold. I tried to cheer Daughter up by saying this place usually has customer blankets. They did. She was not cheered. We sat determinedly in the cold sunshine for a suitable length of time before walking back home.

The others then went for a swim in the sea, because they suspected they’d be able to feel even colder if they tried.