Twitter saga with The Awful Poo Lady (#TAPL)

In case you missed it, here follow accounts of the fascinating saga that unfolded over the last few days involving nutrition-nazi Gillian McKeith (“PhD”), and Ben Goldacre (actual PhD, and author of Bad Science). (Short of long, @gm accused @bg of telling “lies” about her in his book. Read the chapter in question for yourself here). This is a story of the great value of social media over bad science.

From Jack of Kent, (a blog “mainly about the misuse and misrepresentation of Law”), “The Integrity and Honesty of @gillianmckeith”

From Cubik’s Rube, “The Awful Poo Lady Loses her Shit

From David Naylor, “Gillian McKeith vs. Ben Goldacre

From BoingBoing, “Pseudoscience’s “Awful Poo Lady” can’t flush twitterings

Strawberries soaked in vodka fail to impress

So after my recent bold declaration that this Doctor’s brownie adventures are officially over, I was naturally confronted with all sorts of Facebook banter offering yet more tips and tricks for that thing I had just renounced. The most evil of these was a recipe which calls for cocoa powder dissolved in hot water (rather than melting chocolate), along with the suggestion that the water be replaced by booze (Nina, you know who you are).

Talk of booze in food often takes the turn of trying to discover how best to keep it in there. If you dissolve cocoa in a cup of bourbon, won’t it all just evaporate during baking (for instance)? In other words, how does one maintain the integrity of a truly boozy brownie?

Well since brownies were out, and I had recently spotted a recipe for white-chocolate-raspberry blondies, things quickly spiralled downhill. In the fridge: raspberries, no; dried strawberries, yes. In the freezer: vodka, yes. The strawberries looked very pretty in their vodka bath, and the vodka looked very pretty when I removed the strawberries a few hours later (it was, in fact, bright red, which leads me to seriously doubt the naturalness of the dried strawberries. But hey, colourful vodka cocktail coming up soon).

Worse: the blondies were dry, and not boozy at all. Had they been presented at tea time as what old Danish aunties call “sandkage” (this one you can work out for yourself), they would have been a hit. But as blondies, they were dismal failures.

I’ve made blondies before, and they were yummy and chewy and more-ish, so I blame the recipe. But I should have known better – it came from a British magazine, and what do the Brits know about blondies? Like, who would actually follow a Jamie Oliver recipe for brownies? (Don’t bother, I already did.)

Speaking of which, I believe Mr. O is now doing his very own 30-minute meals. This is amazing. Because that is exactly what Rachael Ray has built an entire empire on. He was even on her show earlier this year. So it’s not like they don’t know each other. Couldn’t he have called it “29-minute Meals”? Or, “Dinner In A Jiffy”? Or, “Pukka Nosh in Half a Tick”? Really. Anything but “I’m Just Going To Take Someone Else’s Idea And Hope That No One Notices”.

Then again, maybe it’s all the same anyway. As Michael Ruhlman put it not long ago,

‘Part of the problem is the magazine editors and television producers drumming us over the head with fast and easy meal solutions at home. It’s the wrong message to send. These editors and producers and publishers are backing the processed food industry, propelling their message. What I say to you magazine editors and producers, to you Rachael Ray and you Jamie Oliver and your 20 minutes meals: God bless you, but you are advertising and marketing on behalf of the processed food industry.’

Well, I don’t know about the God bless you part. And hey, I’m all for knocking things up in a hurry, and if the Ray and the Oliver can make that happen, then good for them. But when it panders to a public that (apparently) hasn’t got the attention span to realise that what Sir O. says is nothing new, then I’m off that bus.

Those people they create would probably even say my blondies were delicious.

PS. To clarify, when I first heard about the 30-minute meal venture, I tweeted the man himself to ask if RR hadn’t been doing the same thing for years. His response:

I guess we don’t all interpret “potential problem?” equally.

If I were a TV cook…

(or a cookbook author for that matter), I could imagine myself delivering all number of clever little tips and tricks – as they do – to give people the idea that I sit around and think hard and long about what works and what doesn’t.

For my (to die for) “caramelized brussel sprouts with pecan nuts and blue cheese”, for instance, I would tell you that the secret is to add the garlic at the last minute of pan-time. That way you get a kick of fresh garlic to temper the sweetness of the sugar and nuts, but without the harshness of actual fresh garlic. (Because don’t you also find that if you add garlic too early, it loses its oomph?) You want garlic. But you want it just right. This is how, trust me.

(Excuse the photograph. My stylist is away watching Argentina getting thrashed by Germany).

If I were Jamie Oliver, I would tell you that this goes fantastically with small, crumbed pork cutlets (and a nice dollop of horseradish on the side), and then tell you how easy crumbed pork is to throw together. (Like this: bish bash bosh).

If I were Rachael Ray, I would tell you not to bother with the bish bash bosh, because I don’t have the time, and you don’t have the time or money to hop on your scooter, head down to your friendly (organic) butcher, have a chat about the missus, get some beautiful hand-reared, grass-fed, acupuncture-tenderised local pork, and neither do you have half a loaf of day-old sourdough lying around waiting to be whizzed into crumbs in the KitchenAid (which you don’t have either).

Continue reading “If I were a TV cook…”

‘ʁøðgʁøːˀð mɛð ‘fløːðɛ

So last night I had my Nigella moment. Some friends are exhibiting at an upcoming art event in Roskilde (that’s in Denmark, where the big annual rock festival happens), and the theme is “Localities”. Being the charming Doing it for Daddy girls, they decided to subvert the expected take on South Africa and instead make a film about me. How clever is that!

OK, it is a film about a Dane living outside of Denmark perhaps. (An extra-Dane?). Or about a “Dane” cooking a “Danish” meal in a kitchen in Cape Town. Whatever. We’ll let them do the analysis. But it did give me a chance to devise a funky menu, spend most of a day cooking (if we start counting at 9am when I put a 5kg leg of pork in the oven), and to be on camera.

Continue reading “‘ʁøðgʁøːˀð mɛð ‘fløːðɛ”

Enough with the footie

Really, no one wants to hear any more about Inglan’s miserable performance, or about how self-satisfied the Danes must be with themselves this morning (like we they really need another reason to be self-satisfied, but fair enough: we they are red, we they are white, we they are Danish dynamite). Nor is it anyone’s business that I have done approximately half a stitch of work since this whole debacle began, because if I’m not sitting in a stadium with 64 099 other people, I am glued to the telly watching a game which I don’t understand and which I really don’t care about. And I certainly wouldn’t share with you my private prediction that I may even continue to watch the occasional match after the WC. It’s a ridiculous waste of time and quite frankly I think the game should be banned. Maybe then those stupid plastic horns would finally rest in peace.

No, let’s rather talk pork. Continue reading “Enough with the footie”


So yesterday the cork popped on the much anticipated goose-fest. It was a long, hard day which required careful planning and execution, all moving backward from the final, and BIG event, which was us in the stadium for the Cape Town kick-off at 8.30pm.

Resigned to the fact that there would be little parking, we carefully selected a good halfway house where we could rest on our long walk to the stadium. So we set off at 12.30pm, and a few moments later we were establishing ourselves at Caveau, getting ready for the big haul. Two bloody marys, a few beers (plus obligatory shots of gees tequila), a burger, skinny fries, a crispy spring roll (with sweet chilli sauce), plenty of biltong, and mild deafness from the fucken vuvus, we were ready to go. Continue reading “Foodball”

Don’t touch me on my gees

Yesterday I tweeted that ‘Cape Town looks like a bumper car track. Roads full of little cars with little flags. Beep Beep. Madness begins. I will survive.’ The darling (football-mad) Philosophe thought that wasn’t a very nice thing to say. Not in the gees.

Along with vuvuzela, gees is one of the words of the moment down here in the south, where players, fans, hooligans et al converge for the big football party (yawn). I haven’t been able to find a phonetic spelling for it, but just imagine the opening consonant like the gg in “dagga”: more of a soft, epiglottal hiss than a hard g. Gees means spirit, and the idea is that we should all be in its possession by now. Continue reading “Don’t touch me on my gees”

The Little Mermaid

In Peru, there is a little girl who was born with a mermaid’s tail. To you and I, that means she was born with a rare condition called sirenomelia (siren apparently being Latin for mermaid). When you have sirenomelia, you are born with your legs fused together. Like a mermaid. But also with the problem of having no external sex organs, and your entire urological system in your anus. (Then again, maybe mermaids have that too). Continue reading “The Little Mermaid”