Monday, July 12, 2010

Medieval foodalism

Comfort food by Pants

Few jokes I remember, but this one stuck with me. Three men walk into a bar. The first, a German, says, 'I'm so thirsty, I must have beer!' The second, a French guy, says, 'I'm so thirsty, I must have wine!' The third, a Jewish geezer, says, 'I'm so thirsty, I must have diabetes!'

I don't have diabetes, nor do I intend to get it. Or should that be 'them'. Diabetes. Sounds plural, doesn't it? Regular readers will recall that, although I know nothing whatever about health matters, that's never stopped me weighing in, so to speak. That may well be a medical condition in itself. Let's hope so. I would like, just once, to be injected with the fear of The Supreme Dalek for something remotely resembling a good reason.

The ubiquitous nutrition copeterie has been hounding us for decades about avoiding anything and everything that renders food edible. I dare not raise, yet again, my objection to governmental obsession with 'things that may never happen' while the people who are sick here and now languish on waiting lists for operations that would alleviate real, actual pain.

But, please note dear confidante, that I am thinking about that as I cannibalise my - I'm sorry, I need a moment with the smelling salts before I can type its unspeakableness - unsolicited and absolutely unwanted Government-issue stool testing kit - to refit it for its only decent purpose. And that would be as a piece of art which I will gladly leave in perpetuity in the hope that it might instruct future inhabitants of this planet after we've fucked it over completely.

Years ago, I nominally added diabetes 'type 2' to the interminable list of life-threatening evils I must guard against. I'm not so arrogant that I won't at least listen to a reasonable argument from scientists whose interests are not wholeheartedly vested in proving their own hypotheses. Should such scientists arrive in the Pantosphere, perhaps they'll send a card around to Seat of Pants, so we can receive them with due courtesy.

I do know that if I eat too much chocolate or drink too much wine I will get a headache. That knowledge works for me as a deterrent for over-indulgence in chocolate but has not been quite as effective with wine. I also hear that salt is bad for me. Well, I have low blood pressure. I keep a store of Free Trade dark chocolate very handy. I add salt 'to taste', as they used to say in the old recipe books because I'm prone to cramp.

Which brings me to my point. What I've wanted to say all along is that I have a favourite food item. It probably isn't, strictly speaking, the healthiest food option on the planet. But it only takes a few minutes to make and it contains all natural ingredients.

The potato fritter (above), is a dish my mother passed on to us. My version is spicier than Ma Pants's as I discovered that Spanish paprika tends to awaken the tango tendency in a shredded potato. The specimens above were probably the best I ever made. The potatoes are local baby desirees. Will I ever taste their like again? Please don't arrest me officer. My taste buds know not what they feel.

Sorry, I was waylaid enjoying good health, I completely forgot that I was going to tell you that our Government here in Australian is thinking of introducing one of these wonderful things they like to call a 'scheme' to manage the poor unfortunates who find themselves suffering from diabetes. Our good government proposes to pay a good doctor an 'incentive' in cash money to keep these poor unfortunates 'out of hospital'.

Just a wild, crazy guess, but does anyone else see the sliver of a chance that doctors might read this 'incentive' as a directive to limit hospital admissions? I speak as someone whose elderly mother collapsed on an ambulance concourse after being refused admission to a hospital when she drove herself to emergency because she was having a severe asthma attack.

Fortunately, the Australian Medical Association has done a survey of doctors and they're overwhelmingly against this scheme. It's a relief to have some glint of hope that our medical establishment is not entirely composed of automatons. Perhaps I do get a bit too caught up in the whole you know Who state of the universeness of things.

Oh, right. You want the recipe for those delicious potato fritters?

Pour a glass of wine. Shred three big potatoes or lots of little ones into a large mixing bowl. Wash or peel them beforehand if you can be arsed. Throw in a whisked egg and whatever herbs you have to hand. Spice to taste. As I've said above, a generous pinch of paprika works well for me. I also usually throw in a dessert spoon of powdered bouillon de l├ęgumes. Add a couple of tablespoons of self-raising flour and some milk and mix it to pancake consistency. You need to let it sit for about twenty minutes, so drink your wine.

Heat a large flat pan on the big hotplate at about eight o'clock on the dial if you have an old-fashioned cooker like I do. If you don't, you should be reading a different blog. Add a thin layer of olive oil. Pour another glass of wine. Check that the fritter mixture is pancake consistency. Add either milk or self-raising flour to correct. When oil is hot, drop fritter-sized portions into it. You should fit four into a big frying pan at a time. Fry for five minutes on each side. Keep drinking your wine throughout.

They go with everything. And they freeze well. I know, I know. I can't help thinking that we ought to leave something nourishing for the aliens...