Flammkuchen.

Well today is one of the calms before the storm in terms of essays. It’s also my turn to cook. And as we’re still clearing a backlog of our favourite meat-based recipes after the vegetarianism of lent, I decided I’d make Flammkuchen! It’s been a favourite of ours ever since we went to Freiburg around easter ’12, and we just can’t get enough of it.

But anyway, time to get to the recipe before I begin sounding like an American.

For the dough, if you’re eating around eight then you’ll want to start the dough around one. Though if you’re not around during the midday, say if you’re making this during the weekday, then it’s best to just begin the evening before and let it rise in the fridge for 24 hours.. It won’t do it any harm, in fact, it’s best if you’re eating this over two days to cook it afresh each day.

Makes four large kuchen.

Dough:

  • 600g flour (300g strong white + 300g strong wholemeal or 300g strong white + 300g plain)
  • 1tsp salt.
  • 1tsp sugar.
  • 3tsp dried yeast
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • hand hot water (amount varies depending on flour used)

Method:

  1. Mix sugar into 3/4 pint of hand hot water, then mix in yeast. Set aside 15 min until a frothy head has developed.
  2. Meanwhile, mix flour + salt into large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add yeasty water, then oil. Mix well, adding more water as required until you’re left with a slightly sticky dough.
  3. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead well for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Return to bowl and cover. If you’re leaving it overnight, this is the time to put it in the fridge. If not, put it in a warmish place and leave for a good couple of hours.

Topping: Generally bacon or salmon.

  • 400ml creme fraiche (can be cut with greek yoghurt)
  • 10 slices bacon or smoked salmon to taste. (Or about 200g..ish of lardons)
  • 2 red onions, sliced.
  • dash of nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven 230c/450f/gas 8.
  2. Knock back dough, knead for 1 or 2 minutes. Roll out into four pizzas, as thin as you can get them for your pizza stones/oven trays. Probably about 3mm.
  3. Lightly fry bacon, cutting it into lardon either before or after. You want the bacon to be slighty crispy, but not overcooked. When it’s done, remove and reserve, then add onion to the bacon fat to fry for a minute or two.
  4. Spread creme fraiche over dough, right to the edges. Now add bacon + onions or Salmon + onions if you wish. For tarte flambee/tarte d’alsace forestier, top with gruyére.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the edges are crisp and the topping is bubbling.

 

 

Published.

Well my first article was published earlier this week in the independent. I’m obviously very happy about this, even if it was a divisive issue, a response to which was near impossible to articulate in a mere 600 words. I think I did ok. I’d probably add an extra line if I could to say that it’s not just one massive attack on Michael Rosen, which I think some people took it for. Nor do I think that Sajid Javid will make a particularly good culture secretary. But my main point stands; that much of the criticism was snobbish, and the assertion at the heart of the piece, that a culture secretary had to have been immersed in the arts industries their whole life is piffle. 

I’ve been spending much of the past few days, when not drafting a novel, reading, or working on my MA dissertation proposal, thinking about what to pitch next. I’m quite conscious that once you have something published, it’s a foot in the door, and something that needs to be capitalised upon. I also need to think about what I’ll restrict myself to in the future. Possibly the arts and politics, as that’s what I know the most about. 

Now you might say, doesn’t that refute your point about Javid? Well, not particularly. Government isn’t writing. Government is primarily administration.

Cameron, Waitrose and class blindness.

David Cameron’s recent musings have predictably incited yet another outraged response from Labour. The prime minister’s comments that Waitrose shoppers are generally chattier than those in cheaper supermarkets, they say, are elitist. Michael Douger says:

Cameron seems to be saying that at Waitrose you get a better class of shopper. This is a bizarre and empty-headed intervention from a prime minister who increasingly gives the impression of being stuck-up and out of touch.

Yet as ever that’s not what Cameron has said at all. He merely commented they were more talkative and engaged, which is another thing entirely from being better. In his own way, he’s almost betrayed an understanding of the class system. Of course the folks at waitrose are chattier compared to those at Asda; they’re closer to Cameron’s own social position. You’re much more likely to make a B-line for the prime minister if you consider there to be cultural similarities between you. You work in an environment where you meet professionals every day, and are equally at home with the son of a baronet as you are with a doctor, a university lecturer or, indeed, the prime minister.

The stereotypical member of the working class (such as there can be), on the other hand, is much less likely to socially mix with people of the Prime Minister’s background, and as such the prospect of actually having the audacity to not only approach, but converse with him is much more daunting.

Labour have therefore missed a trick. Instead of sending out what reads suspiciously like a hastily updated template of a press release, they could have taken the opportunity to talk about why shoppers are more engaged. As it is, Cameron’s left looking as if he understands the class system much more than that supposed champion of the working classes, The Labour Party.

Edit: It’s just occurred to me that it could very well be argued that being class blind in that way is a function of Cameron’s social privilege conferred by being upper-middle class. Of course this doesn’t detract from the fact that Labour chose to make a tired comment about being ‘worse off’ and generic ‘elitism’ rather than explore why it was that Cameron made such comments.

William Pym to the Public Ledger, August 30th 1765

This is, to my knowledge, the only copy of the final in a series of four articles which appeared in the London Public Ledger over the summer of 1765, and which were responded to by Samuel Adams and James Otis Jr the following year in the American papers. I cannot be sure that all the capitalisations are correct, as I wrote this for my own use: squinting over and over again at a terrible scanned copy online is not good for one’s eyes whilst attempting to write a commentary:

Having in the course of my late letters relative to the colonies, pointed out what I thought culpable in their conduct; as well as what I look’d upon to be injudicious in our own I shall now conclude the subject with a general observation or two, relative to the absolute necessity of giving them a proper number of representative in the British Parliament; as I am really of the opinion that nothing but the general abolition of their assembles can possibly secure their dependence; or render them of any material consequence to the Mother-Country.

The gentlemen who have the ascendency in the colonies are, as in every other country, those who have the greatest fortunes, but with this difference, this essential difference, that being unused to constraint, and unacquainted with reprehension, they are naturally haughty and overbearing and having perhaps six or seven hundred miserable wretches on whom they can exercise the most unlimited fullness of  insolence and brutality, they become callous to the nicer feelings of humanity, as well as insensible to the proper regulations of government; and are every whit as dangerous in their public character as Citizens, as we find them uncontrollable in their private capacity as Men. Notwithstanding the number of imaginary hardships which they are continually murmuring at; and notwithstanding the few inconveniences which they really feel, we are very sensible that the principal number of them are every day increasing in opulence ; and know also that this opulence every day adds to the inherent pride and turbulence of their tempers. If a proof is necessary for this character, let us only look to the colonies of Jamaica and Virginia; here we see the first are claiming privileges superior even to the representatives of Great Britain; and there we find the latter carrying matters to a still greater length, and absolutely disowning our power and defying our authority. – If we suffer these matters any longer to go on, the mutual haughtiness of the colonies may occasion the strictest engagements of a mutual confidence; and they may possibly unite as one people to shake off the obedience which they owe to that Mother-Country whom they now so plausibly represent as a general enemy to them all.

To prevent the fatal consequences therefore which may, nay which must in all human probability inevitably proceed from lodging anything like a legislative power in such dangerous hands; let us at once indulge them  with the same privileges, which we ourselves enjoy, and which they seem to consider with so great a degree of an envying admiration. The moment they share every one of our advantages they cannot scruple to participate in every one of our distresses; and ‘tis to be hoped, that as their own interests will then be more immediately connected with ours , they will shew a little more sensibility, than they have hitherto manifested about our national burdens; though they themselves have been the principal occasion of laying those burdens on.

The great difficulty to be apprehended in this extended alteration of their government, is, that they will require a much more considerable number of representatives, than it can be for the security of the Mother-Country to allow. But this is a point which must be very carefully attended to by the people of this kingdom. The gentlemen of our colonies have already no contemptible influence in  the British Parliament; and in proportion as they advance in opulence, we may naturally expect to find this influence increased. They are continually coming over, and without purchasing any property amongst us, they smuggle themselves into the House of Commons, and in a manner dictate laws to the Mother-Country, tho they are to the last degree offended where the Mother-Country presumes to take such a liberty with themselves; Hence it is, Mr Printer, that we find an additional duty laid upon the unfortunate Porter Butt, while the rum puncheon remains firm from any fresh taxation; and hence it is that we pay four shillings in the pound for our corn fields, while nothing in the least adequate is placed upon those happier shores which gives birth to the sugar cane.

These circumstances, therefore, must oblige every well-wisher to Old England, if such a coalition between us and the Colonies should take place, to be very parsimonious in the number of representatives which may be allowed them in the British Parliament. The more formidable they are at present in that August Assembly, the more cautious we must be in multiplying them, unless we make, an absolute stipulation, that no native of the colonies whatsoever shall be entitle to a seat, but he who is immediately appointed to represent some part of America. If the Mother-Country, to the numbers which even at this time have a voice in our legislature,  should injudiciously add anything of a considerable list from the colonies, She will go a long way towards destroying her own happiness: She will, in all probability, furnish them with the means of getting a majority in a little time; and put it perhaps in their power to remove the seat of empire to the inhospitable banks of the Oronoque, or the Ohio, from the delightful borders of the Thames.

I have scarce conversed with any person of understanding on this subject, who has not expressed the strongest apprehension about the independence of the colonies. Almost everybody I have talked to has declared how, in another century, ‘twill be more than probable that our posterity will be broiling on the sands of America, and receiving laws from the very people whom their ancestors established with such a profusion of treasure, and such a deluge of blood. Some tawny descendent of an African Negro may, perhaps, be invested with the administration of justice; and some free born Englishman may be dragged before a jury of mulattoes, as ignorant of humanity as justice, and equally unacquainted with the principles of Liberty and Law. In order to prevent the likelihood of such a melancholy circumstance, let us take care to keep the power where it undoubtedly ought to rest in our own hands. We have in a manner created the colonies and have a right therefore to give them laws. They are our children, ‘tis true; yet they ought to be treated as aliens to our blood; whenever they wish to be independent of that parent, who has given them not only their existence, but every blessing which they have enjoyed since that existence was conferred. For these reasons then, if we should judge it expedient to make them British Subjects, in every different sense of the word, let us allow them such a number of Representatives, as will be able to advise without presuming to dictate such a number as may elucidate our Arguments, without restraining the freedom of our resolutions; and not a single individual more than may be necessary to point out their interests; for fear such an indulgence should be prejudicial to our own. They can depend with more safety on our justice, than we can rely upon their gratitude; and we only furnish them with a temptation to shake off their duty, if we ever trust an occasion in their hands.

WILLIAM PYM.

A busy week.

A busy week. Having spent much of the last ten days reading Burney’s brick-thick Cecilia, I had a rushed few days to prepare for the Friday seminar. That, however was fine. What was not fine was the fact that said seminar is usually on 9am on Wednesday morning. This meant that I had very little time to prepare for this week’s seminar. To make things even worse, this is the seminar which I’m supposed to be presenting on. Even worse, it’s in some sense graded. We have two seminars during which we’re supposed to present on the topic, both are graded, and the highest grade ‘counts’ towards that part of the overall grade. So I’ve spent the weekend working 12 hour days desperately reading every critical material available on Rousseau’s Emile and Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the rights of women, the latter I read several weeks ago (thank goodness) and the former which is short enough to skim.

13:08 the day before the seminar and I’m pretty much done.

However.

At 3pm today Becky’s parents are coming up for a few days. At 5pm I have a 2 hour seminar on Nashe (at least, I HOPE it’s Nashe and not Bunyan). THANKFULLY I read Nashe’s Unfortunate Traveller a few years ago, in the second year of my degree. I even wrote a rather good essay on it. Furthermore, the seminar tutor’s way of leading the seminar is by treating it as a mini lecture. That’s not a complaint, he’s always got something interesting to say about the text du jour, and it taking place in the evening, everyone’s always a bit lethargic; even more so than the nine am weekly seminar. This week, however, it’ll be a godsend, as I’ve only had just enough time to reread the introduction and skim the wikipedia article for a refresh.

So I might just about manage. Maybe. Another issue however is the fact that I still haven’t finished reading Cecilia, have a driving lesson on Thursday, and a commentary due next month that I need to start thinking about if I don’t want to get overwhelmed. Oh and there’s also the small matter of a novel I’m supposed to be in the final stages of planning. 

Novel 3, which is really a radical re-imagining of novel 1; YA or not?

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself lately. I’ve spent much of the last month plotting and planning a novel which grew out of my first attempt at novel writing.. The thing is, is the fact that the novel revolves around a queer young person’s first year at University enough to qualify it as YA? The novel it sprang from certainly wasn’t YA, and the image which kicked off this imagining certainly wasn’t YA, so while it’s a teenage protagonist winding their way through a specifically teenage life, does that mean it’s tied to a teenage market?