It’s a very long time since I studied economics. One of its cornerstones is the law of supply and demand. Simply put, it states that as demand increases the price does likewise. This then encourages new market entrants which increase supply, bringing the price back to where it started. In macroeconomic terms, this works pretty well. In the tiny world of retail that I occupy, this law doesn’t apply. So often, I have my enquiries rebuffed by slovenly sales staff with “No, there’s no demand for them.” or the one that really boils my ageing blood “No, there’s no demand for them any more.”. If I were looking for something like a set of E-180 cassettes or a pair of long johns with a trapdoor, I might not find this so upsetting. But, when I’m looking for lamb ribs in a butcher’s shop, I get pretty irate. “We used to sell them but it’s only the Chinese who eat them now.” was what the spotty youth in fancy dress said to me.
I’m a sucker for fruit. I love the taste that makes me feel so alive and that feeling of fresh fruit juice, dribbling through my unkempt beard. One of my absolute favourites is mango. Living here in Ireland, I don’t get that feeling too often as we tend to get a pretty poor substitute for the real thing. The supermarkets conspire with international fruit companies to supply what is oft referred to as ‘market appropriate produce’ to different countries. They also charge ‘what the market will bear’ when setting prices. Hence, we in Ireland end up with mangos that would be more use in a civil disturbance than they are as a fresh fruit. I believe that we overpay for the privilege too.
I’d like to be a totally trusting sort of guy. I wish, when you promise to be here at 7:30, I could believe you, even if the last time you showed up at 8:15. I wish I could believe the Nigerian prince who emails me offering me 40% of his family fortune. Sadly, life has made me a little wary. I don’t take much on faith. This Goat Rendang is a case in point. I have no faith that it “tastes better the next day”. There is no proof and I doubt there ever will be.
Try saying that with a few drinks on board. “Tongue Numbingly Wonderful Sichuan Pepper Prawns” is a bit of a mouthful, in more ways than one. This is a really easy dish to prepare. There are very few ingredients and it is an absolute delight. I can only encourage you to try it. But, be warned, those Sichuan peppercorns will literally numb your tongue.
“I’m a mild-mannered man.” Or so said one of my Holy Ghost Father teachers before knocking seven levels of hell out of us with a stiff black leather. Primary school education back in 1960’s Ireland was not what it is today. I well remember a dozen of us being punished for cycling in the yard after school. The punishment was “six of the best”, with the leather, on each hand. I was moved for my secondary education to the Christian Brothers in Monkstown. That is another oxymoronic story altogether and probably has no place here, not today anyway. So, with mild manners in mind, here’s a delicious recipe for Mild Lamb and Aubergine Curry. Just like that Holy Ghost father, it too has the appearance of mildness yet packs a bit of a punch.
…but, not quite. No, I thought I had done all I needed to do but, I have a bit to learn just yet. Let me give you a little back story. I had been glued to the computer for a long morning’s work. When I looked up, it was nearly 2:00 PM and I had a growing headache. Hunger had come, been ignored and gone away. I decided that a walk around the Sandyford business district was needed to clear my head.
Did I mention that I won Best Food and Drink Blog in the 2016 Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards? If I didn’t then, my bad. I should keep you better informed as to what’s gong on. If I did, then my bad too. I should be more humble about this stuff and not go celebrating and getting excited about what I do here. Speaking of the stuff I do here, I have been wrestling with doing something with beef and orange for a while now. Whenever I mentioned it to friends or family, I got a pretty frosty reception. So, I decided to use the period while my star is in the ascendency to prepare Beef Fillet with Orange, Chilli, Sichuan Pepper and Ginger.
The poor Irish weather is responsible for this recipe. In the same way as one is guaranteed to have a return of rain here on the Emerald Isle, you will return to this recipe. You will do so again, and again and again. “Wow”, you muse. “Can this recipe be all that good?” It is but, that’s not exactly what I mean.
Most middle aged (be kind to me, late 50s is middle age) men have some unusual stuff in their garden sheds. More than half a lifetime collecting tools and labour saving implements and lots of redundant technology means that we have little space for that what really matters. When I say “we” I don’t mean me. No. I threw out all that gardening and domestic repair nonsense to make space for the Bradley Digital Six Rack Smoker. Just what every every self respecting old fart needs in his life.
There’s little point in having the latest and greatest six rack smoker if you aren’t going to smoke something. So this weekend, I smoked a brace of duck. For ye who think duck grow in a foil container in the supermarket, a brace is two. I got these in the butcher so using the old world description is good. What better way to serve duck than with some bittersweet sauce. Hence, I concocted Smoked Duck with Orange Sauce.
I have a dark secret. I lock myself in a darkened room. I make sure there is nobody around to catch me. Then I do it – I watch TV cooking competitions. Yes, I have even seen a couple of episodes of The Great British Bake Off, where Mary Berry with the help of a comedian (and the girl in the heavy specs), separate the competent from the inept. I’ve sat aghast at some of the efforts on Irish Masterchef. I’ve suffered foul-mouthed tirades of Gordon Ramsey on Hell’s Kitchen from the safety of my couch. Greg Wallace and John Torode regularly put in an appearance, criticising the pathetic efforts of people who obviously can’t cook and should not be asked to try. Why do I do this?