Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mundus with Morta

24th of August is one of the Roman days of Death, the hole to Underworld was opened this day so that the spirits could visit this world.

Morta was the third of the Roman Fates, the one, who cut the silver cord of life. Don't be afraid of Her, She knows what She is doing, even though you don't. No-one dies before their time. Everyone dies exactly when they are supposed to die. It might seem to us it was too soon, that there was so much to do, so much to achieve, so much to experience, so much life... but there really isn't.
I wish you would learn to know Morta as the kind and gentle sister of Pacithea, Rest. Death is The Big Sleep, the Eternal Rest, where nothing bothers you, nothing harms you, nothing hurts you and nothing pains you.

Have a Silent Party to all your loved ones. Serve their favorite dishes, and set the table for the invisible guests who are passing by your life. All the ancestors who care about you, all your friends and relatives who have gone by, all those who were your soulmates when they were alive... You could also serve a dinner to someone you wish would come and visit you... Who is that? Whom would you like to meet from all the people who are dead today, whom would you serve a dinner? Marie Antoinette? Elvis? C.S.Lewis? Sokrates? Julius Caesar? Mata Hari? Marilyn Monroe?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Come dine with me

I enjoy watching Come Dine With Me. I don't know why... perhaps it's the "I'd do that better" factor.
I sort of like Dave Lamb's sarcasms, except when he's just mean.

The episodes I like most are the ones where the competitors get well on with each other, enjoy their time, really like the food - and the food is good, well-made and beautiful - and give points generously and there are only a couple of points between first and last.

I like least the episodes with... uh.

The purpose of a dinner party is that people enjoy eating together. It's not for you to teach new habits, preferences, opinions, information or anything to your guests. It's not for you to show off. It's not for you to lecture, it's not for anyone to mock the others or the food, or criticise, or shame or... Your job is to do your best to make everyone feel good about themselves, you and the food.
I know Come Dine With Me is a competition, but keep your criticism to the point giving.
In what way will telling the host, for example, that the plates are cold change anything? Is he supposed to take the plates back to kitchen and warm them up? No. You are just showing off and making an ass of yourself. The food won't get warm because you point out it's cold. You will also give an unfair edge to the other competitors as you tell them to watch out with the plates - something they might have missed as well, as most people don't warm up the plates for an informal dinner at their homes. So what you have done is caused unnecessary sorrow for everyone.

One thing that really irks me with people and food is the terrible intolerance people have. I'm not picky, I know what I like and what I don't like. I don't like seafood. It smells and tastes bad, and the consistence is weird. I have eaten seafood, and I will eat it if I ever has to, but I don't like it.
I don't like onions (onions, leek, chives, garlic etc.) In small amounts, correctly made, in right company, these can be really nice, but 90% of time people use too much, wrong and in everything, so it's better to avoid getting disappointed and having to eat stuff that smells and tastes like rusty nails in sweatty woollen socks.
I don't like mushroom, because they taste dirt.
I don't like asparagus, brussel sprouts, saffron, koriander, coffee and several other things, just like I don't like purple, daisies, ladybugs or Hugh Grant. It's a question of preferences, not that I'd be spoiled, immature and whiny.
It really is not your job to "convert" me. Serving me seafood is just as faux pas as serving meat to a vegetarian.
The worst thing you could do as a host of a dinner party is trying to trick your guests to eat things they have expressed they don't like. I would eat shrimp with aioli and say I like it, because I have manners, not because I liked it.
(P.S. You don't know why people don't like certain foods, and it really is none of your business. Show a little tolerance and respect, and set your guests' comfort before your own.)

Now, there are foods many people don't like. Try to choose food most people will be able to eat.

Food people have generally difficulties with:

offal (liver, tribe) and odd cuts, like pig feet
odd animals, like giraffe
food that looks at you. No whole fish or sheep's head.
raw fish and meat
asparagus, okra, brussel sprouts, peppers, spinach, coriander/cilantro, artichokes, eggplant, beets
garlic and other onions mushroom
spiced food
strong cheeses, blue cheese, havarti, limburger
peas and beans
seafood, especially oysters and squid, sea urchin, roe...
(anchovies, sardines, kippers...)
ants, grasshoppers, larvae... insects
fermented food, like kimchi/sauerkraut
grits, polenta, semolina, rice pudding, tapioca

There is plenty of delicious food most people have no problems eating, so there is no need to serve any of this.

If your guest asks for something, see that she gets it, if possible. Don't roll your eyes, if your guest wants to "spoil" her dinner with ketchup or horseradish, it's her dinner, and really none of your business.

See that there is salt and pepper on the table, so that your guests can help themselves. Some people like more salty or spicy food than others. It's not an insult, so if you take it as such, you're an idiot.

There should also be plenty of clean, fresh water.

Also see that there are toothpicks on the table, and if you serve anything that is to be eaten with fingers, have bowls of water so that people can wash their hands.

Also, if you are the host, see that your toilet is in pristine condition and there's plenty of toilet paper, soap and towels. The rest of the house doesn't need to be extra super hotel standard clean, but the toilet and the kitchen should be.
See also that there is sanitary napkins visibly (but discreetly) available in case of an accident; and that there is headache pills and something to treat heartburn and upset stomach.

Don't tell people what is the proper way of cooking, serving or eating. It doesn't matter whether you're the host or a dinner guest. It's not your job to educate people of the proper way of doing anything. It's a dinner party, not a finishing school.

Don't say food looks horrible. Keep it for yourself. Most probably the others can see it too, so no need of pointing out the obvious, and if they don't see it, good for them.

Don't criticize the food in any way. If you cannot say anything good, don't say anything. If you're a guest of a competition dinner, you have the points to express your critique, if not, it's rude to criticise a gift. You don't need to eat anything.

Don't make noises or faces, don't "ew" or "yuk", don't roll your eyes, don't grin. 

Don't ever, ever, ever say the food looks, smells or tastes like poo or puke or anything else inedible. Don't even talk about poo, puke or anything else inedible.
Do not talk about disgusting things you have eaten or plan to eat, or have heard someone ate, no discussing placentas, insects, rotten food or baby animals.
Also, no medical details, no mentioning of surgeries, injuries, childbirth or illnesses.
Don't talk about anything that might make anyone feel sick.
No talk about frogs, snakes or snails, even though some people find all these things delicacies.
Just don't. If anyone starts talking about these things, put a stop to it immediately.

If you find the discussion boring, start a non-boring one yourself.

Things to discuss
- what is the best thing you have eaten, what is the best food experience, what was your favorite childhood food, what has been the best dinner experience so far, any restaurants you have visited that left a good memory (or bad)
- Is food a purely taste experience for you, or is it a health or ethical issue?
- What five things you have always in your fridge?
- If you had the opportunity to meet one person you haven’t met who would it be, why and what would you talk about?
- any recommendations about books, movies, tv series
- what is your favorite and least favorite color and why - interesting info; what favorite colors tell about the person
- If you could change one thing about the human body, what would it be?
- If you had a super power / magical ability, what would it be?

If one or more of your fellow guests irritate you, let them. It's a question of just a couple of hours. You can keep your mouth shut for a couple of hours. You can snicker at your smart comments and responses, but don't say them out loud. Lashing out on them will not make them less obnoxious, in the contrary. You have taken the bait, it works. It will only spoil the dinner from others as well, and yours is already ruined, so take one for the other guests.

Dress up nicely. Be clean. Surprisingly people need to be told this.  

If there's a dress code, follow it. It doesn't matter if you think it's stupid or ridiculous or unflattering or something else, it's the host's party and he/she decides.

Bring a gift.
Flowers are good.
Wine is okay, even though some people don't drink it.
Chocolate is okay, even though some people don't eat it.
Other food gifts are okay as hostess gift for a dinner party, for example spiced oil or vinegar, an exciting preserve or cookies.

It is also a nice idea to give party favors. It doesn't need to be expensive or advanced. It's just a gesture.

Have some entertainment or party games.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Countdown to Beltane, Day 1

Today is April Fools' Day. It's 30 days to Beltane, the feast of feasts and song and dance and merrymaking and lovemaking...

I am going to post a similar countdown to Beltane as I posted to Ostara, and the same goes as for Ostara countdown; if you leave comments, I'll link to your blog, or if you leave links to an interesting page, I'll link to that.

I appreciate comments, it would be enough to just say ":-)" or "thanks for posting this", if you find it hard to express your thoughts. Just give me a little word to remind me I'm not alone. :-)

I was reminded of the difficulty of reading heavy posts, so I will be sharing the information into three:
in this blog will be all the recipes and meny suggestions,
in Homes4Her will be information relevant to household, living and general holiday information and
in Need More Fiber will be all crafts, daily ornament and such.

Goddess of today is the Trickster Goddess; Loki's mother Laufey, Eris-Discordia, Apate-Fraus, Furrina and Laverna

The trickster God is one of the most misunderstood deities in the world. She is not evil. She is there to remind us of that nothing is fair, we are still animals and everything changes all the time. The world seeks from order to chaos and back again, like a pendulum. She is there to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. "I'm full of it and know nothing. Dude." Compared to it all, just such a tiny bit of it all as the starry night sky, we are pretty small and insignificant... and yet - the center of the universe ;-)

Eris is considered to be an evil Goddess, interested in creating arguments, quarrels and fights. But... if you think about it... she didn't MAKE people to fight. That is what they CHOSE to do to "solve" the problem they were presented.
"To the most beautiful" stood on the apple she threw among the wedding guests. Naturally the Goddesses were the most beautiful, and they all were equally beautiful, but would they agree on that and let the apple lie?
Would they let it lie because they KNEW it was one of Eris' apples?
Did they agree to give it to the bride of the wedding, Thetis, who was not that much uglier than the Goddesses... and we all know the bride is the most beautiful woman in her own wedding, what ever she looks.
No. They chose to fight over it.
Eris is the Greek Goddess of Strife, Contention, Discord and Rivalry and a Goddess of War.
She is generally understood to be the same Goddess as Enyo (Warsome), who is associated with Bellona and Anatolian Ma (Hebat/Hipta/Kubaba/Kupala/Cybele).

Apate-Fraus, the Goddess of deceit, guile, fraud and lies... interestingly her male counterparts are listed as "cunning wizard God of trickery and disguise" :-Z

Apate and Eris are daughters of Night and Darkness.
(Other children of Night are Sun, Moon and Stars, Dawn, Dusk and Day, Air and Sky,
Doom, Violent Death, Nightmares, Blame, Misery, Faith, Revenge and Avengers and Insolent Pride,
Old Age and Hard Work,
Peaceful Death, Sleep and Dreams,
Moderation, Prudence, Love and Affection.
Pretty basic...)

Laverna is Goddess of Thieves and Furrina... not much is known of this Etruscan Goddess, as the Romans accepted and honored the deities of the conquered people, but didn't know much of them, but one can assume she too was Goddess of Thieves and other nightly activity, and the Goddess of Underworld. I think she might have been the Etruscan Night Mother (Nyx).

Patricia Telesco gives Laufey as the Goddess of April 1st and says
"Spring's upbeat theme continues into April, offsetting the rains with laughter.  It it's been a while since you really chuckled, consider renting a good comedy movie.  As you watch it, light a candle and ask Laufey to join you!"

Here's some information of the positive influence of laughter.
I love Marx brothers' movies and Aristocats. I still laugh when I watch it :-D Part of it is that I'm laughing at myself for laughing :-) It gets me all the time :-)

What's for dinner?
The Fool's Dinner, of course! Serve the desserts first and savoury course last, looking like each other. You could serve "chicken nuggets with peas and carrots and mash" and have a wonderful cake as "dessert". Here some other "switched" recipes and here some ideas for you to try.

You can also eat fish for the April Fish, or eat what ever you want, to honor The Fool and Trickster Goddesses.