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February 13, 2006

The primary reason Arabs are misunderstood… (part 1)

is that hardly anyone outside the Arab world knows our food! Sure, everyone's had a kebab and quite a few of you will know what homous or filafil are…

Argh – I have to go on a little aside/rant here. Everyone thinks they've had a kebab and quite a few think they know what homous and filiafil are but they are mostly wrong! What those random Turkish Takeaways sell (ie the meat Mac Donald's wasn't prepared to use, stuffed to the brim with thick chillie sauce) are not proper kebabs! If you want to try real Arabic kebabs pop over to Edgeware Road in London. Go into any of the great restaurants there (al-Dar and Maroush spring to mind!) and you will get to taste real (scruptious) kebabs. Yum-yum. And Homous isn't Greek.

OK now that that's over, let's get onto what real Arabic cuisine is all about:

Zait wa Za'atar

Zait is oil in Arabic. Here it's Zait Zaitoon (Olive Oil). You put this zait in a bowl and fill another bowl with Za'atar. Za'atar is a mix of various herbs in different measures (so you have different types of Za'atar) but the primary ingredient is Thyme (but you'll also have Summac, toasted Sesame etc.). This is a basic of any Arabic breakfast and it's good for you. You dip bread into the olive oil and then dip it into the za'atar which will then stick to the bread. Absolutely delicious!

Halloumi Cheese

Now I'm not going to get into whether this is originally Arabic or Greek (but the Arabs cook it better :P) but this is also typically found in breakfasts or as an accompaniment to various meals. It's either fried in a little bit of oil, grilled or served raw. My personal preference is to heat up a pan, pour about half a teaspoon of olive oil into the pan and let it sit in the centre. To test when the pan is ready, cut a little bit of the cheese and drop it in. If it's sizzling, the pan will be ready. Cut fairly thin slices of cheese and place them on the outer edges of the pan. Using a wooden spatula, quickly push each slice into the centre and pull it back so it stays on the fringe. Wait about 40–50 seconds , checking one of the slices to see how brown/dark it is and, when ready, turn over and do the same with the other side.

Within two minutes you'll have perfectly cooked Halloumi cheese. It'll be crispy on the outside, soft and delicious on the inside. I'll post some pics when I next cook it :D.

Mensaf

The first REAL dish I'm going to mention (i.e. a complete meal as opposed to side dishes). This is my favourite Arabic dish and I can't properly describe to you how wonderful it is. It's composed of:

Stone Yoghurt (condensed and dried goat's milk)
Rice (with one of the yellowing spices)
Snobre (pine kernals)
Lamb (mmmm)
Shiraq (a kind of large, flat Arabic bread)
Semneh Beladi (a bit like Pakistani Ghi)

You powderise the yoghurt rocks and then blend with water. Meanwhile, you put your lamb meat in a large pot (pressure cooker!) and slowly fry it in just a touch of oil. you don't want the meat to burn or to cook too much, you just want to take out the redness of the meat. When it's ready you pour on the Stone Yoghurt (which is now liquid) and start slow-boiling it.

You prepare the rice as usual. To serve the meal you take a large tray and break up the bread to use as a kind of base. You pour a bit of the stone yoghurt over the bread so it absorbs the yoghurt and then you place the rice on top of the bread. You have to fry the snobre quickly in a bit of oil, being careful not to burn them but only to brown them (they cook very quickly) and sprinkle ontop of the rice. You then take some of the meat from the pot and place ontop of the rice and serve the yoghurt + meat in bowls for you/your guests to add as they wish to the rice.

Mmmmm-mmmmm. Delicious.

—————————————————————————————————————————

More dishes to be descirbed + possible photos in part 2!


January 26, 2006

Michael Jackson defiling Bahrain…

Writing about web page http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/entertainment/news/20060125p2a00m0et037000c.html

I remember reading a news article many months ago stating that Michael Jackson had moved to Bahrain. I joked with my friend Ramzi at the time that he went there to behave like a Saudi Prince: i.e. drive around in his limo looking for young boys with whom to perform lewd acts.

For those of you unfamiliar with the behaviour of Saudi princes abroad, let me elaborate. Firstly, I'm not going to paint them all with a broad brush. There are plenty of Saudi Emirs who give plenty to charity, who perform all their Islamic duties exactly as they should and who are generally good people. Then there are some hypocritical Saudi Princes who, while in Saudi, prayed the requisit amount, go on Hajj every year, protest women driving because it is "unislamic" and then go on holiday regularly to London, to Paris, to New York, to Bahrain and spend the most lavish sums of money on high-class whores, on shopping for their wives and, in some cases, cruising the streets of Bahrain with their Saudi plates looking for young men. And I mean young men in the Ancient Greek since: boys who are not yet ready to shave. Their behaviour makes me sick and the fact that poverty exists in Saudi is a crime against the Saudi people, against humanity and against Islam. But this rant can be continued later.

Now "Wacko" appears to be exporting his familiar brand of Weird ShitŪ to Bahrain.

Pop star Michael Jackson took a shopping trip to a Bahrain mall Wednesday, covering himself in a black abaya robe traditionally warn by Bahraini women [sic.] and a veil hiding his face, along with three children — apparently his — with their faces covered with dark scarves.

OK everyone take a moment to digest that.

To those who don't know what an Abaya is, it's a set of robes specifically designed for woman. It is not something a man wears, short of being a transvestite. Arabic men have Djallebiyeh, Jilbaab, Dishdasha etc which can be easily manufactured by someone like Michael Jackson in a black colour (ie to better protect himself from the skin disease he claims he has) and He could wear some kind of Hutta on his head – the Arabic headdress – which could also be used to cover his mouth/face.

Nope. He chooses to dress like a woman. You know what, it's not the wierdest sort of thing Wacko's ever done outside the bedroom (allegedly).

In November, Jackson stirred a small controversy in the United Arab Emirates by entering the ladies room in a shopping mall. His publicist said Jackson, who arrived in Dubai as the guest of a champion rally driver, did not understand the Arabic sign on the door and left the bathroom as soon as he realized his mistake.
But local newspapers reported that the 47-year-old performer was spotted applying make-up in the woman's toilets in a Dubai mall.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I don't know what to think at the moment. It seems that there are three possibilities:

1) He's some kind of a transvestite.

2) He's a paedophile who, having not had much luck in the US, decided to ply his perversion in The Two Seas.

3) He's both.

Conclusion? I think he seriously needs help. And he's got to be stopped from setting up home in Bahrain. I know that he hasn't been convicted of any crime, as of yet, and that he retains his freedom of movement etc. but the Bahraini authorities, instead of inviting him to become a theme-park consultant, should be denying him a visa (alas the modern Bahrain in its drive to be self-sufficient after the oil runs out is turning its focus onto tourism and the almighty dollar). He is clearly in a better position to exploit children in Bahrain, where it will be easier to protect his potentially paedophilic privacy (:P), were that to be his aim.

And why hasn't any agency removed his children from his care? No amount of money can provide the quality of life denied by being forced to walk around with a bag over your head for the entirity of your childhood.


January 21, 2006

Iran learns from History

Writing about web page http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/nuclear_iran_dc;_ylt=AilWUjm3fj.d8BKhBPWGzV2s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

If you leave aside the President's recent remarks and take a look at Iran's actions alone, it is clear that she is, perhaps, taking the most sensible course for the preservation of her own sovereignty and her own security… In other words she's quite clearly drawn lessons from America's previous actions concerning modern warfare.

One of them is that she won't attack a nation with a possible nuclear deterrent. (North Korea)

Another is that she will make sure that the foreign assets are strictly controlled and, possibly, used for America's own purposes. (Iraq).

It'll be interesting to see how Iran continues to prepare in the coming months.


January 20, 2006

Indonesians kill up to 180,000 East Timorese civilians from 1975 onwards.

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4630122.stm

It'll be interesting to see what the UN makes of the report. It's somewhat less than earlier estimates of around 250,000 killed but I would love to see the UN launch an official investigation into events and, on the basis of UN findings, see international tribunals bring some of the primary perpetrators and their direct supporters (including Americans such as Henry Kissinger) to justice.

On Israeli Hasbarah הסברה: Part 1

Part 1: The Palestinians are clearly failing in their obligations.

Israel has one of the best military services in the world today.
It has some of the most restrictive borders in the world today.
It has security everywhere.
It receives billions per annum in "aid".

A suicide bombing just occured in Tel Aviv. 15 people were injured. Israeli politicians eagerly scrambled to capitalise on the situation issuing statements such as:

"This brutal attack proves once again that the Palestinian Authority is failing to fulfil its obligations," Gideon Meir

Source

Tragic though it may be that a bombing has occured, apparently targetting civilians, I fail to see how the PA, whose infrastructure has been systematically destroyed over the past 5 years could possibly have the finances, the resources, the sheer infrastructure to succeed where the Israelis with their wealth and supposed counter-terrorism policies have failed. If the Israelis cannot police their own borders, how can they expect the PA to police anything when the PA aren't allowed to police their own roads and cities? Even under the terms agreed at Oslo, the Palestinians had very, very little actual military/police control over Palestinian ares. Now, a bare frame of a government, the PA is expected to have absolute control over the actions of every Palestinian?

More on Israeli הסברה, including an introduction to the History, varations and current forms of Hasbarah, to come.


January 13, 2006

On Daytime Terrestrial TV…

When I'm working, often on my PC, I have to have something on in the background. I can't give my all when it comes to coursework (exams are different – they give me the "Exam adrenaline" variable), I have to multitask in order to concentrate. So while I'm typing out thoughts for an essay, I'll also be watching the latest episode of Prison Break or Friday Night with Jonothan Woss. Or if I'm going through Denning's vibrant challenge to the house of Lords in his far out Ratio Decidendi, I like to be playing World of Warcraft or Eve Online at the same time.

So what's the problem with that? Well I moved out recently into an internetless flat. BT buggered me up against a wall over the Christmas period. The BT Engineer came in, said he couldn't find a line and this was early December. They couldn't slot me in again until last week and now there's one more day until broadband activation. So I'm sitting her sponging my Sister's old Samsung X10+, Surfing the interweb and watching TV while working.

And here's where it gets worse. We have Sky+ downstairs. But the Sky + is broken. And after wasting £30+ on phoning Sky and getting the same old crap from an underpaid, undertrained (yet no doubt pretty) Scottish teleworker, they'll finally send an engineer over to have a look at the box. So I'm stuck with 1,2,3,4 and 5. Fine. As long as you avoid the daytime TV.

My experience of daytime TV has generally been one which taught me never to pretend I was ill to avoid school. Because, despite the AOL chatrooms and the 1337 56k modem (and my PII MMX!! WH00+!), I would invariably end up, in front of the television, crying my eyes out over supermarket sweep and Richard and Judy. Funnily enough I've found Richard and Judy has become more watchable now that they just interview various topical celebrities…. but you've got to remember, back when I was a kid, they focused on stuff for various Housefraus, such as how to clean stains with Valencia Lemons and what multiple uses there were for a neck massager. Aside from that, there was just a pile of pure, unmitigated crap, interrupted by the odd news reports. (And it was worse – Sunday daytime TV with Songs of Praise and that weird nun who reviewed art!)

Little has changed. Richard and Judy have disappeared and been replaced with Philip "Any Dream Will Do" Schofield and his much, much bigger Gopher. Meep I flipped onto the channel the other day and what were they talking about? The importance of wearing correct bras for women when walking, running/excercising. They had an expert brought in with simulation equipment attached to the nipples of two random (and token) hotties (I shit you not). They were set loose on a treadmill and the measurements taken from the nipples were juxtaposed with those taken from the head. Conclusion? Women should wear bras that correctly support their breasts, or by the time they'r thirty, they'll resemble South Park's Mrs. Choksondik. And the always sexually-ambiguous Schoefield is probably heterosexual. Probably

And today. Well the TV was on Channel 4 and I couldn't find the remote… Sod's Law . And, succumbing to what my friend calls the ""Couch-potatolisation"":http://mediaguin.blogspot.com/ of society, I couldn't be arsed to get up. I let it roar.

And to be honest I had mixed feelings. There was a veritable relay race of low budget semi-documentary, amateurish productions, starting off with what looked like a High School Drama lesson in comedy, replete with shitty acting, a la Harry Potter . I remember back in the Harrodian, my old foil, Rory, and I had some concept of what Comic Timing was... These kids clearly didn't. I almost got up to change the channel... but hey, What am I?

So that finally finished, thank god and then there proceeded something more interesting, if too amateurish to be more than dull. It followed a couple of amateur directors who had invested £20,000 in a play and how they play was carried out. Interesting from my perspective because I used to take part in such amateur productions, the last notable occasion being when I played a bald, wheelchair-bound, pink-bespectacled Tiresias, replete with leather jacket, in KCS's Oedipus Tyrannos. So the sympathy was there. Shame the musical play looked crap.

I was eventually compelled to rise and manually changed the channel when something which I think was called "Hurdeep does Pets" came on. A Sikh Scottish person telling really, really bad jokes about pets. Imagine the unfunniest display you have ever seen – and I'm talking Martin Lawrence unfunny – and then triple the pain. I have something against Scots anyway… and that's despite me being half-Scottish. There's nothing more unfunny than a Scots trying to be funny. Here's the math:

Scotch Accent + Shitty Jokes = (Birth-Giving Pain x 10^7)/ Jim Carrey's Cable Guy

In other words, I avoided it like the plague… ya Sasannach baastar's.

I breathed a sigh of relief until I saw what was on the telly: Antiques Hunt Ripoff No. 5 with throwaway lispy bowtie-wearing "Expert" X where contests compete for an hour to win all of five pounds by selling antique pepsi cans they find in car-boot sales in Swansea and Reading. Nothing more explefies my idea of Shite. Except a cricket/snooker/other shitty "sport" replacing my favourite reruns of Star Trek: DS9 or Buffy the Vampire Slayer on BBC2.

But the trouble is it beats the other crap that's bound to be on: Shitty Gameshow X on BBC2, Crappy House Decoration Programme Y on ITV, another antiques program on Channel 4… and hardcore porn (the ones which try to have a story) on Channel 5. Bleh.

GIVE ME MY BROADBAND INTERNET BT YOU BASTARDS!


The Crisis of British Culture

I'm bored. I'm not sleepy. And I don't fancy starting up on my new copy of Benny Morris's classic. So inbetween manically refreshing www.fark.com , reading Warwick blogs and playing a bit of Eve Online, I've got the TV on in the background. I look up from the laptop and hey, it's Big Brother !LIVE!

And what are they housemates doing?

They're sleeping.

And?

Sleeping some more.

Literally 15 minutes-worth of snoring housemates before the presenter quietly says "And that's all from the housemates for tonight folks"...

WTF? Does anyone actually watch these people sleep as though something miraculous is going to happen.

Now there's a program called "Big Brother's Little Brother" which starts of with some hippy with black catterpillers glued to his eyebrows and the most annoying voice I've heard since Dawn Penn sang "No No No", insinuating that George Galloway was receiving a handjob from an actress, sounding much like a man who's had his throat slit and who I've never heard of.


January 11, 2006

What does the International Community expect Iran to do?

Iran is really in a catch-22 situation:

1) It (potentially) builds nuclear weapons. The UN levies sanctions, US eventually invades with an "international coalition".

2) It ceases everything. The US eventually invades.

What would you do if you were Iran given that:

1) The US lumped Iran along with Iraq and NK in the Axis of Evil speech. Iraq was invaded and didn't have nuclear weapons. America will clearly never invade NK despite having a strong presence on her doorstep because she has nuclear weapons.

2) Despite Syria hopping on one leg, rolling on the floor, begging at the US's command, the US is still extremely hostile towards the country. And will probably invade or use Israel as proxy.


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