Thursday, September 9, 2010

Whoa! Slow Down!

So, I've been back four days, all up. House has been cleaned top to bottom. Shed's been cleaned out, and a bunch of old carpet rolled out in the loft. Very nice. I've written several thousand words. Edited a bunch of video from Malaysia for the kids (got a lot more to do.) Slushed a double handful of stories. Broke down the old wood-heater, smashed up the brick structure that held it, disassembled the entire thing, found someone who wanted it. Cleaned up the concrete base ready for tiling. And a bunch of other stuff.

This isn't all me by any means. I had hardly anything to do with the shed, for example, because I was busy with the old wood-heater. We'll be replacing it with a compact model, more modern, which hopefully won't smoke out the house the way the old one did.

Then today, Natalie needed some time to do stuff, so I took the kids into Launceston to see Despicable Me. Oh, and also to get some tiles to cover the concrete base for the new heater. And to get a spacer for Younger Son's asthma puffer. And to get a silkscreen and a squeegee, yeah.

There were no green tiles of any use, so I wound up with a colour called "eggplant", chosen because a) I was told that slate was simply not an option, and b) matching the couch was okay.

I knew this would be a disaster, though, so I made sure the tile guys were aware I knew about their 30-day exchange policy. And of course, when I came home... well, the "eggplant" tiles just weren't close enough in colour to the couch, oh no. And why didn't I get slate, anyway? Slate would have been just fine.

Well, never mind. Knowing the disaster was ahead of me, I'd already organised to be back at the tile centre on Monday. So now I'll go there with my "eggplant" tiles, trade 'em in, and come back with a bunch of slate coloured tiles. Which is really what I wanted in the first place.

The movie wasn't too bad. 3D, of course, so we all had goofy glasses and the eye-watering results thereof. Oh, and of course Launceston's one-and-only cineplex managed the event with their usual aplomb... a line four or five deep curling up, round, down and over the lobby, and only one poor fucker there to handle the tickets for both the (evidently) highly desirable Despicable Me and the three or four other films also showing. So their answer was to leave the cinema doors closed until five minutes before the stated session time. You wanna make some money? Invest a pile in a new cinema somewhere in Launceston. Staff it properly, and you'll have a customer-base you just won't believe -- and incredibly grateful customers they will be, too.

The movie was okay. Fun. I giggled here and there. If you've got kids and you want a harmless outing, it works.

Meanwhile, here I am at home again. And I'm looking at one of the most mysterious objects I've ever seen:

All right. I admit that for some, this may seem a little prosaic. But consider the issue more deeply.

1) Who bothers to put potatoes in a tin? They last pretty well with even the most basic storage, they're a staple at every supermarket in the nation, and since their own flavour is quite mild, storing them in a metal shell full of water, salt, and Food Acids 300 and 330 just makes 'em taste like shite.

2) Also, their texture becomes quite horrid.

3) And this is Tasmania. We have potatoes in every goddam garden patch. A lot of 'em.

4) And this is my house. I almost never use tinned ingredients. Except tinned chickpeas, for making dips. They're good.

5) They're 'home-brand'. I avoid 'home-brand' like leprosy, because I don't like the ethics and the economics behind them.

You see? A mystery!

The answer lies in my wife, who has a weakness for tinned champignon mushrooms. And who had to do all her own shopping not long ago, for a whole week. Apparently, the tinned potatoes are stored on the shelves in the same general sector of the supermarket as the tinned champignons. And it's true: the vaguely yellowish, bulbous objects depicted on the label could, I suppose, be mistaken for a bad photo of a bunch of tinned champignons. If you were in a hurry. And you'd left your glasses at home. And you weren't all that keen on actually reading labels.

So... there you have it. Mystery solved. Except that there's one more thing, one little element that really freaks me out. Struck by curiosity, I read the label on this thing, and there's a wee little statement that just puzzles the hell out of me: "Product Of Belgium".

Why the hell are we importing nasty little tinned potatoes from Belgium, of all places? Aren't we capable of producing our own nasty little proto-fetus spuds?

Beware, Belgium! I will get to the bottom of this.

edited to add:

Oh great. I can hear a commotion outside. Apparently Younger Son has been bitten by a spider. I hope the poor thing is okay. Does the RSPCA defend spiders?


  1. Jennys favourite line: "IT'S SO FLUFFY I COULD DIE!"

  2. I was going to say: the Belgians do. But you got there first. They're actually pretty awesome sliced on pizzas with a bit of rosemary and proscuitto.

  3. I too share Natalies guilty secret of tinned champignons, but only with steak for some reason. Won't touch them normally.

  4. Doc... I'm pretty sure there's something in the Geneva convention forbidding potatoes on pizza. Rosemary is cutting close to the bone: basil is your Pizza Buddy for my money. And Belgian potatoes on Italian pizza? Isn't that something to do with the way WWII got started?

    Medway: yep. The movie was a giggle, and that line was good.

  5. Tinned champignons for stir-fries, fresh mushrooms otherwise.

    Tinned / powdered potatoes Never! Ick! Yuck!

    Had it before, never again.

  6. You wanna improve those stir-fry mushrooms? Get the dried kind. Soak 'em in a mild soy-sauce/water mix until they're soft. Slice 'em and fry 'em. Much nicer than tinned champignons, and they last longer in your cupboards, and they're cheaper.

  7. Now Tinned Turnips that would be a horror.

  8. Sounds like a plan, I'll try it!

    BTW: How are younger son and/or the offending spider?

  9. Not my IP - belongs to Schonell Pizza Caffe - and to their credit they do it better than me.

  10. Blechh...I've had canned taters ONE time and good god man are you right about the texture. Putrid. Not to mention, they smell like dirty socks.