Bumper charity weekend ahead

The guys and I have a hectic weekend ahead of us as we take on our most ambitious charity project in the 12 or so years we’ve been doing this.

We’ve invited some of the poorest families from an economically depressed residential area South West of Johannesburg to join us for a lunch the guys will be cooking, and we’ll also be distributing food hampers to each family. We’ve secured the assistance of a local school which has kindly allowed us use of the premises, and a few classrooms and the ablution facilities.

The classrooms are for the use of a general practitioner, a dentist and an optometrist who have magnanimously donated their time and services to conduct basic medical screening and checks on all the invited folks who are in such need. The SA Blood Services (SANBS) will also be at hand to perhaps carry out some tests, present a talk, and hopefully collect some much-needed blood from willing donors.

Tomorrow, we’ll finish up some last-minute shopping and spend the day putting together the food hampers which will consist of basic dry provisions, vegetables and fruits. The guys will then spend the rest of the afternoon preparing the meat, vegetables etcetera for the traditional Indian chicken briyani, we will be cooking in two huge pots over an open fire at the school.

The cooking will start very early Sunday morning. Tables and chairs will be set up for the few hundred people who are expected, and some classrooms will be prepared for the health professionals to do their thing.

I’m expecting to be exhausted by Sunday afternoon, but gratified at pulling off this mammoth [for a handful of guys] task.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

I first encountered Anthony Bourdain on one of the Food Network channels on television, while he was doing his Cooks Tour series. Riveting stuff!

So when I learnt that he’d written a few books too, I had to get my hands on at least one of them, and Kitchen Confidential – Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly turned out to be a delectable choice. I can happily report that I savoured every morsel of this tasty expose of the culinary (under)world.

Bourdain certainly pulls no punches; describing in often gory detail both the tasty and unsavoury aspects of the restaurant and culinary world which would leave you cringing in some parts, and laughing out loud in others. He goes much further in revealing some of his own nasty habits and weaknesses through 30-odd years, such as drug abuse, but he does make some revolting revelations about a few of his colleagues in the industry as well. But they all somehow manage to come off looking like decorated military veterans.

There is much food for thought (pardon the pun) in his many anecdotes, not to mention some very sound advice about things that both diners and potential chefs should avoid. While some of the revelations will leave you almost gagging, others should be of great assistance when making choices to dine out.

For the most part though it is fantastic light reading, often hilarious and produces some of the following excellent quotations:

1. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.

2. Like I said before, your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.

3. As an art form, cooktalk is, like haiku or kabuku, defined by established rules, with a rigid, traditional framework in which one may operate. All comments must, out of historical necessity, concern involuntary rectal penetration, penis size, physical flaws or annoying mannerisms or defects.

There are many more memorable mentions in the book that will make it hard to put down. I’m looking forward to my next Anthony Bourdainesque look at the fascinating world of all things culinary.

Rant Alert: But it’s juicy!!!

Orange Juice
Image by _dorothy_ via Flickr

I do love mixing the odd cocktail and invariably the recipe calls for fresh fruit juice.

But I’ll be damned if fresh fruit juice can be found in a hurry anywhere in South Africa. Unless you buy fruit and extract the juices yourself, the gunk passing for fruit juice on all major retailers’ shelves, including the over-hyped major supermarket chains, is absolute rubbish.

What the fuck is 100% blended fruit juice or pure blended fruit juice? Since when is blended, 100% or even pure?

Why can I not get pure 100% orange juice or cranberry juice that is NOT MIXED with a blend of apples or other berries? None of my cocktail recipes call for a mixture of apple and orange and whatever the fuck else the manufacturers decide to throw in to create their concoctions. Why can’t I get just plain orange juice or plain apple juice or plain cranberry juice?

If I wanted orange juice with apples and other fruits, I’d mix the fucking thing myself. I mean who the hell would prefer a blend, rather than the pure unadulterated thing? Am I the only person who thinks that these blends are a scam by the manufacturers who use terms like “pure” and “100%” to mislead customers? Are customers even aware that they’re being scammed?

Perhaps I’ve got it all totally wrong and the manufacturers have conducted market research that indicates that people like the mixed up shit. Am I?

And while we’re still discussing the issue, why, oh why are all the bottles of 100% blended juice always so fucking sticky? I remember a dairy company that delivered pure 100% orange juice [only] to my door when I was a kid, and the bottles were never sticky. Is it that the manufacturers these days not only care so little about quality, they couldn’t bother to package the crap they’re selling in a presentable manner too?

Oh, the disdain…