Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Those Tasteless Finns



A couple of weeks ago I told you about my Finnish friend Ziva. She sent me a package of 3 different kinds of candy from her homeland as a gift. Well, Mrs D and I finally worked up the courage to try these little wonders. Hey, we like sweets just like the next person - sweets being the operative word. Alas, what Ziva sent me weren't sweet.

Ziva's house.

Now Ziva, who lives in a tiny little house in a quiet little Turku neighbourhood in Finland, went to a lot of trouble to buy these candies, package them up and ship them to me from Finland. I'm sure she has better things to spend her money on. It was so thoughtful of her the least I could do is eat what she sent me.

I knew we were in for a spot of trouble when I couldn't even open the packages. They were well sealed and I had to forage for a pair of scissors to get at the goodies.

Mrs D and I poured ourselves a glass of water each before we started so as to rinse our palette throughout our little taste test. Well that's what one does, doesn't one?

First up: Salmiakki. Blech. The consistency is like liquorice and I love liquorice but the taste was nowhere near the liquorice I'm used to eating. Turns out salmiakki means "salty liquorice" and salty it was. Wikipedia says the stuff has been referred to as tongue numbing and stinging. Mine still is.

Mrs D and I looked at each other, our eyes wide and then in unison we bolted for the kitchen sink.  After much retching and coughing - and water - we moved on to the package of Tyrkisk Peber, another liquorice candy. Aren't we brave? Except this one, in addition to salt contains pepper, hence the translation of Turkish Pepper. This is a hard candy that you suck on as opposed to chew. The verdict? It sucked all right. Retching, coughing, water. Oh my.

Finally, having lost control of all sensibility, not to mention our sense of taste, we tried the last candy...a little something called Leijona. Wikipedia describes this confection as a Finnish liquorice candy with tar flavouring. Excuse me? Tar flavouring? Bring on the retching, coughing and water!

These Finns have some pretty weird tastes. Or maybe no tastebuds at all after eating these so-called "candies". Hell, it's no wonder the Finns drink so much. It's to get rid of the taste of these damned salt, pepper and tar liquorice candies!

Now how can I show my appreciation to Ziva? What can I send her to return the favour? It has to be something distinctly Canadian. A real Canuck delicacy.

I could send her a pound of poutine.



No, it's best served hot and it'd cool off by the time it got there.

How about a box of maple syrup?



No, that might leak on the way over. Let's see.

Oh, I know.

Something sweet and chocolatey with a wrapper that has a picture of what I imagine Ziva looks like.

Super May West

A May West. A far cry from salt, pepper and tar!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

My Finny Valentine

There I was yesterday patiently waiting by the mailbox for Indigo Roth to send me my "I Survived 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing" challenge T-shirt. It didn't arrive. But what did arrive was a candy care package from that wicked Finnish wench Ziva. That's right. I got a surprise in the mail all the way from the distant shores of Finland.

I guess she wanted to send me a Valentine's present. Who knew Valentine's in Finland was March 12th? Ah, well, better late than never.

You'll recall I poked fun at Ziva and Nicky and their imaginary(?) up close and personal relationship during said challenge here and here.

Well it seems Ziva really got off on those posts...in a manner of speaking...and sent me a little gift to show her appreciation. Three little gifts actually. I have a little box of Leijona. A bag of Salmiakki. And another bag containing Tyrkisk Peber - The Original. Who knew there were imitations?



Of course I'm not the first to receive such a package. You can read about Nicky receiving hers here and of Michael Whitman-Jones receiving his here. The reviews are mixed between them. Once I work up the courage I'll have to try this Finnish candy. Speaking of Finnish candy, I don't know to who else my little Finnish candy Ziva sent this little package. The rest of the damn internet for all I know.

But it is the thought that counts. Even if that thought was an afterthought, Ziva.

Oh and she sent me a lovely card too with a cute little hand written note that alluded to inclusion of photographs of her and Nicky in compromising positions. But in a P.S. she told me she forgot to include them. She's such a tease...as Nicky rightly knows.

And me? I'll just have to use my imagination and make do with the candy.

One thing you can say about Ziva. 
She's always there for her friend Nicky.




Monday, 11 March 2013

The First Vegetable of the Season


We have some pretty odd discussions in my household from time to time. Take, for example, the discussion we had over dinner the other night.

Mrs. D had pulled together another culinary masterpiece beginning with an appetizer of bacon-wrapped scallops, followed by tilapia fish over whipped potatoes and asparagus. It was the asparagus that got us started.

Now Mrs D is quite environmentally conscious and is a big proponent of the "buy local" school of grocery shopping. Otherwise, she says, you screw with the carbon footprint. How so? Well, she says, if you truck in potatoes from Mexico you mess up the environment. To which I reply, "Oh and the local farmers use donkeys to cart their goods to market?"

Anyway, Mrs D said the asparagus was the first vegetable of the season. I said if asparagus was the first vegetable then it should be spelled aasparagus. I got a blank look. "You know," I said "Like in the phone book, if you want to be first you add another "a" to the word."

Mrs D caught on and with a smug look said "Oh, c'mon, how many vegetables start with the letter "a".

Without skipping a beat I said "artichoke". "And" I added "'ar' comes before 'as'".

Well, I won that one, although we're now calling that vegetable "aasparagus".




Friday, 8 March 2013

Picking a Pope

So the Cardinals are conclaving in Rome. Not sure "conclaving" is a word, but it suits my purpose. In other words they're gathering to choose a new Pope. And Canada even has a papal candidate, eh?

The Catholic Church is beset by problems. It really needs an image update. Wouldn't that be a great reality show? I can see it now "Papal Makeover". Although I'm not sure anything can bring the image of the church into modern day. But with such story lines as sexual abuse and a men-only hierarchy it might be an interesting show to watch.

Hey it seemed to work for Dan Brown and Angels and Demons. And it seems to be working for some editorial cartoonists...




Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Bibliofile


No, that title's not a misprint. I'm not a bibliophile. Dictionary.com describes a bibliophile as: a person who loves or collects books, especially as examples of fine or unusual printing, binding, or the like. For someone who downloads the majority of their books to read on their iPad,  I kind of miss out on the print and binding and so on.

No, "bibliofile" is something new for me. I intend to share with you, on a monthly basis, the books I've been reading. So it's my biblio file. Get it?

Last month, February, saw me zip through 7 books. Not a bad feat when at the same time I was writing a daily post to keep up with the writing challenge hosted by Nicky and Mike at We Work For Cheese. Here they are in the order in which I read them:

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan
Raylan Givens 3-Book Collection - Elmore Leonard
The Moving Target - Ross MacDonald
Live By Night - Denis Lehane
True North - A Life in the Music Business - Bernie Finklestein
The Drowning Pool - Ross MacDonald
Grendal - John Gardner

My favourites of the month were the Elmore Leonard, Dennis Lehane and Ross MacDonald novels.  Leonard and MacDonald write about Private Detectives, a genre I find myself revisiting and enjoying immensely. MacDonald's protagonist is Lew Archer and the two books I read of his were the first in this series published in 1949 and 1950 respectively.

The loser of the month was Grendel, a retelling of the epic Beowulf poem form the antagonist, or monster's, point of view. This was strange. Written in 1971, it is described as "dealing with finding meaning in the world, the power of literature and myth and the nature of good an evil" the book made me wonder what the author had been smoking when he wrote it. Either that or he wanted the reader to think he or she had been under the influence.

If you want more information about these books click on my Books page up top there. Clicking on the title under each book picture will take you to a review.

So that's what I was up to in February. I'll try to keep this up on a monthly basis but when golf season swings around (see what I did there?) I'm not making any promises.

How about you? Any of you read any of these books? Just what are you reading? Let me know. I'm always on the look out for recommendations.
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