Monday, May 16, 2011

Rape, Health, Il Volo, Caribbean Food,

You have all, no doubt, heard of the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn the Chairman of the International Monetary Fund. He was Sofitelarrested on his plane from NY to Paris, France and charged with attempted rape of a housekeeper at his hotel in NY. My friend, who lives in Paris, described him as a despicable character and said if he had become President of France, as was mentioned, she would have moved from France. What interested me personally, he was staying at the Sofitel Hotel in New York, presumably in a suite, which costs $3,000 a night a) who is paying for that and b) what do you get for that amount of money? Having Googled the hotel, it appears to be a world wide chain and looking at the pictures, there certainly doesn’t seem to be $2,935 difference in value from the hotels we use when travelling!!! Maybe he figured the maid was part of the price.

So this is interesting, Matt had another TIA on Saturday evening, right in the middle of dinner. The upshot was he was seen by a doctor who told us that in fact there is nothing the hospital can do for him any more because they have him on all the medicines possible. They cannot give him clot busters because he is on a major blood thinner anyway – warfarin – so if they did treat him with a clot buster it could cause major bleeding in the brain. Even if he actually ends up with a stroke, the same applies. The doctor said he should go in if he has major headaches with the TIA symptoms as that would indicate bleeding in the brain anyway. If he actually does get a stroke, the only thing they could help with would be rehab. Actually, we were rather pleased than otherwise because it always seemed such a waste of time spending hours in the hospital when the result was always the same, plus the TIAs had mostly been resolved before the ambulance arrived. The paramedic – who was a Welshman – told us that they do give clot busters with warfarin in the UK but not here. We actually discussed what was worse, risking death or being something of a vegetable for the rest of your life. I guess one would have to ask people like Kirk Douglas and Dick Clark.

Because I had been drinking wine with dinner I asked a friend to drive me to the glass of winehospital. The next morning, early, his wife phoned to say he was in hospital as well with a heart attack. What is it with these men? At least he didn’t drive himself to the hospital as another friend did. He was lucky to survive.

I might say, I prepared Steak Diane on Saturday for dinner, it was delicious, I was very pleased with the results, I basically used the recipe I posted on Friday although I didn’t use any of the herbs as I don’t remember those from when I used to make or eat the dish years ago. The Paramedics said the food smelled delicious when they arrived and the nurse wanted them to come back and get the rest of Matt’s dinner.

Over the weekend a friend sent me an email with a link to Il Volo, three teenage tenors (two at 16, one at 17) with fantIl Voloastic voices. They have taken their native Italy by storm, their CD went platinum with little or no promotion, and are now heading for the rest of Europe, the US and Canada. I thought they were fabulous as did Matt, he was in tears he was so moved, so I ordered the CD from Amazon. If you would like to hear these amazing young men, here is the link

When we have nothing particular to do or to watch on TV at 8 p.m., we watch The Cosby Show – these latest episodes (no idea when they were filmed) are pretty awful not like the originals which were very funny. There was one the other night where for an anniversary they wanted real Caribbean food and kept on about Callaloo which was obviously a soup. I decided to Google and found a recipe. Traditionally it should include Callaloo leaves which can vary according to the part of the Caribbean you are in, but an alternative is spinach. Conch frittersAnother food mentioned was conch fritters. When I was in the Bahamas, I loved those as well as conch salad which I didn’t get up the nerve to try until the last day – silly me. In fact I had tried conch stew in the Carolinas and hated it. I believe the conchs in the islands are not the sameConch as those found off the east coast of the States. I have never found out if this is true, but the conch in the islands appears to be a different proposition, being white, tender and delicious. I cannot imagine the conch in the Carolinas, which, to me, looks like a nasty black slug, being turned into a salad. (By the way, on this side of the pond its pronounced conk). So then I decided to do some Googling and it appears that there are different varieties of conch and guess what, the people of the Caribbean use conch in Callaloo and yet the recipes I have found only include crab meat as a seafood source although it changes from salt beef to salt pork. There also seems to be a variation in the spelling of Callaloo too.

Here is one Callaloo recipe:


1 bunch fresh spinach, choppedcallalloo (or callaloo leaves)
2 ounces salt pork, chopped
8 ounces coconut milk
5 cups water
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces chopped okra
8 ounces crab meat

Place first 6 ingredients in a large stew pot and simmer until the salt pork is tender. Then add the okra and crab meat. Simmer for 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper.

Now here is a Conch recipe which isn’t a heck of a lot different to a Clam Chowder recipe although no rum:

Conch Chowder

1 pound conch, trimmed, tenderized
3 tablespoons strained lime juice
5 tablespoons tomato paste
4 strips bacon, chopped
3 tablespoons oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded, finely chopped
1 chile pepper, seeded, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, seeded, chopped
1/4 cup rum
1 pound potatoes, peeled, diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Salt, pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cut the conch into 1/2 inch pieces and place in a bowl. Add the lime juice and tomato sauce and mix well; set aside to marinate.

Meanwhile, in a large stew pot, cook the bacon until browned. Pour off the fat. Add the olive oil, onion, celery, garlic, green pepper, and chile pepper. cook over medium-low heat until very lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add the rum, potatoes, conch mixture, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 1 hour. Potatoes should be tender.

Discard bay leaf. Stir in the Tabasco sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, sprinkle with fresh cilantro.

Have a great day.


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