Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Flower Carpets, Da Vinci Code and Cars

A friend sent these pictures of a floral carpet in Brussels which I thought I would share with you in case you haven't seen them. If you would like to see the rest of the pictures click here for "The First Post" which has them. It reminds me of when I was a very young woman, even a teenager and my parents went on a vacation in Spain. They came back with black and white pictures of a town they had visited, Sitges, where they do this every June to celebrate Corpus Christi; they have a parade which tramples all the flowers. I remember this impressed me very much at the time. Seems such a pity the flower carpets get ruined, but I guess they wouldn't last long anyway. I have always loved the Rose Bowl parade for the flowers and natural products that they have to use for the floats. I try and watch it most years although I couldn't be less interested in the football. Sorry for any keen football fans (I am talking American football of course). Last night I caught another programme debunking the book The Da Vinci Code. Basically investigating the story as it agrees - or otherwise - with any known facts. There have been several programmes like this. Anyone who believes the novel is factual, is, to my mind, incredibly gullible and if you are one of them, my apologies, but really!! It was a fairly good story although I have read lots better, adding together a lot of myths and legends and presenting them as a cohesive story. That's it folks, nothing more. Why do people have to keep debunking it when anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence knows it isn't true. In fact, as they pointed out, it would be like people in several hundred years time pointing to Lord of the Rings as fact. I didn't go to Canadian Diabetes yesterday, they hadn't enough work for me. I am not sure they have enough work for me on a weekly basis anyway, however, I do what they have got. As I didn't go, Matt took the car into the garage once again. Twice it had refused to start, turned out to be problems with a solenoid in the starter motor. $350 later we got it back. Grrrr. However, I was a bit nervous about our polling duties next week, supposing it hadn't started that morning - perish the thought. Its that time of year when Pumpkins abound in this part of the world - lots of them will be used to make haunted shapes into lanterns for Hallowe'en. Personally I like to make them into Pumpkin Soup. If you are entertaining and want to be fancy, you can make the soup and then serve it in a pumpkin shell, it makes a wonderful insulator. I first saw this done in the Yacht Club in Malta. The soup is delicious and in my personal opinion, much nicer than pumpkin pie although I don't suppose I can convince any North Americans of that. This recipe is not the one I have used many times, but it sounds a very good one and I think I will try it very soon. Pumpkin Soup Source Living Cookbook 5 lb Pumpkin Grated cheese (gruyère) croutons toasted pinenuts salt and pepper 1- 1/2 pints milk or Single cream, brought to the boil 2 oz long grain rice 2 finely chopped shallots 2 cloves crushed garlic thyme, rosemary and parsley Extra grated cheese 1 Preheat the oven to medium hot. 2 Get a medium sized round orange pumpkin, rinse the skin and dry, then cut the top off (and reserve). Using a metal spoon scoop out and discard the "guts" (stringy bits and seeds). 3 Drop some grated cheese (gruyère is nice), some croutons, toasted pinenuts (or of course salted roasted pumpkin seeds) and salt and pepper into the pumpkin cavity, and pour in some single cream or rich milk. Stir a bit, then put on "lid" back on. 4 Carefully put the whole pumpkin into a large oven proof pan or dish. This is just to make it easier to get the thing in and out of the oven, and to hold the soup in case of accidental splitting of the pumpkin's skin during cooking. Shove into the oven and cook at 350 for 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 hrs. (turning the pumpkin around occasionally) for about an hour. 5 If the skin is intact you can serve the soup straight from the pumpkin shell; otherwise transfer to a suitable serving bowl. Carefully scrape the cooked pumpkin from the sides of the shell and mix with the creamy soup, and ladle into individual bowls. Offer more cheese for sprinkling on the surface, and serve with good crusty bread and butter. Servings: 6 Have a great day.


  1. I love pumpkin soup, especially when it's made with what we call in Oz "Butternut Pumpkin". Americans tend to call it "Autumn Squash", I think.

    The floral carpets remind me of the sand pictures Tibetan monks make. They blow grains of sand in many colours onto a hard surface to create a mandala. It can take several monks several days to make one. Then when it's finished - they are always very intricate beautiful - they sweep it all up and throw the sand into running water. It's meant as a teaching on the reality of impermanence and the value of non-clinging. I expect whoever thought up the floral carpet idea intended something of the same kind.

  2. Sorry, I'm being thick - where do the rice, shallots, garlic and herbs come into the soup recipe? :S

  3. No you're not being dense Ru, I obviously hadn't read it through properly. I imagine you put it all in the pumpkin before you put it in the oven. I just double checked the recipe and it doesn't say, but I guess you can assume that fairly safely. Thanks for pointing it out.