Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Books, Christmas, Siam

Having highly recommended one of the books Glenda Larke (Tropic Temper see link this page) talked about, I started and am well into, another one she told us about. It is called Shadowgate by Gregory Frost. I wasn't too sure about it at first, but am thoroughly enjoying it now. It is a very unusual concept set in a world of spiralling bridges full of odd gods and various spirit creatures. I already have the second book, Lord Tophet and will look forward to reading that next. It is full of different stories but they are all linked together. Many of the stories being told by a shadow puppeteer. Glenda is so right, a book is a wonderful gift and I wish I had someone to buy books for, unfortunately Matt is not a reader although he will read really interesting non-fiction if he finds any he likes. However, he never even searches the library any more to see if they have anything he would like. He is perfectly content with the goggle box. Yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that we might get a green Christmas until it was pointed out to me that in Australia they often get a brown Christmas. I have never been able to imagine a searingly hot Christmas where you can swim at the beach or play volleyball. Where cooking and eating a turkey would probably be a nightmare on a scorchingly hot day. My Australian friends tell me a lot of people don't bother with traditional Christmas fare any more and eat more summer foods on that day. Sensible. Bit like the English (and others no doubt) when they went exploring a couple of centuries or so ago and ended up in hot countries like India or Hong Kong and still wore their serges and corsets whilst the locals wore cool saris and cheongsams made out of silks and other cool materials. If you ever read Tai Pan by James Clavell, that is part of the background and highlights how silly the people were in those days, or maybe hidebound is a better way of expressing it. Another good example was Anna Leonowens who was made famous by Anna and the King of Siam or later by The King and I. If you read her actual memoirs she was very scathing of the Siamese royalty and certainly wouldn't have dreamt of laying aside her Victorian corsets for the clothes worn by the people of Siam. I was Googling Anna Leonowens and just read the Wikipedia article about her, absolutely fascinating click here to read the article. I had never heard that she ended up in Canada having travelled and lived in many countries and is buried in Quebec. I read the early book by Margaret Landon, but hadn't read very much more about her. I knew the movies were somewhat like fairy tales and I always loved Yul Brynner as the king but apparently the Siamese or Thai people as they are known today, have banned the movies as they say the King was nothing like that and has been portrayed as a polka dancing clown. In a later film, they say he was more like a cowboy. Do read the article, its interesting. I was going to give you a recipe for Pad Thai having been talking about Siam or Thailand. However, I have just found a page which purports to give you the authentic recipe together with instructions for making it. Rather than trying to copy and paste all the information, I will just link you to the The Thai Table where you can see for yourselves. Have a great day.

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