Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Theatre, RIP Celeste Holm, Spicy or Bland.

TurandotFor some reason on Saturday I started thinking about the theatre. What I was mainly thinking about was the time when I went to see the production of Turandot by Puccini on film presented by Live at the Met. During the intervals, we were taken back stage and watched interviews with the various opera stars who were in the show. I enjoyed the production very much, but…. when I was involved with theatre, many years ago, part of our job as actors was to maintain the mystery and magic of the theatre. This is destroyed by going back stage during a performance or by talking to the performers who revert from fabulous characters,  be it heroes or villains, to ordinary people. Nor, when I see some of these performances, do I want to see close ups of the singer’s mouth, or the actor’s sweat, or even in less expensive performances, the odd problems with the props or wardrobe. All of that should stay their side of the footlights and should never intrude on the audience. In my opinion, the way many shows are Lawrencestaged on TV and film, destroys the magic and mystery which we used to be at such pains to create. When I see a show of any kind, I want to suspend disbelief and to see the characters being portrayed as those characters only. I used to enjoy leaving a performance in which I had completely forgotten the actor and just remembered the character. Sadly, it doesn’t happen much any more. As an illustration, I hold up the example of Peter O’Toole who was Lawrence of Arabia, or was definitely Henry II in Beckett. The same can be said of any part he has played. Many times I haven’t even realised it was him, he is so good; a brilliant actor. It is NOT the job of an actor to portray him/herself but to make you believe wholeheartedly in the character, and only the character. He has now retired as he has lost the heart for acting, but I understand he has  written two volumes of an autobiography Loitering with Intent: The Child and Loitering with Intent: The Apprentice which I hear are great reads. I have requested the first one from the library.

Who wants to be a millionaireTalking of the stage and actors, RIP Celeste Holm, she left us on Sunday after having a great career. I especially remember her singing Who Wants to be a Millionaire with Sinatra in High Society. She was a very successful actress and had a long run although apparently the last year or two of her life were not so happy, she had fallen out with her children. So sad. Last night I happened to see a movie with Jessica Tandy called Camilla. Marvellous actress, so sorry she left us some time ago now.

OK, I admit it, I am a bit slow. I was talking to another English woman about the accusation that English food is bland, then I saw a recipe for gazpacho which jalapenosadded a jalapeño pepper – gazpacho does NOT need jalapeño. Then it suddenly hit me, no wonder Brits are accused of bland food, we don’t add chilies, jalapeños, etc. etc. to practically everything we eat which is beginning to be what happens on this side of the pond. Personally I get sick of all the spiced up recipes I see. If you want to eat Thai or Mexican, do so, but don’t just spice up things for the sake of it. These days, if it doesn’t burn your mouth off, food is considered bland. Never thought of it before, sorry for my dinner guests, they must find my food boring!!! Gazpacho is a delicious soup of blended summer vegetables the subtle tastes of which would be totally lost once you started adding hot and fiery peppers to it. If English food is bland, North American food is becoming over spiced. A language difference here, in England food with lots of chilies is/was called ‘hot’, over here its called ‘spiDevilled Kidneyscy’. The Brits do eat spicy things, witness the amount of Indian takeaways that have sprung up all over the country. Curry is almost a national dish and a good Vindaloo can knock your socks off. Not sure why, Indian food hasn’t caught on round here for some reason. There is one Indian restaurant I know of which my doctor, who’s background is Indian, says is not much good, other than their breads. Having written all this, we decided to have Devilled Kidneys for supper last night, they are hot or spicy enough. When I think about it, Devilling is a very old English method of preparing foods and usually involves hot mustards. We always have our Devilled Kidneys over rice although as you can see it is shown over toast here. It is made with lamb’s kidneys.

Saturday night I decided to try out a new recipe for Brussels Sprouts. I have mentioned before that I get tired of plain ol’ veg so am always on the lookout for something different. This is a recipe from Kraft and I have altered it a bit as the original had healthy options such as low fat or low salt. I thought it was delicious but a little too crunchy, needed either a bit more cooking or a bit more root cut off the sprout, not sure which. I also added just a sprinkle of salt. You can see in the picture that some of it hasn’t been cooked at all but it still comes out attractively. The serving size is for 6 half cups, not nearly enough. Matt and I split it between us.

Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

2 slices baconPan-Fried-Brussel-Sprouts-59016
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
20 Brussels sprouts (1 lb./450 g), trimmed, halved and thinly sliced

1. COOK bacon in large skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet; drain on paper towels. Discard drippings from skillet.

2. ADD onions to skillet; cook on medium-high heat 3 min. or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add next 3 ingredients; stir.

3. STIR in Brussels sprouts; cook 6 min. or until crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Crumble bacon; sprinkle over Brussels sprouts.

Kraft kitchens tips

For added flavour, stir in 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar before topping with the crumbled bacon

Servings: 6 (1/2 cup each)

Have a great day



  1. Haha ... as 'the other English woman' I'm glad you've redressed the balance a bit. After our conversation I got to thinking about things we Brits take for granted like Colmans English mustard .. how can you describe that as bland when compared to the 'girlie' stuff you call mustard across the pond .... and horseradish for our roast beef??

    Granted there is now a generation of young Brits who believe the height of fine dining is a McDonalds or KFC with sugar loaded cola drinks ... but we 'older' folk generally cook tasty, wholesome foods and don't rely on cans/jars/pre-prepared sauces/mixes which feature heavily in lots of American recipes I read. Fresh vegetables and fruit are important to us - and shouldn't be overcooked - stir fries are popular.

    I agree we probably don't routinely use chillies in all our dishes LOL but I frequently cook curries from scratch (Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan). Not Vindaloos (too much heat without flavour IMHO) but still fiery and tasty.

    1. Don't lump me in with the girlie mustard, can't stand the stuff. I can buy Colman's here but where we lived in the US I couldn't find it and had to get friends to bring it with them. As for horseradish,the first time I had some here, a woman was complaining how hot it was so I went sparingly, then took more and more and more. As far as I was concerned it was the mildest thing out. The best place for a really good horseradish is the farmer's market where it is home made. Did you see where I asked if you would do a guest post?

    2. Had to let you know, Jo, I noticed when I was in the condiment isle at Lowe's Food's in Cape Carteret they now have colman's mustard. I, naturally, thought of ya'll, on the Christmas morning Ham and Colman's along with the Champagne cocktails. And, I certainly agree that the North American foods are getting pretty spicy. I have learned to like things a bit hot, and noticed not too long ago that hot peppers are on the list of fat burning foods.

    3. Hey, forgot to sign my name.....Lot's of Love, Dottie

    4. Well I guess if anyone had Colman's it would be Lowes. Nice to know they have it. Must remember to tell Eric and Arletta.