Saturday, August 28, 2010

Coney Island

The coney island is the  precursor to today's McDonald's and Burger King; a restaurant where you can eat a limited range of food - primarily hamburgers and hot dogs, but also apple pie - at a very reasonable price and without having to wait long for it to be served. It's also the source of the endless coffee cup. 

Despite its connections to the aforementioned globe-spanning chains, the food served at the average coney island is surprisingly good, since it's prepared more home-style than industrial.

Unfortunately, the first coney island I ate in clearly had a problem with its ventilation system, and I came out reeking of chip fat.

BBQ Chimneys

The barbecue chimney is probably the best thing since the invention of the grill.

You no longer need to liberally douse your charcoal in lighter fluid or use long-forgotten boy-scout skills to create a delicate pile of kindling, twigs, bark and pine-cones to get your BBQ coals to heat. And gone are the days when you waited the best part of an hour to get the charcoal to the right temperature.

With one of these babies, you just pour charcoal in the top, place a scrunched-up piece of paper or two in the compartment underneath, light the paper, and you'll have perfectly red-hot coal in 10-15 minutes.

The trick is of course the holes, which suck air up from below and through the sides, while all the heat is funnelled upwards - rather than wastefully radiating away - to warm the coals above.

So throw away your dangerous, environmentally-unfriendly lighter fluid and your stinky, smoky MatchLight coal, and use a BBQ chimney instead. Your spare ribs, steaks, etc. will taste far better than gas-grilled food too!


In other words: just as likely

They sell everything bagels? That's my favourite!

Which bit of the sandwich do they carve? The crust?

They eat unmarried people?! Those patriophages!

Luckily I fail on one of these counts.
I don't want to be made into cheese.

Got that?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Best Friends

Call me an old-worlder (you'd probably be right), but I always thought best friends were like world champions, life or your first date - i.e. that there was only one.

Well that 's certainly not the case over here.

Yesterday I overheard a young man introducing someone to his mates: "That's my best friend X. That's my best friend Y. And that's my best friend Z."

Now I understand how people can have 1000 friends or more on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Culinary Acclimatisation

One of the annoying things about intercontinental air travel is that you inevitably cross one or more timezones, leading to temporary disorientation at best, and protracted jet-lag at worst. Mindful of the need to adjust to your new surroundings, flight crews deliberately dim cabin lights to simulate darkness, and time on-board meals to nudge your natural circadian rhythm into realigning with that at your destination.

On my recent flight back to the US from Europe, I was treated to a slightly different variation on the acclimatisation theme. After take-off from Paris, we were served a full meal on a tray, complete with wine, cheese and bread rolls. About an hour before landing in the States, we were then given our second meal: pizza and ice-cream delivered in cardboard boxes.

I almost expected the steward to ask me, "Would you like fries with that, Sir?"