Archiv für April 2011

Time Out

21.04.2011

Everyone in the UK will be away from work this Friday, which is Good Friday. And everyone will be away from work, the following Monday, which is Easter Monday.When I say everyone, I don’t include the employed in certain services, like petrol stations, hotels, etc., etc.

These days are known as bank holidays. they are separate from the usual four or six weeks holidays, known as annual holidays. Next to Christmas, Easter is the most important Christian festival of the year.

Generally speaking, Easter in the UK is very similar to Easter in Germany. The word ‘Easter’ originates from a Saxon goddess. Easter eggs, whether made of chocolate, or the natural ones from chickens, are used, or played with, in much the same way.

There is one difference – hot cross buns. This is a slightly sweet, milky form of bread roll. Similar to a soft roll, sometimes part of a typical German breakfast. On the top of the bun there is a form of cross, made of white flour, or perhaps, marzipan. If there are any cooks reading this, who would like the recipe please contact inlingua Duesseldorf, who will be happy to help you. You may think that a bun with a cross on it, is part of typical Christian history. Not so! Early Saxons celebrated the goddess Eastre, and the four phases of the moon, by baking fruity buns, marked with a cross which showed four quarters. The tradition was then adopted by catholics who saw the cross as symbol of Christ’s crucifixion, and made the white cross from crushed communion bread. Protestant monarchs tried to ban the bun, until Elizabeth I decided to allow them at Easter and Christmas. They later became symbolic of only Easter.

When I was a child, hot cross buns were sold only on Good Friday. The baker would come in his van with a baker’s dozen , (thirteen) and we children would find it all very exciting. These days, the supermarkets sell hot cross buns, weeks before and after Easter. The buns are not hot, as they were in my childhood, and they taste different. So much different, that I wouldn’t buy any from a supermarket.

The UK has fewer bank holidays than most western countries. This year we have just seven. They don’t always follow the Christian calendar, although, in the past they did. Only Easter and Christmas do. The others are spaced out across the year.

Perhaps living permanently in the UK is not for you!

Glossary

generally speaking : not specific

slightly : a little ; not much

flour: the powder form of grain (cereal), used in bread and cake baking

recipe: instructions for cooking

to crush: to break something down into smaller pieces by pressing (crushing)

van : closed vehicle for the transport of goods

English Breakfast Served All Day!

13.04.2011

What a contradiction!

Breakfast is surely the first meal of the day. Even the word breakfast, literally means to break (end) your fast (period of not eating). Yet, you can see this sign outside cafes, pubs and restaurants, throughout the UK, especially in tourist areas. It’s another of those more recent social developments. There is no doubt that it is a very appetizing meal. Even the smell of it being prepared, makes your mouth water.

Traditionally, the British have generally eaten either a cooked breakfast, or a breakfast of cereals. The modern trend is more and more in the direction of cereals. Some people think cereals are healthier, and at the same time, the modern housewife probably goes out to work, and thus hasn’t enough time for cooking, before having to leave the house.

So, what is this English breakfast? What does it consist of? How is it cooked? The contents may vary. Typical is bacon, eggs, sausages and tomatoes. Some people may add mushrooms (champions), black pudding, etc.  These are all fried in fat on a gas, or electric ring. Eggs are fried, unbroken, and typically served on slices of fried bread. Don’t be confused by something similar which you may be served in hotels outside the UK. This is based on the US version of ‘ham and eggs’. The eggs are scrambled and hard, and the ‘bacon’ is far too thin and over-cooked.

There is a difference between ham and bacon. Whereas ham is cut from the top of the pig’s rear leg, bacon is taken from either the top or the side of the pig. The animal is a separate breed, especially for bacon, rather than ham.

Breakfast is not complete unless it is followed by  buttered toast with marmalade, made from citrus fruit.

Ideally, you should experience English breakfast in a traditional English home. So much for the typical English breakfast, and what you may be served, where you see ‘English Breakfast Served All Day.’ A favourite variation may be fish, usually smoked. The most well-known of these is kippers. Kippers are smoked herrings. If we include the ‘rich man’s’ breakfast (the previous aristocrat or land-owner), then we think of additional things like kidneys, etc. all set out on the sideboard in silver dishes, of course, from which these people served themselves.

During my childhood, our breakfast consisted of cereals, except on Sundays, when we were served a boiled egg.The cereal was porridge during the winter, and cornflakes in the summer. I began eating cooked breakfast in my ‘teens’. This continued on into my military service career. Even when I went to live in Germany I continued with a version of cooked breakfast. Unfortunately, bacon was then not available in the shops, so I replaced it with ‘Dörrfleisch’. Otherwise it was much the same as I ate in Britain.

Gradually, I lost the habit, and became content with cereals. Still now, in my retirement, I sometimes have a ‘fry-up’. It’s quick, and uncomplicated to prepare, and believe me, it’s still a wonderful meal, full of flavour, and guaranteed to satisfy any a appetite. Long live the English breakfast, whether eaten in the early morning or late evening. Yummy, Yummy!

Glossary:

sign =  a notice showing information

throughout =  completely through

recent =  near past

no doubt =  fully understood

cereals =  all types of corn, e.g. wheat, barley, oats, etc.

trend =  tendency

thus =  therefore, as a result

to consist of us made up of

pudding =  is not only a sweet substance. There are many sorts of puddings

slice =  a piece which has been cut off a larger amount

scrambled = beaten with a fork, or a kitchen mixer

favourite =  best liked

kidney =  animal organs which filter body liquids

boiled =  cooked in hot water

content =  satisfied

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/stressfreefullenglis_67721

The Sound of Music

04.04.2011

What do we ‘oldies’ do with all our spare time when we are retired? A good question. Many of us do a variety of things. Many do nothing.

What do I do? Well, I’m one of those who do many things. If I say I write weekly blogs for the inlingua Düsseldorf web site, I’m not being very informative. So, what else do I do? Today, I’ll just talk about one aspect of my life in retirement. Music Festivals.

By the way, if you want to visit the original Woodstock, it’s just about 15 km from Oxford. It’s a small, historic town. And it’s there that Winston Churchill was born, in Blenheim Palace. You may visit the large beautiful palace, and walk through its wonderful, large parkland. I promise you, it’s well worth a visit.

After moving to Oxford from Düsseldorf, some six years ago, I was invited to join a Rotary Club. Rotary members spend much of their time and energy, in raising money for charity. For example, together with Bill Gates, Rotary has contributed hundreds of millions of pounds sterling, in almost eradicating polyomylitis, throughout the world. They send enormous amounts of blankets, water and other such necessaries to earthquake areas. They help hospitals, schools, etc. in South Africa. But they don’t forget to help needy people in their own towns.

They don’t donate money from their own bank accounts; they organise functions, that bring in money to their local club account. Rotarians are  volunteers, so they receive no money for themselves.

One of the fund raising events of my Rotary Club, is a music festival.

Firstly, we have to erect a very large marquee. Then  organise the fuel for the several cooking units, the special meat, the bread rolls, the many sauces, the various salads, fresh water, drainage, hygiene necessities, e.g. rubber gloves, aprons, hats, napkins, and a host of other things necessary to keep a constant supply of burgers for the two days of the festival. We also run a separate dough-nut unit.

We Rotarians work in shifts, with about 4 cooking the burgers, and 6 putting them inside bread rolls and serving them to the young customers. Others organise the constant supply of food and fuel, etc.

I am impressed, firstly, that the good amount of money we can pass on to charity. Secondly, by the good behaviour and politeness of the young people who have come to enjoy themselves. In addition, the field is not of mud, and the music is acceptable even to this oldie.

Glossary

Earlier memories:  memories of the past.

Mud:  wet earth.

Alcohol and drug abuse: above normal use, to the point where it causes ill health.

Our youthful days:  when we were much younger than we are now.

By the way: a small, separate sentence, added to the main theme of conversation.

About 15 km: near 15 km, give or take one or two. = approximately.

Well worth:  relatively important.

Poliomyelitis:  a serious illness that causes parts of the body to be put out of use = paralysis.

Impressed:  when we see something as very different from normal. We may have a good impression of someone or something. We may also have a bad impression of someone or something.

Donate:  give to something e.g. to needy people.

Run something:  to put and keep something organised and operational.

Eradicate:  to make something go away.

Blankets:  bed covers, usually made of wool, or similar material.

Needy:  where there is not enough of something. e. g. food, clothes, houses.