Cooking/Cooking
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What do words taste of?

Had a stunning lunch out at the Westbourne Grove Food Incubator.

It was part of a series of educational and multi-sensory dining events and was called Synaesthesia and was run by Kitchen Theory.

It was a 3 course lunch with Amuse Bouche although a seven course dinner is also available.

Now Synaesthesia is an interesting trait that some 4% of the human population have. It involves people associating sounds with flavours or colours or…the definition is:

the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.

 Now we all do this to some extent in that we talk of a ‘warm’ colour or a ‘cool’ colour and also we associate certain colours with particular tastes. So a green drink could be expected to be bitter eg a lime flavour (no sugar!) or a red drink could be expected to be sweet. However, for some people it is rather more extreme-for them certain words could be a taste.

James Wannerton, President of the UK Synaesthesia Association, has visited every tube, DLR and Overground stop on the network and described what the station name tastes like to him.

tube map - What do words taste of?

 

The dining experience we had incorporated sensory audio-visual aids and the collaboration of knowledge from academic experts. We were shown a number of videos explaining what we were doing and what to expect. We were also given a block to play with – each side of the block was a different texture and it seems that touching one side of the block can impact your taste. Personally, I used the block to feel what the food tasted like. For instance the soup course was a velvety felt with several layers of touch available as the tastes were very complex yet soft even though it seems that there was some umami tastes and some chilli oil included too.

Kitchen Theory has worked with Professor Charles Spence and his team at the Cross Modal department of Oxford University, Sean Day, President of American Synesthesia Association, and Richard E. Cytowic, MD MFA, Neurologist and author of ‘Wednesday is Indigo Blue’ to understand this phenomenon and deliver an informative and interactive dining event of sensory discovery.

The founder and Chef Patron, Jozef Youssef, has combined his experience of working at some of London’s top restaurants such as Helene Darroze at the Connaught, The Dorchester Hotel and the Fat Duck together with incorporating modernist cooking methods from his book ‘Molecular Gastronomy at Home.’

So did we enjoy this experience? Answer simply – very much indeed! And would do it again with one of our children – possibly our psychologist daughter who would love the exploration of taste and food and its links to the cognitive senses.

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animals/Books/book review/Fantasy
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Belated Festive Tales

Book Review of Kiss of Christmas Magic: 20 Paranormal Holiday Tales of Werewolves, Shifters, Vampires, Elves, Witches, Dragons, Fey, Ghosts, and More

I actually ‘bought’ this book just after Xmas for the grand sum of 99p which I thought was good value for 20 books – even if some were very short. The book is now no longer available on Amazon as it was intended for a specific time period and snow! Well, we didn’t have that snow here in the UK at Xmas – it came later in January and never was it anything like as deep and cold as it was in the vast majority of these books. However, the lure of xmas and fairy lights and mountains and countries where we get the Xmas card scenery proved irresistible and so I persuaded myself to buy it. Also it has  a range of fantasy ideas in it, some of which were new variations on the theme.

snowy mountain - Belated Festive Tales

I shall list all the titles and authors here but not review all 20 books! That would take far too long. I shall just comment on a few that I liked best. But I shall claim 20 in my GoodReads count as I have been informed that novellas count as a book and when does a novella become a novel? Anyone got a cut-off? Is it words or pages? And how long is a page on an e-Reader anyway?

  1. Caribou’s Gift by Eve Langlais

Part of the Kodiak Point series. The caribou shifter  is persuaded to act as Rudolph in the annual Xmas parade because he has the biggest set of antlers (aka rack). And other reasons too of course including romance.

  1. Hunted Holiday: A Vampire Romance by Mandy M. Roth

This is about Paranormal police work in Chicago. The ‘slayer’ is in love with her Vampire boss.

  1. Lost in Winter by Viola Rivard,

As the name indicates – someone lost in the mountains in really bad weather and how they were rescued.

  1. Kissed by Temptation by Deanna Chase,

The Coven Pointe Universe. A sex witch! Witch is partnered with an incubus but both are good and are charged with protecting an angel-to-be.

A sex witch obtains her magic by copulation – and their pheromones spill over to the people around them!

  1. Bear Witness: Pearson Security #1 by Michele Bardsley

Alpha male protects woman and baby from baddy. Classic tale.

  1. A Heart in Winter by VM Black

Vampire wants a human. Human loves her husband. Human falls ill. Can she resist vampire when he offers a cure – but one that means she has to reject her family?

  1. Alpha’s First Christmas by Aubrey Rose and Molly Prince

Wolf shifters who are the runts of the litter form a pack and although poor need to find a way to band together through a celebration.

  1. Witches Shall Rise by Terah Edun

Sarah Web series. Witches and a small town inhabited by fae and witches as well as humans and other magical species. Town ruled by a witch and a teenager with unusual magical powers.

  1. A Christmas to Bear by Carina Wilder

Polar Bear shifter! In N. America’s snowy mountains. Rescues maiden and falls in love.

  1. Shadows beneath the Falling Snow by Cristina Rayne

Elven king prequel.

  1. Home for the Howlidays

Wolf shifters. Familial disagreements. Lovers’ quarrels etc.

  1. Everlastingly by Michelle M Pillow

Snowy mountains again. Ghosts and time re-cycling.

  1. Hunter’s Moon by Shawntelle Madison

Wolf pack – werewolves and their hunters. And unusual and unexpected emotions.

  1. A Ghostly gift by Angie Fox

Just shows what a mistake can lead to – a whole new life and career.

  1. Love Singer by Mimi Strong

World of the faes and special abilities and just what they can be used for rather unexpectedly.

  1. Lord of Misrule by JS Hope

(Vol 1) Reporters . Venice. Saturnalia and its real original meaning?

  1. Blood Deep: Vegas Vampires Book 1 by Jessa Slade

Fae courts and the Iron’ age that fae so dislike mean that fae cannot move into the human world. Yet a vampire may be able to help them. Reluctantly. Conspiracy theorists and human reporters.

  1. A Cold Winter’s Bite by Dawn Michelle

Hunting in the winter – just what do they hunt? And what do they then do with the prey? And who are they anyway?

  1. Dangerous Distraction by Lola St Vil

Part of  the Guardians series. Fallen angels and hearts encased in crystal. Angels that hunt those who have fallen.

  1. Breaking the Stag by Jessica Ryan

Elk shifters and herds and behaving like an animal.

Well we have some new Shape Shifters in amongst these books. We have an elk herd – who behave just like all elk and seem to have forgotten that they are part human. They have sex in human form but only at rutting season – there’s a new one – and don’t have long term mates. They operate exactly like elk in that the males keep together in a bachelor herd and the females together rear the young. The males fight other elks in the elk way with antlers and use the female herd as a harem mating with several at once and spreading their genes about. However, due probably to a lack of new genetic material, the number of youngster being born has dropped very low indeed. Which may encourage the elk-like behaviour – in the eyes of the males anyway. And as the females can only conceive once a year…

We also have caribou shifters and very new one on me – a polar bear shifter – who has difficulty in finding another shifter in the same form – especially as he is not living in the normal polar bear environment! He is very surly as well he might be, being very lonely and somewhat shunned by shifters in other forms.

We have several bear shifters – who tend to be very hairy when in human form – ughh – long beards and hairy chests etc -vampires and wolves of course and a rabbit shifter who actually teams up with the wolves to help them with a problem. Very timid female shifter as you might imagine, especially when meeting wolves!

 

 

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Crack that fire: Load that ticket!

Firecracker

by Gar Anthony Haywood

A Review for Netgalley

This was a really interesting story with many twists and turns and even though all the references to ‘tight ends’ and other American Football terms passed me by I understood enough to know that people who can throw far are of value just as are people who battle their way out of scrums or run very fast.

It also brought home the ‘rapper’ life style that so many young men aspire to. The pretence of being really tough. The need to wear baseball caps on backwards. The need to wear certain clothes and be tattooed and so on, that seems to signify success to those who have used their body rather than their brains to escape poverty. And how easy it therefore is to scam these people and to bully them and encourage them to spend way above their means when they really don’t understand the value of saving as they have never before had any money to save let alone spend. We hear so often of these football stars ending up broke as their managers failed to invest wisely, sometimes because it was deliberate as a way to line their own pockets, or sometimes because the people in charge of the money are not capable – through lack of education for instance. Many of these suddenly immensely rich young men spend all their money on entertaining their friends from their old home areas as well which doesn’t help matters.

In this story we have the conflict between a young man who carelessly impregnates several women and pays his way out of trouble. But he then encounters a savvy young women who, whilst she unfortunately also falls pregnant, knows better and can manage against the odds to make things work in her favour.

Las Vegas and gambling and bodyguards with heart and faith are part of the story too as well as very nasty young man who is a wannabe ‘gangsta’ but plays the part with gusto.

A good story that kept me interested until the end.

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Obsession and Minimums

Punch 1902 vol 123

Look here, Steward, if this is coffee, I want tea; but if this is tea, then I wish for coffee.

Anon

I’m not obsessed, I’m just highly preoccupied

George Muncaster

if the minimum wasn’t acceptable it wouldn’t be called the minimum

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Jenny Oliver tells us how to make a pie

Questions for Authors:

 

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

I wanted to write a series of books set in one place with characters who we would see again, and catch up with, as the series progressed. I love the river – I grew up living by the Thames and also rowed for a number of years. Through rowing I travelled to lots of places across Europe and the UK and have seen a lot of towns but all of them only from a boat! Writing about a little town on the water really appealed to me and cherries are by far my favourite fruit Cherry Pie Island was born.

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

Im thinking about what to write all the time and often start to think about the next book when Im halfway through the current one Im writing. I carry a notebook with me and have numerous dotted about the flat that are half scribbled in. If I get stuck I look back over them and theres usually an idea that sparks my imagination.

  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

Once Id decided on Cherry Pie Island it was all quite quick. Getting the initial idea however was much slower. It took a lot of time and back and forth and dead ends to get to my answer for question 1!

  1. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

I use my family A LOT! If Im stuck Ill go round to my mum and dads on the pretence of bringing their grandson to see them and then quiz them for ideas about how to get out of a plot hole. Ill talk to my husband whos a kids book author so comes up with some bizarre solution like: just make him have a really big nose! I read a lot of blogs, cookbooks, listen to podcasts, I go to places that are similar to what Im writing about or might spark my imagination, I use quite a lot of my own memories and steal some snippets from my friends lives. Ive also spent a lot of money in our local Caffe Nero.

  1. How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

Ive never had to approach the police, but if I need some detail verifying I will usually work out who I know who might be able to help me or who knows someone who knows someone! Or I use Google.

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

It was only when I wrote The Parisian Christmas Bake Off that I felt I had a commercial, appealing story with a beginning, middle and end and I think that was why it was accepted. What I had written in the past lacked all direction! Hahaha, it was just rambling. It felt right because I wrote most of it in a week on the beach in a cheap, crappy notebook that I had to buy really quickly (rather than pick the one with the nicest, flashest cover etc!) because the story was there in my head – and I knew where the plot was going.

  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

No I didnt.

  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I think that any opportunity to get reader feedback and to build a readership is worth taking, so would definitely encourage self-publishing. I also think the value of a good editor, copyeditor and designer is huge and its worth investigating these independent services before you put your work out there so that you can make sure its at its very best.

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

I suppose it all depends on how much you need to live on 😉 I certainly havent given up my day job.

  1. What is the best piece of advice you were given that you could pass on to aspiring writers?

Treat it as a job. Look at what you like to read and the commercial market, set a deadline and enjoy revisions – they always make the book better!

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