Friday, 28 August 2009

books, books, books

I love a good read and Marina Lewycka is a sure bet. I'm halfway through her new book, We are All Made of Glue, and am really enjoying it. It's not outrageously funny like her previous novels A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian or Two Caravans are (even though they raise some serious issues about immigration and exploitation) but still so readable. She's got a knack of writing about everyday issues along side bigger more complex stuff. It works for me. There's a review here if you'd like to know more about the plot.

Have you noticed there's been a bit of rush of interesting fiction coming out lately? I'm almost beside myself with happiness. Though the stack of books beside the bed threatens to topple over and knock me out while I'm sleeping if I add any more to it.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

sento in art

This ukiyoe print (click to view larger size) is an old one by Kunisada and happens to be one of my favourites. It's a quite a wide print so it's hard to see the full view here but I did notice that someone lovely has put it up on flickr in sections (see 2nd row of prints). I bought a copy of this print while living in Japan because it reminded me so much of my daily journey to the local public bathhouse (sento) to bathe as I didn't have a bathroom in my teeny tiny Kyoto apartment. In the full print you can see some of the antics of the local women as they bathe together. The sento is a lively place, that's for sure. Women (and men but not together) gather nightly to catch up on the day's news with each other, gossip a little, relax and wash! And I LOVED it all. Even on the coldest of winter's nights when the last thing I wanted to do is walk 3 mins down the road for a bath, going there and soaking in those tubs was the best way to treat a tired body and was like a big sleep sedative.

Friday, 7 August 2009

a little bit Irish

I can remember having eaten Irish Soda Bread only once before and strangely enough that was in Japan. It was in an Irish pub though and the chef was Irish too and he put soda bread on the menu. At the time I thought it included some magical, mysterious ingredients but oh how wrong I was. Inspiration for trying came from seeing Jezze's loaf, and then seeing how easy the recipe was, I had a go myself. My goodness! Easy peasy and so tastey too! Especially with lashings of butter and jam. It reminds me a lot of damper (a kind of easy camping bread made with a fire) but soda bread has butter milk (substitute 1/2 yoghurt + 1/2 water) in it so tastes even nicer. Jezze tells me you can make a savoury or sweet version too. Savoury with feta, olives and anchovies. Sweet with dates or sultannas.