The cultural significance of condiments

If culture is the series of gestures a society’s members engage in, then cooking is a peculiarly intense form of culture.  How they slice and dice can tell you a lot about people.  Example: an acquaintance’s dad was in the Russian army, and his technique for chopping vegetables is as effective as it is alarming.

Ekuan Kenji returned to the blasted ruin of Hiroshima to find a dead sister and terminally ill father.  He was determined to remind the world of Japan’s gentleness.  He designed the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle: a perfect work of art available to anyone with a few dollars to spare.  Here it is next to a bottle that combines mustard and tomato ketchup into a single viscous gel, for people who want to be spared the ordeal of having to squeeze two plastic condiment bottles onto their hot dog.

Sauce final

Transparent objects casting shadows

Through the wonders of refraction, this lightbulb makes the sunlight passing through it brighter but also manages to cast a shadow at the same time.  A simple gift from nature to enjoy on a sunny afternoon.

Mixed up the left over paint on my palette rather than cleaning it, and the mixture of colour theory and my laziness created a suprisingly lively grey.  Just the colour for a 15 minute sketch of marbles casting yet more shadows (and yet more refraction in action).  Done on a cheap canvas from a $2 shop that was like painting on carpet.


The popularity of Popular Penguins considered

Are Popular Penguins popular because they are half the price of other paperbacks?  Or is it because they look like a cream-filled orange pastry?  I once painted a room Penguin orange, so you don’t have to.  Trust me: it works on a book, but orange walls make you feel like you are living in a bottle of Fanta.

During World War II, British soldiers had a large patch pocket on their trousers that precisely fitted a Penguin paperback.  They called it ‘the Penguin pocket’.  I would like one added to all my trousers.   I find a paperback will fit in most suit jacket pockets, but does make the wearer bulge interestingly.

Some old Penguins stacked up behind a paperweight.  Does anyone actually use a paperweight to weigh down paper?  Did anyone ever?

Paperweight and books

Pomegranate molasses

The best before date on this bottle of pomegranate molasses is April 2015.  It was bought for a long-ago, long-forgotten Middle Eastern recipe and never used.  Has a strong, complex flavour, but maybe it has simply fermented in the bottle.  I may use it to feed the starving ants in our backyard.

The bottle looked like you could rub it and a genie would pop out.  To my disappointment none did.

Pomegranate final

Cat bells and a cat’s eye

The cat is too old to chase birds anymore.  Last time we replaced her collar she gave a sidelong glance, imploring us not to hang a bell around her neck.  No dignity in a tinkle tinkle announcing your every step.  We gave her a reprieve: no more bells this lifetime.

Her intended new bell, and her old ones, are now on my worktable, along with an old cat’s eye marble.  Do not see so many cat’s eye marbles anymore.

Cat BellsCats eye