Jump­ing on the pan­dan-wagon, look down the bar­rel of a trig­ger warn­ing and ask­ing – do an­droids dream of elec­tric Trumps?

Sunday Herald - - COMMENT -

Food of the god­dess

IKNOW all about ran­dans – even been on a few – and I gen­er­ally recog­nise a fan­dan when I see one. But if you asked me to tell you what a pan­dan is I’d have to head for the con­jec­ture tree and grab des­per­ately at all and any low-hang­ing guesses. I’d run through the ob­vi­ous ones first – “Is it some­thing I need to make Ama­zon Prime work on my telly?” – un­til even­tu­ally I’d get around to my last shake of the dice: “Is it a bright green leaf used in South Asian cook­ing to im­part colour and aroma to cur­ries, rice dishes and cakes?” Klaxon time! Clever me, eh?

Ap­par­ently th­ese same leaves can also be turned into some­thing called pan­dan essence. This item is cur­rently big in Amer­i­can cook­ing, which means it has come to the at­ten­tion of Nigella Law­son, which means it’ll be com­ing soon to a cook­ery show near you. Fun­nily enough, Law­son has one start­ing on BBC Two later this year. How’s that for syn­chronic­ity?

Law­son, of course, is given the credit in some quar­ters for pop­u­lar­is­ing “smashed avo”, a con­coc­tion com­pris­ing av­o­cado and toasted sour­dough bread which is now served in ev­ery hip­ster cafe from Peter­head to Por­tishead. Dis­cussing pan­dan last week at the launch of her new book, Law­son said: “I think it’s go­ing to be the new matcha.” Those who weren’t ex­actly clear what the old matcha was, or who did know but had for­got­ten be­cause their brains were so foggy from hav­ing been on the ran­dan with a cou­ple of fan­dans the night be­fore, will have hur­riedly Googled it and found it to be a kind of green tea. (Those same hip­ster cafes that charge £5 for smashed avo on toast will prob­a­bly also stretch to this del­i­cacy.)

Al­ready ahead of the pan­dan curve are those up­mar­ket res­tau­rants now sell­ing such del­i­ca­cies as pan­dan ice cream and pan­dan pan­cakes. The rest of us will doubt­less soon fol­low in their wake as we try to catch up with this new food trend. And who knows, it might even reach north of the Bor­der in which case here’s what we need to know: can you deep fry it?

Grey mat­ters

HAV­ING just re­turned from a mini-break near Pit­lochry, where the most fun the kids had was scream­ing “soooooo cute!” ev­ery time we swerved to avoid a red squir­rel, I now have per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of the red/grey di­chotomy and find my­self very much in the Sci­u­rus vul­garis camp. As well as be­ing smaller and very def­i­nitely red­der than their grey coun­ter­parts, they are un­de­ni­ably cuter.

Now, it’s true that cute­ness isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to pick­ing sides. But where squir­rels are con­cerned it is, which is why every­one loves red squir­rels and every­one hates grey ones.

That said, you can take things too far and Grey Squir­rel Hunters UK (GSHUK) may just have stepped over the line. They’ve been draw­ing at­ten­tion to them­selves thanks to some rather grue­some posts on their Face­book page show­ing im­ages of dead (and some­times even skinned) grey squir­rels. Then there’s the taste ques­tion: is it proper to post im­ages of dead squir­rels on so­cial me­dia sites? Or do the ends (lots more red squir­rels to al­most get squashed un­der my car wheels) jus­tify the means? And is there, as GSHUK sug­gests, a whiff of hypocrisy about all this any­way? Some of the same pa­pers tak­ing aim at their ac­tiv­i­ties have also run cheer­fully up­beat sto­ries about (for ex­am­ple) the Prince of Wales culling greys on the Duchy of Corn­wall es­tates; a for­mer chef at a Miche­lin-starred restau­rant cook­ing them (“South­ern-fried squir­rel is good,” he told the Metro, “and tan­doori style works”); and a “sharp-shoot­ing granny” dubbed The Squir­re­la­tor by the Daily Mail.

Un­like any mem­ber of the Sci­u­rus car­o­li­nen­sis species which stray into her crosshairs, this one will run and run.

Trig­ger happy

PER­HAPS that last item should have had a “trig­ger warn­ing”. If you don’t know what that is, you’re ob­vi­ously not a “snowflake” ... or a reader of Time mag­a­zine. In an ar­ti­cle head­lined “The cam­pus cul­ture wars”, Time pro­vides handy def­i­ni­tions of both phrases. A trig­ger warn­ing, it says, is “a warn­ing that the con­tent of a text, video etc, may up­set or of­fend some peo­ple, es­pe­cially those who have ex­pe­ri­enced a re­lated trauma”, while snowflake is “a deroga­tory term for an overly sen­si­tive per­son or eas­ily of­fended per­son, or one who be­lieves they are en­ti­tled to spe­cial treat­ment on ac­count of their sup­pos­edly unique char­ac­ter­is­tics”.

So, for ex­am­ple, snowflake-in­clined Scots could start ex­pect­ing trig­ger warn­ings when­ever the BBC shows Paul Gas­coigne’s Euro ‘96 goal, or a pic­ture of Mar­garet Thatcher, or any clip of Ja­cob Rees-Mogg where his lips are mov­ing and there are words com­ing out.

That’s not likely to hap­pen, of course. But trig­ger warn­ings are now a fact of life in Bri­tish uni­ver­si­ties. While it isn’t of­fi­cial univer­sity pol­icy, Cam­bridge stu­dents turn­ing up for lec­tures and sem­i­nars with the ti­tles Vi­o­lence and In­hab­it­ing The Body have been is­sued with them. Th­ese are marked on their timeta­bles in a form even they can un­der­stand: as a sort of emoji com­pris­ing an ex­cla­ma­tion mark in­side a red tri­an­gle. Among the texts deemed wor­thy of trig­ger warn­ings are Shakey’s The Com­edy Of Er­rors and Ti­tus An­dron­i­cus (ad­mit­tedly a bit Taranti­noesque given its graphic scenes of rape and mur­der), two plays by the late Sarah Kane, and Euripi­des’s The Bac­chae.

Po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness gone mad? Maybe. Other hot-but­ton cam­pus terms high­lighted by Time in­clude “check your priv­i­lege” (do your at­ti­tudes merely re­flect your priv­i­leged po­si­tion?), “pre­ferred pro­noun” (are you a he a she or a they?) and “safe space” (a place for snowflakes to gather that isn’t a win­dow ledge, a car wind­screen or a front lawn).

Ro­bot wars

AF­TER last week’s rev­e­la­tion that on­line “bots” may have been re­spon­si­ble for the avalanche of birth­day greet­ings aimed at Rus­sian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, con­spir­acy the­o­rists have gone a step fur­ther and sug­gested that Me­la­nia Trump may ac­tu­ally be a ‘bot her­self.

The whole First Lady-as-an­droid thing kicked off when the she ap­peared along­side her hus­band Don­ald Trump wear­ing sun­glasses and a fixed ex­pres­sion that screamed “ro­bot”. Well, it didn’t re­ally. But enough peo­ple took to so­cial me­dia to say it did that MSM (that’s “main­stream me­dia” in Trump-speak) soon took no­tice and be­gan run­ning with the story. At the very least, they ven­tured, was it pos­si­ble that Mrs Trump has a body dou­ble? It didn’t help that Trump re­ferred to the First Lady as “my wife Me­la­nia, she’s right here”, which was suf­fi­ciently over­stat­ing the ob­vi­ous to throw more fuel on the fire.

Sadly, it’s prob­a­bly too good to be true, as prom­i­nent con­ser­va­tive blog­ger Erick Erick­son points out on his web­site The Resur­gent. “Oc­cam’s Razor holds that the sim­plest ex­pla­na­tion is usu­ally the right one,” he writes. “The sim­plest ex­pla­na­tion in this case is that Me­la­nia is Me­la­nia and that Pres­i­dent Trump is a poor pub­lic speaker when he doesn’t have pre­pared re­marks.”

Fair enough. But the moon land­ings were def­i­nitely faked.

Nigella Law­son: a pan­dan fan who was pre­vi­ously fa­mous for the ‘smashed avo’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.