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