An international and bloggy post

containing my first game of American Football; Thanksgiving; a Strasbourg philharmonic orchestral concert; my 20th birthday at a tapas bar; a trip to the German Christmas markets; and learning how to make Sushi in a Japanese restaurant.

But first… films. The Artist was really good, highly recommend it. Silent film but decent picture quality and a great soundtrack nonetheless!

Thanksgiving was great. Loved the all-American pecan and sweet-potato pie! And the Nerf gun…

I’ve decided that I don’t think music’s really my thing. I may have missed the entire presence of a non-string section in the first piece by Mozart. And been one of the people that clapped in the gaps between overtures (I don’t like clapping at the best of times though, and was tend to base when I do so on the presence of others beside me. Who in this case were clapping at what I later learned were inopportune moments. Someone should have told me this before we went). Though just having two hours to sit and think in a relaxing setting was quite nice. I don’t understand what you’re meant to do at orchestras, though. I liked Fantasia because of the pretty pictures, and at first thought I might try and see if any images came to mind from the music, but they didn’t. So I then thought mainly about the difference between /u/ and /y/ sounds. Anyone, what are you meant to do when you listen to music?

To celebrate my first birthday in France, I thought I’d go for tapas. (I had a tarte flambée on my actual birthday, so all was not lost 😉 ) And then, with Strasbourg proclaiming its status as the capital of Christmas from the 26th of November, we decided to leave for Germany on that day to sample the delights of Freiburg and Baden-Baden Christmas markets.

And to complete a very international week, I had a three-hour Japanese cooking class this afternoon.

We learned how to make Seaweed Salad:Inflate 3 tsp of dried seaweed in water. Finely cut 1/4 of a cucumber. Mix 1 tbsp of rice vinegar, 1 tbsp white sugar, 1/2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp tuna powder, and 1 tsp sesame seeds. After 10 minutes or so, squeeze the water out of the now-softened seaweed and add to the vinegarette with the cucumber. Mix and refrigerate before serving.

And Maki (Rolls) – we used pickled radish; and salmon and avocado for the basic maki, then foie gras and mango for a California roll, then Serrano ham, parmesan, and sundried tomato for a spring roll. Key advice being prepare everything in advance so you’ve got it to hand.

For the rice: 450g round/dessert rice, rinsed; and 500ml cold water. If a gas stove, cover the pot, let boil for 2/3 minutes, lower the fire and leave for 20 minutes, turn it off and leave 15-20 minutes. If an electric hotplate that retains heat, leave it boiling at 12 (max) for 4 minutes, turn off and leave 4 minutes, turn up to 8 for 2 minutes, turn down to 4 for 15 minutes, then remove from heat.

Mix a vinegarette of 4 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt together, then mix with rice while the rice is tepid or hot. (To mix, use a wet spatula)

Cover a bamboo rod-mat in clingfilm (saran wrap) to keep it germ-free, then lay a seaweed wrap on it, matt side up. Have a bowl of water ready for your hands. Press rice into the seaweed with wet hands, leaving 2cm clear at the top of the wrap. Put the filling 1/3 of the way up the rice. Roll up the matt with your thumbs underneath and fingers pressing down hard on the filling. Press really well.

For a California Roll (rice on the outside), press rice all over the surface and sprinkle sesame seeds over it. Press well, flip over, then put the filling on the top. Roll in the same way but press in a cuboid to finish.

For a Spring Roll, dip rice paper in water and place on chopping board – don’t touch after laying it down. Press rice on a wet chopping board as if on seaweed then transfer it to the rice paper using a knife or spatula. Carefully roll up, pressing well to remove the air.

Cut into even 8ths with a sharp wet knife, using the tip and cutting gently.


Postscript: the tale of the mouse:

I came home from viewing The Artist a couple of Sundays ago; I was feeling incredibly tired and unwell. And then a small thing was moving very rapidly just as I was planning to go to sleep. This was very stressful. Prévu que everything in Strasbourg is closed on a Sunday, and in the evenings, and even more so on a Sunday evening, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I posted on Facebook and received the consolatory advice that “mice are excellent climbers”. I went to the Halls reception and was told again “put everything food up high, mice can climb really well”. Given I was delirious from exhaustion, and my favourite hobbies are baking and knitting (I know, you’d never guess), I was more than mildly perturbed, and cobbled together a trap:

This didn’t work, but then nor did the two Rodenticides that a Rentokill man came and laid down, as I’ve seen the thing (das Ding) twice since. It doesn’t bother me much, it’s just that it scutters so. Horrible and fast.

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