Saturday, June 26, 2010

On England


Living through a World Cup in Argentina involves craziness that one is just not prepared for coming from a soccer lukewarm country. Everything stopped when Argentine played. No school, no work. Stopped. If you followed the Cup this year, you might have noticed how fun it is to watch Maradona on the sidelines-- the jumping, the shouting, the emotional transparency (I didn´t know who Maradona was when I moved here-- if you don´t, let me sum it up for you: if you´re Argentine, he´s God. Period.) Watching soccer with Argentines is like that, and then in the middle of all the yelling and swearing if you happen to be the only female in the bar they will apologize for their language, until they forget that you´re there again during the next play. Which is not to say that only men watch the games-- I was surprised to see that every single person at my work had a printed out schedule of the game next to their desks, including 40-year old mothers, some of whom went home to watch the game with their families during the supposed work day.

Anyway, it´s over, and crowds of people went to meet the defeated team at the airport when the team got back. Then they went to go eat some pulpo.

I stayed in and pretended I was British. The Argentines would probably not have been pleased if they knew, as there is the ever-present tension over The Faulkland Islands (that would be Las Malvinas), the war over which was followed by Argentine victory over England in the 1986 World Cup that included Maradona´s "Hand of God" goal (which was completely illegal, the very fact of which makes them even more gleeful about it.)

Back to being British, if you´ve never read Julian Barnes, he´s lovely:

Anyway... she's asleep, turned away from me on her side. The usual strategems and repositionings have failed to induce narcosis in me, so I decide to settle myself against the soft zigzag of her body. As I move and start to nestle my shin against a calf whose muscles are loosened by sleep, she senses what I'm doing, and without waking reaches up with her left hand and pulls the hair off her shoulders on to the top of her head, leaving me her bare nape to nestle in. Each time she does this I feel a shudder of love at the exactness of this sleeping courtesy.

You think she's really awake when she does it? I suppose it could sound like a conscious courtesy -- an agreeable gesture, but hardly one denoting that love has roots below the gum of consciousness. Still, I can offer you further proof. Her hair falls, you see, to her shoulders. But a few years ago, when they promised us the summer heat would last for months, she had it cut short. Her nape was bare for kissing all day long.

In the dark, she would, with a soft murmur, try to lift the lost hair from the back of her neck.
(from The History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters)

Lovely like toasted homemade English muffins with apple lemon curd. You can make English muffins at home, who knew? I do now, as broken ovens and no bread make me a very hungry (=not nice) person. They´re freakin´ delicious, actually, and they make Uncle Thomas or whoever that dude is muffin´s look small, cold and pathetic. Ha, take that spontaneous oven combusting. And, and, if you make apple lemon curd, a recipe I only tried because it was described as "like eating apples and custard" because man what else do I want out of life, you can spread it on your homemade split, toasted, warm English muffin, curl up in your bed, and think of England (so sorry about that one, but it just came out that way.)



English Muffins
 Adapted from the Washington Post, adapted from "Winos and Foodies"

2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 c. warm water (between 105 and 115ºF)
1/2 c. warm milk
3 c. cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. semolina or cornmeal

In a large mixing bowl, place yeast, sugar and water. After 5 min., add milk and stir. Add 1 c. of the flour and the salt, stir well, and then add the rest of the flour gradually while stirring. The dough will be very sticky, if you need to add a bit more flour to handle the dough then do so. Flour your hands and knead the dough the best you can given how sticky it is (you want the dough to stay soft, don´t add enough flour for it to be easily kneadable), folding, stretching and turning it the best you can. Form the dough into a ball/mass as best you can, cover the bowl with plastic and leave it to double in size, 1-2 hours, or you can let it rise in the fridge overnight (I didn´t do this because I didn´t want to wait until the next day to eat, but leaving dough to rise overnight always seems to improve it, so I´ll definitely refrigerate it overnight in the future).
Sprinkle a baking sheet with the semolina or cornmeal. Flour your counter and your hands, and turn the risen dough out onto the counter. Roll out into a thick rope, and then cut it into 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll it on the baking sheet, coating it with the semolina. The dough balls are going to rest, coated with semolina, on the baking sheet, so separate them as if they were cookies. Cover the balls with a towel and let rise again for 30 min. Heat a griddle or a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Allow to cook on first side for about 10 minutes; you'll notice puffing and the first side getting golden. With tongs, turn onto second side and cook for about the same amount of time. Cover cooked muffins with a clean dish towel to keep warm. Open with a fork or serrated knife, and eat as is or toasted. Keep in an airtight zip-style bag for a couple of days, or freeze for later.

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