mirror world and good eating

Did a presentation on hymnody and the three Hymnal supplements we use at church for the St. Mary’s Guild last night. I sat down in a room with about fifteen mostly elderly women and chatted and led them in hymns for a little over an hour. It seemed well received.

So it turns out that I haven’t read “Pattern Recognition” by William Gibson. Picked up the library’s copy yesterday and read the first chapter last night (after finishing Atkinson’s “Human Croquet.” Quote from Gibson:

“Mirror-world. The plugs on appliances are huge, triple-pronged, for a species of current that only powers electric chairs in America. Cars are reversed, left to right, inside; telephone handsets have different weight, a different balance; the covers of paperbacks look like Australian money.”

Electrical outlets in England.... Mirror world...

I’m actually unclear what Australian money looks like.  Pace to my English relatives, but I think “mirror world” nicely describes the experiencing of crossing the Atlantic. This probably works either way, eh?

This pops up when I google "Australian money"

Anyway. Atkinson’s novel or whatever you call it, “Human Croquet,” is a fantastic read.

Escher does croquet.... painting by John Prince ....

The book swirls back and forth between a cosmic beginning, fairy tale stories, alternate futures of awful coming of age murders and deaths in contemporary England featuring the main character, Isobel Fairfax, experiencing a wide range of possible Christmas eves that all end in tragedy. I loved it.

While we were in Ann Arbor we were killing time in Border’s bookstore waiting for it to be late enough to have supper together. I plopped down near the food section thinking I would not be tempted to purchase anything. I was wrong. I ended up reading in Weinzweig wonderful book above and then buying the dang thing.

Weinzweig founded the wonderful Zimmerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor. It’s expensive but excellent. His book talks about the various qualities of olive oil, cheeese, bread, pasta, chocolate and other stuff.

His recommendations for olive oils are very expensive (the house olive oil at Zingerman’s run about $26 for a bottle). On the advise of my friend David Barber I purchased a couple of olive oils at Trader Joe’s. Zingerman insists that a good olive oil is worth the money. He describes what to look for and where they make good olive oil.

So yesterday at lunch I found myself lining up three bottles of olive oil for a taste comparison. I had an opened bottle of Carapelli brand (flavor and dipping bread style) from Meijers and two bottles of Trader Giotto’s – one cheaper and one a bit more expensive  (around $8 for 16.9 fluid ounces).

And sure enough, there was a taste difference between all three. The Meijer’s brand had an unattractive aftertaste of bitterness. The cheap Trader Giotto’s was smooth and gentle…. no big taste. The more expensive actually did have a pleasant peppery aftertaste. Wow. The difference was so pronounced that I was pretty sure I could do a blindfold test on this one.

This is actually Trader Giotto's cheaper bottle of olive oil. It tasted pretty good.

I plan to use up all three and then spring for Zingerman’s cheapest house olive oil (ordered through the mail) and see what that’s like. Eileen returns to work today (bah), but I plan to try to keep the vacation spirit going as long as possible. I have to take my Mom to her shrink’s today. But  this is the office with wifi (woo hoo!).

After eating at the French Laundry Eileen came home in a more experimental food mood.

I was surprised yesterday when she made herself a “wrap” which contained grilled chicken, sliced apple, cream cheese and pepper jelly. Hmmm. This sounds really good, even to a vegetarian.

I continued working on Bach’s Art of Fugue and am finding some very interesting things in these fugues.

At least interesting to me. Also reading Beethoven Sonatas on the piano. I can tell that my piano technique has improved enough that this is more and more rewarding to do. Who knows? Maybe I’ll actually get some composing done this week.

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