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I Get My Glee from Pain

Tonight, I tried fresh artichokes for the first time. scanner_darky picked some up from the supermarket earlier this week and prepared them for our dinner. He told me they were a delicious childhood memory. My only brush with fresh artichokes comes from the time my mother grew them in her backyard. The Australian sun was not kind to the artichokes, and the soil's compost couldn't last the summer. More than that, she left me to look after them for the 3 months their bulbs grew. I still remember hauling water to the plants. It was a job I hated almost as much as collecting the nectarines off her fruit tree. I missed the date I was supposed to collect the bulbs. Instead, they burst into beautiful lavender-coloured flowers, whose petals, up close, resembled some kind of sea anemone. I have a photo of one of the flowers as my laptop's background. It is beautiful, even if I wasn't able to catch it at its most vibrant electric blue.

It's shocking I actually like artichokes after all that, but I do. I never had fresh artichokes till tonight though, only the preserved hearts you get in jars. Most get pickled in a vinegar solution on par with the alcoholic preparations used on lab rats. Seth showed me how to pull off the petals and extract the lightly bittersweet flesh. When we reached the fresh steamed hearts, he showed me how to scrape off the fur to get to the tender innards. It made for a lovely accompainment to Sandbaggers this evening.

Last Thursday, kn1ghtshade and cr0wgrrl brought gyoza-making equipment and ingredients over to our place for gaming night. They and iamfourninjas very kindly folded up and fried the little parcels of juicy, tender ground meat while the rest of us tried not to get the party fully dead from heretic zombies. (It happened that all three of the cooking players were deemed too unconscious to fight at the time.) Sif spent most of the evening asleep on the sofa getting belly rubs, generally being a very well-behaved gaming cat. We think she may be learning to be more sociable. Soon, none of our guests will escape the fur. The fur! The gyoza was wonderful. Boiled cabbage and ground meat with lots of spring onion cannot be un-wonderful. I ate so much gyoza, I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to think of dumplings for at least a week, but here I am, craving more dumplings.

We stopped by Modern Times Books in the afternoon for our leftist fix of reading material. I got Women and Gender in Islam by Leila Ahmed, which I recognised from references in Feminism & Islam, Legal and Literary Perspectives, and Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein. Reading Leila Ahmed's treatise on the status of women in pre-Islamic Arabia is of particular interest to me, as Feminism & Islam cites it in a chapter debunking the myth of women's low social status during the Jahiliyah period. At the time of her writing, there was an emerging body of evidence to suggest women's social status pre-Islam in Arabia was in fact much more dynamic and mobile than after the fact, that tribes of that period believed in at least a partially matriachal structure. It may be a good place to start reading up on the subject, at any rate. Tokyo Vice was pointed out to me by Seth in the shop, and apparently discusses exactly what the title suggests. I'm planning to read this as a follow-up to Robert Whiting's Tokyo Underworld, from the husband's personal collection, which I'm reading as a follow-up itself to Martin Booth's excellent and highly recommended history of Chinese Triads, The Dragon Syndicates. That last book is a pretty awe-inspiring primer on Triad influence in pretty much everything everywhere you've ever seen a Chinese person. Also of great interest if you're a fan of HK gangster movies, which was where I came in after watching both Election movies.

If the books I've chosen for myself don't break my brain so hard I then spend the next 6 months reading pleasant light novels about fat mice having heart attack-inducing cake and soup parties, I also ordered Half the Sky, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn -- about the untold turmoil of women in the world's fastest developing nations as both an indentured workforce and an exploited half of the population, hence the title. I'd actually read about some of the women being covered in the book before, either from the international uproar over some of their cases in the major newspapers, or the good they did. I look forward to it.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 23rd, 2010 06:52 am (UTC)
I would love to borrow those fine women in islam books that you are reading when you are done. I'm certain that I will have plenty of brain to read such literature after the boy is born:)
Aug. 23rd, 2010 06:57 am (UTC)
Re: Books
I would love to lend them to you! I got Feminism & Islam for Christmas last year, so I'm done reading it. It's a deceptively thin-looking book with tiny print, but such a great primer on the status of women's rights in a very wide swath of Islamic countries, each with their own peculiarities. I read it slowly between December to March, grinding my teeth and bursting into rants every 5 minutes at Seth. He was amused and appalled. It is that sort of book! :)
Aug. 23rd, 2010 12:28 pm (UTC)
By "Sandbaggers", do you mean the British TV series from the 80s?

For a pop culture look at women in Islam in western society, there's the Canadian TV series "Little Mosque On The Prairie" (available for free streaming from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation):

Aug. 23rd, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)
"Sandbaggers" as in that British series, yeah. Totally liking how wry and dry it is. :)

I've never heard of "Little Mosque on the Prairie" -- thanks for the recommendation! I'll definitely check it out, and the streamed eps really help.
Aug. 23rd, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
We will have to do another round of gyoza-ing! The Catboy and I both thought the gyoza should have turned out a little more flavorful, and we were right! We'd miscommunicated on the amount of meat involved, so he'd gotten twice as much meat as I had flavoring materials. Which is to say, the meat should have had twice as much fresh ginger and other stuff in it!

Still, it was yummy. We have leftovers in our freezer. Maybe we will steam them before game on Thursday...
Aug. 24th, 2010 02:10 am (UTC)
Mmmmmm. I like this idea! Perhaps the next gyoza-ing, I will be able to help out with the folding to pick up a skill point in that.

If y'all needed ginger, you should've given me a heads up though. I had lots of spring onion and ginger lurking in the fridge! :)

Steamed gyozaaaaa. I intend to bring something yummy to Praxis, also.
Sep. 8th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)

You have magic door-bypassing powers?
Sep. 8th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
Hrrrrrrrm! Mysterious things about my heritage I never knew!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )