24 February 2016

He Named Me Malala

I confess that I never go to the movies. Or maybe once a year - which is awfully close to never. It means that by the time the Oscars roll around, I've rarely seen any of the nominated films. One movie that I missed when it came out - though it didn't get an Oscar nomination - is He Named Me Malala. I'm pretty happy that it's going to be on television next week, and at a reasonable hour so my twelve year old daughter can watch with me, and on a commercial-free channel so we don't have to DVR it to watch later.

If you'd wanted to see it too, it's on on Monday February 29 on the National Geographic channel at 8:00pm (Eastern).

17 February 2016

Would you like some freshly ground wood shavings?

Today's entertaining/appalling news story is that "The Parmesan Cheese You Sprinkle on Your Penne Could Be Wood".

Now, they aren't talking about fancy aged Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated with your super sharp Microplane. No, they mean those cardboard cans of cheese dust:

According to the FDA’s report on Castle, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” ... [snip] ... Instead, there was a mixture of Swiss, mozzarella, white cheddar and cellulose, according to the FDA.

However, I am reminded of my childhood. In the pantry, screwed onto a shelf, there lived a cheese grater. It was sturdy metal, with a wooden handled crank, and a knobbed wood block to force the cheese down towards the grating cylinder.

On spaghetti dinner nights, one of us children would be deputized to cheese grating duty. Moky would hand us a lump of cheese and a bowl, and staring idly out the window onto the driveway, we'd grate enough for a few plates of pasta. Sometimes, she'd be more ambitious, and we'd have to grate enough to fill up an old blue quart-sized Mason jar. That Mason jar, with a zinc lid, lived in the door of the refrigerator, cheek by jowl with a Mason jar full of sweetened grated coconut. Once, I was sick, confined to my bed on a spaghetti night. My mother decided that I could have pasta with butter & cheese for dinner, no red sauce. One of my siblings brought up my dinner; it was pasta with butter & coconut. The blue Mason jars of grated white stuff were unmarked. Happily, it wasn't as awful as it could have been: no red sauce.

I digress.

The wood block pusher was shaped at the grater end - rounded to conform to the shape of the cylinder. One day, I was doing the grating, and I put that wood block pusher in wrong - it was rotated 90° and therefore no longer conforming to the cylinder.

Yes, Virginia, there were wood shavings in the parmesan that night. And the wood block was never the same.