Removal

Geek culture has a problem. More than one, really, but the biggest has to be its awful treatment of women and the toxic masculinity which accompanies that treatment. The most recent allegations of sexual assault have put this in the spotlight once again. So what are we going to do about it?

Many years ago, I was introduced to a website called Ain’t It Cool News. It was founded by a guy called Harry Knowles who I swear was the embodiment of every film geek stereotype. He was fat, ginger, had a weird but impressive neckbeard, had an extensive knowledge of superheroes, and he fucking LOVED movies. AICN was an ugly bastard of a website (and still is), but it got some fantastic scoops and exclusives, back before that sort of thing was an everyday occurrence (this was pre-Twitter). Harry built himself quite the following and managed to make himself somewhat influential in the world of film, film criticism and publicity. He was just a normal(?) guy, who had made it thanks to his dedication and passion. AICN was my go-to any time there was even a hint of some cool film coming up. It was a boys club, but I’m a boy, so it’s all good, right?

Right?

Except it went beyond that. Some of the articles were pretty vile. Harry’s “edgy yet jocular” style was, in retrospect, creepy and misogynist. His review of Blade 2 is truly gross. It reads like an unpopular kid trying to get in with the jock crowd by aping what he thinks the jocks all talk about. Worse, it also reads like a failed attempt to impress “the ladies” by going on and on about oral sex, as if to say “Check it out, I know all about this stuff. Want me to show you?” probably followed by a joke about how he is just kidding, just kidding… unless, y’know? It’s barely forgivable from an awkward teenager. At the age of 31 it’s sleazy as hell. Or, worse, his review of Heroes in 2006, practically detailing his masturbation fantasy regarding a then 17-year-old. This is on a site which was supposed to be dedicated to a love of film, geek film in particular, and instead we get a 35-year-old guy telling the world how brilliant it is that a TV show features someone who he can wank over.

I stopped regularly visiting AICN many years ago now. My news sources increased and I found better places, with better writers, from which to get my dose of film news. I hadn’t thought about AICN for years. Until today.

Now Harry Knowles has been accused of sexual assault in 1999 and 2000. Former Alamo Drafthouse employee, Jasmine Baker, has claimed that Knowles rubbed up against her and put his hand under her shirt without her consent. it is alleged that Knowles simply giggled when confronted about his behaviour at the time. The allegations have been denied by Knowles. This isn’t the first time claims of unacceptable behaviour have been levelled against someone with influence in the film critic scene. In 2016 Devin Faraci, then  editor-in-chief of Birth.Movies.Death, was accused of harassing and groping several women, prompting his eventual resignation. Certainly, Faraci seems to be a far less popular figure than Knowles but, to my mind at least, he still falls into the category of a “geek with influence”. Both Knowles and Faraci have been linked with the Alamo Drafthouse in a professional capacity.

The Alamo Drafthouse is something of a darling of the arthouse cinema circuit, with their zero-tolerance policies for texting and talking during films, their love of cult cinema and their apparent feminism through events like their women-only screening of Wonder Woman. While that is certainly admirable, it has the unfortunate side-effect of shielding those associated with the Alamo Drafthouse from criticism or accusations of misogyny. How could anyone linked with such a great organisation be a bad guy? Surely not. Not them. No way.

And so it goes in other facets of geek culture. Comic Con (as well as other Cons) has had an issue with harassment for years and has only recently started to address it. Joss Wheadon has been accused of multiple infidelities (but, I want to be clear, nothing non-consensual). I’m sure plenty of people can cite examples of guys behaving in a sleazy or otherwise inappropriate manner at a Con only to have their concerns dismissed because “he’s just kidding around” or “he doesn’t mean anything by it”. Perpetrators are shielded by their associations. It has happened in tabletop and LARP groups “Oh, but Person X has known him for years, he wouldn’t hang around someone like that”, it has happened in comic shops “He is always really nice to girls who come in to the shop and has tonnes of female friends, he wouldn’t do that” and it absolutely happens online “Oh, but he always posts about White Ribbon and defended the reboot of Ghost Busters, how could you accuse him of that?”. Geeks are supposed to be the outcasts, we are harmless and weak, so why would we do anything to hold power over someone else? Surely it can’t be true!

I can’t answer the why, I’m no psychologist. I can, however, say that harassment, assault and rape have happened and will continue to happen within geek culture. Until we stop objectifying women, it will happen. Until we stop with the ideas of the “friendzone” and “fake geek girls”, it will happen. Until we stop excusing abusers, it will happen. Until we bite the bullet and abandon those things which are problematic, it will happen. Humans are inherently fallible. The people you look up to are, one assumes, human. Sometimes their failings are minor and we can get past them. Sometimes, however, their failings are a lot bigger, which is where we have to make a choice. Do we chose to stick with it or to let it go.

And that’s the hard part. Taking something you love, looking at it objectively, realising it has a rotten core, and throwing it away. It’s not an easy thing, particularly for a culture in which the things you love and obsess over become a part of your being. Geeks identify themselves by their fandoms so abandoning one can feel like abandoning part of yourself. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe we need to abandon the parts of ourselves which harbour and encourage ugliness. Maybe part of the cure is simply amputation.

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Wave of Mutilation: What Lice Beneath

John Birmingham’s six-chapter novel? Novella? Written-down-ebook-thing? “Wave of Mutilation: What Lice Beneath” should be up on Google Play, iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble tomorrow (August 12). It will be less than two of your Australian Earth Dollars and you should totally buy it because I get killed and it’s stupid and hilarious.

Written in a matter of days (I think he started on Tuesday and it was finished by Friday), he manages to cover the carnivorous sea-lice, the fact that they’re actually fleas, misogyny, a potato-headed Government Minister, the NBN, Andrew Bolt, Islamophobia, homophobia, climate change, the representation of lesbians in popular media, the definition of irony and a stoned Irish stereotype in around 3500 words. You’re essentially paying two bucks for a dumb joke by one of Australia’s best authors of dumb jokes. Oh and he has written some bloody great non-dumb-joke books too.

Truly, this is a masterful piece of stupidity and you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you let it pass you by. It’s a solid 5/7 from me. Margaret?

On Power, Responsibility and Blame

By now, most of Australia has probably heard about Peter “Spida” Everitt’s incoherent ramblings on Twitter.
Since then he has tried to back pedal and claims he is trying to stop “false” allegations of rape and sexual assault. On Sunrise he said “…if it is untrue, you’ve gotta be punished”. This is, to say the very least, problematic.

Courts do not find people innocent. They find them guilty or not guilty. Not guilty is not the same as innocent. Furthermore, someone being found guilty or not guilty does not have any bearing on the actual TRUTH of the situation. Courts don’t work in truth, they work in evidence presented. This is why there are plenty of criminals who walk free and plenty of innocent people who are convicted.

Now, I’m not saying that false claims of rape and sexual assault never happen. They absolutely do and it’s disgusting because, in the public mind, it further invalidates the real victims as well as damaging the lives of the accused. No one is denying that.

The point is they don’t happen very often and Everitt’s statement that “…none of these allegations have been found true” suggests that he believes every single time a sports star has been accused of sexual assault, the girl has been making it up. Every. Single. One. Seriously Mr Everitt? You honestly believe that? Because if you do, this says a lot more about the attitude of sports stars than it does about the veracity of the allegations.

The fact is, the decision made by a court does not necessarily reflect what happened, it reflects who presented the stronger case. By threatening people with punishment for failing to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that their claims are true, you’re simply encouraging people to keep assaults to themselves. It’s already hard enough to get victims to come forward and “stand by their claims” in court. Threatening them with punishment just drives them further away, allowing more scumbags to get away.

If we’re going to start punishing people for what Spida Everitt defines as “false allegations” we’ll have to start punishing someone every time the accused is found not guilty. Yes, that means every time a punch-up results in no conviction, every time someone gets off the hook in a drugs case, every time an alleged thief walks, every time a traffic violation case is dismissed the accuser must be punished. What would Spida like to see? Fines? Jail time? Public flogging? How exactly would any of this help?

Now, I understand that he is trying to get people to take responsibility for their own actions. Certainly, going off and getting wasted can be a bad idea, but the blame simply cannot be placed on the victims. The fact of the matter is, sports stars are in the position of power. With that power comes responsibility. Like it or not, you’re now a public figure and your actions are going to be seen and judged by the public in a way that most private citizens will never experience. They will be held to a higher standard and expected to be “better” than the common man. That’s what comes with being a star. This is the life you chose when you became a professional athlete. If you want to play your particular sport at senior level, part of the package is the fact that you’re in the public eye. You knew that when you signed up. People worship sports stars. They make heroes of them. They adore and emulate them. I think this is part of the problem.

Australians love their sport. While I’m not the biggest sporting fan on the planet, indeed I think it’s sad that footballers get paid more, on average, than teachers, but having attended a few games I can understand the enjoyment. The problem comes in when these people are heralded as “heroes”. When you’re told you’re the best, the greatest, a star, a hero often enough, you’ll start to believe it. When you’re given things and flocked by fans simply for being who you are, you’ll start to get the sense that you’re better than others. It happens to movie stars, it happens to rock stars and it happens to footballers. It’s very easy to fall into the “don’t you know who I am?” mode of behaviour and herein lies the trap. This is where a sense of entitlement comes in. Hey, I’m famous. People love me. From there it’s easy to start taking what you want. Girls throwing themselves at you at the post-game party? Hell yeah! Take your pick! But there’s a big difference between what you can do and what you SHOULD do.

You’re the one with the power. Rape is all about power. Whether or not you think consent was implied, be it from the girl’s actions, the dress she was wearing or what her friends said, you’re the one with the power. Purely because of your fame. To claim that this is somehow unfair is disingenuous. Is it fair that you’ll wind up on the front page for being caught pissing in the street, while Joe Bloggs will only cop an earful from his wife when she picks him up from lockup? Probably not, but you’re the one who chose a life in the public eye. You’re the one with the power.

Yes, we expect more from the athletes than we do from the “common citizens”. Yes a footballer accused of sexual assault will be more widely reported than a hitherto unknown citizen. And that footballer will have just as much chance of being convicted that the unknown citizen. When you’re being paid an average of $221,000 per year to kick a ball around, part of that is compensation for being in the public eye. Spida Everitt was paid for this for years and is now paid to roam around Australia in a mobile home. Nice work, if you can get it. I’m not saying the life of a professional athlete is all beer and skittles, but it beats the hell out of working for minimum wage.

To say we need to punish people because their claims are not proven beyond reasonable doubt is a massive roadblock to justice, it’s unworkable, unreasonable and serves only to protect the guilty. While I agree that false accusations are damaging, this is not the way to deal with them.

Spida Everitt has refused to apologise for his comments, because accusers are not apologising to players found not guilty. He talks about the damage done to the lives of those accused. Damage which pales into insignificance when compared to the damage done to those who have been assaulted. I don’t think Spida has thought this through, but given his limited command of English (“deflamatory” is not a word) perhaps he simply can’t express himself.

A brief kitchen experiment.

I’ve hit the point in my monthly pay cycle, where I’m almost out of cash. This has happened a lot earlier than usual due to poor budgeting (or worse-than-usual budgeting) and a few very fun nights. I’m down to minimal ingredients and it’s time to experiment again.

I had to do a bunch of cleaning this evening, so I really couldn’t be bothered putting in much effort. Of course, when it comes to cooking, my definition of “not much effort” seems to be rather different to that of the general public. They consider it to mean something you throw in the oven for 10 minutes, then eat. I consider it anything that can be done in a single pot or pan, in less than an hour. I suspect my meals generally taste better. A quick search of the cupboards told me I had 250g of roo mince (ok, so that was in the fridge. Shush. It’s a cupboard, just a very cold one) some garlic, some fresh horseradish, dried chillis, tinned tomato and rice. Screw it. That’ll do the job.

Right. So. Here’s what I’ve done:

  1. Heat a dash of olive oil in a pan/pot/thing with a lid. Throw in some chopped garlic and a couple of chopped ancho chillies.
  2. Cough. Cough some more. Realise you’ve forgotten to turn the range/extractor fan/whatever you want to call it on. Do this, still coughing.
  3. Realise the stuff in the pan needs stirring or it’ll burn. Stir.
  4. Throw in the roo mince and realise you meant to chop the horseradish but forgot because you’re tired and hungry.
  5. Chop up some horseradish quickly, hoping the mince doesn’t burn.
  6. Remember the potatoes, which you at least remembered to wash.
  7. Stir the meat, chop the spuds, remember the tin of tomatoes.
  8. Swear.
  9. Open the tin of tomatoes, throw that in along with the horseradish and a bay leaf for good luck.
  10. Chuck in the potatoes and remember the rice is still in the cupboard.
  11. Struggle with the bag of rice, cut the bastard open and pour rice into the now empty tomato tin.
  12. Pour in the rice, realise you’re not really sure how much rice you put in.
  13. Swear again
  14. Throw in some water. How much? No idea. Enough.
  15. Stir it all around, remember salt.
  16. Get salt. Put that in too.
  17. Let it all heat up, while stirring, until it begins to boil.
  18. Put the lid on the pot/pan/lid holding thing
  19. Turn the heat down.
  20. Go and blog it.

That’s about where I’m up to as I write this. It smells pretty good, although I don’t think I put enough water in. I may have burned it a bit on the bottom.

Just checked. Possibly slight burning, but nothing serious. It smells tasty, although I think it could have done with onions and capsicum. Oh well, I’m letting it sit for a few minutes, then for the taste test…

THE VERDICT

Not bad. Needs either more meat or less rice. Could definitely do with a greater vegetable component. Still, it’s not Piss Rice so I count this one as a win!

Edit: I know what else it needed. Cummin. Damnit. *headslap*

Man Flu. An Explanation.

Today I am home from work, because I am ill.

Now, I bet you’re thinking “Bah! Sick my arse! He’s just got that bloody Man Flu that all the comedy shows and women’s magazines are talking about”. Because, y’know, those are infallible sources of factual information. But fair’s fair, Man Flu does exist, sort of.

Let me explain.

Man Flu comes in two distinct varieties. The first is the one that is most popularly recognised. It happens when a male has a girlfriend/wife/partner/de facto/woman-who-is-brilliant-until-you-realise-the-great-sex-isn’t-worth-the-crazy. The male becomes ill with something minor, essentially The Dreaded Lurgi, and proceeds to behave as if he is at death’s door. He now has some disease, hitherto unknown to medical science, which will definitely result in all his internal organs bursting out of his eyeballs while all other orifices will spout a thick, yellow-green substance, jelly-like in consistency, which will rapidly consume the entire planet. The fate of the world rests on one thing: bringing him… something. This something changes from person to person. Perhaps it’s a bowl of soup, not too hot mind you, which will probably need to be fed to him. Maybe it’s a supply of lemonade, not too fizzy and just below lukewarm. Maybe it’s an endless supply of tea. You’ll never know exactly what is needed until it happens, so it’s best to keep at least one of everything on hand at all times. Who knows when it will strike? Man Flu typically results in the male being unable to move under his own power, unintelligible mumbling, watery eyed looks and repeated (weak) calls of “Baby, could you come here?”

So that’s the one that is fairly popularly accepted. But there is… another. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Man Flu has a twin. A twin I shall call Bloke Flu. Bloke Flu is caused by exactly the same thing as Man Flu (i.e. sniffles, a bad night’s sleep, a slight headache, not wanting to go to work, the release of a new game on the Xbox/PS3/PC) but has entirely different symptoms. It happens when the male is alone or with a group of other men. The symptoms include: Watching TV, eating noodles, going to the pub and calling the boss with a badly-faked sick voice. The only things one needs to keep on hand for a case of Bloke Flu are donuts, beer, a stack of games and a comfy bath robe.  Males suffering Bloke Flu are barely distinguishable from healthy males, aside from the occasional cough and the fact that they’re into their fifth pint at 3pm on Wednesday. The only reason a male with Bloke Flu may be unable to move or talk is as a result of the previously mentioned pints.

Now, the question is: why the dramatic difference?

It’s simply really; We have to get away with it and we know we can get away with it.

You see, when partnered, it’s really, really hard to take a day off work. Seriously. In most cases, if you wake up and say “Honey, I just can’t be arsed today, I’m just gonna ditch work” your girlfriend/wife/whatever will give you that look and you’ll wind up saying “Haha! Kidding! I’m off to work now!” This is because she’s being the responsible one and doesn’t want you to get fired/lose money/hang around the house all day, stinking the place up and leaving crap everywhere. It’s very sweet, really, but it results in a complex game where you have to pretend to be sick enough not to go to work, but not so sick that she’ll drag you to the doctor. If you do wind up in the doctor’s office, you REALLY have to pretend. We’re talking Daniel Day Lewis levels of pretending here, because the doctor is at work and is probably pissed that this doofus is sitting here, trying to get a day off work, and doing an awful job of faking a cough. It’s bloody difficult.

The other part of the equation is that we love the attention. Having a lovely woman attending to your needs, stroking your forehead and calling you things like “my poor little chicken”, while essentially emasculating, is also kinda neat. While it keeps us from the pub and from playing that new game, the satisfaction of being coddled is far greater. On the other hand, when no one is around to do these things, well, who gives a toss? Let’s go and get drunk! The only thing that matters is being able to fake it if the boss calls. And not winding up in the pub for which you arranged a consultation for a broadband installation the day before. Oh, and not letting your girlfriend find out.

So now you know.

P.S. I do not have Man Flu today, in case you were wondering. My girlfriend will attest to this. Honest.

Note: This post is based entirely on my own experience. I have absolutely no idea if any of this works the same in gay or lesbian relationships as I’ve never had one of either. Anyone care to fill me in?

One that’s not about chilli

It’s my birthday at the end of the month. No, this is not me asking however many people are reading this to send me presents. You’ve probably got rubbish taste anyway and I’d wind up with bloody JayJays gift cards or something. I’d not appreciate that at all. Unless JayJays have started selling books, exotic chillis, motorcycles and/or alcohol. If that’s the case, please let me know as I’m clearly well out of touch with society and need to leave my house more often.

Anyway, my impending celebration (read: getting trashed at the pub and singing badly to 80s metal songs) got me thinking about a possible proper celebration. I’m not very good at throwing parties, despite what housemates from the 90s might claim, as I usually can’t be arsed actually organising anything. Yeah, I’m lazy like that. However, my sister threw a brilliant one for her 30th and I can’t have her out doing me. I couldn’t live with the shame (OK, I could, but let’s just pretend for the sake of this exercise). Apparently the first thing I need is a theme. What’s a good theme? I was thinking Zombie Porn Stars From The Future, but given my group of friends, I don’t think I want to see that much exposed flesh. Seriously.

The really important thing is the menu. What to serve people who come dressed as whatever the hell they’re going to come dressed as. And for that, I have a one-word answer: Chilli.

Yeah, see that bit up there where I say this one isn’t about chilli? I lied. Had you going for a while there though, didn’t I?

Some of my friends don’t like chilli. Sucks to be them, I guess. They’re getting chilli no matter how much they cry about pain and allergies and trips to the ER and skin grafts and ongoing psychological trauma. Bunch of sooks. They’re going to eat chilli and like it! Or not. Either way, a menu needs to be organised.

First up: Junk food! Every party needs junk food. It’s some kind of law invented by 5 year olds and grandparents. Lots of junk food is needed. Of course, making junk food at home could be tricky (does anyone know how to make Twisties? I have a theory that they’re manufactured by magic elves, off their tiny heads on some sort of Elvish whiskey/PCP combination. This is a good thing, by the way. I love Twisties) but the easiest, and possibly most traditional, junk food has to be Chocolate Crackles. Chocolate combines well with chilli (as does everything else) so I think this could work.

The challenge here is exactly how to get the chilli in there. I have two ideas on this front. I could try using chilli honey (honey in which fresh chillis have been preserved for an extended period) in place of sugar or I could grind up some dried chilli and mix that in with the cocoa powder. Either way, people are in for a shock. Oh! And I could sprinkle them with bits of candied chilli. More on that later.

Coupled with Chocolate Crackles, we have fairy bread. How the crap do you add chilli to fairy bread? It’s just bread, butter and 100s & 1000s (aka sprinkles). Not much room for chilli in there my friend, I hear you say. Well you are wrong! There’s a variation where people use Nutella or a similar chocolatey spread. And where there’s chocolate, there can be chilli. The way I see it, you heat the Nutella until it’s runny, mix in powdered chilli (as opposed to chilli powder) then let it set again. BAM! Take that kiddies!

Ok, so that’s the sweet bits taken care of. Now we need the savoury. This is a doddle. Well, a doddle that requires a fair bit of effort. So… not a doddle at all. Shush. The point is, what more traditional savoury party food could you have than sausage rolls? Brilliant! All I need here is pork mince, fresh chilli, a couple of spices, pastry and someone else to turn that into sausage rolls. Buggered if I want to go to all that effort. Still, it’s a grand idea.

Since we’re all (legally) adults, some sort of grown-up dish is needed. I’m having ideas about slow-cooked pork, with quince, star anise, cloves and lashings of chilli. This sounds like proper food. Since this dish actually sounds serious, I’m going to ignore it and get back to being ridiculous.

As far as drinks go, I’m thinking chilli schnapps, chilli infused tequila (because tequila always guarantees excellent party funtimes. Also nudity. I know I expressed concern about this earlier, but once we’re all drunk I won’t care) and I’m looking into ways of introducing chilli to sangria.

Last of all, there’s the cake. I know what you’re all thinking (except for you, the guy with the weird stains on his shirt, I’ve no idea why you’re looking at my picture that way, but I’d appreciate it if you’d stop), but chilli chocolate mud cake is FAR too predictable and sensible. You know what would be really cool? Pecan pie with chilli! I’m not yet sure exactly where I’d work in the chilli, but I suspect it could be mixed in with the corn syrup. The sneaky thing about chilli pecan pie is that no one will suspect it. They’ll be at the end of the meal thinking. “Holy balls! This is far too much chilli! Tomorrow will be a Johnny Cash morning! Oh… look! Pecan pie! Lovely, safe, pecan pie. Come here little pie, let me eat you! Mmmm this is tas-OH DEAR CRAP! WHAT DEVILRY HAS THOU WROUGHT?!” It’ll be totally worth it just to have a room full of people asking what devilry I have wrought. I don’t get asked that nearly enough.

So there we go, my birthday will be a chilli and booze fuelled Zombie Porn Star From the Future festival, complete with screaming, nudity, swearing and possibly a piñata in the shape of something rude.

Yup, that is absolutely what will happen.

Posted in chilli, food. Tags: , , . 6 Comments »

Kitchen Experiments

I love Kitchen Experiments.

These are the times I come home, or hit the supermarket, with no clear idea of what I am going to make for dinner that night. I’ll get a few ingredients together in my head, hit the kitchen and see what happens. Sometimes this is a roaring success; the seafood, pasta, pancetta, blue cheese and parmesan combination springs to mind. Other times it’s an unmitigated disaster; the dish forever known as Piss Rice, because it smelled of urine and was inedible. Swings and roundabouts my friends, swings and roundabouts.

Anyway, tonight is another Kitchen Experiment night, so I figured I should attempt to blog it. Future experiments may contain photos, but I am having technology-related issues this evening, so use your imagination. No, no, not like that! Filthy beggars… On with the show.

Let me state up front that I suck at writing recipes. I have no idea of how much of anything I am using & generally just guess that I have “enough”. This may upset those of you who like things to be precise. To you I say “Suck it up, experiment by yourself and you’ll figure it out” (OK, that sounds dirty too. My bad.)

I’ve started by toasting szechuan peppercorns, star anise and cummin seeds. Those were then ground together with one dried (ancho) chilli. Here’s a hint, when you’ve been tearing up a dried chilli with your bare hands, DO NOT forget you’ve just done this and scratch your face because you’re itchy and didn’t shave this morning. It’s a lot worse than razor burn. I’m just glad it’s my face that was itchy…

Next I’ve lightly cooked half a red onion (Oooh look! An actual amount!) with a couple of cloves of garlic. These were both finely chopped, not whole. Idiot.

While waiting for the onion/garlic combination to cool, I’ve grabbed some Purple Congo potatoes (from Nashdale Fruit Co). Why? BECAUSE THEY’RE PURPLE! Seriously, that’s pretty much my whole reason for buying them. The Intertubes tell me these things are no good for baking, so I’m experimenting even further and steaming the little purple bastards. Never steamed potatoes before. Let’s see how that goes.

After that (and writing what you see above) the onion/garlic combo was cool enough to start the next phase. I’ve preheated the oven to… I dunno, a couple of hundred degrees, whacked some olive oil in an oven-proof dish-thing and put it to one side. Next I’ve mixed 250g (not actually weighed) of kangaroo mince (I love kangaroo. No it’s not bloody pet meat! It’s rich, gamey, low in fat and I’ve more or less replaced beef with roo in most dishes I cook), the onion/garlic, the spice mix, some breadcrumbs and an egg together. This has now been formed into balls which I have placed in the oven-proof dish-thing. That’ll go into the oven in a minute, while the potatoes are steaming away. Oh yeah, the steaming is, in part, because The Intertubes tell me they keep more of their colour that way. Brilliant!

Ok, so now that lot is in the oven. Is baking these things the way to go? My instincts say “NO, IDIOT!” but the Kitchen Experimenter in me simply HAS to know how this will turn out. The next step of the plan is to make a sauce involving tomato, chilli and possibly a few herbs. I have nothing fresh on hand, so dried will suffice. I know someone who will probably stab me in the bottom with a paring knife for saying that, but she’s not here right now, so my buttocks remain unmolested.

See, this is the part where I get to dribble on for ages as I’m waiting for things to cook. I mean, sure, I am checking Twitter every few minutes, reading a bit of email and totally not looking at porn at all. No way. Not I! It’s all about the food tonight, y’know like a nice bit of rump and some baps and clams and sausage and stuff. Nothing suss.

I should probably go look at those potatoes now. Yes. That’s totally what I am doing. They’re still a tad firm, but they’re close. Time to start on the sauce. I’ve sliced up a dried Bhut Jolokia (aka Naga) chilli. Those bastards are hot, was your hands after touching them or you’re in a world of hurt. With the chilli I have sliced up some garlic, lightly fried the two in olive oil, then added a tin of diced tomatoes, a dash of brown sugar and a bit of salt to make a sauce which is now reducing over a low heat. It seems I screwed the timing up with regards to the potatoes, but that’s OK. They can sit there and stay warm. The meatball-things are smelling pretty good and appear to be cooking as intended. Once the sauce reduces a bit, I’ll haul the meatballs out and cook them in the sauce for a minute or two, then I’ll be almost ready to serve.

The flat is currently filling with chilli fumes. A few more dishes like this and pepper spray will hold no fear for me. My lungs will have adjusted and I’ll breathe it in like it’s Nitrous Oxide. Not that I know anything about that. I really hope this dish works.

Just tasted the sauce. Wow. Spicy. This could get interesting.

Ant it’s done. With a nice thick slice of toasted Light Rye Wholemeal from Brasserie Bread. I’ll try to get a photo up later on, but for now… the taste test.

Ok, so the meatballs could have done with a tad less cummin, it kinda overpowers the szechuan pepper but… oh yeah, there’s the kick! Great Odin’s Raven! This is spicy. The potatoes are a perfect complement to this dish, definitely too waxy for baking, steaming them was absolutely the way to go. They’re delicious! Baking the meatballs worked well and the sauce, while very spicy, really kicks off the flavour of the meat. YAY ME!

I really should have cooked some greens with this. I’m not sure what exactly. I’m quite partial to English Spinach, so that could have worked. Possibly leek and fennel or something along those lines. Oh well, next time.

My final verdict is this: I may have overdone the chilli in the sauce a little and I need to cut back on the cummin next time, but overall I consider this kitchen experiment a resounding success! Go on, give it a shot. You know you want to.