Meredith’s Marvelous Margaritas

If I say to you that I just tasted the best margaritas in the world, you could reasonably point out that I had only drunk margaritas 2 other times in my life, and that those were many many years ago, in places with names like Hooters or Fred’s Steakhouse.

But, in substance, you would be wrong. Meredith does make perfect margaritas, and here is how she does it:

  • Place nicely-shaped glasses with large perimeter rims in freezer for a few hours.
  • Mix 1 part strained freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 part Triple Sec, 3 parts good Tequila in a glass vessel. Stir.
  • Take the glasses out of the freezer, quickly dip the lightly moistened rims in fleur de sel. Add an ice cube made from good water.
  • Pour
  • Drink
  • Pour
  • Drink

The shoe God never finished and the men who don’t care

Hilarious article on men wearing sandals by Tim Dowling in this morning’s Guardian.

“There appear to be two main branches of objection. The first is that men look stupid in sandals, and that men’s sandals are themselves stupid-looking. The second is that men have ugly feet. Men’s feet are shaped like spades. They smell. The toes are hairy, the toenails are often cracked and yellow. I would call this an idiotic generalisation, were it not an exact description of my feet.”

Guess I will have to buy some proper shoes.

Twelve things not to do in Saint Petersbourg, RU

Took this picture of the sign at the entrance to the St. Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersbourg, a week before the G8 arrived. It does more than tell you to keep off the grass.


The New New American Century?

One vision of the rebirth of America from the dung of cowboy politics is detailed in this morning’s NY Times in a manifesto entitled “An American Foreign Policy That Both Realists and Idealists Should Fall in Love With” written by Robert Wright. Over the last few minutes, I have discovered that Mr. Wright is a well-known Big Thinker and that he is respected by many, some of whom, in turn, I respect.

Although I believe there is a pressing need for a meeting of realists and idealists, I am one idealist who did not quite fall in love this morning.

Certains ideas were totally appealing. Citing Hans Morganthau, a founding father of ‘political realism’ in the 1950’s:

“Morgenthau emphasized that sound strategy requires a “respectful understanding” of all players in the game. “The political actor,” he wrote, “must put himself into the other man’s shoes, look at the world and judge it as he does.” This immersion in the perspective of the other is sometimes called “moral imagination,” and it is hard. Understanding why some people hate America, and why terrorists kill, is challenging not just intellectually but emotionally.”

I have met very few Americans able to stand ‘in the other man’s shoes’ and look around, smell the coffee, the roses, the garbage or whatever, doing it simply, serenely, with neither scorn nor guilt. This is the problem. That lovely category of made-in-USA Otherness, relied upon so heavily to mask pervasive cultural autism, called ROW (Rest Of World), defines how deep the incomprehension goes.

In this light, I find troubling Wright’s basic premise that America’s mission should continue to be the spread of prime-grade Righteousness, using more civil methods than smug arrogance backed by military superiority wherever it sees fit.

One Big Idea that he proposes is that America’s new foreign policy should be channeled through rebirthed international agencies and support groups. The thusly created New American Agenda, the one that God will be blessing each time he blesses the US of A, would be renamed the World Agenda. The world will throw up its arms with joy, relishing that America finally understands the world in all its diversity, and is prepared to show the way.

This is a little too much “How America Can Remain Imperious and Ingenuous Even After Discrediting Itself and Its Noble Values Before an Incredulous World” for my taste.

But Big Ideas deserve deep thought.

Thinking about Zidane

Ok, Zidane screwed up, Materazzi must have said something truly awful to him. But he has never promoted himself as a New Age pussycat. And on the sportsmanship scale, World Cup football had never been up there with polo or lawn bowling, so the shock value is approximately equal to the number of witnesses, ie, a couple of billion.

But the following words by John Vinocur in today’s International Herald Tribune ring truer to me then the shameful blatherings of Europe’s least shameless politician, Jacques Chirac, on the same subject.

“Deservedly thrown out of the last game of his career Sunday night for a dumb head butt, it’s a guess to say a soccer career provided a safety valve for the inarticulated rage inhabiting a saint from the La Castellane housing projects.”

Rage? What rage?

My claim to authority here is meager, but I have eyes and ears. For all its talk about equality, about being a “terre d’accueil” France is a place for white people, and more precisely, white men. France likes to think of itself as different and in many ways, it is. French racism, for instance, is very French, and unfortunately, very pervasive.

The unspoken pact that France has had with its immigrés for decades has been “You come here, we’ll greet you warmly, we’ll give you free housing in beautiful suburban developments built just for you, you’ll get some spending money every month, free health care, a monthly allowance for every child you bear. You, in turn, will sweep our floors and dig our trenches. BUT DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT GETTING A REAL JOB!”

Just sigh on the dotted line. L’immigration qui vient du coeur.

Palpable signs of this franco-french version of gilded racism are everywhere, have seamlessly blended into the fabric of French society to a point where they have taken on a cloak of respectable invisibility.

It is an unfortunate fact that Zidane would not be allowed into our local discotheque on a saturday night here in SW France if the guy at the door thought he was simply a random North African and not The French national football hero. The 6 other non-white starters on the French team would meet the same rejection.

He would be blamed by 30% of the adult population for everything that seems to be wrong in this country, unless whatever it was could be blamed on the omnipresence of the wicked European Union bureaucrats.

And like so much that has gone wrong with France, examining the subject truthfully is a big taboo. Long ago, France legislated its race problems into invisibility.

The suburban race riots last winter showed the folly of this approach. Will Zidane’s shame and subsequent contrition help open the breach a little wider? Will France finally get it about race, about racism?

Make Wine, Not War

In his impassioned defense of the French wine industry, Eric Asimov, in today’s NY Times, makes some strong points that are worth toasting. He responds intelligently to the generalized international gloating (mainly American –surprise! surprise!–) about France’s troubles in keeping it’s wine culture “modern”.

Nonetheless, no country comes close to matching France, either in setting demanding standards for its wine industry or in producing such a variety of consistently excellent wine.

It’s harder to imagine New World countries like the United States and Australia reaching the same pinnacle. Their leading wines, whether made of cabernet, chardonnay, shiraz or pinot noir, will always be measured against the French, and regardless of the blind tasting here or there, few people really take seriously the notion that the New World wines will surpass the French reference points on a large scale.”

This is so true. For now, and the foreseeable future, at least.

But the French, who are so habile in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and who are feeling particularly suicidal (from a socio-political point of view) these days, might just prove us wrong in the end.

The article is here.