States: 2

If anyone drank that much water they’d die.

America, then.

My cab driver from Lanham to Dulles airport is from Ethiopia and drives on this hot June day with all the windows down at over the speed limit, which feels oddly liberating after the solid week of air con, warm, dry air whipping into my face and hair, this cab scuffed and torn, the transmission going, the brake barely working. “I quit soon,” he says, and I can see that Uber and Lyft have destroyed this idea of making a living. Still the air whistles into the cab and the meter is whirring onwards until the total equates to exactly all the cash I have left in my wallet, a fitting metaphor and then it’s just me with my luggage on the giant on-ramp that is Dulles’ Kiss and Ride Departures drop zone, and there’s nowhere to sit outside (there very rarely is) almost as if people are afraid of merging, liminal zone to liminal zone is over, here, everywhere, unless the market demands it.

States

Here I am, in the USA. I’m sat in the hotel lobby of the Courtyard Marriott, Landover, MA. The lobby doubles as The Bistro, which is the one-location all purpose breakfast lunch and dinner locale. It’s the bar. The Bistro is important. I am sat drinking a pomegranate Izze and waiting overly long for a meal, reading a book on “Change” by the ASTD. This is what was once known as the American Society of Training Directors. The book is full colour. The drink is red. The food is late. The air-con is cranked so high that I have had to put on a scarf. A man is clearing his throat as he eats and he sounds like a goat, a small, old goat. Here I am.

Review : McIlhenny Co Tabasco Pepper Sauce Chipotle

I’m a fan of chilli sauces.  I haven’t posted in a while (various things) but buying a new chilli sauce, albeit one that I have tried before made me feel like posting a review.  This particular sauce was on offer at Sainsbury’s today, which, by the way, has declined somewhat in its offerings, choice and general randomness.  The coffee section is dominated by Taylors of Harrogate blandness and Costa/Starb*cks ‘house’ varietals.  This isn’t the kind of world that I want to see, but perhaps it is the kind of world that the average Sainsbury’s shopper wants to see, and thus, the buyer(s) have either cottoned on, or been co-erced into abandoning their whimsy.  I digress.

tabasco in light on keyboard/©mattu

It’s a thick sauce, with a small neck, and so the first attempt at shaking some directly into my mouth fails.  The sauce is, like many top quality and high end chilli sauces, fermented for taste.  The Tabasco company age their sauces too, and in this case, there is the added dimension of smoke which is imparted from the classic smoky chilli, the chipotle.  I shake the bottle and try again.

Out come a few drops, onto my tongue and, accidentally, onto my face.  Ignore the burning on my face: there are rich notes of spice, of smoke, of salt (perhaps too much salt) and there is a balancing sweetness.  The ingredients don’t hint at this, and the sweetness is surprising and in some ways, disappointing.  In the long run, it is probably necessary.  All in all, a good, solid mark for this, which is reflected in its price and cultural cachet.  People don’t look down on you for having a bottle of this at the table, in the same way that they do if you have a bottle of Encona or Dunn’s River.  Which of course, is classist nonsense, because both of those sauces and their varietals are very good.  HP chilli sauce, on the other hand, what are you thinking

8/10

Mattress Watch

So many mattresses on the street. In the middle of the street, on the corners. Dumped, folded, crooked up and sat awkward. Each one a soul, maybe two, and then all change. Why do people obsess about changing the mattress? They’ll use the same sofa, same kitchen, same furniture. But change the mattress! So they go out on the street, the sign of rentiers.  Life.

Review : Kanga Roos & Kefir Drink

Hello.  A brace of reviews, hold tight.

First up is Toad-Ally Snax Kanga Roos, which are chocolate coated pretzel nuggets that feature an interior butter pouch.  Hopefully you can see the connection between the naming of the snack and the design: kangaroos, in the wild, have ‘pouches’.  These particular ‘kanga roo snax’ have been tamed and filled with peanut butter goodness.  Thus nature is subverted to the will of Man.

They are actually quite nice : inoffensive chocolate and crispy salt pretzel that is then overpowered by the sweet/salt umami of peanut butter.  One or two is enough and then you feel a bit sick.

kangroos2kefir

Also sampled was Kefir, now bottled and flavoured with (in this instance) ‘honey and mint’.  Kefir is fermented milk, and it comes from the family that gives us lassi and so on.  It’s an acquired taste, and this flavoured style is a bit like mango lassi – it’s lassi for people who would rather be drinking chocolate milk or some sort.  So, its fine, but really, you might as well just have a honey mint yazoo as the pro-active bacteria in something this size isn’t really going to be hugely helpful, and no doubt food safety regulations mean anything halfway helpful has been neutered.

I enjoyed it, but that enjoyment was tempered with many conflicting feelings, much like you might summarize my entire life so far.  I fear this is the path I am on until death, and after death, it will be too late to change.

Poem: “(Not) Out of Date Galaxies”

I wrote a short poem about my out of date Galaxy Cookie Crumble from WHSMITH in Coventry Station. I bought it for one pound, same as it costs IN DATE at Tescos and other leading supermarkets

Here are some pictures:

O Galaxy Cookie Crumble
How I love to eat you when my
Stomach rumbles
On the slowpoke
London Midland train
from Coventry To London Euston.
Rain
Falls now

Through darkening skies
And we cling to each other
Your pink foil and cookie pieces
Your out of date slightly stale structure
Coat my hunger
There is a rupture
From reality!
For a few seconds — then I realise
I am alone and soon I will be dead

Review : Walkers Lime and Black Pepper

The vending machine here at the Westwood Centre for Teacher Education (Warwick University) is a real blast from the past. Some classics : Fry’s Peppermint Cream, a Nestlé Crunch bar, a row of Rio canned fruit juice. It appears to have been stocked completely at random by a British office worker. It also featured one of Walker’s use it or lose it campaign with new flavours. The lime here is weak and reedy – like a dilute cordial – and the pepper also weak and chemical-tinged. Let’s be honest : this is mass-produced food as chemical engineering, and it shows. Pleasant enough but it seeks to replace Salt and Vinegar – not a chance, buddy.

2/5