People Messhall Pickled Cabbage


My wife’s from Zhejiang province, and so is this can of pickled cabbage that she bought yesterday. I like the label a lot. It’s not quite Engrish: of course, we would say “people’s mess hall”, but the Chinese characters actually denote an extremely basic canteen-like eatery. A mess hall, a canteen, maybe a refectory; very latter-day Maoist. It’s a correct translation.

I endorse the pickled cabbage of the Chun’an Qiandaohu Nongxing Food Co., Ltd.. It is by far good enough to be served not only in mess halls.

Kitchen Osteology


I once wrote about a miniature køkkenmødding shell midden that accreted in our kitchen sink when we had oysters (image below). Another type of archaeological assemblage that occurs far more commonly in our house is the chicken or pork bone dump. The chicken bones usually don’t look very archaeological when we throw them out since they tend to be discoloured and still partly covered in soft tissue. But as you can see above, what remains after my wife has cooked pork broth on fläskben, cheap bony butchering leftovers, could be sitting in a tagged zip baggie on any urban dig.

Our boiled pork bones would be particularly interesting to an osteologist as my wife and other Chinese women in our circles like to gnaw them assiduously, sometimes even going so far as to chew the spongiosa structure inside larger bones. I’m not talking marrow here, it’s more like a petrified kitchen sponge that the ladies grind to sand between their teeth. I read somewhere that the reason so many Chinese people go into the restaurant business is that for the past several millennia, not one generation of Chinese people has been spared famine.


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Bo Ohlson’s Lemon Chicken, as Remembered and Recreated 30 Years Later

Dismember a chicken and boil it in pan #1 until tender.

Boil it with onion + carrot + garlic clove, all split, and bay leaf + salt.

In pan #2, melt a few tablespoons of butter and whisk 0.4 dl of wheat flour into it.

Add 5 dl of the chicken broth from pan #1, strained, a little at a time, while whisking.

Add the shredded zest of a lemon and half of its juice.

Add salt and pepper to taste and a dash of turmeric for colour.

When the sauce has boiled for a while and thickened well, take it off the heat and whisk an egg yolk into it.

Meanwhile, cook rice and some vegetables.

The easiest way to keep the chicken warm while you get everything ready is to leave it in the surplus broth.

WARNING: do not add milk or cream to the sauce, as the citric acid will cause them to curdle.

Bo Ohlson is the father of my childhood friend Örjan. He is one of Sweden’s main authorities on pharmaceutical history.

Sunday Mushrooms


Yesterday’s walk in the woods near Drevinge garnered us the following:

  • Shaggy ink cap, Fjällig bläcksvamp, Coprinus comatus
  • Terracotta hedgehog, Rödgul taggsvamp, Hydnum rufescens
  • Shingled hedgehog, Fjällig taggsvamp, Sarcodon imbricatus
  • Common puffball, VÃ¥rtig röksvamp, Lycoperdon perlatum
  • Velvet bolete, Sandsopp, Suillus variegatus
  • Copper brittlegill, Tegelkremla, Russula decolorans
  • Birch bolete, Björksopp, Leccinum scabrum

I’ve never picked the ink caps before as I knew that the Common ink cap is poisonous at least in combination with alcohol. But now I know better. The shaggies are always plentiful around here!

This autumn holds a small anniversary for me and my wife. She moved in with me in January of 2000. In September of that year we bought a mushroom spotter’s guide and wrote both our names in it. Arguably, a couple can’t really get any more married than that. And now we’ve used the book for ten years!


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At my wife’s suggestion, I quit work 1½ hour early today and cycled with her and the kids into the woods to pick mushrooms. Lovely sunny afternoon, and I can report that the hills between Lakes Lundsjön and Trehörningen are rich in boletes right now. Here are the species we got:

  • King bolete, Stensopp/Karl Johan, Boletus edulis
  • Velvet bolete, Sandsopp, Suillus variegatus
  • Orange Birch Bolete, Tegelsopp, Leccinum versepelle
  • Copper brittlegill, Tegelkremla, Russula decolorans
  • Chanterelle, Kantarell, Cantharellus cibarius
  • FÃ¥rticka, Albatrellus ovinus

Gordon Ramsay’s Predecessor Sacks Jerusalem


And here’s star philologist and religion scholar Ola Wikander with a guest lesson in Akkadian.

The word of the day is nuḫatimmu. It means “a cook” in Akkadian (or sometimes “a baker”). Maybe something to interest Gordon Ramsay? And wouldn’t it be great if there was an Akkadian version of the TV show MasterChef, named Rab Nuḫatimmê? Taken literally, that term means “top cook”, “best cook”, but it was also used in a slightly different context way back when. In 586 BC, when Jerusalem had surrendered to Babylonian invaders, the victors sacked the city under the command of a certain Nebuzaradan (in Akkadian actually Nabû-zēr-iddina, see 2 Kings 25). The man was in fact “master chef” at the court of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II. But this official’s duties had clearly expanded at the time to include a few more aggressive tasks. Maybe the parallel with Gordon Ramsay isn’t so far-fetched after all…

Translated by MR.

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French Soft Drink Promises to Change Your Sexual Orientation

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Christian fundamentalists like to believe that homosexuality is an illness that can — and should — be cured. The factual belief is contradicted by a solid scientific consensus, and the value judgement is widely considered to be a repressive holdover from the Bronze Age.

The makers of the French orange-based soft drink Orangina seem to agree with the fundies’ unscientific belief that homosexuality can be induced post-natally in a fully formed individual. They, however, are certainly not homophobes. On the contrary, in a recent major ad campaign they invite consumers to use Orangina to “Wake the Fruit Inside!”. They go on to emphasise how gay the drink can make you regardless of geography: “Orangina’s original recipe is a well-guarded secret that offers joie de vivre to people around the world”.

I’ve had lots of Orangina over the years and I still don’t feel any stirrings of my inner fruit. This may be a case of fraudulent marketing. Or they may just have hired a really bad copywriter.

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