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Showing posts from March, 2014

This old heart of mine...

... has been racing ever since I had a cappuccino at around 10.30 this morning. This rarely happens and I don't like it. I'm the kind of person who can generally drink a cappuccino or a latte, or even an espresso, after dinner and later fall asleep quite rapidly and in my usual manner: dropping the Kindle onto my face.
So it can't be the cup of coffee, per se, that's done this, can it? It surely has to be more the amount of caffeine in that cup. (There's an apocryphal story that coffee was supposedly discovered by a 9th century Ethiopian goat-herder after his goats behaved strangely after eating from a coffee plant. Well, I'm feeling more than a little goatish myself at the moment.)
According to a feature on the BBC's One Show a couple of weeks ago the amount of caffeine varies drastically in similar cups of coffee from different retailers. And a study from 2011 reckons that difference could stretch from 50mg per cup to over 300mg. But how much is too much fo…

Good wife and mother, and puller of a decent pint too, it seems: one of the women who made me

The same year my great, great grandmother, Margaret Davies, was married in the parish church of Merthyr, Carmarthenshire the Wine and Beerhouse Act 1869 legislated that the sale of beers, wines or spirits would now require a premises licence from the local magistrates. Licences were only granted, transferred or renewed at special Licensing Sessions courts, and were limited to respectable individuals. So I think I'm safe in assuming that her new husband, John Isaac, a blacksmith, was a reliable and trustworthy type otherwise they wouldn't have been installed at the Stag & Pheasant Inn, near Llanllawddog, in 1871. 

'Publican and Smithy' is recorded next to his name. 'Wife' next to hers. Although 18 years later she'd be cited as the landlord in the 'scandalous' 'FALSE PRETENCES AT LLANLLAWDDOG' case reported in the Carmarthen Weekly Reporter on 7th July 1899 at the end of which Joseph Turner was convicted of fraudulently obtaining 1s. 6d wor…

Bagel or beigel? Our daily bread.

I say 'baygel'. A writer friend, from a Jewish family, pronounces it 'buygel'. When I met them on a supermarket shelf for the first time, in Florida in the summer of 1988, I was impressed by their versatility: plain, onion, poppy seeded, something very speckled (this could have been what I've since discovered is called 'Everything') and cinnamon and raisin. This is a bread roll that knows how to compete, I thought. A bread roll that goes the distance.
It was Andrea, the wife of the British artist, Barry Leighton Jones, who we were living with that summer who introduced them to me: lightly toasted, spread with cream cheese, draped with smoked salmon, and crowned with fresh onion and tomato. That's tomahto not tomayto! 
Cream cheese and smoked salmon on toast is nice but it doesn't compare with a bagel, its hint of resistance when you first bite, before your teeth sink into the doughy interior. This is dough that persists, pushes and wraps into every mi…