Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fasten Your Stockings, Please!

There is only a week left till Easter and it's about time to produce some of those Easter Eggs that even Martha Stewart made green with envy.

All it takes is:
  • sufficient white eggs
  • grasses and herbs
  • onion skins
  • a dash of vinegar
  • fully-fashioned stockings
  • thread
  • a big pan

Cut the stockings into squares. Take one and place it flat onto the table. Choose some leaves and place them nicely on the piece of stoking. Take an egg, put it onto the leaves and wrap the stocking carefully around the egg. Fasten the stocking really tight with a thread.

Put the onion skins and the eggs in a big pan with enough cold tap water to cover completely by 1 inch. Add a dash of vinegar. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is brought to a rolling boil, promptly reduce heat to a lower medium boil and cook an additional 10 minutes for a "hard boiled" Easter Egg.

Remove from heat and immediately place eggs under ice cold water or in a bowl of iced water to chill promptly to help yolks stay bright yellow. Chill for a few minutes in the cold water until the egg is completely cooled.

Now you can cut open the stockings and the absolutely naturally coloured eggs reveal their beauty.

(click to enlarge)

Enjoy them within a fortnight. If you don't shock cool them, they will stay fresh for a month but will be harder to peal. The onion skin brew can be reused several times. Just let it cool down and start again.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Fall of Man

Migros is Switzerland's biggest retailer. This year, it's customer loyalty scheme Cumulus is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a Rolling Stones concert exclusively for its Cumulus members.

Yesterday, I reported this to Ms. Mac, who is - contrary to me - a Cumulus member. She replied:
That's a bit exciting, isn't it? Sadly, even though I'm a card carrying
member of Migros Cumulus, I never really shop in there so there will be
little chance of me winning any tickets.
Why are you not a Cumulus member?

Well, because Cumulus is just another blatant violation of the principles of Migros founder Gottlieb Duttweiler.

For the ones who are not that familiar with the history of Migros and Gottlieb Duttweiler, I have to get a bit verbosely:

Die history of Migros is a real adventure and the most felicitous example of creative imagination, guts, and subversion Switzerland has ever seen. The fight started right at the beginning, when Gottlieb Duttweiler began in 1925 with 6 products and 5 Ford trucks, which he converted into rolling shops. The small shop owners bait the police on him, factories refused to deliver supplies, and the Swiss Parliament passes in 1934 a special Migros bill to prohibit the opening of branches.

Duttweiler found ways to bypass the bill to open branches, agitated, founded his own newspaper and political party, and built own factories to get supplies. The success of Migros is the success against the cumulative resistance of the entire Swiss business and political establishment.

Absolutely unique was that he reserved a percent of the turnover to support the arts and culture, and that he refused to sell tobacco and alcohol. He definitely reached the apex of subversion when he gave away his empire to his customers in 1941. You can't buy or sell Migros, unless its customers agree. Migros is working outside of the classical business world.

So why do I refuse to become a Cumulus member? Duttweiler biggest opponents where the small shop owners, who tried to justify their high prices with incentives such as trading stamps. Duttweiler promised his customers fair prices without hidden discounts. For me, there is not much difference between a trading stamp and Cumulus points.

But Ms.Mac, if you really want so rock with those old men, Toño and I will shop on your Cumulus account, despite the heretical aspect of the entire scheme.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Undefined Fine Food

If there is something one is not supposed to pinch pennies about, it's cheese. Money spent on good quality cheese is hardly ever wasted. Of course, we all have our cheese dealer of trust, but we are also hard-working members of our society, and hence not always able to walk this extra mile. Fortunately, ordinary supermarkets started to introduce fine food products on their shelves, which they call Sélection or - to keep things simple - Fine Food, such as Coop does.

The other day, Toño had to make a such compromise. However, he did well by choosing Coop's Brie from the Kartause Ittingen, a former monastery of the Carthusian order.

As a so called company with a social conscience, Coop tries to justify the immorally exuberant price with a lavish packaging and a booklet, which praises the heritage of the cheese and its special position in the pantheon of food.

The booklet also mentioned that the cheese is at its best in both texture and flavour three weeks after production. Of course, I immediately checked the wrapper. But all I could find, was the latest date of sale and the one for consumption.

For heaven's sake! How I'm supposed to determine the climax of the cheese based on this flawed information?

Of course, I contacted Coop's customer service. They promptly asked back for the exact dates printed on package, but remained silent ever since. This was more than three weeks ago. We are now definitely beyond the pinnacle of both the cheese and a decent customer service.

Mashed Up Saturday

I have to admit that I usual prefer remixes to original tracks. Thus I had a fabulous time over at VJ Jaren. He rocks by letting The Killers' "Somebody Told Me" go with "Rock the Casbah" by The Clash. He moves by melting Kanye West's "Gold Digger" with Walter Murphy's disco floor-filler "A Fifth of Beetoven". He shakes my booties by crossing Missy Elliot's "I'm realy hot" with The Cure's "Hot Hot Hot!!!". He fuses Madonna's "Hung Up" & VHS or BETA's "Night on Fire" to a boiling track. And yes, I just can't get enough of this music:

Friday, March 23, 2007

Last Tantrum

Yes, it's spring, but winter just does not give in.

If you have no idea what this is: front wheel and front gear box of my bicycle and my left foot on the pedal (from left to write).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Bangalore is over. I'm back home in my lover's arms, after beavering away for nine days (no weekends whatsoever). The next trip to India will hopefully not be before the end of monsoon - to bohemian Mumbai to go sailing.

For Indian standards, Bangalore has a very pleasant climate with no extremes. At this time of the year, the locals celebrate Ugadi, literally - the start of an era. Lots of trees are blossoming now. One feels like in the middle of a rainbow.

As I said, we had hardly any time to enjoy this. We even almost mist the plane, because of work and last minute curtsey calls to some top brass, which lead us into middle of rush hour. But somehow we - that is our driver - managed to sneak out of the congestion and we arrived at the airport* in the nick of time.

* Our caring employer booked us coach (!) for the domestic leg. Did you know that on Jet Airways only business class passenges get a life vest? Coach is supposed to use the seat pad a floating support.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


How was your afternoon? Was it sweet, passionate and lyrical? Neither was mine. Actually, mine was quite a waste. However, just by accident, I passed by this beautifully made movie by the gifted Mexican cineasta Roberto Fiesco Trejo. A man, I will keep an eye on.

If you wasted your afternoon too, these 15 minutes will be well spent:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Enological India

Today's Times of India featured an article on the prospects of Wine Tourism in the region of Bangalore. I would not have put my money on that.

When I came to India for the first time (this must have been 7 years ago), I soon learned to keep my distance to wine. The imported one was heavily overloaded with taxes and the local ones were directly derived from Château Migraine.

If this idea of Wine Tourism is not blatant dupery, things must have changed. Indians are not not only buying wineries around the globe, they also invest in the local production. The local leader in Bangalore seem to be the Glovers.

Maybe, I really should take Toño along next time. There is more to discover in India than one might expect.

Wine Tourism
by Rakesh Prakash
The Times of India, 12 Mar, 2007

BANGALORE: Karnataka is all set to go the California way — it will welcome tourists with wine. The state government, in its soon-to-be-announced wine policy, has planned to chase its dollar dreams by giving thrust to wine tourism. A green signal to this effect was given by the cabinet last week.

"Tourists can stroll through picturesque vineyards and be a part of the wine-making process. They can also buy fresh wine," horticulture department sources said.

Similar tours are conducted in California's Napa Valley and New Zealand. Other cities promoting wine tourism are Melbourne, Bordeaux (France), Cape Town and Florence.

Karnataka has already set the stage for promoting wine tourism. Grapes are grown in nearly 9,700 hectares across the state; the annual production being 1.67 lakh tonnes.The grape-growing districts of Bangalore (Urban and Rural) and Kolar — called Nandi Valley — and those of Bijapur, Bagalkot and Belgaum — Krishna Valley — will be promoted in a major way, horticulture minister Shashikanth Akkappa Naik said. Even the high-end domestic tourists will be tapped for this.

The government hopes wine tourism will be a hit, particularly in the serene Krishna Valley. "Bijapur and Belgaum are heritage centres, and since they are close to Goa, a lot of tourists flock there. Now, wine tours will be an added attraction," sources added. Apart from increasing grape cultivation, the government wants to encourage more wineries.

It plans to declare wine-production units as foodprocessing industry and extend necessary concessions. Further, the licence-issuing procedure will be relaxed — no longer will winery owners run to the excise department for licences, instead they can obtain the same from respective deputy commissioners. That too within 30 days of submitting an application.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Back Again

It's only March and I'm already the third time in Asia and the second time parted from deriously beloved Toño by my caring employer. I terribly miss him.

Yes I'm back in India, enjoying the favorite Indian past time: traffic jams and cricket. It can be combined, when emotions are high on the eve of the Cricket World Cup:

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Only Yodeling Was Not Required

Finally some good news: Toño was granted Swiss citizenship yesterday evening! The process of naturalization is not yet completed, but from now on it's only long-winded bureaucratic paper shoveling. However, Toño's office pals couldn't wait till then and already equipped him with the bare Swiss essentials.

We Swiss like to do things our way. That's why we have a triple level citizenship (Confederation, canton and community). Every Swiss is a citizen of his/her place/community of origin, his/her canton of origin and the Confederation, in this order: a Swiss citizen is defined as someone who has the citizenship of a Swiss municipalities (art. 37 of the Swiss Federal Constitution).

The procedure to obtain it is rather tedious. After filling endless forms and questionaries, Toño had to wait several months, until he was invited to a course on Swiss history and political system.

The mayor and his associates of the town government summoned him to a test on the subjects taught before. But what did they know themselves? It was Toño who had to tell them that the opera by Rossini on William Tell is far better that the play by Schiller.

After some further waiting, Toño was summoned to an interview with a commission of the town parliament. They wanted to find out how well Toño has integrated himself into Swiss behavior and social structure. He could shut them up by explaining that he cooks according to the recipes of Le Menu, a publication of the Swiss dairy farmers (they really asked about his diet).

Finally, yesterday evening, there was the big vote in the town parliament. From 38 possible votes, Toño received 28, 9 abstained (cowards!), and a bloke of the right wing Swiss People's Party said no to him. How could he, even the lady from the far-right Swiss Democrats with the bad hairdo could not resist his charm. Who cares. It's done, if no one of his (soon to be) fellow citizens raises an objection within 20 days.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

At Our Lake

Experiencing the perfect spring Sunday, Toño and I made a brief walk to our brand spanking new lake (remember?) that was built literally in our backyard.

Our Lake

It is 500 metres long and most of its northern shore is a sandy beach. Guess were we will be, when spring has been replaced by summer.

Talking about seasons. We are back from the perfect winter exploitation in Siberia. I have already and will in due course release detailed reports on this blog on all our adventures. The diary will also posted on Through the Northern Pole of Cold.