Cellphone cake


If you catch a boat to Mülheim on the wrong side of the tracks (or more correctly, the wrong side of the Rhein) in Cologne, you can pick up a football team, spongebob, spiderman or mowgli cake.
But my fave was definitely the cellphone cake, because nothing says "I care" like a hunk of outdated technology. I think the icing says: "Oh it's you.. how did you get this number?"


As Michael von Aichberger noted, people who live in Mülheim call themselves Mülleimer, which sounds a lot like the German word for trash can: Müll-Eimer. But Mülheim is really a great place. You can catch a boat there for four euros.


For the love of food.

It's been *gulp* a while since I've posted here, but I've been spurred into action by the idiotic lexicon of love surrounding cooking which has sprouted up in the miasma that is post-Masterchef Australia.

"Ultimately though does Poh have the passion?"

"He is a self taught cook who is committed and dedicated to good honest food."

"I love home cooking and would visit Julie's restaurant. .... I love real honest food and that is the way Julie cooks."

What is this weird idea that passion and honesty have anything to do with the way food tastes? Is it the way into the idea that anyone with a dream in their hearts and a twinkle in their eye can make a wonderful chef? It's bollocks. Because...

1. Cooking is science, not love.

You experiment. You follow a formula. You use specialised tools. You stray from the formula to produce new results. You test. You fail. You go back to the drawing board. You try something else. You get better at anticipating the results. This is how cooking works and improves. No matter how much 'love' is in your heart, you have to put in the work. Love alone is not some sort of weird food X factor no matter how you spin it.

2. Food is neither honest nor dishonest.

When's the last time you got deceived by a plate of gnocchi? If honest means 'delicious' or 'homestyle' then why not say that?

3. Bloody minded determination beats "passion" 10 out of 10 times.

Passion is better described as drive, ambition, determination, hunger... basically words which sound too mercenary to evoke the floaty dreamy idea that anyone can be a brilliant chef.

In my opinion to be a good cook

  1. you have to really like to eat (or failing this you have to have a strong desire to feed people or be praised for your culinary efforts)
  2. you have to have a keen palette to distinguish various flavours
  3. you can't be easily discouraged
  4. you have to have good time management skills
  5. you have to be prepared to fail and learn from your mistakes - you get better and make less mistakes as time goes on.

It's so unpalatable to say that you have to work and work and work - better to say that it's a matter of the heart. Almost anyone can be a reasonable cook, but passion, love, honesty are not required. No one ever says Thorpey won five Olympic gold medals because he has a passion for swimming. Because it's idiotic.

Of disco and chocolate.

Brussels' sepia-toned buildings look weary and washed out, as if they were submerged for decades in a tide of newspaper clippings about the war. The New York Times Brussels guide makes me think I'd like to venture into the city and eat rabbit stew there one day, but a British journalist working there reporting on the european parliament told me he found it a horrible place to live.

Still, Brussels has at least two things to offer which help fortify on a long train journey: disco and chocolate.

The train station is not a cheerful place. In dimly lit rows of shops, people hang around looking as if they're waiting for someone to tell them where to escape to. But between the discount shops and indoor cafés, a few candy stores offer small bright refuges. Piles of Belgian chocolate lie neatly, edged by colourful tins of spekulaas spiced biscuits, boxes painted and shaped like row houses. Old ladies with tonnes of hairspray and glasses hanging on cords around their necks say "Bonjour" chirpily from behind the counter.

I went into one to get a block of Cote d'or chocolate and was soothed by the Belgian 80s pop music playing over the shop's sound system. The minute you cross the border into Belgium, the public radio starts throbbing with Phil Collins-esque gents crooning ballads in French over the top of electro. I imagine the singers to have long hair, receding hairlines, denim shirts tucked into blue jeans, and when they sing each new line of the song, they hook their fingers in their belt loops and do a little bob to one side. Broken synthesiser keys scattered under their shoes. Garlic on their breath.

With decades of these electro-ballads over the airwaves, the Belgian dance music scene seems almost anachronistic. I've wanted to visit the parties held by Eskimo Records for a long time, because their compilations are eclectic escapism. Sugary and upbeat: polished like a block of hard dark chocolate. A modern take on their parents' multi-lingual electro-pop tradition. Front242 were no anomaly: it seems that a little bit of electro new wave resides in the heart of every Belgian, like a ganache filling.

Sister Sledge Lost in Music (the Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers remix) came over the stereo in the candy store, and suddenly it didn't seem so wearisome to be killing time between legs of a train journey.
Brussels might look drab on the surface, but its soul is on a decades-long sugar high.

So I hung around for a few minutes longer, pretending to browse candy canes with plastic dinosaurs attached to them, and tapping my foot.

Master Chef Australia - White Mumsy Conspiracy?

Yesterday I spent the day working at home and waiting in anticipation for the finale of Master Chef Australia.

And as I hung my washing out to dry, it occurred to me. What if Julie wins? What if they rigged it because Julie is a white middle class mum and the show is sponsored by Coles supermarket and Campbell's soup. Maybe, Poh, who is obviously a better cook won't win because she is Asian and uses century black eggs and doesn't appeal to the key target audience of white middle class Australia....(Coles doesn't even sell century eggs)

No.....I thought. That is far too cynical and it would be far too obvious because Julie was definitely one of the weakest cooks on the show.

Gasp.....but maybe Poh has already been paid to take a fall? It's possible because the elimination of Chris was totally surprising.

So I watched it. And Julie won.

And then my phone started ringing.

My friends on the other end of the line said "but the judges helped Julie with her sorbet, they didn't help Poh"

And today on ABC talk back the host raised the topic and asked listeners if they thought the show was rigged.

Everyone is talking. Everyone is upset.

If you live in Australia and were following the show, do you think it was rigged? Was it a white conspiracy?

And further still...

will Master Chef Australia make amends with the next season and select a black mute midget master chef?

thoughts comments

I for one am outraged. Shame on you Channel Ten, and all you sell out "celebrity chefs" of Australia. Shame on you for not choosing the better chef. Shame on you for trying to sell more crappy supermarket products to overweight white woman. Shame

The Late Night Kitchen Crawl

MySpace Codes

Sometimes when you're so drunk and kinda tired, you can still manage to crawl into a genius snack-viewing vantage point. The next problem is, how do you reach that can of beans on the pantry shelf - let alone get it open?

Photo taken by me mate Dan Feary in Sydney.

Dan writes: "Fu on the light night creep, hitting the fridge & the pantry at the same time. I don't think you remember this moment Fu, so I took this shot for posterity."

Austrian Raver Fuel

Photos taken by my mate Felix the Houserat from Vienna at Springnine Festival, Austria. 5 kilos of nutella should be enough for one weekend and a few hundred of your new friends, I guess.

MySpace Codes

Father's Birthday Wishes

Hi Maytel,

Happy Birthday.

Hock mentioned that you might be coming over, or may be not. Just in case if you do, [boring details of Thai citizenship application deleted]

I am going to take Hock and Austin out tomorrow for a meal. Fact is, I think Austin seems to know many places to go anyway. Hock has put on a fair bit of weight as a result.

Hope you are keep well.



There is another man in my man's life making him fat. That is supposed to be my job. Oh well. I do find it amusing that my portly father would make such a comment. Compared to my Dad, Hock has a fair way to go.


Potatoes - revolutionary food?

Gordon Brown's recipe's, far from revolutionary

Excellent piece of investigative blogging about chicken and arsenic additives

The curse of Michelin

The unbearable bureacracy of organic wine labelling in America

Agriculture is really really important...hello is anyone listening?

Reminder, Sydney International Food Fest October 2009, book tickets


If by chance, you're anything like me, born in the 1970s with a bit of a hippy mother who was constantly searching for "spiritual truth" then you may have come across the poems of famous Lebanese author Kahil Gibran. If not, you might have stumbled across one of his most famous poems on children. You know that one that goes, your children are not your own, and makes archer arrows metaphors etc.

I was thinking about Kahil Gibran today because, I was thinking about my mother and my mother in-law.

So I googled Kahil and found his poem on eating and drinking

Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.
But since you must kill to eat, and rob the newly born of its mother's milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship.

And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in man.

When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,
"By the same power that slays you, I too am slain; and I too shall be consumed.
For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.
Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven."

And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart,
"Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons."

And in the autumn, when you gather the grapes of your vineyards for the winepress, say in your heart,
"I too am a vineyard, and my fruit shall be gathered for the winepress,
And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels."
And in winter, when you draw the wine, let there be in your heart a song for each cup;
And let there be in the song a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress.

In most traditional meat eating cultures there has often co-existed a spiritual element of giving thanks for one's meal. Respectful gratitude to the animal that gave its life, to the environment that nurtured it. The brutality of killing is offset with ritual thanks to the gods, nature and other magical beings. In some cultures certain tribes held specific animals as totems of their tribe which they did not eat. Others had elaborate rules and laws surrounding when and what to hunt, it was often interspersed with animistic beliefs.

Being thankful and grateful for ones food is something that most westerner's threw out the when they went secular. The tradition of saying grace before a meal ended. But did we throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. Should we bring back a secular form of "grace" to ensure we remain respectful and grateful to the environment and people which produced food of any sort of which we are fortunate enough to find upon our plates?
fruit fuzz

Pictured: a sign in the bathroom at Barcelona's Boqueria market.

I've seen some fuzzy fruit in my time, but this is ridiculous.

chickpea boqueria

This chickpea hodgepodge was at Bar Central in the market. While the grilled veg were sprinkled liberally with nice flaky salt, the chickpea/spinach/broth was almost under-seasoned - but in a good way. Eggs find their way into all sorts of dishes there, and I enjoyed the just-firm broth-soaked scraps in this bowlful. They contributed another toothy texture to the chunky, wholesome goodness.
Just a little reminder of how classy cheap proteins like beans 'n' eggs can be, in the right hands.

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