Category Archives: Food and drink


Part 3 in the ongoing This Is Why I’m Fat series


… although, to cut myself some credit, it was made using the rice left over from last night’s meal.

The other ingredients, as if you didn’t already know: “spicy crab” (surimi, mayonnaise, chili powder), pickled daikon, lettuce, nori (sheets of dried seaweed), and of course soy sauce and gari (pickled ginger).

Oops, I did it again

How’s that diet going, Mike?


Uh, not so great. Why do you ask?

This is why I’m fat

Because my weight was gradually creeping up, I put myself on a diet at the end of April: no chocolate, no alcohol, no food between meals, and smaller portions. I am sticking to the first three prongs, but this is what I made myself for lunch last Friday:


I know … I’m not helping myself.


Inclusive and Exclusive OR in informal speech

As good computer scientists, we know that there are two kinds of OR.

An inclusive OR, which is what we nearly always need in programming, is true if either of its branches is true: “exit this loop if we’ve processed 50 items OR there are none left to process.”

An exclusive OR is true if exactly one if its branches is true, but not if both are. “If player 1 is attacking player 2 OR player 2 is attacking player 1 (but not both) then inflict damage.” [This is a contrived example: that's because it's hard to think of non-contrived examples -- they hardly ever come up in real programs.]


When we use “or” in informal speech, we nearly always mean exclusive or. If I tell you I’m going to the cinema to see Skyfall on Wednesday or Thursday, you understand that I will go on one day or the other, but not both. If I ask you what you want to drink and you say Abbot Ale or Ruddles County, you’d be surprised (but maybe not disappointed) if I brought you two pints.

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Shepherd’s pie symbolises everything I loathe about English food

Shepherd’s pie symbolises everything I loathe about English food

You start with intrinsically delicious ingredients — beef, onions, tomatoes — which in another culture would become something pungent and flavoursome, like spaghetti bolognese or chili con carne. And instead, the dark sorcery of English cooking somehow contrives to merge them all into this flavourless substance. OK, you can eat it. It’s not actually unpleasant. But it’s such a waste.

Blah blah blah boring blah

Have you ever noticed that English restaurants are rarely found in France? Or indeed anywhere? There’s a reason for that.

We can make great beer in England. But food? Not so much.

Dear dessert-marketing corporations: please do not attempt philosophy

On my flight to Boston the other week, I was given a dessert (to be fair, a pretty good chocolate mousse) in a pot whose packaging was so startlingly inane that I had to save it for later derision. Here it is:

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Foolproof super-simple but awesome recipe: mushroom pasta

I’ve been cooking this a lot recently, after having eaten something similar at our best nearby pub/restaurant, The Mill Race.  It came as quite a shock to realise how simple it is, and I thought it deserved to be  shared more widely.

Ingredients: mushrooms, cream, butter, salt, pepper, pasta.

Quantities: I really couldn’t say: I just use the amount that seems about right.  To give a very rough idea, I used a dozen mushrooms when I last made this, which was for three people, but you could certainly use more.  Probably about 100 ml of cream, and a blob of butter about the size of a smallish USB stick.  (I propose this as the new standard unit for measuring butter.)

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My dinner tonight

Fiona and the boys are visiting the in-laws, so I have the house to myself.  That means I can cook what I want when I want; and what I want is sushi (big surprise).

That’s one 250g fillet of salmon, four crabsticks, half an avocado, plus rice, mayonnaise, paprika, picked daikon and: walnuts.  Yes, I know that walnuts are not standard sushi fare, but I urge you to try it.  Their texture complements this other ingredients perfectly.  They work particularly well with the crabstick.

G. K. Chesterton on enjoying lowbrow art

A wise man wrote:

[The bombast in the novels of Sir Walter Scott] will always be stirring to anyone who approaches it, as he should approach all literature, as a little child. We could easily excuse the contemporary critic for not admiring melodramas and adventure stories, and Punch and Judy, if he would admit that it was a slight deficiency in his artistic sensibilities. Beyond all question, it marks a lack of literary instinct to be unable to simplify one’s mind at the first signal of the advance of romance. “You do me wrong”, said Brian de Bois-Guilbert to Rebecca. “Many a law, many a commandment have I broken, but my word, never”.  “Die”, cries Balfour of Burley to the villain in Old Mortality. “Die, hoping nothing, believing nothing–”  “And fearing nothing”, replies the other. This is the old and honourable fine art of bragging, as it was practised by the great worthies of antiquity. The man who cannot appreciate it goes along with the man who cannot appreciate beef or claret or a game with children or a brass band. They are afraid of making fools of themselves, and are unaware that that transformation has already been triumphantly effected.

– G. K. Chesterton, Twelve Types: The Position of Sir Walter Scott

I am confident that Chesterton, if he lived today, would be a big fan of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who.  And he would be right to be.

Make an omelette

I just had my lunch.  I made an omelette, which look ten minutes start to finish (I looked at the clock), and it was delicious.  I highly recommend it.

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