Topics of conversation at my usual sl club haunt are diverse and vary widely in subject matter, but there are some popular themes that crop up frequently, which we never seem to tire of: food, talking shoes, toilet habits and dwarves!
Don’t dwell too long on that list – it probably tells you more about the social groups i move in than is strictly necessary or desirable, but i would like to pluck ‘food’ from those headings, since it’s a subject close to my heart and one which has – perhaps surprisingly – some links with sl, although i’ll be the first to admit, they might be a bit tenuous!
Some time ago i considered what might constitute the ultimate in sl snackery, and since writing that piece, i don’t think much has changed. Whilst i’ll admit to snacking whilst inworld, i do try to keep it a) fairly healthly – by only indulging at the end of the week, (and you thought i was going to say ‘by eating fruit’), and b) appropriate – i do think there’s something to be said for taking time over food and not trying to rush through a proper meal, whilst trying to hold a conversation inworld. Mealtimes, are not sl times, although there will always be occasions when time and circumstances push me in the direction of a couple of sandwiches or, (ahem), the occasional pizza in lieu of a proper meal, merging with inworld activities.
As for snacking, my extensive studies have confirmed that there’s still little that can beat the humble Japanese rice cracker, but if you really want to snack in style, whilst still being able to engage fully with the virtual side of the screen, there is a truly supreme solution… it is the ‘cheese board’.
It does require a little preparation – there’s no way you can juggle buttering crackers, slicing and/or spreading cheese and chasing pickled onions around a jar with a fork, whilst maneuvering around your favourite store, or holding a semi-literate conversation, but ten minutes preparation, and you’re good to go. A decent selection of cheeses and crackery things, maybe some olives, pickled onions, cherry tomatoes, some grapes and a nice wedge of pâté and you have a feast fit for a king. Morever, it’s a feast of bite-sized nibbles – easily arranged on a single space-saving plate – that you can enjoy at leisure, dipping into it as and when you fancy, spinning the whole snacking experience out over an entire evening. Better still, there are few things that go so well with a decent wine, cider or beer – essential accompaniments to a serious session of unwinding from a hard day and messing about in sl.
Before you start to think i must be the size of a house and can only function if i’m within arms’ length of a computer, fridge and corkscrew, i should mention that an appreciation of good food is something that i consider to be one of the great pleasures in life – in moderation, sensibly partaken and with an appreciation for quality ingredients and ‘proper’ culinary skill, it can be a wonderful thing. Convenience foods just don’t rock my boat – and i can’t abide frozen microwaveable mush! Thankfully, sl provides a wealth of opportunity to explore the more refined side of cooking.
i’ve lost count of the number of people i’ve swapped recipes with inworld – there’s nothing better than having a chat with a friend from halfway across the world and coming away with their mother’s special recipe for pasta sauce, or the secrets to making traditional dishes from far-away countries. These are the sort of things you’ll never find in a recipe book or being showcased by a celebrity chef… and, so far, i’ve never been disappointed with an sl-inspired meal. The best thing is, there’s a whole virtual world full of people with such inspiring fare to share, and i can’t wait to see what else is out there to try, and enjoy.
It wouldn’t be in the spirit of this post not to share one of my own recipes with you, so – inspired by a meal i once had in a small restaurant off the Jemaa el Fna, Marrakech.
Seren’s Lemon Chicken & Olive Tagine
Spices: cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves, cumin, chilli powder, ras al hanout, preserved lemons, harissa paste.
Lots of green olives
A few more green olives
Bung some chicken pieces in a sandwich bag – however you fancy it: on the bone, breasts, or chunks, it doesn’t matter.
Juice a lemon and pour it over, add a cinnamon stick, a couple of cloves, a few drops of rose water and a drizzle of good olive oil. Seal the bag and shake it up. Pop it in the ‘fridge and leave it there until tomorrow night.
Tomorrow night: dig out the tagine you were given as a present years ago and hasn’t seen the light of day since. If you don’t have a tagine, buy one immediately! Alternatively, a biggish saucepan, with a good fitting lid will do.
Put the chicken in the tagine/pan, (take it out of the bag first!), and pour the juice over it. Now, add a couple of sliced preserved lemons, lots and lots and lots of sliced green olives, roughly sliced onion, a dollup of harissa, and a decent sprinkle of chilli, ras and cumin. Then add that bay leaf you thought i’d forgotten.
Mix it all up. Put the lid on and whack it on the hob on the lowest possible setting.
No stirring, no peeping – just let it do its thing for a good 3, no make it 4 hours.
Serve with flatbread, couscous, scalding hot fresh mint tea and a great big smile!
Don’t you know that you gotta eat food
Don’t you know that it’s good for you.
I’m a Maximum Consumption,
Total automation perpetual motion.
The Kinks – Maximum Comsumption