6 ways I fought food blandness after (mostly) quitting meat

cashew nuts in a bowl

Six or seven years ago I became a dreaded ‘flexitarian’.

Not fully my choice, really – like Jules in Pulp Fiction, my partner went veggie so I pretty much had to as well. I somewhat resented the hassle at first, but in the ensuing years I’ve found that the maxim ‘constraints breed creativity’ can be applied to cooking, too. And it’s followed that I’ve gone on to think of cooking not just as a means to produce edible food, but an entire creative pursuit in itself, with the same rewards and frustrations as any other.

I suppose the first step to reconfiguring how I thought about cooking was to approach it as a battle against blandness. If you’re cutting out a sizeable part of your diet, what’s left needs to be appealing and satisfying. So I thought I’d make a list of things that have helped me fight that battle. Will the war ever be won? ‘Tis not for me to say. All I can do is remain resolute, put my faith in capers, and try to endure.

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Farewell to CDs

 

With a baby on the way, I needed to create some room at home. This meant there was no getting around it: it was time for the last remaining boxes of CDs to go.

Fellow obsessive music fans ‘of a certain age’ will recognise the gut-wrench that hit me following this realisation. I felt an almost physical resistance to getting rid of something in which I’d invested so much, both financially and emotionally.

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The Olympic Games are a wonder of the world

buffer rings

And we know how those tend to be built…

This post is an example of my newsletter of curiosities & curations,Waterman’s Fortnightly. You can can subscribe at tinyletter.com/stuartw.

  • “How did we traverse the nation with a railroad so quickly? We just threw Chinese people in caves and blew them up and didn’t give a shit what happened to them. There’s no end to what you can do when you don’t give a fuck about people. You can do anything! That’s where human greatness comes from — that we’re shitty people, we fuck others over.” Louis CK’s ‘Of course… but maybe’ bit came to mind as I was reading…
  • … Marina Hyde, anticipating the start of athletic competition at the Olympics, who wrote: “(The athletes’) feats and fables eradicate the months and years of government overspending, martial displays, human rights abuses, neighbourhood cleansing, and all the other adorable fascist quirks that are an essential part of the undercard to any modern sporting mega-event.”
  • From the forced eviction of an estimated 1.5m people prior to the Beijing Olympics, to the forced labour (and unspecified number of deaths) of passport-stripped migrant workers behind the construction of facilities for Qatar’s World Cup in 2022, to a combination of all of the above thatenabled Sochi 2014 to be staged, it could be said that ‘modern sporting mega-events’ are today’s versions of world wonders built on slavery.
  • Like the Colosseum, they take years to produce, rely on the toil of thousands of oft-exploited people, are a significant logistical & financial commitment, draw fascination from around the world… and look terrific. On the subject of which, consider the irony of the Rio opening ceremony acknowledging Brazil’s slavery record while people covering the event were housed in a media centre built on a mass grave which African slave descendants regard as sacred.
  • Meanwhile, on the official Olympics website: “The Olympic Movement unites all people and builds bridges between all cultures. In Olympic sport, all people are equal, regardless of their ethnicity, gender or faith.” The paradox: you can’t help but suspect that if the Olympic vision of humanity were to become a reality, the Olympic Games wouldn’t exist at all.

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The chef who creates seven-hour podcasts about horror movies

The Secret History Of Hollywood podcast

In a recent edition of my newsletter I covered a wealth of great podcasts and related resources, one of which was my new podcast app of choice, Pocketcasts.

The Pocketcasts ‘Discover’ feature has since led me to find a podcast called The Secret History of Hollywood. I thought I might need to get my eyes checked when one of its episodes – ‘Hunting Witches With Walt Disney’ – was listed as coming in at 171 minutes. Then I noticed that another episode, ‘A Universe Of Horrors’ – which tells the tale of Universal Studios’ iconic horror movies – ran to 429 minutes. That’s over seven hours.

As a man who once catalogued every articIe I read in a year, the level of dedication & obsession involved here piqued my interest.

Having listened to ‘Hunting Witches With Walt Disney’, and thoroughly enjoyed the wry tone and detailed historical context (it looks at the HUAC witch-hunts and how they affected Hollywood stars – plus the social conditions that led to them), I decided I had to learn more about the people who produced it.

Only, there is no collection of film journalists or content production behemoth behind The Secret History Of Hollywood. It is but one person: a chap called Adam Roche. And he has no background in radio, or audio of any kind. In fact, he’s a chef.

Adam kindly agreed to answer lots of my questions, and did so in great detail.

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17 great podcasts that aren’t Serial, StartUp or This American Life

This list of somewhat lesser-known podcasts originally appeared in Waterman’s Fortnightly – my regular newsletter of curations and curiosities. Subscribe to Waterman’s Fortnightly here.

It’s 2015 and everyone’s going bonkers over podcasts like it’s 2006 (I remember you, Odeo!). Obligatory references to Serial and StartUp go here.

But as the Gimlet Media folk have alluded to, there’s currently a lack of tools to help discovery (especially if you’re a non-iTunes user). So for the past few weeks I’ve been digging into the podcastiverse and sampling a variety of aural delights outside of the big guns mentioned above. These are some of my findlings.

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Introducing Waterman’s Fortnightly

Waterman's Fortnightly newsletter

Waterman’s Fortnightly is a new thing I’m doing every, er, fortnight or so. It’s a newsletter covering interesting things, with a slight slant towards digital content and community stuff.

This is a glimpse of the fourth one – if you find it interesting you might want to sign up for future dispatches.

  • Has any work software ever received as much glowing coverage as Slack? You can barely open a browser without encountering an article claiming how it’s set to change workplace culture forever
  • …depending on your workplace. The majority of office workers are more likely to identify with the story of the US government employee who worked from the bathroom in order to bypass his employer’s IT security measures.
  • Slack is supposed to be so compulsive that users are reluctant to leave the office. And while we’re all addicted to web-enabled devices these days, this dispatch from 1982 illustrates computers’ ability to transfix us before you could even do much with them.
  • If smug Slackers’ screenshots are the summit of #LoveMyJob self-satisfaction, what’s the opposite? Toshers are certainly contenders for Quite Likely The Worst Job Ever, having made their living sifting through raw sewage in 19th century London. Pure-finders run them close, though.

Shared recently in Non-Fiction Addiction

The self-castrated hatmaker who killed the guy who killed Abraham Lincoln; why the FBI investigated The Kingsmen and their hit ‘Louie Louie’; what became of the children who survived the Holocaust; and more at Non-Fiction Addiction.

A little suntin suntin for the marketomatons

Links for online content and marketing folk. Skip ahead to Phew glad that bit’s over if that sentence makes you spit chips.

Phew, glad that bit’s over

Stuart Waterman

 

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