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TALES OF AN ORANGEPEELER

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Friday, 22 August 2008

Broke-ass August, indecisive, anxious, chess-mad, with 30 lbs of Irish cheese in the fridge. Ballintubber, mild cheddar with chives. Ballyblue, semi-soft from Co. Tyrone. Applewood, smoked, with paprika. Wensleydale, with cranberries. Have some smoked Gubbeen, loveen.

Never mind the expiration date. Let's talk of Gramsci, Saussure and Derrida over an omelet and a simple salad of, say, lettuce, whose virtues of cool crispness and inexpensiveness make it ideal for penurious Augusts.

Lettuce is best when simply dressed. Alone, with a homemade vinaigrette. Little triangles of lettuce-and-tomato-and-mayonnaise. Have it at every meal; never mind sorrel or rocket or any other exotic, more costly varieties--they'll wait for other, more prosperous times.

It's also nice with this recipe: Boil beer (a little less than a tall can of bitter) until reduced by half, then add milk and heat. Don't squeal when it curds. In another pot, start a thick roux, then stir in the milk-and-beer mixture in little measures, until smooth. Stir in grated sharp cheese--a good bowlful will do. Season with mustard, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. How much of anything depends according to your taste and sense of smell (or adventure). Toast slices of thick white crusty bread, spoon the mixture over it, and grill till brown and bubbling. Voila! Welsh rarebit.

What a funny name, he said. The poor man's steak, to the ha-ha English.

Perhaps. It's slippery, this language, my English, all its ways of expressing hunger or love. We're always falling into gaps, between what was said and what is meant.

My family has been here for twenty-two generations. I'm from the Bog, he growled. I have a right to ask you where you're from.

Where are you going? That would have been a more polite, more interesting question.




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