The South African in England, writing on Greek mythology, of course

So…… I haven’t posted in a while, ahem, oops! This is mainly due to the finishing of a degree, a trip home for a fantastic family wedding, and now hunting for a job. I haven’t had much time to sit down and write anything chunky, like an article, review or recipe, but I am one of those people who writes really bad poetry when there’s a spare moment (usually during a commute, or just before bed, or something else mundane). I’ll write in notebooks, on napkins, my phone, even on store receipts if I have nothing else on me – honestly, it’s better than meditation when I’m particularly frazzled!

Anyhoo, once I realised I hadn’t posted in a while, and being short on time, I went through my notes and found a few poems I’d scribbled down. These two I wrote with a sprinkling of Greek mythology, something I don’t often do, but it made for fun writing! It’s a little odd to be placing my words in so many territories, but then again, as an immigrant I don’t often find myself occupying geographical absolutes. I’m popping the poems up together, and I hope at least one of them has a little something of interest for someone out there. The first one I wrote as I crossed Waterloo bridge on a cold winter’s night: I was really homesick, I had just read Cavafy’s Ithaca, and I was feeling just a touch resentful of the ‘journey’. The second one I wrote after a particularly gruelling day of political news – I imagine Kronos to have oddly small hands 😉 Enjoy!


 

Homesick [Response to C]

I read of Ithaca, then,

Ithaca.

Finding my mind poor

You opened me, Datura Wrightii,

Poured the sea into my skull,

Seething Proteus,

Protea.

 

Now I see Cyclops skulking

On the muddy river bank.

It glares at the towering spikes;

Bloodshot, regrown, never sleeping.

Seagulls shriek

‘Odysseus, Odysseus!’

As it squats,

Fat Sauron sneers, taunting me too:

‘Remember Nobody, nobody, no body’

Sirens wail as they pass

‘Πάντα στὸν νοῦ σοὔχεις τὴν  ̓Ιθάκη’

I feel I have heard it before, but I can’t remember

Where.

 

Somewhere

Beyond this sodden Ogygia –

I remember that purple aroma, Zeus in summer.

Her love woven into fast nets,

Hephaestus working molten rain upon our roof.

I yearn to return to her

But she is gone.

Her perfume lingers on the olive knots.

The geese have flown.

Is that what you mean?

Do I carry Scylla on my back?

I hear Penelope has wed Poseidon.

 

No,

My feet will not pace along Cairo’s rich banks,

Not yet.

‘Slowly’ you whisper, so slow I’ll be.

Perhaps some wisdom will visit me.

 

Ah! I long for the wealth of Ithaca!

 


 

Krónos

I ate my children,

As I had promised them. 

I consumed their flesh,

As is my right. 

I gave them life, so that they could give me power,

Is that not what we agreed?

 

My father was a hardly-familiar dictator.

I was born of his lust,

And so I took it from him

While my mother cheered and wept,

I made my own paradise with it. 

 

My power is absolute, absolution,

My rules so perfect, they do not exist.

My children practice self-tenderisation,

Indoctrinated mental cannibalism,

While quietly I devour it all.

 

It is not my fault;

They love me for it.

It is my right

One they gave me by living.

Still, when I spit out their sinews stuck in my teeth,

Sometimes I feel flecks of gravel pass my lips.

 

 


 

Ridiculously easy rum-fudge & oreo ice cream

This recipe is extremely healthy, light and good for – hahahahahahahaha ha ha HAAAAAAAA – no, this is extra decadent, so if you’re on a diet turn back now. This no-churn ice cream is unreal, and perfect for the long, hot summer days ahead. The base is a very simple 2-ingredient ice cream, and you can make whatever flavours you want with it (I’ll pop some suggestions at the end of the recipe). For this version, I combined the 2 most important food groups – cookies and alcohol – to make a more adult version of the cookies and cream classic. Make this the day before you want it, because it takes a minimum of 6 hours to freeze. Enjoy, and if there are any different/amazing flavour combos you want me to try, leave a comment below!

Ingredients

Ice cream base:

  • 2 cups cold double cream (heavy whipping cream in the US)
  • 1 can condensed milk

Flavours:

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 packet of oreos (about 150g)
  • 1/2 cup Spiced Rum, plus 30ml extra
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 20g butter

 

Method

  1. The first thing to do is make the rum-fudge, so it has time to cool down. Pour your caster sugar and the 1/2 cup of Spiced rum in a saucepan, and turn on the heat to high. 0BD0BCCA-C8FA-430B-A90F-BCCD3F9837E0 Try not to stir it as it begins to bubble, and after about a minute you can occasionally swirl it gently to make sure the syrup heats evenly.
  2. After about 5 mins the rum-sugar mixture should have taken on a nice golden colour (we’re not looking to deeply caramelise it, but get it slightly darker than the colour of the rum). 4392B616-030F-49D1-959E-C2D74724CF5A.jpeg Take it off the heat, and add the butter, stirring rapidly (but take care not to splash yourself, this syrup will be HOT). It will bubble a little so don’t panic. Once the butter is fully incorporated, add the remaining 30ml of rum and leave to cool. I add in the 30ml at the end to make the fudge more syrupy, so I can swirl it into the ice cream. Also, it adds the alcoholic kick back in, yay! B3D19299-1B90-4825-B697-0EDDFC31534C.jpeg
  3. Take the oreos out of the packet, and place them in a plastic bag. Ok, so I added in almost all of them. Well, some of them. Listen, I’m an adult and can have cookies for dinner if I want! Anyhoo, crush the oreos with a heavy object – I used a rolling pin – and then set them aside. I left them fairly chunky because I prefer that texture. EB77C35B-787C-4A71-86FE-10D07A41D7AF.jpeg
  4. Pour the cream into a large mixing bowl, and whisk until if forms soft peaks. Be careful not to over-whisk it, otherwise you’ll start to make butter. 48C13506-9472-4068-AAF9-B6852CBFD3BF.jpeg
  5. Add in the vanilla extract, then drizzle in the condensed milk while slowly whisking the mixture. E3A87DB1-7B3F-4074-B15F-5178A9B1ED6F Once it is all incorporated, add the oreos and fold them in. EFA09C2C-BC81-4D18-BAAE-B8B77C353DF0
  6. Grab your extremely attractive freezable container (or in my case, a 20p generic tub) and gently pour the mixture in. Take your (by now) cool rum-fudge syrup and pour it over the mixture, then use a knife to swirl it in and get a marbled effect. 50748883-8DA7-4938-906D-0C3D20819FB3.jpeg Pop it in the freezer for 6 hours/ overnight, and then enjoy! 97DF6343-FEAF-4FAA-9100-53D4FF68530F.jpeg

Pro tips:

  • Don’t stir your caramel/ syrup as it heats up, otherwise it’ll crystallise when it cools
  • Always fold your chunky ingredients in, try not to stir them – it keeps your mixture as light and creamy as possible
  • If you’re making ice-cream halal, remember not to use vanilla extract, as it contains alcohol.

Flavour tips:

  • Add a little coffee to your chocolate ice cream, to make the flavour richer and more intense
  • If you want an easy strawberry ice cream, take some strawberry jam, heat it up with a little water to make it more liquid (or spiced rum – one of my favourite flavour combinations is strawberries and spiced rum) then cool it down. Swirl this into your mixture for a marbled look
  • You can infuse your cream with different flavours by heating them up with the cream, then cooling the cream back down before whipping it. My favourite is earl grey ice cream

My Very Lazy Baked Aubergine

I was faced with a problem this week (not a real problem, but when it comes to food I can get dramatic). I wanted Aubergine Parmigiana, but I was too lazy to make it. I’ve done the full 4-hour, intensive, delicious slice of heaven before, but I was too hot, too tired and didn’t want to disrupt my study rhythm with hours away from my work. As a result of my laziness, I now give you a way to make a similar dish in half the time, with minimal effort, less than half an hour of actually doing stuff, and it tastes delish – winning! Here’s the recipe below if, like me, you are lazy but also greedy and like cheese way too much. (The photos are from my phone, so the quality is a bit iffy)

Makes 4 servings

Work time 20mins, wait time 2ish hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium aubergines
  • 500g pasatta
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 70(ish)g grated Parmesan
  • Basil (12ish leaves, depends how much you have/ how bothered you are)
  • Splash of olive oil
  • Salt + pepper to taste

Method:

  1. First thing you do is wash & slice the aubergines into 5mm thick rounds.FE734D11-818A-430D-AF9E-66094589B6C3 Then shove them in a sieve with rock salt. I layered my slices with salt in between to get an even spread, but if you chuck rock salt and the slices into a bowl, toss them and then pour them into the sieve that works too.38E5FB6D-5F95-4094-8EC7-AD6B1CD6C6D7 Leave them for an hour to draw the water.
  2. While you wait, mince the garlic, pop it in the pan with enough olive oil to just cover it, and turn on the heat to medium/low. AA451438-9CD1-4B58-9091-E3E8C278BE0AOnce the garlic starts to sizzle, pour in the passata and add your salt and pepper to taste. If your passata is super cheap and very sour, add a teaspoon of sugar to help with the acidity. I know people add baking soda, but you lose some of the flavour doing that and nobody likes insipid tomatoes! Turn it onto a low heat and leave to reduce for about 45mins (stir it every now and again… over the 45 mins I only stirred it twice because if forgot I was cooking. Luckily it didn’t burn!)
  3. Preheat your oven to 160 on fan/ 180 on conventional.
  4. Rinse your aubergine rounds in cold water and pat ‘em dry.
  5. Grab your tin (I only have a 1lb loaf tin, but it was a little small) and pop the tomato sauce on the bottom of the tin. 648B943D-359C-4E7A-9F1C-017F04266DC1Then layer your aubergine, Parmesan and basil on top. I tore the basil up, because again, I am too lazy to chop it. 9321B920-90E5-48AD-80FE-31604C22D81DRepeat the tomato, aubergine, Parmesan and basil layers until you run out of aubergine.
  6. For the final layer, put the tomato sauce on top of the aubergine, then finish with the rest of your Parmesan. EA704E1E-A4EF-42DD-86D9-32600F5B46AFPop it in the oven and leave it for an hour.
  7. After an hour, turn off the oven and leave the tin inside for another 15mins. Then take it out, leave it to cool for 5 and then serve! Voila! Lazy baked Parmesan aubergine!E89C2D37-C24E-4B89-BF80-67614D3AE2D1.jpeg

Why is this the lazy version, I hear you ask? The short answer is I skipped a step – pan grilling the aubergine. You can do this, which gives you a very silky end product… and an extra hour of work, and extra washing up. Ultimately, my version has a nearly al dente  bite, but it’s still cooked through, and I prefer this texture. I also left out the mozzarella, which I didn’t have. If you want, put bits of mozzarella in between the layers (yum yum extra cheese). Also, while the tomato sauce is hella basic, you *might* be able to get away with just putting in the passata straight out of the box… but you’d have a more acidic and watery end product.

Pro tips:

  • Heating up the garlic with the oil releases more flavour, and prevents it from burning quickly
  • Don’t add basil to your tomato sauces at the beginning of cooking – it makes the basil go slimy and the end result is more bitter
  • Don’t use the very tiny holes on your grater for the Parmesan, unless you are a masochist
  • I’m not actually a pro, so feel free to disregard all of the above!

How an angry chicken changed the course of my life

For my (rather self-conscious) first blog post, I thought I should do the usual thing and introduce myself – but I have trouble defining who I am, and really, who doesn’t? Whatever labels we choose for ourselves, other people add more, and none of them are exactly right. So instead, I thought it might be easier to describe how I got to this point – and to do that, I need to tell you the story of an angry chicken.

This particular chicken was hatched in 2006, and for reasons unknown to the universe, it hatched angry. From the moment it could move, it pecked with a fury of a thousand provoked tigers, taking on every chicken it could. For the entirety of its (rather brief) life, it lived at a livery stables, munching all of the plentiful bugs, seeds and horse feed available to it. It got bigger. It got angrier. I had seen this chicken around, but I didn’t take much notice of it. Oh, the hubris!

On the day the angry chicken changed my life, a perfect storm was brewing. It had been raining all week; the ground was wet, and the arena sand had become a weird cement-like consistency. My horse was full of energy because he had been stuck in his stable for a few days away from the lightning. I was overdue for a lesson, an ambitious 16 year old who wouldn’t delay any longer. The chicken had been honing its skills.

I hopped on my horse, sans saddle, and began the lesson with balancing exercises. It was all going well. At this point, my life was on track: I was going to become an instructor, teach horse riding, train up horses and compete as far as I could go. My horse’s ambition in life was to eat hay and get lots of carrots. The chicken was already living its best life, and this is where the three of us met.

The angry chicken saw a rival chicken, and saw red. It went for this poor fowl in a flurry of squawks and feathers – right next to my horse. My horse, who was terrified of his own shadow, decided the avian death-match next to him was a sign of the apocalypse. He had not signed up for this, and took evasive action. I was left comically suspended in mid-air, still in a sitting position, with the odd sensation that my horse had just vanished out from underneath me. Which, in reality, he had. My Wily Coyote moment ended, and I landed on my ass, onto the solid arena sand. My friends… if you have ever been winded, you will understand how confusing and almost outraged one feels at not being able to breathe. I sat there for 5 long minutes, making weird moaning noises that were not at all voluntary, wondering if my spleen was now located somewhere close to my sternum. I remember seeing the chicken strut off, and I hope that, as it witnessed the carnage it had created, it was finally satisfied. I doubt it. What I do know is that it became a dinner that Christmas, and I’m sure it was furiously delicious.

It turns out that the simple act of landing on your butt can shatter your spine – so take your calcium supplements kids! It took a few months to heal the bones, and more to recover, and eventually I had to stop riding altogether thanks to the damage. I went from planning my days out in South Africa, being a crazy horse lady (and probably looking like baked leather by the time I hit 30), to suddenly reevaluating my life in my teens. I studied Archaeology, but realised I was trying to fill one obsession with another, and it just wasn’t working. I took a course and learned how to teach English, and set off to Spain to work and travel. A few months later I moved to the U.K. and looked after primary school kids – a more adorable bunch scoundrels you’ll be hard-pressed to find! I decided to dive into travel after that, and worked as a travel agent. This gave me a ton of crazy stories, and I had some amazing adventures around the world to boot. It took me a few years and a few places to find a solid path, but now I’m studying an MA in Comparative Literature… and I’m feeling positive about what’s next.

I have to say, I wouldn’t have been able to make it through the past 10 years without my family and friends – they gave me incredible support in dark times, and I owe so much to them. They helped me change my life from the safe, the known, into the adventure it’s become. It’s not always a picnic, but hey, that’s life! I can’t imagine the me I am now feeling fulfilled in my old life, and that, I think, is progress.

And, while I’ll be forever grateful to my loved ones, we all know who the real hero in this story is: the angry chicken.

A little bit of everything…

Welcome to my blog!

I’m glad you could stop by, and I hope you find something here that’s interesting, entertaining, or just darn useful. As an oddball South African living far from home, my life is a series of (mis)adventures and tons of variety – which is why I thought I’d share pieces of my life with you! Enjoy the stories, and I hope your own journey is colourful and filled with a little bit of everything 🙂

If you’d live to check out my travel pics, my Instagram is caitifay3

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Caution: I may not be the best person to take advice from, so, you know, read with discretion and all that…