Monthly Archives: June 2012

“There’s an old story about the person who wished his computer were as easy to use as his telephone. That wish has come true, since I no longer know how to use my telephone.”

That’s quite a statement, coming as it does from Bjarne Soustrup, the man who invented the C++ programming language (whatever that is!) I sympathise. Two weeks ago I received my longed for and much coveted iPhone. I ordered it on a Thursday. It arrived on the Saturday. I couldn’t believe my luck. Sadly my luck soon ran out. For the past two weeks I’ve spent great clumps of time tearing my hair out, swearing loudly, banging things and startling the cat, which stomped off to its own home, next door.

A visit to the Apple Store in Covent Garden identified the problem, apparently caused by an incompatibility between Apple and my very ancient email (now operated by Virgin – why isn’t that a surprise!)  Getting it sorted was a long and horribly frustrating experience, only made bearable by the helpfulness, cheerfulness and patience of the chaps at Apple.

I sighed a sigh of relief and prepared to use my shiny new phone. But when I called 02 I thought their call centre had been submerged in water. Then the phone kept cutting out (water in the wires?) All my family and friends appeared to be living underwater too.  Another call to O2. It appears that the phone is probably faulty. So I’m off to Apple again.

This seemed a good time to find some quotes about computers, technology, phones and frustration. These all come from DevTopics – and there are many more than I can fit on here.  Worth a visit.

Robert X. Cringely “If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.”

Steve Wozniak “Never trust a computer you can’t throw out of a window.”

Jeff Pesis “Hardware: The parts of a computer system that can be kicked.”

Dave Barry “Microsoft has a new version out, Windows XP, which according to everybody is the ‘most reliable Windows ever.‘  To me, this is like saying that asparagus is ‘the most articulate vegetable ever.‘ “

Bumper stickerWe are Microsoft.  Resistance Is Futile.  You Will Be Assimilated.”

Rich Cook “Programmers are in a race with the Universe to create bigger and better idiot-proof programs, while the Universe is trying to create bigger and better idiots.  So far the Universe is winning.”

Linus TorvaldsSoftware is like sex: It’s better when it’s free.”

Mark MinasiIf McDonalds were run like a software company, one out of every hundred Big Macs would give you food poisoning, and the response would be, ‘We’re sorry, here’s a coupon for two more.’ “

Paul Ehrlich “To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.”

Mitch RadcliffeA computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history–with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.”

Dennie van Tassel “I’ve finally learned what ‘upward compatible’ means.  It means we get to keep all our old mistakes.”

Bill Gates “Software suppliers are trying to make their software packages more ‘user-friendly’…  Their best approach so far has been to take all the old brochures and stamp the words ‘user-friendly’ on the cover.”

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If your idea of finger food is a limp sausage roll, think again. And I’m not talking industrial accidents.


Image : improvkitchen

While we are still in the full throes of the Jubilee celebrations, this seems to be the perfect time to talk about finger food. Though, strictly speaking, I should be saying something like ‘while the celebrations are still in progress’. Because the word ‘throes’ refers to a painful struggle and as far as I’m concerned the Jubilee is not painful at all. Except for the BBC coverage of the river pageant. Which was painful in the extreme.

Be that as it may! In the past we called them canapés, and they were bread based but that word, and the description, seem to be in decline. Nowadays it’s finger food that’s served at parties and receptions when you prefer, for whatever reason, not to have a proper sit down meal. With 650 guests to accommodate, some of whom she probably never clapped eyes on before, it’s no wonder her Majesty chose finger food for the main reception after that wedding last year.  And wisely scarpered before the full sit down meal for the kiddies in the evening. I sincerely hope that after 60 years on the throne, she was absolved from any whisper of catering duties this weekend. After all that standing on Saturday she deserves a massive G & T with her feet up.

image : Recetas de Mon y Mas

Finger food these days can be very posh indeed, with companies such as Nomad Food and Design, Urban Caprice and Rhubarb having elevated the genre to an art form. A far cry from the limp vol au vents, soggy sausage rolls, and everything on a stick of bygone days.  While there may not have been a wisp of foam or reconstituted pea in sight, nevertheless the food served at the palace that Friday reflected the very best of British.  Except for the puddings, which had a distinctly French air about them. French nomenclature, if not recipes, also crept in with the odd savoury chausson (a posh turnover). However, for the most part, it was all good British fare. All very lovely and appropriate. And all very modern.
Except that it’s not. For there’s nothing new about finger food. Our very remote ancestors, the ones who’d barely assumed an upright position, almost certainly ate with their fingers.  ‘Fingers were made before forks’, as my mother used to say. Many cultures and peoples still eat with their hands, or to be more precise, their right hand.  Eating with the left is considered very bad form indeed.  From Africa to Asia to Oceania fingers replace knifes and forks and spoons, though of course there are exceptions.  In Pakistan, fingers and cutlery are permitted. In the Philippines, a fork and spoon are used.  In many of these cultures there’s a precise etiquette about exactly how to eat – three fingers or four, which bit of the finger, whether or not to use your thumb. Rules that would not be out of place in the highest of high Western society. Never let it be said that we lead the world on manners.

Mind you, eating with your fingers is not necessarily the same as eating finger food.  A greasy hunk of roasted camel doesn’t compare to a dainty duck terrine or a delicate salmon rose. So when did this practical style of eating begin? And why?  This is where the fun really starts – half the known world lays claim to it.  Some say it was dim sum, invented by a canny vendor to refresh the merchants travelling along the Silk Road as long ago as 206 BC. Others point to the cold appetizers, known as bawarid, served in eighth century Baghdad. Then there’s sushi and tapas and … the list goes on. Indeed the name canapé itself dates back to ancient Greece, where it began life as a mosquito net, or curtain. It mutated through the ages to the Middle English ‘canope’. For some unknown reason we adopted the French word ‘canapé’ which actually means a sofa. Because they think a canapé looks like a sofa?  Time for a trip to Specsavers.

A sandwich can be finger food too. We’re not talking doorsteps here but a rather more delicate, two bite form often referred to as a tea sandwich. According to popular belief the sandwich was invented by our very own John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.  Unfortunately, and as is often the case, popular belief is wrong. One of the first references to something akin to a sandwich was in the 1st century BC. when the famous sage, Hillel the Elder, began the custom of putting chopped nuts, fruit and bitter herbs between two pieces of matzo to commemorate the Exodus. Down the ages food approximating to sandwiches appeared in various forms. So while the 4th Earl didn’t invent the sandwich, it was certainly named after him. Reluctant to leave the gaming table, or as some now claim his work, he ordered his chefs to bring him salt beef between two slices of toasted bread. His companions cried out – in true ‘When Harry met Sally’ style – ‘I’ll have the same as Sandwich’.


image : I am a food blog

Personally I like finger food. Maybe I’ve been blessed by invitations to receptions that are the ‘works of art’ variety rather than the ‘two day old scotch egg’ sort. Nevertheless, as far as I’m concerned, finger food is perfect for anything where you have to stand up and hold a glass. We’ve all been there, trying to juggle a bendy paper plate, with soggy salad sliding off the side and a tilting glass that threatens to drip claret (or plonk more likely) onto our shoes or someone’s Sunday best. No, as far as I’m concerned it’s fingers every time. And the more ‘art form’ the better, as long as it tastes good. But spare me the recent fad for ‘bowl food’. Delicious it may be and flavour of the month, so to speak, but virtually impossible to eat without getting sticky, dropping something and embarrassing yourself.


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