Tuesday, October 21, 2014


This is Tuscan comfort food. I made the easy version with cans:

1 onion chopped,
Can of white beans,
Can of chopped tomatoes,
Any left over veggies, but at least some greens, a potato is fine too,
Country style bread,
Olive oil,
salt and pepper,
herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, bayleaf.

Fry onion in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the herbs, the chopped tomatoes, the beans, half of which are mashed, and some water. Add the veggies, except for greens. A vegetable stock cube would be fine too. I never do.
Simmer for well over an hour. Add the greens and cook a little longer. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the bread, or do as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall; rub the toasted slices with garlic and trickle some olive oil over them. Then put a slice in each bowl and ladle the soup on top. Grate some cheese over the soup and trickle on some more olive oil.
A feast!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lingua Frenglish

Alright, so English has become the lingua franca of modern times. It is good to have one, and English will do just as well.
It has advantages and disadvantages. English is a language with a relatively uncomplicated grammar, even though linguists may claim otherwise. So many people can speak it – all be it most of them badly. This will lead now and then to snooty non-native speakers thinking they are a cut above the others, and giving themselves the right to ridicule the mistakes of the others who try so foolhardily.
It is true: many non-native speakers believe that they do really well, and that are quite clever in their being able to speak a foreign language. A little self-knowledge would not hurt. But hey, we can’t all be perfect.
I see more of a problem with the native speakers, who see no need to learn a foreign language and some of whom even look down on those who don’t make the effort to speak their tongue. They will never experience what it feels like to try to express yourself and not succeed as well as you would like.
In an interesting way the bunglers and blunderers of English are at an advantage. Recent research has shown that those not speaking their mother tongue in a business transaction are able to take decisions based on reason.  Native speakers will unknowingly rely more on emotion.
These two aspects of foreign language learning come together in Nelson Mandela’s language advice: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
It was the reason why Mandela learned Afrikaans when imprisoned. In this later study his wisdom turned out to be more true than he could know at the time!