On SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 15th I will be celebrating the release of my book EXTRACTING GOATS FROM JEAN-CLAUDE’S KITCHEN with a launch party at THE CHURCH HALL from 2.30pm – 4.30pm.
This will be a family event so there will be outdoor games for children (because the weather will be glorious, right?), live music (with special contributions from Brig’s abundance of talent!), readings, drinks and crepes!
If you would like to check out EXTRACTING GOATS… it is stocked and supported by many of our splendid local businesses including The River Edge Lodges and The Co-op. I’d like to thank our village’s book club who have also read and discussed it. For you techy types, it is available in Paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon.
We will be asking for a voluntary donation at the event which will go to local homelessness charities chosen by the magnificent team at Dunbarney and Forgandenny Parish Church. Food, drinks, games and music are on me.
There is no need for a ticket or advanced booking – just come along and have a relaxed afternoon of fun, music, games and chat.
Thanks for reading – enjoy my little film of silliness and see you there! A bientôt!
I’ve never written a restaurant review before so I thought I’d start on a smaller scale with a café. Since arriving in Scotland, la Famille Jones has found eating out a challenge. I recognise that different cultures have varied tastes but I find much of what is offered in the UK’s popular restaurants is heavy, stodgy and unhealthy. I also despair at the manner in which children are treated in restaurants and in particular, pubs. There is either a stark hostility to anyone under the age of 18 or places are set up to resemble a play factory ensuring that none of the skills children learn when taken to restaurants are acquired (conversation, appropriate behaviour, courtesy etc). We went to one ‘child-friendly’ pub recently and to my eternal horror and disbelief, TV screens had been set up at the end of each table – presumably to keep kids mute for the duration of the meal. If the ‘thinking’ is that children will be protected from the evils of alcohol, well, the strategy is clearly ineffective. Since arriving in Scotland, under-age youths have been responsible for countless acts of vandalism outside our flat, usually inspired by an illegal evening of drinking sweetened fortified wine (specially designed for those youthful tastes). ‘Menus’ for children remain pre-packaged mush, bland on the mouth and brain.
But let us switch to a brighter note. Yesterday was Father’s
Day and I really wanted to celebrate it with our children in a manner which
would be good for our health, interesting on a culinary level, fairly-priced
and respectful to the local economy. Vegan 269 in Perth ticks all of these
boxes and much more. Let me clarify now, I am neither vegan nor vegetarian, although
about 95% of my diet is non-meat as the ladyfolk Chez Jones are veggie. I love
veggie food and Vegan 269’s menu shows that with a little love, creativity and
passion, such food is exciting, tasty, generous and imaginative.
Kirsty had crushed avocado on sourdough toast. The avocado
was seasoned beautifully and had a glorious, rich texture and a touch of heat
with the flakes of chilli which ran through it. I had a bowl of curried
courgette soup. The taste was deep, layered and full of warming curry notes.
The texture was rich and creamy – this being achieved through skilful combinations
of ingredients and cooking techniques rather than chucking in half a litre of
heart-attack inducing coagulated cow juice. It was not hot – the cook
recognised that ‘curry’ refers to layers of flavour rather than to what degree
one’s head will be blown off. Extra bread (delicious home-baked) was offered
with a smile – and gratefully accepted. Our children had traditional food –
baked beans on toast and fruit breads – all locally sourced and organic.
The drinks menu had a real rarity – grown up alcohol-free
beverages that taste of something other than sugar or aspartame. I had blood
orange soda, Kirsty a Kombucha (fermented tea which gives a strong, intense
flavour) and Flo a sparkling rose water. For those who like the traditional
cola, organic, responsibly-produced versions were available.
For dessert, I had a stunning rose and pistachio cake. All
the ‘wet’ ingredients were non-dairy and nothing was lost in terms of
deliciousness. Kirsty had a cheesecake where the base was created from dates.
Stunning. The kids had peanut butter and chocolate brownies, again, with
vegan-friendly, healthier base ingredients.
The prices were very good value – what price do we put on
health and environmental responsibility? The staff, lovely – genuinely enthusiastic
about their work and full of smiles. The place had plenty of kids present and
books, as well as an art area was laid on for them.
We need places like this to support local foodie businesses
who care about quality. We need to move away from industrially-produced edible
food items which slowly but surely suffocate the planet and induce many health
problems. Let’s show our kids the alternatives.
I’m delighted to say that for all you modern-day techie people, Extracting Goats from Jean-Claude’s Kitchen has arrived in digital form, ready for download on your device here.
As if this auspicious occasion weren’t enough, I hereby proudly present EXTRACTING GOATS – THE MOVIE TRAILER! I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed writing, performing, drawing, narrating and filming it! If it does raise a smile, perhaps you’d be kind enough to share it far-and-wide. Thanks!
I am of an age to have been obliged to study Latin at school. I was quite open-minded about this proposition – neither I nor my colleagues were of the view that we shouldn’t study a ‘dead’ language. We were of a time where pupils unquestioningly acted upon the wishes of a teacher.
I was dreadful at Latin. Although this could well have been due to the limitations of my overall intelligence, the situation was exacerbated by the fact that one of our teachers took joy in humiliating weaker pupils, inviting the class to mock students (that was me) and the other was downright violent. I felt no resentment or fear of these characters – I just switched off completely in the class, took the hit (literally) and learned nothing, although I have a vague recollection of a volcano wiping out the main characters, including a dog.
Conversely, I was quite good at French. I had two lovely
teachers, one of whom I remain in contact with now, and the other who moved on
and I have been unable to locate. In 2010, we relocated to a sleepy village in
rural South-West France and I was obliged to delve back into the distant
reserves of my memory and rekindle my school French. I found that being
immersed in a language – and having to use it as no other option was available –
was a very effective way of becoming a fluent French speaker. I use the word ‘speaker’
as my written French is still rather poor, but that is unimportant. If I’m in
the bar with my French pals, no-one is likely to ask me to write the verb ‘vouloir’
in the third person conditional tense. It is much more valuable to learn the
expression for ‘Wales won the match – you owe me a beer.’
As time progressed I fell deeply in love with the French language. I learnt how to say ‘I’m going to throw up’ when a child demonstrated exactly how to say this before offering a practical demonstration of the phrase in his guitar lesson. The same child also taught me the unlikely phrase for ‘there is a dead bat under the fridge’. I adore the odd old-fashioned words which are departing from English but are still commonplace in French (cache, umbrage, grave, terminate and the like) and the daft new words for modern items (aspirateur – vacuum cleaner, ordinateur – computer).
The strangest, but possibly the most-valuable tip I’d offer
the French language learner is that when speaking a language, the job of
communication must take over the whole body, possibly to the extent where the
speaker’s personality changes. When speaking English, I can be rather quiet – I
tend to mumble and meander. When in conversation in French, I become far more
European. I hurl my bodyweight forwards with open palms when arguing a point, I
shrug, I say ‘Mais non!’ and wave exasperated arms around; quite frankly, I
become a Frenchman. This sounds silly and has, quite rightly, left me exposed
to mockery and ridicule from my social group, but surely effective
communication is more than just words from the mouth. How often do we look at
people’s eyes to see what they are really thinking? Can the body language of
cultures be a whole new discipline in itself? Should we teach pupils gestures
such as ‘the upwards flap of the right hand, with flexible wrist to express
disagreement’? Language is a complex, cultural and expressive tool. To speak it,
we must say it, feel it, express it, shape it and communicate it with our whole
I am so thrilled that the paperback version of Extracting Goats From Jean-Claude’s Kitchen is now available at Amazon here! To celebrate this occasion, Florence and I have made a movie! Extracting Goats – the Trailer! I do hope you enjoy it.
A poem about Farley’s Rusks to brighten up your day!
Farley’s Rusks, you’re an international icon, Your round crumbly form, transports me to days bygone, Ever present, on the high-chair tray, Or down beside the washing machine, where they fell one day,
I once found a doughy lump, underneath the fridge, It had clearly been in my son’s mouth – it had a little squidge I took a glance to my left, to check no-one was looking, And yes, I popped it down the hatch, before continuing with my cooking,
The little bits of green fluff on it, must have been bacteria, But the need to gobble it up, drove me to near-hysteria, But yes indeed that was an error, to tell the whole story, As I spent that very evening, poised on the lavatory,
I found one on the booster seat, I thought to myself ‘oh shucks’, Even though it retained some warmth, from my baby’s buttocks, Yes, I ate it, that’s quite sad, just how far will we men go? My mate Kevin once ate a piece, he found in a box of Lego,
But the point of this woeful tale, is to ask oh why indeed, Were rusks so utterly delicious, when my baby needed to feed? Once my son was eating one – doing quite alright, When I ripped it from his very hands – he put up quite a fight,
And when my wife came to see, if her boy was still breathing, I said “Don’t worry dear, he surely must be teething”, Every day I watched my kids, struggle with their nourishment, Praying they would have enough, I offered no encouragement,
I could wait for hours on end, for just one puny nibble, Pouncing on the squashy bits – (because of infant dribble), Friday saw a quarter rusk, Saturday, a half, Sunday I took a whole one, Monday I did barf,
Why are rusks in circular form? A square may be more practical, Draw inspiration from Toblerone, make a triangle – equilateral? If you make a grown-up rusk, please do keep me informed, We may start a national craze, Oh Farley, you have been warned,
Chia-rusk, Flax seed, Kale-rusk and Spinach, Real rusks for adult tastes, instead of bits unfinished, Cash in on the health-food craze, corner that hippie market, No longer will long-suffering Mums, scrape bits out from the carpet,
Alco-rusks, beefy-ones, or veggie-rusks, and meat, Instead of stale and hardened lumps, I find stuck to my feet, Roasted-rusk, risky-rusk, rested-rusk rice or regular, You could offer me a marketing job, I’ll be a full-time Grown-Up Rusk pedlar.
Dan Jones, on the Perth-Glasgow train, Scotland, March 2019.