29 November 2006

Book Review: William Shakespeare - Ein Sommernachtstraum (Übersetzung: Erich Fried)

Ich lese gerade - wiedereinmal - verschiedene Sommernachtstraumübersetzungen. Verglichen werden:

  • Wieland
  • Eschenburg
  • Schlegel
  • Rothe
  • Fried

Der komplette Vergleich kommt, sobald ich alle fünf Versionen gelesen habe. Warum? Wir suchen den geeignete Text für eine Produktion des Sommernachtstraums am Theater Wedel.
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Theater Review: Spamalot

Seen on 28 November 2006 at the Palace theater in London

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is how old now? 31 years! I didn't even understand English when it was first released.
Yet nearly all the gags in the musical are straight out of the film, some of the music is too, and everything still is as fresh as it was.
They added a femal lead - the Lady of the Lake or some such watery tart - and it's quite interesting to see whatever happens to her part.
The music and dances have been modernised - but don't worry, you still get to hear "We're the Knights of the Round Table" and "Brave Sir Robbin".

The visual delights include the fight with the Black Knight (let's call it a draw), a wee white bunny and girls in underwear.

Really good fun

25 November 2006

Book Review: Jorge Luis Borges - Buch der Träume

Currently reading / Aktuelle Lektüre
Original: Libro de sueños
Übersetzung: Gisbert Haefs

'Anthologie' von literarischen Träumen - von Gilgamesch zu Borges. Einige wenige Kostbarkeiten, viel ist zu lang und ohne ausreichenden Kotext präsentiert. Werde wohl doch wieder die längeren Erzählungen und Essays zur Hand nehmen.
Auch dieses Buch war Teil der Materialsuche zu Shakespeares Sommernachtstraum

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Book-Review: Christoph Ransmayr - Der Fliegende Berg


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20 November 2006

Book Review: Peter Ackroyd - The Fall of Troy

Starting with a marriage in Greece and ending with a horse near Troy. That's not the only echo of the Iliad one might find in this novel.
Ackroyd tells the story German archaeologist Heinrich Obermann (based on the real Heinrich Schliemann), his obsession with Troy and Homer, his questionable pseudo-archaeological practises, the dark side of his personality.
The story follows the (second) marriage of Obermann to a young, intelligent Greek wife. She follows him to the site of the excavation in Turkey and becomes a competent partner in his enterprise. Only later does she find out about the secrets of Obermann's past.

All this is accompanied by echoes from the Homeric epic: We have the above mentioned marriage and the horse, we do have a race around the city of Troy, we have a burial ceremony at the shores of the Mediterranean, etc. - using again Ackroyds established formula of 'mythic geography'; the idea that it is the actual place that determines the activities and even the fates of the people living there (he even has two minor characters spelling this out explicitly - just in case the reader is new to the concept).
The events towards the end of the story, including Obermanns death, are not based on Schliemann life. However, they do allow Ackroyd to come to a proper closure of his various narrative threats.

One of the most interesting themes touched upon is how preconception can shape reality - when a storm destroys evidence to historical facts not compatible with Obermann's idea of Troy, only for this evidence to immediately after his death.

All this would make for an interesting read, if it were not for the fact that the whole novel does feel a bit like an "Peter Ackroyd Formula Novel" - we had all these concepts and ideas in various of his earlier novels. But it does make a nice and welcome departure from his usual London settings.

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19 November 2006

Book Review: Claude Levi-Strauss - Mythos und Bedeutung

Wieder gelesen - ich brauchte Anregungen bei einer Diskussion über eine mythologische Interpretation von Shakespeare's Sommernachtstraum. War aber nicht das was ich suchte.

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Ox Tail Stew with Spätzle

Ox Tail Stew

  • 1 ox tail, chopped into segments
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • 2 celery hearts
  • 3 red onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tblsp of Ghee
  • 500 ml beef stock
  • 500 - 1000 ml dark beer (e.g. Guinness)
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 150 ml single cream
  • 2 tblpsp of corn flour
  1. pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees C
  2. clean and roughly chop the vegetables
  3. heat 2 tblsp of Ghee in an oven prove braising pot
  4. gently cook the vegetable for about 10 minutes
  5. turn up the heat and cook another 5 minutes until the vegetable start to get caramelized, set aside
  6. heat the remaining Ghee (in the same, now empty pan) and quickly brown the meat, season with salt and pepper
  7. add the vegetables, the beef stock, 500 ml of beer, the roughly chopped parsley, the bay leaves and the cloves 
  8. put in the oven and simmer for 3.5 hours, checking regularly and adding more beer should the stew get to dry
  9. when the meat is tender, remove from oven. Take out the meat and pick off the bone
  10. Strain sauce through a sieve (press as much of the soft vegies through the sieve as possible) and remove the fat (at least some of it - I use a special can for that)
  11. add the cream and bring the sauce to a boil and reduce slightly
  12. use corn flour dissolved in a little water to thicken
  13. season to taste  (I used blueberry jam, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper)
  • 250g plan flour
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 120ml water
  • butter
  1. put the flour and salt in a bowl
  2. put in eggs and water and beat until smooth, the dough should be slightly runny
  3. heat a pot of salted water
  4. press spätzle dough into the water and simmer for 2 minutes (I have a spätzle press for this but I've been told you can use a colander. Work in batches)
  5. remove with a slotted spoon and set aside
  6. 5 minutes before serving reheat spätzle in butter
Brussels Sprouts (we had some left from last time and had them for starters. This recipe actually works better than the last one) 
  1. clean the sprouts
  2. steam for 8 minutes
  3. season with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil

18 November 2006

Book Review: Lyn Davies - A Is For Ox

Finished on 17 November 2006

A short history of the western alphabet, starting with its earliest roots, Sumerian cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs etc. A detailed explanation is given of the conceptual change from Logograms and Syllabograms (signs for words or syllables) to a true alphabetical script where each sign signifies a sound (ideally) invented by the Phoenicians.

Davies then outlines the history of our alphabet and the changes inflicted upon it by its subsequent adopters and modifiers - Greeks, Etruscans, Romans, medieval scribes - until the early printers in Italy arrive at the form we know today (well, almost, give or take a few letters - j,v,w).

In a second part each letter's history is illustrated on a double page, showing and explaining the evolution it went through during the history outlined before.

All this in a beautifully set, printed and bound Folio Society book. A joy to read.

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12 November 2006

Pheasant, Brussels Sprouts, Truffled Mash


  • 1 pheasant (between 800g and 900g)
  • 4 thin slices of bacon
  • 3 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 dash Sherry
  • 200 ml chicken stock
  • 200 ml single cream
  • salt, pepper
  1. pre-heat oven to 220 degrees
  2. heat the oil in an oven save pan
  3. brown the bird from all sides for a total of 3 minutes (I did not add any salt or pepper at this stage)
  4. wrap the breast of the pheasant in bacon
  5. put in oven, breast side up
  6. roast for approx. 20 minutes
  7. discard the bacon, add the sherry and chicken stock to the pan
  8. put back in oven (again breast side up) and roast for another 20 to 30 minutes
  9. pour the stock into a small sauce pan, bring to the boil, add the cream and reduce for a couple of minutes
  10. season to taste with salt, pepper and sherry

Brussels Sprouts

  • 400g Brussel sprouts
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • butter
  • creme fraiche
  • lemon juice, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
  1. remove the outer leqaves and stems of the sprouts
  2. heat enough salted water in a medium sized pot, add the lemon juice and bring to the boil
  3. boil the sprouts for 10 to 12 minutes - until just tender but still firm to the bite
  4. drain and coarsly chop the sprouts
  5. heat some butter (I use the same pot), add the sprouts and the creme fraiche
  6. cook for another 5 minutes
  7. season with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and (maybe) some additional lemon juice

Truffled Mash

Well, actually just mash with truffle oil - still yummy

Book Review: Günter Grass - Beim Häuten der Zwiebel

Beendet am 12. November 2006

Nicht faktische Autobiographie sondern 'Portait of the Artist as a Young Man' - Grass zitiert das Stufengebet und verweist auf Mulligan - nicht das Leben diesseits der Kunst sondern beides eng verwoben, früh schon lesend auf dem Dachboden, neben dem Koffer mit den Erinnerungen an frühverstorbene, talentierte Onkel: Dichter, Maler, Koch.

Vier Teile, Jugend in Danzig, Panzergrenadier im Krieg und als Kriegsgefangener, Nachkriegszeit und schliesslich suchender Künstler.

Viel zu komplex und dicht um hier von mir detailliert besprochen zu werden, das machen die Profis in den unten verlinkten Artikeln besser.

Related Links
  • Ist die schwarze Köchin da? - Hubert Spiegel in der FAZ
  • Even Now - Neal Ascherson: The Silence of Günter Grass on London Review of Books
  • Günter Grass (Audio) auf ZEIT online
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10 November 2006

Book Review: William Shakespeare - The Tempest

No, not really a review - how could I? I just re-read it because I wanted to convice a friend to stage a production. Futile, though,

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06 November 2006

Green Chicken Curry

Green Chicken Curry

  • 2 tbls spoons of coconut cream
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbl spoons of Thai Green Curry Paste
  • 300g chicken (breast or de-boned thighs)
  • 250 ml of coconut milk
  • 250 ml of chicken stock
  • 300g mushrooms
  • 1 Aubergine
  • 1 bunch of coriander leaves
  1. finely chop the ginger, chilli and garlic
  2. heat the coconut cream in a medium sized pot, add the ginger etc amd the Curry Paste
  3. put in the chicken and stir, cook for 2 minutes
  4. add the coconut milk and chicken stock
  5. add the roughly chopped mushrooms and aubergine
  6. bring to the boil and cook for 10 to 20 minutes (until the chicken is done)
  7. garnish with coriander leaves

05 November 2006

Book Review: Richard Powers - Plowing the Dark

Stopped reading on 5 November 06.

A click on the left wand button colored the air in a temperature gradient from rose to cobalt. Each shaded band stood for an Isobar.
The word he is looking for is Isotherm.
After more than 100 pages I am still stuck in the exposition. Which is full of factual errors (see above), cliché (the pizza-eating troglodyte) and half-understood buzzwords (wide-area token-ring). I am giving this one a break - pity, I liked 'Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance' and 'Time of Our Singing'.

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04 November 2006

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese

  • 2 red onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 2 tbl spoons of olive oil
  • 400g minced beef
  • 200g tinned tomatoes
  • 125 ml beef stock
  • 1 clove, 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbl spoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt, pepper, nutemg, cayenne pepper
  1. Finely chop the onions, celery, garlic and bacon
  2. Heat the oil, put in the onions etc. and gently fry on low heat until soft (might take 10 minutes)
  3. Turn up the heat, put in the minced beef and fry until brown
  4. Put in the tomatoes, beef stock, clove and bay leave
  5. Gently simmer for 0.51 to 1 hours (however long you like - some people simmer it for half a day)
  6. Season with balsamic vinegar, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper
  7. Serve with pasta and freshly grated Parmesan cheese

03 November 2006

Breaded Pork Chops, Green Cabbage and Mashed Potatoes

Breaded Pork Chops

  • 2 pork chops, fatty part left on
  • flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 slice of stale white bread (fresh will do as well)
  • salt, pepper, smoked paprika
  • 2 tbl spoons ghee
  1. remove the bones from the chops, put them between cling film (or inidvidually into a plastic bag) and bash them slightly
  2. lightly dust the chops with the flour and cover with egg
  3. put the bread in a blender and shred to produce bread crumbs
  4. mix the crumbs with salt, pepper and paprika and put on a plate
  5. coat chops with crumbs
  6. put ghee into a medium pan and place on high heat
  7. fry chops for 5 minutes, turning occasionally, then turn to medium heat
  8. fry another 10 minutes, again turning occasionally

Green Cabbage
  • 1 Green Cabbage, medium sized
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbl spoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 100 ml single cream
  • mustard
  • salt, pepper
  1. fill a medium sized pan with water, salt and bring to the boil
  2. put in the cabbage, set on high heat an boil for 8 minutes
  3. drain through a collander, squeezing out as much if the water as possible
  4. heat butter (using the same pan)
  5. put in drained cabbage, caraway seeds and cream
  6. set on low to medium heat and slowly cook for 20 minutes
  7. season to taste with mustard, salt and pepper

02 November 2006

Book Review: Paul Auster - Travels in the Scriptorium

Finished 2 November 2006

I don't remember, Mr. Blank.
Are you saying that you didn't read your husband's novel?
No, I read it. But it was such a long time ago, and I haven't looked at it since.

Mr. Blank sits alone in a room. He does not remember his name, where he is and why he is there. Objects around him are labelled - so maybe he does not even remember the names of everyday things.
He is visited and attended to by various people from his past - and it becomes clear that these have been lifted from the pages of Auster's previous works.

By re-visiting these old characters Auster parades all the old favourites of post-modernism: self-reference, semiotics, the role of author, reader and subject, the tale within a tale, circular structures, etc.

Reading this reminded me why all that was exciting and stimulating when I first encountered it - highly enjoyable

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