Tuesday

The Zezaurian Guide to Wild Cooking



In some kind of unconscious rebellion against food pornographers, eating dirt-filled slop on the cold ground, naked, covered in nettle stings and insect bites has become the latest way for Zezaurians to purify both their souls and their colons.

Instead of taking pictures of food as if planning to fornicate with it after the shoot, we have now fully embraced wild dining along with its numerous frustrations and challenges.

Yes,  sometimes after consuming one of our camp-stove creations you need to be de-wormed, but by eating our disgusting slop you’re making solid progress in removing all the smug posing that has become such a staple ingredient in contemporary cooking.

So get ready to singe your moustache hair and worsen your piles: here is the Zezaurian guide to cooking in the wild.

Your tongue is only a thermometer

Taste is ephemeral. Food spends literally seconds riding over the top of your tongue before spending the next five hours rotting in stomach acid.

In the wild you should only think of this muscular organ as a temperature gauge and try to get the food into your gut as quickly as possible. Do not talk. Do not breathe. Do not comment on the beautiful sunset. Test the slop’s temperature, and if it’s anything between ‘lukewarm’ and ‘manageably hot’, get it in your belly before something else eats it.

You may have made the food, but you’re not the only one in the wild that wants it. Insects, rats, badgers, boars. They all want your slop. Limit the chances they will take it from you by speed eating.

There’s a substitute for taste

Don’t fret about the beige homogenous gloop on your plate not tasting of anything – Zezaurian wild cooking substitutes flavour for quantity. It’s a fair trade-off and is central to our culinary philosophy.

Less taste, more slop. Balance is maintained, so quit fretting and shovel that crap down your throat before the doggers arrive.

Mind games

The standard issue Trangia stove that all Zezaurians should own, alongside their feelings of self-loathing and social anxiety, comes with two small bowls and a pan. Making anything more than regular slop on one of these things – say, spicy slop, miscellaneous gloop and swill, served together on one plate as a mezze – is actually like solving a brain teaser, not dissimilar to the riddle of taking a fox, a chicken and a sack of grain across a river only two at a time in a boat.

How do you half-cook the slop, keep it warm, half-cook the gloop, and keep them both warm, then boil the swill while re-heating the slop and then frying the rest of the gloop before reducing the swill and getting everything on the same plate at the same time at the same temperature? By sheer, uncontrollable panic. Burned hands and a toilet mouth is our strategy. Try it.

And please remember: temperature is everything here. It must be VERY hot. Do you have any idea how expensive it is getting de-wormed?

Washing up

The only other use for your tongue is to superficially clean all utensils, so get licking like Khia holds the whip.

Celebrate the ending

Defecating is, ordinarily, performed with very little ceremony or pomp. But why? The end is still a part of the meal as much as the start is. Have we been socially conditioned to distance conversation from this most essential of farewells?

Own it. Enjoy it. Smell it.

Instagram it, you fucking posers.




Saturday

Zoo York City



I’m an alien. I’m a legal alien—I’m a Zezaurian in New York. Six years ago, with life stagnating in London, I met a mad girl who made weird noises but was kind and clever and pretty so I fell in love with her. My romantic experiences up to that point were much like most other aspects of my life; disordered, confusing, and sad.

This was different. It was still somewhat disordered and confusing, but it certainly wasn’t sad. We explored Europe together and life was fun and strange and adventurous. All was splendid but for one quandary- she lived in America. We persevered with our long-distance relationship for about a year, but it became increasingly difficult and impracticable. We decided that we must either go our separate ways, or that one of us must commit to moving to the other’s homeland. We decided on the latter option.

It was immediately obvious that it would be me making the move; in the UK, I had only my grandpa, my pal Drib Drab and a small handful of friends, and a job that was rapidly driving me to despair. She had a huge, close-knit family and her dream career. I clumsily proposed marriage and proceeded to apply for residence in the United States. I do not want to relive the hellish, Kafkaesque, bureaucratic song-and-dance routine that US immigration puts one through in these situations, but it was far from pleasant.

After eighteen months of minor nervous breakdowns and slow-motion panic attacks, I was granted a visa. I quit my job of eight years, which was more upsetting than I had anticipated. I sold all of my worldly possessions except for my books, and bid farewell to my friends and grandpa, which broke my heart a bit.

So that’s how I ended up in Brooklyn, New York. Or Noo Yawk, as they say around here. Anyway, the other night while I was bored and the wife was away, I ended up cringing my way through this old blog of ours and decided to write about some of my thoughts on the fair city of Gotham.

The Filth

There are several nicer areas within the five boroughs in which this is not such a problem, but the vast majority of places that I’ve perambulated my way through have been oppressively filthy. In my neighbourhood, with the exception of a few community gardens scattered here and there, the concept of civic pride simply does not exist. In fact, it appears as though there is an almost civic contempt, as if people despise their environment to the point of actively abusing it. People litter with impunity, search through the rubbish and leave it scattered about the streets, and refuse to clean up after their dogs. Piles of trash bags take up half the sidewalk of many streets and graffiti is everywhere. And not the pretty kind. I must admit though, some of the crudely depicted messages have been of interest. A favourite of mine was the legend ‘DON’T BE SAD IDIOT’ scrawled onto a steel door in red lettering, which I now view as advice to live by. There are also messages dotted around Brooklyn written by one troubled soul, which read: ‘Mami, Papi RIP’. I hope that that individual finds some solace one day.



Although a lot of these problems are an inevitable consequence of an overcrowded metropolis that has grown so rapidly in a relatively short space of time, and in which there are very few alleyways to store refuse, much could be done to improve the environment with a little effort and consideration.

Noise Pollution

I can scarcely remember what it feels like to hear myself think. The noise here is ceaseless and maddening- drivers honking, Mack trucks grumbling, sirens wailing, construction thundering, people arguing, marching bands blaring, parades parading, helicopters circling, planes taking off and landing, subway cars rumbling underfoot, the schizophrenic cacophony of hundreds of chattering voices, musicians rehearsing, dogs barking, smoke alarms chirruping and my absolute number one favourite, car stereo systems. Holy mackerel are those things LOUD. Cars drive by and the booming bass causes the foundations of my building to rattle. How can those guys sit inside those boxes of misery without suffering from a traumatic brain injury or PTSD?

I wonder whether it was here that the great Jim ‘O Rourke wrote the lyrics ‘… a motor’s endless drone, and how the deaf are so damn lucky’. Of course, I don’t share that sentiment and am glad that all my senses are intact.

The Aroma

This ties in with the filth bit, but there is one distinction. Practically everywhere in the city there is the nasty stench of weed wafting through the air. Although it is still a crime in New York to smoke it, the law is not readily enforced, and many New Yorkers regularly enjoy a puff. Perhaps more tolerant people than myself aren’t so bothered by the smell, but having been blessed with an extraordinary olfactory gift and petty mind, I find the odour almost intolerable. Cannabis is the second most horrid plant that occurs in nature, beaten only in unpleasantness by coriander.

Healthcare

This is not really specific to New York, just an America-wide assault on basic human liberty. If you turned up at a hospital with a fencepost sticking out of your face and a bear trap attached to your leg, the first thing you’d be asked is how you are going to pay for it. I broke my arm and the hospital swindled and squeezed me ‘til the pips squeaked. One clinic tried to charge me $900 for a flippin’ tetanus shot. I went to a doctor to see about acquiring a couple of sedatives to ease my fear of flying and they charged the insurance company hundreds of dollars, plus the ‘co-pay’ expense, plus the pharmacy cost. I would have been better off going to a drug dealer. And by the look of things, the situation is only going to get worse. With this in mind, whatever you do, don’t get sick.

Weirdos
 
There are a lot of strange, disturbed, mentally unwell, and just plain eccentric people here, as most people are aware. This doesn’t really bother me and is most likely just another symptom of the US healthcare structure failing those in need. I just bring it up to recount an embarrassing experience that occurred to me.

As a keen chess player looking to make friends in a strange new place, I visited an establishment in Greenwich Village that hosts casual games of chess with strangers for a modest fee. I met an older gentleman in a straw hat and we played a few games. He was a worthy adversary over the board and pretty good company, so we moved on to a local watering hole for a few beers. The conversation turned to my occupation, and I explained to my new friend that I was finding it difficult to secure a decent job and that it was a great cause of anxiety for me. He offered to help me out and told me that he needed some assistance. I eagerly asked him to elaborate, maybe expecting that he wanted me to paint his apartment or something. No, nothing so sinister as that! The dirty old sod wanted to pay me for ‘personal services’ that he made very clear were of a sexual nature. As you can imagine I excused myself as quickly as possible and got out of there. I was rather upset about the whole saga, but my wife found it infinitely amusing.

Positives?

I could continue bellyaching about my other grievances with my new home and discuss the decrepit subway system, the archaic civil service, or the city’s generally abrasive nature. But I won’t. Instead, I shall mention what I like about the place. Relative to the major cities in Europe and elsewhere, New York is an infant, but it’s history and culture is astonishing and unique, and it is truly mind boggling to consider how much has occurred here in just a few hundred years. There are plenty of beautiful green spaces and seemingly endless interesting neighbourhoods to explore, and there is always, always something to see and do. I don’t love it, but I don’t like hate it either.