Bulidaburger Conference 5th November 2014 – The Bonfire of the Vanities

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Seeing as it is British Sausage Week and includes the 5th of November, that means it is Bonfire Night in the United Kingdom. Consequently, it would be foolish to ignore the British Parliament on a day as auspicious as this, especially as the humble banger is a food traditionally eaten on this day each year.

Not hot dogs, mind you, but the dirty tricks mentioned in this post are just as British as American.

I am, of course, referring to the strange behaviour of the press in the night.

Last week, Channel 4 News reported how the British Navy will be reducing its commitment to rescuing any sea-bound Libyan “migrants” attempting to reach Italy, and how from now on the Navy is going to effectively let them drown.

Actually, these desperate people are not economic migrants hoping to come over to Britain and scrounge a life loafing existing on benefits. No, they are refugees from the anarchy left by the US’s & UK’s intervention in Libya in 2011 under the euphemistic moniker of “Operation Freedom Falcon”.

This morning, a very strange story was reported on BBC Radio 4 about three Libyan soldiers, training in the UK, have been ejected for alleged rape and sexual assault.

Maybe you asked yourself the same question I asked myself. Why are Libyan soldiers being trained in Britain?

Well, The Guardian went into a little more depth than Radio 4’s lurid sex crime story. It turns out several thousand Libyan troops are being trained in Britain (at a cost to the Libyan government) in order to train them to keep peace in their own country.

It’s a shame the cadets in question could not keep their rockets in their pockets, but much worse is worse is the willful suppression of the real story rather than the lurid details of sexual assault.

It reminds me of that old protection racket cliché (to be read in an East London accent):

“It would be a shame if your country got a bit (ahem) broken, wouldn’t it? We could arrange for some of your boys to be trained up to look after it for you. For a small fee.”

I was almost at a loss for a sausage reference for this grotesque and ongoing injustice visited upon the people of Libya aka Bongo Bongo Land, but here is a photo of two hot dogs cooking over an open fire. Fill in the metaphors for yourself.

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US & UK “foreign policy”. Photo: Michelle Swift

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Buildaburger Conference – British #SausageWeek 4 November 2014 – Day 2 The “Foreign Policy”

Screen shot 2014-11-04 at 19.24.33It seems that despite my natural skepticism, I am something of an optimist. I genuinely believed that I would be able to stomach a hot dog each day for a week, even if I would not normally indulge myself so.

However, I was defeated on day one.

But how hard could that be? It’s only a smoked sausage in a finger roll. How could all that promise, all that work to win my “heart and mind” result in such a cynical disappointment?

The thought of the extended balloon of meat-approximation that is the Frankfurter sausage naturally leads me to the next euphemism that I would like to feature as part of British Sausage Week 2014:

“Foreign policy”.

Despite the phrase’s (just like the sausage’s) neutral appearance, we all know that, to the government of the United States at least, “foreign policy” means invade the foreign country in question, steal its resources, kill its people, and (most often) leave said foreign country in anarchy once the United States’ “core interests” have been “secured” (I might write about “core interests” in a separate, sausage-related post).

Here is a partial transcript of President Barack Obama’s (the late great black hope) address to the United Nations General Assembly on 24th September 2013.

The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure these core interests in the region. We will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War. We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends upon the region’s energy supply, and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy.

This is a threat not even thinly veiled and evident in half the countries in the Middle-East.

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My own “policy” deployed today was neither punitive nor paranoid, and the “securing” of one of my “core interests” this lunchtime was to seek solace in the bosom of the familiar surroundings and reliable comfort food of a sausage sandwich at the Rutland Arms in Sheffield, UK.

Buildaburger Conference 3 November 2014 – British #SausageWeek Day 1 – The “Special Relationship”

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Regular readers will know I have no love for Boris Johnson, currently Mayor of London, but as car-crash politicians go, he is one of the most cringe-makingly deluded individuals that has been in the public eye for many years, and so it’s only fair to impugne him further.

It seems no ambition is too high for Johnson and no deception too low. It is rumoured that he will be angling for high office in government soon, and will be standing for parliament in the forthcoming 2015 general election.

Also, Johnson has just published a biography of Winston Churchill. I have no intention of reading it, but according to John Kampfner’s review in The Guardian, Johnson tries to spin Churchill’s relationship with Europe in order to promote his own anti-European prejudice. Bless.
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/03/churchill-factor-review-boris-johnson-winston

The quotation normally misattributed to Churchill “The English and the Americans are two peoples divided by a common language” was actually written by George Bernard Shaw, but it embodies an enigmatic truth which gave me an idea for this week’s Buildaburger’s posts.

Churchill coined the phrase “special relationship” and I am sure in the period towards the end of the Second World War and immediately afterwards, the close political, diplomatic and military relationships would have been genuinely beneficial to the UK. These days it has taken on a much more invidious meaning.

I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Anyway, I must say that I feel sorry for the row of sociopaths currently populating the UK government front bench (possibly soon to be joined by Johnson). No doubt they yearn to be recorded by history as statesmen, but they are no more than mean-spirited bigots, abusing their positions to punish the undeserving poor and reward the deserving rich. It is such a shame for them that, despite doing their best to spin Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and Jihadi John into a decent enemy at the gates, there is not such an easily identified threat as Adolf Hitler and the Nazi horde to unite a nation against for their aspirational, Churchillian leadership. How they must wish for proper world war to really get their teeth into. All they have is the increasingly embarrassing legacy of dirty wars, mostly perpetrated by the US with the UK as lapdog.

Apart from the Falklands War, of course, and that was a glory all of our own.

In more recent years, the UK has had to be content with being Aircraft Carrier GB, aiding and abetting the US military-industrial complex to fuck with Arabs around the world, and maybe gain a little reflected glory in that “special relationship”.

Let me be clear. I do not have a problem with Americans. Actually, the British and American people have a common language and also a common enemy, the British and American governments.

You may already be aware of the disdain in which I hold frankfurter sausages (and you will too once you find out what’s in them), but as we say in Yorkshire, UK, you’ve got to eat some dirt before you die.

I realise that does not necessarily mean immediately before, but this week, to honour British Sausage Week and to acknowledge the “special relationship” between the US and UK, I decided to use the humble hot dog as a focal point for celebrating the common language that divides us, and explore some of the euphemisms that are used to describe otherwise unpalatable dishes.

Conceptually sound, if not nutritionally.

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This was not an auspicious start.

I had the “brilliant” idea, to actually eat a hot dog (that most North American of fast foods) each day for the seven days of British Sausage Week and spin an indictment around each one about the delusional facade of the classic dog and how this somehow represents the United States governments’ thinly veiled programme of colonial theft and the homogenised view of the rest of the world, its peoples, its cultures and their political needs.

The United States is now the biggest threat to peace and stability in the entire world, and the UK is the jumping off point for them in Europe and the Middle-East.

So, to kick off day 1 of British Sausage Week 2014 I went for the generous Gregg’s Hot Dog in a classic configuration with both ketchup and mustard, but without the onions. I fumbled it before getting to the Instagram stage, hence its appropriate resemblance to a severed limb rather than a tasty snack meal.

Gregg’s classic hot dog has gone down well across the pond, although I cannot concur.

Whilst I am a fan of this budget takeway food chain, I cannot recommend the hot dog. Despite having a good snap, the contents are a too much of an approximation of food rather than genuine nutrition. Rather like the sullied “special relationship” which no longer has any credibility and which is now only an artificially coloured and flavoured bag of emulsified slop.

Despite my conceptual brief, and after the disappointment of day one, I think it only fair to my lower colon to absolve myself from the  commitment of eating a hot dog each day for British Sausage Week.

Stay tuned as each day I will be exploring the United States government’s “special relationship” with the English language.

Anyway, here is a genuine quotation by Winston Churchill.
“The gift of a common tongue is a priceless inheritance and it may well some day become the foundation of a common citizenship.”

Oh dear.

Buildaburger Conference – 2 November 2014 – Sausages for Peace 2014

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It’s that time of year again, British Sausage Week. I am sure you all remember how I failed to fulfill last year’s excessively complicated brief where I tried to write a blog post each day using one of the seven deadly sins and also relate them to the movie “Se7en” whilst tying them to a kind of sausage and using each one as an anti-war critique. Remember that?

Well, it was undoubtedly a “brilliant” idea, but I just didn’t have the time to tie up all the loose ends and produce all the amazingly clever insights that I no doubt would have come up with.

Anyway, like whatever. This year I have a more straightforward brief, so stand by for Sausages for Peace 2014. I doubt that Love Pork had this in mind, but I will be posting a series of seven critical and anti-war posts over the coming week.

Stand by…

Buildaburger Conference 26 October 2014 – Sweet Dreams Versus Sour Reality

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Things don’t always work out the way you expect, but as they say “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. A lemon is hardly a booby prize in any competition, being one of the most universally applied flavours in the entire world, but somehow it has become a trope for failure. One can only assume that is due to the lemon’s acidic sourness when interfaced with in its virgin state.

Here is my attempt at a recipe for cornmeal “biscuits” from the Great Big Cookie Book by Hilaire Walden. I followed the recipe to the letter, but the dough was so wet I had to add a significant amount of additional plain flour and cornmeal in order to make it firm enough to form into biscuit shaped blobs.

I have made several recipes from this book in the past with only the cheese pennies being a disappointment. It is quite possible I made a mistake, but whatever. What’s more when I rolled them out to the recommended thickness, they swelled upwards rather than outwards.

The photo shows my attempt next to the image that inspired me to try this recipe in the first place.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/751035.The_great_big_cookie

What’s more, I managed to accidentally set the oven to top heat and fan only which browned them topside far too much rather than an all around bake heat. I realised my mistake after the first batch and I also cut the second batch thinner.

I am nothing if not flexible.

The resulting “biscuits” are not biscuit-like at all, they’re more like scones, but what is the problem with scones? It’s a rhetorical question, the answer is nothing. I remember the first time I baked cheese scones and they were so delicious it made me question myself why would I ever eat anything else, ever. Not actually a serious question, but if your biscuit is a scone, what’s the problem?

Life gave me a couple of lemons, so I made a gin and tonic, but if life gives you a Conservative government, populated by sacks of sour acid, what can you make with that?

Buildaburger Conference – National Curry Week – Day 7 – 19th October 2014 – Condol-Easy-Cook Rice Like a Sunday Morning

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A large vat of curry rice is one of the dishes contract cooks at the Guantanamo Bay Seaside Galley prepares for detainees at the Camp Delta detention center. The detainees’ diet is mostly vegetarian. Joint Task Force 160 Photo by Pfc. Jean-Carl Bertin, USA. (Source defense.gov)

I never understood the idea of easy-cook rice. Rice is easy to cook, but hiding in plain view  using this kind of cognitive deformation is a technique used by propagandists. As Joseph Goebbels said “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.”

In this case, of course, it’s not a lie but a fallacy. According to Tilda’s website: “People often believe that easy cook means that it takes less time to cook when in fact it takes longer than non-easy cook rice. Parboiled rice (otherwise known as easy cook rice) is as it suggests parboiled at source with the husk on, resulting in the grain appearing slightly off white in colour that is until it is cooked when it turns white. This process guarantees separate grains of rice that are fluffy and remains so when holding which is ideal for the foodservice industry.”
http://www.tilda.com/faq/heres-a-question-about-tilda-rice

Also, Adolph Hitler is attributed with coining the idea of the “Big Lie”, something so grotesquely false that denying a Big Lie seems ridiculous.

By now, you’re probably thinking exactly the same as me. Yes, what about the collapse of Building 7? There is a whole industry dedicated to the conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11, but for me the irrefutable proof that something very dodgy was going on (other than crashing planes into buildings) is the symmetrical collapse of, not just Building 7, but Towers 1 and 2 also.

It just doesn’t happen. Not even once, never mind three times, but repeating the fact that two aluminium passenger jets completely demolished three steel-framed buildings is a Big Lie.

If we keep repeating the lies about Al Qaeda, ISIL, WMD, Jihadi John, Iraq, Afghanistan etc, then eventually one day we will all believe it.

Rather like cooking rice, the truth will out. I use the classic method of bringing the water to the boil, adding the rice and then turning the heat down to barely simmer, and wait.

Eventually you have is easily-cooked rice, and if you are some Muslim fall-guy, randomly gathered up in some hearts-and-minds black op, the next thing you know is that you are “gaining weight” in Camp Delta.

Buildaburger Conference – National Curry Week Day 6 – 18th October 2014 – Sated-Day

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“The most radical idea in politics is restraint.” – Richard Bolam

I don’t usually quote myself but this seems appropriate. Pictured here you see today’s lunch, chicken curry with half and half rice and wedges, and very good it was too. However, when I was digging the garden, two and a half hours later, it was repeating on me big time and giving me heartburn. Although it was most satisfying, it was just too much food at lunchtime.

I bet you know exactly what I am going to say next. Yes, it’s just like fracking. Every action has its consequences and it seemed symbolically appropriate that shoving too much of an unknown quantity own a hole came back to haunt me as the earth moved.

I know that’s a bit of a stretch but I’ve come to relish the challenge of relating food to politics, especially as the whole idea of the Buildaburger Conference is based on a single bad pun.

My own political position is a kind of Guardian-reading, middle-class, left-of-centre apologist Monbiotism, but I also hold some views considered so radical that even the most right-on liberals find them unpalatable. One is conventional contracts of employment for politicians so that they can be disciplined or dismissed for gross acts of incompetence, misconduct or negligence (YIKES!). Another is population control (SHRIEK!). Another is a universal reduction in energy consumption (GASP!) and another is a reduction of travel-to-work distances (HORROR!). The last is a reduction in meat consumption (HERESY!).

None of them extreme, but all of them radical.

The idea that the world and the Earth can provide us with the resources necessary for unlimited growth, unlimited consumption and unlimited population is a fallacy, and the politics that supports this fallacy is a complicity of lies.

I had too much to eat and I paid for it. You will too.