Monday, August 24, 2009

Figs and Aliens

Have you seen "District 9" yet? It's a terrific movie -- definitely not for the faint-hearted, because it contains some bloody violence, but well-made and relevant. Dave and I went yesterday without knowing a thing about the plot, and we were stunned. We couldn't stop talking about it.

Briefly -- and I won't give too much away -- it's about aliens who come to earth near Johannesburg, and then can't leave. They're housed in their own district in the city, and become subject to discrimination and disenfranchisement -- drawing interesting parallels with South Africa's real political history. The film explores the interaction between the aliens and humans, and the ways they treat each other and come to identify with each other -- or not.

I had a good weekend. I spent Friday and Saturday here in the city, going to the gym, cleaning the apartment and hanging out with the cat. Then I took the train to New Jersey and Dave and I cooked dinner on Saturday. I made this fig recipe from my blog pal Barbara, and enjoyed it -- we served it as a side dish, but Dave wondered what it would be like with a protein (meat? chicken? tofu?), which is an interesting idea.

Our friend Adam came over and we spent the evening with him, watching "Project Runway," which I'd never seen before. It was pretty fun, I have to admit. Watching TV with Dave is giving me a cultural education -- I know more about the Food Network now than I ever thought I would!

I finally finished "Guns, Germs and Steel." I wouldn't say I loved it. I thought it was long and repetitive, though some of the ideas are interesting. For example, the author asserts that dominant civilizations arose in Europe not because Europeans were smarter or more innovative, but because they had better resources at their disposal -- nutritious varieties of native food crops, easily domesticated animals. That, in turn, was due partly to the positioning of the Eurasian continent, on an east-west axis where crops were more easily shared among societies than on north-south continents with many different climatic zones. It definitely provided some food for thought, but I'm glad to be done with it!

(Photo: Cyclops smiley face in Asbury Park, N.J., August 2009)


  1. Glad you enjoyed the fig recipe, especially since this is the peak of fresh fig season! Let me know if you experiment with adding some savory poultry or other form of protein. I love one-dish meals, so I'm always looking for a way to put it all in the same pot.

    As for the movie, I have to gear myself up for the blood and gore as I usually steer clear of movies that contain violence.

  2. Guns, Germs and Steel? I thought it was tedious. Couldn't force myself to read the whole thing. Boring.

    I love it that you're cooking. Are you enjoying it? I love it, so it delights me to think of you getting into it a bit more than before.

    Food Channel: I love Good Eats because he's so scientific, such a geek. I love Paula Dean because she feels no shame about putting mayonaisse in everything. I like "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." What I don't like are the contests.

    As you can see, I enjoy the Food Channel a lot. I can't wait to meet Dave!

  3. Took me three years to read Guns, Germs and Steel...but then again I'm one of those weirdos that reads 10 books at a time.

    I think Europeans were boosted along the developmental ladder by their proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and the ascension of Greece, and later Rome, to prominence. Ironically enough, I think that the shifted focus north into Europe rather than south into Africa was also directly tied to the Mediterranean, as it became easier to migrate into and out of the Italian peninsula over known passes through the Alps, than it was to deal with the hazards and losses associated with early shipping and transportation over water. As to why the Greeks and Italians made it first? Luck!

    500 years of disease and almost voluntary intellectual darkness pretty much proves that Europeans are generally not much smarter than anyone else. It does not take a wizard to figure out that if you throw your half eaten pheasant leg over you shoulder onto the floor to rot, you're probably going to get some type of filth-generated disease...unless of course you're so stupid you spend too much mental energy actually worried about Wizards in the first place! Ha!

    Germ it up!

  4. Good point about the contests on the Food Channel, Reya. To me, there's only one way you can ruin the fun of cooking...and that's to turn it into a raging, time-clock minded stress-fest and present it as a game show with commercials. No thanks.

  5. You have the best weekends. :)
    Figs, yum!

  6. Project Runway... a great addiction! It's really cool to miss several shows then watching in one fell swoop! (Like a rainy Sunday while doing housework!)

  7. Actually I prefer "Collapse", the sequel to "Guns, Germs and Steel". I think Diamond's theories verge just on the edge of racism, and some are a tad hard to swallow. If you've ever seen the documentary made of GGS, he comes across as very pompous.