Monday, 22 March 2010

Bread, cheese and whine

As the rationing month comes to a close, so I slow to a stop with the blogging. Partially it's being busy, partially it's being fed up of rationing and partially it's because of Talk Talk.

Let's start with Talk Talk. On Friday, as we're eating dinner (fish and chip for CJBS, the last remaining vegeburgers from the ration for me), the doorbell rings. Hello, says the visitor. I'm from BT. We've just upgraded our exchange and I want to make sure that you're getting the benefit. Can you sign here to say I've been?

No, I can't, says I. You're not from BT at all, are you? You're a con artist. Go away, now, or I'll summon a policeman (I get frighteningly British when flustered).

Yeah, sure, he says, and saunters off to the next house along and rings their doorbell. So I call the police. The police are in the area, watching over the 15 year olds spewing, fighting and getting chlamydia in the town centre, it being a Friday. They come out immediately and stop him.

No guv', he says to them, I'm from Talk Talk. Look, here's my ID (which sprang from nowhere). I'm telling everyone I'm from Talk Talk. The police then call me back: he says you've made a false call. We've left him to get on with it.

Oh, for crying out loud, says I. Of course he's telling you the truth that he's from Talk Talk. It's just us he's lying to. Oh, says the controller, we'll move him on, shall we? Well, duh.

At that point, I spot that our useless communications "regulator", OfCom, have a big press release about how they've stamped out mis-selling like this. It's leading the BBC news. It's on their website. It's a big story. What's not on their website is anywhere to complain about mis-selling. I email them, pointing this out. They email back today: no, because we can't actually do anything about it (I paraphrase). First, you must read Talk Talk's full terms and conditions and its full licence. Then you must write to Talk Talk, giving the details they ask for in the licence in the correct order. Then, if they won't help, you can contact Talk Talk's in-house ombudsman. If she won't help, then you can contact OfGums. But they will only help if you've been caught by the mis-selling.

So the police and the regulator were both unwilling to do anything about the suave conman from Talk Talk at my door that night. This did not set my mood very high.

Additionally, the burgers set out to avenge themselves on me as well by making me very ill. I spent the night and much of Saturday calling god on the great white telephone. That night, from points, we had tinned soup and some bread, about all I could keep down. On the plus side, the rationing plus all the vomiting means I'm now down to a 32" waist (30" if I concentrate).

Sunday I felt brighter, but my body wasn't done yet: the kneeling in the bathroom didn't suit my arthritic hips (it's okay, it's "juvenile arthritis", and it'll be gone by the time I'm 15, I was told...) and I'm now on the second day of hobbling around with a walking stick and a pained countenance. Sunday dinner was therefore a simple one: baked potatoes with a tomato soup starter. Oh, but the tomato soup was good! The best I've done yet (it helped that I was starving by this point). The main good point was that I used so much garlic - oh, so very much - that it was actually garlic soup with tomato. And it was lovely, but you don't want me to breathe on you today, believe me.

So, what for tonight? Well, it's French Onion Soup. Some adaptations are required to get this within wartime restrictions, but it should still be good. The key to French Onion Soup is getting the onions to caramelize without burning them. Many recipes get round this by having you boil them, then add brown sugar. There's no need for this, especially if, like me, you've got used to the endless bloody stirring of rationed food. Keep them on a medium heat and keep them moving and they'll not burn.

Ideally, I'd put brandy and red wine in it, but I'm out of brandy. So I'm going to try adding some dark rum instead. Also ideally, I'd put a thick slice of bread on top, a huge heap of cheese and then grill the whole thing, soup and all, before serving (unideally, burning my fingers, usually). But I've no cheese.

However, what I do have is powdered cheese sauce. This was available in the 1940s and was, just like now, a poor, third-rate ersatz excuse for cheese sauce. But made thickly, with some extra mustard powder, then poured onto the bread and toasted and I'll have a passible imitation of what I'm seeking.

Just one more day to go with this rationing lark, then off to rainy Belgium to sit damply in various cafes for a few days. And, yes, we will be back on rations when we get back. Only this time, I must find a period of history with just a little bit more cheese available!


Michelle said...

I've done fairly well with the UK lingo on the blog up until now. I'm afraid I could only follow along in the Talk Talk story as well as I can "read" romance languages because of my two years of Latin. From what I can make of it there was a devious solicitor and the police didn't care and Gaul is divided into three parts (oh wait, that last part is from Caesar). :) Otherwise, I'm sorry to hear you were sick, glad you are better, hope you have a wonderful vacation and am tickled that you will be returning to some kind of rationing. Cheers!

peezedtee said...

TalkTalk story interesting cuz that is who we have for our broadband and TV, they having taken over Tiscali, who took over Homechoice, with whom we originally took out the contract. If they are such lying crooks as this, I wonder (since their service isn't very good anyway) if we should switch to BT, or maybe they are just as bad.