Thursday, January 14, 2010

We have some hand-made camels.

Neva River, St Petersburg

I was reading the latest edition of Dogs Monthly and saw an article about an Austrian dog who can recognise 340 words.

Now they say that the dog can recognise the words – but I am not sure that makes it intelligent – I mean Dick Cheney could recognise words - but let’s not quibble.

I told Muffin about this and she snorted derisively and – if she could speak – would have said. ‘Why would it bother?’.

Exactly Muffin. Why would a dog want to recognise 340 words when about 6 will do the job quite adequately. There is stuff that you simply do not need to know. Cats recognise these boundaries but the problem with dogs is that they try too hard.

I do of course apologise to all dog owners who feel slighted by my blog entry and really do believe that their Rover is the most intelligent and wonderful creature on the planet. I particularly apologise to my son and his two dogs Lenny and Bandit who I am sure are both remarkably intelligent.

It is a bit hard to tell because on the two occasions I met Lenny he spent the whole time hurtling around barking and then trying to piss on my feet and it is hard to gauge a dog’s IQ when it is doing that.

William has made some telling points about building pyramids and I need to do some more research. The documentary I watched was quite compelling but the ‘ramp up the middle’ concept makes much more engineering sense.

I think my documentary maker was using flawed research and is not as smart as the Egyptians who built the pyramids. I must also apologise to any of the still living free Egyptians who built the pyramids. As Merisi has explained – they were not all slaves - and in fact I think my documentary showed this but it was a piece of information I did not retain.

I have reached the age where if I retain new information some old stuff falls out the other side so I need to be careful with what new stuff I collect.

We have finally solved our guest bedroom lamp imbroglio and have purchased two camels – one sitting and one standing. These are made out of resin and are just fabulous. Well they are to us but to an untrained eye they may seem a bit strange. They are hand-made locally by Lori Rosenberg and I shall provide pictures next week.

I turned off my Data Roaming in Russia – except for when I used the iPhone for navigation and once when I left it on Roaming overnight. This cost €93,75. This phone must have relatives in Zambia which it calls when we travel!

I did not respond to the debate about Tafelspitz but should say that I find it strangely unappetizing. Like Merisi – I prefer a good steak. I think Tafelspitz is one of those things – like Lamingtons and Vegemite – that you have to be brought up with to appreciate.

And as for Topfenstrudel – if anyone out there has ever eaten one – and enjoyed it – please let me know. It is singularly the most unappealing thing I have ever eaten.


  1. Animals have the most incredible perception. I could walk through a park where there is a flock of wintering swans and they will all come waddling up to me hoping for a bite of sandwich like they do with the othe punters.

    When I go the next day with brd rings deep in my pocket they have a communal panic attack and rush off to form a tight flock in the middle of the lake. I just can't fathom it.

  2. no offence taken. lenny and bandit are possibly the two dumbest creatures currently living on the planet. (insert joke about sarah palin and dick cheney )

  3. I don't know why my Maxie is jumping up and down like crazy every time I open your blog.

  4. I must confess that Topfenstrudel is one of my favourite things. That combination of fromage frais creaminess, raisins, and pastry, topped with a light dusting of Staubzucker - yum. I think I might have to go and buy myself one now as a naughty afternoon snack...

    I have long been a sucker for strudel. I love Beef Wellington and Salmon en Croute for pretty much the same reason - the simple but foolproof principle that wrapping scrummy fillings in pastry can never be a bad idea.

    I've never had a terrible Topfenstrudel in Austria - I think it's quite hard to get wrong. Apfelstrudel is a lot more variable, at least to my tastes. I'm a bit fastidious about how my apples are cooked, and if they aren't done just to my liking - and with just the right amount of sugar to offset the tartness of the fruit (but not too much) - it ruins a strudel for me. The best Topfen- and Apfelstrudeln I've tasted in Wien was way out in the sticks, at the Kurpark in Oberlaa. And I'm not talking about the fancy Kurkonditorei - ignore that and head for the much less glamourous place opposite. It looks like a greasy spoon - you'll have to trust me on this one - but there's a Viennese Oma in the kitchen whose Lieblinge would put many a professional pastry chef to shame. The size of the portions - we're talking half a kilo (!) - also means you can take what you don't eat home and extend the strudel heaven into another day...

    I'm always on the lookout for new strudel places beyond the obvious (Anker, Der Mann etc), so I'd love to hear recommendations if anybody has any. I also have an question that piqued my curiosity while writing this - why Topfen (pots?!) and not Quark? I get frustrated sometimes having to learn three different foreign languages to operate in Wien - German, Austrian/Bavarian, and 'Weanarisch'! Surely das ist ein Topfen, oder?

  5. @Badger Your comments are becoming oppressively parochial, Austrian (about strudel), when there are terribly more meaningful subjects to talk about, both at the present moment and in a historical context. So, please forgive me for taking French leave as a follower of your otherwise excellent blog...

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  7. Strudel.
    I know one place only that offers a "gezogener" strudel the way it is supposed to be. It begins with "D" ..... the other one .... oh, well ....
    Get the cherry strudel or Weintrauben strudel there. Heaven.