Archive for the ‘Language and plants’ Category

End of season

August 19, 2018

(There are sandpenises, but the gay porn ad is penisless and amiable, though extremely heavily muscled. So raunchy but goofy; use your judgment.)

Late August, and summer is drawing to a close in the Northern Hemisphere. Three things: botanical markers of the end of the season; for some, the last occasions for holidays on the beach (this will yield another bulletin in the endless News for Penises series); and for many, back to school (in this case, celebrated by a TitanMen sale on gay porn — put some mansex in your backback, boys!).


Lantana on the trail

August 16, 2018

Another report on the plants out my front door and in my neighborhood. A scene around the corner from my house in Palo Alto, showing a street planting of trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis) between the sidewalk and the white picket fence around an urban farmhouse (a survival from an earlier time):

(#1) Northeast corner of Emerson and Homer, across Emerson from the Whole Foods; across Homer from tech and fashion shops; diagonally across from the Greek restaurant Taverna (formerly the Mexican restaurant La Morenita)


Succulents on a rampage

August 8, 2018

It started back in April, when I acquired a small succulent garden (of mostly silver-blue plants) at Trader Joe’s and re-planted its five crowded inhabitants in a more suitable pot. They quickly grew too big for that space, so in May I bought a considerably larger turquoise pot for them to live in (and added a silvery creeping sedum and some ornamental stones). Now it’s early August, and most of the original plants are huge; one is blooming, another has a flower shoot blasting skyward, and two more look like they’re planning on blossoming. It’s all a bit alarming. When their mania for reproduction has run its course, it will be time for a much larger pot. Or something.


Friends of friends

August 6, 2018

At Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden this morning, two sort of familiar plants — a big upright succulent just coming into bloom, a small tree (or large shrub) with silver-green leaves and still green berries. The first a new (to me) variety of the familiar spectabile species (‘Autumn Fire’ rather than ‘Autumn Joy’ — hey, fall is coming fast), with a unfamiliar (to me) genus name (Hylotelephium instead of Sedum). The second both like the familiar olive (Olea europaea) and like the familiar  Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), but not quite either of them: a merely olive-like Elaeagnus rather than an actual Olea, and commutata ‘silverberry’ rather than angustifolia.


Local news: weather and food

July 28, 2018

The local weather has been mostly very pleasant recently, normal temperatures for this time of the year (highs in the 70s), of course no rain (it’s the dry season), and good air (no haze or actual smoke from wildfires). So on Wednesday I undertook to cook something, using ingredients in the house: peppery barley and vegetable soup. (With my wonky hands, I don’t cook much, and certainly don’t try any culinary procedure that takes manual dexterity; just opening cans is a slow and arduous process for me.)

Then…  the intersection of the weather and food preparation.


At Boulders Beach

July 25, 2018

Signage alert today from Chris Hansen, with this item:


The location, from Wikipedia:


Chard semantics, chard art, and chard food

July 17, 2018

My recent Swiss steak posting,”Braised short ribs with Swiss chard, and the Swiss Hotel” on the 15th, in considering Swiss chard as an ingredient in cooking, also looked at the semantics of the composite Swiss chard (it’s relational rather than predicational: Swiss chard isn’t Swiss, but instead is related to or associated with Switzerland in some way — but in what way?) and illustrated one culinary use of the plant’s leaves.

But there’s more. First, there’s more on the semantics. Swiss chard is a synonym of chard; all chard is Swiss chard. That is, the Swiss of Swiss chard isn’t restrictive, but rather appositive: not ‘chard that is related to Switzerland (in such and such a way)’, but ‘chard, which is related to Switzerland (in such and such a way)’.

Second, thanks to the striking colors of its ribs and leaves and to the complex textures of its leaves, Swiss chard is beautiful: it’s a frequent subject for artists (in paintings, water colors, and pencil drawings) and photographers, and it’s grown as an ornamental plant (like ornamental cabbage and kale — the ornamental crucifers — and some herbs, notably rosemary, thyme, and sage).

Finally, my adventures with the composite Swiss chard led me to two specific culinary uses of the plant: in the characteristic dish of Romansh-speaking Switzerland, the chard-wrapped meat dumplings capuns; and the combination of   Swiss chard with white beans (in sautés, stews, and soups) — one of the staples of my Swiss grandmother’s cooking.



July 17, 2018

Today’s morning name. Charlotte NC, on my mind presumably because it’s being (controversially) considered as the host city for the 2020 Republican National Convention. Then Charlottesville VA (home of the University of Virginia and site of a white supremacist rally that turned deadly back in January) and Charlottetown (capital of PEI). And, finally the Queen Charlotte Islands in BC. The similarity in names — which led me also to the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge (with MIT, Harvard, and Boston University on its banks), the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, and picturesque Charleston SC (location of a 2015 race-based mass shooting) — turns out not be be accidental; it’s all about Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George III. She will take us eventually to Handel, J.C. Bach, and Mozart, not to mention Rutgers University.


Braised short ribs with Swiss chard, and the Swiss Hotel

July 15, 2018

An offshoot of investigations into Swiss Steak: three recipes for braised shortribs (or short ribs) with Swiss chard, one of them from the restaurant of the Swiss Hotel in Sonoma CA. Braised shortribs and Swiss steak are both braised beef dishes, but Swiss steak is boneless, is standardly pounded flat before searing and stewing, and is often cut into pieces before cooking; otherwise, the dishes are very similar.

Swiss steak isn’t Swiss, in the sense that the American dish as we know it isn’t part of Swiss cuisine — it is, instead, American — but it might be steak à la Suisse, steak in the Swiss style, with reference to some ingredient or cooking technique that is, or at least is believed to be, associated with Switzerland, in the way that spinach is associated with the city of Florence, in the modifier Florentine ‘with spinach’. (That would be to treat Swiss steak as a relational, rather than predicational, composite, like Swiss cheese; see my 7/10/18 posting “Swiss cheese isn’t Swiss”.)

Meanwhile, Swiss chard (aka chard and several other things) isn’t Swiss either, certainly not by origin, though the details of its association with or relationship to Switzerland are not at all clear — perhaps only by its being a everyday green vegetable throughout the country (in a way that it is not in the US or the UK).

The Swiss Hotel in Sonoma (serving Italian / American food) isn’t Swiss, either, but it is historically related to Switzerland, in particular to Italophone Switzerland in the 19th century.

The pairing of braised shortribs (not in itself a particularly Swiss dish) with Swiss chard on several occasions, once from a restaurant with Swiss associations, might suggest an association between Switzerland and braised meat, braised beef in particular — a relationship that could help to account for the Swiss of Swiss steak.


Food and sex for the 4th

July 6, 2018

Running a bit late, but here are four (US) Independence Day items: two pieces of watermelon news (just food); phallic hot dogs (food and sex); and a go-to guy for holiday gay porn (just sex). The last two items involve men’s bodies and mansex discussed in street language, so aren’t suitable for everyone.