Indigestion

What to write for this post has been bothering me as much as that vexing, never-ending question of ‘what to have for dinner tonight’. I have all the ingredients, collected during my last excursion into town, but I don’t know what to make of them. I have sorted through several ideas but none of them seems quite right.

I have my lone young magpie,  usually a strange sight in the central city, who makes

me think of ‘country come to town’, or ‘nature reclaiming the spaces we usurped’, though the magpie, like us, is an introduced species. Which all makes me recall the haunting poem by our own Denis Glover,

The Magpies

When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm
The bracken made their bed,
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.
……..
Elizabeth is dead now (it’s years ago;
Old Tom went light in the head:
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

The farm’s still there. Mortgage corporations
Couldn’t give it away.
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies say.

 

Then I have The Bull, Chapman’s Homer. Remember  him?  He’s back. He’s been in seclusion for a while but he’s been let out for some fresh air, and to watch over the renovations on his soon-to-be new home; the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Chapman's Homer outside the City Council building

Chapman’s Homer outside the City Council building

Looking towards the Bull's new home

Looking towards the Bull’s future home, the Christchurch Art Gallery

These items present me with ideas of ‘civilization in nature’; and ‘civilization’ itself; ‘what it is and is not’, and ‘the thinness of its veneer’.

And the entirety has me wondering about ‘cultural collaboration and collision’ and ‘what is left standing When a City Falls’ , and, if what is left, provides a big enough foundation to support a new city. The remains look so terribly small in the face of the vastness of the concrete rebuild jungle.

Confused? So am I. But, perhaps, that is just how it is in our city, where we still seem to be searching for the right recipe to put us back together again.

So what is for dinner tonight?

Brace yourselves. It’s not four and twenty magpies baked in a pie, boeuf bourguignon or smoked eel. No,  I have decided on leftover fish and chips, that traditional New Zealand take away, supplemented with homemade buttermilk corn bread,  which mish-mash is bound to bring on culturally confused indigestion ….but, right now, it’s the best I can come up with.

© silkannthreades

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117 thoughts on “Indigestion

  1. shoreacres

    i went back and read your post about the struggle to claim the bull for your city. Then, I read the linked articles about the meaning of the sculpture. I thought I would have to content myself with being happy for you that the goal was met, and that the bull on his piano soon will be in place. The artist’s explanation of it all was a little above me.

    But when I took another look, the bull reminded me of the wonderful bull on Wall Street in New York City. Then, I thought about the artist’s statement that, “… performance is central to understanding On first looking into Chapman’s Homer because music fills a space like no object can.”

    So, we have the bull — a symbol of strength, striving, investment, profit, and achievement.Then, there’s the piano, spreading music everywhere, ethereal art for receptive ears and hearts. Instead of a bull in a china shop, it’s a bull in a music shop. Or, from another perspective, it’s a uniquely New Zealandish version of bread and roses!

    Which brings me to cornbread. I grew up in a tradition of cornbread and milk in a large cup called a mush cup — I suppose because we “mushed everything up” in it. My grandfather was especially fond of it, but we all ate it from time to time. It was a nice Sunday supper, because we had our large dinner at noon. We cooked it in an iron skillet, which made the edges especially crusty and nice. Wonderful memories, for sure.

    We didn’t use buttermilk to make it, but we often had home churned butter to put on it. As a matter of fact, I still have my great-grandmother’s butter paddle hanging on the kitchen wall, along with one of her butter molds.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      A Bull in a Music Shop; wonderful. That would have made a great title for my post. I don’t know exactly what the sculpture means but its presence here and our efforts to purchase it certainly have added a bread and roses aspect to its meaning. Another connection that it makes for me is with Jane Campion’s film The Piano.
      As for mushed up corn bread, that must be great comfort food. I must try it next time I make corn bread. Makes me feel all warm and relaxed just thinking about it. By the way,I love cornmeal porridge. Have you ever tried making butter with your great-grandmother’s butter paddle and butter molds?

      Reply
      1. shoreacres

        No, I’ve never used them to make butter. I do have her whipping bowl, though. I’m sure you’ve seen such a thing. It’s a glass bowl with beaters attached to a lid. You put the cream in the bowl, screw the lid on tight, and get to work. In about ten minutes, you’ve got whipped cream, and no mess. Very clever. Too bad they don’t make such things today.

        Somewhere around here I’ve a recipe for a cobbler that uses cornmeal in the crust. I’ll see if I can’t find that again. It sounded quite good.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Oh, I had a bowl a bit like that. Not sure what happened to it. I have a feeling the bowl broke. It came to a bad end, anyway. Cornmeal cobbler would be good. When we lived in Zambia, years and years ago, wheat flour was almost impossible to obtain, so corn meal found its way into many of my recipes; with varying degrees of success, I might add.

  2. Letizia

    In the end, you managed to pull everything together quite well, like a knitted jumper for a tree! (I’ve seen a couple of trees with knitted sleeves in my little town as well. Apparently it’s a worldwide trend, who knew?).

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yarn bombing seems to happen everywhere! Thanks for saying that I managed to pull everything together; perhaps a few dropped stitches and odd bits of yarn in the story jumper but then I am not known as a great knitter!!!! 😀

      Reply
  3. Just Add Attitude

    I wasn’t at all sure of what to expect when I saw this post’s title. So the melange of pictures, thoughts and a delightful poem were a nice surprise. I hope you enjoyed your fish and chips with cornbread. 😉

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The combo meal was a little unusual, but filling, and not as indigestible as I feared it would be. I hope you feel the same way about my blog post. 😀

      Reply
  4. lagottocattleya

    That is a great bull…tonnes and tonnes…but a beauty. I love fish and chips really – we never have it in Sweden but I buy it as soon as I come across it in England or Scotland. The most tasty meal of this kind I got in Whitby, near Scarborough. In fact it was a famous restaurant because of itheir specila recipe. Which we didn’t get…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The Bull is no lightweight! When I was visiting a friend in Leeds in the 1980s, she insisted on taking me to the best fish and chips place in the UK ( she said). So we got on a bus and went for miles to somewhere (can’t remember where now), had our fish and chips, and then got another bus back to Leeds. All in all, about a 5 hour expedition, but they really were the best fish and chips I have ever had.

      Reply
  5. diannegray

    When I lived in Canberra the magpies were vicious. When hubby arrived (from Cairns) he thought magpies were cute little black and white birds (like a peewee) and was horrified when he realised the magpies attack. I was used to it and would carry an umbrella while walking (rain, hail or shine) because they hit you so hard on the head when they swoop they can knock you over (and leave a lot of nasty bleeding). It doesn’t seem to be like in this any other city other than Canberra. When I lived there I felt like baking magpie pies a few times! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh dear, yes, magpies can be very territorial. I am always wary of them and have managed to avoid any attacks.Not that I see them very often. However, I have been very sternly warned to stay away from a magpie couple and offspring enjoying an early evening snack in a local park. They were warning off my dog, too, even though he was minding his own business. But they do fascinate me because of stories I have heard about my grandmother’s tame (and talking) magpies. My grandmother and the magpies got on well together, apparently.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Mmmm…. I am not sure about that either. I have also heard that if you look them in the eye and talk to them they won’t attack you……don’t know if I would be game to try that, although I did talk to the young magpie I photographed. It wouldn’t look me in the eye but it was happy to listen.

  6. mmmarzipan

    Although I am not so fond of magpies when they swoop, I have a soft spot for baby/young birds, for sure. I hope that everything comes together in the town and that the completed redevelopment is something the locals (and local birdlife) can enjoy and be proud of. Love the sound of corn bread!

    Reply
  7. Steve Schwartzman

    I recognized “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer” as the title of the Keats poem,

    http://englishhistory.net/keats/poetry/chapmanshomer.html

    but I was at a loss for the connection to the sculpture. At

    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/michael-parekowhais-bull-palace-94054

    I found an article that says: “The overall title for the project is based on the poem ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ by the nineteenth-century English Romantic poet John Keats. In this Keats describes a Spanish adventurer climbing to the top of a hill in what is now Panama and looking out over the Pacific to survey its potential riches for the first time.”

    The piano apparently plays the role of the mountain peak, and the bull of Cortez.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It’s a pity that we couldn’t buy the entire installation because each piece plays off the other and adds different meanings to each individual sculpture and as well as in relationship to each other. However, Chapman’s Homer, on its own, is still a mighty artwork and gives us plenty to wonder/wander about. Eventually, when the sculpture is in its permanent home, it may need to be become a talking statue, like the London ones http://www.talkingstatues.co.uk/ , so that people can hear the story behind the statue, and listen to what Parekowhai intended the sculpture to mean. Then they can make up their own mind about what the Bull means to them.

      Reply
      1. Sheryl

        I think that I’ve seen cornbread recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks. I’ve have to look and see what I can find. Hmm. . . maybe this is an idea for a future post. 🙂

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That really is an amazing sight, and how wonderful that all the blankets were given to worthy causes afterwards. The tree in the park was wearing some knitting but it seemed to be very old knitting and looked rather raggedy. I suspect that some birds had helped themselves to some yarn for their nests.

      Reply
  8. Katrina Lester

    I’m glad to hear the left-over fish and chips aren’t going to waste. An interesting cultural hodge-podge for dinner with the British/New Zealand takeaway combined with the American corn bread. I hope it didn’t literally give you indigestion!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Well…..not exactly indigestion but I do find the amount of oil in the fish and chips hard to digest, which is why I seldom buy that takeaway. Corn bread is more to my taste. So I made sure I got the lion’s share of the corn bread and you know who got the biggest share of the fish and chips. 😀

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I don’t mind hot, but hot, hot, hot, is a bit much for me. I ate my first corn bread at a friend’s farmhouse in Virginia. That will always be the quintessential corn bread for me. It was so very very good and not a chilli flake in sight.

      1. Steve Schwartzman

        I’m originally from the east coast of the United States, so all my early cornbread was likewise without any chili. In Texas, by contrast, there are people for whom chilessential cornbread is the quintessential cornbread.

        Reply
      2. Steve Schwartzman

        Traditional Texans might agree that only the South knows how to make “real” cornbread, but there’s the South and then there’s the South. Texas is different from the other Southern states in having been a part of Mexico, and that’s the connection to chili. I’m no expert, but I have the impression that the rest of the South doesn’t put chili in cornbread, or at least didn’t traditionally. Nowadays everything has been disseminated so far and wide that it’s hard to isolate many dishes to just one region. When I was a kid, so-called Mexican food was virtually unknown in New York, but now people all across the country regularly consume it, and salsa picante (hot sauce) has dethroned ketchup as the number one condiment in the United States.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Oh, poor old ketchup. It’s probably still number one in New Zealand but Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce may be hot on its heels. Can’t find any statistics to support that though. Your comment reminds me how surprised I was to find in late 1970s New York that you could put chilli flakes on your pizza slice.

  9. earthbornliving

    Interesting to take a visit to the city as it goes through such a transformation….
    and fish and chips
    -( a definite favourite
    We have a great fish and chips shop by the sea in Aldeburgh best eaten in the paper on the beach on a grey day )
    cornbread … Yum not sure about the fusion
    And desert ?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      By the sea is where we ate fish and chips as children. They develop the best taste by the sea; and the outer wrapper was newspaper back then. Desert? My husband got the leftover banana cake and I had tamarillos and yogurt. Tonight we are having a lemon cheese/lemon delicious pudding. Better get on with making it.

      Reply
      1. earthbornliving

        Oh my … Yes I remember newspaper too now it’s vaguely shiny white paper which we used to draw on in art college – we had a whole tray of fish and chip paper …
        have never tried a tamarillo … One for the list 🙂

        Reply
        1. earthbornliving

          We don’t see them so much over here – I’ve heard people spread the fruit on toast ? They look interesting a bit tomato ish I’ve had them in a salsa I think but not for a desert …how do you prepare them ?

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          On toast? Oh, that is a new one to me. I blanch them and peel off the skin; just as you would a tomato. Then I slice them thickly, place in a bowl, and put on as much sugar as desired and leave them till a juice appears. I like to leave them a couple of hours. So I suppose that is marinating them in sugar. I eat them with natural yogurt.

  10. womanseyeview

    So glad you settled on corn bread instead of Magpie pie! It’s so interesting to hear about the resurrection of Christchurch through you perspective and so glad it’s going well – for you and the city.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, I think magpie pie might have been a bit unpleasant. On the whole, the city is coming to live again. We know it is going to take a long while but that doesn’t stop us feeling vexed about what we perceive as slow progress. My experience here makes me wonder about the difficulties of putting cities together again after war.

      Reply
      1. womanseyeview

        An interesting link from the destruction of nature to the destruction of war…the sight of family homes being purposely destroyed is a gut wrenching one. Best wishes for your anniversaries and frightening memories. xx

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Thank you Carol. We heard today that only 10% of the city has been rebuilt so far. That has taken 4 years. Yet another person talked about the length of time it took to rebuild the Dresden Frauenkirche, implying that rebuilding is not something that can be rushed if you want a city of value to arise from the rubble.

      2. womanseyeview

        Hopefully your rebuilding is a thoughtful and community inclusive process and not left to developers (like in post tsunami Thailand) . It seems though that since this terrible event effected so many, you may not let that happen.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          The developers are certainly a worry. The most damaged residential areas were where developers had been allowed to build for years without regard for the fragility of the land.

  11. Tiny

    So nice to see The Bull again! I’m sure he was happy to breath fresh air again. I hope he’ll get into his permanent home soon. I’m often thinking about your city and sincerely hope what is left is enough of a foundation to rebuild it in a way you all will fell it’s home again. …Loved the little magpie who’d come to bring the country into town.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Tiny, although I express confusion in my post, this visit to the city centre gave me, for the first time, a sense that something was cooking and it could be good. The little magpie was such a surprise. Seagulls and paradise ducks are common in the city green spaces, but I don’t know that I have ever come across a magpie. Thank you for keeping our city in your thoughts.

      Reply
  12. Juliet

    Maybe you are just reflecting the way Christchurch is at present, a mix of elements that haven’t yet come together as a coherent whole. But the elements are great. I love that bull on the piano.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      No snakes! We are snake-free in New Zealand. 🙂 I think you are looking at the eels in my photos. Do try the corn bread. It’s very easy to make and you will have access to the perfect corn meal for corn bread, which I don’t. Texture of eel? Well…..I have only had smoked eel, and it was a little chewy and salty. That’s all I remember. I guess I wasn’t sold on it. 😀

      Reply
  13. restlessjo

    I’m pretty confused, I have to admit, but he’s a fine-looking bull, isn’t he? And every tree needs a winter warmer now and again?
    I’d settle for fish and chips! I overindulged at the Girls night last night so have been eating very frugally today. 😦

    Reply
  14. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    grrrrrrrrrrr… i have my own indigestion.. am in the city and it’s the last week of vacation for those in the mountains.. and it’s crazy and the internet is too slow here to load the pages….. i am replying via email and am glad that part of your post reached the inbox.

    lo siento, i am so sorry that i am still unable to view wordpress posts! checking out of hotel and heading home…

    z

    ________________________________

    Reply
  15. Mrs. P

    I just love the bull…outstanding depiction! ❤

    And here I thought you were going to answer my dinner questions as I too have to come up with a plan. Though your fish and chips sound bang up to me…I live with some fish snobs who will only eat fish if it comes from one of the local restaurants in NY…a little pricey for today's budget. Having grown up with gourmet cooking, I find finicky eaters challenging to please.

    Reply
  16. YellowCable

    I like this mini day tour of Christchurch that includes a nice dinner at the end. Oh yes, I remember the Bull. I am glad he is back out again. The town here is doing shuffling sculptures around. The silver horse has disappeared but I just found him another place. Good to see him again.

    Ah, it is good to know that “fish and chips” is NZ tradition. I like it 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Sculptures are not that easy to shuffle round but it is good to see them in different spots. Have you posted about the Silver Horse? I would like to see it. ‘ Fish and chips ‘is definitely a NZ tradition. The takeaway shop was so crowded when I ordered on Friday night. We were squeezed in like sardines. 😉

      Reply
      1. YellowCable

        I think so too about shuffle sculptures around but the town seems to do this quite frequent. I would say every year or few years. The place where the silver horse was there originally was placed by a smaller mechanical horse now.

        I have not post about the silver horse yet. I was thinking about it. I was delighted to see it again just last weekend. It will be another post 🙂

        Reply
  17. utesmile

    I remember the bull and piano… not as ashtray though. I do like your poster about spreading kindness…. wished London would do that too! I do like those eels too, nice touch! I love seeing all these pictures from your side of the world. And that bread looks delicious specially when I looked at it on the bigger picture, yummy!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Corn bread is yummy, Ute. One of my favourites. ( Oh, I do have a lot of favourites :D) Yes, I like the random kindness concept and I wish some people were kinder to the Bull. I was appalled to see that his piano had been used as an ashtray.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Ha! You know, even though Chapman’s Homer is so bullish and muscled, I feel he would be very kind to any eel who came near him. Like Ferdinand… do you remember him?

      Reply
      1. gpcox

        Good one. I mentioned Ferdinand to someone about a week ago and had to go into a major description to rouse their memory – boy did I feel old!! But that’s what I meant – I didn’t want the eels taking advantage of his fixed stance.

        Reply
  18. thecontentedcrafter

    This post reminds me that I never did hear which plan was decided on in the end for the rebuild. I remember hearing marvelous proposals like a green city, moving the city further out on the plain, high rises with vertical gardens and roof gardens – but always the need for something cohesive and energy efficient and forward looking ……….. did any of this come to anything in the end? I hope you have enjoyed your ‘fush’n’chups’ and the buttermilk corn bread! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      A plan was decided upon but whether it’s actually all going to happen seems uncertain. The Watermark project is coming along quite well. https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/2891/ Fush’n’chups, 2nd time around, were tasty. Not something we do very often. It’s probably about 3 years since we last had that particular takeaway. The corn bread I haven’t made since before the first earthquake, which means more than 4 years ago.

      Reply
      1. thecontentedcrafter

        Thank you dear Gallivanta, I had a look at the post and those views along the river are just as lovely – maybe even more lovely, as they were when I lived in the Garden City! I think it is maybe just as long since I last ate our iconic kiwi takeaway – and I have never eaten buttermilk corn bread!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          The Antigua Street bridge by the Boatshed has been taken away to be repaired. It will look good when that comes back, all nicely fixed. There’s too much oil in fish and chips for me to really enjoy them on a regular basis. You may be able to see from my scribbles on the corn bread recipe that I have made it gluten free on occasions. It is an adaptable recipe and if you click on the corn bread link you will go to Nava Atlas’ vegan/vegetarian website. Apart from her recipes, she is an amazing person.

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