Sunday, January 01, 2012

After the inevitable late rising today, I walked down into Headingley to find a restaurant in which my young friend, Jack, and I could eat. Jack is a very funny chap - even if last night's laughs essentially consisted in taking the piss out of me - and you can find his blog here. He promises to be more regular. As it were.

Anyway, the Thai restaurant being closed and the KFC and pizza places being unappetising, we ended up in the Agora Greek-Turkish restaurant. Where this brief conversation took place between me and the owner:-
I see your signature dish is stifado. I'm struck by the fact this word is close to the Spanish for 'stew' - estofado - and so I'm wondering if stifado means stew in Greek.
No, it's not a stew. It doesn't have any vegetables. But the meat is cooked for 4 or 5 hours, which is why it's so tender.
OK.(Thinking, It sounds like a bloody stew to me)

And here's what the internet tells me . . . Stifado/Stifatho dishes are stews, and they are easy to recognise: they include onions - a lot of onions. So I'm left wondering, firstly, just why anyone would deny that a stifado was a stew, and, secondly, why the same word crops up in Iberia. The internet says that the origin of the Iberian word is French - étouffée - so I guess this word found its way into Greek and/or Turkish cuisine.

Finally . . . . If you visit the UK regularly, you become aware that some things here are extraordinarily (and inexplicably) expensive by European standards. I can't rattle off a list but I can say that travel by bus or train - of which I've done a lot recently - is one of these. So I wasn't too surprised to read this week that "Commuters who will have to pay hundreds of pounds more for their season tickets next week are already paying up to ten times more to travel by train than those on the Continent." Somebody's obviously making a killing.


Bill said...

Somebody's obviously making a killing.

Possibly, but have you seen the size of the public debt for transport or health care in places like France; bad as it is in the UK, it pales into insignificance when compared. Also bear in mind that both income tax and national insurance equivalents tend to be much higher in a number of mainland European countries.

Colin said...

Thanks, Bill. I had wondered about this. And the one thing that one can say about the trains in Britain is that they are far better than they used to be. Though no better that those in Spain, for example. As for prices, I think the trick is to ensure that you book the ticket in advance. Or be of an age which encourages the clerk to tell you you might be entitled to a discount.

Azra said...

What's the price of fuel like compared to the rest of Europe? Here it's currently just over R10 a litre - which is equal to 1 Euro a litre.

Colin said...

It ranges from 1 pound 20 to 1 pound 33 a litre around here. Was around 1.32 euros a litre when I last bought some in Spain. So a lot more than where you are. And (depending on the exchange rate) 15 to 20% more than in Spain. Don't know about France and Germany. Do Know that Portugal is a lot higher than Spain, which accounts for the queues at the petrol pumps in Tui down on the border every Sunday night.

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