Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimp

As I write I am surrounded by a multiplicity of dogs. This is because I am tucking into a plate of potted shrimp and sliced tomato on toast for lunch. Apart from Hershey, they haven’t smelt anything like it before.  For those of you who are baffled by the above, let me tell you that this is one of the great delicacies of the world.

Around the coast of the UK grow tiny brown shrimps which, when peeled and cooked in spiced butter are a treat extraordinaire. The recipe is supposed to be secret; however, a good pinch of mace, a smaller one of nutmeg, some turmeric, paprika and finely ground white pepper will see you right…..

I have been missing them but lo, the other day, I spotted a can of tiny shrimp on the ‘not-quite-local’ supermarket shelf. They aren’t brown but with a little titivation I produced quite a passable imitation of the real thing. I am counting it as a great achievement!  The real thing? Try –

http://www.baxterspottedshrimps.co.uk/

 

While on the subject of food – on Mother’s Day we went out for a brunch buffet at the restaurant we like to go to for special occasions, The Summit in Aurora.  http://www.thesummitsteakhouse.com/    I was astonished to find that the sausages were very good, so I asked the staff what they were. Word came back that they were ‘Jimmy Dean’s’, which is amazing because the retail version you can buy are highly spiced with sage. I’m afraid I don’t like Lincolnshire sausage mix! These were very close to the standard British sausage but only in catering packs for restaurants……..  Ah me!

 

Those of you who know me well will know that I spent a good few years as a Morris dancer. This is English folk dancing and originally was a ‘men only’ pastime for the more ‘put together’ men of a village. It’s origins are lost in the mists of time and it has been suggested that the dance style was brought back from the Middle East during the Crusades and it developed it’s own traditions. The name Morris is not too much of a stretch from Moorish but it has not been established that this is it’s origin.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZjLATAUwao

 

 

S’me at the front right (Helier Morris Men).

 

 

However, I was watching footage of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and there, at the entrance to the royal palace, was a Saudi dance team (men only) doing a remarkably similar fighting dance to what Morris is all about in the UK.   Hmm, are the rumors true?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrdllaXqDyo

The Saudi national dance is the men’s sword dance known as the arda. An ancient tradition with roots in the country’s central area known as the Najd, the arda is a combination of singers and dancers carrying swords with a poet or narrator. Men carrying swords stand in two lines or a circle, with a poet singing in their midst, and perform the traditional dance.

I cannot find footage of what I saw (yet?) but my, it was similar to English Morris and was apparently perfected in Andalusia in Spain during the Moor occupation and then spread to it’s current home in the east through the nomadic Berber tribes. So, why can’t it have spread north too via English mercenaries?  Or, another thought; did it go the other way – from England to Moorish Spain, then onward.  Morris dancing was universal in all regions of England at one time.

 

Remember the songs about Route 66 in the US?  I very nearly went on a vacation some years ago to try to travel as much of the original road as still existed.  It seemed such a romantic notion.  I was going to rent a Ford Mustang convertible in Chicago and set off to explore Middle America. Who knows whom I may have met but at the last minute disaster struck. I had saved up enough points on my credit card to pay the air fare, which was the only way I could afford the trip, when, without warning, the bastards bankers revalued their points, meaning I would have to wait another year. As usually happens, life took over and I never made it there. Ross and a school friend Siobhan did get to see quite a bit of it a few years ago on their US travels.

If you didn’t know, Route 66 was the first fully metalled road (eventually – only 400 miles were paved initially) to cross America (most of it!), running from Lakeshore Drive, Chicago to Santa Monica, California; over 2,400 miles. It connected so many towns and cities it became known as ‘Main Street’ in US folklore.  It played a pivotal role in 20th century America after it’s establishment in 1926, enabling the transport of thousands of farming families from the 1930’s dust bowl disaster in Kansas and Oklahoma to the western states and, because it was mainly flat, it became the premier trucking route from factories in the east to the rapidly growing state of California. It also had a major role in the transport of steel and munitions to replace the Pacific Fleet destroyed in Pearl Harbor. A very useful piece of infrastructure constructed just in time. It also reminds one what a young country this is, when it’s first major trans-continental highway is not yet 100 years old, even though most of it has now been superceded by the Interstate system and largely left to rot.  If you have a yen to go, research the bridges…………

I can offer you two links to follow, if you so wish:-

or this more professional and interesting offering:

Lost in American kitsch.

Enjoy!

 

Sir Mikey