January 25th 2004
I am an addict.
In keeping with all the psychobabble mumbo-jumbo feel good actions of the times I too am going to blame it on everyone else but myself. I am after all a product of my environment, my heritage and my upbringing, therefore all the people and places that have played such a great part around me are what have shaped and ultimately led to this person you see before you.
Figuratively speaking of course.
Or not as the case may be. That could be as a result of the “you are what you eat” complaint. However we are discussing my addiction rather than my body.
Anyway, in light of my confession, I discovered recently that as a result of dire financial straits I had been unable to feed my addiction for a while and as such was beginning to suffer withdrawal symptoms.
This was probably as a result of having unlimited opportunity to indulge myself while in South Africa recently. And as everyone “knows” South Africa produces the best of the lot. So having been able to indulge almost every day back there, coming back to Canada and nothing, has meant a serious problem has occurred with my mental processes.
It's not that you can't get it here in Canada. Far from it actually. In fact where I normally go for my fix the quality is very good. As most South Africans in and around Toronto will attest to. But the owner of the store lived in South Africa and has catered to the needs of the dependant for many a year here in Canada since emigrating himself. After all it is a captive audience. And a growing one at that, with more and more of the addicted coming to Canada each year.
So I guess he was clever in anticipating the effects of providing a product that has addicts who not only come back for more but pass on the information to others who are similarly afflicted.
Of course being a butcher helped as well.
At this stage I will admit that we are talking about Biltong rather than whatever exotic herbal remedy you may have envisaged. I am aware that dagga is being legalized here in Canada and that South Africa does make the best Dagga in the world (so I have been told of course….Standard disclaimer) but for a really strong addiction nothing beats the need to have a regular supply of biltong to consume.
Which is why I am sure that somehow the mixture of ingredients has a potent addictive effect on at least one of the neuro-receptors in a South Africans brain. It has to. After all how else do you explain what is an apparent longing to consume uncooked meat that has been cured and hung up to dry?
Sometimes, and this is only sometimes I must admit. I can almost see the reason for the average Canadians total repulsion at learning what it is that they are being offered to eat. Actually I prefer this attitude because it means I don't have to suffer the agony of watching a half chewed piece of prime billies being surreptitiously discarded by a Canadian trying hard not to insult our culture!!
The whole aspect of the Biltong experience has led me to believe that either individually, or in a sort of synergistic effect, there is an ingredient in Biltong that has a narcotic like effect on our central nervous system. Like the worst narcotic available out there it too ensures that we are captured and forced to go back continuously to get our fix.
Which when you look at most basic ingredients is weird because there doesn't appear to be any one ingredient that might do this. So I am forced to conclude that some of the ingredients work together to produce this effect.
I mean - Meat, Vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, Salt, pepper, coriander and sometimes sugar and spices. Any of those on their own are pretty innocuous. But together? Who knows? Well according to the sales of biltong and biltong making machines worldwide virtually every South African does.
In fact the first question most new immigrants are asked is: “ Do you know where you can get Biltong?” Please note that I said that they are asked. Not that they ask! There is a big difference. Even drug addicts seek out a potential pusher while here we have the pushers (if you will) seeking out the potential addicts to offer advice.
The most amusing part of that being that the whole exchange sounds ever so much like a coded reference to travel in Italy.
“Have you been to Florence yet?”
“No. I have heard about Florence. Where is it?”
Thousands of helpful Canadian ex-tourists now begin itching to give advice.
“Down Kerr Street on the right”.
Thousands of helpful Canadians now get thoroughly confused and chalk it up to cultural differences.
All of you intending to come to Ontario will have hopefully made a mental note of that name. Florence Meat Market in Oakville. The Queen should give them a Royal approval for keeping so many loyal new subjects happy.
Thousands of helpful Canadians wouldn't understand it.
The odd thing is that I can feel my juices starting to flow whenever I am nearby the store and when I go in it is as if my Pavlovian response is triggered. And this is all before I have even managed to buy a stuk. Never mind actually eat it.
I will leave it to your imagination as to the sheer ecstasy I experience when I have my first piece.
I have a fiend who eats biltong as if it is the most erotic experience in the world. I don't think I have come across anyone who has such a total body experience involved in eating a sliver of dried meat. Just listening to her sounds of ecstasy as she has that first bite is enough to fuel the wildest dreams of many schoolboys during the long winter nights here. And some adult men too come to think of it.
I love watching her eat. So refreshing to know that someone else enjoys the experience with such enthusiasm.
Except of course if my theory of biltong being a habit-forming substance is correct. In which case both she and me are merely experiencing the necessary high we need to keep us facing the realities of everyday life here during winter. And summer. And probably spring and fall as well.
Lets face it. We are hooked.
Now if only we can keep this addiction from reaching the ears of any of the Governments that run this country. Can you imagine the tax potential that awaits them when they discover that there is another bunch of addicts who have the same potential to be soaked as much as cigarette smokers?
Sadly I have to report that I have gone on to stronger stuff as well. There is nothing like Chili Biltong to add that bite needed to get a full force drool going. So perhaps I am not redeemable. Which doesn't really worry me all that much.
So long as there is biltong. All is right with the world.
January 12th 2004
Happy New Year to all of you.
Well this is certainly a New Year where the emphasis is on “new”. In many areas of activity that effect Canadian lives as well.
I don't know about the rest of the Canadian Provinces but here in Ontario, and more specifically, in the GTA the political climate has undergone some interesting changes in the last few months of last year.
All three levels of Government have changed and even in the case of the Federal Government it appears to be quite a difference at that.
Initially we had the Provincial elections where a complete rout of the incumbent Progressive Conservatives took place. The Liberals sweeping most of the seats in the House. They even managed to eclipse the NDP and in an ironic turn of events force them for the second time to lose official party status. Which has led to some interesting whining by the local leader Howard Hampton. Who incidentally was informing all and sundry that the NDP would be the new Government right up until Election Day.
I do however have some sympathy for them and I wonder why there is a minimum number of seats established in order to get “Official Party Status”. As far as I am concerned so long as you have a seat in Government you should be accorded all the rights and privileges that go with representing the electorate. I suspect that the real reason for this has more to do with snuffling at the trough than stopping maverick politicians. No matter how much bluster the Liberals and their propagandists put out.
What has been interesting has been the blatant propaganda put out by the Liberals and their media with regard to what the Liberals promised and what they will be able to deliver. Presumably on the premise that the electorate swallowed the lies during the campaign leading up to the change of Government and will do so again. Sadly I am beginning to agree with whoever it is that has such a low regard for the local electorate. Seemingly they will swallow any amount of bull without question.
The PC's fed them a line for a while.
Now it is the “Fiberals” chance. In fact the new Premier Dalton McGuinty and his spin-doctors have “broken” or reneged on so many of their promises that even the Liberal media is beginning to refer to them as Fiberals. More precisely it should be “Lieberals” as these aren't fibs. They are down and out lies and even the most recalcitrant back room person in the campaigns must have know that the majority of what they promised to deliver didn't stand a chance of being implemented.
McGuinty showed his true Liberal colours by lying about a visit to New York where he was supposedly stopped from ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange by the sudden appearance of the Chinese Premier. I am not sure if this was supposed to be an attempt to get sympathy but it backfired badly. Especially when it was made known that he wasn't even invited to Exchange never mind ringing any bell. At which stage our esteemed Premier stated that it was actually a joke. The most interesting part of this is that the Liberal Media didn't do the obvious and go after him for the racist bigotry he displayed in his comments. After all if it had been a PC minister the hysteria about “insulting” the Chinese would have raised the roof. But hypocrisy is a cornerstone of left wing and its media. So the easy ride into power continues.
Shortly after the Provincial elections we had the Local elections. With some very interesting results all round. Toronto voted in a left wing NDP Mayor, apparently on the strength of his opposition to the proposed bridge to the Island Airport. All the other problems that Toronto has were overshadowed by the bitter debate on this issue. Never mind murder, homelessness, tax rates and of course integrity, or the lack thereof, so long as planes can't land downtown all is right with the world. Well according to the electorate in Toronto anyway.
Here in Oakville our Mayor is involved in a lawsuit by one of the other candidates who lost by one vote (as I understand it) and who then discovered that there were a whole lot of “uncounted” votes that apparently materialized from nowhere and which may have changed the result drastically. Seems that the local Municipal workers were running the electoral polls on the day. Talk about a conflict of interest!
Anyway rather than doing a recount we have the interesting spectacle of the lawyers getting involved again. How the current Mayor is supposed to do her job knowing that she may be hoofed at any moment is beyond me. Although with lawyers involved I expect we won't have a result until it is time for the next election.
The most interesting changes though haven't involved the electorate at all. They have involved the Political parties themselves and changes in leadership and the party itself.
The two right wing parties decided that it was better to join and present a united effort against the Liberals than carry on being ineffectual. So there was a merger and we now have a new right wing political party that is gearing up to challenge the Liberals at last. If nothing else they will at least stop the stupidity of giving away seats on a split vote.
I don't see the new Conservative Party of Canada winning the next election, which should be in spring sometime, but I think that there will be a far stronger opposition, which will hopefully curtail a lot of the abuses that the Liberals are prone to undertaking. Of course stranger things have happened and it wouldn't be the first time that the sitting party was ousted after a change of leadership.
Which is what happened to the Liberals recently. After a very slick and clever campaign Paul Martin Jnr. managed to take over the leadership of the Liberal Party. While no one will admit that what actually took place was a palace revolt that forced out the incumbent Leader and Prime Minister and led to Martins success, we have had the interesting spectacle of an internecine fight taking place with all the ferocity of a cat fight. And much the same level of noise.
Martin is “conservative” Liberal supposedly and has already frozen Chretiens many money wasting attempts at some form of legacy. He has also changed the cabinet to more fully reflect his principals. Such as they are. Although I notice that many of the changes are merely to reward the faithful who supported him. Nothing much changing in that department.
It remains to be seen how effective Martin is. I notice that he is already being sniped at by sections of the left wing media. Notably over his business ties and ownership of a huge shipping company and his attempts to foster closer ties with the United States. None of which appeal to the bleeding heart sections of the left wing.
When he calls the expected general election early next year it is going to be a very interesting time indeed.
Of course the saddest part of the ecstasy of Chretien being forced out of power is that commentators like myself will no longer have Teflon Jean the Cretin to astound us in both official languages. In fact Jean was the only Prime Minister unable to converse in either of Canada's official languages. Even with his feet out of his mouth, which admittedly wasn't often.
Martin is just to damn urbane for my liking.
So welcome to 2004 and what looks like will be a very interesting year indeed. I wait with anticipation for further developments.