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In a pickle

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

ROYSTON REPORTS, Number 225

TROPICAL TOPICS, Sunday 12 October 2014.

Greetings to this week’s round up of topics tropical and news of a new Beatles book.

 

Colombo’s Floating Market

If its name conjures up visions of boats laden with fruit and vegetables for sale floating along a waterway, or moored by a river bank with tacky souvenirs dangled in front tourists, think again. This is not Bangkok. Colombo’s newly created Floating Market is more modern and can be reached by walking.

Colombo Floating Market

Colombo Floating Market

It is located alongside W E Bastian Mawatha across the road from Colombo’s main bus station and a short (if hot) walk eastwards from the Fort Railway Station along Olcott Mawatha. The market actually consists of six retail outlets built on pillars in this off-shoot of the Beira Lake and a quay lined with stalls on the landside. There is also a snack restaurant that seems popular with city folk.

As a contrast to Colombo’s restored upmarket shopping venues of the Race Course Stadium and the Independence Square Arcade, the Floating Market is a unique attraction. I particularly loved its proximity to the railway yards allowing close encounters with shunting locomotives.

Off the rails

Off the rails

In a pickle

I’ve written about gherkins before, and now I’ve found another Sri Lankan company selling them. Forbes and Walker Fine Foods (FFF) is a subsidiary of Forbes & Walker Limited, a group of companies engaged in commodity brokering (tea, rubber, spices), warehousing and export of agricultural products. It was established in 1881 to do business within the thriving tea plantations. It is now recognised as the largest and most progressive produce broking company in Sri Lanka.

FFF entered into the export of pickled gherkins in 1991 with a growing and manufacturing unit in Sri Lanka. However, due to numerous factors, moved its growing, production and packing of small pickled gherkins to India under the direct supervision of FFF technical personnel relocated to India from Sri Lanka.

Fine gherkins

Fine gherkins

The very small print on the jar label almost disguises mention of India as the source of these gherkins but does give FFF’s home as Sri Lanka (http://www.forbesfinefoods.com). The ingredients are listed as “Gherkins, water, natural vinegar, salt, sugar, CaC12 [brine], yellow mustard, onion & dill weed.” Mustard probably refers to the seeds floating in the pickle liquid. The 500g jar cost Rs450 [ £ 2.16; $ 3.51].

Verdict? Perfectly crisp, a crunchy chew.

 

Seeing Double

Yes, two Margaritas here for the price of one. Recently I wrote about the Margarita I had at Rs750 ++ (that means Plus service charge of 10% and Plus taxes of around 17%). Now in the nearest bar to my cottage, the Machan beer parlour has added a limited list of cocktails. At my request my Margarita was made without the sugar syrup that many local barmen love to add to the Triple Sec or Cointreau combination with lime and Tequila.

This Margarita cost only Rs400 [£ 1.92; US$ 3.12] plus service charge; so we had two. Each.

Double Margarita (we got rid of the straws)

Double Margarita (we got rid of the straws)

 

Beware the snake gourd

A couple of weeks ago I enthused about my meal of snake gourd. Emil of the Halgolla Plantation Home (www.halgollaplantationhome.com) has written to me with an observation that I’m delighted to pass on.

“Apropos “Pathola” or Snake Gourd: like most Sri Lankan gourds they are very susceptible to borer and other insect attacks and the result is that some growers spray them with insecticide right up to point of harvest.  I hardly think I need expand on that…

Oh my gourd!

Oh my gourd!

“That said, for the first time I had some snake gourd in a form I’d never experienced before at a birthday lunch yesterday: sliced, battered and fried and looking very much like onion rings, except that I liked them a lot better than the onion kind!  As with similar dishes, a part of the secret is using very hot oil and making sure that the finished product does not arrive on one’s plate dripping oil!”

 

Rabbitting…

My news a few weeks ago that I had rescued two rabbits from the stew pot, whom I thought were a couple, brought warnings from some readers that they would breed, well, like rabbits. What would I do with all the progeny?

However, the dire warnings were without foundation, as nothing happened. I telephoned Eddie, my son in Dominica who once kept rabbits, for his advice. He suggested that I check to see what sex they were.

So one of my drinking companions, who is more rural than I am, undertook to inspect the couple, and revealed that they were in fact two males. Now we have found two females – one white, one black, cost Rs1,500 [£ 7.21; $  11.71] who have moved in. The next stage is to build a fenced compound in the garden for them to roam freely. We plan to sell the offspring.

Today we are four

Today we are four

 

Book notes

Word has reached me of yet another book in which I am mentioned! The book is “The Fab One Hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” by David Bedford, details available on www.fab104.com

“Remember when the boys were joined onstage by household names like Tanya Day, Royston Ellis, Simone Jackson and Janice The Stripper? Hmmm.  Don’t ring a bell?

“This is the entire point of Liddypool author David Bedford’s newest historical romp, The FAB One Hundred and FOUR, a meticulously-researched, lavishly-illustrated and thoughtfully-written volume that addresses the important, but largely unknown or forgotten players in the evolution of that little band from Liverpool known as The Beatles.”  

Watch, too, for my swashbuckling novel set in 16th Century Maldives, published by Kicks Books of New York currently available as a Kindle but soon to be on sale as a paperback with amazon.co.uk & amazon.com: Maldives Avenger.

Historical swashbuckler

Historical swashbuckler

 

Beat regards

Royston