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Manchego! (...or should that be, “Manxego”?)

This is the inaugural issue of a personal journal; but I've been journalling elsewhere for some time, so it doesn't seem very much like a startingpoint to me, and at least so far I haven't figured out how to distinguish it from a mere continuation. Perhaps I'll generate an Issue #0 for that. In the meanwhile, here's how things stand as of the 15th of June, 2003:

We went to a party last night, where there was much good food and quite a bit of Scots Whiskey. (No debates about "Scots" vs "Scotch" or "Whiskey" vs "Whisky" -- don't have the time right now.) One of the food items was a cheese plate, which I got to set out because I happened to be in the correct place at the appropriate time, and because the bread-knife was severely righthanded, while I'm severely left-handed. It's a rotten design -- should have handles at both ends. Doesn't.

Be that as it may, I laid out the cheeses upon the board, and noted that one of them was a Manchego (so labelled; I suspect that both spellings refer to the same item). It smelled rather pleasant, and the label clearly stated that it was made of sheep milk. Well, hey. I haven't been able to eat cheese in a hell of a long time, but the last time I tried a sheep-milk cheese (made myself a lasagna with Bulgarian feta and wide rice noodles, probably in 1996) I only got about half as sick as I would have expected.

My baseline gut happiness/wellness level has actually seemed better since the surgery than it was before. I ate Lamb Vindaloo for dinner on Friday, for example, and didn't have any trouble with it. True, I had them make it mild, but it was somewhat lively nonetheless. (Vindaloo has its limits, mostly at the mild end of its range; being mildly sensitive to Capsicum annuum hot chiles, which are regrettably common, I don't care to visit the hot end. Perhaps I could find a West Indian lamb curry, hotted up with habaneros or Scotch Bonnets...)

But, so, there was this sheep-milk cheese in front of me, and I concluded that I was being faced with a shining opportunity for a test. I ate a bunch of the stuff, probably between one and two ounces. Yum!! The whiskey wa'n't bad either. First time I've ever encountered an Irish item called "Potchie", which was, oddly, rather delicate, especially considering the fact that it seemed basically to be a species of firewater, vaguely reminiscent of grappa or marc. I am giving the spelling as I recall it from the label; it seems unfamiliar. I'd have expected "Poteen", perhaps, or "Potcheen", as on this page.

Back to the cheese: as I mentioned, I'd ordinarily expect Particular Consequences today, including a certain amount of interior swelling and discomfort; but I'm having almost no symptoms. Cannot even begin to tell you how joyous this is for me -- I haven't really been able to eat cheese or other milk products with any sort of impunity since about 1980. I'm probably sensitized now, so I want to be very careful. The General Wisdom, however, is that if one is not in a state of active uproar, the sensitization should pass in a few days. I've got a sheep-milk yogurt to eat at the end of the week, and we'll see how that goes.

After performing various errands today I went over to the lab, glazed a bunch of things, set up several more glaze tests, and started a firing. I'm jazzed -- there should be some decent stuff to look at tomorrow morning unless I screwed up somehow. One of the tests is a crystal glaze, so I'm having to sit up with the kiln rather late (it's about 1:40 am now, and I should be able to kill the power around 2:15), but that's how these things are; I frequently leave the lab around 1 am after firings. Fortunately, the extra hold for the crystals shouldn't have much effect upon the other glazes, though ordinarily if one is working with crystal glazes one excludes other types.

Lisa and I found some tiny blue flowers this morning, growing out of cracks in the sidewalk near her house. Naturally, I didn't have the camera. When I got back there with it around 7 this evening, they had all closed up. I'll try to get photos of them tomorrow & maybe make a page, but no guarantees. (So far, I'm failing to find them on the Web. The smaller one is so tiny that I won't even know how many petals it has until I can get a close look at a photo.)

This is neither of the ones we found, but I think it's quite pretty:

Trichostema dichotomum

Hmmm... this is closer, but the plant I saw was only about 4 cm tall rather than 15:

Veronica arvensis

(Hmmm... I could see this page just fine from home on my Mac, but in IE on a PC running Win98 at a different location it shows up with the "broken image" icon for each picture. Argh.)

OTOH, the similarity is so striking that I bet I've got the genus nailed. Here is V. persica in England:

V. persica Poiret, Norfolk (Photo and info by Malcolm Storey.)

Quite close. Maybe not precisely the same, but I b'lieve this confirms the genus as Veronica.

Small silliness: I put veronica speedwell into Google, and found that there's a rock person in Montreal who uses that name. Even has a Web page.

More as it happens -- I have to go turn off the kiln.

Veronica, Indeed

(Followup, 16 June, 2003)

This morning I was able to photograph the plants near Lisa's house, and will post images when I get a chance to download them. The plant with larger flowers is definitely a Speedwell. I'm still vastly uncertain about the taller plant, which has extremely small blossoms. I might, however, hazard a guess of Veronica arvensis L. (Here's a photo.) It looks to be about the correct size and color; though the flowers, small as they are, may be a bit on the large side.

Here's the smaller of the Laurel plants:


(Definitely bears some resemblance to V. arvensis, I'd say.)

...And here's the larger:


[Note: As of early 2013, I am having trouble finding these photos.]

If this is, indeed, V. persica, it's a different variety from the English plants; the protruding structures inside the flower have white or very pale tips on this plant, whereas they are deep blue in the photo from England. (See link, above.)

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Last modified: Sat Feb 9 00:17:39 EST 2013