Cooking Utensils: the Truth Behind the Hype

Using the most suitable cooking utensils can make the difference between a wonderfully planned gastronomic banquet and an awkwardly made excuse-for-food. Or so the celebrity chefs who are sponsored by the major kitchenware companies would have us believe. The question we novice chefs have to ask is, ‘Do the correct tools genuinely make all the difference?’ ‘Does the way you chop, slice, dice and dish out your meat and two veg physically affect the flavour?’

Okay, granted, if you lack the appropriate utensils, it may be tricky to drain your pasta without picking up a couple of third degree burns, and you might find those curly radishes to top your salad bowl difficult to pull off, but is there really an optimal shape and size for food intended for the human mouth? To get a short answer to this question, we need to take a look at Chinese cuisine.

Chinese recipes emphasize the importance of presentation. Eating is a sensory experience. If the food looks, smells and even sounds good (think of sizzling woks wheeled to your table in a good restaurant) we’re salivating even before the first morsel gets anywhere near our mouths. Chinese chefs have long understood that your senses are connected. Your senses all lead to the same place – your brain. And it’s your brain that makes the final assessment. As innumerable sponsored-up-to-their-eyeballs master chefs will fall over each other to inform you, the way you prepare your veggies and present your dishes will have an enormous affect on the way your meal will taste The other definitive feature of Chinese cooking is the way the vegetables and meat are cut. There are strict rules concerning the size and shape of the food on the plate. Each dish should be easy to handle – it should invite you to pick it up… but then again you’ll have to use chopsticks.

Cooking utensils, it would seem, really can transform a mundane meal into a feast… if you know how to use them. Owning the appropriate set of knives to chop and cut, nip and tuck, is one thing; owning the skills to use them is another. However, to develop your technique, you need to own the utensils in the first place. You have to start somewhere, and leafing through a kitchenware brochure at the behest of some celebrity chef or other is as good a place to start as any – the best place to start is from the recipe. After all, the recipe is what you are interested in, and what you and your family is going to end up eating.

What makes a cook into a master chef? The salient factor is their ability to shower their creations with loving care and attention, as anyone who has read an Isabelle Allende novel will testify. Once you have your tools and skills, the possibilities for experimentation and gastronomic exploration are boundless. And you can bet there is a specially designed set of cooking utensils to cope with any culinary creation you might dream up. For the majority of us, one appliance can be adapted to manage a diverse range kitchen tasks, but for the experts there is a specific tool for each and every kitchen task.

This apparently trivial distinction between the two ways of thinking about cooking can have a profound affect on your meals. Take an onion, for example. According to the experts, it should be sliced a particular way to enhance the flavour, although, as we have learnt from the Chinese, the visual result is at least as big a factor in determining how the food will taste. Viewed in this way, slicing the onion ‘after the book’ becomes as important as, say, the amount of oil you add to the pan. It would seem that using the right kitchen utensil in the chef’s domain is imperative. In short, prepping your ingredients by following someone’s mealtime master plan can transform the appearance and flavour of the final dish. Get this right and you are no longer a cook. You are a chef

Selecting The Best Utensil

Selecting the right set of cooking utensils is dependent on the content of each individual recipe. Suggestions for cooking utensils are very often presented within the cooking book or online recipe page and, traditionally, they are accompanied by clear instructions to enable you to choose the right utensil for the right job. Cooking utensils, it would seem, do have a central role to play. Your family is certain to enjoy the excellence of your cooking if it is prepared with skill and loving care, but if not, they may reach for an entirely different set of utensils.

There are many companies that produce fine cooking utensils, but on balance, it is better to start from the recipe book and build up a collection of what you need as needs arise before you start leafing through the pages of glossy catalogues.

The Life, Times and Clothes of Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood is today famous around the world as one of the most cutting edge and out there designers of our time and is credited with bringing many subcultures in the world into the mainstream and integrating the design elements from all these subcultures into her fashion collections much to the acclaim of fashion critics and the general public as well.

She is most often credited and quite rightly so with being the person or the fashion designer who has almost single handedly bought the punk and new wave subcultures and their unique design elements and styles into the world of main stream fashion.

Vivienne Westwood has now been putting fashion collections on the ramps of fashion weeks for nearly thirty years as this year will be the thirteenth anniversary of the first time that she showed a fashion collection to the world. In 1981 she showed her first collection in a catwalk show and the theme that she chose for the collection was pirates. In the following years which include the rest of the nineteen eighties and the beginning of the consequent decade, she released fashion collections one after another to ever increasing applause and appreciation from the fashion world and she calls those years the pagan years.

During this period Vivienne Westwood took her inspiration from everything from punks to ragamuffins and even what she calls in a phrase that she covered herself, Tatler girls. She has received a lot of recognition for her services to the world of British fashion in particular and the fashion world in general as well. Not only has Westwood won the designer of the year award many times, she has also received some of the highest honors awarded by the country of England and has been awarded an Order of the British Empire for her services to fashion as far back as nineteen ninety two. A few years later in recognition of her continuing services and ever cutting edge styles and fashion collections, the OBE was changed to an even higher honor a DBE in the year two thousand and six.

Today her clothes are sold around the world as well as in three exclusive shops in London as well as one in Leeds and one in Milan in Italy. The best place to look at her is fantastic creations though is still online at a reputable online retailer that will always have the latest pieces available at the best prices.

How to Write a Best Man Wedding Speech Toast

Best Man Wedding Speech

Trust me, many calm and collected people who are great at public speaking, get nervous when they are asked to speak at their friends wedding. As the spokes person for the guests of honor, there are many expectations placed on you. So, how do you write a best man wedding speech?

Well, if you are here, then you have been requested to make the best man wedding speech for the wedding day. This is not just any day, but THE day that these two special people (including all their family and friends) will look back on for years to come. After all, when you have been deemed the Best Man, this wedding speech is even more crucial. This means that you know the groom best, and will toast the newlyweds as well at their wedding.

If that is not enough, you are also one of the main coordinators for the wedding reception. You will help organize the details for the wedding and reception to make sure that everything runs smoothly. You are also expected to look after the groom (make sure his breath smells fresh and that he is not drinking excessively). Also as a host you must ensure that guests are having a good time. This means removing any stress or dealing with people that might interrupt the wedding reception. Lastly, there are other people running around with a list of responsibilities. You need to make sure these people are on top of things while enjoying themselves.

So when are you allowed to you have a good time?

I have a feeling that you are beginning to understand why many best man candidates can not handle the tasks required. I am sure that you are flattered to be given the honor as best man to prepare the best man wedding toast, but many find it hard to juggle the direction under all this stress and responsibility.

How to Write a Best Man Wedding Toast

Writing your wedding speech is not what is time consuming. It is making sure everything blends together. Your best man wedding toast will need a theme and the necessary personal, witty, emotional, and meaningful ideas, jokes, and one-liners that make a wedding speech memorable for all the right reasons.

Even for those that are used to writing and delivering speeches alone, this can still be a challenge – and for those not accustomed to public speech etiquette (more so writing the perfectly balanced wedding speech for the big day), just the thought of standing in front of hundreds of strangers with all the focus on your every word is enough to make anyone’s creative juices come to a grinding halt.

Luckily, there is an easier way in the form of an extremely well written and simple to read book by author Tom Haibeck, professional speech-writer.

This book is considered the Bible of Wedding Toasts in the wedding realm. Regis Philbin referred to this book when toasting his daughters wedding and it will help you too. I have checked it out, and this book lays out you need to know about being an incomparable Best Man. This means more than just how to write and deliver the best man wedding speech, but also gives you insight into possible themes, wedding toasts 101, the correct use of humor, how to eliminate your fear of public speaking, how to hold their attention… all this, as well as TONS of written speeches and wedding speech templates.

Would not you like to get the job done quickly and efficiently?

Get Wedding Speech Samples

The main attraction of this package is, of course, the handwritten exquisitely crafted, witty professional wedding speeches (did I mention that there is are easy to use, step-by-step templates, a checklist, and Tom’s top 10 Do’s and Don’ts).

That is not it, there are also tasteful jokes and famous quotes that will help you personalize your best man wedding toast without sounding insincere. That is the difference between this book and all the other canned speeches that I have seen. This one will not make you look fake. Trust me, as a wedding professional I have heard many terribly delivered toasts and few had the natural well versed touch that the bride and groom deserve.

Best Man Wedding Speeches is it Worth It?

Altogether, this is a pretty impressive package. Toms got all the bases covered here, an intense variety of useful info on every single aspect of being a Best Man, from the speech-writing and delivery itself to handling problematic guests to wedding etiquette.

In short: literally everything you will ever need to pull off your responsibilities as Best Man with style and panache are included here.

But do not just take my word for it, feel free to check it out for yourself (and have a look at a couple of those testimonials while you are there, if they do not convince you, then nothing will!)

The verdict? Two thumbs up for Tom Haibeck’s Best Man Speeches; it really is the Best Mans ultimate resource!

Traveling in Mexico: Internet Cafes in Mexico City’s Zona Rosa

INTERNET CAFES IN THE ZONA ROSA

While you're tooling around Mexico, you'll want to stay connected. Mexico City has excellent internet café facilities even for those who Spanish is not the greatest. English is spoken in many internet cafés in the Zona Rosa and Historic District. Here are some of your e-café options.

Café Internet Victal

Address: Hamburgo No. 108 local 101 at the corner of Genova

Phone: 514 – 4161, 672 – 3821

With a going rate of 20 pesos per hour, this is one of the cheapest full-service Internet cafés in the area. Chats, computer games, and office programs (word, Excel, etc.) are also available. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful. The Victal is open from 9am to 9pm Monday through Saturday and is open on Sundays half a day. There are many computer-related services available – if it has to do with computers, they can probably do it or have it. Getting into the place is tricky at first. From the corner of Genova walk down Hamburgo about a quarter of a block. Enter the building through an arcade doorway and go up to the second floor. The entrance will be there but you'll have to look closely for the signs. The only visible signs from the street are above your head at the second story level with no clue for finding the entrance. You may have a short wait to get onto a computer but this place is worth the trouble.

Coffee Net – Zona Rosa

Address: Florencia No. 35 Local E (between Hamburgo and Londres)

Phone: 533 – 0844, 533 – 1760

An Internet café – cafeteria featuring a variety of gourmet sandwiches, salads, gourmet coffes and cappuccinos. The hourly rate is 25 pesos. Services are acceptable quality but a bit costly. Centrally located with good quality but pricey food.

Coffee Mail

Address: Amberes No. 61

A 24 pesos hourly rate internet café with standard fare. Similar in structure and price to Coffee Net but with less selection of sandwiches, coffees and foods. Regular customers typically come in to check or send e-mails. Other services are available but not heavily used.

Café Internet Red 2000

Address: in the Insurgentes metro station plaza

Phone: no phone

After exiting the metro at the Insurgentes station, this Internet café is in the outside plaza surrounding the station entrances. Long distance phone services are available through the internet. Rates are: 15 minutes 8 pesos, 30 minutes 16 pesos, 45 minutes 24 pesos, one hour 30 pesos. Only sodas and packed snacks are available.

Conecte Cafe

Address: Liverpool No. 140 (near Amberes)

Phone: 587 – 6179, 587 – 7737

A very well run internet café with full computer services including scanner, photoshop, translations, printing, Microsoft office and MP3 software available, all at reasonable rates. The internet use rate is 20 pesos per hour but there are only a few computers. Located across from Harmon Hall and Quick Learning building. There is also another Zona Rosa location at Genova No. 1. 71 on the first floor near Londres.

NOTE: There are other Internet cafés around the Zona Rosa area with varyingly higher prices for similar services.

In the Historic District:

LAFOEL Internet Service

Address: Doncelles No. 80 first floor (two blocks from the cathedral)

Phone: 512-3584, 521-2978

Open Monday to Friday from 9 am – 8 pm and Saturdays from 10 am – 5 pm. Rates for services are: 10 pesos for 15 minutes, 20 pesos for 30 minutes and 30 pesos for one hour. Conveniently located near the Zocalo but a bit on the high side for service costs. Okay just to check mail or send a quick message though. They also rent computer equipment. Just be sure to confirm the rates before signing anything or leaving the promises with equipment.

Finally, be sure to check out my other articles in the two continuing series: Teaching English in Mexico and Traveling in Mexico. If you would like more information, have questions or comments, the author can be e-mailed, see below.