Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Nothing On"

Last Friday we thought we should improve our minds a little bit by going to the theatre. Can't hurt once in a while. So off to Mannheim we went. The university theatre from the 'English language and literature' seminar performed a very entertaining piece by Robin Housemonger: "Nothing On". But this is actually just the play in the play. The title should be 'Noises Off' rather. Anyway, it was very well done and really funny. Have a look at their webpage, it is not too late yet:

Photo by Gareth Tynan

It has the additional advantage that the theatre is set in a wonderful location, the Mannheimer Schloss:

Honey, HMF and Discounters

Now that the new honey season soon begins, I would like to share some thought about food quality and why it is important to not always buy the cheapest things in your life. We have only one body and we shouldn't think of it as a furnace which will burn everything down to trash.

HMF (HydroxyMethylFurfuraldehyde) is used as an indicator of heat and storage changes in honey.
HMF levels over 40mg/kg in honey (which show heat treatment or bad storage at high temperatures, the quality is thought of as unsuitable. Many sugar type products (e.g. Golden Syrup, Molasses etc.) have levels of HMF that are 10-100 times that of honey. Many food items sweetened with high fructose corn syrups, e.g. carbonated soft drinks, can have levels of HMF between 100 and 1,000 mg/kg.

Although this is played down as harmless, a journal of the European Food Safety Authority sees this differently:
In addition to the above mentioned pathways, 5-hydroxymethylfurfuraldehyde can
be bioactivated to 5-[(sulfoxy)methyl] furfural, through sulfonation of its allylic hydroxyl functional group, catalyzed by sulfotransferases. The resulting ester has been demonstrated to induce genotoxic effects.
The EFSA Journal (2005) 215
Therefore heat treated honey, most common in super cheap discounter quality, but also products containing corn syrup or glucose syrup (most evident in all highly processed baked goods, sweets, and soft drinks) don't do your health any good. Therefore, buy less of these things, save your money and buy real good quality as a treat now and then. And it also helps keeping you in shape :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Frost Saints or Eisheilige?

In Germany its pretty cold at the moment, well, there is no frost that would justify to call these days 'Eisheilige', but still, it's way too cold for May. And it must be even worse in England, so I'm lucky I'm in Germany at the moment. Last week when it was still warm and sunny, we went to Schwetzingen, which is not too far from Heidelberg and enjoyed the castle and the park surrounding it.

It has been a while since I was there and I didn't remember how lovely the park is (kitchy, yes, but still...)

Swans, ducks, and geese already walked around with their offspring.....

And I couldn't remember at all that there is a mosque in castle park:

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Three tiger-babies killed in Magdeburg Zoo

Three tiger-babies were put down in a zoo in Germany because their father wasn't purebred. The statement from the zoo says:

Im Februar erhielten wir eine Email aus dem Londoner Zoo und dem neuen zuständigen EEP Koordinator Malcolm Fitzpatrick, dass neue genetische Untersuchungen ergeben haben, dass unser Kater kein reinerbiger „Sibirier“ ist, sondern einer seiner Vorfahren ein Sumatra-Tiger war. Sumatra-Tiger werden als eigene Art geführt. Insgesamt sind 31 weitere Tiger in Europäischen Zoos von dieser Hiobsbotschaft betroffen. Der Magdeburger Kater wurde mit dieser Meldung mit sofortiger Wirkung von jeglicher Zucht ausgeschlossen. Die Katze war zu
diesem Zeitpunkt jedoch bereits trächtig. Die Zucht reinerbiger Tiere, vor allem auch sehr seltener, hoch bedrohter Arten ist eine der obersten Ziele der nationalen und internationalen Zoogemeinschaft. Mischlinge (Hybride) sind in jedem Fall zu vermeiden.

Basically, London Zoo found out in a genetic research that the father of the tiger-babies, Taskan, was not purebred. Whereupon he not only was immediatly sterilized, but also his babies were killed, since the main task of a zoo were breeding of purebred animals, which are endangered.

Well, I always thought we should breed pure Indians in the zoo, because they are an endangered species, too. Had we had zoos in prehistory we would still be able to admire Neanderthals, because we would have bred them in the zoo, too. Purebred of course, that goes without saying.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A trip to London

Sometimes I just can't help going to one of my most favourite cities in the world, after all it's just half an hour by train away. A must is a visit to my new favourite health food shop in Kensington High, Whole Foods Market. Check out their webpage for recipes:
Their salad bar and hot meals are so yummie......

A second must go in terms of food is my favourite (again) sushi-to-go shop, the Wasabi in Oxford Street. Vegetarian sushi and o-nigiri galore and there is a nice little park at the end of Marlybone Street where everyone is sitting around and having lunch (if it's not raining). A perfect spot to enjoy your sushi. But check out their website, too, because it has funny little videos about sushi-etiquette.

But today I didn't go this little park, instead I went all big and went to Hyde Park:

I even found modern 'megalithic art' in Hyde Park:

After some tiring shopping (spring finally came to Southern Britain and demanded for lighter summer clothes) I had a stop-over at St. Pauls, but there was a BBC thing going on and most of the area around the cathedral was roped off , therefore only a really bad photo of the not roped-off part:

And last but not least a nice pub sign:

You see, London is always worth a visit.....

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Vaisakh Festival in Reading

Today I was untimely disrupted in my sleep by noisy drumming and chanting. Well it was nearly 12 o'clock so I can't really complain. The reason was the annual Vaisakh Festival. Vaisakh is the most important festival in the Sikh community and therefore they might be forgiven for disturbing my sleep. After all I would still be unaware of this important festival in our Indian coummunity here in Reading. Originally it signified the end of the harvesting, in case you are wondering they celebrate the end of the harvest in Punjab and this all over the word, hence the ill-timed period of spring in the Northern hemisphere.
It also celebrates the birth of Guru Arjan Dev, which was on the 15th of April 1563, and therefore a huge procession will be just fine.

I didn't even had to leave my house for watching the really long procession. Here are some shots from my bedroom window:

After a group of drummers a couple of people swept the street with brooms, so the following bare-footed and praying priests wouldn't crush any life-form crawling on the street. After that two waggons followed and after those a huge crowd of Sikh people. Believe me it took a while until they all passed. The last part of the procession was a waggon that picked up elderly people who couldn't walk any further and they climbed up on the wagon with a ladder.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Much Admired campus of my former University in Heidelberg

Even if University of Heidelberg is not among Germany's so-called elite universities, at least the French seem to love our science campus in the Neuenheimer Feld; have a look at this video:

Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers in Reading

Yesterday I went to Taiko concert in Reading.The Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers consist mostly of Scottish players and although they really knew how to play the drum and their choreography was flawless it just wasnt the same as a real Japanese Taiko Drumming Band. They turned the concert in a kind of théâtre nouveau with mummed groupies gesticulating in a wild manner and playing brass cymbels and chime bells until they crossed the pain barrier. Well, it just wasn't the real thing.

But the most frightening experience was the audience with children runnning around and shouting, babies crying, and a couple of mentally disabled people grunting and screaming during the performance. Before I go to a Taiko concert again, please remind me of NOT going to Reading's Hexagon and to absolutely avoid non-Japanese people playing Taiko.