Good News

Modern-day media loves to shower us with all the horrid stuff that is happening at home and abroad. They do also tell us something positive, but unfortunately I have often turned the page or the channel before they get round to it!

When I was growing up in the UK, the ITN News that was shown at 17.45 always ended just before six o’clock with the opening phrase “And finally ….” and that meant they were going to tell us a piece of good news. That is how I grew up. I am not sure if they still do it. One piece of news that sticks in my mind was on 1st April (April Fools Day), when the “And finally” news item was about spaghetti that grows on trees! I just googled it to find a clip and it turns out that the original April Fool’s joke was aired in 1957 on the BBC. It is hilarious! Click here to watch it.

So this week I thought I would share a few pieces of good news with you from around the world … enjoy the read!

  • Earlier this year, a mother in Sydney Australia gave birth to twins prematurely at 27 weeks. The daughter was healthy but the son was stillborn. When the doctors told the woman, she took her son and held him for 2 hours. She and her husband talked to him and stroked him as he lay on her chest. When the 2 hours had passed her son, Jamie, started breathing again. Read the full story here.
  • Even with ‘global warming’ new species of wildlife continue to be found. In Borneo, over 123 new species have been discovered over the past 3 years (click); this year new amphibians have been discovered in Columbia (click); a new carnivorous plant species found in the Philippines in 2010 has been named after the broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough (click).
  • Brazil is way ahead in achieving the targets of its Millennium Development Goals and has already lifted millions of Brazilians out of extreme poverty and hunger. Read more here. There is more than enough money in the world to balance out the inequalities that exist and eradicate destitution. Decision makers are starting to discuss the taxing of the billions of corrupt dollars that are sitting in offshore accounts. Read more here.
  • … and finally, And Finally has a website, so you can read good news whenever you feel like it (click).

This week’s food is inspired by a country that has been very good news for me for a long time, and particularly over the past year – Italy. We are having friends over for dinner tonight and I managed to get my shopping done this morning before the dense snowfall came down. Here is the menu:

ANTIPASTI …. Bruschetta con lardo di colonate 
PRIMO ……… Rigatoni Broccoli e Salsiccia
SEGUNDO …. Costolette di agnello al forno con patate

I am in charge of the Segundo. I shall let you know the details of the recipes and just how delicious it is tomorrow!

Click here for the recipes.


Burma in Pieces

POPULATION: 53.4 million
LIFE EXPECTANCY: 64.52 years
ETHNIC GROUPS: Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%
RELIGIONS: Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%
LANGUAGES: Burmese is the official language, but there are approximately 106 others spoken

On 7 November 2010, Burma held their first national elections for 20 years. International media were banned. The elections have been strongly criticized as the two military-backed parties stand virtually unopposed and the military has been guaranteed 25% of the seats in the new parliament. The prospects for the ordinary citizens of Burma are not good.

Last Thursday I watched a wonderful documentary called Burma in Pieces at the Nordic Institute for Asian Studies (NIAS) in Copenhagen. Click here to watch a clip. We were fortunate to have the British director, Arun Sharma, who is resident in Denmark present at the showing. Arun stated very clearly that he is a film-maker above all else and so the documentary was not made with political messages in mind; however, it is clearly impossible to shoot a film on Burma without it being political. As the title suggests, the footage was in pieces – snapshots from different daily scenes of the life of ordinary citizens in Burma jumbled with interviews and reflections by individuals who have suffered at the hands of the military dictatorship. When asked if he actually thought Burma was in pieces, Arun replied a resounding yes. Furthermore, he made it clear that from his experience, the Western version of democracy may not necessarily be what the people of Burma need or want.

We had some great discussion after the film about the military dictatorship, Burmese refugees, refugees and their treatment by the Danish authorities, the role of children in Burma and much more. Here are some links if you want to read more about Burma:

Burma and Arun’s Indian heritage were my inspiration for dinner for three on Friday night, which consisted of a mild tiger prawn curry, okra and potatoes and basmati rice. I was so engrossed in the cooking, the chatting and the eating that I only remembered to take a picture after we had emptied all the pans of food (I like bringing the food to the table and serving up), and I was half way through my second serving! My apologies – I’ll try to be a bit more blog-conscious next time.

You can go to the recipes page to read how I made this delicious meal, an adaptation of the following three recipes: Burmese Beef and Potato Curry, Burmese Shrimp Curry with Gravy, North Indian Okra with Potatoes. I should mention that I always adapt recipes slightly to suit my and my guests’ tastes.

Blog tip: post your comments about Burma-related issues here and about the food on the recipes page.