Thursday, January 14, 2010

Theme Thursday : Surface


I must confess that I was rather pleased when I saw that the subject for Theme Thursday this week was "Surface", for I have long been of the opinion that surfaces suffer from a bad press. To discover the real essence of something we often say that we need to "scratch away the surface", implying that the surface is somehow vainglorious, ephemeral and false. Serious scholars try to "get beneath the surface" of an issue to discover the true questions and the real controversies. For some reason "surface" has almost a "celebrity" connotation : a bit false, a bit lacking in substance, a bit short on gravitas. Personally, I am a great lover of surfaces and the last thing I want to do with them is scratch them away.

Take, for example, a rice pudding. Has anything finer ever been invented than a rice pudding? Of course not. And what is the very finest part of a good, home made rice pudding? It is the skin, the surface, the bit which has been turned golden-brown by the amorous licking of the oven-flame. Scratch away that surface and what are you left with - nothing more than a milky-rice concoction which is all very nice but nothing much more than that : "nice". Take a slice of toast, what do you find when you dig beneath the surface other than bread : and more often than not, bread which has passed the first bloom of youth. What makes it palatable, what accelerates it out of the realm of the ordinary into the domain of cordon bleu sanctity is the surface - the sun-burnt crispness that results from its almost erotic intimacy with fire embers or electric elements.


I am not suggesting that surfaces are universally marvelous, sometimes surfaces can be challenging and even dangerous. I write this at the end of a day when here in Yorkshire we have witnessed some of the worst black ice in living memory. The untreated surfaces of many side roads became little more than ice rinks during the morning, to such an extent that the good citizens of Huddersfield were reduced to crawling accross roads on their hands and knees. Accident and Emergency Departments have seen a fourfold increase in admissions of people with broken and bruised limbs. People, I have to say, who believed the accepted wisdom that surfaces are not important, it is what lies beneath them that matters. Beneath the surface of the ice this morning was good old familiar road tar, but what caught them out was the surface ice.

Don't be tempted to dig under the surface : take a look at what others have had to say about Theme Thursday this week.

36 comments:

  1. I love Rice Pudding! Haven't had it in years. Guess I'm going to have to make some, huh? Happy TT Alan!

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  2. Somehow, when I first looked at the picture, I was sure it was macaroni and cheese and I WANTED IT. I could taste it. My mind was so set on the mac and cheese that I refused to believe it was a rice pudding, because on the surface it looked like a delicious mac and cheese. I must be like A.A. Milne's Mary Jane:
    What is the matter with Mary Jane?
    She's crying with all her might and main,
    And she won't eat her dinner - rice pudding again -
    What is the matter with Mary Jane?

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  3. Alan, you're not going to believe this, but I just made a rice pudding today. You know, that old fashioned kind with the raisins? Yummity-yum!

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  4. AB, on the surface you are a genial and thoughtful man.

    Beneath the surface there's a genuine appreciation for all things and a profound understanding of what it means to live a life.

    So quit being hard on those of us who are still reveling in our superficial phases!!!

    Heh. ;)

    And, yes, rice pudding rocks. I must admit that I've only been introduced to it within the past year. Something about the name of it prevented me from trying it sooner... but... "never judge a book by its cover," no?

    Guess I'll scratch (no pun intended) that one up to yet another lesson learned.

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  5. now I'm having a craving for rice pudding.

    love it.

    hate black ice tis one wicked surface.

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  6. Very good job of getting way below the surface of surface. That black ice was over here on the roads today also as people couldn't stop and piled up everywhere. I feel so badly for those in your photo. I have been there in years past. Great!!!

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  7. Very contemplating on thought here, Alan...but rice pudding~UGH!

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  8. P.S. The person crawling on the black ice on the left...barefoot?

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  9. Ah, rice pudding done the old way. You were almost getting poetic on your topic.

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  10. Oh, rice pudding! A favourite from the days my grandmother baked them in her kitchen range. I always adored the skin.

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  11. ... the amorous licking of the oven-flame... almost erotic intimacy with fire embers....
    Phewee, Alan, what else lies beneath your surface? A dark horse indeed.
    Loved the post, made me a) very hungry and b) very hungry. Love the way you have covered this topic.

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  12. crawling across the roads...oh my. not so sure about rice pudding...sorry. smiles.

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  13. Excellent observations, Alan, and the way you have articulated them is just so...so tantalizing!
    I do love a good homemade rice pudding (used to make them for my dad when I lived at home) and as for toast, well, that is my favourite and I love to add to that surface with even more surface such as ooh, marmalade, or peanut butter, or blackcurrant jam, for example.

    I have been one of those reduced to crawling on ice (we have a sloped driveway for starters) and I feel for you all as you blindly stumble through these unknown paths.

    Kat

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  14. I'd say that beer, wine and Cadbury's Creme Eggs all are far superior inventions to the rice pudding.

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  15. I've never had a rice pudding with that lovely surface - but I have always been a fan of the 'skin' on top of chocolate pudding - always the best part!

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  16. Would you believe I've never had rice pudding? It looks wonderful there...especially on the surface all golden and crusty! :)

    That black ice looks awful! Stay safe!

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  17. Very true. Sometimes the surface is the thing! And I love rice pudding, too!

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  18. My surface keeps my insides in and the outside out.

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  19. A masterly post Alan. That image of the folk on hands and knees is such a good summing up of yesterday's horrors - just when we though it couldn't get any worse!
    PS I love rice pudding too.

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  20. Alan! I am a bit peeved...I have been craving rice pudding and here you have touched on the pure goodness of it in your post! I agree with you wholeheartedly!

    I will eventually break down and have to make a pudding!

    Fun TT.

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  21. Oh, Mr. Burnett. I love rice pudding. Oddly, this post made me crave toast. With butter. Mmm.

    But, I digress. This is an awesome treatment of the topic. It is the first one I read this week, but I think it is going to be my favorite nonetheless.

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  22. Super post. I'm hungry for clobbery custard now.

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  23. Dramatic photo of people crawling across the street. Wow.

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  24. Well, I'll be sure to give surfaces more consideration!

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  25. A fun mediation on surfaces. Funny what Christine H said, because when I was reading I had the same thought: a good homemade macaroni & cheese, made with a white sauce. Talk about significant culinary surfaces!

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  26. Mmmmmmm! Rice pudding!

    Surfaces hold things together; by breaking the surface we remove that hold and instability takes over.

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  27. Compfy food.... now I need to dig out my favorite recipe. Great musing, Alan, THANKS! -J

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  28. Sorry Alan,I,m all over the place this week! Can you put my name down for "Sepia Saturday" .Hope All's Well?Cheers.T.

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  29. Well, Alan, kudos to you for the marvelous take yet on this theme that i;ve read. So very funny.

    bu ti must tell you, I don't like rice pudding or tapioca for that matter exactly becasue of the skin! LOL.

    that black ice looks horrible. glad we don't ahve that here too much.

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  30. Alan, I love coming to your blog to see what you've come up with each time. You are becoming one of my favorites more and more. Happy TT. By the way, I've not ever had rice pudding either! So, Betsy's not alone! :)

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  31. Ice on a road or sidewalk scares me. Having once slipped on it and lucily being caught and not getting hurt has still not taken the fear of it happening again away from my mind. I feel for those who had to crawl across the road.

    And that rice pudding has made me so hungry that now I am gonna have to find something to eat. I am also gonna have to see if Willow posted the recipe. Maybe I will have a go at making some. I've never made it but I like eating it. Bread puddings are good too. Yummy. Gotta go eat something.

    Happy TT.

    God bless.

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  32. Oh Alan. You and my dad would have got on so well, one of his favourite phrases was "You couldn't knock the skin of a rice pudding!" I hate the stuff. Unbelievable people crawling across the ice. You'd think the roads would be salted early in the morning. I wonder how people in Scandinavia cope!

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  33. I'll take the pudding over that ice any day. Tapioca is also one of my favorites with raisins and a sprinkle of cinamon sugar. Happy TT

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  34. Love rice pudding but like people you have to look below the surface to tell if it's good or not.

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  35. I have long had a strange antipathy for the word pudding. I can't explain it.

    But it seems I need to rethink my prejudices in this matter.

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  36. Ummmmmmm --- and love the surface of brownies! That's why I always want the corner piece. ;o)

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