The Mysterious Death Of A UN Secretary General

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld

Not quite up there with the Kennedy assassination conspiracy, but still a mystery, is the death of UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjold who was killed in an airplane crash – some say assassinated – on September 17, 1961.

On that fateful day, a Douglas DC-6 transport aircraft with Hammarskjöld on board crashed in the British-administered territory of Northern Rhodesia (now called Zambia). Not only Hammarskjold, but everyone on board was killed in the crash.

Three investigations into the crash were held, conducted by the Rhodesian Board of Investigation, the Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry, and the United Nations Commission of Investigation.

Dag Hammarskjöld plane shot down

As usual in these non-investigation investigations, “pilot error” was noted as the most likely cause of the tragedy.

But the UN Commission of Investigation held in 1962 said that deliberate sabotage could not be ruled out as a likely cause of the tragedy, which of course set the conspiracy theorists on over drive.

Since then many academics and independent investigators, such as Swedish development expert Göran Björkdahl and British academic Susan Williams, have raised the possibility that the plane carrying Secretary General Hammarskjöld may have been “shot down by an unidentified second plane”.

Just after the tragedy the eagerness shown by British colonial administrators in Northern Rhodesia to obscure the details of the incident has also been highlighted and has provided further impetus for those pointing to foul play.

Like many others who have met similar fates, Hammarskjöld probably contributed to his own downfall because he was an independent thinker, not content to remain in the pockets of the powers that be. He was, for example, a fierce supporter of anti-colonial movements that were sweeping the African continent, many of which were not in the interests of their colonial masters at the time.

Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba

This is borne out by the fact that on the day of his death, Hammarskjöld was flying to the Congo’s mineral-rich Katanga region to meet European-supported chieftains who in 1960 had seceded from the Marxist government of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.

Lumumba had been assassinated in a Western-backed coup exactly eight months before Hammarskjöld’s own death. The person said to have arranged his assassination was Daphne Park, one of MI6’s top female intelligence agents and known by some as the “Queen of Spies”.

Moving on in time to three years ago, in 2012, the independently funded Hammarskjöld Inquiry Trust appointed an international team of jurists, called the Hammarskjöld Commission, to study all available evidence on the plane crash. The team was composed of a diplomat and three judges from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Sweden.

The Commission reported in 2013 that “significant new evidence” had emerged, which suggested that American intelligence agencies, notably the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, had “crucial evidence” that could help clarify the causes of the crash.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon

This led to the current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, appointing a UN-sponsored panel of experts to examine the new evidence and present it before the UN General Assembly. The three-member panel traveled to several countries, including Zambia, the US, Britain and Belgium, to access government, as well as private archives.

That ‘new evidence’ is said to include written testimony by a Belgian pilot who says he shot down the plane carrying Hammarskjöld by error while trying to divert it on orders by a government entity, and a statement by a former intelligence officer with the US National Security Agency, admitting he listened to a recording of a pilot who said he shot down the UN Secretary General’s plane.

Damning stuff – if true.

Is it really possible that more than half a century later the truth about  “one of the enduring mysteries of the 20th century” is finally going to be heard?

Don’t hold your breath on that one. It all depends if those who ordered the assassination think they can get away with it after all these years.

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So who really did kill JKF, more importantly, why, and how long are we going to have to wait to find out?

JFK assassination headline

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The Greeks Can’t Afford To Bear Gifts These Days

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Greek financial crisis

I used to love listening to George W Bush when he talked about the ‘Grecians’. He was an idiot, but unlike some holders of his post I think he secretly knew it.

But, enough of that, let’s concentrate on the Grecians.

Their financial crisis is deepening and they’ve shut down all their banks. They’ve also imposed what are called ‘capital controls’, in other words what you can and cannot do with your own money –  assuming you could get to it in the first place.

Several Western countries, including the US and Britain, have issued travel warnings for Greece. Not a warning about the place being very dangerous, just a warning to have enough cash to be able to pay for things now that the banks are shut and presumably their ATMs as well.

queue at Greek ATM

This recent activity by the Greek government is because of the breakdown of talks between Athens and the European Union concerning the Grecians’ enormous debt that they clearly can’t afford to pay back. EU finance ministers rejected Athens’ request to prolong a financial assistance program.

It is also about a bit of timely government blackmail.

The Greek government has so far been unable to formulate any meaningful plans to curtail their spending significantly. The Greek people likewise have become used to living beyond their means and are reluctant to tighten their belts. The people are blaming the government and the government is blaming the people and nothing is really getting resolved.

So Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, shut the banks and said they would stay shut until July 6, conveniently the day after a nationwide referendum on whether to accept the bailout terms proposed to Greece by its creditors.

Some commentators also think that the banks may have been shut because they don’t have enough cash left. The Greek people think the same and are panicking to get their money out of the banks. Runs on banks inevitably lead to disaster.

As Greece is part of the Euro zone it does not have control of its own monetary system. In other words, unlike America which can simply print more money if and when it needs it, the Grecians have to rely on the European Central Bank giving them cash. and it has refused to give them any more Euros.

That decision could prompt Greece to default which would probably lead to it being kicked out of the Euro zone and possibly out of the EU itself, which would be an historic first and something that would be done very reluctantly.

Greek financial crisis cartoon

The rulers of the EU are in what is known as a ‘tight spot’. If they don’t take a tough line on the Grecians they can be sure other poor countries in the EU will follow suit. If they do take a tough line, then the upheaval will undoubted have an impact on the Euro currency.

A Greek default would also be another kick in the greedy teeth of the big financial institutions who own a good part of the massive €300 billion debt – you see there are positives in every situation if you look hard enough.

So it looks like emergency meetings and frantic discussions all over the place in Europe.

Despite the fact that Dubya is long gone from the political scene, I don’t think we’ve heard the last about the Grecians just yet.

By the way, Happy Independence Day to all my American visitors, bet you’re glad you’re not part of Europe these days.

Happy 4th July USA

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A Mish Mash Quiz Today.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to today’s quiz on the fasab blog.

Another challenging selection of questions for you.

And if you get stuck you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating.

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz 05

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Q.  1.  M*A*S*H was a famous book, movie and TV series, but what do the letters M A S H stand for?

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Q.  2. Wind transports approximately how many millions of tonnes of dust from the Sahara to the Amazon every year?

          a) 4 million tonnes        b) 40 million tonnes        c) 400 million tonnes

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Q.  3.  What city is known as ‘The City Of Tigers’ ? (HINT: it is not in Asia.)

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Q.  4.  ‘Ring of Bright Water’ is a book about which creatures?

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Q.  5.  This one is the name of a rich fruit cake decorated with almonds, a town in Scotland, and the last name of a comic Australian movie character. What is it?

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Q.  6.  In which country is the legendary city of Timbuktu? (If you have been following the TV series American Odyssey you’ll know this one.)

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Q.  7.  A multi-point question. What currencies are used in the following countries?

           a) USA          b) Britain          c) Japan           d) Europe          e) China

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Q.  8.  What percentage of internet users quit waiting for a video to load after 10 seconds?

            a) 10%         b) 20%         c) 30%         d) 40%         e) 50%          f) 60%

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Q.  9.  What were the first names of the four main characters of the long running and highly successful TV series ‘The Golden Girls’ ? (Bonus points if you can also correctly name the actresses who played them.)

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Q. 10.  In 1929, US Army Air Corps Lieutenant General John MacCready asked Bausch & Lomb, a New York-based medical equipment manufacturer, to create aviation sunglasses that would ban the sun rays and reduce the headaches and nausea experienced by his pilots. What name were they given?

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Q. 11.  “The devil on two sticks” is a former name for which juggling-like game?

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Q. 12.  What are the four largest countries on Earth by area? (A point for each you name correctly and a bonus point if you get them in the correct order, starting with the largest.)

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Q. 13.  What is the painting, ‘La Gioconda’, more usually known as?

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Q. 14.  What is the name of the traditional Irish potato and cabbage dish?

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Q. 15.  What is the name of John Lennon’s widow?

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Q. 16.  With whom is the fictional character ‘Alfred Pennyworth’ associated?

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Q. 17.  Who is the largest American retailer of lingerie?

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Q. 18.  In the Bible what are the names of the first and last books of the New Testament?

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Q. 19.  What was the name of the flamboyant and controversial Australian actor who starred in many movies during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and played characters like ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘George Custer’?

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Q. 20.  What was the name of the group that Paul McCartney went on to form in 1970 after The Beatles split up?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1.  M*A*S*H was a famous book, movie and TV series, but what do the latters M A S H stand for?

A.  1.  Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.

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Q.  2. Wind transports approximately how many millions of tonnes of dust from the Sahara to the Amazon every year?

          a) 4 million tonnes          b) 40 million tonnes          c) 400 million tonnes

A.  2. The correct answer is b) 40 million tonnes.

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Q.  3.  What city is known as ‘The City Of Tigers’ ? (HINT: it is not in Asia.)

A.  3.  It’s Oslo, Norway. (Apparently because the city was referred to as ‘Tigerstaden’ (the City of Tigers) by the author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson around 1870, due to his perception of the city as a cold and dangerous place.

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Q.  4.  ‘Ring of Bright Water’ is a book about which creatures?

A.  4.  Otters.

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Q.  5.  This one is the name of a rich fruit cake decorated with almonds, a town in Scotland, and the last name of  a comic Australian movie character. What is it?

A.  5.  It is ‘Dundee’.

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Q.  6.  In which country is the legendary city of Timbuktu? (If you have been following the TV series American Odyssey you’ll know this one.)

A.  6.  Mali, Africa.

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Q.  7.  A multi-point question. What currencies are used in the following countries?

         a) USA       b) Britain       c) Japan       d) Europe       e) China

A.  7.  a) Dollar      b) Pound        c) Yen          d) Euro         e) Yuan Renminbi

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Q.  8.  What percentage of internet users quit waiting for a video to load after 10 seconds?

            a) 10%         b) 20%         c) 30%         d) 40%         e) 50%          f) 60%

A.  8.  The correct answer is e) 50%.

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Q.  9.  What were the first names of the four main characters of the long running and highly successful TV series ‘The Golden Girls’ ? (Bonus points if you can also correctly name the actresses who played them.)

A.  9.  They were Dorothy Zbornak (played by Bea Arthur); Rose Nylund (played by Betty White); Blanche Devereaux (played by Rue McClanahan); and Sophia Petrillo (played by Estelle Getty).

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Q. 10.  In 1929, US Army Air Corps Lieutenant General John MacCready asked Bausch & Lomb, a New York-based medical equipment manufacturer, to create aviation sunglasses that would ban the sun rays and reduce the headaches and nausea experienced by his pilots. What name were they given?

A. 10.  They were called Ray Ban.

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Q. 11.  “The devil on two sticks” is a former name for which juggling-like game?

A. 11.  Diabolo.

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Q. 12.  What are the four largest countries on Earth by area? (A point for each you name correctly and a bonus point if you get them in the correct order, starting with the largest.)

A. 12.  1)  Russia         2)  Canada          3)  United States          4) PR China

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Q. 13.  What is the painting, ‘La Gioconda’, more usually known as?

A. 13.  The Mona Lisa.

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Q. 14.  What is the name of the traditional Irish potato and cabbage dish?

A. 14.  Colcannon.

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Q. 15.  What is the name of John Lennon’s widow?

A. 15.  Yoko Ono.

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Q. 16.  With whom is the fictional character ‘Alfred Pennyworth’ associated?

A. 16.  He is butler to Bruce Wayne, aka Batman.

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Q. 17.  Who is the largest American retailer of lingerie?

A. 17.  Victoria’s Secret.

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Q. 18.  In the Bible what are the names of the first and last books of the New Testament?

A. 18.  They are the book of Matthew and the book of Revelation.

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Q. 19.  What was the name of the flamboyant and controversial Australian actor who starred in many movies during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and played characters like ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘George Custer’?

A. 19.  He was Errol Flynn.

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Q. 20.  What was the name of the group that Paul McCartney went on to form in 1970 after The Beatles split up?

A. 20.  It was called ‘Wings’, have a taste….

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The Conservatives Win The UK General Election!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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UK General Election 2015

 

Like the last election in the UK, this one was a close run thing – but nowhere near as close as the pollsters predicted. At least this time there is an outright winner, the Conservative Party, with David Cameron still as Prime Minister.

No hung Parliaments, no dodgy coalitions between parties that obviously did not really like each other, and no more general elections for another five years.

Stability is always good.

Indeed the Conservative victory is already being seen as a positive step for the UK economy, with both shares and the pound sterling rising in value.

But during the next five years, although a degree of stability has been achieved, the UK is still in for challenging times economically.

Like the Unites States, the UK has been living well beyond its means for far too long. Eventually these delusions end in harsh reality. America will find this out too, but not until after their election next year.

austerity measures sign

 

At the start of the campaigning there was an unexpected degree of sense in being shown the two main parties. Election messages were warning of the need to cut spending, that Britain was still living beyond its means, and that there would be ‘difficult’ choices ahead.

However, as the election campaign progressed and the pollsters warned how tight the result was likely to be, all the political parties regressed into doing what they do best, regardless of what country they are in. In their desperation to get votes they ignored reality once again, started hiding the truth from their voters, and promised more goodies that the country can’t afford.

You know the sort of thing, better education, better health service, more jobs, etc., and to pay for it all less taxes.

Huh?

Yes, elections are full of ‘spend more and collect less’ promises.

In the non-political world we call them lies, because that’s what they are.

The smaller parties never suffered from the same restraints. Even from the beginning of their campaigns small parties like the Scottish SNP promised massive spending. They knew they would never be in a position to have to follow through on these boasts, but their message got out and, as always happens, many voters fell for it. The Scottish National Party (SNP) had a landslide victory in Scotland, winning 56 of the 59 seats – and all they promised was extra £180 billion ($280 billion) more spending over the next five years.

The two main parties soon countered with their own promises – the Conservatives talking about things like 30 hours of free child care a week for parents of 3 & 4-year-olds, no tax for people earning the minimum wage, an extra £8 billion (US$12 billion) for the National Health Service, free access to a doctor seven days a week, and a freeze rail ticket price increases for five years.

debt

 

On the face of it, the past five years have seen the UK economy growing, unemployment down below 6% and a booming housing market, particularly in the South East of the country. All part of the reason why the Conservatives have their victory.

But, returning to reality for a moment, Britain is now in the most debt it has been in, relative to its economy, since 1967. The financial crisis hit the UK hard. From 2009 to date, British government borrowing has been at a higher level than at any time since World War II.

The scariest part is that, whilst the governments all talked about “cuts” and “austerity”, not a penny of this money has been paid back.

And like American politicians, and others, they use deliberate deceit to cover their lack of progress. Well-worn phrases like “cutting the deficit” are designed to make people think that the government is paying back its debt, but in fact all that has been happening is that they have been borrowing a little less money this year than they did the year before.

If you are any good at math at all, you will know that in reality this means that the debt burden is increasing, not decreasing. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that Britain would, in all probability, not even begin to pay back its debts until sometime after 2020 – and that was even before all these new election promised of spending more!

eu referendum in uk

 

In addition to all that, one of the fundamental platforms that helped the Conservative Party to get elected was the promise of a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. The result of that will have its own impact economically too.

Personally if I were them I’d drop the EU like a hot poker. For more than forty years Britain has been paying more into Europe than they have got out, a situation that is likely to continue as rafts of the poorer European nations continue to join.

So the next five years are shaping up to be very interesting for both Britain and America.

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General Confusion And Major Disaster.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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British General Election 2015

No, today’s post is not about matters military, although the term ‘SNAFU’ would be rather appropriate.

This one is about the General Election in Britain in May 2015 that will decide who will run the country for the next five years and who will be Prime Minister. This is a crucial election for voters because there is no real front runner. One party is as bad as the other. So a few votes here and there could make a crucial difference. Sounds a bit like Florida!

It may even end up with another coalition government in Britain, although I don’t know if the Conservatives could stomach another five years of being tied to the Liberals – but what am I talking about, of course they could, if it meant clinging on to power.

The election might be even closer than it should be because millions of people may be unable to vote. The secretive Whitehall department of stupid bureaucrats responsible for – wait for the irony, “efficiency” – refused to heed warnings from its own pilot programs that showed it had major problems with data matching.

data matching

It is very similar to the way the nerds at Microsoft didn’t believe their testers when they told them Windows 8 was a pile of doo-doo.

The bureaucrats first of all created new legal requirements for voter registration requiring them to verify information that was previously taken on trust.

The only thing is, about five and a half million voters went missing from the Electoral Register. The tests they carried out told them this was likely to happen, but they didn’t listen. Bureaucrats never do until it is too late.

According to government sources, “The digital service allows anyone to register to vote online, from any device connected to the web. It’s incredibly quick and simple – it takes less than five minutes.”

They forgot to add the crucial line that – it doesn’t work.

The problems became apparent as soon as the web service went live. The Electoral Register was a lot shorter than it had been. Not only that but strange things also began to happen.

cartoon boy

For example, a five-year-old boy in Crewe had been given the vote – but he couldn’t get off the Electoral Register, because he was not able to produce his National Insurance number, which of course he didn’t have – because he was only five. Duhh!!!

In another case a woman, who had been an eligible voter on the Electoral Roll for twenty years, failed to get on to the new one because her National Insurance number was in her maiden name which did not match with her married name which the system insisted she use now.

The whole thing has turned into a government-created mess. People are now filling in the registration form thinking that means they are registered to vote, but actually they haven’t. All they have managed to do is submit an application to register to vote.

It’s bit like filling in a form so that you are eligible to fill in a form. A bureaucrat’s dream!

So it’s looking like general confusion and major disaster for the election. Just more proof that government bureaucrats and computer systems just don’t belong together.

bureaucrats and computer systems

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Pioneers, People And Places – It’s Quiz Day!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to another week and another fasab quiz.

Today is the usual random mixture of questions, including as the title suggests, some about pioneers, people and places.

If you get stuck you can find the answers as usual waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

.quiz 8

 

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Q.  1:  Which US state is nick-named the ‘Empire State’ ?

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Q.  2:  What sort of creature is a ‘serval’ ?

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Q.  3:  What city is known as the ‘Capital of the Alps’ ?

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Q.  4:  What African tribe represents a letter in the phonetic alphabet?

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Q.  5:  What color are the flowers of the laburnum tree?

            a)  red            b) yellow           c) blue            d) cream

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Q.  6:  Which chemical element has the symbol ‘Fe’ ?

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Q.  7:  What is the only bird capable of flying all day without flapping its wings?

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Q.  8:  How many sides does a rhombus have?

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Q.  9:  Which small shark is also known as a ‘rock-eel’ or ‘rock Salmon’ ?

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Q. 10:  What is the capital of the Falkland Islands?

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Q. 11:  How many balls are on a snooker table at the start of play?

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Q. 12:  In physics, what letter is used to represent the constant that is equal to “9.80665 metres per second squared” ?

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Q. 13:  Who was the United States’ ‘Action Man’ ?

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Q. 14:  What name was given to the women who campaigned to have the vote in the first two decades of the 20th century?

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Q. 15:  What was the fishing dispute between Britain and Iceland during the 1960s and 1970s popularly known as?

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Q. 16:  Founded in 1413, what is Scotland’s oldest university?

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Q. 17:  Who pioneered vaccination as a means of inoculating against smallpox?

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Q. 18:  SS Archimedes was an appropriately named ship which was the world’s first to use what form of propulsion?

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Q. 19:  Julia Margaret Cameron was an early pioneer of which art form?

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Q. 20:  For which Henrik Ibsen play, first performed in 1876, did Edvard Grieg compose the instrumental music?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  Which US state is nick-named the ‘Empire State’ ?

A.  1:  New York.

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Q.  2:  What sort of creature is a ‘serval’ ?

A.  2:  A Wildcat.

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Q.  3:  What city is known as the ‘Capital of the Alps’ ?

A.  3:  Grenoble.

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Q.  4:  What African tribe represents a letter in the phonetic alphabet?

A.  4:  Zulu, representing the letter ‘Z’.

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Q.  5:  What color are the flowers of the laburnum tree?

            a)  red            b) yellow           c) blue            d) cream

A.  5:  The correct answer is b) yellow.

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Q.  6:  Which chemical element has the symbol ‘Fe’ ?

A.  6:  Iron.

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Q.  7:  What is the only bird capable of flying all day without flapping its wings?

A.  7:  The Albatross.

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Q.  8:  How many sides does a rhombus have?

A.  8:  A rhombus has 4 sides.

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Q.  9:  Which small shark is also known as a ‘rock-eel’ or ‘rock Salmon’ ?

A.  9:  Dogfish.

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Q. 10:  What is the capital of the Falkland Islands?

A. 10:  Port Stanley.

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Q. 11:  How many balls are on a snooker table at the start of play?

A. 11:  22. (15 reds, 1 yellow, 1 green, 1 brown, 1 blue, 1 pink, 1 black and the cue ball.)

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Q. 12:  In physics, what letter is used to represent the constant that is equal to “9.80665 metres per second squared” ?

A. 12:  It is the letter ‘G’ (constant is Earth’s gravity pull, the acceleration of free fall)

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Q. 13:  Who was the United States’ ‘Action Man’ ?

A. 13:  He was called ‘G.I. Joe’.

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Q. 14:  What name was given to the women who campaigned to have the vote in the first two decades of the 20th century?

A. 14:  They were known as ‘Suffragettes’.

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Q. 15:  What was the fishing dispute between Britain and Iceland during the 1960s and 1970s popularly known as?

A. 15:  It was known as ‘The Cod War’.

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Q. 16:  Founded in 1413, what is Scotland’s oldest university?

A. 16:  It is the University of St Andrews.

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Q. 17:  Who pioneered vaccination as a means of inoculating against smallpox?

A. 17:  Edward Jenner.

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Q. 18:  SS Archimedes was an appropriately named ship which was the world’s first to use what form of propulsion?

A. 18:  A Screw Propeller.

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Q. 19:  Julia Margaret Cameron was an early pioneer of which art form?

A. 19:  Photography.

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Q. 20:  For which Henrik Ibsen play, first performed in 1876, did Edvard Grieg compose the instrumental music?

A. 20:  Peer Gynt.

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Forty-Four Mouth-Watering Facts About Curry.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I’ve done ‘peanut butter‘ and ‘chocolate‘ and ‘coffee‘ in other posts. Today it is another fasab food favorite, the curry.

A curry, properly made, has to be one of the most delicious foods in the world.

I have spent many happy evenings with friends enjoying this delicacy in one form or another. Personally I like it with some naan bread or sometimes with rice. Either way is socially acceptable and extremely tasty.

Mouth watering already?

Very good, let’s get straight to the facts.

Enjoy.

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dishes of curry

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The word curry comes from a Tamil word ‘kari’ or ‘karil’, meaning spices or sautéd vegetables.

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The meaning changed when Portuguese traders used it for the sauces with which rice was served.

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Essentially, the term curry was invented by the English administrators of the East Indian Trading Co. and later continued by British government employees.

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The British army in India further changed the meaning as its liking for hot sauces introduced the modern idea of curries being hot.

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Surprisingly, the term ‘curry’ isn’t used very much in India. There are many types of curry-style dishes, which have their own characteristic regional variations.

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Curry Powder is a mix of spices, rather than a spice in its own right. It usually consists of turmeric, coriander, cardamom, cumin, sweet basil, and red pepper.

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Some of the most common types of curry are ‘Korma’, ‘Massala’, ‘Dhansak’, ‘Phall’, ‘Rogan Josh’, ‘Dopiaza’, ‘Madras’ and ‘Vindaloo’.

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Curry is said to have a number of valuable health benefits, including the prevention of cancer, protection against heart disease, reducing Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, easing pain and inflammation, boosting bone health, protecting the immune system from bacterial infections, and increasing the liver’s ability to remove toxins from the body.

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In addition to being an established and firm favorite in Britain. and increasing popular throughout Europe and the United States, curry forms a major element of the diets of several Asian countries including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Maldives, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and Fiji.

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Chili (or Chilli) is the most popular spice in the world and can help combat heart attacks and strokes and extends blood coagulation times preventing harmful blood clots.

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Contrary to common western belief, curries are not always ‘hot’, they can be mild, medium and hot.

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curry with rice

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The earliest known curry was made in Mesopotamia in around 1700 BC, the recipe for meat in a spicy sauce appearing on tablets found near Babylon.

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The Scoville scale is the measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chili peppers or other spicy foods.

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The ‘Bhut Jolokia Chilli Pepper’ (also known as the ‘Naga Jolokia’), is the hottest pepper in the world, accompanied with its own health warning! This pepper is also known as the ‘Ghost Chilli’ or ‘Ghost Pepper’, and is grown in the Indian states of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.

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The first commercial curry powder appeared in about 1780.

In Britain Indian food now surpasses Chinese food in popularity, with Indian restaurants outnumbering Chinese restaurants by two to one.

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The word ‘balti’ means bucket. Balti is more a style of cooking than one particular curry.

In specialist ‘Balti Houses’ the balti is a meal in itself which contains both meat and vegetables and is eaten straight from the karahi using curled up pieces of naan bread. In standard Indian restaurants the balti is more of a stir-fried curry containing plenty of fried green peppers and fresh cilantro (also known as coriander).

South Indian food is more spicy than North Indian food.

The first curry recipe in English appeared in Hannah Glasse’s ‘The Art Of Cookery’ in 1747.

The world’s biggest ever curry was a 13 tonne Biryani, including 187lb of chilies and 6600lb of rice. It took 60 chefs to make in New Delhi in June 2008. And required three cranes to move the container and a 3ft high furnace to cook it!

In Western Europe and the U K, curry powders available contain more turmeric than anything else, and tend to be toned down to palates used to bland food.

curry with naan bread

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The tallest poppadom stack in the world stands at a massive 282 poppadoms. The record was set by a chef from the Jali Indian Restaurant in Blackpool.

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In 2008, Bath and North East Somerset Council advised a man to sprinkle curry powder on his wife’s grave to keep squirrels and deer away.

Tim Stobbs, aged 42 years, currently holds the world record for munching an impressive 15 poppadoms in 5 minutes! The annual World Championships, in aid of Cancer Research UK Scotland, is held every year at St Andrews University.

There are about 10,000 Indian restaurants serving curry in the UK, the vast majority of which are run by people from Bangladesh, not India.

To make a ‘hot’ curry mild, just add some coconut milk.

The word ‘masala’ means spice mix.

In 1846, William Makepeace Thackeray wrote ‘A Poem To Curry’, as part of his Kitchen Melodies.

Britain’s first curry house, called the Hindustani Coffee House and located in London’s Portman Square, opened in 1809. Now there are more curry houses in London, England than in Mumbai, India.

Chili can help combat heart attacks and strokes.

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One of the hottest curry dishes ever made is known as the Bit Spicy 3 Chili Phall which is even hotter than the infamous ‘Chicken Naga’, made with a high volume of Naga pepper seeds. More than 100 times hotter than jalapeño peppers!

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People crave a curry because the spices arouse and stimulate the taste buds.

curry powder

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Vindaloo was originally a Portuguese dish which took its name from the two main ingredients which were ‘vinho’, wine/wine vinegar, and ‘alhos’, garlic. Over time it was spiced up, hotted up and otherwise changed by the indigenous peoples of the ex-Portuguese colony of Goa.

The ‘Big Jim’, a large chili hailing from New Mexico, currently holds the world record for the largest chili ever grown. This plant frequently produces chilies that are over a foot in length, which is hugely impressive considering that the plant itself never grows more than two feet!

The town of North Curry is in Somerset while West Curry is in Cornwall.

Madras and pathia are both hot and sour dishes. Kashmiri a more subtle and creamy dish usually made with lychees or bananas – or both.

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Scientists at Nottingham Trent University have discovered that people begin to crave for a curry because the spices arouse and stimulate the taste buds.

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One in seven curries sold in the UK is a chicken tikka masala, making it the most popular Indian restaurant dish in the UK. It is thought to have originated in Britain after an enterprising Indian chef had the idea of adding a tomato and onion paste to the grilled chicken to satisfy the British preference for food that isn’t dry.

The largest naan bread ever made was a whopping 2.75m in diameter and contained meat dumplings – the equivalent of 167 normal sized naan breads. The bread took over ten hours to finish and required twelve chefs, 30kg mutton, 125kg flour, 16kg onion and 90kg of water to cook it.

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Southeastern Asian cultures have always mixed a number of spices to flavor their dishes, usually according to recipes handed down from generation to generation.

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A common way to categorize Thai curry is by the color of the curry paste used to make the curry dish. Green and red curry paste are the most typical. Yellow and sour curries (also sometimes known as orange curry, gaeng sohm) are also well known. Each has its own particular combination of herbs and spices to make up the curry paste that makes it unique.

‘Panang’ and ‘masaman’ curry are probably the most popular Thai curries in the West, because of their rich tastes.

Finally, if you are eating a curry which is just too hot for you, don’t drink water, that only makes it hotter!

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