Sunday, 23 December 2007

Ka’ du li’ røget sild vs. champorado? 0n a strange intersection of Danish and Philippine cultures

Danes of my and possibly other generations should remember this song, which was part of the repertoire for group spirit fostering and boredom reduction in summer camps in the 1960s:

Kadu li’ røget sild?
adu li’ røget sild?
a’ du li’ røget sild med chokoladesovs?
Det sm
ager vœldig godt - det’ godt
Det sm
ager vœldig godt -det’ godt
Det sm
ager vœldig godt med chokoladesovs

Briefly translated:
Do you like smoked herring?
Do you like smoked herring with chocolate-sauce?
It tastes really good
It tastes really good with chocolate-sauce

The point of this silly poetry was of course the repulsiveness and un-thinkability of the combination.

The limitations of my mother country’s culinary instincts were brought home to me, when visiting the home-land of Rafael, my Filipino partner in February 2007. While getting introduced to cacao and pili-nut trees and so many local products from these two species, I became acquainted with the champorado, a rice-porridge flavoured with unsweetened cocoa powder. In the Bicol Region, coconut milk is of course also an essential ingredient. A good breakfast champorado is served with dried anchovy or smoked fish, tina, on top. The provocative contrast between the gentle porridge and the tangy fish is brilliant, almost addictive.

Try it! In addition to the anti-oxidants it probably has excellent day-after properties.

Malaria 2007: Turning back the clock to march forwards with closed eyes

As much as I would like to point to progress in 2007 comparable to last year’s advances, I feel compelled to point out that in international health, a development is taking place that may lead to wastage of resources, disillusionment, and ultimately loss of human life. A number of global leaders have now turned their eyes to elimination and eradication of malaria,[1] and malaria control is once again becoming a dirty word as it was in the 1950s, when malaria experts had convinced themselves and political leaders that the only right choice was to use insecticide spraying to ensure the eradication of malaria from Earth within 5 to 10 years. Candau, Pampana, Soper, Macdonald, Russell and others leading the global eradication initiative in the 1950s knew that they made the world take a risk, and they had calculated that it was worth taking on the basis of models, which were scientifically defensible at that time. By the late 1970s the epidemiological and biological evidence had shown that mankind did not possess the tools that would be required for global malaria eradication. Despite some good technical developments, such tools are still not available, and an analysis of the potential of new tools that could be developed also does not suggest that we are likely to get rid of malaria parasites.

To be positive about all this, I should recognize that the aim for eradication may stimulate more investment in improving health systems, where this is most needed, as much as investment can buy such progress at all, and research for new and better tools to combat malaria. Surely, the powerful people, who have decided to take the international community in this direction, have been led by their good hearts. They are not the kind, who would abide by cardinal de Retz’ maxim, L’ambition dont on n’a pas les moyens est un crime. Leadership manifests itself by deviating from such wisdom. But it also does not distinguish itself by disregarding the combination of past experience and current scientific knowledge.



Saturday, 22 December 2007

Allan's duck

This delicious posting had been inadvertently removed during much of 2007. My abject apologies - it shall not happen again



Allan’s canard à l’orange (Geneva, 24 December 2005)

Take a fresh 1.5 kg duck, ideally a cannette, with slightly dark meat, but not a wild duck. Clean it.

Make stuffing:

Slice three shallots, fry to golden in olive oil.

Add 15 small green olives without stones.

Add 200 grammes of clams (Italian vongole). Can be from small can.

Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper ½ tsp thyme, ½ tsp rosmary, ½ tsp basilic 2 tsp sage,.

Crumble 5 cream crackers or a sheet ot matzoh into the mixture (as alternative, consider spaetzli, noodles or couscous).

Reduce over low heat. Adjust taste.

Put aside ¼ of this stew for sauce.

To the remainder add segments of 1 orange.

Stuff this into duck, then bind it.

To the ¼ left, add finely sliced zest of ½ orange. Cook gently for ½ hour.

Pass through sieve, keep the liquid for sauce, throw away solid.

Add the liver of the duck after mashing it with a fork (if you don’t have it (the duck’s liver, use 2 tablespoons of foie gras de canard (if your conscience forbids you the use of foie gras, use chicken liver or imagine what it would be like)).

Rub the duck with olive oil with salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 2500C, turn on grill. Place the duck on grid, and grill it on top and bottom (only the time needed for it to brown). Lower temperature to 150. Roast for 30 mins with back up, 60 mins with breast up. Add water regularly to the pan under the grid.

Turn off oven, leave duck inside, remove pan, pour drippings into bowl. Skim the fat off and discard. Add the jus to the sauce. Reduce, adjust taste. You may add a little orange liqueur.

Take duck out, shovel stuffing into warm bowl, carve and serve on a warm dish for example with small potatoes and haricots verts à l’ail.

Acknowledgements: Thanks are due to the Thanksgiving Turkey, the Poulet Marengo and Larousse gastronomique.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Andrew Spielman in memoriam

Professor Andrew ('Andy') Spielman, Harvard School of Public Health passed away on 20 December 2006. Together with Dr Jackie Cattani and Professor Michael Reich, Andy was my mentor during my year at Harvard in 1987-8. Very quickly I came to like and respect his intellectual curiosity, his strong principles and his warmth and humour.
His perspective on disease control was that of a biologist , a system thinker, concerned with balancing the need to help people and the need to avoid unnecessary damage to biological systems. It was possible, sometimes even necessary, to disagree with him, but his biological perspective remains essential. As much as we can be grateful for the fact that he was able to remain highly active up to 2006, when he was 76, his death is a terrible loss to the world of vector control scientists.