Random ramblings

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

"The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type any given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare."


Whilst looking for a suitable picture to head up this post of oddments I came across the above - which apart from being rather cute, and very clever, - even worth having on my wall - sort of epitomised, to me, my vain hope that one day I might write something worthwhile. So here is my first random thought - and actually, discovery - for the day - the infinite monkey theorem. I had no idea it was a theorem because I thought it was just a very funny joke from Bob Newhart - see below - well not see - just listen.

I love Bob Newhart - so dry. Anyway as I was trying to find his telling of it, I found that it's actually - as quoted by Wikipedia at the top of the page, an actual mathematical theorem. Continuing on from Wikipedia's opening statement above, it says:

"In fact, the monkey would almost surely type every possible finite text an infinite number of times. However, the probability that monkeys filling the entire observable universe would type a single complete work, such as Shakespeare's Hamlet, is so tiny that the chance of it occurring during a period of time hundreds of thousands of orders of magnitude longer than the age of the universe is extremely low (but technically not zero). The theorem can be generalized to state that any sequence of events which has a non-zero probability of happening, at least as long as it hasn't occurred, will almost certainly eventually occur."

Further down into this almost fascinating article (I didn't understand the maths enough for it to be completely fascinating), it creates an equation for the much simpler proposition of randomly typing the word banana. (Interesting choice of word!) The probability of such an event apparently being less than one in fifteen billion - but here's the wonderful thing - not zero! So does that mean that if I bang away long enough at this blog that, eventually, I'll write something brilliant and original? Where there's life there's hope then. And whilst we are still on mathematical type things:

"Generating exciting new ideas burns 325 calories per hour and has no carbs. Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour. Rambling aimlessly about a point that someone has already made burns only 3 calories per hour." Mike Brown

Not that I was planning on generating exciting ideas with this post - just reporting and maybe commenting on a few random things about food, life, the universe and everything - well that's food isn't it? But in the spirit of randomness, serendipity, coincidence I came across the picture and then the theorem and then Bob Newhart - so there you are. Item 1 done.

2. Myoga - not everything new becomes a trendy fad.

That old Gourmet Traveller (2001) that I mentioned the other day, in its what is in season page, introduced a 'new' product to the Australian public - myoga - which it said was now being produced commercially in Australia - admittedly for export to Japan - but after 10 years research. Now you would think that that much time - and presumably money - spent on it, paid off. It certainly is not, to my knowledge anyway - a trendy ingredient here, and I have never seen it - but then I don't frequent Asian grocers very much.

So what is it? Well it's a kind of ginger with a flavour "variously described as a combination of spring onion, coriander and garlic." To be honest it seems to be mostly used as a pretty garnish - it is very pretty. They said you could get it from Antico in Sydney - but not any more by the looks of things. I also could not find a supplier - although you can buy seeds, or whatever it is you need to grow them yourself. So unless it was worth it in exports, this could only be said to be a failed trend. Indeed not even one that flourished and then died. Just hope they managed to create an export industry. If you are into Japanese food then grow some and then you can make your Japanese food look even more beautiful. Or pickle it - see below.

On trends - I found a couple of quotes about how they occur:

“What drives UK food trends is people seeing interesting ingredients on restaurant menus, taking photos and sharing dishes.” Miguel Barclay

“You need multiple instances of something coming through to join the dots. We spot trends by them appearing in different spaces.” Martyn Lee – Waitrose

Obviously the dots were not joined in this instance.

2. Emptying the pantry

Well not emptying - but getting rid of the stuff that's lurking. This is just a random quote from Felicity Cloake to which I say "I wish"!

“[I] can see light at the end of the tunnel of my lockdown ambition to never own more packets of pulses than I have fingers and toes. Just the five types of dal and some ancient chickpeas to go.” Felicity Cloake – The Guardian

So I rushed to my pantry and I fear I am well behind her. So maybe I should add this to my COVID resolutions.

3. An update on fruit vinegar - from this to this

I frequently vow to do something that I have written about in my posts, but truth to tell I rarely do. This one, however I did. And I am so proud. Fruit vinegar - you may remember I did a post on fruit vinegars that you make from leftover peels, cores and squashy fruit. At the time I was doing something with pears and so I decided I would have a go with the peel. Since there wasn't all that much peel I threw in a few squashy grapes as well. On the left is my mix on day 7 fermenting nicely. Every day for a fortnight as instructed I gave it a stir, then I strained off the peel and left it for another at least a couple of weeks. Frankly I lost all sense of time, and only stirred it every now and then. But look. Yesterday I strained it all off into a beautiful looking bottle, especially kept for such things. So now it looks almost posh. I tasted it and it was softly vinegary. Might use it in the salad dressing tonight. So easy to do. I recommend.

4. On beauty

I know I go on a lot about beauty - photographs, food styling, paintings, nature ... So here is another random quote from an English restaurant review.

“though I’m unsure if either of those things was delicious, they were certainly beautiful, and as Keats once said, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.” Grace Dent – The Guardian

- an interesting take on making food look beautiful. It almost implies that the pleasure you might get from beautifully presented food is enough.

And, this did make me think back to my infant teacher training, when it was stressed that if we made our classrooms clean, tidy and attractive, then the children would be more likely to keep them that way. And that's true of an untidy desk - well untidy anything really isn't it? Once it's untidy it is so much more difficult to restore order.

5. Funky focaccia

A Guardian article on all the different ways you can make your focaccia into something really special, and even different. Various chefs give their tips from how you make the dough to what you top it with. If I wrote a post on this it would only be repeating the article really. I make focaccia. It's easy and very delicious. Nigel Slater once proposed an Apple and maple syrup focaccia. I suppose it might be interesting.

6. An A-Z of pesto

A similar reason for this one - I would just be repeating a whole article, already better written than I could manage. So many ways to make a pesto these days:

“Start with the premise that it contains herbs, nuts, cheese and oil. Then pick the herb or cheese and adjust everything else to match.” - George Leigh -

"That attitude will appal purists, but, as this A-Z of pesto reveals, once-hard rules about pesto are increasingly being ignored for the sake of flavour." Tony Naylor - The Guardian

7. A first recipe - Spain, tapas, chorizo

I'm chickening out of a first recipe post here because I wasn't that inspired, and try as I might I couldn't think of enough to say for a whole post.

Suffice to say that my next small booklet was a freebie from long ago from The Gourmet Traveller, and the first recipe was Button mushrooms with chorizo and vinegar - incidentally this version of the recipe omits 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced from the list of ingredients. What to say - Spanish food - not really a major fan. Though I will give it to the writers of this little book that apart from a recipe for Churros, the rest of the recipes were not just the usual stuff. Chorizo - it's everywhere and it's yummy and with mushrooms it's probably really nice.

But enough is enough of these random thoughts, which this time did not achieve greatness I fear. Although rather than rewording a Guardian article - no two Guardian articles - I hope I have this time encouraged you to read the original. And I did learn something about the monkey thing. I mean it's a real mathematical theorem. Which actually just confirms my opinion that physicists and mathematicians just like standing in front of blackboards and writing equations that have very little relationship to real life. Unless you are a philosopher too.

"By my rambling digressions I perceive myself to be growing old." Benjamin Franklin

I fear I have used that one before too. But it's a beautiful day and I shouldn't really be in here tapping away for eternity. Although it is also cold out there.


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