Monday, 12 July 2010

Chilli tacos

The internet is a funny place for an old print hack like me. I don't really understand the concept of "networking" with other blogs in order to increase my "traffic", although other people seem to, because I get an awful lot of comments these days that leave a random compliment, followed by the address of their own blog.

I mean, don't get me wrong - I'm not annoyed by it or anything, but is this what we're all doing now? And why? So that Highland Spring will email us offering to advertise on our sites? Is that the dream?

It's not like that in newspapers. In newspapers you only have to please one person: your commissioning editor. I have four commissioning editors at the moment: Hannah, Amy, Nicola and Vanessa, (I do not believe in working for men), which is a 400% increase on the number of commissioning editors I had this time last year. They are to me what volcanoes are to small, sun-worshipping island communities in the South Pacific, in that if they asked me to toss a virgin into a furnace, I would.

Here, the reader is everything. I can measure my popularity (or at least, how often I post) by a weekly mail-out, which tells me how many visits I've had, from where and how long they stayed, and by the quantity and enthusiasm of my comments. And I do it all for free.

But in newspapers no-one cares about the readers. The readers don't matter and they never really have. Anyone who writes to or emails a newspaper, even someone with a legitimate point, is a "green inker", most probably an escapee from a mental asylum, and readers never, ever know best. They are like naughty schoolchildren who need to be told what they like - Summer Reads AGAIN, some feature on how to get a good night's sleep (my God insomniacs must gnash their teeth at those) and 10,000 items a week on working mothers.

It never helps my attitude towards newspaper readers that they're always mean about whatever I've written in those "Have your say" boxes at the end, whereas on blogs, everyone is nice. And anyway, the reader has probably bought the paper to read someone else anyway, and stumbled across my piece on horseshoe making in southern Ukraine (p.56) quite by accident.

So all that considered the reader can get stuffed, as long as my comm ed likes it. Because if they like it, there's a chance they'll remember to put through my 15p per word payment to finance department, so that an undercover Russian spy, who doesn't want to give herself away by ever speaking intelligible English, (in an elaborate double-bluff), can lose my payslip, delete my account and then deny all knowledge of the piece when I ring her in six months' time to complain.

And that, ladies and gents, is why newspapers are going to die.

I made chilli tacos last night for my husband, because he was watching the World Cup final and I thought that chilli tacos and beer were suitable football food.

I've never managed to make chilli really taste like chilli, only like extra tangy bolognese, so I consulted a Tomasina Miers recipe and ripped it off. It went something like this.

500g ground beef
2 small onions
3 garlic cloves
1 red chilli SEEDS IN - don't be such a wuss for god's sake
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp soft dark brown sugar
1 tbsp cider vinegar
25g chorizo, chopped
2 bay leaves - don't panic if you haven't got these
2 cans of plum tomatoes

1 Brown the meat and the chorizo in a pan and then set aside

2 Put the onions, garlic and chilli in a blender and whizz until chopped. I've never done this before, always instead painstakingly chopping everything up. I am never chopping onions again - it's going to be blended garlic and onion for everything from now on

3 Cook the blended onion mixture in a frying pan for about 10 minutes over a very low flame with the cumin, bay leaves and spices. Season with a pinch of salt and a few turns of pepper.

4 Add the plum tomatoes, the ketchup, vinegar and sugar. Mess this around for a bit and then pile the meat back in. Cook this up for about 5 minutes and then taste. If you want more or less of anything chuck it in now. You'll probably find you need more salt. If you want this really fucking spicy, wham in some tabasco.

5 Cook all this for about 40 minutes over a low heat.

6 Serve with tortilla wraps (Waitrose), guacamole (mash up some avocado and add lemon and salt - you don't need to add any chilli because the chilli ought to be hot enough as it is), shredded lettuce and sour cream. Sprinkle over jalapeno peppers - if you're a glutton for punishment - while pondering whether or not the paywall is going to work.

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