Monday, July 17, 2006

Still hot, eating at Nyonya, arguing about the Middle east and musing on the Natwest 3

The heat wave continues and so the weekend passed in a blurry haze of exposed bodies, the slap of flip-flops (bathroom slippers, as they were less poetically known in Nigeria) and invitations to barbecues. It was a restful weekend despite the heat and I was able to snare a couple of books that I had wanted for a while from the library. First on the list was Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin which won the Orange Prize last year. It's been so in demand at the local library that I've only just got my hands on it. I was also able to get hold of Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living which was shortlisted for this year's Orange Prize. I'll be reading them in the days ahead, while lying on my couch after work sipping margaritas or perhaps a menta fresca- a non-alcoholic cocktail of mint and apple juice whic I first tasted over the weekend.

Saturday saw me at Nyonya a very nice Malay Chinese restaurant near Portobello Road. I first went there about a year ago and it was good to see that it was still doing good business and that the Nasi Lemak was still as good as ever. Described as a hawker favourite in Malaysia, the meal consists of coconut rice served with a chicken curry, fried mackerel (fried crunchily bone dry like you would get on the streets of Lagos), groundnuts, half a boiled egg, cucumber slices and sambal( a hot, sweet peppery sauce a bit like a fiery Lagos stew). I've never been to Malaysia, but the meal did seem authentic- you could almost imagine the hawker deftly slicing the hardboiled egg in two and then sprinkling a few groundnuts over the top....it was a great meal, not like the usual Thai, Chinese or Indian to which my experiences of Asian food have largely been limited....and the restaurant is one worth checking out. Funnily enough it isn't miles away from Angies, my favourite Nigerian restaurant on the Harrow Road, the only place that does jollof rice with that smokey, burnt flavour reminiscent of Nigerian party jollof rice...

Now to more somber thoughts- the face off in the Middle East. I got into another argument at the weekend. A friend had condemned Israel's heavy handed rsponse and I had agreed but pointed out that it was unclear what Israel was supposed to have done in the face of the kidnapped soldiers. His response was that Israel should have in a mature way sacrificed the kidnapped soldiers by refusing to negotiate with the kidnappers and therefore undermined them. I wasn't so sure as I felt that part of the Israeli national ethos is that sense of every citizen knowing that the state will go to extraordinary lengths to secure your future, and perhaps this is what Israel was trying to maintain......

Speaking of states and their citizens, many of the commentators on the Natwest 3 got failed to get to the heart of the issue. The Natwest 3 are the British bankers who were allegedly involved in the Enron scandal and who, having unsuccessfully tried to fight extradition, were extradited to face charges in the US last week. They were extradited under a bilateral treaty between the UK and the US, which while it has been ratified by the UK Parliament, is yet to go through Congress in the USA. What rankles me (and I suspect many others) is not the question of whether these men are guilty or not and whether they deserve punishment or not. It is the knowledge that NEVER would the US meekly hand over its citizens if the positions were reversed......this is clear from the way they blocked any possibility of US citizens appearing before UN tribunals- this I suspect is at the heart of the public outcry against extradition which produced an unlikely coalition of human rights campaigners and City businessmen, driven, I suspect by different motivations.....

2 comments:

Liew said...

Oh how I miss nasi lemak.

qB said...

Mmmmm... thanks for the restaurant recommendation. That's near my part of town and I've never been there.