Excuse me!?

Tonight on Shark Nibbles...

Wouldn't it have been great if I had managed to snag Mr. Clarkson for a one-off introduction to a blog entry like he does on Top Gear?

Tonight we carry on with our great culinary tradition and so we cover yet another topic: Restaurants.

Naturally, you'd be much better off reading AA Gill's column, so instead, let me show you something. That was taken out of the Readers Digest. Entertaining or useful though the majority of the article might be, I ask you now to scroll down to the end section, "Surefire Stereotypes", on page 2, and read item no. 3.

I'll be waiting here.

Still can't be arsed? Alright, I'll transcribe it for you:

"3. If you have a European accent, you are a horrible tipper. Accent = 10 percent. Always."

Now, if there ever were any doubts where this article was taken from, let's take elimination. Its not Europe, for obvious reasons. It's not Africa, because it mentions food. It's not Asia, it's much too rude for that. It's not Oceania, because not once did it employ the words "ute", "barbie", "outback", "spider" or "crikey". Could it then be America?

You see, I don't think it can. America is the place where my mother and I, both European and suitably accented, were charged 5% on top of 15% woth of tips for a maître d' we never so much as met. Where we were asked to leave 15% at the Hard Rock Café for good (but not extraordinary) service. Where we were asked to distribute little "tip slips" to just about the whole crew of a cruise ship, including people we met (exactly) once and only for as long as it took him to fill our glasses with water, which, as it seems, is the entirity of his job description. And we tipped away with a smile on our lips and a kind word on the side.

And now, for a bit of context: regarding tips, my mother and I aren't exactly alike, you see. When I forst noticed tipping, she told me she didn't like to tip because it made her feel as though she was rubbing some pretense of superiority in the faces of servers. I, on the other hand, have no such qualms with tipping, but despise the notion of unduly tipping. Sure, many restaurants and their like pool the tips, meaning that, if I don't tip as much as I would because service was sloppy, I'm unduly punishing all the other waiters, whose job, for all I know, might have been absolutely flawless, but whose fault is that? I submit to every single waiter who ever felt robbed of a well deserved fraction of a tip because the waiter who collected it performed subparly, drag the offending colleague out back behind the restaurant, perform even an half-hearted job of kicking his/her head in and I'll gladly tip as much as I would have had for good service, tuice as much if you promise to cut the offender out of the pool.

In fact, I'd like to tell you a little story that happened just short of a year ago. My mother and I had gone for dinner at Pizza Hut in Leicester Square. Our waiter was a young woman with mediterranean features and a distinctively Italian acccent. That was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most appaling service I ever had. She brought my mother a warm cider with ice. She came by our table to tell my mother they were out of the fish she ordered, but never bothered to ask what she'd like instead (in fact, judging by the expression on another waiter's face when I explained what had happened and placed another order on my mother's behalf, he was even more shocked than we were). Then she brough our entrees before the apetizers. Need I say our entrees, by the (second) time she brought them were cold and stale? And then, at the very end, she had the gall to calculate a standard 12% tip and remind us, on the bill, that it was not included, which I rewarded with the reminder that neither had it been deserved and my mother rewarded with a 10% tip.

Lousy tippers, aren't we?

And in one fell swoop, there goes every little bit of trust and admiration I ever had for Readers Digest.

Pax vobiscum atque vale.

ArabianShark would like to remind his readers from Asia, Africa and Oceania that the bit up there where some fun is poked at them is intended for comic purpuses only and bears no resemblance to my feelings towards them. Any americans who were offended by the rebutal of the stereotype that Europeans are poor tippers can suck it.


No, that's not the word...


Much better. Onwards, now.

As a new entry on the Shark Nibbles Cook Book, here's my recentely developed Quadfactor Mousse, so called because I couldn't come up with a better name for it. But stick around and the mousse might prove better than it's name. So, off to the ingredients:

      - 200 grams of chocolate (I used half sugar free plain chocolate with about 50% cocoa and half 99% cocoa chocolate, because I couldn't get regular sugar free cooking chocolate with 70% cocoa, which I'd recommend);
      - 4 eggs;
      - 200 mL heavy cream (any cream suited for whipping will do);
      - 5 tablespoons of sweetner (or the equivalent amount of sugar, if you think your teeth and your waistline are worth the puritanism of carbon hydrates);
      - 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter;
      - 100 grams of grated coconut;
      - 200 grams of chopped roasted salted peanuts;
      - A few shots of your favourite liqueur (I like either mint or anise. Coffee Liqueur should work nicely, as will Bayle);

Now, if you've ever made a chocolate mousse before, you can imagine what comes up next. If you don't, well, then, Uncle Shark's here to help. So:

Melt your chocolate. I like the purism of a bain-marie, but a microwave will do just fine. If you take the latter choice, hold off this step for a bit; otherwise go on and start melting. Meanwhile...

Separate the yolks from the whites. Add a pinch of salt you the whites, if you like (I do) and beat them to soft peaks. Rinse your beaters and whip the cream to stiff peaks.

Combine the yolks, sweetener and peanut butter in a bowl. Cream them together until you obtain a smooth light caramel coloured mixture. Add the whipped cream and the coconut and mix thoroughly.

If you choose to melt the chocolate in the microwave (which is much faster than the bain marie), do so now. If you chose the bain marie, then your chocolate should be melted by now. Add the liquid chocolate to the eggs, butter, sweetner, coconut and cream mixture and mix thoroughly.

Now fold in the egg whites. Don't use beaters, or you'll just ruin the whites; use a woodden spoon instead. Try not to be too rough, but you don't have to treat them like they're made of lace.

Finally add the liqueur and the chopped peanuts and stir them in. Taste the mousse and adjust the quantities until you find the right balance of flavours.

You're done! Let the mousse set in the fridge for about six hours before serving.

As ever, I'd like to know your opinion on this idea. Remember the quantities are not set in stone. Fiddle about as much as you like until you find what tastes right to you. Suggest some changes too; if you have some ideas, I'd love to know them.

Pax vobiscum atque vale.

ArabianShark bids his readers sweet farewells for now and urges you to have sweets in moderation (except for eye candy. Have as much of that as you'd like).