Five Things Four

How to walk a human being. A guide for dogs from The Oatmeal.

Staying with dogs for a moment, Wes Siler has some thoughts on how to pick the right dog for you. This is a subject that we keep returning to.

Hotter European summers and more frequent and recurrent heat waves have spawned a proliferation of wildfires around Europe. Portugal has a simple, low-cost and environmentally sustainable solution: goats. Now they just need more goatherds.

Allison Kinney remembers working at a roadside produce stand, selling “local” food to arrogantly ignorant foodies from nearby cities.

And finally, Oliver Franklin-Wallis looks into what really happens to all that plastic you carefully sort into separate bins.

Camp

This week has been a bit different as all three boys have been away at camp. They are members of a youth group and the week long (ten days for the oldest) summer camp is how they end the season.

So Eve and I delivered the twins to a field last Sunday (Macsen, being older, was part of the group that cycled there the previous Thursday).

Duvel at the Kamp

This left us wondering what to do with ourselves now that we were suddenly kids-free for a week. On Monday, we stayed in but on Tuesday we went out for sushi.

Leffe at Koji Sushi

We have been here before with the boys and, while they enjoyed the presentation they struggled a bit with the food and we haven’t taken them back. So this week seemed a good time for another visit.

I like sushi and the Koji sushi restaurant does a fantastic meal for two delivered, spectacularly, on a boat.

On Wednesday we went out again, this time to Volt, a restaurant we have been to multiple times.

Tripel Karmeliet at Volt

Volt is a reliably good restaurant and probably the only place locally that has a range of international foods on the menu.

The thing about Belgium is that, while the local food is very good, there isn’t much interest in anything beyond the borders. Which is odd given the extent to which Belgian food is a result of the country being stuck between France and Germany.

And so to Thursday when we decided to try something different and went to Het Atrium.

St. Bernadus at Het Atrium

The outdoor seating here is really nice and, while the menu is largely the usual Belgian fare they did have one addition — the Atrium Burger. I would never have believed that I could rave about a burger, but this was absolutely fantastic. It’s a sizable chunk of meat, along with a generous serving of bacon, an egg, and other stuff and it really was exceptional.

I will definitely go back for this again.

On Friday it rained and we went back to Volt.

Chimay Blauw at Volt

Today is the last day of camp and we are about to go and collect the twins. And then I shall have to make peace with my credit card.

Pizza and Karate

Wednesday night is karate night. Not for me, but all three of the boys spend an hour improving their martial arts. It’s an interesting sport and one from which (I hope) all three are benefiting. This is certainly the case for the eldest who has already competed in several tournaments and who is in training for his next.

Since I am home before the karate lesson finishes, organising dinner often falls to me, which is handy because Wednesday night is also cheap pizza night — any pizza for €6.50. They’re good pizzas, too.

Over the years, several pizzerias have come and gone locally, but this one has always remained. It’s been through a couple of changes of ownership while we’ve been in Belgium, but the restaurant itself has remained pretty much unchanged — cheap, friendly and reliable. Clearly, a winning formula is not to be messed with.

So here I sit, enjoying a glass of Duvel and finding myself being pleasantly surprised by the WordPress app.

I installed this app some time ago, back when this blog was still self-hosted, and… it wasn’t very good. The app had a rather annoying habit of freezing — generally when I wanted to upload a draft — which led to me removing the app out of frustration.

Now that I have WordPress hosting the blog for, I thought I’d give the app another go. It’s not always as intuitive as I would like but it does seem to be a lot more reliable now and I have been able to successfully use it to follow conversations where possible.

The acid test, of course, will be to see what happens when I press the Publish button.

Finger Lickin’ Good?

Back when I was young, I used to really enjoy Kentucky Fried Chicken. I have not, however, been able to indulge myself since moving to Belgium, not least because there are no KFC outlets in the country.

This is about to change when the fast food chain opens its first outlet somewhere in Brussels sometime next May.

Although KFC is refusing to disclose the exact location of its first Belgian outlet. The Brussels regional news platform Bruzz says that it has it on good authority that the restaurant will be located at Brussels North Railway Station.

I walk to Brussels North station every weekday. Maybe I should just give up on trying to keep my weight under control.

Bug bread

The Guardian reports that a Finnish bakery has launched world’s first insect-based bread.

The bread, made using flour ground from dried crickets as well as wheat flour and seeds, has more protein than normal wheat bread. Each loaf contains about 70 crickets and costs €3.99 (£3.55), compared with €2-3 for a regular wheat loaf.

“It offers consumers a good protein source and also gives them an easy way to familiarise themselves with insect based food,” said Juhani Sibakov, the head of innovation at the bakery firm Fazer.

I have previously mentioned insects as a food source, and have even eaten several inset burgers. So it should come as no surprise that I think the idea of making bread out of bugs is a very good idea indeed.

I do think that innovations like this are the way to encourage Europeans to become more comfortable with the idea of insects as food. This is a good thing for a number of reasons, not least of which is that insects are a much less environmentally damaging source of protein than the large mammals we currently eat.

It seems to have gone down quite well as well:

“I don’t taste the difference … It tastes like bread,” said Sara Koivisto, a student from Helsinki, after trying the product.

Now, where’s my Marmite?

Pizza in the sun

Some time ago our barbeque finally collapsed. We’d had it for a good many years and, although it was badly rusted in places, we had hoped to keep it going for one more year. I can’t complain, but it would have been a little less panic inducing if the collapse had happened when it hadn’t been full of hot charcoal.

We replaced it, and quite quickly, with another similar one. When we did so, we also treated ourselves to a combined fire-pit, barbeque, and pizza oven.

We have used it as a fire-pit several times already. When stuffed with wood it does a rather good job of keeping the terrace warm as the evening starts to cool.

Yesterday, we had a go at making pizza on it. The result was really rather tasty.

The future of food

It's not a bug, it's a feature.
It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
Last year I mentioned that the Olmense Zoo (which is handily close to us) now has insectburgers on the menu. And on Saturday we were in the zoo at lunchtime, so I gave one a try.

It’s really rather good.

The texture is very meaty. So much so that, if it wasn’t for all the signs promoting the fact that the burger is made of mealworms, I probably wouldn’t have realised there was anything out of the ordinary about it at all.

The taste of the burger is not particularly strong, and pretty much overwhelmed by the barbecue sauce that was included with the burger. It’s certainly not unpleasant, it’s just not much of anything.

Of course, the crucial question with something like this is: would I eat it again. The answer is a resounding yes.

Insects are high in protein and a lot less fatty than beef and pork, they can also provide an equivalent protein yield for far fewer resources. The only downside is cultural – we, in the west are not used to eating insects and tend to have a ‘yuck’ response when faced with the idea. Serving them as a burger gets around this very neatly indeed.

Now all the world needs is a for someone to invent the chili con mealworm.

Insect Burgers

Yesterday, we took a trip to the zoo. It’s handily close and we were able to go by bike and, after much wondering, we stopped for ice cream. While there, I noticed a large sight in the zoo’s restaurant advertising Insect Burgers as a tasty alternative to meat and fish. This struck me as quite a good idea.

Much has been said about insects being a much more efficient source of protein than raising large animals, but many people react to this with a “Yuck”. Grinding the bugs up and turning them into burgers gets around this quite nicely – a burger is a burger and there isn’t much in a protein patty for most people to object to.

I mentioned this on the Fediverse and that triggered a discussion that was both lengthy and interesting and managed to derail it self into total tripe.

Wanting to know a bit more, I took an online look around this morning and found this (in Dutch).

The Olmense Zoo started serving insect burgers in March of this year and, from the article, it looks like the people behind the burgers were thinking what I thought when I saw them. According to Robby Van der Velden, a biologist at the zoo, insects are high in protein and a lot less fatty than meats such as pork and beef. Although eating insects is not obvious in western society, it can certainly catch on if the meat is processed.

Van der Velden also makes the point about insects requiring much less environmental resources and provides some numbers: To produce a kilo of beef, you need 14 kilos of grass, while a kilo of insect meat only needs about two kilos of grass to produce.

It was too late in the day, yesterday, for me to give this a try. But when we go again, and if we are there at lunchtime (which is highly likely) I will certainly order an insect burger, just to see what it’s like.