I never thought I would write a political piece but I guess there is a first time for everything. Here goes.
I hate election season.
The bullshit that politicians throw at each other seems to thicken in consistency with each election year. Friends become enemies over the course of heated Facebook comment debates and no one party can satisfy your main concerns, leaving you in a pit of personal turmoil.
An innocent post to Facebook and 31 comments later I have been harassed and heckled for being uninformed. I am being screeched at by friends from all sides on varying issues while I am stuck in the middle with a shitty internet connection, no TV to watch the news, and zero enthusiasm to wade through all the media bullshit. I want to be informed. I really do! Just getting that way from where I am sitting seems like a lot of hard work and dull, petty reading.
It seems for a country full of people too lazy to vote there seems to be a lot of heated opinion out there. For every man or woman that couldn’t give a flying fuck there is another one standing in the wings waiting to fight you to the death over a topical issue. A photo I shared about child poverty in New Zealand even spurred a fierce comment debate between a good friend and my Dad.
I liken this breed of political enthusiast to those religious types who try to stuff Jesus down your throat. It seems like having a well balanced and non-emotive discussion is difficult for many and definitely not something you find on social media.
In the 2011 election I took the easy way out. I voted the same way as my parents. I was 19; I didn’t know what my views were. I didn’t really know what was important to me. I was in my own little student bubble at the bottom of the country. I lived in a nice flat, my doctors visits cost me $6.50, I didn’t have to deal with Auckland’s traffic issues, and I felt like my University fees were reasonable. I don’t think I had any pressing issues that I held close to my heart. Or maybe I did but didn’t really realise it. But that would of course have meant caring about the goings on outside my little bubble!
There wasn’t room in my four year food science degree to throw in a politics paper or six. I spent the two extra papers I had available to me on Maori studies and extra chemistry. So as I read through all these explanations and arguments all I see is a lot of abstract nouns ending in –ism. God forbid economics gets involved, for then I am truly lost.
It seems it is also very difficult for people to answer my question of “why should I vote for _____________?” or “why shouldn’t I vote for ____________?” without excessive web linking and angsty typing gushing at you all at once like a burst dam. Literally all I wanted to know was what was important to someone and how does their party fulfill their needs in the desperate hope that I may identify with something similar.
For the whole 2014 campaign season, up until about half an hour ago, I honestly had no idea what to do. I tried doing those online questionnaires (see Vote Compass, One The Fence and The Virgin Voter’s Collective - yes I tried all of them) but the results didn’t really agree each other let alone with who I thought I supported. I tried reading various articles but I got bored quickly and my feet got stuck in the crap that is poor media coverage. I tried asking friends but things quickly turned aggressive and I almost felt like I was on the brink of tears. For about five minutes I decided it wasn’t worth me voting at all. After all, what’s the difference between not voting and making an uninformed decision?
So one week away from polling day, I have been frantically trying to figure out essentially who I am and what I stand for. When I asked the mighty power of Facebook for help I got absolutely destroyed by input from people. Links to various sites being thrown left right and centre. Opinions being hurtled like speeding javelins. Accusations of dirty politics turning me off more than a thick, sweaty coat of back hair. For a political newbie it is really quite intimidating. I can’t really participate in comment debates because I don’t really know enough about the topic to contribute. Scratch that, I have NO idea what is going on. All I could do was cower behind my laptop, as I progressively felt more and more stupid and inadequate.
In the end all it took, and all I really needed was a nice easy conversation with a friend and a well summarised article to point me in my right direction. I want to still be breathing oxygen produced by trees in 20 years. I want to buy a warm and affordable house one day. I want to be able to go to the Doctors without forfeiting my weekly food budget. Finally I want all New Zealand children to have the same opportunities as each other. As I discovered, there is no utopian one-party-fits-all solution. It would be great if I could pick and mix party policies like coconut ice and sour apple rings from the bulk bins at New World but alas New Zealand politics is not Alison’s Pantry. Apparently that is a thing in Switzerland though. Apparently it’s not that great. I wouldn’t know. I was too busy learning about the protein structure of dairy products to put any thought to that. So despite the fact that I only have one measly party vote, I hope now when I visit the booths this week, it will be a single well informed one.
Those Pulled Pork Sliders I promised . . .
I had to at least attempt to post something about food on here. This is of course after all a food blog. I have decided to take the opportunity to share with you the most magnificent burgers I have ever made!
They are small burgers. Not quite sliders though. Can I call them slurgers? Or would that be off putting?
It is well worth the 10 hour wait for the slow cooker to do its thang. These pulled pork burgers, made with fresh buns are just excellent, delicious mess machines. I give you permission to get meat and sauce in and around your face. All over your face. I found some on my forehead later that night. . .
I recommend making the barbecue sauce the night before so it gives time for the flavours to rest and really develop.
Pulled Pork Sliders
1 kg pork shoulder chop, fat trimmed
2 large onions, sliced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 large stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Bunch of coriander
Spice rub (below)
½ cup Barbecue sauce (below)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon each of: ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika
1 ½ teaspoons each of: oregano, smoked paprika, salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 splash olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons crushed chillis
1 onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon mustard powder
¼ cup malt/cider/white or red wine vinegar
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup (or a large tin) of tomato sauce
2-3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
salt to taste
Shredded red cabbage
Mayo (don’t skimp – make sure you invest in Best Foods)
Buns (or you could just buy buns):
420g high grade flour
1 sachet of instant yeast (8g)
40g white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 egg, separated
30g butter, cubed, room temperature
Sesame seeds or salt flakes to garnish
To make the barbecue sauce, sauté the onion in the olive oil over a medium heat until translucent. Then add the garlic, chilli and spices. Cook for a few minutes before adding the tomato paste, stir then add in the vinegar, tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce and salt and simmer while stirring for fifteen minutes. Leave to cool then refrigerate.
Start the pork around ten hours before you want to serve it. Chop the chops in half so that they fit more compactly in your slow cooker. Mix together the rub ingredients and rub into the pork chops. Heat a frying pan to a medium heat with a splash of oil and sear both sides of the meat pieces for about a minute each side. Place the onions, celery and garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the pork over the top, sprinkle over the salt and sugar and any remaining spice rub. Pour over the beer and water and leave to cook on high for nine hours, stirring every couple if you are around. Once the meat starts falling off the bone, tear it apart with two forks and leave to cook until the sauce has thickened. At this point stir in the barbecue sauce and leave to cook for the remaining time that is left.
To make the buns, mix together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the lemon juice to the milk and let it sit for five minutes so it curdles. Mix this into the dry mix followed by the egg white and then the yolk. Stir until the dough comes together. Add the butter in small pieces and knead it into the dough, only adding the next piece when the previous piece has been totally incorporated. Knead for around 15 minutes then leave to rise in a bowl covered in glad wrap in a warm place for a couple of hours. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down then split it into six (you will make more buns than patties). Gently form smooth balls and leave to rise a second time on a baking tray lined with baking paper for another hour. The other alternative is to warm your oven to 50 degrees then turn it off and leaving the buns to rise in the oven’s residual heat. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees; mix the egg white with a splash of water and brush liberally over the buns. Sprinkle the tops with salt flakes or sesame seeds then bake for 15-18 minutes until they are golden and make a hollow sound when tapped. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before slicing open.
To serve, spread the heel of the bun with barbecue sauce and caramelised onion followed by a spoonful of pork. Top with coriander and cabbage. Line the Crown of the bun with mayo and place it on the top of the king of all burgers.