I like a good curry.
I’m a Yorkshireman after all, and the center of the
curry universe in the UK was only a few miles from
my former home in sunny England – Bradford. There
are few things that I miss from that corner of the
planet, but curries are definitely one of them.
Bradford is probably solely responsible for one of
the greatest culinary inventions in the history of
mankind; one that is rarely mentioned in the hushed
hallowed halls of whatever clubs those executive
chef types probably belong to. Bradford invented
curry and chips.
There are those who will argue that the only
appropriate accompaniments to a curry are rice or
chapattis, but these people are missing out on an
incredibly pleasurable dining experience. They have
never experienced the culinary delight of dunking a
big fat chip into a bowl of curry, and munching on
the combination. Superb.
For any Americans who are a little confused at this
stage, chips are what you usually call “French
fries”, or even, I’m led to believe, “Freedom
Fries”. If you could please refer to your “chips” as
“crisps”, as they are more correctly known, this
would avoid a lot of confusion. Thank you.
Anyway, getting back to curries. The options that
are generally available start off with the korma,
which, to be honest, is a bit of a girl’s-blouse
curry. It can be quite tasty, but there isn’t a
great deal of bite to it. The kids will love it, as
it’s fairly innocuous. Then there’s the inevitable
chicken tikka massala, which for some reason seems
to have taken over from roast beef and Yorkshire
pudding as the national dish. Again, it’s a curry
for wimps – flavorsome enough, but not really one
for the lads.
Then we get on to the more serious stuff, moving up
to the Madras. This is where things get interesting,
as these curries start to bite back.
They aren’t phet in the same way as Thai
food; they somehow hurt more. This is especially
true when you move on to the more serious vindaloo,
which, if the chef puts his mind to it, can blow
your socks off.
Unfortunately, many of my compatriots think about
indulging in a curry only when they leave the pub
after a few pints, and think it will be a good idea
to hurl a bit of abuse at the waiter, and ask for
“the hottest thing on the ****ing menu”. A hint,
lads – don’t upset the waiter. The word gets back to
the bloke cooking the stuff, and he will inevitably
A vindaloo leaves many of these strapping, drunken
chaps weeping with the curry strength, yet are all
adamant that they can handle it.
The next step up from a vindaloo is a pahl. This is
an evil concoction, designed, I suspect, especially
to satisfy the Indian restaurant staff’s totally
justified lust for revenge.
The term “vindaloo”, I discovered recently, actually
derives from the fact that for centuries the meat
for these curries was marinated in vinegar, which
comes from wine, which is of course made from the
fruit of vines. At last, we get to a topic that is
vaguely connected to something green and growing.
Technically, vines are “plants that grow
horizontally over the ground or climb by twining or
attaching appendages to a support”.
In Phuket, there are vines in bloom every month of
the year. Most of these vines are evergreen, doing
their job year round. Many vines which grow in this
part of the world have unusual and striking foliage
and flowers. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they
are growing wild or if someone has deliberately put
them there – they’re everywhere, in one form or
Vines can be used in a variety of ways in your
garden. Posts and poles, and even undesirable trees
can be transformed using vines to alter their form,
texture and color. Species of vines exist that cling
or climb on wood, stone, brick or even sheet metal,
so you can select vines to give character to
uninteresting walls or fences. Closely clinging
vines can also be used to accentuate architectural
lines of buildings, or larger, branching vines can
soften lines you’d rather not see.
Vines are not entirely independent, so often they
need some type of support if you grow them upright.
To choose the proper support for a particular
species of vine, it’s important to understand how
the vine is going to climb. They can be separated
into three basic types of climbers: clingers,
twiners and winders.
Clingers are vines that grab hold of rough surfaces
by means of rootlets or sticky disks. I’m sure
“sticky disks” isn’t the official term but you know
what I mean. Examples of these are the ivy you see
in more temperate climates, the climbing fig and the
These types of vines are often used to cover solid
upright surfaces such as trees, fences or walls. You
shouldn’t grow them on wooden walls because they
prevent the wood surface from drying, which
increases the chance of rot. Clinging vines may also
loosen mortar between bricks in masonry walls and
can sometimes be hard to remove.
Twining vines climb by encircling upright vertical
supports. They are often used on poles, vertical
wires, or lattice structures.
Most of these vines will spiral in only one
direction. If you attempt to train one to spiral in
the opposite direction, usually it won’t cooperate
and you may even damage it. Check out the spirals
that are probably already there. Twining vines
include mandevilla, Confederate jasmine, allamanda
Winders climb by means of tendrils, which come in
many forms and sizes. It’s the tendrils that wind
themselves around some kind of support, rather than
the stems themselves. You can use these to cover
lattice, wire mesh or other supports when you want
them to spread horizontally.
Examples of tendril vines include the glory lily
(the spectacular gloriosa superba), the passion
flower and many members of the pea family.
Give the tendrils a push in the right direction and,
in hours, their tendrils will be well and truly
locked around what ever they can find.
Vines and vindaloo? Tenuous, I know. Do yourself a
favor though. The next time you’re in the mood for a
curry, say no to the rice or chapattis. Order a
plate of chips instead. You’ll be glad you did. Oh,
and be careful not to upset the chef.