Monday, 30 September 2013

Handy desert household hints


These prickly pears are just part of the cornucopia on the hillside of our friend's Spanish mountain hide-out. It is very easy to have accidents with cacti - they seem to invite them.

My brother-in-law once stepped out of a car in a hot and dusty country to admire the view, and bumped into the only cactus in sight for miles. It was standing alone, as tall as he was. I think he was walking in one direction and looking in the other.

I was at a friend's house having dinner one night, when I stood up and tripped, landing in one of those huge cacti which have tufts of fine, red spines which sting horribly. My left forearm was covered in them and pulling the hundreds out one by one would have been impossible.

I asked if my friend had any PVA wood glue, and when he brought a bottle I coated my arm with it, then carried on with dinner. About half an hour later, I took the dried glue off in one sheet, taking the spines with it. It's worth remembering this trick (which I believe I invented, btw) if you suffer the same fate. Luckily, I don't have hairy arms, but that would be a sacrifice you would have to make.

A few years ago, H.I. and me were walking through a late night street market in Istanbul, when we came upon a seller of prickly pears at a fruit stall. Before neither I nor the seller could stop her, H.I. reached out and picked one up. I spent the rest of the night in the hotel room, operating on her with a pair of tweezers, for the lack of PVA.

What she was supposed to do was point at one, then the seller would have picked it up in a gloved hand, peeled it and handed it over to her.

I ate one of the ones above, following advice from our friend. I broke a forked stick and put it round one of the fruits, pulling it off with another stick. You then roll the cactus around in the dust, which breaks off most of the spines. Then you peel it, and then you eat it. They are quite nice.

Another friend of mine found himself in a desert recently, and chose the only cactus for miles around with poisonous sap to drink. You have to know what you are doing with both cacti and mushrooms.

25 comments:

  1. I've not eaten a prickly pear; not sure if I want to now.

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    1. Yet you happily pick and eat mushrooms? Prickly pears are easy to identify - they look like that!

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    2. Mushrooms don't have flesh-tearing spines.

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  2. Agree Cro,
    but prickly pear is beautiful. I've had my battles with it though. Had to throw out a beautiful silk Chinese jacket after I'd stuffed the pockets full of the fruit. I could never put my hands in there again.
    Masking tape, or any kind of tape is good. PVA sounds a bit messy.

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    1. PVA dries - usefully - out, unlike some other fluids which can ruin dresses and reputations.

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  3. Amazing what wood glue can do. Coincidentally I was reading yesterday in my trail running magazine about a long distance runner accidentally removing a strip of body hair with a dried on energy gel.

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  4. Are they delicious enough, though, for the trouble?

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    Replies
    1. like bad men.
      Nasty, fun and something to talk about later.

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    2. Ha ha! I love the cynical joy in your voice when you said that Sarah, but you missed out 'tasty'.

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  5. Very enterprising with the PVA. Let me know when you start appearing on reality TV and I'll buy a TV Licence.

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  6. Made me think of wax strips for removing the odd hair off an ageing chin (sadly we getting oldies have to face up to this indignity) - I have to pluck up enormous courage to pull the strip off - I am a real coward. Should I try PVA glue next time?

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    Replies
    1. Try it on your bikini-line for a tester first, Weave.

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    2. Oh, and post up pictures of the experiment too.

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  7. The picture is lovely, but the pears actually look resistible.

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    1. In that form, they are extremely resistible. It takes - like a waxing - courage to deploy them.

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  8. Never eaten a prickly pear either, but the wood glue is a good idea

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    1. Just skin it, or get someone else to do it for you, Moll.

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  9. Replies
    1. Yes. That has to be better than masking tape, but you have to apply any tape with quite a lot of pressure, which hurts. All you do with PVA is PAINT it on, then relax.

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  10. [ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsty.com/bowling-for-soup-the-bare-necessities-lyrics.html ]
    Now when you pick a pawpaw
    Or a prickly pear
    And you prick a raw paw
    Next time beware
    Don't pick the prickly pear by the paw
    When you pick a pear
    Try to use the claw
    But you don't need to use the claw
    When you pick a pear of the big pawpaw

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    Replies
    1. If only you had sung that to H.I. in Istanbul...

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