Yesterday with about a hundred better things to do, I embarked on making a batch on nam prik pao from the Chez Pim website. This is a Thai chilli sauce that caused a terror alert when a chef whipping up a batch sent the fumes of burning chillies out into the street where the general public began to suffer from coughing fits. The police closed the streets for three hours trying to locate the source of the chemical attack before the restaurant realised they were to blame.
I had bought the bag of dried chillies from a shop in the UK, but you can get these downtown in the dodgy Asian shops on Menandrou street. Sure enough, when it came to stage one where you dry roast the whole chillies, the smoke from the chillies set my lungs into a coughing frenzy so bad I barely had time to catch a breath.
"There's no need to kill yourself over chilli sauce" observed Mr Zeus as I struggled to get my words out between coughing.
Some fried garlic, fried onions, tamarind, shrimp paste and sugar later, I was left with a jar of chilli sauce that smells like chilli-roasted-jam heaven. Now, Pim says she eats this spread on toast like jam and all I have to say to that is she must have a tongue made entirely of scar tissue because as much as I can handle the burn, I took a teeny tiny drop to taste and that tiny drop left me with watering eyes and beads of sweat on my forehead. It's atomic hot despite removing the seeds as per the instructions.
So nam prik pao is torture to make and torture to eat, but it smells and tastes so delicious and irresistable that I can see myself adding it to stir fries in the near future, albeit in teeny tiny amounts.
Which makes me wonder how I will use a whole jar. In all honesty, if any of you want some I will be happy to dish it out into little jars for you. It took such care to make it would be tragic to have to throw it out because I couldn't consume it all.
Speaking of torture, today I went to the British embassy to start the ball rolling for my permission to marry. I must say, I was surprised by how painless it all was. Apart from spending nearly half an hour trying to find a place that was open before 9.30 am to photocopy Mr Zeus's ID card and having to leave the embassy again to withdraw the cash I'd forgotten to pick up, the overall process was not too terrible.
I was asked my religion amongst other things, though, which surprised me as I don't see what that has to do with anything seeing as it's a civil ceremony. But I was happy to note that the lady did not write my answer down and neither did it appear anywhere on the papers I signed. I'm not sure if we would have had a problem with the different religions down at the mayor's office.
A few more questions were asked, passports and ID inspected, signatures taken and that was pretty much it. Thankfully the process will take 21 days, not working days, so the papers will be ready by mid-April and come mercifully translated into Greek. The staff at the embassy, from security through to Consular services, were also impressively polite and helpful. Sometimes I tend to have this pathetic look about me, which makes people feel sorry for me and act a bit sweeter, who knows.
Even more helpfully, the mayor's office is willing to accept the certificate of No Impediment despite it being valid for just three months. Mr Zeus's sister totally pulled that whole "Only You Can Save Us Now!" attitude and the mayor's office employee, who must love the god-like implications of such phrases, said no problem.
So after round one I have no bruises or psychological scars. But we still have some way to go, and I will keep you informed of each step.