Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bell Pepper and Dried Apricot Chutney (Page 905)

  • Date: Thursday, May 29, 2008 -- 10pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: Matty's Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+

I am trying to make some progress on the Relishes, Chutneys, Pickles, and Preserves section of The Book, so I made this recipe last week. I have trouble getting too terribly excited about chutneys. Typically what happens is that I make some chutney, we have it with whatever we are eating for dinner, and then it sits untouched in the fridge. Under normal circumstances I would wait until I really needed a chutney before making one, and then perhaps it would get eaten. But book-cooking doesn't always go like that... So is this chutney currently rotting in the fridge? Well, yes. Was it tasty? Well, yes. If you are in the market for a chutney, this one is pretty good. Red peppers and dried apricots initially seemed like an odd combination to me, but it worked quite well. I found the balance of ingredients also to be nice. Often chutneys go a little overboard with the vinegar (yes, they should be vinegary, but there is a limit...). This one had a nice, pronounced, vinegar flavor, without it being too much. Further, this was quite simple to make. I don't feel too motivated to eat this straight out of the bowl, but if I needed a chutney, this is probably the one I would make.

The recipe is here.

Tonight I went to a conference banquet dinner. In and of itself this is pretty unremarkable. Most conferences in math include some sort of big dinner thing, and I have been to lots and lots of them. This one was different though. I wasn't there as a mathematician. I was there as a date! My special gentleman spoke at a conference at Brandeis this week, and tonight I joined him at the conference dinner. While he is also a mathematician, we are in different fields, so our mathematical crowds are somewhat disjoint. Often friends of mine will bring their significant others to these things and I always wonder what that must be like -- to be the one person who hardly knows anyone in a room full of mathematicians who have worked together for years. Mathematicians have this reputation for being strange and socially awkward. I won't claim that there is no truth to this, but whatever social awkwardness there is tends to be very good-natured. In particular, mathematicians are generally very accepting people. However, that is often paired with a shyness towards strangers that might come across as dismissal. So it has often occurred to me that it must be hard to be a stranger in a big crowd of mathematicians. I didn't really get the full experience tonight though -- I knew a reasonable percentage of the people there (and, of course, I am a mathematician myself...). My special gentleman would also argue that the low dimensional topology crowd is unusually friendly, and perhaps that is true. So although I had a nice time at the dinner, maybe my experience wasn't representative of the usual math banquet date!


Anonymous said...

Having been in a math department for several years, I would have to say that, social awkwardness aside, mathematicians, as a group, are not any more or less friendly than any other "type" of professionals. One encounters the same set of prejudices, petty jealousies, narrow mindedness, cattiness, instability, shallowness and on the positive side, compassion, understanding, and friendliness that one encounters in other professional settings. As for low dimensional topologists, they are as cliquey as other "groups" of mathematicians. A former combinatorics professor and, incidentally, an unusually compassionate person said mathematicians on the whole are not "nice ". Having frequented other academic departments, I would have to agree they are not especially "nice."
I exclude the blogger and myself from this characterization, of course:) I generally find that "niceness" in a mathematician is positively correlated with an ability to accept and understand people from all walks of life!
Having said all that, I will admit that the vast majority of mathematicians struck me as unusually "good," which is different from nice. As a lot, they are, I think, not immoral in the sense that greed is all consuming. This you find more frequently in other professions and it drives people to all sorts of trouble.

Teena said...

I agree that mathematicians tend to be "good" people, but in my experience mathematicians seem to also be "nicer" average. For instance, I have encountered much less cattiness amongst the mathematicians I know than amongst other people I meet. That's not to say, of course, that there is none, but I think of it as being much less... I can't really compare mathematicians to those in other academic disciplines (I have never really spent much time in other academic departments), but in the grand scheme of things it seems like mathematicians tend to be pretty open-minded and welcoming relative to the general population.