So now that I have moved to a little cottage with a back yard, I’m allowed a pet. I want a dog. I want a dog with an ardour far exceeding moderation. That’s my ardour. Not a dog with a big ardour. I’m not sure what that looks like really. My mother wonders why I don’t just grow vegetables instead. I can see where she’s going with that. Growing vegetables might be just about as much responsibility as I can cope with. But strawberries won’t be pleased to see me when I get home. And walking the lettuce doesn’t have quite the same charm.
I am still flirting with the idea. I have always preferred bigger dogs. We grew up with Labradors. Labradors with the particularly doggy names of Sheila and Holly. (We were even better with naming kittens, I can tell you. Sandra and Steven. Offspring of Bootsie. Oh yeah. Talented pet namers in our family).
I have a small back yard. I can’t have a big dog. So I would need to have a medium-sized dog with personality. When I was in Vietnam, I saw lots of great medium-sized dogs with attitude. In Sapa, I asked our guide, what breed of dog a particularly cute one was. She replied, very seriously, “Eating”. Right. Um. Ok.
I have never been one for designer anything, but a lot of pure-bred cross ‘designer’ dogs are the right size. And there was a moment where I was pretty taken by the idea of a puggle. Come on now…pug and beagle…little scrunched up forehead. Who wouldn’t love that? But how could I ever tell people that’s the breed of dog I have. Puggle. Ugh. It sounds like something out of Harry Potter. Then there’s Labradoodles. They have been around for a while and I have always shaken my head at that name. I’m sure the original idea behind the mixing or designing of breeds was well-intentioned. Getting the best out of each breed, avoiding the weaknesses. But I think now it’s just about the crazy names.
A Buggs. Now that’s marginally ok…a Boston Terrier/Pug mix. But Pomapoo or Yorkipoo…well, let’s face it, anything with poo in it is not going to be a breed I am willing to boast I own. And Bolonoodle?? That sounds like an ‘eating’ dog if ever there was one. Or a Dorkie. Really? The dog looks pretty much like its name…Dachsund/Yorkie cross. Sigh. And a Hug? Siberian Husky/Pug. Really?
Sadly, our obsession for mixing things up and creating something new is not confined to dog breeds. I have recently been alerted to the existence and indeed great popularity of the Cronut. A flash-in-the-pan trendy food which originated in New York and which has now been trademarked because everyone was getting on the Cronut bandwagon and the chef, Dominique Ansel, who came up with this incredible pastry was getting all miffed and had hurt feelings and so on.
A Cronut is a cross between a croissant and a doughnut. I had to blink a few times while I thought about that. And an inevitable why? springs to mind.
This is what Dominique himself says of his creation:
The Makings of the Cronut™…
Taking 2 months and more than 10 recipes, Chef Dominique Ansel’s creation is not to be mistaken as simply croissant dough that has been fried. Made with a laminated dough which has been likened to a croissant (but uses a proprietary recipe), the Cronut™ is first proofed and then fried in grapeseed oil at a specific temperature. Once cooked, each Cronut™ is flavored in three ways: 1. rolled in sugar; 2. filled with cream; and 3. topped with glaze. Cronuts™ are made fresh daily, and completely done in house. The entire process takes up to 3 days.
But a flaky, buttery croissant is delicious. And a doughnut…well, I’m not a fan, but they are classic stodge. Why put them together?
Because we can.
Clearly my imagination is inhibited. I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined a muffin crossed with a doughnut. And, as for what one might name such a delicacy, well…I can tell you there was more than a bit of eye-blinking going on there. Wisely, Bea Vo, the American baker who christened what was already a Nigella Lawson recipe, named it Duffin. Not Muffnut. For obvious reasons, I guess.
And there are Townies – tartlet brownies, Muggels – muffin bagels, Muffles – muffin waffles; Crookies – some kind of crazy croissant-oreo cookie hybrid and Macanuts – where macaroon marries doughnut and lives happily ever after.
I am shaking my head. I am all for experimentation and innovation and not resting on our laurels. But sometimes the desire to create is somewhat misguided. We could well heed Mary Shelley’s 1818 warning against the over-reaching of modern man. It was Victor Frankenstein, the epitome of a creative over-reacher, who said:
The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.
Chapter 5, Frankenstein.
I’m no closer to finding the right dog.