Life of pie: Hard cheese for academics


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The Independent Online

Science is a wonderful thing. But because curing terminal illnesses and proving the existence of the Higgs boson particle is apparently not enough, researchers at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, set their collective brains to discovering the perfect cheese for pizza.

In a study titled, I kid you not, "Qualification of Pizza Baking Properties of Different Cheeses, and Their Correlation with Cheese Functionality", scientists, including one Bryony James, a professor of materials engineering, published the results of their exhaustive tests and, prepare yourself for this, it turns out that mozzarella is the best cheese to use on pizza. In other news, fish goes rather well with chips, and cream is quite nice drizzled on strawberries. Sheesh.

Paws for thought

Alarming news last week in the world of Hello Kitty, the character created by the Japanese Sanrio company in 1974 and worth about $7bn (£4.2bn) a year.

As an anthropologist called Christine R Yano was preparing a speech to celebrate the character's 40th birthday exhibition in LA, she was contacted by Sanrio and told that, in fact, Hello Kitty was not a cat, but a girl called Kitty White who lived "outside London" and was in 3rd Grade. Cue internet meltdown. (Just what is it about the internet and cats?)

Putting aside the fact that we don't have the school grade system in this country, and that the company has now backtracked slightly ("Hello Kitty isn't a human, but she's not quite a cat either"), what was Sanrio thinking by citing as evidence of Hello Kitty's non-feline qualities that "you have never seen her on four legs". If that held true then clearly Mickey is not a mouse, Pluto is not a dog and so on. None of which answers the question, immortalised in the film Stand By Me, of what the hell Goofy is. Although his original name of Dippy Dawg may hold some clues. Or perhaps not.

Rising above it

While Twitter users expressed their shock at the fact that the magician Dynamo had not actually levitated above the Shard last week ("Look, you can see wires!"), the comedian Jason Manford took to Facebook to air his thoughts on the subject.

In a pithy "rant", Manford wrote: "WHAT?! You mean he can't actually levitate and he was 'tricking' us!? What is wrong with these so-called entertainers?! I once saw a guy talking to a dummy sat on his knee, and the dummy SPOKE BACK! Turns out, he was doing the voices. Sicko!

"Then the other day I'm at the cinema right, there's this mad documentary or whatever about a tribe of apes yeah, and they live in a forest, and anyway, it turns out one of them can TALK! Yeah, you heard me, TALK! And he rides a horse! A monkey on a horse?! I know!

"Anyway, get this, couple of days later I'm reading a magazine and there's a headline 'Andy Serkis Aping About' and I'm like, 'What's this?' Only turns out the monkey on a horse was a bloke dressed up. Why? What sort of prick would do that? To trick us! To try and entertain millions of people! These people should be ASHAMED!"

Red alert

It started as a joke. When Aberdonian Richard Macrae turned 30, his friends thought it might be funny to make him a "Ginger Discount Card", little thinking that the redheaded Macrae would produce the card around town. Four years on, Macrae claims the card has saved him hundreds of pounds as various retail establishments appreciated his chutzpah and put his purchases through as a student discount.

And now this weekend, other people of a flame-haired persuasion can cash in – because Aberdeen's Union Square shopping centre is offering a 10 per cent discount in various outlets to anyone with ginger hair. Ryan Manson, the centre's general manager, says: "Richard's card made us laugh so much that we thought we should make the discount official for one weekend only." And before you go claiming discrimination, ginger wigs are allowed.

Thinking outside the box

While most of us can't wait to get out, Ikea, it seems, is increasingly keen on finding ways to keep us in. Not content with teaming up with Airbnb in Sydney, Australia, to allow people to spend the night in the shop tonight, next weekend five UK stores are offering the chance to take part in its "overnight spa experience".

Ikea's Myriam Ruffo says: "A recent study revealed the toll our busy lives are taking on us, with Brits experiencing 14 bouts of stress a day." Or more, if you have to shop at Ikea at the weekend.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

(No cameras), but action and lights

It's Kate Bush playing 22 nights!

And while most entertaining

There's still those complaining

She doesn't play "Wuthering Heights".