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Family Fun

This is a picture from 2007, when my boy was just an year old. He looks really annoyed by the paparazzi...

[Update] With Shilpa Sharma's pertinent Hindi caption...

Black Pepper

Black pepper is a flowering vine, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. Black pepper is native to south India, and is extensively cultivated there and elsewhere in tropical regions...

Black pepper is produced from the still-green unripe drupes of the pepper plant. The drupes are cooked briefly in hot water, both to clean them and to prepare them for drying. 

The drupes are dried in the sun or by machine for several days, during which the pepper around the seed shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer...

A riddle authored by Saint Aldhelm, a 7th-century Bishop of Sherborne, sheds some light on black pepper's role in England at that time:
I am black on the outside, clad in a wrinkled cover,
    Yet within I bear a burning marrow.
    I season delicacies, the banquets of kings, and the luxuries of the table,
    Both the sauces and the tenderized meats of the kitchen.
    But you will find in me no quality of any worth,
    Unless your bowels have been rattled by my gleaming marrow.

Like many eastern spices, pepper was historically both a seasoning and a medicine. It is believed to cure illness such as constipation, diarrhea, earache, gangrene, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, indigestion, insect bites, insomnia, joint pain, liver problems, lung disease, oral abscesses, sunburn, tooth decay, and toothaches. It is also used as a home remedy for relief from sore throat, throat congestion, cough etc.

Visit the wikipedia page to know more.

Four Seasons Merlot Red Wine

I received a bottle of Four Seasons Merlot red wine to review.

Merlot (pronounced mare-low) is named after a variety of thin-skinned grape that the wine is made from. The Merlot grapes are grown around the Four Seasons winery near Baramati, about 65 kms from Pune.

I found Merlot to be very mild and smooth. It has a kind of Plum flavor to it and is so easy to drink with Indian food.
Compared to other Indian wines, Four Seasons Merlot red wine is priced well and reasonable at around $10.

Here are some more info from their website:

Four Seasons Merlot

Type: Still Red Wine
Grapes: Merlot
Origin: Baramati, Maharashtra, India
Style: Dry

Tasting notes:
Color: Ruby red with a hint of garnet
Aroma: Delicious aromas of ripe black fruits, especially plums.
Palate: Medium bodied with soft tannins and a pleasant lasting finish.

Serving suggestion: Enjoyed best at 16 - 18 degree C with medium spiced Indian dishes as well as roast lamb with all the trimmings. 

For more information on Four Seasons visit: www.fourseasonsvineyards.com 
Follow Four Seasons on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FourSeasonsWines

My earlier blog posts on wine tasting events: 

A rendezvous with wine


Food, Wine and Smiles

African Caper White (Belenois aurota)

My garden had a new visitor today! A male African Caper White butterfly...

He was only interested in the Bachelor's Button flowers. He didn't even land on any other flower...

Also known as Pioneer White, these butterflies have a wet-season form and a dry-season form. The two forms are quite distinct phenotypes (What an organism looks like as a consequence of the interaction of its genotype and the environment).  This is the wet-season form...

The alternative phenotypes represent responses to the differences in behavior, environment and nature of predation. The wet season forms show prominent marginal patterns and colors which function in the deflection of attacks by vertebrate predators. In contrast, the dry season forms show very small or no spots and are wholly cryptic.

Binomial name: Belenois aurota  
Family: Pieridae


I found this Bat hanging upside down from a coconut palm near my home.

There are over 1,100 species of bats, and they live on every continent except Antarctica. Only 3 species of bats suck blood. Most (70%) eat insects. The other 30% of bats eat fruit, pollen, or nectar, or are carnivores.

While reading about Bats, I came across these very interesting birth control strategies followed by female bats:

Female bats use a variety of strategies to control the timing of pregnancy and the birth of young, to make delivery coincide with maximum food availability and other ecological factors. Females of some species have delayed fertilization, in which sperm are stored in the reproductive tract for several months after mating. In many such cases, mating occurs in the fall, and fertilization does not occur until the following spring. Other species exhibit delayed implantation, in which the egg is fertilized after mating, but remains free in the reproductive tract until external conditions become favorable for giving birth and caring for the offspring.

In yet another strategy, fertilization and implantation both occur, but development of the fetus is delayed until favorable conditions prevail, during the delayed development the mother still gives the fertilized egg nutrients, and oxygenated blood to keep it alive. However this process can go for a long period of time, because of the advanced gas exchange system. All of these adaptations result in the pup being born during a time of high local production of fruit or insects.