Family Money: Modern Myths about Stocks - Part 2
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.
Last week we started looking at why & how many
private investors still have dangerous illusions about the best ways to
identify cheap shares and the most successful investment styles.
6. Directors’ Dealings
Can Be Ignored
Investors ignore director’s dealings at their peril.
Granted, share-dealing on a small scale can largely be ignored. But
investors would be wise to heed any large purchases or sales –
especially if directors deal in clusters. A large share disposal might
send out a bad signal, so watch out also for persistent small disposals.
It’s similarly a sound move to consider selling out if the founder of a
company is doing the same thing.
Investors should also be wary of interpreting heavy
director buying in the wake of bad news as a bullish sign. The directors
may be trying to appease angry institutional investors, or attempting to
shore-up the share price.
According to London Stock Exchange regulations,
directors cannot deal when they are in possession of price-sensitive
information, or in the two months before an earnings’ announcement.
Unfortunately, these rules are often loosely interpreted.
On a broader front, investors should keep an eye on the
overall ratio of directors’ buys-to-sells. That’s because directors
have historically displayed a good record of calling market troughs.
According to one research firm, the directors’ buy-to-sell ratio in the
year to date now stands at 4.8 to 1. That compares with a long-term
historical average of 3.3 to 1. However, the early part of the year
traditionally sees more buys, as directors deal ahead of the end of the
tax year, so the ratio is not giving any strong signals at present.
7. Companies Can Buck An
When an industry enters a downturn there’s usually no
shortage of companies that claim they’ll ride out the tough conditions
unscathed. This is because of some unique strength the group is supposed
In one instance, a CEO claimed his business produced a
“must-have” software package. Three profit warnings over the next 15
months left these claims looking rather hollow.
Another company, after a wave of redundancies, was
found to be buying back its own products to boost the morale of its
remaining staff. Sure enough, this proved wishful thinking. Demand for the
company’s goods evaporated, and the shares dropped from 290p to 39p.
When an industry enters a sharp downturn, everybody suffers.
8. Have Faith In Company
When a new management team with a strong track record
takes over the helm at a struggling company, its share price often enjoys
an uptick as investors anticipate a turnaround. But investors should
always focus on the economics of the industry, rather than the supposed
flair of management. The former will overwhelm even the most skilful
managers. If those economics are unfavourable, the group is best avoided.
As Warren Buffett notes, “When a management with a reputation for
brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for poor fundamental
economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.”
Another of Mr Buffet’s saying is apt in this context. “You should
invest in a business that even a fool can run, because someday a fool
9. Buy Initial Public
Research has proven that initial public offerings (IPOs)
usually under-perform the market, and often by a very large margin. This
is not surprising. When a business conducts an IPO, it both chooses the
time it enters the market, and the price investors will have to pay. If it
doesn’t like the prevailing market conditions – or feels it can only
get the float off the ground by slashing the price of the offering – the
float is usually pulled (unless the firm is desperate to raise funds, when
it should usually be avoided anyway).
Investors in the UK are too well disposed to IPOs after
the wave of privatisations in the 1980s and 1990s, when the government
sold shares in nationalised industries at bargain prices that almost
guaranteed good returns. But the investment banks that price IPOs today
don’t have to worry about alienating the electorate with losses. That
means there aren’t too many IPO bargains.
10. Discounted Cash Flow
Models Are The Best Way To Value A Company
Following the technology, media and telecoms (‘TMT’)
bubble of the late 90s; many investors are highly sceptical about
valuations derived from discounted cash flow (‘DCF’) models. DCFs are
even labelled ‘discredited cash flow’ models by some. And the cynicism
is warranted. The problem with DCFs is that a small change in the discount
rate can have an enormous impact on the valuation. That means unscrupulous
analysts can arrive at almost any value they want. Investors should also
be wary of some of the projections made in DCFs. During the TMT bubble,
this usually centred on forecasts of stratospheric sales growth, which
subsequently failed to materialise.
11. Companies Can Grow
Investors love companies that post reliable earnings
growth. The market even pays a premium for this ‘certainty’. In the
real world, though, where demand can fluctuate wildly from one year to the
next, no company can grow profits smoothly for years on end. Granted, it
may appear this feat is being achieved in the profit-and-loss (P&L)
account. But look deeper, and there’s bound to be some earnings’
manipulation at work.
The most common method is where groups use provisions
to ‘smooth’ earnings. In a good year, a firm will set aside a large
amount of provisions so that profits don’t increase too much – and
reach a level that it may struggle to match the following year. And in a
bad year, the dent from provisions in the P&L is likely to be modest.
This is called ‘smoothing profits’. Even well- respected companies –
such as GE – are accused of ‘smoothing’.
12. Highly Acquisitive
Companies Can Create Value
According to academic research, most acquisitions
destroy value. And the only real benefits from a deal are reaped by the
shareholders of the company acquired, rather than the acquirer.
But despite this evidence, many companies are addicted
to deal making. This can potentially become very dangerous. As the company
becomes larger, the next deal has to be bigger to make a significant
impact on earnings. And big deals carry large execution risks. This was
the problem Rentokil faced in the late nineties.
Another problem with serial acquirers is the
opportunity presented by constant deal making for cooking the books.
Restructuring provisions and write-offs can be utilised to fiddle future
profits. It’s also very difficult to assess the amount of organic growth
– if any – a highly-acquisitive company is generating.
Snap Shot: The Wonderful Weegee (1899-1968)
The father of Photojournalism?
by Harry Flashman
Photography can breed some wonderful characters, and I
have met quite a few. However, one I would have loved to meet was just
known as Weegee, a living caricature of the press photographer. A man who
rewrote his own biography almost daily and had the brass nerve to stamp on
the back of his photos “Credit Photo by Weegee the Famous”. You have
to love people like that!
He was born in 1899 in Europe, the second of seven children
to Jewish parents. His name was Usher Fellig. In those difficult times in
Europe, full of anti-Semitism, his father left in 1906 to go to the land of
opportunity - America, with the family following him four years later.
His father was a strict Jew and young Usher, who by now had
changed his name to Arthur, rebelled against the discipline and left home aged
15 and earned his living selling candy on the streets and washing dishes in
He slowly drifted into photography, becoming a
photographer’s assistant. His job was to load and change the glass plate
holders and to prepare the magnesium flash powder. He apparently rebelled again
and was soon back on the streets, where he spent many a night in old tenement
buildings and flophouses. This experience was to give him a different viewpoint
on life in the big city, New York.
His next assignment was working in the darkrooms at city
newspapers, and doing the occasional stint as an extra photographer, but again,
after a period of time, his need to work on his own and not under the dictates
of others saw him going freelance.
He hung around the Manhattan Police HQ and would ride out to
the scenes of gangland murders, shooting film with hard-hitting images. Those
pixelated images you see on the front pages of Thai newspapers owe their
heritage to Arthur Fellig - except he did not blur any details!
It was around this time that he decided to leave
“Arthur” behind and became Weegee. There are a few stories as to how he
came to adopt this name, but the best (and probably most likely) was that it
was his way of spelling Ouija, the popular psychic fortune telling apparatus.
Weegee claiming that his psychic powers enabled him to be first at the scene of
any disasters, murders or fires. Of course, the fact that he had a police radio
installed in his car also helped! He had a typewriter installed in the boot of
the car and would sit there, at the scene of the crime, and type out the copy
to go with his photographs. The ultimate hard-bitten newshound.
After the war, Weegee moved into Hollywood, making several
small movies himself, as well as having small cameo roles in other films. He
produced a book about New York called The Naked City, which inspired the film
of the same name. He worked as an advisor for several producers including the
Stanley Kubrick classic1964 film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying
and Learned to Love the Bomb. (If you haven’t seen it, try and get a copy -
brilliant stuff with Peter Sellers).
By now, Weegee was becoming a ‘minor’ celebrity and this
drove him on to produce more books, including Weegee’s People (1946), Naked
Hollywood (1953) and Weegee by Weegee, An Autobiography (1961). The latter was
seen by some to be Weegee’s attempt to reinvent himself (or perhaps an
example of believing his own press releases!). However, the “character”
that Weegee had built up became the inspiration for the 1992 film The Public
Eye, starring Joe Pesci.
Weegee remained someone who fought against being
pigeon-holed, probably stemming back to his authoritarian childhood, but must
surely be remembered as the father of popular photojournalism. He died in 1968.
As a photographer, you have probably contributed to the
photographic world when critics say later that others have modelled their work,
or been influenced in their work by yours. Weegee is credited with influencing
Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander, amongst others.
Modern Medicine:ADHD. A ‘real’ problem?
by Dr Iain Corness, Consultant
The other evening we had an interesting discussion
regarding ‘uncontrollable’ children, and the problems this brings for
parents and teachers. I had written about this before, so I felt it was
time to review my previous words and bring them up to date.
Is your child inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive?
If so, you may have a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,
otherwise known as ADHD. On the other hand, you may just have a brat!
ADHD has been around for a few years and is widely
accepted, with huge relief, by parents with these sorts of children, while
at the same time, it has not been so readily accepted by mainstream
One of the reasons for that is conventional medicine
really does strive to show and prove an underlying reason for any
condition, before just accepting it and handing out medication. Medicos,
especially of my era, tend to be conservative as regards our practice of
medicine, so we look to world trends and diagnostic definitions before
plunging headlong in ourselves with impulsive diagnoses including that of
Consider if you will, the other conditions that may
produce a child with hyperactivity and inattention. These include
disorders of learning, disorders of conduct, hearing deficiency, epilepsy,
nutritional problems, mood disorders, phobias and even lead poisoning!
However, getting back to ADHD, there now appears to be
some world consensus regarding this condition, and the group of symptoms
including poor learning, poor concentration, easily distracted, an
inability to learn from past mistakes and poor behavioural control are
taken to indicate the possibility of ADHD. Psychological testing of the
child can also help with the diagnosis, but by and large it is done from
parent and teacher descriptions of the child’s behaviour.
ADHD appears to be a condition that arises from a
biological metabolic result of a genetic anatomical variation in brain
architecture. If that seems a mouthful, don’t worry, it is! What seems
to happen in these children is insufficient activity in certain receptor
areas in the brain which results in under-arousal and an inability for the
sensory input (information) to be retained long enough to be processed and
converted into long term memory.
The treatment is geared towards stimulating the
“slow” centres in the brain with psychostimulant medication. This is
where some of the controversy occurs. Why give stimulants to an already
hyperactive child? Surely this would make the situation worse?
Surprisingly, the results with children diagnosed as
having ADHD showed 80% of the children improved. The scientific studies
did not stop there either. What they did was give children alternating
cycles of two weeks of stimulant medication, followed by two weeks on
“chalk” tablets (placebo), and then two weeks on active medication
again. Neither the child nor its parents or teachers knew which cycle was
being given, only the doctor. Now this was the “acid” test.
And what a test! One child had to stop the trial
because his behaviour was so bad on the placebo, that both the child and
its parents asked to go straight back on the medication. The other
children’s parents and teachers also knew when the child had active
medication. So it does work - but only for 80% remember.
So where does this leave you, the parent of a query
ADHD child? It means there may be help - but you must go through formal
channels of assessment first. I hope your child is one of the 80%.
Heart to Heart with Hillary
I read your column every week especially when abroad as at present, as the full
flavour of Pattaya is easy to recall when reading your articles. This week you
had an article about spam received by email. May I suggest to yourself and your
readers they download a small program from www. mailwasher.net? This will
enable you all to delete and blacklist unwanted mail before downloading from
your ISP. Spammers can also have the mail bounced back very simply, loading up
their in boxes as a deterrent. About 90% of all the emails I receive are
deleted at ISP level and never downloaded providing a secondary benefit in
reducing the risks of a virus infecting my system if attached to an email.
Dear Email Edward,
Many thanks for your advice, which as you can see, I have passed on to our
readers. And I hope it works! However, without wishing to sound like a wet
blanket, I have used a similar program with my Hotmail address, and in no time
I have so many spam accounts “blocked” that I go over my quota very
quickly. Castration might be a method by which we could stop future spammers,
and the threat might be enough to make the present generation of them think
twice. Or am I being a little too harsh?
Dear Hellary (sic),
I am an elderly gentleman who travels back and forth from the U.K. to this
beautiful country working and holidaying. For most of my life I have been an
honest man and always pride myself on it, well now my pride is worth nothing! I
for the past year or so have been leading a double life. When I am here I have
a lovely angel of a lady who takes care of me and likewise I take care of her,
I have recently bought her a brand new car, also a house and really she
doesn’t want for more...well as of yet anyway. The thing that is getting me
down is back in England I have my wife of 37 years and she is oblivious as to
what I am doing here in Thailand, I have been as cunning as a sewer rat and
feel that is a good description for my poor excuse of being a man! Do you
Hellary (sic) think I should fess up to my wife who has stood by me through
thick and thin, put up with my irritations and provided me with a stable
relationship and always darned my socks to be with my bit of fluff that makes
me feel young and virile (with the help of viagra anyway). Or should I go back
to being “Mr. Floppy” in England whose only outlet is opening socks and
pants at Christmas and my birthdays whilst talking about the price of fish. I
feel now in my older years as if I should have the answer as with age comes
wisdom but sadly am at a loss.
A Fruity Old Fogey
Dear Fruity Old Fogey,
I get the feeling that your letter is not all that it appears on the surface,
my Petal. Are you talking about yourself, or are you pointing the finger at
someone else? Hillary (note that it is spelled with an “i” not an “e”)
is able to read and remember email addresses, and your ‘nom de plume’ and
the email handle do not go together. Are you writing this out of spite? Or even
jealousy? However, if I were to accept your email at face value, I would
imagine that your wife back in the UK would have already worked out that all
the hamburger buns at the BBQ were not kosher and has adapted her life to suit
the situation as well. However, if it really is “getting you down” then you
have to look at your situation and act as you see fit. Neither Hillary nor
“Hellary” can assist.
My girlfriend (Thai) has been making excuses to stop me meeting her family. We
have been together for four months now. She has told me about them and tells
them about me when she speaks to her mother, but I have still never met her or
her sisters. It is always “next time” or “next week” but it never
happens. They do not live in our town, but they are not far away, and do visit
the place when I am not here. Is this usual for Thai people, or do you think
that my girlfriend is hiding something from me?
Thai families are a very close unit and it just may be that your Thai
girlfriend is not totally secure in the relationship with you, so she does not
want to present you to her mother yet. Rather than just saying this directly,
Thai people tend to go the roundabout route. Stop worrying Sam, or trying to
push the issue. Your girlfriend will introduce you to her folks when the time
is right - and it is obviously not right now. Four months is not a long time,
A Slice of Thai History:The Dutch in Thailand
Part One: The start of a trading relationship 1590-1611
by Duncan steam
Virtually from the beginning of the sixteenth century,
the Portuguese led European nations in trade with Thailand, continuing
even after the annexation of Portugal by Spain in 1580. However, at the
start of the seventeenth century they were supplanted by the Dutch, who,
between 1608 and 1767, had the longest running trading post in the
country, located in the capital of Ayutthaya. The post was owned and
operated by the Dutch United East India Company (the de Verenigde Oost
Indische Compagnie or VOC), a collection of traders formed in 1602 to
facilitate commerce in the Asian region.
The Netherlands, eager to shake off the Spanish yoke,
had begun a war of independence in 1568. By 1579, they had managed to gain
control in the northern provinces, but still faced another 69 years of
turmoil before Spain finally granted independence. Therefore, it was
imperative Dutch traders find new and lucrative markets to bolster their
economy and provide the funds needed to continue the war against Spain.
Dutch ships had first begun calling along the Thai
coastline in the 1590s, during a period of major conflict between Burma
and Thailand. The wars with Burma, as well as against Cambodia, had seen a
sharp decline in international trade and consequently King Naresuan looked
to European powers to strengthen his economic base. He also believed
strong trade relationships with seafaring nations like Spain (through her
control of Portugal) and the Netherlands would help protect his long
Naresuan had become concerned at Portuguese expansion
in the Southeast Asian region. The Portuguese were present in most of the
areas where the majority of Thai trade was conducted and even though
Ayutthaya had employed troops from Portugal from as far back as 1553, and
continued to do so, their mercenaries had also been used against him and
he was not willing to trust their motives. This uneasiness led Naresuan to
open relationships with other European trading nations.
The Dutch were struggling to make inroads into
Southeast Asia because of Portuguese and Spanish resistance, and so the
opportunity to establish a relationship with Thailand came at an opportune
Ayutthaya served as a meeting point for Japanese,
Persian and Indian merchants selling textiles, silks, minerals, porcelain,
ivory, hides, rice, tin, and wood among others. The revenue earned from
taxes and duties enriched the ruler and the state.
The Dutch soon realised that to do business in the
country meant currying favour with the ruling elite by way of gifts of
gold, silver, precious stones, and armaments. The VOC deducted the costs
of these gifts as legitimate business expenses. It is noteworthy that the
trading post barely made a profit throughout its long association with
Thailand, but still served as an important centre for the Dutch.
The masters of Dutch trading vessels anchored in
Pattani in 1604 learned that Naresuan was planning to visit the Emperor of
China to pay homage and asked if they could accompany him and his
entourage. Permission was granted, but Naresuan kept postponing the
mission and in the meantime hoped to inveigle the Dutch into using their
well-armed vessels to bulwark Thai foreign policy. However, the Dutch
claimed they were ill-equipped for sustained military action and their
primary interest was trade.
The first Dutch diplomats to the court at Ayutthaya
were well received by Naresuan, who suggested sending a diplomatic mission
in return to the Netherlands. However, Naresuan died in 1605 and it was
his successor Ekathotsarot who sent a mission to The Hague, in 1608.
The mission to the Netherlands consisted of five
prominent Thai nobles and they travelled in vessels supplied by the VOC, a
Dutchman who had lived in Thailand for six years served as their
interpreter. The Thai delegation met with Maurice of Nassau, the Prince of
Orange, and inspected the VOC warehouses and shipyards. The Thais were
greatly interested in the Dutch method of shipbuilding and, for years
afterwards, traders from the Netherlands would give drawings of shipyards
and ships as gifts to them.
The Thai delegation returned to Ayutthaya in 1610,
bringing Pieter Both, the first governor-general of the VOC (to 1614) with
them. When they arrived in Thailand they found that King Ekathotsarot had
recently died and been succeeded by Sisaowaphak. His reign was short and
after his death in 1611, Songtham assumed the throne.
Personal Directions:The whistle-blower
by Christina Dodd
Whilst sitting and enjoying a meal the other night in
the peaceful surroundings at a small restaurant near my home, suddenly the
quietness and relaxed atmosphere was interrupted! The restaurant, which up
until now had provided no assistance to patrons parking their cars
(probably because they were quite capable of doing so) had just employed
one of Thailand’s favorite sons - the dedicated and ever-enthusiastic
For a small establishment such as this, why did it need
a whistle-blower? People had been successfully parking their cars without
incident for almost a year now since its opening. The fact that the place
did not have the shrieking sounds of whistles was a real drawcard - apart
from the great food and friendly service. So I asked the owner why he felt
it necessary to hire this fellow. He replied that the young man was in
need of a job as he had recently been laid off at another restaurant and
had no source of income for his family. Upon hearing his reply I commended
him on his actions. It was a very kind thing to do and it is wonderful to
know that people like this young restaurant and business owner do exist in
this world and are responsible towards others. But I couldn’t help
asking him the question, “Do you think he could do his job quietly?”
And I didn’t mean to blow softly, I meant to do his job without the
Now, for those of us who have lived forever in Thailand
this is a question that normally would induce shrieks of laughter from
people that would last for days. I must admit it is a tall order to fill,
but I thought, “Why not try?” Human beings can be trained to complete
almost any task. After all, this exuberant whistle-blower learned how to
“blow his whistle”, so therefore, he should be able to learn how
“not to blow it” - makes sense to me. Does it make sense to you?
So the dutiful restaurant owner, who actually agreed
with me about the noise (once it had been pointed out to him) went over to
the fellow and explained that he should try to assist people parking by
using hand signals only - and not blow his whistle. After some animated
instruction and guidance, we all went back to doing what we were doing and
continuing with our meals and conversation.
Sneaking a peek to see how long it would take before
the “sweet shrills” filled the air again, I was surprised to watch how
the parking attendant gestured to the first car which happily found its
spot. He actually did it without making a noise. Well done I thought. Then
came the second car, brimming with contented passengers which was parked
smoothly - and in silence. He was getting the idea of using hand signals
as a substitute method. Thinking to myself that this guy is trying and
really giving it his best, I began to relax and chat away with friends.
Then, the silence was broken!
Soft and almost timid “breep breeps” gradually
became full-blown “BREEP BREEPS” and we were back to square one. The
owner looked at me with an embarrassed face and ran over to subdue the
fellow. Then we were on again. For about five minutes everything was fine
and then it happened - the young parking attendant just didn’t have it
in him to keep that whistle silenced. As I watched him “blow with
gusto”, he seemed so at home and so in control. He was his own man and
feeling good about it. The owner came over to apologize and explain that
it would take some effort to change the situation. I explained to him that
it might be an idea to take away the man’s whistle for starters to see
how that would work, and then perhaps equip him with appropriate clothing
and a torch.
Whilst we may laugh and have a joke or two about this,
it really is interesting to make note of a few points. The main thing here
is that customers have been coming to this restaurant and parking without
an attendant for months. People are capable of this. Just as people are
capable of not blowing their whistles nor indeed requiring the use of a
whistle to park cars. If people have been trained sufficiently in the
first place with the right tools of the trade - there would be no need for
whistles anywhere in this country.
Training takes effort though, and it takes concerted
application. Unfortunately if both parties are not willing to give it a
hundred percent and stick with it, then there is no meaning to it and the
results speak for themselves. Sure it was good for the restaurant owner to
try to instruct the whistle-blower not to blow his whistle, but it takes
more than a few attempts. Yes I know it is a simple task, but if you have
been doing something forever the same way it is very difficult to “not
do it” so quickly. Habits become a part of us and it takes real effort
to change them.
Perseverance and patience both go a long way to helping
those around us either in the workplace or in our own private life learn
and take on new skills, and try to unlearn bad habits. My whistle-blowing
friend at the car park of the restaurant will certainly have to work hard
at it unless of course they take his whistle away. But somehow I don’t
think they have the heart to relieve him of it. It has been with him for
years and he has known no other way of parking cars. If however, the
restaurant management gives serious thought and effort to proper training,
they will be able to have a parking attendant (who needs his job) who can
successfully and quietly park cars. Then everyone is happy and the
whistle-blower will have a bright new torch to keep him amused!
Until next time, have a great week! For more
information on our training programs please don’t hesitate to contact me
at Christina.dodd @atasiam.com
Woman's World:Diet for a healthy body Part 2
by Lesley Warner
To continue with what constitutes a good diet I would suggest:
‘variety as they say is the spice of life.’ Although it’s good to
remember that it is far more beneficial to consume additional
carbohydrates and less fatty foods whenever possible. We all recognize the
word cholesterol - it’s not essential in the diet as it is made in the
liver. Cholesterol is associated with foods from animal sources such as
eggs and cheese and it is wise to limit the daily intake to 300 mg or
less. Also keep salt to a minimum and increase your intake of fresh fruit
We need protein the diet to replace that lost in the
urine, feces, saliva, sloughed skin, hair and nails. It is well to
remember that during pregnancy, recovery from injury or surgery the body
requires more protein. The average recommended intake of protein per day
is 56 g/d for men and 45 g/d for women. Proteins vary in quality with high
quality proteins providing essential amino acids. The essential amino
acids are histidine, tryptophan, threonine, valine, phenylalanine, leucine,
methionine, lysine, and isoleusine. Highest quality proteins are generally
from animal sources (eggs, meat). Plant proteins are usually deficient in
one or more of the essential amino acids.
Carbohydrates, although beneficial are not essential,
but in their natural state complex carbohydrates such as starches provide
vitamins, minerals and fiber. It is recommended that a minimum daily
intake of about 100g should be consumed to prevent muscle wasting.
Although we are constantly told to avoid ‘fats’,
dietary fats are a vehicle for fat-soluble vitamins, a concentrated source
of energy, and the source of the essential fatty acid linoleic. Deficiency
of linoleic acid leads to hair loss, dermatitis and poor wound healing. As
we all know fats also improve the taste and satisfaction of foods.
However, don’t get carried away with excitement ... remember, diets high
in fat, particularly saturated fats, are associated with obesity, coronary
heart disease and cancers of the colon and breast. Dietary fat intakes
should be limited to 30% or less of total calories.
Another thing to start thinking about is replacing the
electrolytes and minerals you’re losing when you perspire; for example,
sodium and potassium. This is an important issue that many people forget
especially when living in the tropics. They are easy to take, economical
to purchase and highly recommended when consuming only bottled water.
It was suggested to me this week that I am not giving
any advice to those people that need to lose weight. I’m sorry, I was
not discounting the problem of overweight. To be honest the same rules
apply for the diet but I will give some tips to help those that have a
problem losing those extra pounds.
One way to start is by making important lifestyle
changes. You will then find it easier to stick to new eating habits. For
example, do not keep unnecessary extra food in the cupboards like crisps,
chocolate bars, and biscuits. Try keeping a bowl of baby carrots or corns,
snap peas and broccoli on hand for snacking instead. Remember, water is
filling as well as being good for you, try drinking a glass of water when
you feel like a snack - you will be surprised how it fills you up.
Don’t be tempted at the supermarket - write a list
and stick to it.
Always eat breakfast; it fuels you for the day and
you’ll be less hungry at lunch. Try this tip I found, it sounds
delicious: mix some fresh or frozen fruit with milk or juice and ice
cubes. Pour everything in the blender, whisk together. Ideal for
It is not necessary to clear your plate. They say you
should always leave the table able to have eaten a little more.
Give up one bad eating habit, for example when I’m
traveling on a journey I consume crisps for the whole length of the trip.
Don’t go below 1,200 calories or aim for more than a
one to two-pound weight loss per week.
I read a good article the other day that suggests one
of the best ways to lose weight is sleeping. They reckon that a woman’s
metabolism rises 40% when she’s asleep! So I have found the answer to
why I am so skinny, I obviously spend too much time asleep.
Cool wines for hot Asian food
by Ranjith Chandrasiri
With Asian food, wine is not a traditional match but it
is not an impossible one. What it takes is a little more imagination.
Asian style cooking, after all, is classic and
traditional in its own right, in a different way from European cuisines.
There are differences in ingredients and cooking style and in the sense of
balance and harmony. Whereas, say, classic Italian cooking relies on a
certain purity and freshness of ingredients, and French cooking on depth
of flavour in sauces and natural stocks, in Asia the emphasis is on the
constant balancing and contrasting of tastes and textures.
Take for instance Thai beef salad where each bite
brings a dozen different tastes, and one needs to pause between mouthfuls
to fully enjoy its taste. Green papaya, cucumber, seeded chilli julienne,
mint, coriander and onion are just the start of individual tastes of
extreme complexity. Add acid, cooling coldness, heat, mild bitterness,
light refreshment, and then the sauce that is chilli hot, pungent with
black vinegar, tempered with the sweetness of palm sugar and mutated with
the saltiness of fish sauce. About 50 more things to consider than with
most European food, and that is before one even starts to consider the
textural differences, of crunch, soft, slimy and more.
The basic (Southeast Asian) palate is hot, sour, salty,
sweet, and sometimes bitter. If you order a green papaya salad from a
street vendor in Thailand, the last thing the vendor will do before
serving the salad is to give you a small spoonful of the salad, asking for
your opinion. If you’d like it hotter, more chillies will be added; if
you want it saltier, more fish sauce; more sour, lime juice will be added;
sweeter, more palm sugar... And while this balancing act takes place in an
individual dish like a green papaya salad, it also shapes a meal,
determining what dishes should be served alongside others...
The strong and authentic flavours of say Thai,
Malaysian and Vietnamese food are quite a contrast from China, where the
diversity of flavours ranges from incredibly delicate dishes of the
coastal regions where fresh seafood abounds, to uncomplicated almost bland
flavours of everyday Chinese cooking. Then you have the court cooking of
Peking and the exotic and sophisticated nuances of the Cantonese kitchen,
to the incredible pungent flavours and chilli heat of the Sechuan region.
Not that this emphasis on contrast, balance, and
varying textures is exclusive to Southeast Asian and Chinese cooking. In
Germany, for instance, there is a lot of balancing of sweet, sour, salty,
and fatty/meaty textures (sauerkraut, wurst, sauerbrauten, etc.); which is
why the Germans are more apt to drink off-dry to medium sweet Rieslings,
or else beer, with their foods, as opposed to the bone dry styles of wines
predominant in France, Italy and Spain. Not surprisingly, many of
today’s food and wine experts strongly recommend German Rieslings or
beer with Southeast Asian and Chinese foods as well. The natural
sugar/acid balance of Rieslings is quite compatible with the hot, sour,
salty, sweet elements of Asian food; and beer provides a slightly bitter
undertone that adds further to the equation. It’s a question of harmony
and balance and it certainly works in Asian food settings.
The trick to matching wine with Asian style cooking is
to start with the premise that we need wines that emphasize a balance, as
opposed to sheer power of taste sensations. This is why the classic
“power” wines of the world - made from grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon
and Chardonnay - are not an easy match for Asian foods. Although there is
nothing wrong with intensity, the difficulty with these types of wines is
that they tend to be high in alcohol, low in acid, and (in the case of
Cabernet) excessively hard in tannin. The best wines for Asian foods are
those with moderate levels of alcohol, softer tannin, crisper acidity, and
sometimes (not always) a judicious amount of residual sugar.
Ranjith Chandrasiri is the resident manager of Royal
Cliff Grand and president of the Royal Cliff Wine Club, Royal Cliff Beach
Resort, Pattaya, Thailand.
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]
Website: http://www.royal cliff.com/rcwineclub.htm