Skip to main content

Dreams. A new word. And a mushroom tartling.

I dream about food. Spiced lamb samosas for a dinner party of 12 until my friend says that at least three or four guests are vegetarian. What about the others? I ask her. Do they eat red meat? I don’t think so, she says. And there’s less than an hour before everyone arrives. We could go and get fish and chips, I suggest. But now I don’t want to be the one in charge. I don’t want to face these disappointed and disagreeable people. I say to her, if they’re invited to someone’s house for dinner they’ll just refuse to eat what they’re served? That’s just plain bad manners. I’m losing in all directions: my food, my friends, my generosity of spirit.

A fish-hook dream: one that threatens to tug me along by the lip for the rest of the day if I let it. And I don’t have to let it. I just have to recognise that my emotional response has been produced by the dream’s wake. I can keep my head above the water; I don’t have to go under.


This morning the lawn is spiked with tiny mushrooms. 

I watch their caps soften and stretch like Dali’s soft watches until they’re just a smear of their former selves. Mushroom identification, on the web, is more challenging than I thought it would be but, as far as I can tell, these are Coprinopsis atramentaria – common ink caps – which are poisonous when consumed with alcohol. No danger of that happening: they’re not the most appetising looking fungi around, particularly as they slip towards their demise, but I’m grateful to them for introducing me to the delicious word of ‘deliquescence’, to dissolve gradually by absorbing moisture from the atmosphere, to melt away. But as beautiful as it is I can’t imagine ever using it in a line of prose or poetry; words with their roots in Old English, like melt and soften, feel more comfortable in my mouth, sound more authentic in my voice on the page.

But let’s stay with mushrooms. More specifically Mushroom Tartlings.  (Or ‘tartlets’ if you’re from the BBC or just prefer proper words.) I use these loose-bottomed tins, prick the base of the pastry with a fork and pile in the mushroom mixture. That way there’s less of a puff pastry frame to munch your way through. 

They are lovely - sweet and meaty in a non-meaty way. So why didn’t I think of these in my dream for the wanting vegetarians and unfairly judged non-red meat eaters? I could have saved myself all that angst. Kept my friends. But it usually involves a morsel of pain, a sprinkling of regret for not knowing better sooner, for me to learn something. In dreams and waking life. 

Hungry Writing Prompts
Write about losing a friend.
Write about the early morning.
Write about poison.
Write about melting away.
Write about saving yourself.

Popular posts from this blog

Pie, pie glorious pie

So often when we talk about food we are talking about family. In fact that was how the hungry writer blog began, nearly six years ago: weekly memories or life stories linked by the theme of food. Food is nurture and love. It can be celebration and anxiety too. It can also be a battleground, as the parents of young children know so intimately! Which is rather a satisfying segue into the family featuring in this week's blogpost: The Radfords. Because if anyone understands the feeding of children, really, really understands, it has to be Sue Radford who, with her husband, Noel, has 19 children. You can read about the family on their website but don't rush off yet as what I really want to talk about is pie. And specifically Radford's pies.
Noel Radford has been a baker for 25 years and opened his own bakery in 1999 in Heysham, Lancashire and makes pies with locally sourced ingredients. That, along with his skill as a master baker, means that the pictures of the 'filled to t…

Eat, laugh, cry, remember: Baked Camembert

Once, on a holiday in Malta, I dressed Tony up in my gypsy skirt and stretchy white vest, used two satsumas for breasts and made up his eyes and lips with the brightest colours I had with me. Then I took a photograph. He didn’t seem to mind, in fact he seemed quite tickled by the fuss and attention to detail, but the quantity of rosé we’d shared at Snoopy’s restaurant on the seafront in Sliema earlier in the evening might have had something to do with that.

This was 1988. There were no digital cameras for instant viewing (and, praise be, instant deletion). The only instant photographs at the time came courtesy of Polaroid, with their packages of square film and box-like cameras, and slid out of the front of the machine on shiny thick card that everyone huddled over and watched develop. But they tended to be party cameras, appearing at Christmas, birthdays, engagements. You captured your holiday photos on a proper camera, one you had to load and feed film into, then unload and drop off…

The Mythic Biscuit: Oreos

My childhood biscuits were mainly plain but had lovely names: Marie, Nice, Rich Tea. Quiet biscuits. The kind of biscuits that would never interrupt a conversation. Polite, not pushy. At the other end of the spectrum, and only irregularly present, probably a result of practical economics, were cheeky Jammy Dodgers, irritable Garibaldis, and self-contented and reliable Bourbons. And even more irregularly, the flashy inhabitants of a Christmas Box of Biscuits: Pink Wafers. I ate them at the same time as not liking them very much, a bit like Miss World Contestants in sparkly dresses, too much eye make-up and a saccharine idea of world peace. 
I'm in the mood to think, and personify, 'biscuits' because the lovely team at Oreo sent me some samples of their new Oreo Thins. I hadn't heard of Oreos until the early 1990s when a friend asked if I would bring him back a packet from a Florida holiday. I forgot and pretended I couldn't find them. 'But they're everywher…