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Showing posts from January, 2015

Food and the dead: pears poached in red wine

I can't remember exactly when I wrote these 'instructions' for my funeral but although it was more than a decade before I started the hungry writer blog you'll notice that food plays a pretty central part!
Given a choice

I'd like a sunny day, a party 
in the garden, a wooden table laid 
with a white cloth. A bowl of cherries 
for a stone spitting competition. Veuve Clicquot 
served in uncut glass, brandied sugar cubes 
and people dancing barefoot in the long grass. 

If it’s cold and rainy, rent an old manor house
surrounded by fields. Roast chickens and eat them 
with your hands, crusty bread. Ripe peaches. 
Drink Grand Marnier on ice in a wood-panelled lounge, 
a fierce fire in front of your feet. Fall asleep 
between fat feathered duvets and crisp white sheets. 

If it’s only you, my love, tip what remains of me 
into the sea, then cook our favourite meal – 
prawns in garlic, fillet steak, sweet chips. 
Open the wine with the Picasso label 
we’ve been meaning to drink. Talk 
to some…

Hearth food: heart food

My maternal grandfather, Dadcu in Welsh, or D'cu as we used to call him, Martin James, had two dietary practices that no one else in my life, then or since, has repeated. He used to swallow a raw egg in the mornings, the yolk bobbing about in its albumen as he tipped the glass towards his mouth. I imagined the yellow dome breaking in his throat as he swallowed. And he sliced cheddar cheese into a glass dish and placed it in front of the open coal fire to melt. Then he spooned it onto fresh, hand-cut white bread. I remember tasting the melted cheese. I remember the pull and slip of it against the spoon, like soft toffee. I kept a safe distance from any involvement with the raw egg.
It didn't occur to me that D'cu's melted cheese was a traditional Welsh dish. Caws pobi: roasted or baked cheese. And some people might wonder what the difference is between melted cheese spooned out of a dish and cheese melted on toast under the grill. But I think you'll have to make some…

Please come in: welcome to my kitchen

The door is wide and warm, the kettle's on. The honey pourer that arrived here via China and the USA sits upon my Granny's plate, its edges softly frilled like grandmothers are, but often aren't. And the woman framed above who looks as if she might have slipped off the tip of William Russell Flint's sable brush, hasn't. I know; it seems as if nothing's as it really is. But it is. The child's drawing on the fridge is nothing else but itself. The gouge mark in the knotted pine wood floor proof of something heavy dropped between us, even if we struggle to remember what. And fruit is always fruit even when its cut.
There's laughter here. In the photos of how we used to be and, I like to think, captured from family, friends and even strangers like yourself in the butter yellow doors and drawers - invisible veins of music. And tears too. Our own. A daughter's pain. A friend's, in the instant she knew her man's betrayal and her shoulders dropped the…

The Year of Eating Everything. And cabbage with attitude.

'Bad news,' Tony said. 'The little freezer broke down while we were away. Everything is mush and mold.'
Yep, that just about described the four drawers in varying degrees of decomposition: sludge, spores and the striking blue and white of Penicillium. The only thing to escape the annihilation was a bag of plain white burger rolls, the only processed food item in there, which were surprisingly, and worryingly, fresh looking and, when I poked them, as bouncy as the day they were born. Makes you think, doesn't it?
I wasn't upset exactly. And bereft is far too strong a word too. But when I started to bag up all the ruin (including those rolls) I realised that all my late summer fruit was there. Bramleys, chopped and pureed, for pies and desserts and sauce. Victoria plums stoned and halved for puddings and jam. I swear I could hear the buzz of drunken wasps and feel the heat from the stove from the days spent picking and preparing it all. I felt the waste of it. The l…