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Showing posts from May, 2015

Oyster: flesh and bone

At the beginning of last year I left some oyster shells on a friend's fresh grave in Pennard churchyard on the Gower peninsula in South Wales: he loved the sea. I couldn't get to his funeral a few weeks earlier and I wanted to have a chat and say goodbye. So I collected shells from Aberafan Beach, where my parents live, shells washed in from Swansea Bay, a bay we shared during different parts of our lives, relics of an oyster fishing industry that can be dated back to Roman times but which had its heyday in the 19th century. At its peak in 1871 fishermen brought 18 million of them ashore, exporting them to London and Europe, and there's still a seemingly endless supply of sea-rubbed, encrusted half shells to be found on the bay's beaches. 

Oysters are on my mind as I've just come back from Jersey, a nostalgic trip to the island where I lived between 1978 and 1985, where I ate Jersey oysters poached in a champagne butter sauce at The Oyster Box in St Brelade's Ba…


In January I blogged about 'The Year of Eating Everything' and while I started out brimming with enthusiasm and good intentions not to throw any food away I have to be honest and say it's been more 'The Year of Eating Mostly Everything' so far. Damn those little salad bags that turn all seaweedy if you open one and forget about it for a few days. 
But this week's experiment might compensate for any previous failings. In fact, I didn't even consider this particular food item as something that should or could be eaten when I wrote that post. You probably wouldn't have either. 
No, not worms. Candied orange peel. Made from the peel of some large dessert oranges we've been buying from our local garage's inspirationally stocked Spar Parkfoot supermarket near West Malling, Kent. (It was voted Convenience Retailer of the Year in 2014 as well as Best Independent Store and Best Chilled Retailer.)
However, now I've Googled 'candied orange peel' i…

Birthday breakfast and writing for someone you love

It's Tony birthday today and we've just had his birthday brunch made with eggs from a local farm whose shells cracked with an ease and precision I have never known from shop-bought eggs (Note to self: find out why...) and whose yolks were as yellow as buttercups. 
I left Jersey and moved to Kent to be with him on his birthday in 1985 and I remember standing in the open doorway in the kitchen of his ragstone cottage looking at the acres of grass and trees that surrounded it and wondering how I might find my place there. And that thought led me to this year's birthday prose poem for him.

The first one you’d already made: from the doorway of the kitchen I looked across grass to a greenhouse, a swimming pool and tennis court, and beyond, the driveway’s arc of shingle. Then you gave me stone and the sound of water: a cobbled yard, a blooming meniscus of lilies where once a dragon fly landed on my knee. Later you raised the walls of a garden room, crowned them with a roo…