Sunday, 25 August 2013

A 'foodie' week

I have listened to The Food Programme since the days when it was fronted by Derek Cooper. Remember him? Of course not. It's just me giving my age away. For a good few years now it has been the domain of Sheila Dillon, with occasional guest presenters, of which last Sunday's programme was an example (18 August 2013). It was presented by Dan Saladino and called Feeding the Detectives. Given that I also like reading crime novels this was a must programme. I was not disappointed. Food plays an important part in the life of some fictional sleuths/detectives. Most of the time, the food bits pass me by, like the fact that Dr Watson in Sherlock Holmes stories talks about food. I have to admit I have never noticed.

However, a good chunk of the programme was about the Salvo Montalbano detective stories by Andrea Camilleri, which are set in Sicily, and food is important and the marvellous TV series captures this fact extremely well. Whilst my favourite fictional detectives on paper are Martin Beck (Stockholm based) by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo,  and Inspector Wexford (set in fictional Kingsmarkham) by Ruth Rendell, my detective food memory of all time has to be of Erlendur in Jar City  by Analdur Indridason. In it Elendur munches his way through part of the story eating a half-a-sheep's head he bought from a drive-thru take-away (the film could not resist showing Erlendur pluck out the eyeball and stick it his mouth whole, then bite).

As you will have guessed by now, I enjoyed the programme no end and seemed to set me up for a foodie week.

The week before I came back from Derby after meeting someone I had not seen since we were about fifteen, and who found me because of another blog I have (mywembley.blogspot). with a lovely bottle of wine from Devon and chillies grown on a Torquay kitchen windowsill. I took the photograph below on my Lenton kitchen windowsill.


These chillies have since been distributed among friends and we have all come to the conclusion that my new found friend is a mistress of the understatement. The message which came with them, as you can see, say 'They may be small, but they're quite HOT!'. 

Well, I scraped the seeds out carefully and made the fatal mistake of placing a piece of the chilli, no larger than a pinhead, in my mouth. In the next thirty seconds, I drunk two glasses of water, and another two the minute after! It was good and it took no more than a similar sized piece to add the required heat to a chick pea and pepper dish I was making. I have yet to tell her that she could make a fortune selling her Torquay chillies to discerning food connoisseurs. I have never tasted a hotter chilli.

At the moment, much of what we eat is governed by the number of runner beans we can eat at any one sitting, Usually with a good piece of white fish and a few new potatoes and a parsley sauce. The beans and parsley are home-grown and from tubs. I love runner beans and are a passion which go back to being a child in Wembley, so I have found another topic for a childhood blog in the week or so.

We give beans to our neighbours Chris and Richard, who returned the favour this week when Richard came in with a near bucketful of blackberries he had picked on Lenton Lane, by the industrial estate. I washed them, dried them and put them in the freezer after we sampled a few. In a couple of months they will come out to make blackberry cordial as Christmas presents and we will use the leftover pulp to make blackberry cheese, the nearest we will get to jam making this year, as we are both trying to lose weight.


It's turned out to be a fishy week, as Hallam's in Beeston was selling Cornish sardines at a bargain price and I couldn't resist, so we had them with a simple green salad. They took a minute to cook with a drizzle of olive oil and were wonderful.

In the Victoria Market in Nottingham city centre, where there is a stall I visit most weeks, they were selling apricots, greengages and plums, all at 90p a lb. I cannot remember a year when fruit has been so good and plentiful. I had to pass on six peaches for 99p, even though I know from a purchase I made earlier in the week they were also good.

Saturday week, the first in September, will find me at the farmers' market at the Wollaton Co-op in the hope of some good local English apples — the first of the season. I'll get a week's supply at the most and I have no idea what will be on offer, but I can't wait.

I also spent two afternoons this week on a booklet of stories by fellow members of the Beeston WEA writing class. I will let the draft cover speak for itself…


It came out of a fun day we had together during the Easter break this year and then I mislaid all the contributions!  The good news is I found them on Monday, so I decided to make the time to put our booklet together. On Thursday, I shared the first draft with my colleagues at our weekly get together in a Beeston teashop and now we have a second draft. Like all such ventures, people will be amending their stuff until the very last moment, but there is an outside possibility of some funding, so we may be able to publish our booklet in colour instead of me doing it mono at home in short runs. More about this when we agree a publishing date and launch.

This blog has never had a food theme before. It was the chillies which got me going. I'll leave the last words to class colleague Trish. Well, Spike Milligan actually, but Trish said them well and got our Easter gathering off to a great start (it's her version I have used):

A thousand hairy savages
Sitting down to lunch
Gobble gobble glurp glurp
Munch munch munch

Spike Milligan (1918–2001)





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