My mother was at boarding school and had a most unpleasant-sounding headteacher who everyone called "Hetty". The girls in her dorm organised a midnight feast one night and Hetty got wind of it. At midnight, when the girls were about to creep down for their feast, in walked Hetty. She turned on the lights and commanded the girls to get dressed and walk downstairs. In the dining room, she had laid the table and put out all the food that had been gathered for the midnight feast. The girls had to eat it all in dead silence, with beady-eyed Hetty sitting at the end of the table, having sucked all the joy out of the escapade. At one point my mother picked up a slice of what she thought was cheese and ate it only to discover it was a piece of margarine. She did not even dare to giggle. At the end of the "feast", they had to clear the plates and then go upstairs and put on their night things before the light was switched off. Not another word was said about it.
Wednesday, 7 July 2021
Wednesday, 26 May 2021
This is Austerity Soup. The recipe: as with any good hearty soup, start with the Holy Quadernity of onion, celery, carrot and leek. Add chopped broccoli stem, the green tops of leeks and spring onions, the outer leaves which surround cauliflower, the tops of carrots, turnips and beetroots. Add any vegetables which are getting a bit past their best, and sweat until soft and sweet. Add a handful of frozen peas (protein content 👍) with stock or bouillon and water. Simmer for 10 minutes then blend smooth and add seasoning to taste.
This version has fried chorizo and oil on top, because Julien believes any soup is improved by a bit of porkiness. In the case of green soup, I would have to agree, though it does perhaps reduce the thriftiness of this soup!
Saturday, 16 January 2021
Saturday, 9 January 2021
Breakfast or brunch. Three elements: buttered toast; a thick slice of ham; a perfectly-poached egg on the top, with freshly ground black pepper. This used to be a Christmas morning tradition and I can recall it being followed in Winchester ten years ago. My brother Will had cooked the ham, baked the bread and poached the eggs. He had not supplied the newly-laid eggs, though; they had been brought by me, a parting gift the day before from some friends who kept chickens in their garden. Crumbly home-cooked ham. Orange egg yolks. A very late breakfast after church. A good start to the excesses of Christmas.
Thursday, 24 December 2020
It puzzled me slightly that we learned the Latin for vinegar - acetum. Even the alternative - sour wine - sounded slightly too obscure to be worth knowing. Somehow I had picked up without being aware of it that Latin was a language of formality, where slang had little place. (Even our Latin teacher became pained when he heard himself using the expression “Shut up...if that’s the sort of language you understand!”) We might know how, in Latin, to praise the table, love the woman or fight the soldier. But not to chat with the newsagent, to engage in banter with the bus driver or to ask for salt and vinegar on our chips.