Sunday, 27 March 2011

Eat the Rich

That is the slogan Dan's placard bore for the anti-cuts march in London yesterday.

Whenever I go on a demonstration or march, the essential question is: what am I going to eat? For there is lots of travelling, standing around waiting, marching (or shuffling), getting cold and sometimes wet. Then there are feelings of uncertainty, frustration and exhilaration. You need good food to soften the physical and emotional blow of it all.

In the past I have made pasties, sausage rolls, stuffed peppers. Relatively dry and portable. I made absolutely nothing for yesterday, but it was all so wonderful that I feel compelled to describe it here.

Dan made pasties filled with chunks swede, tempeh, and peppers, which I ate for breakfast. The pastry had a very good texture.

Our coach stopped at a service station halfway between Manchester and London. Col and Sundeep produced a huge wad of kitchen paper, roll of breads somewhere between paratha and roti (Col called them "parothi") and Tupperware full of aloo methi (potato and fenugreek) and the most charming two-tiered tiffin; one tin had pickles and the other had aubergine with toowar dal  and tamarind. The tamarind tasted just  like these sweet lemon pickles my grandmother used to make.

Humaira had made an array of burritos and cakes. I love how wheat tortillas seems dry, dull and hopeless, then they absorb some of the moisture of their filling and become soft and palatable. Like the best burritos, every bite was delicious and different. I filled my face with burrito as I marched. It was  crammed with refried beans, avocado, rice, tofu bakes in chopped onion and adobo sauce (which seems to be made of smoked chipotle chilli and tomatoes). I may be wrong but I also detected cucumber and coriander.

Then we had afternoon tea. Well, beer. And these gorgeous cakes which had almond, dried fig soaked in fig liqueur and chocolate chunks:

And these: it's a badly cropped photograph, I know, but the rest of the picture does not do this raspberry cheesecake any justice. Individual portions baked so beautifully in their own cake cases. Oh, the taste of the vanilla!

This was accompanied by a lovely garlicky guacamole which Mike had made and some tortilla chips. And more beer.

I didn't go on the march thinking that the government would make a U-turn on their decision to butcher public services because of our actions. I went to publicly show my dissent and to join with others who felt similar to me, so it is fitting to share food with these people. Food that tastes a million times better than something from a chilled warehouse, shop-bought and over-packaged. Food where you know what's gone in. Food made by people you love and trust, and not by some massive profit-driven corporation. 

Sunday, 13 March 2011

To be cooked for

I say without a scrap of hesitation that one of the nicest things in the world is to have someone cook for you. The quality of the meal is irrelevant, but a tasty one is a bonus. The people who cook for me regularly I can count on one hand. I hardly help myself, though. I can't remember the last time I fed someone who wasn't one of the people in that list. So I take some responsibility. You have to give some love to get it back; but love is energy and I have been devoting my energies to things I want to succeed at, but in some ways enjoy much less. Cooking yields instant results and that holds massive appeal for a very impatient person like me.

Being cooked for yields instant delights for all five senses, if you are there while the meal is being cooked, as was the case last night. John is notorious for his weekend post-pub cook-ups, and I was invited to dine with John and Lee rather spontaneously, at this late sodium-lit hour. John didn't want my help, so I sat and read, getting hungrier and hungrier. I could smell cola, strangely enough, I could smell turmeric, and after a while it was done.

A delicious lentil, fish, and green pepper curry with brown rice. Tomato for tang, ground almonds for mildness. John recommends stirring in ground almonds and yoghurt if you want a creamy texture and don't have cream or coconut. The curry had cloves, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon - that was the cola smell- and I landed all three bay leaves. One of my final mouthfuls had me chewing on a bit of fresh chilli. I loved it. I never buy fresh chillies any more, sadly, because I always let them get past their best. Whatever opiate-like substances chilli produces in your body coursed through me as I cycled home at 2am, in control, but high as a kite.

Thank you John Dennison.