It was a bucolic time when The Two Fat Ladies burst onto our screens in a puff of cartoon smoke and bravado. And burst they certainly did, with Jennifer Paterson driving pell-mell through the British countryside in a glorious Triumph Thunderbird while Clarissa Dickson-Wright grinned benignly at us from the sidecar. In one fell swoop, they made the world realise that English food may have the reputation for being boring but it sure as hell doesn’t have to be. Echoing the devil-may-care eccentricity of Julia Child and the generous verbosity of Keith Floyed, these two friends made British TV cooks famous, paving the way for Jamie and Nigella to follow in their wake.
As much I love a good salad, in winter it becomes a chore to eat. The quality of fresh ingredients declines, tomatoes don’t ripen and it feels like your hands may develop frostbite while you rinse lettuce in that icy water. I find I am inclined to turn my greens into a luscious dip which I slather over roasted vegetables hot out the oven.
As acerbic journalist Lin Sampson once wrote, snoek is the most underrated fish in South Africa. And it certainly is the king of fishes, if you take a little trouble to track it down. A long, thin species of snake mackerel, snoek can be purchased fresh from the docks along all along the coast of the Western Cape of South Africa, as coloured people have been fishing and eating snoek for generations.
It has been raining solidly for days and after a difficult year of water restrictions here in the Western Cape of South Africa, we are reveling in an abundance of water.
The almost four year-long drought hasn’t broken yet, but as I write this our dams are just a hair’s breadth away from being filled to 50% capacity so we are whooping with joy and relief. This means that because we managed to adequately save water, and must keep doing so, the pall of Day Zero is no longer an impending reality.
According to ancient custom, poppy seeds have been used as a remedy to aid sleeping, promote fertility and increase wealth, and were even believed to impart magical powers of invisibility.
Poppy seeds are largely overlooked in South Africa (apart from the cloyingly commercial lemon and poppy seed muffins) but they have long been a favourite of mine.
There have been three fundamental culinary influences in my life. All of them have been women but not all of them are matriarchs, despite my mother being among them! Continue reading “Lynn’s Taverna”
“I have made friends who begin with pasta, and friends who begin with rice, but whenever I fall in love, I begin with potatoes…” writes Nora Ephron in her wonderful early novel Heartburn. “Sometimes meat and potatoes and sometimes fish and potatoes, but always potatoes. I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.”
In one of my favourite chapters of Alice in Wonderland, Alice meets a decidedly gruff Gryphon and a strangely lugubrious Mock Turtle, which is a bit of an ‘inside joke’ making fun of that Victorian dinner party stalwart – mock turtle soup. Is it real or is it mock? Well no one’s sure as he sings, with a tear in his eye: