With all the recent focus on fermented foods it is all too easy to ignore the oldest of these: vinegar. It is my favourite fermented foodstuff, which I naturally gravitate towards using to add a sour note to savoury dishes. It was only after giving it some thought that I realised the reason: all great dishes contain a balance between sweet, salty, fragrant and sour – with the added magical note of umami. The latter is of course enhanced when the right balance is struck.
The tradition of making pâté is as old as the hills. Throughout Europe, pâtés, terrines and potted meats are still widely eaten today. Potted shrimp is such an easy favourite, you gently fry and season the shrimp before sealing it in a delicate blanket of melted butter so that it can be kept in a cold larder or still room for a lot longer than if left untended.
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”