Monday, October 18, 2010
Back in the saddle, Mediterranean style
There has been a distinct malaise here at Crackling.
What could it be?
Homesickness? I've been back from Europe for 3 weeks now
Missing something I already have? Could be, but that is a little wet as a theory.
Bug picked up on the plane? Very possibly. Long Haul flights = big metal bird/pertri dish full of other people's germs.
Nothing's really cutting it these days.
Apart from breakfast bacon and eggs (can never go past that happy couple, particularly as my English butcher in Brentwood cures his own streaky)
My appetite for good food is low; pedestrian at best, white-trash at worst. Come midday I am eager for snickers bars and refined carbohydrates. Now I wouldn't usually tell anyone this but it may affect my usual integrity if I don't demonstrate how low I've sunk:- Cheese and Bacon Cheeto Balls with a topping of Kraft 1000 Island Dressing.
I am pining for the peppered smoked mackerel, the plaice, the damsons, my sister's Maran hens' eggs, the pork pies, the Wallace and Grommit range of cheeses and the common High Street Byriani amongst which I was submerged for three weeks. Two weeks with a short sabbatical to Catalonia and Oh! The tappas and the wine. Now so very far away.
Low and Flat. A bit like Belguim.
Until I stumble upon the latest series of No Reservations uploaded kindlyby Kumquasta on youtube. It is the Roma episode.
Even though he's a teeny tiny bit tame these days, Anthony Bourdain still gets me going. Is it the black suit and white shirt or the white suit and black shirt? Or the fundamentally European foods cultured in a fundamentally European way? In this episode Tony visits a rarified delicatessen in the back streets of the city and wallows head first in every kind of singularly European Goodness: milk'n'bacteria (whole fresh parmesan wheel), cured pork products (proscuitto), fermented rape juice (wine) and bread that makes a shattering, raspy noise when cut (hard, fermented, raised woodfired wheat). I can't put my finger on it precisely but it has all put its fingers on me.
I turn to my garden, store cupboard and the remainder of the Red Tail Ridge Olives:
and Anchovies melted down
Garlic just with the raw edge taken off
Italian chopped plum tomatoes, drained - you must drain them - and
melted in the unctuous perfumed oil
One red birds eye chili
Cans of cannelini beans and borlotti beans
Hell, even a drained can of "sandwich flake"style supermarket tuna (scraped with a blade from the hulk of a beat far away in Thailand during a 12 hours shift, no doubt)
Warm body heat warm so the flavours can sing out.
It is right for lunch tomorrow with salad leaves and right for tossing through warm rigatoni.
Europe is at my fingertips once more. My appetite has been restored.
Now if only I could get my hands on the raw, sweet red wine from Girona, just right for Sangria. It doesn't even get to the wholesalers', the owners of this restaurant http://sites.google.com/site/restaurantbahiaeng/pick it up straight from the vinyard in the hills. More of that later.
I'm looking out over the Med again, fork in hand, thankful for what I have and the sun is shining. Thanks Tony, both of yous.
Posted by TheAuthor at 7:06 PM