A few days ago I found myself engrossed in Nigel Slater’s book, Fast Food. I wasn’t simply skimming the pages, I was lingering over every description. when he writes about the simple joy of a platter full of Medjool dates, plump figs, and polished hazelnuts he isn’t telling me how to make a dessert, he’s telling me a story. I can read a list of ingredients like a novel that curves its narrative from country to country, and from imagination to plate.
Food has always been more than fuel to me. I remember being thirteen years old and counting down the days until Thursday, when Chris Coubrough’s ‘Coastal Kitchen’ was shown on ITV. I was the only teenager I knew who would hang on every delicious remark about the sweet flesh of a Cromer crab or the fragrant beauty of a field of Norfolk lavender. He was to me, what One Direction is to every other thirteen year old. I even wrote Chris fan mail and awkwardly stood next to him for a photo at our County fair. I was smitten, and even though I didn’t know it then, it was the beginning of a love affair with food.
As the sun was setting yesterday, drawing the thin grey veil of light slowly out of our kitchen, I got to work. I chopped vegetables and mixed them together with chickpeas and chopped spinach, coriander and parsley. That morning I’d picked up a bottle of pomegranate molasses – thick tar-like stuff, sour and potent with the taste of the Middle East. It’s like a sweeter version of thick balsamic vinegar, and delicious as a vinaigrette when combined with white wine vinegar, oil and sumac. I managed to take these photos just before the last threads of light seeped from the kitchen. Then of course I tasted it. You’ll never see anybody quite so happy with a plate of vegetables as I was, standing in my gloomy kitchen.
The opportunities for the salad are endless – grated apple, walnuts and goats cheese would all be welcomed additions – the coriander and parsley are a must though.
My love affair with food has brought me to this point – a tangy salad and the utter joy of writing about it – but I hope and pray that I will never tire of it. Although this blog, and the prospects of a future of so many more culinary discoveries are a sign that, thank God, I will never lose that innocent joy.
A Middle Eastern Vinaigrette
1 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses
1 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses
1 tbsp White wine vinegar
6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp Sumac (optional)
1 tsp Honey
Put all of the ingredients into a jam jar and shake vigorously. Add salt to taste and adjust any other ingredients before serving.
The combinations are endless…mine involved one grated carrot, a tin of chickpeas, chopped spinach, coriander, parsley, cucumber, jarred roasted peppers and spring onion. Consider adding finely chopped apple, pear, nuts, goats cheese or feta.