Mostly Concerning the Feeding of People
Blogging determines supper on Saturday. I mentioned falafel in yesterday’s blog and this brought up hundreds of falafel writers, bloggers and enthusiasts. It had somehow passed me by. The name was familiar but I never knew just what it was beyond being something that made Rupert and Nigella swoon and say “You really muuusst try these; they are to die for.”
And it all seemed so easy that I gave it a go.
A quick jaunt to Aldi for a tin of chickpeas, a pot of parsley and a packet of pittas. A dusting off of the old hand blender and away we go. Arsenal and Wigan Athletic have just kicked off the first period of extra time in their FA Cup semi-final and Alan Green is at his know all worst (He’s a radio sports commentator of the put everybody else right variety. A major reason why I stopped listening to football on the wireless). I’ve never made falafel before and I’m eating the second pitta of this impromptu supper before the match goes to penalties. In other words it takes a steady, spuddling half hour, by which time I’ve ditched the recipe in favour of my own mix of spices and lemon juice. I may not know falafel but chick peas are old friends and I know which flavours they absorb the best.
The blender is too small to throw everything in so the chick peas get roughly blitzed and into a mixing bowl. I then blitz everything else separately or together depending on bulk. To the chickpeas I add a small onion, two cloves of garlic, two teaspoons each of cumin seeds (lightly roasted) and ground coriander, half a teaspoon on cayenne pepper and two tablespoons of plain flour. Oh, and the juice of a lemon and a good grind of black pepper. And of course the whole pot (small) of parsley. I don’t worry about the tender stalks; they blitz nicely and I like a rustic rough cut to the dish.
Simply work the ingredients together and heat some oil in a frying pan. I take about half the mixture and make it into two flat discs (is there any other kind?) which need a mere couple of minutes, and maybe a touch more, on each side. They firm up beautifully on contact with the hot oil but remain loose on the inside.
Pittas go into the toaster and a rather good salad is prepared from lambs lettuce, pea shoots, tomato, spring onion and grated radish. This adds flavour, colour and texture and turns the humble radish into a sparkly accessory. I’ve got a lot of time for radishes. They are the first vegetable I ever grew.
Simply assemble and season with salt, pepper and lots of lemon juice. We enjoy them so much we make them up for Sunday tea and I make an even better job of them. The remaining half has refrigerated really well and the cold helps give them a firmness. The only change is to base the salad on cos lettuce (romaine to Americans) and the addition of a generous spoon of creme fraiche to the garnish.
It’s a hit and a winner and will become a regular treat in this house. We have been falafelled!
I took a trip out on Friday to take photographs to complete the early pages of the tour of Britain that I’ve just finished writing about. I’ve never taken photography seriously and am probably learning as much about this art as I’ve discovered about writing. I’ve learned that I don’t yet deserve any thing better than the little Pentax point and shoot number I’ve had for years. I admire so many photography blogs and I while I can never match them for technical skill, I can enjoy practising putting myself in the right place to snap the shot.
Friday’s lesson is that you won’t take many good shots behind the wheel of a car. There is no substitute for getting out and walking. I have a good day and end up in Huddersfield at just about lunch-time. The streets are busy with shoppers, the sun is shining and I’m in nostalgia land. Every building has a memory. The town hall proudly advertises lunch-time organ recitals. When I go in the two ladies at the box office, when they eventually find space in their conversation, treat me like an idiot.
“Is there a concert this lunch-time?”
“This lunchtime?” (the emphasis was on this). “Of course not.”
“The season hasn’t even started yet.”
“How silly of me not to know.”
“If you want a programme of events you can get one from the Civic Centre.”
“That’s OK. I’m only here for the day and just fancied listening to some music.”
“But there isn’t a concert.”
I click my way through the piazza, past the market hall (built in 1972 to replace a really beautiful market hall) which has recently been considered for demolition. It is in some ways a stunning building. It is the only asymmetrical paraboloid roofed building in the world. Unfortunately the only place you can enjoy the architecture is from rooms on the top floors of the Chemistry Building of the University. Stunning but inappropriate artwork is now totally masked by trees. The interior of the building is cramped and dingy. In other words like most seventies market halls.
If you want to understand the aesthetic and cultural impact the architects of the sixties and seventies had on the north of England visit Huddersfield and compare the old with the new. Then go to Halifax and see just what Huddersfield lost.
I enjoy my photographic wander down the streets of my youth. I end up in a restaurant that used to be a posh glassware and porcelain shop. It’s the first time I’ve been through the door.
At one table a woman in her thirties is being slowly chatted up by a West Indian in his sixties. He has considerable charm. Three ladies who lunch have dressed for the occasion, all sporting those jackets that are cut short at the back. They don’t work well on two out of the three. The other table has three businessmen with an iPad. Status games are being played and I’m sure some decisions are being made that will help the country out of recession; though I’m not over hopeful.
I order the haddock and chips and it arrives a suitable eight minutes later piping hot from the fryer with a little pot of tatare sauce and a ramekin of peas puréed with mint. This is quite fashionable but I wish they would just serve peas. I can mash them myself thank you if I want to destroy half their appeal.
Along with a pot of decent tea served rather well in matching tea service and a glass of iced water the bill comes to a very reasonable £8.90. I’m happy to tip the rest of a ten pound note and go in search of a haircut.
Huddersfield is the very place for a trim at the moment. Haircut wars seems to have broken out with at least half a dozen places advertising £5 deals. I go into one, that was a sports shop the last time I was in town, and am half way through a short back and sides when there is an influx of the youth of the town. I’m the only customer over eighteen, the only one with trousers that have buttocks at buttock height and the only one not having tracery inscribed into my barnet.
I thoroughly enjoy the banter and leave the shop with a renewed admiration for the wit of our young people … and rather more shorn than I’d planned.