I never thoughts I'd be writing a piece about carob. Especially after seemingly abandoning my blog for so long.
Here's my memory of carob;
Sandra Boynton's lovely little book about the history of chocolate in which she compares it to carob thus;
A scratch and sniff picture of carob comparing it to soil.
Carob bars turned up in dusty health food shops in the 1970's and '80's at a time when chocolate was seen as unhealthy (horror of horrors). It tasted awful. The carob not the chocolate. Of course we all know better now. It's sugar that's evil and chocolate that's good. Carob got left by the back door.
Fast forward a number of years to an ice cream maker in the Algarve. There amongst the usual flavours was fig. almond and carob.I tried it, I liked it, much to my surprise. On previous trips to the south of Portugal I'd seen carob for sale in markets. Now with new awareness it was everywhere; carob jam, carob liqueur, paired with figs of course, and in cakes and puddings.
As a crop it's been grown for thousands of years.
If like me you've always thought of carob as the poor relation of chocolate give it another chance. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Better people than I have already written extensively about carob.
Next time I'm in Portugal I'm looking forward to trying more carob products. I still don't want to eat it as a chocolate substitute because that way lies disappointment. But as an ingredient in its own right?
Thursday, 21 August 2014
I've just found a strange little piece I wrote in 1990. I was living in a new town where the age of consent had just been lowered to 40. It hadn't really, I just invented that, it was still 45. I was bored and lonely, and the elderly man next door had given me a few of his allotment grown tomatoes. That entire summer before moving, I’d been entrenched in a restaurant kitchen prepping ingredients. The scent of a tomato had brought back a memory which triggered this piece.
Years later, there I was cutting up tomatoes taken from a bag on which was written ‘grown for flavour’.
Slippery acid red sweetness. Pile high on the chopping board. Intense smell, condensed smell from memories childhood picture.
Half a tomato on the yellow and black patterned table. A tomato cut into eight. The knife eases through red juice, creating swirls of pips on the Formica. Like a bird, I'm waiting to be fed, I want to be fed. Feed me daddy. I don’t remember him doing anything as carefully, fragrantly as parting the flesh from the skin, blushing glowing particles roll and fold under his nails.
Tiny coffee spoon comes towards my mouth. Did I like tomatoes. I liked the ceremony. The skilful separation of edible from indigestible. The attention.
Memories are so complex, and tomatoes are just tomatoes. The memory scent never hit me till now. This summer, cutting up tomatoes. Tinned tomatoes, my hand reaches into giant tins, crushing them into sauces and purées. Spanish, English cherries, gardeners delight. Green striped tomatoes with polenta. Dried Italian tomatoes, saturated in the murky yellow depths of olive oil, sweet and intense. Ovals of tomato, the curved shiny end, that’s where the smell, the memory holds. Acute, acid, saccharine as sick. I hold it up to the light in the steam of the kitchen and watch the veins in their woolly prison, delicate and attuned to their fate. Guilt traps me. A kitchen is no place for the admiration of nature and artistry is in creation.
Memories are so complex, and we can’t always do what we wish. The only place in my room for the desk is in the window alcove. As a result, the time for words and writing is linked to the obsessive gardening habits of the man next door. I watch him battling to keep the wild and unruly away. I would like to throw a packet of wild flower seeds out of my window. Watch them take root in this so tidy town. See them unfurl, fast and furiously into the minds of these people who meet to defeat nature.
Conformity annoys the hell out of me. Makes me bloody minded and…
And I wish there was a market place. A loud place, a messy place where people could raise their voices and opinions, where the stall holders are racist, but tomatoes are cheap.
Thursday, 27 March 2014
No apologies for a very local posting. Things are moving in our neighbourhood. Tomorrow night the V&A is hosting a Tottenham Takeover. Tottenham is starting to be noticed. http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/f/friday-late/
Over the last six or seven years I’ve tried to keep a count of destination restaurants and pubs within our neighbourhoods. Places to take friends, to find a decent coffee.
This isn’t the ultimate list; I’ve pruned down my original 7 pages so please; fill in the gaps. I’ve concentrated on N15 and N17 and for this piece, left out the extras that are just over the borders.
Please comment, and add your suggestions.
Find a decent coffee; Bom Pecado Portuguese Café on
West Green Road is my favourite café.
Lovely coffee and natas that come with a little cinnamon shaker.
Find a decent restaurant. Miracle of miracles, there’s actually a restaurant that got runner up in the best cheap eats in the Observer Food Monthly Awards; Autograf on
West Green Road, N15 the Turnpike Lane end.
EIGHT Welcome our new Tottenham Green Market
It’s a travesty that Haringey doesn’t run a single street market in the borough. Not one. Ok so there are a couple of greengrocer stalls on Wood Green high street. Do tell me if I’ve missed anything else. What did they do with them all? I’m assuming that like other parts of
there were markets in place.
A trial market for the green is due to open 28th June.
Another place I’ve always means to check out but never got round to.
An intriguing mix of yoga, tango, poetry and Tai Chi.
Learn to sing!
Unearth an artist.
EuroArt studios on
Markfield Rd, open studios once a year worth attending
Mondays 7pm at El Botellon
Make green things grow
The award winning Living under one Sun run various courses
Hug a tree
The actual Seven Sisters; seven trees on the corner of
Broad Lane and the High Rd. Unmarked, no signs. The trees have been replanted several times over the years. You’ll have to go
to Bruce Castle Museum to find out
Help to preserve and appreciate the beautiful buildings in Tottenham; http://www.tottenhamcivicsociety.org.uk/
TWENTY Support your local events!