Travels with my Taste

November has slid into December and the barometer has dropped overnight warning of record lows. Snowflakes can be seen on the Met Office forecasts north of the Watford Gap. The High street glitters with red and gold, Ho ho hos and prancing reindeer decorate shop windows whilst sleigh bells tinkle away even in the corner shop. Continue reading “Travels with my Taste”

The Spice of Life

An attraction to the exotic started early in my childhood. At primary school, the pink territories of the British Empire covered the world map on the classroom wall. The adventures of Sinbad the Sailor and Gulliver’s Travels inspired our imaginations of other more colourful worlds. Continue reading “The Spice of Life”

Spicing up an Anglo Dutch War

Great Britain has a long tradition of being at war with the Dutch. From 1652 to 1784 there were four wars and then more conflicts during the later Napoleonic era. As both nations were sea-faring and had economic policies bent on maximizing their global trade and accumulating gold and silver, their policies led to colonization and then to war, mainly with each other. The Dutch/Anglo relationship therefore has had its share of ups and downs but a strong bond was forged during and after the Second World War. Today, however we seem to be heading for another down after the shock result of the Brexit referendum and the UK’s desire to exit out of Europe. Continue reading “Spicing up an Anglo Dutch War”

A Sikh Presentation

My love affair with everything Indian started more than four decades ago. At seventeen, straight from the confines of a Wiltshire market town, I moved to London, to the safety of a Knightsbridge based YWCA hostel. Here, girls under the age of 21 could live in shared rooms for just under five pounds a week, which at the time was just under half of my weekly wage packet. Continue reading “A Sikh Presentation”

Creating Cookie Monsters

How do we learn to cook? I remember my grandmother assigning me a variety of tasks in the kitchen: scraping out the last of the cake mix from the mixing bowl with a spoon –  her adage of “every last bit could feed a starving child in Biafra” – ringing in my head, crushing a clove of garlic and a pinch of salt against the back of a teaspoon on a saucer until it became a puree, and stuffing mint into the rattling hand mincer to make mint sauce for Sunday’s lamb roast. Was that learning? Perhaps, because I was always encouraged to taste but never made to do the washing up until I was much older, kitchen duties always remained enjoyable and never a chore. I learned by osmosis, by tasting and by doing. Continue reading “Creating Cookie Monsters”

Worth his Weight in Sea Salt

As children, we spent many a school holiday in the tiny hamlet of West Portholland in south west Cornwall. My parents had taken a long-term rent on a two bedroom cottage which stood above the bay, backed against a damp cliff covered in ivy and protected from most of the wild winds which would strike the coast during the Christmas and Easter holidays. Continue reading “Worth his Weight in Sea Salt”

My Just Desserts

Let’s get this straight, British desserts rock. Italians maybe the past masters at gelato – read my post ‘Decamping the Ice Cream Myth’ – chased only on the commercial edge by the Americans; the French may claim fruit tarts, custard based crèmes and le soufflé; the Portuguese have heavenly custard tarts and Australians the pavlova; but no one else does ‘puddings’ like the British do. Sticky toffee, suet, bread and butter, upside down and not forgetting Christmas’s ‘figgy’, all hearty warming puddings that smothered in custard stick to your soul and offer comfort.  Continue reading “My Just Desserts”

The Business of Awful Offal

Where to start? Where to buy? Unless you are a habitué of restaurants trying to climb the ladder of Michelin stardom, you are unlikely to find offal served up in many parts of the UK. My local supermarket is nearly void of any offal, or ‘organ meat’ as my transatlantic friends refer to it. They are not keen on it either, but then I would find the word ‘organ’ more difficult to digest. What happened? Continue reading “The Business of Awful Offal”

Sons and Book Covers.

River Cafe Cook Books

Indian summer hasn’t materialised and London is gently drifting towards autumn. The last runner bean and courgette have been picked and spiders abound, swinging their nets across the garden so that you have to duck to reach the verging on empty wood store. Continue reading “Sons and Book Covers.”