Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Salad surprise

An evening alone, and little in the way of hunger except for a mini-binge on junk food, harping back to the doorstep-pieces I used to stuff into my face as soon as I got in the door from school. Now it feels like a guilty act, something I would never do in front of anyone else like listening to Slippery When Wet or watching Back to the Future. So I slammed two breads into the oven for my cheese and pickle piece and sliced the remainder of a small round lettuce for company. And then, on this otherwise totally unmemorable late autumn evening, something rather magical happened.

I wanted some onion in the meal somewhere, so I sliced half a shallot fairly finely and threw it into a bowl with a good glug of extra virgin and some red wine vinegar. Then I added half a teaspoon of good wholegrain mustard, a little salt and pepper and a crushed garlic clove. I never thought any more of it, took my hot brown breads from the oven and sat at the table before a plate of thick slices of farmhouse cheddar and a fat jar of Branston. Delightful. And I just dumped my fork into the springy green salad, with Julie London resonating in the background, and took a mouthful in. At first I thought I’d accidentally put some sort of spice in it without remembering, coriander perhaps. But, of course, I hadn’t. It must been the sweetness of the shallots, slightly soft from ten minutes in the oil and vinegar. But everything seemed bang on, a fragrant taste without a single fresh herb. It really was remarkable.

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