Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Suicide meal

Well, it could have been. For tonight I am on my own, bar a couple of divine little girls and the shapeless company provided by the vapours from a well-stoked pipe of sticky green. But the actuality couldn’t have been more different. Having dropped the Wife off at the airport this afternoon I could hardly not drop into the airport shop for a steak or something. It was calm in there, much quieter than the Saturday mayhem. I walked out with 6 searingly fresh sardines, a kipper, a loaf of three-seed bread and a bag of beef bones for £6.50. I couldn’t have been happier.

But I am not supposed to be fannying around in the kitchen at all, only to look round and find my daughters twitching [I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t something else to this] in their chairs as they frown awkwardly into the middle distance. The afternoon turned into a bit of both I suppose, given that I can hardly count my throwing together of a kids’ broccoli and pasta cheese bake as indulgence but did find time to set a beef stock in motion for general winter purposes. It was 10 by the time I sat down to the platter of crispy grilled fish, scored deeply and scattered with parsley, Maldon and lemon; a good glug of olive oil and some soft brown bread and butter. I haven’t had fresher sardines that I remember, it was an awesome feast, even if one that was bathed in the carnal aroma of boiling beef bones.

I love food like this. Normally I would have sourced a steak under such circumstances, but I felt after Sunday I needed to stay away from the artery stuff for a wee while. It was a blow-out perhaps, but not an uncivilised one. From the morsels of herring-in-oatmeal thrown out before the salmon and parsnip soup to the other-worldly quality of the fresh vanilla ice-cream -- a pint of double cream, 6 egg yolks, two vanilla pods and 100g caster sugar – it was smiles all round. And the menu couldn’t have been better matched to the limitless appetites around the table. We got through a fucking shed-load of meat, I did you not. And it was fucking good meat too, the salt marsh lamb carrying a flavour the likes of which I have never tasted in a ruminant.

But now, alas, it is time to start straining that vat of hot brown brew congealing behind me. I don’t have the time for it. I am stretched to the limit and will be standing here, moderately monged, carefully pressing root vegetables through a sieve for a meal the cooking and eating of which may take place months after I am dead. But at least it beats making a Monday stir-fry from them.

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