Sunday, October 10, 2010

Obscene or vulgar vegetables ...

Up at the crack of dawn (I may exaggerate a bit, but not much - 7am, then) as I'd rather foolishly booked the car in for her WoF visit at 8. Not that there was much do be done: basically, just get the guy to check that yes, I had got new tyres on the front - it still meant driving down in the autumn fogs at an hour when I'm usually still nursing my first coffee of the day in the comfy chair, and wondering why it is that no-one's bought me a pain au chocolat aux amandes for breakfast. (Stupid question, I know. Jeremy's out to the world until 11, and when Margo does emerge from bed it's not exactly with a smile on her lips and a song in her heart. As a general rule, we try to avoid speaking to each other until the coffee-pot is empty.)

Still, it meant that I was - albeit rather unwillingly - awake, and as at that time of the morning Carrefour is more or less deserted the shopping went quickly and I was in at the market before the late-morning rush. Which doubtless explains why this marvellous specimen of aubergine was still on the stalls. (Margo reckons that if I'm not careful I shall turn into Baldrick. She's probably right, I should watch out for that.) 

Speaking of the vegetable in question, did you realise that the French have no equivalent for the English phrase "plumber's crack"? Seems odd, for a language so rich in other respects - like, having at least 237 terms for oral sex - but there you go. Strange but true.

'Tis now the season for root vegetables and other boring fodder, although I can still find tomatoes that actually taste of summer rather than cotton-wool: just have to accept that they may look a little deformed. And I managed to get some chili peppers, some of which will doubtless get to dry out and then go into the next batch of chili vinegar, and the rest will get borged into curries and whatever.

As a general rule one doesn't let peppers and pears sit too close for too long, but the pears were so buttery and the peppers such a brilliant red ... and in any case, they're none of them long for this world, and it's not as if they're going to get up to anything.

Whipped past the Alfa garage this morning too: I'd left my chequebook there on Thursday after paying for the maintenance. Unfortunately I was too early, and in any case most of them were off at the Salon de l'Automobile, but I got to squeeze into a Brera. The only guy that was actually present (the manager, I think) didn't seem too enthralled about that, but there wasn't really that much he could do about it, was there? I could feel that she really didn't want me to leave, and I'll admit that I could happily have taken her for a run, but it was probably better not to push my luck.

Had a bit of a shock on Friday, waking up and realising that all of a sudden I was a year older - and supposedly wiser. (As our hateful daughter rather spitefully remarked. Still, at least she remembered.) If I were wise, I'd be a cat. Like Jungle Kitten, over there. Now he has it easy. Cute as all hell, brain the size of a pea: only concern in life seems to be a perpetual fear that a twig or a blade of grass will attack him stealthily from behind, and consequently spends much of his time (when not annoying older cats) in pre-emptive strikes. Seems to give him hours of simple pleasure. Not that the "cute" works on Mischief (our official cat, you'll recall): she gave him pretty short shrift last time he dared invade our terrace.

And as, despite the heat, we know it's autumn, I've had something simmering away in the back of my mind for a while now (not the questions concerning suitable picnic fare for fussy eaters, involving nothing more complicated than a little Camping-Gaz burner and a frying pan, nor the imminent need to turn the central heating on) and that's a decent stew. So when I saw that Mr. B had some ox-tail, I knew what to do. Flour it, brown it in oil and butter for ten minutes, then sweat some onions and garlic in the fat before adding a glass or two of white wine and some chopped tomato, and let it simmer gently for four hours or so.

If you felt like it, you could give it an Italian twist by adding some lemon peel during the simmering, and sprinkling it with gremolada when you serve it. (To save you rushing off to google that, it's just lashings of lemon peel, garlic and parsley chopped very finely together. Adds zing.)

Dogs like it too, because they get to eat the bones.

Despite a full-on assault last weekend the grass is still green and growing blissfully down in the paddock: I'd kind of hoped that I'd not have to attack it again before spring, but that may have been a bit optimistic.

Karen's returned to Mumblefuck after a week in the States, aiding and abetting at her sister's wedding. Given their family it should have been an epic, probably entertaining, and doubtless eccentric affair: she and Margo are off to Milan for one of Margo's salons on Thursday so I expect I'll get a blow-by-blow account on Sunday night. With what Sylvia (that's Karen's mother, for those of you not up with world affairs) had to say (she's a sociopath, but she loves me because I am a Man Who Cooks, which is apparently a Good Thing), and what Karen had to say back, and ... well, everything. I can hardly wait.

I suppose you're all gearing up for a wonderful spring and a long lazy summer. Best of luck with that. Over here the vendange has finished (which at least means I can take the back roads again if I feel like it without being stuck behind a tractor for what seems like eternity) and all we're left with is the odd bunch on the vines that the machines somehow managed to miss.

Still, all warm from the late afternoon sun, they're lovely to munch on. Gotta finish them before the snow comes.

1 comment:

  1. An aubergine??? Bleached???? Not a proper aubergine unless it's purple!

    Don't take it too hard about the bthuthday - at least I remain 3 years older (& perhaps wiser???) than you :)