Came back from my workshop filled with optimism and admiration for a group of very brave people willing to share about trauma and healing and solidarity.
Called my housemate and said happily: ‘I am going to make edamame beans for supper with mint and baby garlic! And some pan-glazed tofu with fennel and roasted red peppers. Or edamame beans with broccoli and Swiss chard timbales.’
“Oh help,’ said Una. ‘Couldn’t we just have steak burgers for a change? With fried chips and bottled ketchup?’
I have a small but not insignificant edamame fetish. No, I don’t think it has anything to do with incipent alcoholism or defects of character. Edamame beans are nutty and delicious and anyone would be glad to see them tender and green and nestled with a dab of butter and lemon juice on a handthrown ceramic plate of original organic riverbank clay. My housemate who has no alcoholic traits whatsoever, has a red meat fetish. She likes meat and potatoes and bread and something green as an afterthought served up on a large white china platter of mass-produced origin. ‘Green’ for her means any vegetable including tomatoes. The summer I obsessed about pomegranates in all my al fresco salads she nearly reached breaking point, but staved off her frustrations by eating takeaway fried chicken with no extras.
Yesterday she asked me nervously: ‘When you grow out of edamame beans what do you think will be your one & only irresistible ingredient this summer?’
“Well, I’d like to see more saffron in everything,’ I replied in dead seriousness. ‘Saffron gilds the ordinary risotto like liquid gold. I must find some veal marrow and make a classic Milanese risotto with saffron. But saffron is expensive. I am thinking about a strong Vietnamese mint with black stems that numbs the tip of the tongue for up to three hours. Or smoked aubergines to add a certain piquancy to casseroles and Mediterranean dishes. And then there are mustard greens. And a herbes fine vinaigrette from a French medieval recipe to go with vine-ripened tomatoes: the perfect signature dish for country living.’
‘Right,’ said Una. ‘Another four months of different ways with radicchio or wild spelt or home-fermented yoghurts. I think I might just fry myself some bacon and eggs while I get used to the idea.’
Difference is the spice of life, diversity makes for interest and tolerance. When I go out to a restaurant, I like to order something I have never eaten before and I can usually talk myself into liking it. Una likes to order the same thing each time, done the same way and cooks from her mother’s 1948 cookbook. I like novelty, she likes comfort eating. We are truly Tweedledum and Tweedledee in culinary terms.
TomAto, tomaato, potAto, potaato, let’s call the whole thing off.