Out in the newly planted garden a small feral cat has scratched up seedlings and small herbs. I shall have to start over and spray citronella oil on the soil to discourage the cat without harming him in any way.
One of South Africa’s leading novelists and human rights activists, Nadine Gordimer, has given a thought-provoking speech at the Hay book festival in the UK:
Asked to name her most significant authors, she emphasised Proust, whom she had read in English as a girl, later in French, and recently for a third time. “I realised in anguish there were some books I’d better reread before I die, so I decided to read it again in French,” she said.
When she was a girl, she said, “it showed me what a complex human thing was love; how it is a basic human relation that has nothing to do with the fact that one had to get married and have children. It also gave me an idea of freedom, and the trouble one might get into because of it.”
My favourite dish right now is my harissa, feta , mint and carrot salad, zingy and surprising. Here, adapted from Smitten Kitchen. is the recipe for those who like to live dangerously (when it comes to harissa in any case):
Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint
3/4lb carrots, peeled, trimmed and coarsely grated or julienned if you have the patience
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 crushed clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds or about half as much, ground in a pestle and mortar
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or about half as much, ground
1/2 teaspoon paprika — I use sweet smoked papriika
3/4 teaspoon harissa paste (a North African paste, very spicy and hot)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I use limes)
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
100 grams good quality feta, crumbled or chopped into bits
In a small sauté pan, fry the garlic, caraway, cumin, paprika, harissa and sugar in the oil until fragrant, about one to two minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Pour over the carrots and mix. Add the herbs, toss and leave to infuse for an hour and add the feta just before serving.
Oh and there’s book I am determined to buy just for the title alone, mentioned in an email from a botanist friend: Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority
Never pure, never perfect — but progressing in a wobbly hopeful kind of way. The snow on the mountains is melting and ditches are filled with icy clear water, the lemons, guavas and avocados on trees in my kitchen garden are ripening all together all at once and must be picked, a new friend is celebrating six months sober, another friend has relapsed and may or may not get sober again, As I was thinking about her plight early this morning, I came across this passage in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and reminded myself yet again of my own story of drinking ad infinitum all the way down to the end of my tether –
“Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people. Here are some of the methods we have tried: Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums–we could increase the list ad infinitum.”