Stopped to talk with an elderly farmer who arrived in the village in the 1930s and found no fewer than five Batavian teak watermills flourishing here. In those days, there were small-holdings, not cottages, and each kitchen garden had several fig trees, hedges of quince and pomegranate, the ubiquitous rough-skinned lemon, orchards of pecan and almond trees, trained apricot trees and groves of apple trees. Villagers grew tilled plots of sweet potato and enclosed gardens of medicinal herbs, the lovely kankerbos (cancer bush) and buchu, aloes and bulbinellas. Then as now, it was a secretive, self-sufficient farming community where people often kept to themselves and murmured their secrets only to the beehives at the far end of pastures.
Early summer produce is bountiful right now, with tables and stalls under trees. New bulb fennel, the late broad beans, courgettes (zucchini), young butternut, small red cabbages, bunches of sorrel, shiny purple eggplants, French beans, okra and ripening Fuertes avocados. Glass jars of homemade yoghurt and feta cheese. Distilled lavender water in rinsed wine bottles.
I confide to the housemate that I am madly in love with a recipe alchemist called Yotem Ottolenghi who is creating the most enticing and irresistible new vegetarian dishes based on Middle East flavours and seasonal produce. (Hat tip to my much-loved friend Jan for alerting me to Ottolenghi’s recipes.) The housemate commiserates with my smitten, greedy vegetable infatuation and reaffirms that she remains a carnivore. We both try to ignore the Great Dane having innocent and enthusiastic sex with a bookcase. The housemate is not desperate to eat pearl barley risotto spiked with spring onions and sorrel pesto, but says she is open to the faint possibility it may be edible.
And the fencing contractor has promised to come around on Monday evening and think about finishing the fencing job. He no longer builds fences and seems to have forgotten all he ever knew about fences. It is possible to embarrass and ex-fencing contractor into completing a fencing assignment? I may attempt to bribe him with a stuffed aubergine snack –