Food corner

"... there’s no despair in a seed. There’s only life, waiting for the right conditions – sun and water, warmth and soil – to be set free. Every day millions upon millions of seeds lift their two green wings."

Janisse Ray

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The Icelandic Pantry, Borough Market

“They say that every time you experience a new taste you add a year to your life.”

I’m not sure who “they” are, but if it’s true then last night I added 14 years to my life. So I am inclined to agree with them. Whoever they are.

Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to a reception at The Icelandic Pantry at Borough Market. This is a special, one-off event giving Icelandic farmers, fisherman and other small-scale producers a chance to present their goods to the UK public at Borough Market. They will be there for one more day (Saturday, 10th October) so do pop down while you have the chance.

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Moroccan-spiced carrots

Today I am updating a post from November last year to make use of these glorious heritage carrots from Natoora. Of course, you can just use normal ones or baby carrots as I did originally. The introduction that follows remains the same, but I have edited the recipe.

As a budding young food anthropologist I feel very ambivalent about the name I have just given this recipe. I just spent my summer writing a dissertation querying the very notion that any dish or cuisine can be assigned a nationality. However, the alternative is a bit of a mouthful: “Carrots with preserved lemon, cumin, caraway and coriander seeds”. I could keep things vague, e.g. “Middle-Eastern spiced carrots”, but that only extends the problem, anthropologically speaking. Anyway, the point here is these carrots are bloody delicious and I really ought to leave such musings to my anthropology pages.

This is such a simple recipe. I threw it together for the first time a few weeks back when all I had in the fridge was a bunch of carrots from the farmers’ market and some preserved lemons that I made a few months ago. (Any excuse to use the lemons – they are fabulous.)

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Borough Market Blog, Sydney prawns and Dad's "benchmark" aioli

I’ve just started a series of guest posts for the Borough Market Blog. Check out the first post here. In the series I will be touching on some of the themes I have covered on my food anthropology page on food and identity. I’m interested in the special significance that people attach to the foods that they grew up with and the role this plays in defining who we are.

Over the coming months I will be speaking to seven traders from different ethnic backgrounds about the foods that are important to them and why. For the first post, I decided to ask myself the same questions I will be asking the traders. What are the foods that remind me of home? What foods make me feel nostalgic? What foods evoke special memories for me?

One thing I miss most about Sydney (my other home) is the seafood. In London, the best quality seafood is to be found at Billingsgate, which is very much geared towards the wholesale market. If you want to buy fish from there you have to get up at sparrows fart and trek out to Poplar (far for me). The Sydney Fish Market, on the other hand, is centrally located and aimed at both retail and wholesale customers. 

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Purple cauliflower polonaise

My Dad didn’t often make vegetarian main courses when my sister and I were kids. He knew he was likely to be hurled with abuse. This was one of few of his vegetarian dishes that did not induce a temper tantrum. I think it was probably the crispy, salted breadcrumbs that did it. He was always very liberal with those.

For my cooking demo at the Natoora shop this week I am making my Dad's recipe with purple cauliflower, as well as white. Of course, you can just use white cauliflower on its own, as my Dad does. The purple cauliflower does look fabulous though, doesn't it? It tastes great too. They're grown organically for Natoora by Good Earth Growers in Cornwall.

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Apple and greengage crumble

There is only one month left of summer and while everyone else is busy catching the last rays of sun, I am trying to make the most of all the wonderful summer fruits at Natoora before they go out of season.

One of my new favourites is the Reine Claude Doree greengage. It is the variety from which all other greengage plums originate. Doree means golden; unlike most greengages, which have green flesh, these are golden when fully ripened.

The golden, jammy flesh of the Reine Claude Doree works beautifully in this summer crumble. The natural sweetness of the fruit is well balanced with crisp, tart green apples. Sweetened with honey and topped with a crumble packed with cobnuts, this recipe turns a simple dessert into something special.

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