Thursday, 3 May 2012

May 3rd - The common cold and witchcaft

Dear Nigel,

I am sitting here in limbo with that uncertain taste in my mouth which tells me for certain that a rather nasty cold is heading my way. Like the heaviness in the air before a storm i can sense it coming and my spirits droop correspondingly. I am told the best 'cure',as such, is fifteen raw cloves of garlic taken at the first inkling. This no doubt has the effect of keeping every germ known to man at a distance of fifty paces including your nearest and dearest who undoubtedly are the carriers of your incubating cold in the first place. Failing that, we are in the realms of spells, potions, old wives tales and echinacea. I like to think the latter taken as a herbal tea is doing me some good, but I'm not 100% convinced of the evidence.

I turn to your book ' Real Food' for some garlic inspiration as a whole section is given over to it. Looking for something a little less toxic for a cold cure i find your description of the new season's garlic rather beautiful and poetic. It is still a little early for the first garlic to appear at the market. It comes around late May or early June from Italy or France and is "plump and white, its skin a soft green, brushed with anything from the faintest pink to the deepest mauve." In your eyes it "is the sweet, mild garlic of romance" - not probably the fifteen raw cloves recommended though, unless your partner also has a bad cold i suppose.

Your solution for a goodly amount of garlic is to roast it in a baking dish with olive oil and a little thyme and bay leaves. In this recipe the whole head of garlic is left in its bulb, severed into two halves and left to bake until the slightly caramelised cloves can be scooped out with a teaspoon and pureed with a pestle and mortar - a very satisfying feeling. The resulting goo can be used in a number of ways. My favourite idea of yours is the sauce made with masala and double cream to accompany chicken.

I decide to go with your recipe for baked chicory with parmesan, where the halved chicory is cooked in butter and garlic then covered in lemon juice, breadcrumbs, parmesan and baked. It can be found on page 147 as a sublime side dish for four people,( or two piggies who can't get enough of it in our case).

I turn to your diary and see that you have procured a crate of zesty lemons still with their leaves intact. This is my other pronged approach to blasting a cold, with the maximum amount of vitamin C my system is prepared to accept relentlessly doused throughout the day. Like you, i always like to start my day with a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water, to clear out the system.

You are making a rather lovely dish of linguine with lemon and basil. I have made pasta dishes in the past that contain lemon and have always loved their freshness and the vitality which they bring. As you put it: "Squeezed or grated into a cream sauce and matched to fat, peppery basil leaves, they introduce a vitality all too often missing in Italian pasta 'comfort' suppers." This recipe has no cream in it, the sauce being made purely from the lemon and parmesan and is lighter because of it. This seems like the ideal cold cure to me and looks like being tomorrow's supper in our house.


No comments:

Post a Comment