“I think the heart remains a child
The mind may grow wise
But the heart just sulks and whines and remains a child.”
– Everything But The Girl, ‘The Heart Remains A Child’
For this recipe you will need:
About a pound of wholemeal bread (stale will do)
Pint of milk
8oz brown sugar
8oz mixed raisins, sultanas, currants
2tsp spice (cinnamon, coriander, cumin – or the commercial ready-mixed spice)
A little nutmeg
Break up the bread and let it soak in the milk in a large bowl. Heat oven to 180C (gas mark 4). Add the raisins etc and mix everything together vigorously with the butter (which you might want to melt a little in the microwave to ease things), and the sugar and spice. Any small children will enjoy this mixing, if you need help, and don’t mind some of the mixture being spread over the work surface and adhering to your clothes.
Beat the eggs and mix in well. Put the whole lot into one or more greased shallow ovenproof dishes. Bake for around 45 minutes or until set.
Delicious and evocative, hot or cold. Evocative for me, anyway.
Some years ago I had an idea for a kind of cookery book memoir, telling stories about events associated with some of my favourite dishes. A bit like ‘Fever Pitch’, but with food instead of football.
In the event, it proved harder to write than I thought, and other people got in first with similar books. But some recipes and events stuck with me. Here is the first, which sets the scene for others to come, explaining why for me cooking and emotion are so closely linked.
Anyway, enough preamble. This story is called
‘The Corn Chowder of Love’
Here’s a story. It’s a bit sad. It’s called…
From the street, a sudden silence. I am at the back of the house, chopping vegetables in the kitchen, preparing an early dinner. I look up and stare at the door.
I hear nothing.
But there is always some noise in our road: cars passing, people talking as they walk past. The rumble of those council trucks taking a short cut to the depot.
Not now. For a few seconds there is silence. The kind of silence that makes you strain to hear the sounds it has replaced, a silence with things buried in it.
Then someone is shouting from the street.
SO I LIVE IN AN UNFASHIONABLE BIT of inner London. I don’t know if I mentioned that. Somewhere with a persistent image problem, not all of it undeserved. The local shopping centre can’t sustain a bookshop, nor most of the time a decent café. There may be more pound shops than boarded-up premises in the high street, but it’s a close-run thing.
But the image isn’t always deserved, and having lived for a long time now I have developed affection for the place. And in my treasured moments of quiet contemplation (see last week’s piece on introverts) I find a surprising amount of pleasure in my neighbourhood. And, amazingly for a shabby corner of south east London, little pockets of beauty.
When you live in the city you often don’t connect too strongly with the changing seasons. Especially a city in England, where not only do you not have a view of the stars to give you that sense of the world turning, but where you’re also likely to have a fairly uniform cover of grey cloud at any time of the year, cutting you off from even the most basic connection with sky and sun and moon. London days, let’s face it, can be a little samey, meteorologically-speaking: some are colder or warmer than average; sometimes the pavements are wet, sometimes they‘re not.
Blackberries – the fruit, not the handheld email monster
Filed under London, Places