The F Word. Not just food, fashion or the obvious but the most important of all the F ‘s…. feeling.
The way food makes me feel. How certain tastes can conjure up incredible feelings of nostalgia and happiness or for me personally in the past, instant feelings of guilt, self-hatred and discomfort.
If I am honest, I have had a love hate relationship with food for many years. It has, at times, acted like the barometer of the happiness in my life. If I was bad or good, if I was eating well or not. During my teens, I became very accustomed to the question ‘How’s your eating?” or the uber annoying “you’re looking so well”. Errrr F word off would be my internal reaction to that one.
It has been a journey, a long and uncomfortable one, but a journey none the less. A journey of self-discovery and many many lessons learnt along the way to which I would like to share more of within this blog.
However, right now (I don’t know about tomorrow) but right now I am more at peace with food. I do not mask my feelings anymore about it and I hope in some small way the openness I now have will help others share theirs.
So, for me to share with you the food I now cook, eat and experience and most importantly enjoy is huge. Monumental in fact. It has been very hard but I have managed to turn the negative feelings I got to know so well towards food into feelings of enjoyment, love and even happiness.
Case in point a few weeks ago….
In my opinion Sundays are made for 2 things only. Cooking & eating. Perhaps also interspersed with the administrative things one has to do for Monday like laundry, washing hair, calling your parents etc but fundamentally they are about food.
One particular Sunday saw a feast to end all feasts. A good 6 hour conjuring of the most exquisite Middle Eastern which took over Jimmy and my entire weekend.
From Saturday to end of day Sunday, we were caught in a haze of harissa, grating, pounding, chopping…the culinary version of a gym.
Jimmy decided to create some dishes from the Palomar recipe book.
To run alongside I created my take on a Muhammara dip which is a traditional accompaniment made primarily from walnuts and charred red peppers.
See below a brief outline of how to make it:
x 2 Charred Red peppers (I used the ready-made in a jar)
Cumin (1 heaps Tsp)
Pomegranate molasses (1 Tbsp)
Chilli flakes (pinch)
Lemon (squeeze to taste)
Linseed (the normal is breadcrumbs)
1. Pulse walnuts then add the Peppers (about 3/4 pieces)
2. Wizz blend until smoother then add other elements
3. Season to taste
This is basically the lazy version of the Ottolenghi recipe.
We baked a spiced cauliflower to go with it and oh my lordie lord. Once you try baking a cauliflower, you won’t be left disappointed, or hungry which is the misconception associated with it.
The cauliflower ‘steak’ although I hate that terminology is juicy, meaty and filling. It gives you the satisfaction that a beef steak gives you that I promise.
Anyway, back to Jimmy and the Palomar mountain menu:
Homemade pitta bread
He also made a herb oil to drizzle over the top and also a zataar spice mix which was incredible.
From Jimmy’s FFT take over in the last blog post on Barrafina, Palomar is one of his favourite restaurants. I say this with a mouthful of distain as I have not yet been.
Middle eastern food is undoubtedly one of my favourites. If I were to suddenly die, I would die happy from too much humus or too much baba ganoush or my ultimate… Harissa. I could eat buckets of harissa. I have it with bread, salads, fish, cheeses. I literally baptise myself in it. (I am yet to make it so stay tuned for that)
The spice, the sweetness and the colours of this extraordinary cuisine I find very comforting.
Palomar (or so I’ve heard) is one of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in London. Situated in Soho and inspired by the rich cuisines of Jerusalem, Southern Spain and North Africa. It is next on the FFT bucket list.
And now Focaccia.
Another one of the great F words and something I made for the first time yesterday. I even kneaded the dough. The meaning of which I have always struggled with let alone done.
Ive gone around my whole childhood and a substantial amount of my adult life thinking why are people suddenly admitting how little they earn and how poor they are when baking, Also, is it a thing that on admission of this you have to accent a New Yorker?
Anyway, I made a focaccia which is one of my favourite doughs and even though I don’t need bread, I knead the bread and it was fun!
I am sorry that this has been slight mish mash post and not the factual, informative and coherent write up I constantly wish I achieved each but hey ho. It has just come out naturally so I’m not going to fight that as for me, it is a thank you to food, who without, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
So, thank you food. You have thrilled me, scared me and got the better of me at times. But you have also brought me joy, confidence and have pushed me to start this blog which I would never have done so I will always be grateful to you.