May 18 2004

Heatwave in May

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Apple blossom
Suddenly we are catapulted into an early summer. The temperature is soaring and it’s still only May! What will follow I wonder. Apple blossom gleams against the blue sky and the wild spring flowers bake in the sun. Maybe the unusual heat will set the seeds wonderfully for next year.

I am finding it very hard to share Evelyne’s enthusiasm for stinging nettles (see Letter from Brittany, May 2004 ) having been stung so ferociously over the last few days as I tried to stop them over running the valley. I’m not even inclined to do them the honour of cooking them! Delicious though I know they are!
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May 18 2004

Birthday Cake

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The strawberries in the garden are in flower but no fruit yet so I’m afraid I cheated and bought lots and lots to go with the Polenta Almond and Lemon Cake I made for a friend’s birthday last week. The crunchiness of the cake goes so well with the delicious luxuriousness of strawberries and cream.
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May 06 2004

Letter from Brittany, May 2004

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Dear Sally,

Here, in La Ville Doualan, spring is just starting to point out his nose. I found a lot of traces of snails but the rim of the shells are still soft which means it is the period of reproduction and we have to wait one good month before eating them! I will give you the recipe next month.
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May 06 2004

Scallops, Criste Marine and Nettles

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Carpacio of scallops
Carve the scallops (the white and the pink) in very thin slices with a good carving knife. Lay the slices on a flat dish. Cover them with a little olive oil, salt, a mix of green and pink peppercorns and a lot of coriander leaves cut in small pieces.
Prepare the carpacio 2 hours before the meal.
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May 01 2004

The Valley, War & Rhubarb !

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The valley has burst into life once more. The weather is unseasonably hot, little seedlings wilt not yet robust enough to stand the strangely high temperature more associated with high summer. And yet, for all the beauty and tranquillity around me, I am aware of a heavy heart and a reluctance to extol the breathtaking wonder of my surroundings. For several days now I have noticed myself prevaricating about writing. This is new, where has my driven delight at the prospect of creating another “blog” about my valley and the gloriousness of its’ natural harvest gone? And then late in the night I realised it is the constant, relentless news bulletins of war and suffering that have penetrated my very being in a way I do not previously remember. And even now bombs drop on Fallugha, and fifty Diplomats join the chorus of dissent in an open letter no one hears.
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May 01 2004

Rhubarb

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Rhubarb
This vegetable, served as fruit pudding, turning up in a variety of terrible guises for years and years in guest houses and school dinners across the country, has led me on a quite remarkable route. As I tried to trace a little of our culinary connection to it, rhubarb has taken me back through time unbelievably to where I began this entry, that is Iraq. When the capital of the Arab world moved from Damascus to Baghdad in A.D.763, the Round City, Abode of Peace, situated in the central point of the Middle East between the Euphrates and the Tigress, became the centre of trade with the East. Traders headed East from Baghdad for all manor of goods; honey, quince, saffron, salt, pomegranates, quail. Earliest records of Rhubarb describe how it was brought back from China together with cinnamon. Rheum officialis was extremely important in ancient medicine.
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