One of the joys of living here is the amount of produce available to the gourmand.
I have been living in a serviced apartment with an ill equipped kitchen and a gas stove that becomes a flame thrower when you light the oven. Eating from the room service menu is pleasant but repetitive and I hanker to cut, peel, dice and chop. My hands want to feel the food and I want to have something to stir with the wooden spoon that belonged to my late father. He cooked with feeling and all who sat at his table were mesmerised by the flavours he produced; juicy meat that slipped off the bone, lemony roast potatoes and barbecues that enticed the neighbours to visit right on serving time. Walking through the local market he would show me what made a good orange or how to spot the freshness of fish, which herb went with each dish and how to buy just enough so that it all remained fresh.
As I walked into my local supermarket today I yearned for his chicken casserole and a bowl of his rizogalo (rice pudding). Into my basket went olive oil and cinnamon sticks, potatoes, beans and a baby chicken that I will simmer long and slow with a dash of tomato paste. A crunchy baguette, freshly baked in the store was bought to mop up the sauce and a bag of fat cherries from Lebanon for dessert. All types of fresh fish were displayed and I recalled his plaki – fish fillets layered with onions, potatoes, parsley and garlic then roasted in the oven under a drizzle of oil, lemon and oregano.
At the roastery I found many varieties of dates, pistachios, cashews, whole walnuts, mixed nuts with macadamias, dried apricots, pumpkin seeds, raisins and sultanas. Almonds dressed in sugar,honeyed, salted, slivered and ground were displayed aside baskets of lentils, beans,bulgur wheat and sesame seeds.
My cherries sat next to Lebanese grapes, peaches and apricots; mangoes, pomegranates and pomellos from India, figs and melons from Syria and a host of other fruit from as far away as the USA and the Philippines.
The variety of fresh vegetables would satisfy the heartiest vegetarian starting with artichoke palms and ending with zuchini. Freshly baked cakes made me swoon but I opted for fetta cheese from France and Greece’s Kalamata olives.
I can feel a dinner party coming on!