As Nablopomo wears on I've noticed people are posting rather a lot about what they've been having to eat, and I'm afraid I'm no exception. However, many people seem to quite like chatting about foodstuffs, so here's a generally comestible-related post.
This mild, moist late autumn has brought out an explosion of mushrooms and toadstools everywhere. I wanted Mol to pose beside this shaggy parasol to give an impression of its impressive size, but she wasn't too keen. I seldom bother gathering these, and they're short on flavour and can be woody, and this one was too big and wet anyway. Tom is carrying the umbrella not because it was raining, though it did a bit, but because we use it to fend off nuisance dogs, and it also gives us an air of stereotypical eccentricity to be seen carrying a classic black town umbrella around the countryside on a sunny day without a cloud in the sky. I gathered some good brown mushrooms the day before, and made them into duxelles, which I freeze in small portions in cake papers. I took a photo of this in the making but it looked fairly unattractive. Tastes good though.
As did the medlar fool. Four of the medlars were bletted enough to eat, ie on the point of going mouldy, so nothing for it but to get in there with a coffee spoon and fingers, which yielded a surprising amount of delicious deliquescing gloop, which I blended with brandy and brown and vanilla sugar, folded into lightly whipped cream and topped with a pinch of cinnamon and a crumbled amaretti biscuit. I think I have a culinary crush on medlars.
Caught a bit of Pointless this evening, a round on foods beginning with the letter 'c'. Apparently many more people (out of a sample of 100, anyway) in the UK know that ciabatta is bread than know that Caerphilly is cheese. I could come on all Food-Programme judgemental and sanctimonious about what that says about people's ignorance of indigenous food traditions and the power of the supermarkets, but I've ranted enough and I'm not sure it wouldn't be glib and unjustified; food practices, styles and terms have always been mobile and migratory anyway, perhaps.
Also watched professional Masterchef, the only version of the programme I will watch. Michel Roux Jr is rather wonderful, we think, a bon vivant with the mien of a fanatical Cistercian friar, but a very kind heart. Still, it was unfair of them to make them pluck and draw that woodpigeon, really.
Dinner: chicken with chopped pistachios, toasted beech nuts, preserved lemons and honey, served with chickpeas dresses with basil, mint and chopped tomato. The preserved lemons - citrons confits - were in a pretty, expensive jar from an gift shop in Lamballe where I had a credit note. You can get them cheaply enough in plastic or not very pretty glass jars in any supermarket but somehow they're much more tempting to use from an expensive pretty ones.
Pistachios remind me of the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf, where they seem to be the staple crop - I think in Greek they're called something like fistakkia Aegina whereas fistakkia are just peanuts (as I remember, but anyone can put me straight on that). The island was covered in orchards of them, and the shells seemed to cover the ground everywhere like shingle, and everything possible to eat seemed to contain them.
Chickpeas are one of the oldest things people ever cultivated, which I think is rather amazing.
I imagine I might be the only person ever to combine beech nuts with preserved lemon in a dish.
I promise to post about something other than food tomorrow!