The Refuge has been topsy-turvy for the last three weeks; baking has been minimal, cooking has been unusually spare, and on some nights, the worst has happened: frozen pizzas or Mexican takeaway. I blush to admit this, but there is also a very good reason for these lapses. Continue reading
Rainy and moody October is the month for hiraeth, the poignant yearning for something unknown and undefined, for beauty, the beyond, the mystery that will never be solved, for that which was once had and is now lost, or which was never had at all. Hiraeth belongs to Wales, a country experienced in conquest and loss, the inhibition of language and identity. It is the silent voice of a country’s — or an individual’s — longing.
Respect to Scotland. Two weeks ago the Scots had one hell of a decision to make, and they responded with pure courage. 45% were brave enough to vote yes to independence, 55% were brave enough to vote no, and nearly all were brave enough to respect those who thought differently. They all had the guts to confront the status quo. The yes voters were ardent in their desire for progress and change; the no voters didn’t necessarily vote against progress and change, just against independence. The Scots took their country to the very brink of either disaster or destiny, but whatever the result — they all had the courage to move from the place they were. What a message! And the Union listened.
Scotland is also a ravishing country. If you see beauty in the austere, as I do, here it is. Continue reading
If you wanted to keep only one light sauce in your repertoire, which you would enjoy so much and make so often you’d have the recipe memorized, I’d recommend Bois Boudran. It has a tomato-y base, a generous amount of fresh herbs, and a light touch of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. Wonderful with celeriac, divine on fish, worth trying on nearly anything except dessert.
It’s also an example of how a recipe is not carved in stone, and as its creator’s tastes change, the recipe changes too. Continue reading
We went to New Orleans for two things: live music and live food. Finding the music took all of ten minutes — the walk from our hotel to Bourbon Street. As for the food, our plan was to try as many classic New Orleans dishes as possible. We ate beignets and chicory coffee for breakfast, munched on oyster po’ boys and shrimp rémoulade midday, and dined on rabbit jambalaya, turtle soup, three versions of seafood etouffée, and four versions of gumbo. The immediate “let’s try this at home” winner was gumbo. Ah, the naïveté of the first-timer . . . Continue reading