Category Archives: Ramblings

Lost in Translation – The Ultimate Holiday Menu

“Cotopus cocked to the hot plat”, “Crap salad”; there are always a few menu mis-haps to get you chortling when you’re on holiday but I’d love to challenge any of you to find a better menu than this.

I’m not sure why, but the Spanish do seem to be exceptionally good at literal translations. Pete and I visited Cazorla a few years ago. I’d often driven through the mesmerizingly endless kilometres of olive groves en route for Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada and the coast but I’d never even stopped in the Andalucian province of Jaen before. Nobody had mentioned the stunning Sierras de Segura y Cazorla National Park or the beautiful towns of Úbeda, Baeza or Cazorla.  GO THERE – You’re a million miles away from the coach loads and the tour guide mayhem of the Mezquita and Alhambra (I should know that was one of my first jobs). Now this is beginning to read like a tourist brochure and so I promise to cut the waffle and just post a load of pictures to capture the feel of the place. This was, after all, meant to be a post about menus and as usual I’ve digressed BUT, just one more thing the fabulously shady little B&B-ish little hotel where we stayed is worth checking out.
So here is the starter menu. I’d really like to draw your attention to the local speciality of  9. “Migas con tropezones” (fried breadcrumbs with chunky bits of charcuterie) and the selection of “Revueltos” 16. through to 22. (of scrambled eggs with accompaniments)

Lost in TranslationIt was all fine until Pete turned to the English menu for a bit of help. The entire situation was made worse by a very serious and exceedingly sincere waiter. Just take a look at the “Inlets” selection. Just how do you decide between the “You crumble with stumbles” or the appetising “In a mess (untidy of the house)” when there’s a  “cocktail of plugs” on the menu too?

Great menu mis-translations.And, as you can see from the next page this could all be washed down with a “pitcher bleeding” before you led your “Sucking pig to the oven of fuelwood”. I’m sure you’ve all had moments when you’re delirious with laughter, nearly wetting yourself in fact. I’m just wondering whether Google Translate will ever be able to deliver such fabulous style. So please surprise me and email me any contenders you may have this summer for the best holiday menu.

More excruciating laughter pain

Here are some pictures of Cazorla too.

In Cherry Heaven

Cherries

I’m gorging on cherries, it’s such a treat. I rarely splash out on them in the shops, they cost a fortune and are often pretty disappointing too. Today’s cherries came from gorgeous Jen’s garden up the road in Clifton. I couldn’t believe my luck when she caught up with me in the school playground and invited me round to collect some. I seem to have gained a reputation for being a gannet; I’m thrilled, anyone’s glut will find a happy home here. The school gate brings many rewards: Jo’s quinces, Kate’s rhubarb, Dan’s cod (which Peter came home to find stuck in our letterbox one evening) and now a huge basket of Jen’s freshly picked cherries.

Imi and I arrived with our basket, fully expecting to be climbing ladders and putting in a bit of labour for our prize but Jen was up the tree in a millisecond and looked rather graceful and serene up there, a perfect photo opportunity. The tree was groaning with fruit, this blast of summer heat has obviously done the trick and she filled our basket in a matter of minutes. I tried to avert my gaze from the other trees laden with young apples and plums just in case I seemed to be eyeing up the next potential bumper crop, I don’t want to push my luck. One thing’s for sure, the ornamental cherry that’s just pegged it in our garden will be replaced with a fruit tree. In fact, why do we ever plant anything but fruit trees in our towns and cities? Just take a look at what Pam Warhurst has achieved with the Incredible Edible movement in Todmorden, Yorkshire, where virtually every inch of public land has been planted up with fruit and vegetables.

Now, as I dive into another cherry, I’m just weighing up what to do with the remaining kilo!
Perhaps some browned-butter and cherry muffins and then I can’t decide between a jar of pickled cherries and or a compote. First I may just go out and invest in a cherry pitter. Will it double up for olives too? I’ll let you know along with some recipes in the next few days.

  • Rent your own cherry tree (telegraph.co.uk) – What an amazing concept! A bit too far for me, but surely some of those Somerset apple orchards could follow suit?

Les Escargots

At last we may have found a new source of income on our doorstep, our daughter Imi is proving to be a natural with snails. There’s apparently a 3 year course in gastronomic gastropod management on offer at a specialist college in France but I think she’s already got the touch. The garden wall is the perfect breeding ground and ever since I read about snail caviar (that can apparently fetch as much as Beluga) I’m suddenly feeling rather excited about the armies that pile out of all the little crevices at the first sign of rain. Dainty  “Escargot pearls” are apparently a hit amongst Michelin-starred chefs nowadays so it’s just a question of learning how to harvest the tiny foresty-flavoured eggs.

I am joking, not about the caviar but about our snail farming aspirations, and sadly have to admit that I’m not even a huge fan of garlicky French escargots. I know that this does sound terribly pretentious, but the only snail I’ve ever truly savoured was in Heston Blumenthal‘s infamous snail porridge at The Fat Duck, but then he’s a magician. I’m sure that there are a few die-hard foragers who’d bother to go through the days of purging required to prepare their own garden snails for the pot (feeding them carrots and waiting for their pooh to turn orange is apparently the best way to check that they’ve expelled any toxins). Quite honestly I’d rather just bump them all off but I’m meeting some serious resistance. Our snails enjoy virtually protected status thanks to the father/daughter team I’m up against, and now I’m panicking about my foliage. Poisons are banned in case they harm any frogs or birds, barbaric stamping brings bad karma and there’s even a Tippex numbering system in place so that we can monitor our resident snails’ movements.

Now I find myself creeping around the garden under cover of darkness, equipped with head torch, collecting snails (barring numbers 1-42 where there is an amnesty in place) to be relocated up the road beside the Suspension Bridge. Everything was going fine until I got distracted the other night and left the snail bucket in the kitchen overnight. They’ve now all relocated and I have a new army of snails along with their unbearably huge, leopard slug cousins living in my saucepan cupboard.

Is there anybody out there?

Hello, and how the hell did you find me?

I’m so excited that, as a complete technophobe, I’m here writing my first post. It will be short. It’s almost midnight and it’s only taken me about three days to get this far (my trusty handbook  promised me that I’d be posting within six minutes) but I’m elated. I’m the woman who’s had an iPhone for years and my only app is a burping dog game downloaded by a friend in a desperate attempt to keep my six year old quiet in a restaurant. I’ll be tweeting by the end of the week too.

You’ll have to wait for another few days for something more exciting. I’m taking delivery of my first vegetable box next week and lying within will be my source of inspiration.

So for seasonal recipes, photos, a bit of chat and the odd tip….. WATCH THIS SPACE!