I went through a phase where I thought Vietnamese summer rolls were the best thing since sliced bread. I was in my late teens, had never been to Vietnam (still haven’t…) and just thought they were so much more exotic than the stock standard spring rolls I had munched on all my life! I did and do love spring rolls, my parents make cracking ones, but I don’t think it was cool for a teenage girl to profess a love of deep fried foods back in the day.
Now, years later, I am still quite fond of summer rolls but I find myself ordering them less in restaurants and ordering spring rolls more. Mostly because I won’t let a certain someone get a deep fryer (that self conscious teenage girl had some sense) and summer rolls are so easy to make at home!
This city has been my home for over two years now. For a certain someone it’s been much longer; over seven years if you include the stint he did here before yours truly dragged him back, all because I wanted to join the flocks of Kiwis in London. This city has been good to us, but recently we’ve been struck with a case of itchy feet and wondering what other cities could be our future home…
We’ve fantasised about switching this vibrant bubble for one more exotic like Hong Kong or KL, throwing ourselves completely out of our comfort zones for the sake of an adventure! On the flipside, we’ve also talked about turning our backs on the mayhem and opting for somewhere slightly more laid back but equally as enthralling like Lisbon or Porto, two cities we’ve already fallen head over heels for!
I can only recall one plant which I have managed to keep alive for over a year; I was about eight and it was a cactus purchased from the school fair for 20¢. Pretty much sums up the extent of my gardening skills… needs to be something which can survive dire desert conditions and not terribly expensive as under my care, its life expectancy is low!
I thought I might have inherited some gardening skills from my parents, both of whom quite enjoy pottering out in the garden and having plants in the house but no, the green finger genes did not trickle down… Not that it bothers me at all; the idea of digging around in soil doesn’t really appeal and while I do love pretty fresh flowers, my hayfever doesn’t.
I have taken my current Korean food obsession to a new level. No longer content with satisfying my cravings whilst eating out, I somehow managed to convince myself to recreate some Korean dishes at home. Bearing in mind I’ve only just discovered this cuisine in the last few years and can barely pronounce some of the ingredients, let alone actually know what they are, this was definitely a step outside the comfort zone. The results? Mixed. And a little bit stinky…
I will try any food at least once because otherwise how will I know if I love it or loathe it, or just find it somewhere in between the two? Without this policy I would have never discovered my penchant for pickled herring, been completely underwhelmed by crocodile, or chowed down on grasshoppers… bugs really don’t taste too bad, I promise you, and they make for a hilarious cocktail party conversation. But not every bite has to be so out of the box, sometimes it’s just nice to rediscover flavours you thought you didn’t like but maybe now you do…
Like carrots. A lot of people know I have an unnatural dislike of orange vegetables (sweet potato, pumpkin, squash…) but in the last few years carrots have somehow broken free of this ban and now I eat them all the time. Recently sun-dried tomatoes and olives have also joined these ranks… though after two weeks in Morocco, I’m taking it easy on the olives for a while. I remember dabbling in the sun-dried tomatoes and olives in my late teens, I was pretending to be sophisticated but it didn’t really work so I promptly gave them up. Then sometime around my mid twenties they made a reappearance and have been in the good books ever since.
After spending close to two weeks in Morocco, I can confirm that there is only so much tagine and couscous a girl a can eat. If I’m being really honest, we kind of hit our quota for the Moroccan stew by about day three so had to get a little creative with our dinner choices, but there was one dish we were happy to eat all day, every day… a piping hot bowl of harira.
Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup which is popular during the winter months and after sundown during Ramadan; packed with flavour and ridiculously hearty, I can completely understand why it’s so well loved. Coming back to the brisk, near freezing temperatures of London was certainly a jolt back to reality so I thought I’d whip up my own version of a harira to keep those holiday memories alive and our bellies warm just that little bit longer!
Cancer; the sad reality is we’ve probably all been affected by it in some way, big or small, so the connotations around it are rarely positive. Along with politics and religion, I don’t think it’s the most ideal dinner party conversation but last week around the dinner table, we talked about just that. Pancreatic cancer to be precise. This disease affects over 8,000 people in the UK every year and unfortunately only 4% of people survive more than five years, a statistic which despite modern medicine’s best efforts, has not changed much in the last forty years.
Pancreatic Cancer UK is a national charity dedicated to supporting patients and carers, funding research, and campaigning for better care and treatment; a worthy cause indeed. This year, the charity launched their fundraising campaign ‘Host for Hope’ and asked if I’d like to be involvedâ€¦ all I had to do was host a dinner party and spread the message, and they would give me a huge helping hand with the dinner party in the way of Michelin starred chef John Campbell of The Woodspeen. How could I refuse? It’s for a good cause after all!