27 February 2015

Friday's Literary Feast

Quotes from The Virago Book of Food:  The Joy of Eating

MONICA ALI

They sat on the grass in St James's Park and Nazneen laid the picnic out on four tea towels.  Chicken wings spread in a paste of yoghurt and spices and baked in the oven, onions sliced to the thickness of a fingernail, mixed with chillies, dipped in gram flour and egg and fried in bubbling oil, a dry concoction of chickpeas and tomatoes stewed with cumin and ginger, misshapen chapattis wrapped while still hot in tinfoil and sprinkled now with condensation, golden hard-boiled eggs glazed in a curry seal, Dairylea triangles in their cardboard box, bright orange packets containing shamelessly orange crisps, a cake with a list of ingredients too long to be printed in legible type.  She arranged them all on paper plates and stacked up the plastic tubs inside the carrier bags.
  'It's ready,' she cried, as though calling them to the table.
  Shahana extricated a Dairy Lea and picked the foil apart.  She rolled the cheese inside a chapatti.  Bibi sat on her feet and chewed at a chicken wing.  Chanu took his time loading a plate with each item, including three crisps and a slice of the cake.  He balanced it on his knee.  'It's quite a spread,' he said in English.  'You know, when I married your mother, it was a stroke of luck.'  He gestured at the tea towels as if his luck were plainly on display.  Then he ate with a fervour that ruled out conversation.

Brick Lane


8 comments:

  1. I can't remember the last time I had Dairy Lea but they were As staple of our picnics too.

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    1. I had to look them up and, as suspected, they're like out Laughing Cow triangles. Can't remember the last time I had one of those either, bookertalk! Lovely of you to stop by...

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  2. I remember thinking when I read the book that it sounded delicious and so un-English.

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    1. Between this post and watching The Hundred-Foot Journey yesterday I could devour half of the menu at Bombay's Chutney.

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    1. Haha...I will not be held responsible if you ate too much for lunch! Glad you enjoyed it.

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  4. I remember reading Brick Lane. Great book and I loved that it referenced Dairy Lea cheese triangles. Staple food of all picnics!

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    1. With the dastardly winter we've been having this year a picnic is the stuff dreams are made of. My husband and I packed up a picnic last year...there were hotdogs...my husband set fire to a picnic table in a conservation area. It was all very unintentional, of course. Perhaps cheese triangles would be a safer source of protein!

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