For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Purgative And Blackberry Pie

To loosely paraphrase, nay to subvert, Shakespeare: 'If food be the music of love, let's eat.' Or something like that. Dedicated readers of this blog will know that the subject of food and drink looms large in Solitarywalkerville, and I can't go too long without my fix of foodie posts.

First of all, a big thank you to blogreaders Bella and Karin for their suggestion of onion, garlic and chilli soup as a cold-busting remedy. I tried it and, by God, it worked! As usual I was too lazy to surf for a recipe, so I casually sauteed red onions in butter and olive oil, added an unprecedented quantity of freshly chopped garlic (this called for emergency measures), then finally an eye-watering amount of chilli powder (should that have been a teaspoon not a tablespoon-ful?), which I figured would blast the virus like a visit from some culinary Spanish Inquisition. I poured in chicken stock and whizzed up this lethal concoction. It looked bad, though innocuous enough: a sort of thin, brown, watery gruel. It tasted bad, too. And the aftertaste lifted the roof of my mouth clean off, leaving it somewhere west of Penzance on the Cornish coastal path. Screaming neural messages - was it pain, was it pleasure? I wasn't quite sure - ricocheted in shock waves from mouth to gut via oesophagus and stomach. These splenetic telegraphs seemed to shout: yes, this hurts, but it's good for you! And it was good. So, so good. This wondrous purgative shook the remnants of the virus from my system like Cynthia Payne thoroughly working out one of her more masochistically-inclined clients. I haven't had a sniffle since.



Next, and slightly more seriously, I wanted to tell you we've been out blackberrying. (For any younger readers - blackberry in this context is a wild fruit not a smartphone thingy. 'Wild fruit', I said - you know, growing in the hedgerows? With seeds? Oh, never mind ..!)

Foraging is heaven at this time of year and for the next month or so. (Remember Richard Mabey's book from the early 1970s, Food For Free?) On my Caminos I've picked walnuts freshly fallen from the tree, grapes missed by the harvester, nectarines and peaches from the orchards of the Camargue. I've shared raw, olive-oil-brushed wild mushroom delicacies with fungi gatherers in the woods of south west France. Oh, it's so satisfying and rewarding to go out into the countryside and pick your own food from nature's larder. We've already collected pounds of blackberries, and turned them into blackberry and apple crumble, blackberry and apple pie, blackberry fools (see pic). And I've just made some blackberry jus in a twinkling of an eye - from fresh blackberries, vanilla sugar and a little water - which will perfectly complement some delicious Lincolnshire ice cream. Or perhaps a venison steak.

Thanks for indulging me in my foodie post. Normal travel-and-poetry service will resume before long!

18 comments:

am said...

I like your food posts. Food looms large in my life. My mother wrote in my baby book that the first word I ever said was "cookie."

Whatcom County and coastal Western Washington are like the MIdlands in many ways, including an abundance of blackberries.

My favorite foods lately are sesame oil, olive oil, garbanzo beans, pistachio nuts, dill weed, basil, Brussels Sprouts and salmon, with only the last four of those foods grown or caught locally.

Lorenzo said...

Who has indulged whom? I thoroughly enjoyed your energetic and amusing descriptions of these dishes.

pilgrimpace said...

Nice one - spicey Indian food is also recommended for colds.

I'll be blackberrying when I get time later in the week - and you've got me thinking - I'm off to the larder to see if there's any bramble jam left from last year,

Andy

ps - has anyone tried all the food in Mabey's book? I draw the line at goose grass.

The Solitary Walker said...

Hey, Amanda, where Brussel Sprouts fit into all this I have no idea, but I like the combination of salmon with dill and beans! (I love Brussels, though - but I think we may be on our own here!)

Lorenzo - thank you for indulging the indulger...

And Andy - well, yes, there are items in our miserly weekly food budget even I would be loath to entertain... ;)

am said...

Steamed fresh-picked Brussels sprouts on the side. Pistachio nuts for a snack. Steamed fresh local salmon with dill weed, basil, sesame oil and olive oil. A cup of warmed garbanzo beans with salt and sesame oil.

Good food is the best medicine!

gleaner said...

My avatar name of 'gleaner' comes directly from the movie Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse where Agnes Varda filmed the ancient act of gleaning fields in France for food! So I'm another fan of this although admittedly I know nothing of the bush tucker foods of the indigenous peoples that abound here in Australia.

Another fan here of Brussel sprouts!

pilgrimpace said...

Had brussel sprout souffle a few years ago. A once in a life time experience.

The Solitary Walker said...

am - I'm just drooling, and want all of that right now. Immediately.

gleaner - well, that makes 3 Brussels fans on this blog then...

... and possibly 4, though I can't quite tell if Andy's once in a life time experience means he loved sprouts or hated them!

George said...

To bad I am just now receiving the recipe for the onion, garlic, and chile soup. Perhaps my travails would have disappeared after one week instead of three. Congratulations! I'm happy to know that your have recovered, and I trust that you will not have to now recover from the onion-garlic-chili concoction.

As one blackberry fool to another, that is a splendid photo and one that makes me drool. You sound pretty adventurous with your blackberry recipes, which makes me wonder if you have ever made blackberry whiskey, which, subject to check, I seem to have discovered on Pat's "Weaver of Grass" site a few months ago.

Tramp said...

Plenty of apples (please note that I am also referring to fruit here), pears, plums, walnuts here for the picking but the blackberries are ground hugging scrawny things that spread across the forest floor and the fruits are small and pippy.
...Tramp

The Solitary Walker said...

George - just try that chilli soup. Now. It will blast any remaining germs out of your system. You may be left feeling like scorched earth - but it will be worth it. Sometimes suffering is necessary for a greater good!

As for blackberry whisky, I haven't tried it - but I remember the entry on Weaver's blog. My aunt Kitty - who never married, kept pigs and hens, and was an amazing character (must do a post on her one day) - used to make elderflower wine and carrot whisky, though.

Actually, Tramp, the wild blackberries round here are often quite small - but luscious and tasty.

George said...

Just a note to add that my ailing wife, who also has a bad cold and related congestion, has decided to try your version of the TNT soup. In response to her request for the recipe, I have simply given her a copy of your posting. I trust that your medicinal recommendations will meet with the approval of our Food and Drug Administration.

The Solitary Walker said...

Didn't Thomas Hardy once write a book entitled 'Desperate Remedies'?

Your wife is very trusting of a mad, mystical Englishman with a penchant for long, lonesome country walks and Brussel sprouts. Let me know how she gets on.

lakeviewer said...

Blackberries and venison steak, ugh, too good to pass up, except those deer are too cute to become steak. Sorry, just passing by, from another land with blackberry bushes stopping the venison from roaming the land.

Bonnie said...

When cold symptoms hit our home when I was young, my mother would make us a garlic sandwich. Sounds awful, but I grew to love them. A whole grain bread, fresh butter and one or two garlic cloves sliced very thin and placed in a single layer between the two slices of bread. Yum. (Don't use old garlic or terribly strong garlic or you will end up with a case of horrible heartburn!) Raw garlic has antibiotic properties. When cooked you lose much of that effect. I'll have to try sprinkling the garlic with some chili powder. Of course, everyone in the family must have a garlic sandwich if you want to live with each other!

George said...

With only one substitution — miso soup instead of chicken stock — my wife has not only prepared the witches' brew, but consumed the entire pot. She loved it! She also wants me to pass on that she loves Brussel sprouts. I love the way this is working out. She spends six weeks with you and your wife, enjoying the fine cuisine of the Solitary Walker's household, while I walk the South West Coastal Path. As I said before, Robert, you are, indeed, a genius.

The Solitary Walker said...

Mmm... though by a worrying ommission, the efficacy of this extreme remedy has still to be vindicated! Has she recovered?

George! No genius. Gastronome is the 'g' word that comes most readily to mind. I mean, chilli, garlic and onion purgative hotpot, not to mention sprout souffle, are regular and expensive prized items on Heston Blumenthal's menu these days, or so I've heard. Not to mention Marmite sandwiches (with a little chilli and garlic dressing, naturally!)

PS I have a suspicion your wife may like Marmite!

The Solitary Walker said...

Bonnie - home-grown garlic the best - much milder and no breath odour!