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!