Friday, 22 July 2011

Strange Friday

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

At 3.30pm, I take a break from my work and look at Twitter. It is here that I get the news from Oslo.

It is very strange when something so big and tragic happens. To write about it at once can appear unseemly, hasty, a form of bandwagon-jumping. It can come across as ostentatiously concerned: look at me, being compassionate and engaged.

On the other hand, to ignore it altogether seems callous and wrong.

But then, what does one say? Adjectives are suddenly of no use. Words like horrific, inexplicable, cruel, shocking, die like dust in the mouth. There is not much one can say about the bombing of a city, the shooting of children, that makes any sense, or any difference.

Only at lunchtime, I saw something on the internet that made me laugh so hard the dog started barking and jumping. Two hours later, I saw something so horrible that I stared in dry silence.

I turned, as I always do in times of trouble, to cooking. Is it too mad to give a recipe? When dark days come, I cook. It seems odd now to talk of courgettes, but that is what I am going to do.

I made some of those little fried zucchini that you get in Italian restaurants. I sliced the courgettes into slender matchsticks, smooshed them around in a simple batter of flour and very cold water, made to the consistency of single cream, and fried them at highest heat in about an inch and a half of groundnut oil. I don’t have a deep fryer, but I find a small frying pan does fine.

The secret I find with these is: keep the oil as hot as you can, do not overcrowd the pan, and drain well on kitchen paper. The other thing I do is play with the batter. I am currently favouring one made with Dove’s Farm gluten-free flour, which is one of my very best, and brings a brilliant consistency to many dishes.

I put them on a warm plate, sprinkled over some Maldon salt, scattered a tiny amount of paprika, added a snip of dried chilli, tore up some basil leaves and added those, and, for the final lovely flourish, grated over some good Parmesan cheese. It is this last which makes all the difference to this dish, and turns it from ordinary side vegetable to perfect feast.


This is what the cooking looked like:

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Then the Pigeon and I went out into the cool, low evening and looked at the green, growing things:

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I made an old dog very happy by throwing her stick for her:

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And there, to the south, was the enduring blue of the hill:

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It’s really hard to say this without sounding unbearably portentous, but my thoughts are with the people of Norway.

And also, in particular, my heart goes to my blogging friend Miss Whistle, who has Norwegian family roots.

It is much too early to speculate why this happened, or who did it. All we do know is that a quiet city is rocked with violence, innocent people have died, and a country lies in shock. The only real thing we do know is that it is twenty-seven different kinds of wrong.


  1. Just as Norway got terrible news, we got good news about my husband's prognosis. That's how it goes. I happen to believe in karma so balance is the word to hold on to. Will try your courgettes. I had great success with a simple version of eggs Florentine tonight.

  2. Oh Lucille - but how lovely to hear of GOOD news. So pleased about your husband.

  3. It is impossible to find words, and it is awful.

  4. Thank you for your eloquent thoughts. The best that I could muster, after reading the news, was "oh you f*&*&)_ers". out loud. several times.

    If you would like some good news, the best i can offer is that a very dear friend, undergoing chemo, is feeling well enough to suggest seeing a movie.

  5. I hate to hear/read of such senseless violence. Well, isn't violence by nature pretty senseless? All the more reason to celebrate every little bit of good news. Cheers for Lucille's husband and Lou's recovering friend. Cheers to all who manage to keep the cart on the rails.


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