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Friday, 26 April 2013

Iron Man's Food


So I saw Iron Man last night. 

On screen that is. Not in the flesh. If I'd seen him in the flesh, I wouldn't be here right now. I'd be on some hospital bed in an ecstatic swooned-out state.

But no, quite sadly, I'm still here.

But I saw Iron Man.
A.k.a. Tony Stark. 
A.k.a. Robert Downey Jr. 
A.k.a. The peak, pinnacle and zenith of absolute yummyliciousness.

Marry me?
Please?

Seriously though. Men don’t come this sexy these days.
If you find ‘em, go grab ‘em I say.
I did :)
Ha!

Still. Despite an admittedly sexy husband, if you want me to bare my soul to you, I won’t lie: I do love Iron Man. I mean, what on earth is he doing with Pepper Potts? And who’s called Pepper anyway? Pepper belongs in my food blog, right up there with Salt. 
While I (IMHO) belong with Iron Man.

Ya falla?

Anyway, see I’m not one of those Superhero crazy types. You know, unlike Sexy Sid. Now, Sexy Sid would marry Batman, Superman, and all the Avengers put together if he could. Seriously.
Now, I don’t quite see the appeal in this motley crew. Besides Scarlett J that is (now, Scarlett J, anyone would be willing to marry). I mean, they’re cool and all. And they have 12-packs and 14-packs. And big, strong arms. Besides Scarlett J that is. Scarlett J has other things. Nice things. Anyway. So, yes they're all that. And they save the world. Which is most commendable, all of it. But have I ever wanted to marry them? Nooooo…

But Iron Man? A.k.a. Beautiful, Balbo-sporting Tony Stark? Famous, powerful, rich, heroic, arrogant, charming and oozing sex appeal like a bottle of Manuka honey turned upside down? I mean – come on folks!

Anyway, I won’t give the movie away - (I’m many things, but I’m not a spoilsport!) – but I will say that if there was one scene in the movie that endeared me to IM more than ever before (not that I really needed an excuse), it was the one where, presumed dead, he’s actually alive, taking shelter in somebody’s garage in snow-bound Tennessee. Jarvis has (temporarily) conked, despair fills the air, the snowflakes fall fast and furious and IM needs to pick himself up and get back on the horse (in a manner of speaking). It is in this – this moment of need then – that he asks for (among other less important things):

A TUNA SANDWICH.

Yup! You’ll heard me! A Tuna Sandwich. 
A Tuna Sandwich is what The Iron Man wants in his moment of darkness. 

And with that?
He has me at Hello.

Because the Tuna Sandwich is the bomb.
The Tuna Sandwich is a legend unto itself.
Nothing beats a Tuna Sandwich done right. And I mean, nothing.

Now, here’s the thing, people. I’m a straight-talking, direct kinda gal and I say it as it is. So, here it is, plain and simple:

America: While I don’t understand your gun laws and you speak funny, and you spend way too much time debating issues that are better left to people to sort out in their bedrooms (I mean, really), here’s the thing: No one, and I mean, No one does a sandwich like you.

I really miss your sandwiches, I do.
That wholesome, hearty bread, filled to the brim with any number of generously stuffed, delicious fillings, topped with fresh lettuce and tomato, and finished off with real condiments. My, oh my, oh my.

Seriously, I cannot believe how these places in the UK get away with calling those measly buttered slices of yesterday's thin white bread with half a slice of ham and 1/10 of a leaf of lettuce in them, a sandwich. Makes me laugh, always has. Except when it makes me cry.

Want to get a real sandwich?
It's New York City Baby!
Katz’s Deli? Now that’s a sandwich.
I challenge you to finish one of those babies on your own!
And I miss it, I do, I do.
Ask me 5 things I miss about New York and “a real sandwich” is one of them.
I dream about this stuff, folks, seriously.
And it's a real problem. Like I mean, think about it - England, the land of the Earl of Sandwich has no idea what a sandwich is.
See what I mean?

So, anyway, coming back to the point, when All American Iron Man, wanted an All American Tuna Sandwich, guess what happened?

I came home and made one.
And then I ate one.
And then I decided to make you make one.
So you can eat one.

And so there you go.
Thank Iron Man.
You don't need to thank me.
I do this for pleasure.
But you're welcome, anyway.

Right, there is nothing fancy about this, nothing glamorous or exotic or quaint. It’s just a simple Tuna sandwich – classic, traditional and timeless.

The most important thing here – which holds true for all food that doesn’t have the luxury of being embellished with 500 spices – is the quality of the ingredients.

Garbage in, garbage out. Capiche?

So, please! Buy the best tuna, some kick-ass Dijon mustard, amazing mayonnaise (none of that light stuff please) and GREAT bread. You need GREAT bread.

Here’s what you need:
- 2 (6 ounce) cans of high-quality tuna 
- 5 tbsp amazing mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp plain yogurt
- 2 tbsp kick-ass Dijon mustard
- 1-2 tsp fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp cayenne. I love cayenne. Cayenne will change your life. Trust me.
- Salt to taste. And Pepper if you like. Though I'm not digging the word "Pepper" these days...just saying :) 

So that’s that. 

You can throw in about ¼ of an onion if you like, for some heat. I’m just not a huge fan of raw onion.

Mainly because I like to be kissed.

Life’s all about priorities.

Sigh.

Or you can do the whole celery thing. Say a quarter cup, diced. I hate celery.  Right up there with bananas. But you may love it. Nothing wrong with that. Celery, I mean. How can anyone love bananas? So anyway – want celery? Go for it my friends. Do what you love. That’s what it’s all about.

Right, last bit – the bread. The bread is really the main thing here, you gotta get the bread right. Now, I will only eat Tuna Salad on Pumpernickle. Only. That’s a rule. I’m weird like that. You of course can do anything you want, but please – if you can get some Pumpernickle, try it and see how beautifully it goes with Tuna. To put it romantically, Tuna and Rye are simply “meant to be”

Now, Pumpernickel to the uninitiated, is really German Rye bread. It’s slightly sweet, dark, dark brown, almost black coloured bread made from whole, coarsely ground rye. And it’s amazing. It’s hard to find here on my island, but it’s everywhere in America, you lucky devils!

Anyway, it goes really well with smoked meats, and fish fillings...lox, caviar, and Tuna of course.

Right, so I won’t tell you how to make a sandwich (basically because you're not five), but I will tell you how to eat it. Top with lettuce and a thick slice of ripe, red tomato. And eat it with ketchup please.
Wait. Wait. Don’t judge.
Try it.
And while I know it just sounds wrong to be eating a sandwich with ketchup, remember that your Tuna sandwich has a whole load of Mayo in it. And Mayo and Ketchup are Yin and Yang. The ultimate logic defying taste combo. Addictively, fantastically good stuff. And I’ll leave it at that…

Oh and while youre at it? Crush some potato chips (yes, just basic potato chips or crisps or whatever you want to call it) and mix it with ketchup and when it’s a all one big mess, eat this concoction as a side, along with your Tuna Sandwich.

Do it. 
And think of me.

While I think of Iron Man. And his Balbo.
Hmmmm…….

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Beautiful


“Mama, you’re beautiful”
My little boy says to me matter-of-factly, his face expressionless, save for the sparkle in his eyes - his one enduring trait.

I look up, stunned.
He meets my glance. And then again, as if to confirm. Or convince:

“Yes, Mama. You’re beautiful…” he says nodding his little head up and down, up and down.

To say I am surprised would be an understatement. Firstly, I have no idea where a 2 and ½ year old picks this word up from. Secondly, to have used me as an association for it's usage? I am filled with something warm and gooey inside me. It's threatening to drown me, and for a moment I can't breathe. I think it’s called happiness.

You see, the word “beautiful” is not just any old word. It is an incredibly special word. At least to me. It is perhaps my favourite word in the English language – the most “beautiful” word of all.

According to the Oxford dictionary, “beautiful” is  “wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying; delighting the senses or mind.”

And so it is something that rests on far more than perceived external beauty, something that penetrates the surface and reaches within. Like the light of the moon and the twinkle of the stars. The sound of church bells, the colour of that first Spring daffodil.
If the word “beautiful” could be felt, it would have a weight to it, a depth. A heartbeat, real and palpable. 
I love the word.
It takes my breath away.

When I sit back now – on this quiet Sunday morning, husband at golf, toddler asleep – and think, I realise that some of the most touching and memorable moments of my life, the ones that will stick forever and to the end, involve the word beautiful.

“You write beautifully” my mother said the first time she read my writing. I was 10.

“You look beautiful,” my father said, brimming with pride, when he first saw me dressed up as a bride. He couldn’t take his eyes off me that entire evening.

“You’re beautiful, Amu.” Sid said to me a few hours after I gave birth to our child. And  because, then, in that precise spectrum of time, I probably never felt less so - his words meant the world to me.

“He’s so beautiful.” My midwife Ebi said, when she handed Ranbir over to me, in his first few seconds of life. I remember the look in her eyes. The connection we made, over my just-born baby. My beautiful just-born baby.

And now.
“Mama, youre beautiful.”
From the most beautiful person in my life. 
For no rhyme or reason. No cause, nor occasion; no event nor celebration. Just because he felt like it.
And because it comes from the heart.

And so, to honour the word, here’s a recipe that’s just that – light, cleansing and utterly beautiful.

It’s my pear and walnut salad – wonderfully fresh with a delicious combination of flavours and textures. The slight bitterness of the leaves, the crisp juicy pears, the crunch of the walnuts, the sweetness of the ruby cranberries, and the soft tangy tartness of the dressing will leave you feeling refreshed and on top of the world.

Here’s what you need:

- 4 handfuls salad greens, washed and dried
- 2 pears, washed, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 cup roasted walnut halves
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 2 oz Gorgonzola cheese
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2tbsp light olive oil
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Here’s how you do it:

Divide the leaves onto 4 chilled plates and top with sliced pears and currants. Crumble the cheese evenly over the 4 salads, and top with walnut halves.

Dressing this salad is a simple affair. Combine the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk together and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Drizzle over and enjoy!