Today, I rescued a lizard from drowning. Not once, but twice. This is unusual as I am normally the lizard pallbearer. Lemmings may have been cleared of suicidal tendencies, but the lizard’s tendency to ring down its own curtain has clearly been overlooked. I find their presence in the garden an unmistakeable sign of hot summer. The heat, today, is as perfect as it can be away from the seashore. Lizards hang lazily on the ochre walls which are painted with cleanly etched shadows created by the still branches of olive trees and oleanders. Muted laughter drifts towards us from our neighbour’s “cave” where, in the cool shade of the interior, he will be passing out tiny glasses of cool, crisp rosé to family and friends. White butterflies dance over lavender heads, seemingly draining all the joy that they can from their short lives, whilst testing the patience of the bees whose work is never done. The barking of a distant dog and the quasi comical quack of a duck are vain attempts to penetrate the eternal hum of the pollen harvesters.
Mme. Guinaudeau’s book on traditional Moroccan cooking was in my hand and is now in my mind. The transition from the hot, dusty hell of a side street market to the cool, pure light of a tiled riad in old Fez and the subsequent description of the feast served put me in the mood for middle eastern food.An aubergine, a sweet pepper, an onion, a tomato and some cloves of garlic were washed, sprinkled with olive oil and roasted until caramelised edges appeared. Cous cous grains were slaked with boiling vegetable stock. The half aubergine that remained was roasted in a separate tin to make an aubergine salad, from The Casa Moro Cookbook. Coriander and cumin seeds were crushed to be added to the creamy roasted aubergine flesh, together with chopped fresh tomatoes, lemon juice and roasted garlic. Some ingredients were missing but not the desire.The flavours transport me. Food and imagination combine perfectly. Food and company may be the apogee of human intercourse, although procreation is good if you’re not hungry, but occasionally imagination and thoughts, without chatter, make food sing.