Neither a borrower nor a lentil be…


There is nothing glamorous about the green lentil yet, from the rich and varied universe of the dried pulse, it holds sway as my unchallenged favourite. There is no question that it needs a little help but, if that help is offered, it accepts it willingly, absorbs it thoroughly and is all the better for it. Olive oil, garlic, finely chopped carrot and onion formed the base to the help that I offered this time. The lentils are added to the softened vegetables and turned so that they shine with a glossy coat of oil. Good stock is poured over them together with some browned, Toulouse sausages, the whole left to simmer and bubble until they are ready to be eaten with some grain mustard, bread and wine.

The name of my favourite pulse put me in mind of a story with a moral. A tramp had carefully chosen his spot for begging to be close to some traffic lights. His tactic was to wait for cars to be stopped by the red light which provided him with the perfect opportunity to approach his captive punters and to try his luck. At one such moment, he noticed a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce had pulled to a halt directly in front of him.The wealthy owner, who was seated near to the Β kerb in the back seat, was disturbed from his reveries by a tap on his window. Seeing the tramp he lowered the electric window. The tramp, knowing that time was not on his side, came straight to the point:
“Can you spare me the price of a meal, Guv’nor”
For a moment there was silence between them as the rich man looked the poor man in the eye before he slowly enunciated
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be. William Shakespeare”.

Upon which the electric window silently slid upwards and was closed. The tramp tapped once more on the window which duly slid down again. He looked the rich man in eye and, drawing from the depths of his rich literary memory, said:
” Cunt. D.H.Lawrence.”

The moral: If lenders demanded as little interest as that shown in dried lentils, the world would be a happier place, and I could give up sitting at these traffic lights.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2013, Cooking, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Humour, lifestyle, Luck, Meat, Photography, Puy Lentils, Toulouse sausages, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Neither a borrower nor a lentil be…

  1. Good story. Great photo.

  2. At least you have a warm meal while waiting at the traffic lights! I love lentils and recently bought some black ones which I had never heard of. Now I have to decide what to do with them.

  3. suej says:

    Great story, tasty, heartwarming food. My quick meal on a chilly evening is sausages, lentils and ratatouille (which I make to Elizabeth David’s recipe, and freeze in portion size pots ready for a rainy day). πŸ™‚

  4. Mad Dog says:

    Delicious πŸ˜‰

  5. Trini says:

    This looks extremely satisfying and delicious! And best of all, super easy to make. Thanks for the inspiration, I can’t wait to try it πŸ™‚

  6. Misky says:

    That is a masterful photo, and that’s probably one of my favourite meals. And of course whenever I eat lentils I’ll remember that story!


  7. Brilliant – great headline, great story, great shot and wonderful food! Ooh that Mellors had a mouth on him πŸ™‚

  8. Looks fabulous. Love the way you describe the cooking process…it’s simple and long winded methodology not necessary. πŸ™‚

  9. ha! do they have any traffic lights in the French countryside? πŸ˜‰ The meal looks really delicious.

  10. This looks absolutely fantastic, especially now that the weather is getting a bit cooler. Thanks so much for posting this – I have some dried lentils in the cupboard and will have to give it a try very soon!

  11. saucygander says:

    Hahaha! I prefer the tramp’s literary quote. I also like lentils, with or without accompanying traffic light.

  12. As is often the case with me, your lentils conjured a story. I never knew what they were until 2003. We were in Paris. November. Our very first “no family holidays with family” outing for American Thanksgiving. We wandered into a restaurant near the Senate, clearly not a tourist place, and I sat down and ordered oeufs et lentilles avec jambon. I never ate eggs before that meal. I hated them. My mother thought eggs would make me healthy as a baby, and she force fed them to me. She often came back thirty minutes later to find every bit of that egg still in my mouth. So, thanks to the French, I appreciate eggs, and I now crave lentils pretty often. No matter how they’re prepared, I always remember that simple meal, and it takes me back to Paris, and that can never be a bad thing.

  13. cecilia says:

    I have always been a little confused by lentils. DH – not so much. v

  14. Eha says:

    Only you, Roger, only you could bring Hamlet and Lady Chatterley’s Lover into a lentil story . . . thank the blessed Lord some people do have a sense of the ridiculous πŸ™‚ !

  15. Fig & Quince says:

    Chuckled a good bit when reading the title – good one! I have to say I adore the humble lentils, they are so hardy and flexible. I have them on heavy rotation as a major stable and just got 4 bags of them today.

    Love the (as always) beautiful and appetizing photo and the story.

  16. Interesting. That sausage looks good.

  17. EllaDee says:

    We would all be the better off for having the nature of a lentil.

  18. I love lentils, and I’m short on a reason why. There’s a lentil soup I usually order from a Lebanese restaurant here in town. It works very well on a cold day.

    By the way, do you pay the panhandler directly or do you buy them a meal?

    • The panhandler (fantastic phrase which I’ve only just understood) will want to be paid in ready cash. That was the standard arrangement, but nowadays he may well be happy with Paypal:)

      • Panhandling is a common occurrence here even in smaller cities. I’ve been hit up for some crazy reasons, the most being to buy some guy’s absent child’s prescription in a town 48km away from here. He had numbers worked up in pencil on a seriously crumpled piece of paper, too. It never sits well with me though, since I do volunteer for end hunger projects and donate to the city mission.

      • It’s always difficult. How do I know if they’re genuine or not? It too easy to jump to conclusions when judging people quickly, but that’s how it is in a panhandling situation.

  19. margaret21 says:

    Great story, great picture of one of my favourite winter ‘comfort’ meals

  20. Amanda says:

    Very cool post. Gorgeous photo!

  21. I did not only enjoy your blog, but also all those comments, just too very funny. Gave me a good laugh, as I am a passionate lentil lover.

  22. Love the story. I should give lentils a try. Growing up they always seemed to end up mush but my sister did a nice salad with them so I was surprised.

  23. ChgoJohn says:

    If only I could get my lentils to taste as good as yours look in that spectacular photo, Roger, I would really have something to be thankful for on Thursday.

  24. The lighting in your shot is delicious! Lentils as art are the only way I like them.

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