It is not unusual for children to dislike, and to take extreme steps to avoid, both vegetables and Shakespeare. I prefer vegetables to either children or Shakespeare which preference may well be blamed on their parallel and equally irritating proclivity to tell jokes that aren’t funny; it is rare for a child and non existent for Shakespeare to make me, in the words of the dictionary, express mirth or pleasure with an involuntary audible vocal expulsion of air from the lungs that can range from a loud burst of sound to a series of quiet chuckles or, expressed more succinctly, bring tears to my eyes and make me spit out my drink. Rather, they elicit from us, in the case of children, a dutiful pastiche of laughter the exuberance of which will be calibrated to the closeness of the relationship between the child and the laughee whilst, in the case of Shakespeare, the counterfeit laughter will be accompanied by a supercilious smirk which will hopefully be noticed by other members of the audience who, it is hoped, will assume that you are clever little fucker or, depending on the quality of the smirk, a descendant of Marlowe….Christopher not Philip as Philip Marlowe didn’t laugh at anything..ever. It is interesting to note that many of us would find it offensive to be thought of as a vegetable or a child, assuming that we are not actually one of the latter, yet, unbelievably to me, would be flattered to be considered as rib ticklingly funny as Will the Jolly Japester.. although, I must admit, that even I found Hamlet to be very funny indeed.
Fun as that was, it’s time to turn our attention to the serious and taciturn vegetable, several species of which gave me a great deal of pleasure this weekend and I’m probably not alone in saying that. The roasted fennel and carrots in the opening picture were blindingly simple to prepare and played a supporting role to the main event that was an adaptation of a recipe from Elizabeth David’s “French Provincial Cooking”.
Ms, David is suitably imprecise about quantities as this sort of food is not about precision. My version used less chorizo, more red peppers and no green peppers, red wine instead of white and so on. This is a dish of big powerful flavours that depends on tasting the dish continually as one cooks it preferably with a glass of wine in one hand, tasting spoon in the other and some good music playing in the background.