There are few months of the year which I don’t consider to be the very best time for cooking as I’m more than content to cook with each season’s offerings. On reflection, the only times when I am not happy to cook are those times when I am not happy and the long sunny days of June, when night is an after thought, are not such a time. It might be that summer food is less demanding, that summer cooking demands less cooking, less sturm und drang because the kitchen gardens and the orchards are filling the shops and markets with the fastest of fast foods which, for their short lives, are full of their intended flavour unlike their bland doppelgangers who are miraculously on display for the full twelve months of each year and whose lives appear to be without end or point…..which brings me to remember why I started writing this piece. Yesterday evening I turned on the television to find myself looking into the eyes of a man who stood immobile, perspiration running down his face, whilst the voice of a female martinet demanded that the next thing she wanted to hear him say was a number and nothing more. The perspiring man’s eyes suggested that he didn’t know the number that would satisfy her but settled on £2,o00,000 which can normally be counted on to please the angriest of martinets. It transpired that he was being questioned about his business plans by possible financial backers and that his business was a chain of fast food restaurants. It was the intervention of another of the grand inquisitors that caught my attention. His opening address was to tell the dripping victim, while brandishing a copy of the restaurant’s menu like a damning piece of evidence, that not only was his plan rubbish but even his own children could have designed a better looking menu than the one in his hand which statement produced a flicker of hope in the prisoner’s eyes as he considered asking how much they would charge for such a commission but thought better of it, much to my disappointment. The tirade of abuse moved on to the descriptions of the food on offer and the fact that there were only twelve options of fast food dishes on the “badly designed menu”and if he, the grand inquisitor, was going to eat out somewhere he would expect more variety to which the beggar in the dock replied “but there are over 12,ooo possible combinations that you could order from the crap on my menu ” ( I added “crap” in the spirit of Gerald Ratner who was doing very well selling crap until he advised his clientele that what he was selling them was indeed crap). Breath taking. The show was over for me at this point and undoubtedly over for him but I could just press a button to end the pain. What interested me was the inquisitors’ condemnation of a plan that seemed identical to the main fast food outlets in the world who all have “badly designed menus” and who all sell a drearily limited range of foodstuffs that can be ordered in a multitude of combinations and that are loved by the majority of living beings ( dogs will eat Mac whatevers but I fucking won’t) and which, more to the point if you are a putative financial backer, make unbelievable fortunes for the purveyors. But, as I have successfully remained unencumbered with a fortune I’m probably not the right man to question their judgement…..and so back to fast food.
The dish in the picture, which comes from a feature on Summer Anitpasti written by Rachel Roddy, is as fast as a dish can be save eating a pea from the pod. Courgettes are are cut into long strips, with a potato peeler or mandolin, seasoned and marinated in lemon juice with torn basil leaves. We ate it as a side dish with a very good baked omelette, stuffed with rocket, and served at room temperature more of which at another time.