The Swedes are very happy people. They have Abba and Anders Celsius, great people as Donald Trump would call them, without them we would know nothing about Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and if we should put on a pullover when leaving the house or not, then there’s Queen Silvia, a very politically interested queen, she does a lot of charity work for underprivileged children, for the elderly and people suffering from dementia, there’s IKEA, too, I could not live without my BILLY book shelves, there’s Ingrid Bergman and Ingmar Bergman, Greta Garbo and Sofia Helin, one doesn’t need much more on one’s screen, there’s Stockholm and all these beautiful lakes to swim in naked, there’s Stieg Larsson and Arne Dahl to prevent one from sleep, then they know all about goals in life, as there are Pippi Långstrump aka Pippi Longstocking and the Nobel Prize, the most prestigious prize ever, if I ever got one, I would no longer talk to you just out of sheer arrogance (I’m kidding, of course I would still talk to you, I’d tell you all about my Nobel Prize, the night I got it, why I got it, how much I deserved it, and where I keep it, maybe on the mantelpiece), and last but not least (at all!), there’s gravad lax! If I were a salmon, I’d be deeply honoured to end up with sweet mustard and dill sauce on my toast, believe you me. Nothing is yummier!
One is supposed to eat all kind of colours on a daily basis to remain fit and healthy and quite good looking, green, red, orange, yellow, and whatever colours there are in vegetables and fruit. With red, I don’t have the slightest problem (see previous post), but sometimes I wonder whether my supply of anything green might in any way be questionable. For instance, I hate Granny Smith apples. Horrid specimen of green little helpers! They look like they came right out of a chemical lab from outer space, just the kind of apple Mr. Spock would love to have for a snack. But I keep digressing, anyway, just to kill two birds with one stone, I put all my eggs in one basket, meaning I made a stew out of some fine ever so organic beef bouillon, green peas, even greener beans, red peppers, orange carrots, and as I didn’t have anything yellow to add, I had to substitute some colourless cabbage for the health benefits any kind of yellow stuff would have let one profit from. Poor me. However, it tasted so fine that I ate it all up and should survive to a hundred and five.
Yesterday, quite out of the blue, I was confronted on Instagram with a photo I had posted years ago. Years! A fantastic little object of fine Swiss patisserie on one of my Royal Copenhagen plates. Obviously, I was still living in Zurich at that time, a time I was deeply and ever so hopelessly in love with everything the Swiss do to raspberries. At Vollenweider’s, for example, they sprinkle them with tiny pistaccio crumbs, des pistaches hachées ever so menues, just to enhance their aroma, just like what a glass of cool Sauternes does to strawberries, at least if we trust Sebastian Flyte, which I do, but I digress and on top, I’m quoting from Brideshead Revisited again, but any of Evelyn Waugh’s novels are forever stuck in my mind, so I have to ask for your forgiveness and to reread them all. Anyway, this delicious post had just gotten a new like after all these years, and by whom? By none other than the Vollenweider people themselves! I was most honoured to be reminded of what I’ve been missing in my life ever since I left Zurich… Damn!
Pardon my stupid unoriginal pun, I just couldn’t resist. Fact is, however, this salad’s recipe is originally from Nice, France, and secondly, it’s very nice a recipe, especially when served in summer on a hot day and spaghetti bolognese are just to heavy a meal to even think of. You might say now, that in November, temperatures are ever so moderate, and ask what kind of point I was trying to make, and in fact, you’re right, if served outside now, you might want to exchange your glass of red wine that goes ever so fine with for some mulled wine or punch in order to stay alive and/or unfrozen, but I still would have to remind you of the people from Down Under who are suffering from some rigid heat wave right now, so hot, they might actually wanna have their red wine served on the rocks. I have never quite understood why that actually is, they having summer when we have winter, something with the sun and rotation and blind sides and solstice and astronomical stuff such as that going on, but I digress. Anyway, salade niçoise, this lovely dish from Nice, France tastes fine in any season, at any time, with any ocean next to it, the Mediterranean Sea or the Pacific, but if you prefer some heat to go with it, just turn it on. Bon appétit!
We’re all schizophrenic beings, I think. Otherwise, how could it be possible to name a duck your favourite animal, and still love the very same guy served for dinner, à l’orange or Peking or roast with some yummy sauce? As for sauces, I came up with a totally new one. Lots of rucola, haché menu, some garlic and spring onions, aka shallots, also chopped and minced in as tiny little pieces as you can manage, some fine aceto balsamico, from Modena of course, ever finer olive oil, from any Mediterranean origin, I prefer Sicily, lots of crushed white pepper, chillies, and some honey, not a lot, all of it gets stirred, not shaken, and you end up having the most aromatic condiment for your roast duck. It’s so good, you want to give it a name! Donald, or Daisy, or as you please. As I said, we’re all schizophrenics…
I have no idea if F. Scott Fitzgerald or any of his protagonists ever had bratwurst for dinner, leastwise the Divers should have eaten this teutonic meal at least once when staying in Zurich, the Swiss make such fine bratwurst, but since I happen to own Jay Gatsby’s personal napkin ring, discovered it some years ago in an antique store in West Egg, Long Island, I can tell you that his spirit is still with us and was with me tonight, when I had bratwurst for dinner, accompanied by some savoy cabbage. This curly leafed vegetable surely would have put a smile on Scott Fitzgerald’s face, savoy has such a nice first class hotel ring to it, doesn’t it? I think, I can say sans rougir that tonight, Jay Gatsby and I had a bratwurst as big as the Savoy.
Today, just by chance when shopping for Turkish chestnut honey at my Turkish grocer’s (despite the Turkish invasion in Syria, I decided not to take it out on the Turkish bees and chestnut trees, I cherish both of them way too much), I came along some dorados that were fresher than any other dorado I had ever met, and my life’s plans changed instantly—tonight’s originally planned linguine surely wouldn’t mind taking a rain check, and so I carried two of these wonderful, bright-eyed dorados home. Not realizing of course, that they were so fresh that I would have to remove all of the scales first, tricky job, and then open their bellies and operate on them to extract all of their intestines before I could finally put them in a pan, oh what lucky people all these vegetarians are… It was kind of a survival trip, rather challenging, no filleted stuff served on fancy plates by some blasé waiter, no, these guys I almost hunted down myself like a lion would an antilope… We had them with potatoes and some parsley, quite à la Hemingway, I understand lions like them best this way…
Cheese is the best thing there is, unless you’re lactose intolerant. I thought I was, at least until very lately, but it turned out to be an imaginary intolerance. Actually, it was a severe case of media brainwash, thus called by my physician, but that’s a totally different story. Anyway, as I said, cheese is the best thing there is. Especially this one, imported from Burgundy, France, by my parents who came back yesterday, served tonight for dinner with baguette and some other fine stuff and, most importantly, with a (actually, two and a half) bottle of Maranges, a very fine Burgundy wine, with a nice aroma of almost overly ripe cherries to lighten the almost overly creamy heaviness of that wonderful cheese. A cheese, of which my parents couldn’t recall the name, otherwise I would have told you, please believe me!
In December of 1980, I ate my very first merguez on a Christmas market in Baden-Baden. I still remember it strangely well, for some reasons I can still recall that very unusual taste, although it looked almost like a German Bratwurst, it tasted nothing like it. First of all, it’s lamb, and then are Arabian spices in it that in these years weren’t too common; actually, if Baden-Baden wasn’t so close to the French border and hadn’t been such a worldly place since the 1800s due to its casino, merguez wouldn’t have been on a German Christmas market menu, trust you me, no chance, none whatsoever. Today, however, you get them everywhere. Even at Aldi, Germany’s cheapest of supermarkets. Times do change, and sometimes even for the better. And so does my routine: instead of the hummus I usually serve merguez with, I had them with homemade ratatouille today. Really good a combination.
It just so happened that some days ago, when temperatures were still a little higher, I felt like pasta for lunch but didn’t have much time to prepare a complicated sauce, you know that kind of Bolognese that needs a day or two to develop all of its aroma or that sauce that Sophia Petrillo from the Golden Girls starts cooking days in advance and that therefore needs a very special occasion. This day’s lunch, however, was no special occasion at all, nor had it been a special day, I was just hungry and so I improvised and made a cold sauce from freshly cubed tomatoes, olive oil from Sicily, and lots of basil. It looked so yummy though that I thought I should immediately post it on Instagram. Now, that freshly invented sauce of mine needed a name. As it consisted of the two main ingredients of Insalata Caprese, apart from the third one, namely mozzarella, I named my dish Spaghetti Caprese. Of course, shortly after I had posted my lunch, some guy on Instagram would correct me and tell me that Italians called it Spaghetti alla Litigata. Quite humiliating, don’t you think? One is so proud of one’s pasta, done on a whim, just like that, from the hip and ever so yummy, and then one is outed as a Non-Italian!