Monday, July 21, 2014


I went shopping last week and bought a tagine and one of those brilliant iron pans with short handles which can be used on top of the stove and then in the oven. Brilliant except for the hand burns when you take it out.

The tagine made an excellent shoulder of lamb done with herbs, harissa, honey and lemon juice. Tour de France food, now the tele is fixed. And with the clever (except for the burns) pan, I made a pear tarte tatin. It's ridiculously easy and that it has taken decades to embrace means at least a few years longer to live. We ate it with a crème anglaise and ice cream. The Tour is exhausting and the weight peels off just watching.

                                       (K whips up some cream. New pan with burny handle on the left)

It all started with a visit to M's a few days before. S (she's a fine cook) was down to stay and help pack as M has sold and is moving into a very comfortable house where she is prepared to end her life. I don't mean actively. Perhaps finish would be a better word.

Anyway, M has a great tagine (quite large and with burny handles, though they're good for carrying it to the table) and an even better brilliant pan for Tartes because it only has one handle which apart from halving the number of burnt hands makes it is easier to flip the cooked tarte over onto its serving plate.

                                  (At M's, where Millie not so much taken with the photo opp as the lamb)

The main reason for dinner was that M had been to a new clairvoyant and wanted to talk. The session (no ouija boards and head scarves, but rather more empathy and trust) had touched on issues long unresolved and in the retelling tears rolled. She somehow was guided through, or taken back into, dark corners about her natural mother giving her up for adoption as an infant, the difficulties with her new parents and surprisingly (for me at least) especially with her adoptive mother, the cruelty of sibling rivalry, and not least the complete absence of any information about her natural father other than 'he done her wrong'.

What emerged, and made her sob again, was the news, if it was news, that she had been loved at all. Actually, it wasn't so much loved as when she felt safe. That she knew strongly: that with him, or her, or here, or there, she felt safe. I wonder now what is the difference. I think you are loved and love when someone is completely safe with you, and you with them. Completely.

Strangely, also last week during our regular midweek dinner with K's mother in Sydney she had gone on and on about her past, her three marriages, and things I'd preferred not to have heard, really. Suddenly in the middle of it she stared at me and said: 'Don't we love each other so, that we can say all these things openly to each other'.  I think she felt safe.


David said...

My mouth waters just reading your description. Coincidentally I finally met another blogpal a year after you and K when Susan and her 'Edu-mate' came to London. We had a grand time and her J was taken hugely with Ottolenghi's Jerusalem, an exquisitely produced book of mostly do-able recipes (just find the right fresh ingredients). Up there with Moro for both of us.

Funny about safe, isn't it. That's what young diver Tom Daley said about his new love - 'he makes me feel safe'. And today both our hearts nearly broke when J's ma, telling him she couldn't remember either of his sisters' visits, said 'all I can remember now is that I love you and David'.

Susan Scheid said...

Ah, the tagine. We have one, and the Edu-Mate puts it to constant use. I can attest to the accuracy of David's comment about the cookbook Jerusalem, too. We had a lovely dish, or perhaps two, from it tonight. Figs, goat cheese, and other ingredients I don't remember now in one of the dishes. Yes, Moro and now Jerusalem have fed us well, all thanks to David and J. As for the rest, yes, safe is important, though perhaps not quite enough. Discovery! Change! Without them we die off a bit, I think.

wanderer said...

It seems we are looking at this from different contexts. By safe, I mean safe to be honest, true, complete, to absorb and be absorbed, to be without boundaries, to join, to be self at the same time as selfless. And, therefore, exactly the opposite an 'on guard' confined artificial and indeed to be very able to discover and change. My working definition of the opposite of love is not hate but fear, and conversely the opposite of fear is safety, or love.