Sunday, 2 September 2012

Before making tomato sauce to preserve for the winter months ahead from 3 kilos of the Italian plum variety grown by friends we stayed with down in Lot-et-Garonne last week, I searched for a recipe in Elizabeth David's Italian Food written in 1954. As the pages flicked past, my eyes fell upon the following, which I repeat here with much respect to my teacher/cook;

"It will be seen that this dish is very different from the slice of nondescript  meat encased in a sodden jacket of bread and blotting paper and fried in synthetic lard which so frequently masquerades as a Milanese cutlet in this (Britain) country."

Wonderful. She told it like it was and so often, still is. I feel she needs to be put firmly before any budding cook, any lover of food, any European traveller who has not had the chance to read her work and find what an inspiration she was.

Here above, a couple of litres of really good tasty tomato sauce made with about 3 kilos of peeled tomatoes, several garlic cloves, which were added to sweated out & nicely softened chopped onions, a bunch of small basil leaves; the last on our balcony's plant, some origano, some thyme, some rough old sea salt from somewhere around this beautiful country's coast and some freshly ground pepper. Once that was cooked and tasting good it was given a quick blitz while I thought how best to proceed.

The problem was, that having got home from Périgord late Friday I went the following morning to a local agriculteur's business, which is like a cross between a small garden centre, an old fashioned ironmongers and in spring somewhere to collect the new season's hen chicks, to buy a rotavator,  answer an advert for one to hire, to find gardening services or a small flat to rent for a month in summer on the Côte d'Azur and somewhere to have the lawnmower repaired. There I found the shutters down and a small notice advising that, due to a death in the family; the matriarch at 95, the business was shut, I assumed, for a period of mourning.

So where else would I buy 'capsules' for my Le Parfait jars, donated for the job? There was nowhere else. Sunday morning and the business still shut I ventured to a few local supermarkets that open until midday only... sensible country France, and practical too but none had what I needed.

My trusty neighbour, he of the wisteria, didn't use that system and so now the sauce sits, chilling at the bottom of the 'frigidaire' until Friday morning next which is the earliest I can revisit this little problem.


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