April 1 2020

Nice nuts!

Right now more than ever before, there’s something really wholesome, satisfying and creative about meat-free suppers. If I’m preaching to the converted, then forgive me for such an obvious statement. But of late – with time on my hands and limited produce/ingredients to choose from – what I thought was already a fully-stoked obsession has been subject to an intense reinvigoration. I didn’t know how jaded my palate had become until I ditched the familiar flesh in favour of food that was inestimably fresher and far less gory to prepare; the process of rehydrating pulses or grinding nuts coupled with the rekindled realisation that aubergines, courgettes and even the humble cauliflower can provide the thrust of a whole meal, not just a supporting role, has reminded me what real food is all about.

Although a perfect steak, a fragrant sliver of pork or the scent of slowly roasting lamb all offer an appeal that I’m not prepared to give up entirely, taking a break from carving my way around gristle, bone and sinew or justifying my bloodthirsty appetite by paying a small fortune for a dead animal that enjoyed a Brideshead Revisited-style upbringing before it died for me is putting me back in touch with a far more tasteful aspect of my foodie self.

As I was brought up pretty much vegetarian, I’m spending many long hours of my flesh-free days experiencing an extended sense of déjà vu, fondly recalling suppers created around potato cakes, marmite, peanut butter and wholemeal bread. I can clearly remember how weird it seemed to consider eating the real-life version of the toy animals I snuggled up in bed with every night. At the age of 16, a rebellious moment involving a hot dog dragged me off the path of righteousness; decades on, a hazelnut, leek and cheese burger is leading me back towards the light.

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