“Like the guy on the 50th floor? I’m not touching anything…not touching anything…”
Our professor tried quoting the cult film, La Haine, this morning. But he got it spectacularly wrong. The boys that fancy themselves a little street – our own disaffected baker youth – weren’t having any of it.
Jusqu’ ici tout va bien. L’important c’est pas la chute, c’est l’aterrissage.
Until you land, it doesn’t hurt to fall. Just keep telling yourself, everything’s fine. Maybe you won’t hit the floor.
Everything is fine, for the moment. Today we rolled croissants and iced a cake with shiny coffee buttercream. The cake – a mocha – was also soaked in coffee syrup, made with 20% rum. In the old days hygiene was poor and refrigeration non-existent so they killed germs with copious amounts of alcohol.
It was the most alcohol I have seen in weeks, apart from a couple caipirihnas one samba night. (Not conducive to getting up at 5.37 a.m.)
Someone very wise told me today that living is the hardest thing you can do. And that there is no such thing as growing up. That was somehow very reassuring. Sometimes I feel like this cartoon – excellent at life for a few days until I hit the ground.
But we are all muddling along – me, the sardonic professor who mutters putain, fais chier (literally, “whore, you make me shit”) under his breath each lesson; the cool kids in class who still blush when they are yelled at.
This is the food I crave at the end of this long day, my soul food. Something that does not require shopping – only tins, frozen bits and pieces and whatever neglected vegetables are languishing in the fridge.
A vegetable curry, of which I have probably already regaled you. This one is even more granny-like than usual: it’s got prunes in it. The most important thing is getting the right balance of colour and texture, sweet and silky with a dash of spice. I keep a block of coconut milk in the freezer and just break off a little each time. Please note: you can replace the beans with chickpeas, the aubergine with red pepper, the prunes with apricots. Take it as a start. And know that it only takes half an hour to make it into your mouth.
Colourful, comforting curry
Dice one large aubergine and some carrots. Roast at 200C with lots of salt pepper and olive oil until soft in the middle, crisp on the edge.
Meanwhile, in a deep saucepan, fry a clove or two of garlic with olive oil and a teaspoon of curry paste. (Madras is good for the strong-hearted.) Just as it starts to go brown and dry, tip in a tin of tomatoes (or fresh are fine). Add a splash of water and let it bubble happily until the tomatoes are sticky and sweet. Add a pinch of sugar to enhance.
When your vegetables are ready, stir into the tomato mix along with: a tin of red kidney beans, a handful of pitted prunes and a splash of coconut milk (I would guess 100-150g). Liberally apply more spices – concentrated tamarind is good for sour depth as is mango powder. Cumin for that extra curry taste. More chili. Pepper and salt.
For extra class, serve with bulghur wheat made with a handful of raisins and hazelnuts. Sprinkle with the frozen coriander you keep in the freezer. (Who manages to keep herbs alive? Really?)