The vegetable seed catalogues have arrived and I carefully limit the time I spend looking at them. How do I choose what to grow? I want to grow them all!
Why limit the time? Because unless I have some time to think and plan and look and calculate just how much our small boxes will grow, I will gaily fill in an order with every seed. Gluttony.
But no, I am a gastronome too. I only have two catalogues, one of which is solely organic and the other has organic and heritage seeds only. Why choose these two from all abundance of offerings? Well, when I look at vegetable seeds I envision what I will cook with them. A seed catalogue is a recipe book.
Organic because I believe that they taste better and surely the lack of pesticides mean that they will be better for us health-wise. Heritage seeds because they look fantastic and also may taste better too – surely purple carrots will taste different from organic ones? I know that different coloured tomatoes taste different so why shouldn’t different shaped and coloured beans?
I love to cook and to eat too… a weight problem [although I can claim some medical reasons but still…] will justify that one! Also I am vegetarian and thus taste and variety are very important.
I can claim to have gone to the Fat Duck when Heston Blumethal didn’t have 3 Michelin stars! Maybe one though… and I’ve been more than once… I have in truth been to quite a few Michelin starred places to eat and enjoyed them all although don’t particularly Gordon Ramsay and his style of cooking as evidenced by his tutees – too French and too much cream and general richness. Not good vegetarian food either. I went to Claridges Hotel run by Angela Harnett then, and was offered roasted summer vegetables as my main course – not imaginative.
Now talking of imagination and gluttony or gastronomy, I have been very interested to see that there is a new Vegetarian cookery magazine out again. The BBC used to publish one many years back and I still have all these stored away. This new one has some interesting new ideas and links to interesting projects. For instance for anyone living south of the river in London there is a workers’ cooperative growing food in the Lea Valley, http://www.organiclea.org.uk Chingford in fact, which has a great box scheme – but you have to pick it up. They do lots of courses there and are interested in supporting community groups in growing. Unfortunately I live north of the river and so can’t get their stuff, but they do good recipes…
But rather more on the theme of gluttony and gastronomy I was interested to read in the magazine about Veggiestan food which sounds fascinating. Apparently it is the name coined by Sally Butcher – who is married to an Iranian – and thus is interested in Iranian and other Middle Eastern food ideas. She has a shop in Peckham which is full of goodies and has written 2 cook books of ideas from the region which incorporate a lot of fruit in with the savoury.
And of course, talking of cook books, which vegetarian is not reading Yotamm Ottolenghi’s new book Plenty. This is a great book just to touch as the cover is somehow padded and feels so nice and then the full page photos just make you salivate. I confess to not having cooked from it yet, but it is lovely to read…!