Many people have helped to give it birth. My first thanks go to my husband, Bradley S.
Thus, mysticism aside, it is time to attend to the stomach. Patty Neilfamed curry tiffin creator of Selkirk and authoress of a fantastic book on Asian cuisine, is once more my inspiration, as she has been in the past. Judging from the pictures, Hell looks the more Interesting place.
And I always like to see my cup as half full; the triumph of good will over authenticity: My father was born in Pune, India, where my grandparents, Martin and Mary Giles, lived a basic lifestyle in the fifties.
Martin a engineer in the Navy during the war lost two brothers, two amongst millions. In India he was in charge of a railway junction, and they lived in a small house hidden away in a valley that was sodden in the monsoon season, then sumptuous, then barren in the dry.
There was a wallah for everything, and the hierarchy of servants was typically Indian in its idiosyncratic breadth and precision. Mary tells of one day at bath time how a snake oozed up through the plughole, a wallah dispatched to kill it as she shrieked dripping from the bath-tub.
The great golden Buddha on an oriental chest in the lounge watches over us all with a fat, benign grin on his face. Martin and Mary went on to own various hotels in England, most famously the George in Hatherleigh, where Mary was chief cook, counting Ted Hughes as a regular amongst others see Crow blog.
Martin manned the bar along with five thirsty children, so never be surprised when the wine flows at a Giles family gathering and indeed on any other occasionas it is something we have been brought up with.
Mary and her lobster thermidor and mussel chowder are legendary, as are her wild cries from the kitchen as she wrought her arcane magic and put out a chip-pan fire or two. It is not surprising, therefore, that my life has always known good food, and in particular has contained some very exciting curries.
I always rather enjoyed telling my Spanish friends when I lived in Madrid that Indian food was the most popular cuisine in Britain.
Not only does it hold a certain pleasing post-Colonial irony for me, but it also knocks the tall tale on the head that British cuisine is a dry and tasteless food desert. Their spice and heat threshold is low, however, and only the mildest korma suits the average Spanish palate.
Fish and chips have a lot to answer for, but trying to tell a Spaniard that even that can be matchless is a fruitless affair.
Last night was curry night chez blogger. As Greta Garbo would have said in all her glamour and celluloid wisdom, I vanted to be alone. None of that brightly coloured gloop served in some British Indian restaurants, but a freshly-turned out curry served with a lightness of touch.
Rosie Jenkins, friend and oboeist for the Northern Sinfonia and first oboe for the Mumbai Symphony Orchestra — so she also knows curry and her sister Katy Karpfinger, world traveller and fellow brass player, will testify to this. One night in my Yorkshire home village, the incomparable Gilling West, Katy, Rosie and I downed red wine as the ridiculously good coriander-covered dragon-dish did its good work.
My father has India in his blood. Fry up the chicken breast pieces in garlic, onion and olive oil.(Don’t, whatever you do, heed the words of Peter Medawar: “No one who has something original or important to say will willingly run the risk of being misunderstood; people who write obscurely are either unskilled in writing or up to mischief.” – What a silly man!) Remember.
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