Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Ritual Post

I started this post a few weeks ago, but  was unable to finish it at the time. 
I wrote it for the foodies in my life, and also for those who appreciate rituals.
Posts of more substance will follow soon.

As I was preparing a special dinner for this past Easter, there was more going on in my life than I could handle with ease, but the fact of Easter reminded me that at the very moment when things look to be at their very bleakest, there is still the possibility of grace. Behold, He is risen.

Not that I am a church-goer anymore, but I started thinking about rituals, and my ongoing need for them. If all I am doing is simply drinking a glass of wine, this is not a ritual, but it becomes one as soon as I raise my glass to make a toast. My guess is that even in our secular age, rituals are still essential. They bind us together, and affirm to us that there is more than simply getting through the day. We need to connect. We need to matter.

Since Andreas & I were about to leave for Ireland and England a few days after Easter, this year’s version had to be a simple meal, one that would use up what we had on hand. I hauled out some asparagus, cherry tomatoes, one red pepper, lemons and eggs. In the freezer, I found a bit of pastry left over from another meal, as well as a bag of paneer. This made my menu choices obvious.

The veg & the paneer inspired a riff on one of my favourite Vij’s recipes.

Asafoetida, cumin, turmeric, and black mustard seeds.

The main dish - fuzzy because of the steam
Saffron-cashew-cranberry-rice was the side
The recipe that had inspired me for our ritual Easter meal can be found at Vij's: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine, by Meeru Dhalwala and her husband, Vikram Vij. The book is well worth owning, as is their follow-up cookbook.Mine is totally well-thumbed and dribbled upon.

For dessert, I made a lemon meringue pie. I will spare you the photo. The contours of the meringue made it look as if it had a future to be used as a Rorschach blot test. I won't tell you what I thought it looked like, although the taste and texture were perfect. The eggs were from the hens at Cohousing, one of the aspects of Cohousing that are well worth celebrating. Using them was a ritual necessity. It was as close to the ritual of Easter eggs that this meal could get. As for the meringue, just lets say that in spite of the photo, Behold, It was risen. I will include the recipe in the next post.

A few days later, Andreas & I were already in London, and out walking with two of my cousins, descendants of Sir Thomas Jackson. We were our way to have dinner in Kensington with their sisters Julia and Annabel and their brother-in-law Stanley Meadows.

My Bowman-Vaughan cousins always spoil me rotten when I visit. L-R Venetia & Tommy Bowman-Vaughan, and Andreas.

Meals at Annabel and Stanley’s are not only always elegant and amazing, but part of what always blows me away – literally – is that they often announce the meal with a ritual blast.  So, since this is a post about both food and rituals, I had to finish with this:
The bleat of a hounds’ horn to call us to dinner is both effective and unique. It announces that several courses of fine food, wine and intelligent conversation are about to follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment