Thursday, 9 July 2009


Aubergines - for several reasons. They're currently my favourite vegetable, although that will probably change by the autumn. I feel a red cabbage lust coming on soon. They are included, in American, in the title of one of my favourite essays on food, Laurie Colwin's 'Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant'.

Like her I found myself living alone, in a tiny studio flat in the south of France, the sort where it was nearly possible to reach the bathroom sink, the desk and the two hobs that constituted the kitchen all from my bed. Actually I was in a better position than Colwin. I had a kitchen sink so didn't have to do the washing up in the bath.

I didn't have an oven, but didn't mind. I lived in the south of France so was utterly spoiled by the markets nearby, and quickly discovered that a lot of the food I liked cooking and eating best was vegetable based one-pot concoctions: ratatouille in the summer when I arrived, which gave way to mushroomy things, root vegetable soups, and the odd stew in winter, braised broad beans or petit pois à la française in spring, and then just before I left the ratatouille made a reappearance.

Later on I lived alone again, this time in an even smaller windowless studio in Brussels. Brussels was wonderful for markets (although not as good Aix in France), cheese shops and butchers, and had some fantastic Middle Eastern corner shops and an Aladdin's cave of an oriental supermarket. Once again aubergines featured heavily, although along with new obsessions: I also came to realise how good a dinner bread, cheese and wine can be. Shamefully I especially liked eating that in bed.

In honour of this new blog I have plans to make smoked aubergine puree this weekend, or possibly grilled aubergine with miso. I also have plans involving cake.

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