A few weeks ago, I received an email from a total stranger asking me if I would be a guest speaker at an offal night he was planning in his restaurant in Bournemouth. I didn’t know the restaurant but I liked the tone of his email. I also liked the idea of going to the seaside not to mention his enthusiasm for the Fifth Quarter. So, I said yes.
It must be my art background but I just love beauty. In everything. People, objects and of course food. And today I had a beautiful lunch. It doesn’t happen every day of course but my lovely friend Carole brought me the most beautiful eggs the other day, laid by her even more beautiful hens. So, I thought I would take out my Danish egg cups and my caviar spoons which I never use because caviar is sadly well out of my reach and I set the scene for a beautiful lunch. And so it was, and delicious too. Even the debris was pretty gorgeous!
It’s nearly forty years since I left Lebanon. There were many things that I hated about Beirut and many that I loved. I still feel the same although much of what I loved is disappearing, like the ambulant vegetable and fruit vendors who sell their produce off wooden carts which they push through neighbourhoods while shouting out their wares. A guy like the sombrero-wearing man below would belt out “yalla ‘ala banadurah, yalla ‘ala khiyar” to let everyone know he had tomatoes and cucumbers which he may have just picked from his fields. I loved listening to their cries and always followed my mother onto the balcony to watch her bargain with the vendor to get the best possible price.
Well, it was a great holiday, spent with wonderful friends in beautiful houses, looking at stunning scenery and eating delicious food. What more can an old lady wish for? A perfect last supper, which is what I got when Bea prepared spaghetti alle vongole, one of my all time favourite pasta dishes. And she gave me the recipe which I transcribe below as she wrote it in Italian though you may not need it as making the sauce couldn’t be simpler. All you need is fresh clams, a little chopped parsley, extra virgin olive oil, a couple of cloves of garlic, one dried chilli, half a lemon, a little white wine and some sea salt.