Entry: Country cooking Apr 6, 2004

It all started a month or two after we’d moved into the dorp (village) when one morning I looked up from my cup of filter coffee at the starlings fighting over ripening loquats in the tree alongside the front drive and decided that I should do something with the fruit. The trouble is, I couldn’t think what. And while I dithered and considered various recipes for loquat jam, the birds carried on pecking away. Schoolchildren climbed into the tree. Passersby helped themselves and broke branches. There were no suitable jars for bottling purposes in the kitchen. And I knew we wouldn’t eat our way steadily through three dozen jars of loquat jam in any case. Then the elder flowers were over and I hadn’t used them to scent cordials. I wasn’t sure about using the berries either. They tasted odd and while Margaret Roberts said they were safe to eat raw, another food writer said they were harmful. No elderberry liqueur. But we did make full use of the avocados. The seasons came and went. Friends and neighbours brought around boxfuls of peaches and I made purées and spiced peaches and sort-of pickled peaches. Apples arrived by the armful and I made apple butter. Right at the end of summer there were cratefuls of tomatoes and Una went out, collected jars from the neighbouring farmers’ wives and made tomato purée, at least 24 jars. Now it is almos time to think about loquats again. This is about country cooking for reforming urbanites. What works, what doesn’t what can’t even be given away and gathers dust on the mantel over the old fireplace.


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