Slow Food London set a challenge: could regular Londoners go slow for an entire year? Would it be easy? Would it be hard? Would there be times when it would (slowly) start to go wrong?
Here, Susan Paul talks us through her thirtieth week:
Having celebrated Christmas with our family in mid December, we had a holiday in the sunshine of Oman this week. Seasonal and local (let alone clean and fair) don’t appear easy in an international hotel but I decided to try.
Breakfast was served buffet style and covered just about every type of food from all over the world in the hope, I guess, of dealing with the whims and fancies of all guests. This makes me concerned about waste. I opted for some very nice fruits, apples, plums and apricots preserved in a syrup spiced with vanilla, cardamom and star anise and added some almonds and yoghurt on some days. There were also eggs done any way desired. Melon sometimes too, which is supposed to be very good in Oman but I am not sure if it was local or not. And of course dates, which I like and they were lovely. I also drank lots of fresh mint tea.
Lunch was often tabbouleh, a salad of finely chopped onions, tomatoes and mint, hummus, and mutabal, which probably need no further explanation here, and labneh, strained yoghurt, together with olives and flat bread. But I did occasionally have a Caesar salad, that stalwart of hotel menus all over the world.
And to drink, a delicious cocktail of cranberry juice with mint, ginger and lime, (limes being very local apparently), or some jasmine tea.
Supper could be a grill of lamb marinated in spices, some Kofta lamb or some chicken marinated with coriander with a salad of finely sliced onions and tomatoes and a creamy sauce made with sesame paste and of course more flat bread, or perhaps a vegetable tagine or curry. Fish was not an option for me here as I could not be sure about sustainability and having looked it up on my return, I find that most local species are over-fished.
Other good things were coffee flavoured with cardamom, pickled vegetables of all kinds and dukkah (a mixture of ground nuts such as hazelnut or almonds and seeds such as sesame, cumin or coriander), which is eaten with flat bread and oil. But I remain unsure just how much of this food is local, seasonal, clean and fair.
Back home to the cold weather and very grateful for a sunny holiday but looking forward to some home food now. An empty fridge, apart from some ageing but not past it, Golden Cross goat’s milk cheese; so we raided the freezer and subsequently enjoyed a supper of carrot soup and toasted cheese on sourdough toast. A lovely week but it’s actually rather good to be home, at least as far as food is concerned.