Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Three banquets a day, our favourite diet

‘Everything seems to be about food right now, have you noticed?’ Grange Girl asked as we strolled along the Cliffe.
‘No,’ I said.
‘You are rather hard to understand; do you have something in your mouth?’
I rejected several zinging replies on the grounds of it being a sunny pre-watershed afternoon and merely replied, ‘Yes, I am eating a delicious chocolate brownie from the Pop-up Co-op.’
‘See? Food, food, nothing but… from the what?’
‘It’s a thing that pops up just when you’re starving. Like a Lewes superhero. With cake. On a bike trailer. Pants securely underneath trousers.’
‘The entire town has gone comestible-crazy,’ Grangey said, brushing brownie-spray off her cagoule. ‘If it’s not the October Feast it’s new juice bars and Aldis; if it’s not plays about dinner parties it’s real-life secret suppers.’
I wisely kept my counsel. Partly because I didn’t want to waste any more brownie, but mainly because I knew that Grange Girl’s offer to host a secret supper had been rejected. Long dark night of the soul that was, listening to Grangey sobbingly recite her menu, based entirely on her garden produce (‘thistle soup with daisy garnish, nasturtium frittata drizzled with pond-weed jus…’), and wondering aloud to the heavens why she hadn’t been selected.
‘And another thing. I discovered the Friday market. I used to have it to myself. Now it’s full of ‘people’ barging to the front, grabbing the best apples.’
‘Why are ‘people’ in inverted commas?’
‘To indicate my disdain without using a rude post-wastershed epithet.’
‘I’d have thought, Grangey, that you would at least approve of the Shop Local challenge?’
We were at the library and Grange Girl ran up the steps like Rocky at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She stood atop the Tom Paine statue and shnorted (little known Yiddish word*, a cross between snorting and shouting). ‘Shop local for ten days?! I’ve shopped local for years! I should be automatically given that hamper prize.’
She hurled a book at me (‘Nigella Bites’) which was sticking out of the returns letterbox, but ducking missiles is an occupational hazard of friendship with Grangey and we went peacefully on our way.
‘So there’s a new bistro up there,’ I said tentatively, indicating Station Street.
Two gentlemen of the road were sitting on Lager Bench, sharing a vintage Special Brew and chatting. As we passed, one said to the other, ‘You cook them till they’re really soft. Then you mash them up with butter.’ Both then said, ‘Mmmm!’
Grange Girl turned to me with a perfectly blank expression.
‘Okay Grangey, it’s all about food.’
‘I’m never wrong,’ she said, adding, ‘Want to come to mine? I’ve some bay leaf crumble that needs using up.’
‘Bit full of brownie,’ I said, silently thanking the Pop-up Co-op for coming to the rescue once again.

* Not really, so don’t use it when Jackie Mason pops round for a bacon sarnie.

Beth Miller, 14th September 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com, and Viva Lewes magazine October 2013. Photo by Alex Leith

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