Starcat 1 by my favourite artist

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Ever since I heard on BBC Radio 4’s book of the week and subsequently read Paul Richardson’s Cornucopia: A Gastronomic Tour of Britain I have been fascinated by the differences in regional cooking throughout Britain. This incidentally has also made me a great fan of the Hairy Bikers about whom I want to blog on a not too-distant date.

One of the most fascinating recipes in Cornucopia is the recipe for baked beans, a dish that is not as humble as the tinned beans we all love and enjoy may lead us to think. They have a fascinating history and I would recommend you read the book and make them yourself, but be warned – it is a long process but well worth the effort

Tinned baked beans are, I think, the ultimate comfort food and a cheap, filling fast snack.

This morning, a good friend invited me to his home for lunch –  beans and rice. Is there anything more enjoyable than an unexpected invitation to a home-cooked lunch with a friend? This is probably one of life’s greatest small pleasures.

So, after work, I took the train up to his home where a fragrant pan of beans was simmering slowly on the hob. They were delicious and simple. The recipe?
1lb of black Tolosa beans, an onion, a roughly-chopped carrot and a dash of olive oil cooked in the pressure cooker and served with Basmati rice.

Usually a Spanish bean stew includes a large piece of chorizo, a slab of belly pork and perhaps a black pudding and is a filling, delicious dish. You can find an example of such a full-bodied meaty recipe here. However, my friend’s beans were completely meat-free. I am a dyed-in-the-wool carnivore, but they were exquisite.

The warmth of friendship, intelligent conversation and a good, filling hot autumnal meal. Can anything really better that?

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