A TEXT arrives from my wife. It reads: “Have we got any quinoa in the drawer?”
I look and discover that we are right out of quinoa, whatever that is. I text back: “What sort of a middle-class question is that? But no.”
That drawer is a lucky dip of ingredients, some used often and others used once, knotted and forgotten. There is brown rice, pulses, seeds, a newly opened bag of caster sugar, some dried chillies in a jar, assorted bags of herbs and spices, and a box of matches. I wonder idly if the matches are there in case one day we need to start a bonfire of orphan ingredients.
I discover this from a glance. If I was brave enough to jump right in there, I would probably find other lost things, an archaeological dig’s worth of forgotten ingredients layered in time. You could send Indiana Jones into that drawer – Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Drawer.
My wife the vegetarian brings home many of these ingredients from the health food shop where she works. Some days it looks like she could start her own shop in that drawer.
There is certainly brown rice in there; there is always brown rice. I don’t remember spotting it at the time, but I think brown rice must have been in the marriage vows. You will love, honour and obey the command to like brown rice.
I have spent years moaning about brown rice, complaining that it tastes as nice as stewed carpet. But lately something alarming has begun to happen to me. I tried some and quite liked it, even cooking some for myself to go with a curry (chicken – hurrah!). Perhaps I am going native after all these years.
There are always green lentils in that drawer, but you won’t hear me complaining about that, as I love those things. They go particularly well with bacon, which is a disadvantage when you are married to a vegetarian who works in a health-food shop.
The bacon stays out of my favourite recipe for spiced lentils, much in the same way that anchovies are banished from my pasta recipes, unless I am cooking for myself. Sometimes I fry breadcrumbs in melted anchovies and sprinkle them over my dish.
Anyway, quinoa. It’s a grain of some sort that is popular with South American natives and people who work in health-food shops. It’s been trendy for a while now and the new bag my wife brings home from work is British-grown. That’s just as well because all the quinoa-munching worthies were in danger of seeing those South American natives going hungry. Perhaps they got lucky and discovered baked beans instead.
The quinoa is an ingredient in what we will be eating tonight after I get back from work – a Green Pea Falafel Bowl from the Green Kitchen Stories website, somewhere my wife dips into on Facebook.
I like to grumble , but it will probably be lovely. These veggie meals often are, even if I do seem to be turning into an accidental vegetarian. Fortunately, there are some emergency supplies in the freezer from the sausage shop in Shambles in York, just in case I should come over all faint one day.