A couple of weeks ago I made blackberry vinegar, and since then I’ve been looking for just about any excuse to use it.
This is the perfect vehicle for that condiment. It would, I should say, be a glorious dish, even without the vinegar. It’s dark and moody and autumnal, but light enough to eat whilst the weather still occasionally throws an uncomfortably humid day at us. But it is brought to life by the blackberry vinegar: the combination of the crunchy, salty duck skin with the sweetsour, fruity vinegar is perfect.
When we were little, there was one pudding that my non-pudding-making mother would occasionally make: pavlova. We would watch it being made, placed carefully into a low oven. We were barely allowed to watch it whilst it cooked, so keen was the fear of cracking. When it came out, little fingers weren’t permitted to pry or poke. Then it was crowned with cream and accoutrements, and placed in the back porch – desperately tempting, and absolutely forbidden. I thought it was the most impossibly glamorous pudding.
This is my ultimate everything-will-be-ok supper. Something I make when I’m feeling sad or scared or just a bit hopeless. It revives, it reassures. It’s aromatic, and sweet and sour from the tamarind, and it is comforting without being heavy and stodgy. It’s everything you need on a dreary almost-summer Tuesday evening.
Sometimes I worry that I’m flighty. And not in a charming, no one can tie me down, I’m-a-free-spirit sort of way. But rather skittish, unreliable, inconstant. When I feel that way, I come home and bake spelt bread.
Spelt bread is grounding. It is quick, physical work that you have to do with hands. It doesn’t require skill or implements or fancy ingredients. I don’t need to set a timer, or panic about precision. It transforms me into someone pragmatic and capable and resilient.