Saturday, February 27, 2010


I'm beginning to feel a bit old all of a sudden.

This is mostly because of some of my colleagues in their early-to-mid twenties and their sometimes frankly puzzling colloquialisms. I work with a guy, let's call him Aaron, and a girl, let's call her Jane, who also happen to share a flat as well as work together. They also went to the same university and worked together in the student union. They also both have evening jobs in a pub down the road. They are inseparable, and although they sit in separate offices, are always calling each other or emailing to share some joke or youtube video or discuss some raucous thing that happened last night when they were out drinking dressed as Smurfs, or chatter away about how one of them fell asleep on the toilet and left their kebab in the bed, or some other kind of kerrr-azy midweek japery. Oh dear. See? I sound so old!

Anyway, I'm learning a lot from them - particularly as far as vocabulary is concerned. Because Aaron and I share an office, I often overhear their conversations. One of Aaron's common favourites is to dial Jane in the next office over and do an impression of Anne, the mental poo-smearing patient from Little Britain whose catchphrase is "eh-eh-ehhhhh".

Maybe three or four times a day.

Oh, the things I've learned! They have been gleaned from snippets of conversations carried out behind me in our office as I've typed away, pretending to work but really making mental notes of whatever strange, young-person speak escapes their filthy little mouths. If something was 'gash', it wasn't a wound, it means it was rubbish. Oh holy crap - I just checked urban dictionary ( and it actually means a can guess why. That's so stupid! It's like calling all men knobs.

Anyway. If someone is 'butters', they aren't trying to re-enact Last Tango in Paris, it means they're unattractive. Apparently this one is very commonplace - the Mister had heard this expression at his North London comprehensive. Where have I been? At my Kent co-ed I was only exposed to the concepts of 'kushti', 'pikey', and 'chavtastic'. My cousins tell me that if someone is 'hench' it means they're well-built and likely to win in a fight. If they're bare hench, you'd really better watch out. Oh, and 'elephant leg'? That's kebab meat. I dare not think of what 'kebab meat' means. Oh wait. I know what it means. That's disgusting.

Anyway. 'What is all this in aid of?', you may ask. What does this post have to do with musings about London or food or outings? These ramblings are nothing like the usual astute meditations I expect to find when I visit this site. (Hah.) Well, the best colloquialism I've learned from these two characters at work is this: Jane refers to food she likes, or likes the look of, as 'fit', in much the same way another person might refer to a good-looking individual.

And I love that. I've picked it up and am using it unashamedly, whether it's about my plate of chicken stew or a chocolate bar. And, because Jane also grew up in Kent, you have to do it like she does: drop the 't' and make it more of a glottal stop. 'Fi-'.

'That soup was fi-'. 'That chocolate cake was 'fi-'. 'Those chips were well fi-.'

This last thing we* made was bare fit, innit.

*(amendment made, props to the Mister for his idea)

Avocado and Manchego Garlic Toasts

1 avocado, ripe
1 garlic clove, peeled
wholemeal, seeded or rye bread slices
olive oil
dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper

1. Cut up and partially mash a whole avocado. Add olive oil, salt, pepper and a shake or two of dried chilli flakes.

2. Toast some good-quality sliced bread (we used some hearty Polish sunflower 'chleb').

3. Peel a garlic clove and rub lightly over the toasted bread.

4. Spoon on the avocado mash and slice some Manchego on the top, as thick or as thinly as you like. Sprinkle with pepper and slosh a bit of olive oil all over that bad boy.

5. Eat while hot - flippin' gorgeous. Sorry - fit.

NB: Thanks to Shannoncita and E for the Manchego: see here for more of their talents.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Whisking Away the Winter Blues

Mid-February, and it's still miserably, brutally cold.

Maybe everything seems greyer after our return from Marrakech two weeks ago. We bathed in sunshine there, our limbs lengthening, our skin shimmering, our eyes blinking, disbelieving - like puppies tipped out of a box, I believe is the expression. We lapped up our five days there. The feeling of shedding a layer of chapped winter skin, stripping to our sandals and short sleeves, was so welcome; like the faintest whiff of summer, the briefest whisper of days to come. We basked every morning in that glow, at breakfast if we could. We swam. We got pink noses. We marvelled at having to buy suncream. In February! How decadent!

Coming back to London, we hissed at the pilot who announced it would be 4 degrees when we landed. 'Damn and blast it all to hell', we cried. 'We're out of here. No more than another two winters here. It's bloody awful. How does anyone do it?' etc, etc. You get the idea. We started to look for jobs in the Cayman Islands and plot our escape.

To get over the shock of the return, we did what any shell-shocked and depressed couple would do: we ate. We tried to relive some of the holiday, recreating dishes similar to those we had eaten in Morocco. This was our first attempt, the day after we unpacked:

Moroccan Harcha (semolina flatbreads)


2 cups semolina flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
good pinch of salt

1. Mix together the semolina, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter, and blend well with your hands.

2. Add the milk, and mix until a moist dough takes shape.

3. Shape the dough into balls and leave to rest a few minutes.

4. Preheat frying pan. Roll, then flatten the balls into saucer-sized circles.

5 .Cook over a low heat, about 7 to 10 minutes on each side, until they become golden . Turn only once, and check regularly that the heat is not too high, so they have time to cook all the way through.

These Moroccan crumpety-biscuit type things were made by the Mister's fair hand, and were a warm treat for our first cold morning back, which was mostly spent cosying up to the radiators and catching up with our laundry. They were sunny little things, light and fluffy and great with butter melting on their doughy insides and jam or cheese jazzing them right up. We served ours with some typically Moroccan sliced oranges with orange flower water, cinnamon, icing sugar and as I didn't have strawberries, some reduced cherries from the Co-op.

Yum. After a few of these we were just about coming to terms with the winter again.