Sunday was an odd-feeling day spent on the sofa trying to work out what to do with my career now I’ve finally handed in my PhD, and then drifting through the Asda in Peckham. I soaked some borlotti beans in water in the morning, when I also found out that borlotti beans are a kind of kidney bean. Kidney beans and borlotti beans had previously existed in different universes in my mind : one has all the glamour, the other reminds me of secondary school chilli con carne. I didn’t have a plan of what I’d do with the beans, but waited for Asda’s shelves to suggest things.
Peckham Asda at 3pm on Sunday doesn’t have the greatest range of meat. Most people panic-buying for roast lunch have been and gone. However, there were some pieces of uncooked ham, smoked and unsmoked, that remained. I bought a smoked ham, as well as leeks, parsley, garlic, two packs of courgettes, onions, crème fraîche, double cream, ricotta and mozzarella (yes, why all of the creamy things? I wasn’t sure either, apart from wanting comfort and the idea that they could be eaten at some point with vegetables), loo roll and tooth paste – not all for dinner.
Also, I had been meaning to cook some frozen artichoke hearts that I bought from Turkish Food Centre in Camberwell after reading Claudia Roden’s book of Italian food. Roden writes that she often uses frozen artichokes. She had a recipe for artichokes in a relatively complicated almond sauce that had been on my mind for a few weeks. I couldn’t be bothered to make her recipe on Sunday, which required quite a few things and processes, but I did make a dish with almonds and artichokes. It was very simple and it went down well with Katia Wengraf, the profoundly personable woman who runs Review Books in Peckham. I stopped by her shop on my way home, and she invited herself over for dinner. I was very glad she did, as it snapped me out of my daze enough to tidy our flat and unpack (two weeks after returning from holiday) and to make this meal.