There’s nothing like a bit of abstinence. When Jesus spent forty days (and forty nights, mind) in the wilderness, I bet the first thing he did on completion was pile into the biggest goat stew since his Dad knows when. With extra goat. And loads of water. Which he promptly turned into wine. In fact, I imagine he was so deeply enamoured by the feast that lay before him, and so terribly geoffed* from all the water-wine he’d been guzzling, that he swayed bleary-eyed, elbows on the table and cutlery swinging like pendula, and slurred:
“The meat shall inherit the earth”.
The rest was lost in translation.
And I know how he felt. The simple joys of cookery have never seemed so profound to me as they have over the past week. My lunch in the Hawksmoor aside (which was transcendental in a more cathartic, singular way), every morsel that has passed my quivering lips has been adored and appreciated in a way that it wasn’t before. A month ago a toasted muffin for breakfast would have been eaten as passively as any breakfast is usually eaten; a baked potato for supper par for the course. Now these things are special, magical, decadent. And hot.
So I guess the raw vegan diet had a purpose. It made me realise just how much better food tastes when it is cooked – more flavour, more vitatlity, more love. Say what you will about the health benefits (I’m just not willing to get into a debate on this – not now anyway), but raw food just don’t taste as good. For that reason I’m glad I did the diet – it has made me appreciate real food all the more.
*Geoffed, abbr. exceedingly drunk. Geoff Hooned.
Grilled lamb rump with smashed chickpeas
2 lamb rump steaks
A small clove of garlic, crushed
A handful of parsley, finely chopped
A few rosemary leaves, finely chopped
A red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
1 tin of chickpeas
Salt and pepper
Toss the lamb in the crushed garlic, herbs, chilli, anchovy and lemon juice. Add a little olive oil, season with pepper and leave for up to 2 hours.
Scrape the marinade off of the lamb (but don’t for Pete’s sake chuck it away). Stick a frying pan over a strong flame and, when it looks like it’s thinking about smoking, add the lamb. Fry for 2 minutes on each side, then remove to a plate to rest.
Drain the chickpeas and cover with water. Pop on a medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain into a colander. In the same saucepan, heat a little oil and gently fry the marinade for a minute, taking care not to burn the garlic. Return the chickpeas to the pan and smash with a spoon, fork or masher, stirring the marinade through thoroughly. You’re not looking for a smooth paste here; rough is how we like it.
Serve with thick slices of lamb and some (preferably cooked) green vegetables.