02 February 2009

Lentejas: Food Edition Part 2

You may have noticed the use of arch French vignettes in Stevie Smith’s poetry. It works well, because with her gleefully innocent style the generally simple French shines with irony and impish conservatism. However, shall we just draw the line at dropping words like bon mot or crise or enfant terrible into public conversation? As in:

(Laughing in smug fashion) “I’m afraid I’m going to have to claim this bon mot as my own” (More sniggering)


“Has poor Timothy come out of his crise?” (dreary smile)


“Oh darling you really are an enfant terrible !” (titter)

Sometimes, however, it is amusing to drop these words into conversation with a slight dip in the voice. Delivered with a certain panache, they crease you up into fits of rire de hyene.

The question remains whether one ought to use other imported foreign language words in speech? The physically shouty Italians have a plethora of body actions to suggest things. The favourite is hand under chin flick. It gives one an heroic image:

Vaffunculo Gianni, it’s time you moved out of your mother’s” (not omitting chin flick)

The Spanish also gesticulate, but more shoulder-shrugging is required. The universality of joder, like fuck, is key. The most important word we have imported is siesta. It is fine to have one at anytime and also use the word:

“Dude, I’m going for a siesta, don’t smoke all the weed”

We have some Russian words like glasnost. I never use these. But I would like to and keep promising to read Dostoevsky and other such, normally waylaid by a detective novel. They have words like mick and dago that sound cool but aren’t, really. Not officially anyway.

We won’t go into Greek and Latin, but let us just use the word tremendous. It’s root is in either one of the two and is a good one to describe your understanding of their utmost importance and the nature of your lack of knowledge of them.

However, I digress. You will notice from today’s natty title this is a food edition! So let me tell you about the lentejas Artist and I made for the Geologist the other day. The good news is that you can buy cured morcilla de Léon (without rice - morcilla de Burgos is with) in Linlithgow so we got it, and rushed home to a chorizo (Tesco’s finest – good). If you can buy fresh morcilla (as in – not cured) then do not put this in yet. Other things you need are Puy lentils, garlic, onion, chicken stock, ham bone (preferably Spanish jamón bone but highly unlikely in Perthshire) and bacon fat, tocino in Spanish but not sold in butchers in Perthshire - so we put in little bits of mutton (not classic) but conceivably you could add any bits you wanted, and always carrots, potatoes, bay leaves, chile, salt, pepper and paprika.

Fry up the onions and plenty of garlic in olive oil, place in cured whole chorizo and morcilla, hambone, whole peeled carrots and peeled potatoes chopped up roughly, not too small. Then the lentils, stock, some paprika (it’s called pimentón in Spain, you can get that if you want, it is arguably better), bring it to the boil and then let it simmer gently for a couple of hours. Leave it overnight.

Go and buy wine.

The Artist and I know a little about Spanish wine. We like it. We drink it quite a lot. Lentejas needs a rioja, in my opinion. But, you know. Some drinkable, meaty red wine. The feast is then ready. It is a pretty big feed but in Winter one feels it’s necessary. We heated up the lentejas in the oven – we decided it would cook in a more uniform fashion and it was somehow more satisfying to do so.

Serve with requisite salty salad (with tuna, hard-boiled egg, tomato, onion, lettuce and plenty balsamic vinegar, mustard and olive oil) or if you are like the Artist and are eaten up inside by a monstrous fear of things from under the sea, do not use tuna. Others would say the tuna is laced with dolphin and is not friendly. I try to buy all the right stuff but love tinned tuna in olive oil – not the stuff with brine.


  1. Yo, me gusta mucho la palabra 'tiovivo'. ¿Lo conoces? La vida es un...

    Ayer compré cuatros bottellas de Ribera del Duero!

    Hasta mañana...

    La pintora. xx

  2. Anonymous3:34 pm

    La tia is ecstatic about these lentejas poderosas, I'm off to Linlithgow as soon as my piernecitas will take me. OK then, wheels. But even better maybe, am off to Palma de Mallorca en un par de semanas and will bring back local goodies, por ejemplo sobrasada, which is like chorizo all mashed up into a paste,so good on a tostada. Good times are a-comin.