Posts Tagged ‘Hamlet’

“Troubles come not single spies but in battalions…” (Claudius in Hamlet)


Russian actor Nikolai Massalitinov as Claudius with Olga Knipper as Gertrude, fully braced for “troubles”; in the Moscow Art Theatre production of Hamlet–a few years ago!

First it was the TV–no picture from the UK– satellite dish has to be larger now to receive the BBC; then the temperature control on the oven called it a day and now neither of the keys will open the car doors electronically.

And to cap it all in this catalogue of woes (or self pitying monologue), three recipes I was hoping to write up turned out to be duds!

Not exactly a battalion of troubles compared to this horror the folks in Cornwall have been facing.

But enough to tickle the imagination and set off a search for alternatives.

French TV or a good book/internet stuff by the fire? No contest for much of an evening.

No oven? no matter…

Top o’the stove to ye all me ‘arties!

Last night I remembered the spicy dal in the fridge from a couple of nights back–firm enough to form little patties to fry lightly in olive oil.

I had spotted some locally grown endive yesterday at Castres market–those torpedo shaped lettuce that intrigue, but can flummox too. What to do with them other than add to salad?

This recipe from my new book,  Healthy Eating for Life, suggests cooking them in the oven. But no working oven!

I excavated  one good fennel bulb left in the fridge too.

This recipe for pot-roasted fennel from my first cookbook, Delicious Dishes for Diabetics, sautés them slowly on top o’ the stove.


Solution: cook ’em together–on top!!

Sweet fennel, plus the faint bitterness of the endive, finished with squeeze of lemon.

I halved the prepared endives lengthwise to shorten the cooking; then browned them in two fluid ounces of olive oil on a medium flame, uncovered, with the fennel (sliced top to bottom in 8 pieces) and garlic (unpeeled), for ten minutes.

Added four fluid ounces of water to the pan and cooked the mix–covered–for a further twenty minutes–until the vegetables are tender.

We dined last night reflecting on how lucky we are to live in a rectory between a church and cemetery, on a rise where the rain runs downhill bypassing us.


We say it often: The ancients knew a thing or two about where to build their sacred spots.

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Three-quarters of the way through the extraordinary calvacade of the Olympic Opening ceremony last night, sitting on our sofa in the heart of SW France, we experienced an entirely appropriate British moment: It started to rain!
If you are British or have ever been to the UK in summer you will be familiar with the expression Rain Stopped Play.
It happens regularly at Wimbledon even though after decades of delay they finally put a roof on Central Court!
The expression is mainly associated in British minds with the game of cricket.
Images of a British summer would not be complete without a shot of a few dedicated spectators, plastic mackintoshes or umbrellas over their heads, resolutely sitting in the pouring rain in a sparsely populated arena waiting for play to resume–with no realistic prospect of it happening.
Obviously one of the adversities that have helped forge the British spirit!
There we were, on a sofa, engrossed in the show when we heard large, thunderous drops outside. The satellite reception was interrupted, turning the screen black on and off for fifteen minutes.
Rain stopped play!
Doubts had been expressed about whether the Brits were fully prepared.
But taking their cue from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “the readiness is all”–the Brits were undoubtedly ready.
From what we saw, it was wonderful (i.e. full of wonder)–eccentric, moving, ironic, proud, honest, humourous, serious, self-deprecating, sometimes confusing, dense, theatrical, ambitious, worth a second look, spectacular, unexpected!
Maybe even persuading some that the Queen had taken parachuting lessons for her part in the drama:
(Overheard early this morning at Castres market–two women in their 70s chatting. One said to the other: La reine est bien!)
And like those dedicated and determined spectators at summer cricket matches, we held on and reception was restored!

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