These days, I find, food and friends go together like nightclubs and hangovers may have done way back when we were twenty somethings; hunting for soulmates and good times, with scant thought about what we were doing to our bodies. Yet with food, the pleasure derived does not guarantee a mind-numbing headache, panda eyes or dryness like the Kalahari the morning after. The pleasure of food is immeasurable and for me, a meal of memories is a bottomless cup.
In my 30s food has become a panacea (well, almost) and that seemed to be on my mind down in Borough market last weekend in the easy company of two Saffas (South Africans) and a Zimbo (Zimbabwean). No doubt, this market is a foodie heaven, and I love it, but I feel that with notoriety comes a slightly bloated sense of self that fame brings. But it’s not really the market’s fault. The faint sheen of celebrity seems to have created a hub of gastro wannabes, pseudo foodies, genuine foodophiles, culinary vultures and voyeurs of all things edible. But the energy is addictive and the delights hard to resist.
After fighting the crush and tasting as many tiny morsels of cheese as we could, we gravitated towards a crowning glory of the dairy world – the much sighed about foodstand serving sumptuous Raclette. Without exaggeration, I heard more than one person say: “Let’s find the raclette.” or “Have you tried the raclette?”
Raclette is a dish that originated in Switzerland and involves a semi firm salted cheese made from cow’s milk. It has its origins in the Swiss canton of Valais but is now also produced in parts of France. The term raclette is derived from the French word racler, meaning “to scrape”. The raclette round is heated and the melted cheese is gradually scraped onto a plate. It is often served with baby potatoes, salted meats, gherkins or pickled onions.
This version involved scrapping glorious soft cheese, melted beneath purpose-built gas-powered grills, over griddled new potatoes, served with cornichons. It’s a rustic fare, and like most things as simple, it was both delicious and comforting. Sitting in the neighbouring churchyard, we devoured our meals, Clayton telling a story about photographing a police incident involving a naked lunatic, Joanne filling us in on her recent trek in the Bhutan and me becoming reacquinted with Brigid after not seeing her for years, despite us both living in London all this time!