Xmas lunch

When you travel do you find yourself missing the food you left behind?
It’s probably an ancient hankering.

When we sailed in Greece, we used to phantasise about breaking the daily fare of french fries and feta salads with a shepherds pie or cauliflower cheese. Of course Christmas only makes matters worse: roast potatoes, al dente sprouts, Christmas pudding and brandy butter. This year will be memorable for sharing Sriyani’s kitchen and learning something about Sri Lankan cuisine, that plus a vegan curry cooked over an open fire (and no alcohol :()

Coconuts of course feature heavily in the Sri Lankan diet: oil for frying, stock made from soaking the grated flesh, and more grated flesh for sambals.

The coconut grater she used incorporated a stool in the simplest design.

The version where I’m staying now reminds me of the table mincer that fascinated me as a child and has a nearly legible English label. I can imagine some Victorian engineer being delighted when his product design was selected to send the wonders of the industrial age out to the empire.

I guess nowadays there’s an electric version, though I doubt it’ll be as green, usable, or have the longevity of its predecessors.

So we prepared okra, beans, squash, rice and popadoms cooking each over a makeshift fire on the kitchen top, the gas burner being out of action due to a problem with the bottled gas supply. Again the old ways proved themselves more durable, but without getting too nostalgic, cooking indoors over an open fire is a smoky, unhealthy business.

It’s just a shame we couldn’t all have sat down together to enjoy the feast.

I hope you too feasted well.

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