I recently joined a book club called ‘This Book Makes Me Cook’. It combines two of my favorite activities: reading and cooking. And this month’s selection was the Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton. Now it seems appropriate that I should begin here. Let me explain:
As a child, I was a voracious reader and Enid Blyton single handedly shaped the way I was to view the world for a few years. I grew up believing that boarding school trumped day school, that vacations should always involve adventure, freedom and food. Lots of food! As far as I was concerned there was nothing as glorious as ‘foreign food’. Clotted cream, hunks of bread, potted meat, scones and cake were the only enjoyable food.
Now of course, I know that clotted cream is malai which I detest. My first encounter with a British styled tea left me thoroughly disappointed. It just was not as I had imagined it. All my grand ideas crumbled down in the face of my very obvious post colonial reality.
Yet, traces of these desires stay with me and creep up from time to time in my baking. Any success in such an endeavor leads to much rejoicing. And today was one such time.
In the second novel of the series, the girls at Malory Towers are enjoying half term by the swimming pool. To add to the special occasion the kitchen had provided jam tarts, strawberries and ice cream. I choose to make a jam tart as that particular scene stayed with me long after I had finished reading the novel.
(It also reminded me of the little jam tarts that were available at a bakery near my office.)
I chose this recipe by Monsieur Lebovitz. As I did not have cornmeal on hand, I just used flour instead. I also used an organic apricot conserve purchased from FabIndia. I added some ground cloves and ginger juice to the jam to bring in some spice and so reduce the tanginess.
Making the tart itself was quite simple and the result lived up to the expectation. Next time though, I am going to take David’s suggestion and serve it with some ice cream.
Blyton’s works today are a symbol to me: of my childhood, of fanciful imaginations, of desires for culinary reality to match those imaginations, of a gradual disillusionment and of accepting reality. I think today my baking too reflects a similar pattern. Words in a food blog or magazine bring to life a certain dish or ingredient. My baking is an attempt to realize that magic for myself. I look forward to more such magic wafting around in this blog. :D