Showing posts with label Winter solstice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winter solstice. Show all posts

Friday, 21 December 2012

End of the world dinner

Achiote, a Mexican paste; Mayan woman

Tomatillos are easy to grow in the UK
A village in Mexico; steaming tamales
The market in Oaxaca
The Mayan face
Making tortillas in Oaxaca; squash, beans, tomatillos and physalis fruit

Mexican baby (so cute) and Chichen Itza in Mexico
Different types of Mole in Oaxaca; black bean chilli with chocolate and smoked chillis; cevicheria; different chillis.
Mayans ate a very similar diet to modern Mexicans: maize, beans, squash and chillis and sweet potato. This was supplemented with tomatoes (tomatoes with pasta, the Italian dish, dates only from the 19th century), husk tomatoes (tomatillos), avocado, and fruits such as papaya, pineapple, guava. Even our traditional christmas turkey is a new world animal. The invading Spaniards must have been amazed at the variety and novelty of new world foods. The discovery of America in 1492 heralded the modern era, it was as extraordinary as embarking upon extra-terrestrial travel. Can you imagine if we discovered a whole new part of the world today, with an entire new palate of flavours, spices and ingredients? 

So tonight's End of the World dinner menu is:

Salsas, tomato and tomatillo.
Corn tortillas recipe here
Tamales recipe here
Butterflied fish with achiote recate
Roast potatoes

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Saturnalia, Winter Solstice.

As I described in a previous post, on the 23rd of every month, there is a little ritual at the Crossbones gates of the outcast's cemetary in Red Cross Way, Southwark.
It starts at 7 p.m. A bell is rung. Around 30 people are there. One is a black taxi driver called Mick. His cab is parked opposite.
How come you know about this? I ask him.
Well, I was just driving past one day and noticed all these people. I'm interested in London history so I thought I would come. I'm into alternative lifestyles he said meaningfully.
Oh another sub I thought.
Each person was given a candle. Incense is burnt, offerings are given. The gates have a plaque commemorating the cemetary, placed there by Southwark council. Ribbons, notices, poems, and a bone are tied to the gates.
John Constable channelling John Crow reads a poem then a prayer, hands outstretched. People call out the names of the dead, people they know, who have recently 'passed'. 
Passersby gawp, police cars patrol by slowly.
One old man talks off climbing over the gates into the secret garden in the middle of the night.
He says: You will see things there you wouldn't believe. Ghosts. This place is very special. I brought a friend who was in great pain with her teeth and gums. She was cured by coming here. Before my very eyes.
Bottles of gin are sprinkled around the gates, the odour of juniper rises from the pavement, reminiscent of the only comfort these poor women had.  We then sing pagan carols.