As I mentioned in my latest drama/ action pumped story Duck or Die ( that’s right, you have to go and read it now… Mwah-ha-ha…) my mother used to make – to the delight of my father – a wonderful haricot bean and beef stew. Here is a vegetarian dish I have created, based on the original, packed with summer flavours and memories. There are the beans, of course, and I used dried Lima beans from my Italian friend Roberto who runs the wonderful organic Mariangela Prunotto farm in Alba, Italy. I also found some licorice sticks in the health food shop the other day; when we were kids we used to buy these aniseed roots from the local pharmacy, and munch on them old day like cowboys on under a hot sun… Talk about a funny trend! I also added fresh local organic tomatoes, my mother was crazy about them at this time of year! I’d better get on with that recipe, which I realised is also vegan… What do you know?
When I opened the big gate of adolescence, a frightening squeak from a giant cast iron secondary school entrance welcomed and absorbed me in a solemn vacuum. Of course, and like today, there were kids who just wanted to blend in, ride those teenage years under the radar with minimum collateral damage, wanting to be acknowledged and noticed, yet having the skills to keep your cards close to your chest; not showing too much, dodging rain drops and other potential scraps or punches because you looked at, or aggravated with smart words a tougher kid with social or rather deeper personal issues than yours. Some built themselves with a strong and bold shell: Punks, Goths, Skinheads and Red Skins (the left wing ones; their Doc Martens were burgundy rather than black), right down to a couple of old fashioned black leather jacket bullies with learning difficulties, easy enough to manipulate if you knew how to; keeping them sweet by sharing candies, giving a few test wagers that would up some grades, preventing them from repeating the class… Again. I was a “bullet dodger”, or at least that is what I have been called once by that big fucker – who was actually pretty smart- as he tried to pound my face into the granite wall of the refectory. I used words, and it seemed to work.