Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Pot Luck

Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Pot Luck

Article excerpt

HERE we go, another new year leading to the terror of the millennium bug when aeroplanes are meant to drop from the sky, all monies are lost in confusion, hospitals lose all their records etc., etc., woe, woe. It sounds like the apocalypse, and to cap it all there is that terrible Dome in the offing; heaven knows what will happen there. However, I hope you all have a jolly new year unto yourselves. I am on some terrifying drug to ward off Delhi belly, which the doctor says I might have from all my travels; it makes you feel a lot worse than the complaint, so let's hope it works. Also you are not allowed to drink, so gloom abounds.

It was my feast day last week: St Genevieve of Paris, who saved the city twice against King Childeric of the Franks when she rescued the people from starvation by bringing boatloads of corn up the river and then getting rid of Attila the Hun by prayer and complete trust in God. This week we have, among others, Arcadius, who, rather like `Jim who was eaten by the lion, bit by bit', had all his fingers, toes and limbs cut off, bit by bit, until there was only his trunk and head left, but he could still cry out, `You are happy, my members, now you really belong to God.' Stout fellow. Then there is Sava, who taught the Serbs that they could plough a field both ways instead of dragging the plough backwards after each furrow to start again from the same end of a field; they were obviously not quite the full shilling.

Potted meats and fish seem to have gone out of fashion, except for shrimps, which is a pity; they are very palatable and also a good way of using up leftovers. Try this next time you have a hunk of ham left, or even make it on purpose, but always with good ham, not nasty, slimy packets.

Potted ham

1 lb cooked ham cut into cubes

8 fl. oz clarified unsalted butter (see below) squeeze of lemon juice

good pinch ground mace, about lia teaspoon good pinch cayenne pepper (ditto) small pinch ground cloves, about 3 heads pinch of powdered bay leaves

Place the butter in a pan and melt very slowly indeed. Place the melted butter in a bowl and chill. When hard, discard the milky liquid on the bottom, retaining only the now clarified butter. Make sure there is no gristle in the ham cubes. Chop it finely in a processor but do not let it get pureed. …

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