The occasion was a jamboree to show funders – Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund – what we have spent all their millions on. Protecting biodiversity, mostly. The Midlands Conservancies Forum (MCF) being one of the beneficiaries. I work a lot for MCF, so was roped in to help host the party. I simply could not resist the opportunity for a little planet friendly propaganda and decided to serve an entirely local Dargle lunch, in Carl’s splendid barn. I served up almost all vegetables, with just a few bits of Croft Farm chicken, to appease the MCF chairman’s request.
This is what I gathered from my friends and neighbours:
Cucumbers from Susi – which I chopped into chunks, salted and drained and served with garlic, mint and yoghurt.
The garlic was grown by Gilly – I also served some whole roasted cloves with the green peppers which Susi provided.
Both Susi and Karen gave me brinjals (big fat ones and little thin ones) which I grilled with African spices and topped with fresh dhania.
Sharon gave me a few courgettes which I sliced and roasted and served with a yoghurt, basil and garlic dressing.
Green beans came from Gilly and Sharon and were simply steamed, dressed in balsamic and olive oil and topped with lots of tiny tomatoes, roasted on the vine.
I sliced Sharon’s mozzarella and layered with basil leaves and tomatoes, I roasted her rounds of feta whole, sprinkled with dried oregano and fresh oregano flowers.
I hand-pounded big bowls of green and fragrant basil and almond pesto.
Malvina made lots of duck egg mayonnaise which went on the potato salad (Baba Sokhela’s potatoes and Carl’s spring onions & celery) and also filled enamel mugs to dip raw cherry tomatoes and green beans into. I also used the mayo to make coleslaw with a cabbage which Debbie grew.
Dawn made egg-free butternut and beetroot quiches with an oat crust, which went down a treat. Ross baked loaves of artisan bread. All with local handmade butter, of course.
I bought the chicken and ginger beer from the Dargle Dealer and Nottingham Road Beers from Meander Fine Wines down the road.
I had fun laying the tables – all enamelware. Empty Lucky Star pilchard tins (which Carl had collected) held indigenous succulents for the “flowers” – cut flowers are an absolute no-no for an eco-event. My friend, Judy, commented that pilchards contain very high levels of mercury, so maybe they weren’t the most environmentally appropriate choice!
I did point out (much to the horror of my fellow NGO types) that this low food mile meal was essential considering the horrendous carbon-footprint the American delegates must have. Honestly, they were lucky that I was polite at all. The representatives of these organisations were however, absolutely charming – the aforementioned Japanese chap, and a gorgeous and interesting Ecuadorian woman whom I encouraged to abandon Washington and go home as soon as she could.
Everyone loved their lunch and I think we did a good job of inspiring people to think carefully about the impact their food choices have on the Earth and all that inhabits it.
You can read another version of this story at https://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/a-taste-of-the-midlands/