Here goes then, treading tentatively into my first blog. About eating and surviving in this odd household and unpredictable country. What an adventure is this marriage between two people from conflicted histories. Like others in his nation whose tongues crave excitement, my Englishman cannot resist eastern food. Whenever spicy aromas waft to the door as he comes in, he rushes to the kitchen, as if his senses have picked up culinary pheromones and he is high with desire. Soon the pots are opened and he is dipping in his fingers, burning them, making a grab before dinner and then at dinner and afterwards too. Nothing else matters, not even the stains on his smart shirts and suits. So, yes, that’s what trapped him all those years ago and keeps him here. But there are times when I sense that he is (briefly) out of sorts in our urban cosmopolitan home suffused with African, Asian and modern British cultures. They are ghostly feelings, orbs fleeting around. He remembers his boyhood in Brighton, the dinners his working class mum made, pies and puddings- his disappeared world and self.
It was around last week that indefinable longing (he sharply denies this) and so I decided a bit of lemon meringue pie would console him. We were taught to make it in domestic science lessons back in school in Uganda, during the days of empire, a piece of back home for the teacher who missed Buckinghamshire.
You can buy perfectly good sweet pastry cases in supermarkets which saves a lot of time. As you cook the filling, it slowly turns, feels and looks like a soft yellow face cream. And gives off the lemony scent of a Mediterranean summer. Magic. You then cover it with meringue, white and shiny as a bridal dress and stick it in the oven until it turns stiff and colours slightly. Oh he loved it and his mum did too, Vera, now in a nursing home in Brighton. She turned all wistful. Like England so often does. I think it helped- this homage to a disappearing world by the immigrant who came to stay.
Lemon Meringue Pie
You need a small electric beater for this and many other desserts. It is cheap and indispensable.
A standard sized pastry case
For the filling
2 ½ tbsp cornflour
4 oz castor sugar
1 oz butter
2 eggs, separated
Grate the lemon rind
Squeeze the juice and in a jug add cold water to make the liquid up to ½ a pt
Blend the cornflour in a small bowl with a little of this liquid
Put all the ingredients EXCEPT THE EGGS into a saucepan and heat over gentle heat, stirring until it thickens
Take off the heat
Beat in the yolks
Cook for another couple of minutes, again over gentle heat.
Pour carefully into the pastry case, leaving an inch to spare for the meringue.
2 egg whites
4 oz castor sugar
Beat the white with the electric beater using the whipping ‘arms’
When it is white and stiff and peaks, start adding sugar, 3 tbsps at a time and beating each time before adding some more.
It starts to glisten and stiffen further
When all the sugar has been added, spread the mix over the top of the filling, taking it right to the edge. You can make swirls and waves.
Bake at medium temperature – around 190 Celsius or gas mark4
Bake for 15 minutes – it should start to lightly tan. Leave to cool before eating.