Sunday 15 July 2012

Mekong Delta

I have suggested before that the best way to relax when out walking is to observe the surroundings rather than bring along your problems and think about them - if you want to do that then my advice is to sit at a table with a pen and paper, preferably with a friend to hand.

Not that observation will not carry you elsewhere. This afternoon while clocking 12,000 steps on the pedometer it strikes me that the Towy valley resembles the Mekong Delta (scene of the USA's only definitive military defeat...until Afghanistan that is) rather than temperate West Wales. This is because the river is full and muddy, the vegetation rank and dark green, and there are lines of leafy maize where there used to be grass in the valley bottom which looks just like paddy fields. My picture gives you the idea but doesn't quite capture how lush and steamy it all appears when the sun deigns to come out.

I like the look of the maize (grown for fodder in this climate - you can't ripen corn north of, hmm, Nantes I'd guess) even though it isn't traditional. It makes the countryside a bit exotic. I recollect a lot of anxiety expressed by conservative types when oil-seed rape became a common sight in the UK: they thought the vivid golden yellow of this remarkably successful industrial crop "polluted" the visible landscape but I think it looks great.


Mrs Blog treats me on Friday to a dish of cuttlefish with meatballs and peas (sepia amb albondigas y guisantes in the original Catalan) which was exceptional. It's easy to make and Rick Stein's version is here. Apparently you can use squid instead of the cuttlefish but that would be a shame as it's cheap and available certainly in Swansea market and surely elsewhere. It has a distinctive flavour which translates you straight to Barcelona and makes a hearty meal which only requires a green salad to accompany it - although my sister-in-law in Spain told Mrs B it's just a starter!