Rick Stein's Long Weekends.

Every now and then, I seem to suffer acute hunger pangs. Not simple hunger but the need for cooking and sharing food. Especially when I watch really good cookery programmes. There is a multitude of these any time of day or night and every day of the week. Sadly many of them do not have much to do with food. A few glorify kitchen violence while others promote overeating. 
A new cookery programme has stirred in me that love of food that first made me get into a restaurant kitchen instead of sticking with ship design.
I discovered Rick Stein in the mid-eighties just after I had opened Krimo's at Seaton Carew. I
immediately became a fan of his. The reason might have been because I had felt some sort of kindred spirit when I found out that he, too was a self-taught chef. 
Over the years I have watched him travel the world, cooking many national dishes and simplifying them for the home cook. He always does it with integrity, humour, and utter respect for local traditions. His own restaurant business is thriving, having spread from the Cornish seaside village of Padstow all the way to Australia. 
His latest offering goes by the title of Rick Stein's Long Weekends.
A few of the locations he visits are off the beaten track and never previously advertised or thought of as popular holiday destinations.
A couple of weeks ago, as I was flicking between television channels, I stumbled upon his visit to Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece. As I happen to have visited that port during my sailing days back in the late Seventies, I enjoyed watching the entire programme.
When I realised that it was part of series of episodes, I decided to click on the automatic record button to watch them in my spare time.
What a joy it has been to discover the various cities he has visited! From Copenhagen to Bordeaux, Reykjavik to Lisbon, etc...
As I watch him with eager eyes, mingle with the locals, visit food markets, eat and drink in restaurants where local ingredients are cooked with love, I sit there, salivating and dreaming of hopping on the next plane to, Lisbon to savour some juicy sardines, Thessaloniki to enjoy an octopus salad, or Cadiz, to devour a slow roasted shoulder of mutton.
How I would give up everything to travel the World on a neverending culinary tour.
I would go from city to town, village to hamlet, from North to South, East to West, sampling local foods cooked by chefs, housewives, amateur cooks, and stall holders. Anyone who would let me break bread with them while sipping some tea, coffee, wine or beer.
I would share my table with anyone who would dine with me and regale me with tales of their faraway life and traditions.
As the programme ends, I close my eyes and I am immediately teleported to a Vietnamese beach at sunset to sit drinking beer with the locals while the aroma of grilled fresh fish mingles with the smoke from the barbecue.
A click of the fingers and I am in a Madrid food market, hopping from stall to stall, tasting morsels of freshly baked breads, marinated meats, pickled vegetables, colourful olives and sipping full-bodied Rioja.
The next minute, I will be wolfing down the lightest pizza Marguerita in the World, to the sound of Tarantella, in a noisy Naples backstreet.
And when I am no longer able to travel, please leave me inside a French wine cellar with enough cheese and bread until the day I die.

No comments: