I love food. From sowing seeds to tending plants, harvesting and cooking, or hunting round shops, markets and hedgerows for something interesting – it’s great. Usually.
1986 – a hot summer’s day. Went for a ride on the motorbike up to Gainsborough to check out the Market. Bought a peach, bit into the juicy, ripe flesh and the whole fruit sheared in two, through the stone. I was surprised to see a large earwig like creature scurrying round the half left in my hand.
1989 – bought a bag of muesli from the wholefood co-op in Forest Fields, Nottingham. Soaked a bowl in water overnight, added milk in the morning. Took a spoonful and a dreadful stench assailed my nostrils. The spoon had sliced through a plump, sodden mouse turd.
1989 – again. Spotted some delicious looking bluestalks on Victoria Market, Nottingham. Took a few home, stewed them for a tasty, if pricey, treat. Sat and looked down to admire the dish, only to find a dozen or so maggotts floating in the broth.
1993 – a friend gave me several bags of spices and a bag of olives, bought from her local street Market in Cairo. I dug into the olives the next day, felt something un-olive like in my mouth, fished it out. A long, slender insect leg, jointed, as if from a spider. I examined each polythene bag of spices carefully before transferring to jars. Threw one bag on the fire after spotting a larval creature running through the contents. The coriander seeds, I remember, were fragrant, sweet, regularly ground and used in dahl and aloo ghobi. Several months later I reached up for the jar. It was full of tiny yellow flies, each seed had a hole.
2009 – on Mansfield Market, late afternoon, a stallholder was selling off his fruit, £1 a bag. We went home happy with several each of plums, pears and oranges. The next day I sat to read my book, absent mindedly took a pear from the bowl and had a bite. Shortly I felt an itch or tickle on my index finger, went to scratch and saw a maggott arching away from the fruit.
This all comes back to me as the friendly local park ranger has just given me a bag of bluestalks, “picked fresh yesterday”. I thanked him. I’ll put them on the compost heap later.