I’ve always been a lover of peas, beans and lentils – things that are cheap and can be turned into something delicious without too much effort. But, in Ireland, a hectic schedule prevented me from really getting involved with these in their dried form. Instead I had to content myself with their tinned equivalents which, although not hugely expensive, do prevent you from using them with too much abandon. Since coming to New Zealand, however, and discovering that dried peas, beans and lentils are readily available through the Bin Inn chain and also through the self-serve bins in all supermarkets, I’ve been putting them to good use.
I think that my interest in the Mexican combination of chocolate and chilli may have been originally sparked from watching the film adaptation of Laura Esquivel’s Like Water For Chocolate in college. The fire of chilli and the dark richness of chocolate seems, to me, to be a rather good combination. The Chocolate and Chilli Biscotti I picked up recently to accompany my flat white (coffee) at the Underground Coffee Company Café in Christchurch was a good example of this and put my mind musing over other ways I could use chocolate and chilli together.
Being flat stony broke these days, I like to try and bring my lunch to work with me rather than be dependent on cafés. Sometimes the lunch is leftovers from dinner the night – rice or pasta with some kind of sauce – but other days I am forced to rely on sandwiches.
If you’ve ever seen photos of Morocco, you’ll be familiar with the piles of vividly coloured spices in the market places. My one-time housemate, on a trip to Morocco a long time ago, brought me a mysterious little bag from one of the piles.