While England appears to be basking in winter sunshine, the normal northern European rain seems to have migrated down to Spain. The glorious sun we had on Christmas Day is now most decidedly at an end; the clouds are on the deck in the Jalon Valley and it is raining. There was nothing for it but to stay inside, light the log burner and watch day-long reruns of various incarnations of Agatha Christie’s sleuths solving their cases yet again on ITV3. Well, we may have sipped a wine or two along the way – I really can’t remember.
Eventually I had to tear myself away from Hercule Poirot and leap into the kitchen for a long-awaited culinary experiment. It was time to do something with our artichoke leaves. First, a correction. I managed to make an anagram out the Spanish name and reported them as being corda in a previous posting. They are actually called cardo. Armed with their correct name, we have now managed to find them in a Spanish-English dictionary: cardo = thistle, most appetizing.
We had performed a test preparation in the morning to see what was what. Carol thought the leaf fronds (as opposed to the leaf ribs) looked OK so I tasted a piece. It was absolutely disgusting; incredibly bitter. We should have realized, really, since the Mercadona supermarket in Benissa has started selling cardo – just the leaf ribs and not the fronds. We tried a few sections of a leaf rib boiled in salted water for a while. It turned out to have a mild artichoke flavour so we decided to brave it and use it in the evening meal.
So, after Peter Ustinov’s incarnation of Hercule Poirot, I interrupted David Suchet’s rendition to butcher a rabbit, cut the cardo into five centimetre lengths and casserole them together with the ubiquitous chopped onion, some chicken stock and a little rosemary. Just about as Hercule was wrapping up “Death in the Clouds”, we were concluding our case of the casseroled rabbit and thistles. The rabbit was very good. The thistles were an interesting experiment which had to be tried; they were OK but I’m not sure I’d put too much effort into buying them again.
As for the BBC’s latest attempt at John Buchan’s “39 steps” starring Rupert Penry-Jones, I’m left wondering why they bothered at all. To my mind, this screenplay transformed the original good story into a drab shadow of its original self. Like many women, Carol is very fond of Mr. Penry-Jones and even his suave and sexy good looks failed to keep her awake. If this is why young Rupert got written out of Spooks, then I think he should have stayed put, assuming it was his choice.