Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Going veggie – temporarily

I’m regularly amazed by how easily people become annoyed, especially if yours truly is the target of that ire. But on a different note…

I remember some years ago I was sitting in on a council meeting whereupon statistics were released about incidents of noise pollution. There were the usual barking dogs and cars revving and revellers carousing into the wee hours but there was also another complaint, one that I never in-a-month-of-Sundays saw coming. As true as I am sitting here in a Thor outfit sipping mead from a horn, one resident in a local estate complained about an ice-cream van’s jingles – I swear to Odin!

The statistics, I am sorry to say, did not confirm the jingle-tune in question although for the purposes of artistic license, let’s assume it was Greensleeves, as that’s the one I remember from my childhood. Picture the scene…

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The sun is melting the tar outside your house and the desert-still air’s only vibration is that of a bee’s industry; it’s even too hot for birds. You’re beginning to wonder if you have the mental fortitude to withstand this stir-crazy heat and then you hear it: A jingly-jangly ditty echoing somewhere in the distance, a music box siren opened by summer itself – IT’S THE ICE-CREAM MAN! YEEEEAAAAaaooooo!

Even today if I’m out and about and I hear those distinctive tones I’m all of a sudden whisked back to a time when life was slower but much-enhanced through the simplest of things, such as snow-cold cream on a wafer and a squirt of strawberry-flavoured sauce on top. Even now, writing this, I can feel the breath of summer on my neck at the thought of that melody, the closeness of the van ticking over, the ice-cream man perpetually crouched in the window and the eventual disbursal of cone-shaped happiness, with a flake (obvs).

And yet someone complained! I can only presume such a person might pine for deafness when listening to Clair de Lune.

See what I mean about people being easily annoyed?

Last week, if you cast your mind back, I was waxing greedy over the excesses of Christmas, quite innocently, I might add. However, during a perambulation around town the day the paper came out, I was stopped in my tracks by an elderly woman intent on berating me for my culinary vices. I should add that I don’t know this woman from Adam (or Eve) and if you’re reading this my dear, you didn’t divulge your name. What did she say? She wagged a gloved finger in my face and said, “You’re some boy. Ever heard of Christmas moderation?” Although before I could reply, she tutted loudly and walked off but not before adding, “Greedy pup!” She seemed properly annoyed.

Had I been holding my Thor’s hammer at the time, I might have fired it at her. But I didn’t, so I couldn’t.

Rather than annoyance, I was more amused about the encounter than anything. I wonder now if she was the woman who complained about the ice-cream man’s jingle. More than likely it was.

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Still, with this woman’s mini-rant echoing in my ears and inspired by a friend at work’s decision to go vegan (she watched a documentary or something and is all inspired – God love her), I’m doing a healthy recipe this week. But don’t get used to it people! I’ll be back on the chips fried in duck fat or something next week.

Veggie burgers. They’re ubiquitous these days and apparently even KFC is launching its own version. I’ll probably give it a try too, if only to satisfy my curiosity. Kentucky Fried Veggies? Sure, why not.

Anyway, this is my own version of the veggie burger. It’s chickpea-based and heavily seasoned and it’s great. The eagle-eyed among you will remember I included such a recipe some years ago. I’m assuming no-one cut it out of the paper though, so here we go again…

INGREDIENTS
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
small red onion, finely chopped
one red chilli, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tsp of cumin
half tsp of ground coriander
half tsp of harissa paste (substitute with chilli powder, if you don’t have any)
half tsp of salt
2 tbsps of plain flour
vegetable oil for frying

THE PLAN
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and dump these into a blender. Pulse until breaking apart but not absolutely destroyed – you want a bit of texture.
Add everything else to the mix, except the oil and mix through with a wooden spoon.
Add a good half inch of oil in a deep frying pan and bring to a hot heat.
As that’s happening, take handfuls of the mixture and shape into patties. Repeat until it’s all used up.
Fry the burgers in the hot oil, about two to three minutes on either side, until lightly golden. And that’s that.
See pre-bite picture for added veggie serving suggestion. I also used a lemon-y yoghurt, the greedy pup that I am.

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