There are numerous reasons for me to dislike Rachel Roddy.
Hmmm. That’s not quite right. There are numerous reasons to envy Rachel Roddy. Better.
In growing order of potency let me list them:
- She’s a successful blogger (minor envy) who can muster 20 followers for every one of mine – https://racheleats.wordpress.com.
- She married an Italian (still pretty minor – that was always just a fantasy and don’t mention it to my fiancé)
- She’s a talented cook (envy levels rising now) which half a lifetime ago I might have aspired to
- She speaks Italian (I tell myself there’s still time, but I’ve been at that game for a few years now)
- She lives in Italy (Rome to be precise, though I’d settle for anywhere in Campania. Or Tuscany. Or the Veneto…)
- She’s a great writer whose work has been published by The Telegraph, The Spectator, The FT and currently the Guardian. (Yes she publishes recipes but imbues them with life from the stories which precede them)
- She’s even a tremendous photographer, whose natural light imagery graces her book Five Quarters and makes every dish, every utensil, every ingredient inspirational
There are seven reasons to envy Rachel Roddy.
And despite this I am powerless to resist the idyllic descriptions of people, places and plates, so much so that on seeing a bag of beautiful cherries (not glistening in a Testaccio market, but spotlit on shelf in Marks & Spencer) I knew immediately what I must do.
Which is why I stood hunched over my sink having washed the fruit, stabbing each individual sphere with a chopstick over a bottle neck to remove the stones, cherry after cherry after cherry, until my shoulders ached (need a higher work surface) and my hands were as purpled as MacBeth’s. The green glass ran with the blood of my victims as their inner organs piled up within.
It’s why I buried the fruits in sugar, lemon and vanilla (my variation on the recipe) and chilled them while I set to work on the pastry, pastry so short that it was beyond my abilities to handle it on a hot July evening. How can you possibly make this in the heat of Rome? Heat that was compounded when it was time to make a jam of those sugar-coated gems.
It’s why I kept returning to a simmering pan that steadfastly refused to thicken into something jam-like.
It’s why despite having the dexterity of a jellyfish I laid strips of the fragile pastry across the top of the now cooled liquid.
It’s why despite feeling like nothing but a cold shower and a colder beer would do, I cranked up the oven for an hour to try to transform this into something edible.
I could have just eaten the cherries from the bag and saved myself the effort.
No wonder I don’t like Rachel Roddy.
The end result wasn’t pretty…
…but it was delicious!
Have I mentioned that I love Rachel Roddy? (Best not mention that to my girlfriend either!