Category Archives: London

Garlic: An Edible Biography “T minus 12”

Garlic Card

The above picture is from a greeting card I picked up in London. (The card can be personalized which is why it says “Name,” but you get the gist.)

As George Orwell once wrote of his countrymen: ”England and the English as a rule, they will refuse even to sample a foreign dish, they regard such things as garlic and olive oil with disgust, life is unlivable to them unless they have tea and puddings.” British vacationers who visited Spain in the 1950s and 1960s would take over the kitchens of their hotels in order to make traditional British foods like Shepherd’s Pie because they were so appalled with the local food in which everything was, horror of horrors, swimming in garlic.

Today, tapas restaurants are popular in London and this simple shrimp recipe, from the book, is one of my favorites. Serve it with crusty bread to soap up the “swimming in garlic” juices.

Gambas al Ajillo

Makes 4 appetizer serving or 2 main course servings

4 oz olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup cognac
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Increase the heat to high and immediately add the shrimp, cognac, lemon juice, and paprika. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the shrimp turn pink and the edges curl, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Serve the shrimp on heated appetizer plates topped with the pan juices spooned over the shrimp and sprinkled with parsley.

>Garlic Deviation – Highgate Cemetery, London

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Carolyn and I went to visit Highgate as I was writing a story on Haunted Cities for Delta Sky. As a former Russian Studies major, I paid my respect to Karl Marx, but this write-up of Dr. Yusuf Mohammed Dadoo caught my eye. The following is partial excerpt.

Doctor and political activist, “Doc” was a Muslim Indian born in South Africa … His life-long commitment to communism overlay a complex amalgam of Muslim, Indian and African identities. He was buried according to Muslim rites just feet away from Karl Marx. Who knew that is was a Muslim custom to bury the dead just feet away from Karl Marx?

>In Search of Scones

>London 09:00

I thought I would cap off my last morning in London with a scone. You’d think I was looking for blood diamonds. The last straw was when I stopped in an Italian bakery (they sold croissants so they weren’t purists) and the owner asked me “Scone … what is this?” A woman in the shop told him it was “Very English … often taken with tea.” Alas, no scone for me.

>Pink Garlic in the UK

>La Fromagerie, one of the world’s great cheese shops and a wonderful place to stop for a bite to eat in London, has pink garlic for sale. I bought some so tomorrow night, I’m going to try out my Pink Garlic Soup of Lautrec and Simon and Carolyn. If its not good, Carolyn will be polite and Simon will be ruthless.

For lunch, Carolyn and I shared a savory cheddar leek tart, an assortment of French cheeses with fresh figs and a glass of the lush house rose. Life is good.