Hard to blog these days: too many distractions. World Cup, dog walks in the glorious sunshine, weeds glaring at me from the stony margins of my garden, and now little orphan Boris (*no* idea why that photo suddenly loaded..?!) who is lodging here for a week while he gets over a nasty cold. Like Anton the wonder dog he is from local rescue society Animals For Life.
It’s been hard to make time to read these days. Still, even with Boris gnawing at the corners of the book and purring remorselessly, I managed to get through the first chapter of Poetry in the Making: An Anthology of Poems and Programmes from “Listening and Writing”, a rare old (1967) Ted Hughes book I found on ABE. In his note to teachers in the first chapter, he shines some light on the magic of writing exercises. Time limits of, say, 10 minutes “create a crisis, which rouses the brain’s resources: the compulsion towards haste overthrows the ordinary precautions, flings everything into top gear, and many things that are usually hidden find themselves rushed into the open. Barriers break down, prisoners come out of their cells.” With all that rushing it’s hard to still the internal critic, let alone an external one, so I liked the way he raised a hand to that: “As in training dogs, these exercises should be judged by their successes, not their mistakes or shortcomings.” Woof to that.
And woof to vegetables of many names. When I innocently picked up a bag of something labelled Rapini, I was in for an interesting journey. Aka Broccoli Raab, it may also be labelled raab, rapa, rape, rapine, rappi, rappone, taitcat, Italian or Chinese broccoli, broccoli or broccoletti di rape, cime de rape, broccoli de rabe, Italian turnip, turnip broccoli, rabe, broccoletto, or broccoli di foglia. Rapini works for me.
Originating in the Mediterranean and also China, it is actually a descendant from a wild herb. Although it looks and tastes like it, I discover that it is not a member of the broccoli family. It is, however, closely related to turnips! It is grown as much for its long-standing, tasty mustard-like tops as for their multiple small florets with clusters of broccoli-like buds, which never form heads. When you buy it, it should have bright-green leaves that are crisp, upright, and not wilted. I looked at some recipes – though in the end I thought, like most vegetables, it was nice either raw or simply steamed and tossed with lemon and butter.