Sunday, 3 July 2011

My Other Life and Baked Bananas

Sometimes life can be a bit of a paradox. On the face of it, the everyday living stuff, you can be having a great time, have the best job, the best friends, be making the best of your days. Of course you go with it. You can evolve happily with that nice, easy flow and have no reason to rock any boats.

Then you get gastric flu (or whatever that was) and you’re lying on a hard wooden floor in the airless heads of a boat at anchor in misery and pain, making those uncontrollable, animal-like noises with the entire crew just feet above your head, wishing more than anything that you were in your own house, on your own bathroom floor with your head down your own toilet within earshot of absolutely nobody (or at least just your mum).

And I hated it. I hated being on that boat, bobbing about in some bay, away from solid land and a proper toilet and the privacy and dignity of a lonely, cool, tiled bathroom floor. I might have cried pathetically on more than one occasion.

Just to eek the pitying bit out a fraction more I will let on that I mourned my double life. Yep, I have a double life I’ve not told anybody about. Maybe we all have one and I’m about to admit to something that potentially everybody does. Though just before I tell you about that I would like to quickly acknowledge that this is a food blog and I have just been talking about gastric flu which really isn’t what you were after, I’m sure. So I’m very sorry for any discomforting memories I may have stirred or unsuspecting images I may have conjured. That’s not cricket in a food blog is it; I apologise.

In the double life that I lead in my head, I have a very nice cottage in the countryside. I have a great little kitchen with lots of character and charm and everything I need to create little homemade masterpieces. I have an Inglenook fireplace in my living room and a dog. My garden is mostly laid to lawn (that’s what estate agents call gardens with lots of grass) and has vege patches, fruit trees and herbs dotted idly around. I ride my bike to the village shop most mornings to get the paper and chat to various neighbours about how the village play rehearsals are coming along and the possible explanation for last nights 5 minute power cut. I casually cycle home and make toast and marmalade (that I made) and a nice mug of tea (in a mug from an entire set that I already have actually in a bottom drawer somewhere). Obviously I’m incredibly thin and work out regularly and recycle and save water and go to yoga classes, but I think that’s where I start to tread on a lot of other peoples double-life territory.

So back to reality; and the wooden floor of the boat’s heads. No, let’s move on from there. I’ll spare you any more detail. My double life is now tucked away a little further back in my mind where it normally quietly lingers. It’s taken a few days but I’m back on my (slightly wobbly) feet. And the big relief, although it was never in doubt or not on the horizon, is that I’m interested in food again. And perhaps I’m starting to be glad for my other life once more; the real one where I work on a beautiful classic racing yacht and cook for 11 friends. I should be.

And now for the confession where you will no longer feel at all sorry for my recent bout of illness (if indeed you ever did) and double-life mourning. I had a day off the boat yesterday at a friend’s house to lay by their pool, relax and recoup and it was just what the doctor ordered. And believe it or not, I have a recipe for you. It’s a very small one and it is very simple but after everything it is always the simple little comforts that make us smile again and let us know that everything is going to be okay.

The house had a lovely garden (a bit like mine, laid to lawn) and it was buzzing with wildlife and midsummer vitality. The area of Provence and rosé wine vineyards is stunning this time of year as you can see. It was so, so nice to amongst the wildlife and away from the sea for a bit. Country air; a little breather. A little perspective.

A beautiful Carpenter Bee

 A few of us from the crew went up to enjoy the day, the pool and some Pimms (I’ll admit I had one, lots of lemonade though). And as the day progressed, the sun began to slowly set, the buzzing softened and the frogs began their chorus. This was when the bananas and dark chocolate materialised from Nikki’s bag of Barbeque goodies.

Joe hard at work at the Barbeque.

And I knew that I could smile again. Having been depressingly off my food, I was childishly excited and hugely revived by the most simple of deserts;  baked bananas spiked with hot melted chocolate. 


So just in case you wondered; for Nikki’s baked chocolate bananas you will need;

Bananas, 1 each
A couple of bars of dark or milk chocolate
1 smouldering barbeque


  • First decide who is going to make them. This can be tough after a day in the sun, jumping around in a pool like kids, drinking Pimms to quench your thirst. Rock, Paper, Scissors is an acceptable method of getting someone to move in the right direction.

  • Rock, Paper, Scissors loser then takes a knife and slits the bananas from stem to stalk and lays them on the barbeque as shown.

  • Keep turning the bananas so that they bake through and when you think they are just about there, spike the bananas with the broken pieces of the chocolate and wait till the chocolate melts.

  •  Remove from the barbeque and serve on plates with spoons and maybe a little French bread to clean the plate with.

  • Enjoy quietly and count your blessings.

Mariquita leaves it’s anchorage at Cogolin and is heading to Barcelona tomorrow. It will be nice to have a break from France and experience Spain.

Once again I have my sushi ingredients on the ready for a bit of fish catching; the way it should be done; on a line, one at a time. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you soon having had a few more adventures at sea no doubt and a few stories to share. I’ll put my ‘other’ life away in a little box and enjoy the pleasures of what I have right now .

Back on both feet; my real life at 33 degrees.