“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there” is the opening line from L.P. Hartley’s ‘The Go-Between’ and living here in Belgium sometimes makes me feel as if the clock has gone back in time. I remember a time in England, not that long ago, when machines which were coin-operated and a service to the community were free from robbery, graffiti and vandalism. I’m thinking not only of the phone box, but also honesty boxes for daffodils, strawberries and other produce from small-holdings.
I’m lucky alright, because I live near a coin-operated bread-selling machine. I can get bread just like that, anytime night or day. The machine has never been vandalised or broken into, but remains a testimony to respect. No-one would even think ‘ooh, what shall I do, there’s nothing to do, I know, I’ll smash up that stoopid bread machine and it’ll be right funny, imagine the people’s faces when they try and buy bread and they can’t. Ha ha.’.
And that is not all. I am doubly blessed. In Korbeek-Dijle, not far away, there is one of these:
If I get hungry and the shops are shut and there’s nothing in, I can buy bread and potatoes. And you know what to do with those! That’s right, a chip butty. Here in the land of frites they know the worth of this carb-carb combo as they have the mitraillette. True I can’t see Pizza et frites catching on, but the chip sandwich is a classic, right up there with ‘best-ever’ sandwiches like the BLT, the Club, the Welsh Rarebit (open-grilled sandwich, ideal for a cross-over smorgasbord), the Peruvian Triple (what?) and Butifarra, the Chilean Barros Luchos, the Bush Rat brochette baguette, the…..
Well, the list is personal and I won’t tell you how to make the perfect Chip Butty. They are deeply personal things but for me I want three pairs of opposing forces fighting it out on its journey to the bottom of my tummy; Hot-Cold (Chip-Butter), Soft-Crunchy (Bread-Chip), Salt-Sweet (Salt-Ketchup). Get it right and you will never look a foie gras in the eye again. Possibly.
But what else can we do we these two bedfellows? That is not so easy. I shall ignore the idea of Potato Bread, because that’s bread made from potatoes, not something with bread and potatoes as stars in their own right.
I put before you the
Curried Potato Sliced Bread Croquette
Potato Curry, dry. (I used Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe for Vegetable Samosa filling from ‘Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery’. If you don’t have a copy then buy one. You know it makes sense).
Square sliced bread, crusts removed. (Crusts can feed chickens and other birds, or make breadcrumbs with them). If your bread machine sells nothing like Sunblest (which it won’t), choose the one which has the densest crumb and is white. Or get that British Breakfast Bread from the supermarket.
Deep Fat Frier. With oil. Turned to 11.
A widish bowl with water in it.
Basically dip one side of each slice of bread very quickly in the water, hold it in one hand and press it flat – it will get a bit wider. Put some curry in the middle and work the bread around it until you have a sort of lozenge or torpedo shape. The dampness of the bread will aid you here as long as it’s not wet in which case it will fall apart. Leave to rest fo 10 – 15 minutes in a warm place (my kitchen is fine). Fry them, 6 at a time, turning once, until nice and brown. Eat hot, perhaps dip into some Mango Cutney or Mint Raita. Here are some pictures as I went along:
Note nice Gadd’s No3. For drinking.
Damn fine too. Even the French seller of Alpine cheeses at the market shook my hand after tasting one. And I sell English cheese there.