Monday, October 15, 2012

Paul Holmes on broad beans

In the Herald on Saturday Paul Holmes told us about his vegetable patch and how broad beans are a metaphor for life. Or possibly how life is a metaphor for broad beans – sometimes with Paul’s columns it can be hard to tell which way is up.

Anyway, a week or so ago he planted some broad beans because he loves them. He also planted some good old-fashioned, sturdy, honest, plain-speaking lettuce:
Yes, the hell with all those flash lettuces. We’ve gone back to iceberg. And Mum’s condensed milk dressing. Nothing like it.
The reason there is nothing like it is that it is disgusting. English food at its worst.

I worry about Paul’s garden. From my office I can see about two dozen broad bean plants standing tall and proud because I planted them months ago. We’ll be harvesting soon. Julian Matthews, one’s guide in these matters, advises that seed should be sown:
Early autumn to late winter. Broad beans are best suited to cooler-climate districts rather than mild northern climates.
Paul lives near Hastings, in Hawkes Bay, a warmish region. I fear that he has left his run too late, broad-bean-wise.

Next week Paul may move on from his garden to reveal his laundry secrets. Is he a Persil man or a Surfer? I think we should be told.


Denis said...

Please leave Paul to his garden and his laundry preferences. Let's not forget a few years ago his prostate had a little brush with the fickle finger of fate. I live in terror that we might get an illustrated column with full details.

Paul said...

Condensed milk dressing cannot be blamed on the English. It is your own invention, I am sure. We had something called Salad Cream, which is a lot like the Mayonnaise manufactured in New Zealand.

Stephen Stratford said...

Denis: yes, better the beans than the alternative.

Paul: my mother is English (still, despite having lived here since 1946). I know whereof I speak. I was raised on iceberg and condensed-milk dressing. Olive oil was perhaps used as a medicine in the 50s. And the 60s. And most of the 70s. Truly, we don't know how lucky we are.

Paul said...

But where did she discover this dreadful concoction, in Blighty or Godzone?

Stephen Stratford said...

Good question, Paul. I shall ask her.

Perhaps it is not the authentic Yorkshire dish I had thought, and she will be able to blame it on the Edmonds Cookbook, or the Woman's Weekly before Tui Flower took over the food pages.

Now there is an idea for a book - Tui Flower, the Julia Child of NZ. Not so far-fetched.

Mo said...

I'm into growing all those tasty trendy leafy lettuces but still have fond memories of iceberg lettuce, fresh from Mum's garden, shredded and served with the dreaded mayonaise, but also served alongside ham off the bone, home grown tomatoes, beetroot and cucumber and new potatoes. A pretty good meal.
Maybe I'll plant a few icebergs this year.
Mr Holmes garden sounds as confused as he does on air.

Mark Hubbard said...

I planted my broad beans on the same day as my garlic: that is, the shortest day of the year. The day you're supposed to. The day I'm told to, by the significant other. My beans are about two foot high now, and will be perfect for Christmas.

I'd initially not been aware of Paul's gardening underside, and find myself pondering if he perhaps takes the skin off each individual broad bean like those French Le Cordon Bleu chaps do in their new school down in Wellington? (They do it to peas also - monsters). I suspect Paul would have too much sense for that. Indeed, it's more than just a suspicion, given his predilection for condensed milk. Condensed milk is just sensible; the mark of a refined Englishman.

I love condensed milk, ergo, I love mum's old fashioned condensed milk dressing. It's comfort food in a cruel, cold world. It's thoughts of Nigella and BBQs on beaches. What are you, one of those miserable post-modern types? Bet you deconstuct your beans. Every iddy bean, you, sitting there, self-righteous, obsessively shuffling their poor skins off.

I didn't use to like Paul all that much, had him marked as a bit of a supermarket man, growing old, wearing his trousers rolled, but I'm starting to warm to this whimsical side of him, now you've kindly pointed it out: the man behind the metaphor, the man of ice cream and peaches. And I suspect he's a Persil man, if you have to be so nosy, unlike you cold blooded Surf types, making fun of an old man.

And it may sound unrelated, but you know how you can look at the window in a house, a strange house, and you can see right through the house and out a window on the other side of that house, right out to the other side? Sometimes to a road. I hate that. It has a feeling of the insubstantial. I wouldn't be surprised to soon see Paul cover a substantial topic like that one. That'll put paid to his aloof and cynical detractors.