Monday, March 1, 2010

eggs, pesto and Tolkein: my bachelor weekend

click to go to Lord of the Rings Fanatics SiteI'm a big fan of The Lord of the Rings, but must admit to my shame that I find the films more accessible than the book - I'm on my third attempt to get to the finish and, being halfway through The Two Towers, am further than I managed to get to either as a schoolboy or ten years ago.

A few months ago I bought a book - the first of a series called The Wheel of Time - that offered to "mine the world Tolkein hinted at"; I got through a few hundred pages then came to a phrase "slowly he began to breathe slowly". (Minora calls me a pedant, which really annoys me, because she puts the stress on the wrong syllable.)

As I threw it in the bin, I resolved to spend my weekend alone - Maxima having taken the girls to the other end of the Fens to visit her parents - reacquainting myself with the films, which have helped me power through the book no end.

As usual with one of my "bachelor weekends", I raided the "reduced to clear" section of the local supermarket to make one of my experimental meals that the women in my life tend to frown on.
The goal, I decided, would be something meatball-ish. So I emptied three cans of mince and onions into bowl, and grated two big wodges of blue cheese into it. I'd come home with a pack of eight factory eggs which had been going for a song because there should have been ten. I'm not overly chuffed at the concept of factory farming, but it beats me how people can look virtuous when buying their free-range eggs laid by hens bred to produce the extra-large ones, either not thinking or not caring why the shells have blood on them. Anyway, I couldn't decide how many eggs to use, so in went the lot. Then the best part of a jar of pesto went in. I like pesto. It's the nearest you'll get to a culinary proof of a deity other than an epiphany in your pantry, especially at times when you find yourself wondering why a loving God would create something like carrots.

Anyway, I grated a chunk of parmesan into the concoction, mixing while some penne bubbled away, then dropped teaspoonfuls of it onto a hot frying-pan with plenty of oil. (Helping make pancakJRR Tolkein: click to read more at CatholicAuthors.comes at the Rectory on Shrove Tuesday, Rector Pellegrina asked me to reduce the amount of oil in my pan. When I did, people grumbled that my pancakes suddenly weren't as nice.) They ended up more like flat coins than balls, but tasted sublime in a sauce of blue cheese, mushroom soup and eggs.

It was, in fact, a meal suitably epic to accompany a marathon session of all three videos from which I emerged square-eyed but happy. I have the book with Tolkein's Foreword to the Second Edition, in which he tries to dispel speculation that the work is a religious analogy. I accept that, but it was also a labour of love for the author and expert on the Anglo-Saxon and early English languages, and as such I believe that the childhood convert to Roman Catholicism dug deep into the mines of his spirituality to inform the ethics of his morality-tale. What's really becoming click to read a review of the Lord of the Rings DVD on Amazonclear to me as I read The Lord of the Rings this time is that his first-hand experience of the horrors of the Great War wedded to frustration with the politics of appeasement directed towards Hitler - despite Tolkein's denial - come through in the backstory of the powers of Middle Earth standing back while the treacherous Sauron consolidates his hold on Mordor, to use it as a base for launching his bid to enslave the fantastic world.

And my cooking? I enthusiastically showed the remainder of the panful to Maxima on her return, at which she winced and told me to go get everybody a Chinese. Was it the eggs?

a question of eggs?


  1. That is a very shocking recipe! I like pesto, too but with eggs? Did you scramble them first? Very interesting blog and do you mind if I ask you: What is a fen?

  2. Hi Naomi, gret to see you on the Draughty Old Fen!

    I love eggs; I put them in raw to bind the meat together and cooked them all together.

    A Fen is a low-lying piece of land in East England (very similar to the Netherlands), which needs to have the water pumped out of it to keep it above ground - this was first done by Cornelius Vermuyden in the 17th century. What Vermuyden did was to identify patches of land that would absorb the water and effectively act as drains, so it's concerning that the present gov't wants to roll out a huge building project across the Fens.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. I missed the "meatball-y" part of the recipe, unless for you the mince qualifies. Here, you can easily buy mince without a scrap of meat in it. (Hard to find it with, in fact.) I'm afraid I won't be copying your efforts, though, sorry.

    My eldest has been watching the movies about once (or more) a month for the past - year, is it? She's ruined a couple of copies of the books, too. (Don't tell - I've got a third copy in reserve, but not until the last copy's disintegrated.)

  4. To tell you the truth, I don't think I'll be replicating my efforts!

    I had a bath last night, which is sometimes the only occasion I have to read for a prolonged length of time! I tried to read Lord of the Rings, but I think I overdid the films a bit over the weekend...

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