Kedgeree and Honesty

There's a lovely French film called The Family Beliere about a girl born to deaf parents who discovers at high school that she has a talent and passion for singing. Naturally this causes some family tension. I won't give the rest of the plot away, but there's one scene in which the girl is singing a duet at a recital, so the parents who cannot hear are there in a crowd of people, there to listen to the pupils sing. They look around and see people moved to tears by the performance and though they can see the beauty in what their daughter is doing, they cannot share in the experience.

As I watched, I couldn't help but feel that this was an accurate depiction of how it can feel to have food allergies. Like you're in a room filled with people having an experience that you cannot join in on.

There is a loneliness in missing out on shared experiences, in spending weddings hungry because apparently no matter how many times you talk to the caterers they still can't get the gist, in politely trying to explain to stressed out kitchen staff that you can't eat the pilaf because it's cooked in stock and stock has onion in it... 

I was invited to Le Cordon Bleu last year to give a lecture to the student chefs on why it's important to cater to people with food allergies, and I gave them some advice on how to do it better. I talked a little about this loneliness I sometimes experience, yet at the end of the lecture one of the teachers put their hand up and said he thinks there should be a restaurant for the people with food allergies - a separate place for them to go to eat. I wanted to bury my face in my hands because he had so obviously missed my point. 

I understand, catering to people with food allergies is intimidating and inconvenient - but so is love. Food, eating, sharing and love cannot be separated (no matter how much I try to convince myself that they can). So try this: ask your friend with food intolerances/allergies what they can and can't eat, cook for them or cook with them if they're more comfortable with that. And then sit around a table and eat together - love can be that simple.

Kedgeree is an Anglo-Indian dish that my family grew up eating around a table, probably once a week. It's traditionally a breakfast food but makes a hearty dinner. Add boiled eggs (if you can eat them), cherry tomatoes, plain yoghurt and chutney* for good measure. If you're vegan, all you need to do is substitute tofu for the fish - maybe marinade it in a little extra lemon and curry powder before adding it to the rest of the dish.

*The closest thing I've found to a low-FODMAP friendly chutney so far is Barker's Eggplant Chutney, which contains a bit of garlic but no onion! 

Pumpkin Kedgeree (original recipe by Lois Daish - but she used butter, cream and onions in hers...)

Start by cooking 2 cups of white rice - basmati or jasmine work well. While the rice is cooking get the rest of your ingredients ready: 

500g kabocha pumpkin (any kind of pumpkin will work)
1 cup of leek leaves/the green part of the leek
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
1/3 cup coconut cream

300-400g smoked fish (I used salmon this time but would usually use a white fish). 

Cut the skin off the pumpkin and set this aside to make stock (a soup recipe is forthcoming!). Chop the pumpkin into 1cm dice and throw into a large frying pan with plenty of olive oil. Actually be careful how you throw the pumpkin because I wasn't and I got an oil burn on my wrist. Lesson learned. Cook the pumpkin until it's tender all of the way through and there are some nice brown bits. Add the leek and cook until soft. You don't want the leek to brown because that will make it bitter.

Add the curry powder and ginger, and break the fish into the pan - stir! By now your rice should be ready and you can spoon it into the frying pan, and stir the pumpkin and leek mixture through until all of the rice is yellow. Now add the coconut cream and lemon juice. Luxury.

You're done! If you like a bit more spice you can stir in some chilli flakes or serve it with hot sauce. I added lots of parsley to mine.