As winter approaches I have noticed a lot of this in the markets in Bulgaria. At first I mistook it for horseradish, which is also in abundance here, but it was explained to me the other day what it was.
I roasted it, with it’s leaves with good Greek olive oil and a sprinkling of the delicious Bulgarian seasoning ‘sharena sol’, which is composed mainly of summer savory.
It was…nice. Like a mixture of carrot, celeriac and parsnip and went well with the roast chicken I served it with.
Any foodie people out there got any more ideas?
HARRY ERNEST JUBILEE CLINCH
was my Grandfather.
He was born in 1897, the year of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, which explains the rather strange name.
He was the only one of my grand-parents I knew, and, for all his working life, he was a gardner. A fiercely proud, working class man, he worked for Chichester council and later as head gardner in a couple of minor stately homes in West Sussex.
I say ‘gardner’ but, realistically, I should say ‘vegetable gardner’. He grew flowers, but grudgingly so, for the two aged aunts of my father’s that he lived his life out with (his own wife, my Grandmother had died when my Dad was 16). His pride and joy were his vegetables. He regularly won the prize for the ‘Biggest Vegetable Marrow’ or the ‘Longest Runner Bean’ at his local horticultural exhibition, and his certificates and medals were always on show on his mantlepiece, until they were surpassed by another award, when they would be moved to his favourite place in the whole world, the centre of his ‘kingdom’ and the place I loved more than anywhere else when I was a little boy.
It was in the middle of his pride and joy. The allotment.
It was a beautiful place. Neat and tidy and bursting with delicious veg. Row after row of carrots and onions, runner beans and peas climbing their way up perfect bamboo and twig wigwams and leeks and onions standing to attention like soldiers on parade. He always called me ‘Nipper’, and the strongest memory I have is of him sitting on an upturned bucket in the shed, lighting up one of the fierce ‘Capstan Full Strength’ cigarettes he smoked and pouring himself, from the rusty kettle steaming on the antiquated gas ring in the corner a ‘Wozza’.
Me and Grandad had a little ritual we’d go through. “Why do you call it a ‘wozza’ Grandad?” I’d say.
"Well Nipper" he’d reply in his Sussex burr " It WOZZA cup of tea before I put the whisky in it!" and winked at me conspiritorially as if it was a huge secret that we should keep from the Aunts, even though, it was common knowledge.
I don’t have many mementos of my Grandad left. His medals he got for being gassed, twice, in the dreadful battles of the Somme in the First World War, a battered old book he kept in his shed about vegetable gardening for fun and profit and, perhaps rather bizarrely, two of his old watering cans.
They are perfectly ordinary watering cans, nothing even remotely special, but I love having them. They take me back to the shed I suppose…to those innocent times and I love them.
The picture above is of Stoyan, who spent all day yesterday fixing the guttering on my house in Bulgaria. He is mending one of the watering cans which, over the years has got a bit battered.
Grandad died when I was ten, and apart from going across the channel to be shelled by the Germans, hardly set foot outside his beloved Sussex. He couldn’t point at Bulgaria on a map, and the thought of his grandson pottering around his garden there watering his flowers with one of his watering cans would simply never have entered his head.
By golly…it’s got me thinking though.
So cheers Grandad. I shall make myself a Wozza this evening in your memory!
ANDALUZ DETAIL #3
'La Fuente'…The fountain. Still the centrepoint of most villages in Andalucia.
Like this one in the beautiful village of Linares in the Sierra de Aracena.
ANDALUZ DETAIL #2
In the Sierra de Aracena, near Jabugo. A clear sign that you are in serious jamon country…
Or ‘Dirty Rice’. Cooked with mussels, prawns, squid and their ink. Lunch today at Finca Buenvino. Served with a very garlicky Alli-Olli.
Very, very nice…
AND LEST THERE BE ANY DOUBT
That I am, indeed, in the South. This is the view from my hotel window in Merida…
Ok, As you should all know by now, I love Spain and the Spanish with a passion. I’ve just spent a lovely time in Segovia…lovely people, beautiful city and my client (Not allowed to mention apparently…but a tip-top, world famous travel magazine…’go figure’ as they would say in the states) will be happy.
However, something was not quite right.
As I drove south and started to look for somewhere to stay I realised what it was.
I’d stopped at a gas station just outside of Merida and asked how long it would take me to drive to Seville. The answer made me realise what I’d been missing…
'Thi te va a do thienta, pue, una ora…'
'If you drive at 200kms per hour, it'll take you an hour'. i.e. Its 200kms fat boy…work it out for yourself.
But delivered with a massive smile and a voice that was the product of 40 cigarettes per day for the last 20 years.
The South. Merida is only just in the south, but it’s there. The accent, the roughness around the edges and the humour.
At last, I’m feeling at home…
SPAIN, SEGOVIA & SUCKLING PIGS
Just finished a very enjoyable 5 day shoot in Segovia. It’s an amazing city. The Aqueduct alone is one of the most beautiful things you could wish to see, and thats without the huge cathedral, the Alcazar (which Walt Disney based the castle in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ on), the ten or so Romanesque and Templar churches…the list goes on.
One thing troubles me. The food.
The region around Segovia is incredibly fertile and is reknowned for it’s vegetables, which are indeed of an unsurpassed quality. The star of Segovian cuisine, however, is cochinillo. Suckling pig. It is served everywhere, transported to the table on a large earthenware platter and chopped, ceremoniously, with a plate which is then smashed on the floor.
The chap above is Antonio Lopez, head chef at Meson Candido, the most famous restaurant in Segovia who alone serve more than ten thousand a year. TEN THOUSAND! Good grief.
A more friendly, charming and helpful man it would be difficult to meet, but, as I wandered endlessly around the city seeing tourists and locals ooh and aah as piggy after piggy was served up to them, all crispy and juicy. Seeing their little white bodies hanging in all the butchers shops, I started to feel uncomfortable. They’re babies. Tiny. It’s like eating a puppy. Imagine all those poor sows sitting in sheds somewhere producing litter after litter of piglets to satisfy the meat lusts of people who come from all corners of the world to eat them.
Did I try some? Yes, I kind of had to as I was working and kindly invited to eat there. Was it delicious? Well, it was quite nice, but not as amazing as some people say. Do I feel like a disgusting hypocrite? Yes, yes and yes again…
Tomorrow I’m off to Seville and thence to the Sierra de Aracena to do some food photography workshops. We’ll be close to Jabugo where the best ham in the world comes from. Will I eat some? Almost certainly, but at least it will have come from a grown-up.
Get me home…and bring me vegetables…
HAPPY…AND EXTREMELY FORTUNATE
I’ve been moving house…and moving country…and converting what, for the last eight years has been our holiday home, into a REAL home…and it’s been wonderful. I finally feel as if it’s all making sense, but, I also realise that I have not picked up a camera for about six weeks and been relying on my iPhone, and having fun, which is all fine, but…
I’m off on location next week to Spain for a travel magazine and just realised how excited I am, and what a lucky bugger for loving my job so much…
Meanwhile, here’s a picture from my bathroom window this morning.
We made it. It’s been a crazy few weeks, but finally beginning to feel like home.
I think it’s fair to say that normal service is now resumed!
A GOOD EGG
As the date for leaving this sceptered isle gallops ever closer, I find myself wanting to do as many things ‘English’ as I possibly can.
So yesterday found us at the Oakwood, Ockley & Forest Green Flower Show with my great friend and fine photographer Mr. Andrew Shaylor and his lovely family. A splendid (if too short) time was had shying at coconuts, trying to win cuddly toys for the girls, quaffing ale and admiring vintage tractors.
I will break the habits of a lifetime and mention another photographer’s work on my blog. Check out Andrew’s work here. Bugger it, he’s very good and, amongst many other things can genuinely be described as a ‘damn good egg’!
To the wonderful Charles Jones, one of my favourite photographers. Or rather non-photographers as he was a gardner, whose work was only discovered in 1998 when someone who bought a battered leather suitcase in Bermondsey Antiques Market found it was full of glass negatives. The rest, as they say, is history.
It’s wonderful stuff and if you don’t know about him, you should. You can read about him here: http://spitalfieldslife.com/2012/03/09/charles-jones-gardener-photographer/ and at the same time look at one of the best blogs in the world ‘Spitalfields Life’ the only blog I look at every day.
They are also the pictures from my column in this months 'Black + White Photography' Magazine, in which, amongst other things I waffle on about ‘in camera discipline’, interview the lovely Carolyn Quartermaine, make a website for the editor and explain a few basics about Lightroom…phew!
Some mean and moody garlic…
And some rather nice asparagus…
Incidentally, speaking of asparagus, the post I put up a while ago with a picture of asparagus which I considered rather dull and uninteresting (http://timclinchphotography.tumblr.com/post/53940085427)has, at the last count been re-blogged 1,314 times! I keep looking at it to try and work out why, but can’t. Any ideas?
IN THE CARPATHIANS
I have been struggling to write about our recent trip to Ukraine. Not because Internet access was sketchy to say the least (which it was) but because every time I started writing something I got a massive lump in my throat and tears started pricking at my eyes.
I’ve talked about it a lot on my blog and I have never experienced such friendliness and genuine hospitality in my life as I do here, and the breathtaking beauty of the landscapes and the villages, and the crumbling magnificence of the imposing Austro-Hungarian cities we have visited never fails to stop me in my tracks.
And yet hardly anyone comes here.
Make no mistake, it is a troubled country. Corruption is rife, poverty is a major problem, the roads are simply atrocious…the list goes on, but with hand on heart I can honestly say that I have never visited anywhere that repays the effort as much as Ukraine…specifically Western Ukraine, and more specifically the two provinces of Galicia and Bukovina. It is a big, wide, deep and emotional place. A lot of blood has been spilt on this soil and you can feel it. History has noy treated Ukraine kindly.
I cannot thank Marigold enough for introducing me to this magical country that she has loved for more than 25 years. Now I have come to love it too.
It requires effort. A lot of effort, but if, after your stay you feel even a fraction of the joy, peace and happiness I now feel, it will have been worth it.
These pictures are from a wonderful couple of days we had in the Carpathians mountains.
On a more practical note, this trip would have been a LOT more difficult, if not downright impossible without the help of Slav and Serhiy of Lviv Ecotour (http://lvivecotour.com/)
We have known and used Slav since our first visit here. A more knowledgable guide and interpreter you could not wish for, and a charming and friedly man (and that goes for his compatriot Serhiy as well). I cannot reccomend them highly enough.
Many thanks to both of you for making our trip so memorable.