Many nights ago, I was sitting at the dinner table with my laptop beavering away at solitaire, googling recipes for bum sandwiches and talking rubbish online when a message popped up, a DM or direct message in Twitter parlance. It said "just did a massive veg harvest b4 going away for a few days, it's yours if you can collect in next 15 hours!". I stared back at the screen wide-eyed and simply whispered out the word "woah", you know just like Keanu Reeves does at the start of The Matrix. And then I thought "Wow, maybe this whole idea of WMPC becoming an underground food movement is starting to take seed. After all, why else should I be getting messages popping up out of the blue like that. No people are starting to understand. They are putting their hands up. They want to feed me. They get the deal. And through this I can show how we can all feed each other. We can all achieve social harmony and peace by exchanging radishes for pasta dishes. We don't need Tescos. This is going to be big. Bigger than bloody Noel Edmunds that's for sure!"
Then my wife came into the kitchen and told me to sit down, shut up and stop shouting or else I would wake the kids. She then peered over my shoulder and said "you know, this Celia Brooks Brown might just want to off-load her extra veg rather than let it go to waste. I bet she couldn't care less about the bloody manifesto behind your who's my pork chop!"
"It's WHERE'S My Pork Chop"
"Whatever, just keep it down"
I had to agree, my wife had a point but nevertheless, after a further exchange on Twitter with Celia, I had decided that this opportunity should be part of my WMPC project. Whether it was in her game plan to meet me at The Rake near Borough Market the next day, I'm not entirely sure. She had asked if I could come and collect remember. Celia also ended up making me tomato soup and gave me some of her allotment chutney as well as carting over said homegrown veg which consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beetroot and some very pungent African Blue Basil. Given that she must be up to her eyeballs - she was giving one of her gastrotours around the market later that afternoon - I felt very grateful for our impromptu meeting. Not to mention slightly smug because I had managed to snaffle some food for that evening's shift at the last minute. Oh and cheeky, very cheeky because I got all of this for the price of a beer, a pint of Veltins for Celia and an Essex Boys Bitter for myself.
It was great to while away half an hour with Celia especially when I should have been at work, chatting about allotments, cooking and whatnot. When it came inspecting the bounty though, I must admit I was rather perplexed by the aforementioned herb which came sealed in a clear plastic bag. What the hell was Celia growing on her plot? The good shit? And when I opened the bag the smell hit me like a hammer, it was really heady stuff. So I raised my eyebrows and smiled conspiratorially at Celia and then asked "so what do I use this for?"
"Well it's basil, you might want to chop a little up and sprinkle some on the soup or use it in a salad?" she said, looking a bit confused at my gurning.
"Yes, of course!" I replied, blushing "Basil and tomatoes, marriage made in heaven!"
And with that I made my excuses and dashed back to office, hoping that I wouldn't have to explain why it took me an hour to get some money out of the cash machine. I had the soup later that evening with a bread roll and it was very good indeed, simple, fresh and fruity with a nice background hint of garlic. I smeared some of the chutney on the bread and found it a little too sweet for my liking, but after successive tastings at home it does compliment a good mature cheddar. And as for the basil, well this variety is definitely a herb to be used sparingly, I bit a off large leaf and my tongue was throbbing for hours afterwards. Still it worked well in a tomato and mozzarella salad I made the next day. All in all a great haul.
Celia Brooks Brown and her tomatoes
The bounty with remaining soup, photo taken at home (basil added for decorative effect)