'Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!'
'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Well here I am again and like so many of the rest of us I’m in lock down. So why not revisit the blog I thought? Why not indeed. I’m lucky to live in a beautiful part of the world and have my garden and my books for company - not to mention my husband who seems to have taken up residence in the garage for the duration. He emerges for meals and to watch the news but that’s about it. I remind myself that he is just trying to get through - the same as the rest of us. As spring marches inexorably forwards, the days are blending into one, so maybe it’s time for the occasional new blog post as a way of marking time until life returns to normality.
Idle curiosity led me to look for the significance of today and I discovered that the Wednesday of Easter week is 'Spy Wednesday' - which is not a celebration of duplicity but a remembrance of the day that Jesus was betrayed by Judas.
I knew a spy once - someone who during the Cold War had spied for the Soviets in exchange for money to sustain a lifestyle that soon betrayed him. I met him some years after he was released from prison and I liked him. He was intelligent and witty. The sort of person who is good value at a dinner party - perfect spy material. Just morally bankrupt.
The story of the betrayal of Jesus doesn't need repeating here, but reminding myself of it I looked up spikenard. The betrayal was prompted by Judas's indignation that the woman called Mary had used expensive oil of spikenard to bathe Jesus's feet. There are various translations of the original and the oil might have been spikenard which is an Ayurvedic plant from the Far East, or it might have been simply have been lavender. We don’t know.
What I have in plenty at the moment is fresh nettles and sorrel. So I’ve made soup. Nettles for the sting of betrayal, sorrel for the bitterness of regret.
Nettle and Sorrel Soup
1 leek, carrot and largish potato
I litre vegetable or chicken stock - I used Marigold Bouillon
Several handfuls of greens. I used a mixture of sorrel and nettles. Spinach would be fine.
Cream - optional
I blitzed the leek carrot and potato in my food processor and then softened them gently in the butter for a few minutes. I added the greens and wilted them down, then poured in the hot stock and simmered for about twenty minutes. Then I blitzed it again with my stick blender. Taste it and adjust the seasoning and if you wish, add the cream.
"What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust."
From 'The Waste Land' by T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)