Wednesday, July 19, 2006


With almost 35° Celsius, today was the hottest day of this summer - so far. After a long day at the office I was ravenous, but I still wanted something light. In the vegetable aisle of the supermarket I unexpectedly came upon locally grown catalogna and I quickly dismissed the original plan of making cucumber salad. Catalogna is a large-leaf variety of chicory with a very distinctive peppery and somewhat bitter flavour. While it is widely known in Italy, it can only be found occasionnally here. I washed the whole bunch under running water, cut stems and leaves in approximately 15cm-long pieces and cooked them in the pressure cooker for exactly three minutes. Make sure to run the pressure cooker under the cold tap when removing it from the heat or the catalogna will keep cooking and might turn into a mush. After three minutes, the stems were done, but still slightly crunchy and the leaves were just about wilted. I seasoned everything with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper and drizzled lemon juice and olive oil over it. Served with a smoked trout fillet, some cottage cheese with chives and a slice of sourdough rye bread, it was just what I needed.

Apart from the fact that I really liked the catalogna, I also very much enjoyed buying it. I take a secret little and rather strange pleasure from queueing at the cash register with something "exotic" like catalogna when other people just buy fish fingers. I admit that it makes me feel a little smug. Pathetic, I know, but it's just a thing I have. And yes, I do eat fishfingers.

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