Finally, spring has arrived in Scotland. Only two months late, not bad. Last week’s barbecue, if anyone is wondering, was unfortunately two days earlier than the start of Scottish spring, and as predicted, we were stuck at 12 degrees. However, it didn’t rain so major disasters were averted.
Yesterday was a particularly nice day, and I was on a train headed to the west. I was on my way to see a mate in the countryside, which is the place to be when the weather is great. Many people were apparently thinking the same and the train was reasonably full. At Paisley Gilmour Street, the first station after Glasgow central, two girls got on and sat down on the other side of the aisle from where I was. They were engaged in an animated discussion about the likeableness of Jason Statham, which was interrupted when one of the girls’ phones rang.
“Aye, mum. What?”, the girl said. Then the usual series of “yes” and “no” and “On the train, we should be there in 20 minutes”. But then the conversation took an interesting turn.
“Yeah fine. OK. Mum, what’s for dinner?” The girl’s tone of voice had changed. This was serious business. She giggled briefly with mock amusement (“Ah haha.”), then turned serious again and said “No but seriously, what’s for dinner?” The other girl, who had been staring out of the window during most of the conversation, shifted in her seat, leaned forward slightly and, with her head cocked to the side, looked intently to her friend. Apparently, shit had just gotten real.
The phone call went on. “Seriously, mum, salad for dinner? Salad with cold meat?” The girl now sounded angry more than just serious, and she had started speaking slightly louder. “But Fearne is coming, she likes stew! […] That’s no excuse to have salad for dinner! For fuck sake mum, I want steak! Or stew. Or something, but not fucking salad!”
I wondered what excuse the girl’s mother had brought forward for serving salad for dinner. It seemed amusing that she needed an excuse, anyway. To me, having salad for dinner is perfectly acceptable, but this is Scotland, different rules apply here.
“Aargh I don’t care, that doesn’t make it any better. […] No. No, don’t boil me one. […] I don’t care. Fine. Bye.” She concluded the conversation and turned to her friend. “Can you believe that, we’re not having stew. My mum’s making salad because it’s warm outside and apparently you suddenly have to eat salad when it’s warm. Salad with a fucking egg on top, as if that makes a difference. I don’t want a stupid egg.”
The other girl, who I presumed was the Fearne mentioned earlier, looked up, shocked, and said “I want an egg on mine though.” The first girl whipped out her iPhone again, and soon I heard her say: “Mum. Fearne does want an egg on her salad. […] OK. […] 10 minutes or so. […] Yeah, bye.”
With the matter of the eggs settled, both girls now stared out of the window. It was silent for a couple of minutes. Then the girl looked to Fearne and said: “Fuck, I should’ve asked what was for dessert.” She got out her iPhone again and I heard her say: “Aye mum? What’s for dessert?”
The silence was almost unbearable, you could cut the tension with a knife. Not only the girl and Fearne, even I was now tensely waiting for the answer.
“AAH for FUCK sake, mum. No. Fine. Bye.”
Fearne looked worried. “What’s for dessert?” she asked, without even trying to mask her apprehension. The other girl looked at her and said: “NOTHING. Mum didn’t get dessert because she thought the ice-cream van would come out tonight. But it’s already passed our street. There’s no dessert.”
Well, at least there were eggs with the salad. And cold meat. The following asparagus salad contains both, and is excellent for dinner. It’s filling enough, and great for warm days when you can’t be bothered with heavy stews or steaks.
The recipe I’ll give you here contains serrano ham. However, I’ve tried this with smoked salmon as well, and they’re equally divine. I’m not kidding you. Divine. However, if you’re gonna go for salmon, leave out the parmesan and make a dressing of cream cheese and black pepper.
- 10 spears of asparagus
- one little gem lettuce
- one red onion
- 10 baby potatoes
- 2 eggs
- enough serrano ham, 120gr should do
- some parmesan cheese
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
Boil the baby potatoes in water with plenty of salt. 15 minutes should do. Chop the ends off the spears of asparagus, throw the thickest bits out. Then snap off the tops, keep separated, and chop up the rest of the stalks in halves or thirds. Boil the chunks of stalk for 2 minutes and the tips for only 1 minute. Boil the eggs.
Slice up a red onion and gently fry the rings in some olive oil. Don’t hurry them, just put them on the lowest heat and leave them for a while, stir occasionally. When they’re getting softish, add a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. Stir and keep sautéing until they’re all soft and red and pretty and sour and nice.
Display the lettuce in a swanky manner on a large plate. Once the potatoes are done, drain them, rinse them with cold water and dry them, then put them on the plate with the lettuce. Tear the ham into strips and drape them over the lettuce, in between the potatoes. Put the stalks of asparagus and the onion in the middle. Peel the egg and quarter. Artfully arrange the egg quarters and the tips of the asparagus in the middle. Finish with some pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.