Kirstin: We normally make the clams recipe from River Cafe Book 2. So I’d never noticed this recipe before. It’s next to “Spaghetti al limone”, which we used to make all the time, so that’s odd. It’s easy to prepare. I took Miles to the Chinese supermarket to buy the clams, and he had a fit, and was very interested in the death of the clams. ‘Why do they have to die?’ he asked.
Tom: I hadn’t realised this was a different recipe until I noticed the lack of lemons.
Kirstin: There’s more wine, which I thought worked really well. I liked the way you put the oil in, then you add the wine, and then the garlic and chilli into the mix.
Lee: The bin-bowl in the middle gave it that decadent Roman feel. You just throw your shells into the bowl. And afterwards my bowl was pimpled with parsley, which was nice. You like that word? Pimpled.
Tom: We can tell you’re a writer.
Lee: I’d have liked it to have been a little more buttery or oily. Somehow it was a little dry. How much oil did you use?
Kirstin: For four people, 75ml in total. It reminds me of having clams in Venice! Do you remember, I spilled it on my Ghost dress? The waiter brought me a spray can of Shout to sort it out. I was so embarrassed.
Lee: I thought it could have been a little more slippery, perhaps.
Tom: What about the pepper?
Kirstin: I added extra chilli. Just a little bit.
Janet: I liked the chilli.
Lee: Well, you know me and chilli. Perhaps I can read the parsley leaves, like tea leaves. Look, everything is there!
Kirstin: Ah, yes. You will go on a long journey…
Janet: And you will meet a handsome…
Tom: A tall, dark, handsome stranger?
Lee: A handsome millionaire?
Janet: And you will have an affair…
Lee: I like them to stay strangers.
Janet: But you meet them and they are strangers, and you get to know them.
Lee: Then they become strange people.
Kirstin: Which bin do the clam shells go into?
Lee: The black one.
Kirstin: Are they not compostable? Are they not food waste?
Lee: You could put them on a mirror, if you bleached them.
Tom: You take a mirror and you decorate it with shells?
Lee: Yes. But the shells must be cleaned and bleached. So then you have a meal, you have a craft project, what more do you want? If you were in Sissinghurst you could put them in the garden. They used everything! Pottery, shells… you could make a pattern in the garden. That way you get your full value. And they could last for days!
Kirstin: Would it stop the snails? Maybe it would stop them doing their slippery-sliding business. Like eggshells.
Janet: It was delicious.
Kirstin: I would do that again. It was easier than the other recipe, and it tasted better too. Oh, there’s a few left in here!
Lee: We’d better have it, Janet. We’ll eat it from the pan. When you go back for leftovers, it’s even better. Attenzione! Do not dismiss seconds! Mmmm, it’s good! Seconds are delicious because you are not hungry any more! Then it becomes a treat. I had peppery apricots once, because I made pepper sauce, and when it was finished I preserved some apricots. I washed the jar with hot water, and that brought the pepper out. The apricots had that slight peppery flavour. It was delicious. Annika said I should have patented it!
Janet: Kirstin, you have had to put up with this person as a mother for all these years?
Kirstin (breezily changing the subject): So, dessert. Guess the mystery ingredient in this lemon sorbet?
Kirstin: No, that’s not it.
Lee: Jello! Jelly!
Tom: No, it’s not that. You can say it in as many different ways as you like, but that’s not what it is. You’re on the right track, though. It’s something that gives it more body.
Kirstin: It’s a fruit. This recipe needed TWO LITRES of lemon juice, which I didn’t notice until the last minute. I ran to Sainsbury’s, got 20 lemons, and that made barely half a litre. So I used concentrate, too.
Lee: Melon? Mango? Is it tropical? Mannysepote? I found it in Peru. It’s a very ugly fruit. Grapefruit?
Kirstin: No… it’s the same colour as lemon…
Lee: Not kiwi, then. Pawpaw? Passionfruit?
Janet: Is it a familiar fruit?
Kirstin: That’s not yellow!
Tom: You don’t eat that every day.
Lee: Chinese coconut is yellow. Can’t be pumpkin. Don’t tell us! It’s going to be so embarrassing.
Tom: Hmm… what yellow tropical fruits are there…
Kirstin: You can taste it right at the end…
Lee: Mmmm… banana?
Lee: You see? Not just a pretty face! Banana! But what is it doing there? Can you taste it, Janet? It’s very secretive. It’s lurking. In the background. It’s lurking. It’s lurking!