pintade au chou AKA guinea fowl with cabbage

i had a quick skim of what little i have written here this year and i don't know why i always end up writing about the war. it's not something i think about on a daily basis (any more - i used to) and it has little to do with my day to day life.

i suppose it is the time of the year. mid-april, we left and that was that. a different life started.

it may be hard to believe but i never wanted to write about the war itself, only me in it. i have no idea how we ended up in such a mess, and anyone who claims otherwise is undoubtedly engaged in reductionism of some sort. it would take more than what’s ostensibly a food blog to begin to describe what i think happened.

also, unlike a lot of people who come from war zones, i have a huge amount of moral ambivalence about it. some would call it paralysis. i can’t categorically claim i know that one side was a lot more wrong or a lot more right than the other, as much as lots of people i know would want me to. i am not sure my attitude is correct, and i would prefer to feel clarity about some things, but i just don’t. it’s not that i don’t believe some things were absolutely evil. it’s more than i am not sure where this evil starts and begins (i get the middle bit) and where it merges into something else around the edges. when you factor in all that history, who knows where you end up.

i’ve also learnt not to expect ‘closure’ pitched by cheap psychology as a solution to pain that follows something like a war. that is not why war keeps creeping back into everything i write.

i admit i did think it would happen at first – i remember writing about it in my diary. (the diaries at the time: tightly written pages and pages of trying to fathom what was happening to me, and failing. incredibly boring to read afterwards, and not much fun to write at the time.) i thought i would put the war behind me, in a way people deal with something like a successful appendix surgery. they remember it being bad at the time but it’s a done deal, with little spill over into their present except as an occassional memory.

you soon realise that closure is possible only in films, where happy endings are made up and all the mess is tidied away. in real life, even when the war ended – for me definitely not with a bang but a whimper – everything was already so different, both here and there, that it made little difference.

it's now may so maybe that's enough for one year. i'll start again next march when the hayfever kicks in.

as for food, this is a slightly random recipe, for which no one will thank me as i don't think people regularly find themselves recipeless but with a spare guinea fowl. in my defence, the fowl was on sale in waitrose (where else?) and for less than a fiver, looked big enough to feed two. it was 1kg almost exactly.

so should you find yourself with a spare guinea fowl, or with another game bird or two (or even a small chicken), this is a good 'un. it's everything a recipe should be: short and one-pot. it comes from stephane reynauld's book ripailles on traditional french cuisine. i knew frenchies would come up with the goods - even hugh fearly-wearly's meat book didn't have much to say about this particular bird.

come to think of it, wtf is a guinea fowl??

for two

1 guinea fowl, sans giblets
1 green cabbage or savoy to you and me
250g smoked streaky bacon pieces
1 glass of white wine
6 sage leaves - don't think i had any but i can see why they'd work
3 carrots
3tbs duck fat or butter
200ml chicken stock

in a big heavy pot, melt the duck fat and brown the fowl (whole) until golden. add the bacon pieces, sage and the carrots which have been peeled and diced.

cut the cabbage into six pieces and wash well. add to the pot, pour in the wine and the stock, cover and let it cook for about 45 mins on low heat. stir regularly.


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