‘Life is a feast, and all who eat and drink with me, and savour food as they savour life, are those who matter most.’
In recent months, as our underlying philosophy at The High Street Delicatessen has firmed up around the principle of ‘we serve what we stock’, our thoughts have turned to sharing great tastes. Over the course of the year we have been guests at four feasts, each one different, yet each one bound by a spirit of openness, companionship, discovery and trust.
As our deli has evolved, we have seen people gather in our ‘secret garden’ to share food and drink in convivial surroundings, with friends and family. There is a simmering sense of opportunity in the background of each such gathering … an unanswered question … how would it be if we gathered strangers around a single table, unifying them through good food and wine, provoking a spirit of togetherness and sharing?
It will happen.
But what, then, do we feed the assembly?
Mr and Mrs Deli have devoured several inspiring cookbooks which nod to the idea of ‘small plates’ willingly shared, a kaleidoscope of flavour vying for attention. But we keep returning to ‘Feasts’, a sumptuously photographed and illustrated (by the amazing Anna Koska, who we recently spent ‘5 Foodie Minutes With’) book which draws on the Persian traditions the author grew up with.
The Introduction evokes a golden period of the author’s childhood when family and friends would gather, united through food, flavours and the buzz of conversation.
This is a book of recipes that are made to be shared … Middle Eastern influences shout raucously from the pages; za’atar-crumbed halloumi … baklava … pomegranate … harissa …
The pages conjure images of mezzes, dish after dish brought to the table, passed from person to person, manners dictating even shares all round. Bean and Tomato Stew, with ‘dollops of labneh’ … sweet and sour seamlessly interwoven – peach, feta and mint …
‘Feasts’ is a beautiful book with practical, achievable recipes … it is a book to have readily to hand.
As our own year of feasts unfolds, it is a book that Mr and Mrs Deli will be influenced by, which we will dip into, which we will use to inspire the tastes we want to share with those we gather around the table.