There seem to be a few vaporous stirrings within the Key head, so it is not entirely vacant. Those stirrings may yet lead to some sweeping pargraphs of majestic prose. Meanwhile, here is a piece that first appeared on this day nine years ago:
Devoted readers of Hooting Yard – are there any other kind? – know that we do our utmost to bring you the very, very best in modern, cutting-edge soup recipes. As part of the latest tranche, here is a marvellous example, provided by Dr Ruth Pastry’s sister Maud:
Ingredients: 1 lb each of apricots, breadcrumbs, coleslaw, dandelions, edelweiss stalks, flapjacks and goldfish brains; 6 tbsp honey; 2 oz isinglass; 1 lb each of jackdaw feathers, ketchup, love-lies-bleeding, marmalade, nougat and oxlips; 1 pea; 1 tub quicklime; 4 oz each of raisins*, spikenard and toffee; 15 tsp unspeakable goo; 1 family-size catering pack of vinegar; 3 whelks; as much xanthium as you can stomach; 12 pkts yeast; 44 zinnias.
Method: Pound everything beginning with a vowel into a mulch. Smear it on to the inside of a big bowl. Put the bowl somewhere safe and below freezing point for a week. Cut everything else up into chunks the size of a newborn baby’s fist, then chargrill. Go and get the bowl and toss the chunks in haphazardly. Place the bowl under an outside spigot and fill to the brim with water. Leave to stand for as long as you like, depending on how hungry you are. Transfer to a cauldron. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer. Pour in some milk. Re-boil, indefatigably. Ladle off the scum from the top. Serve with hibiscus clumps and cocoa.
* NOTE : The mention of raisins in Maud Pastry’s recipe prompts me to quote this splendid passage from Francis Wheen’s How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered The World (Fourth Estate):
If [Islamic fundamentalist suicide-bombers] die in the struggle, so much the better – since they will be welcomed into paradise by seventy-two virgins, ready to satisfy every sensual need. (This titillating inducement may not be all it seems. A scholarly new Koranic study by Christoph Luxenberg suggests that the legend of the virgins is based on a misinterpretation of the word hur, which translates from Arabic as ‘houris’ but in the Syriac language meant ‘white raisins’. Imagine the disappointment of a suicide-bomber who arrives in heaven expecting a bevy of gorgeous maidens, ‘chaste as hidden pearls’, only to be offered a bowl of dried grapes instead.)