Tuesday, 8 May 2007

a taste of yellow

With lots of DIY planned for the long bank-holiday weekend, I didn’t have any ambitious baking plans, though I did plan to whip up something for A Taste of Yellow. Barbara of Winos and Foodies is the instigating force behind this food event, which has been approved by the Lance Armstrong Foundation as an official LiveStrong event to raise cancer awareness (LiveStrong Day 2007 will take place on 16 May). Barbara writes: “there isn’t a person in the world who hasn’t been touched by cancer in some way” and that is sadly true of course.

About six weeks ago, M, a dear friend of mine, died of cancer. She was only 34. We first met at uni at our postgraduate degree in Asian art history – a wonderful year, with lots of dinner parties and in which strong worldwide friendships were forged. After graduating, M decided to stay in London and went on to do a PhD while I got myself a job. Both of us being busy people, we saw each other only occasionally, but we kept our fooding tradition going. When she started having stomach problems – and with the NHS living up to its reputation – she decided to go back home to Taiwan for a proper check-up. By the time her cancer was diagnosed, it had already spread. Unfortunately she gave up without a fight, refusing all conventional treatment (because it made her so sick and miserable), trying some herbal remedies instead and refusing to see any of her friends. I, along with our other common friends, felt frustrated and helpless, reading about her suffering in the occasional email she managed to write, but unable to do something. All we could do was send her encouraging emails, urging her not to give up. She wouldn’t have made 80, and probably not even 50, but I can’t help thinking she could have had a good few years left. However, seeing as there is nothing I could have done, I decided to make do with A Taste of Yellow.

With some vague ideas floating around in my head, I didn’t think it would be that difficult to create some sort of yellow food. Right? Hmmm, let’s see. Bread pudding with leftover raisin and cinnamon bread – bread seemed to have moulded overnight. Something with mango – nope, only one sorry-looking rock-hard mango in my fruit bowl. Banana cake – those overripe bananas I had frozen turned out all mushy, looking and smelling rather disgusting. Freezing bananas obviously doesn’t work.

Luckily I did have another bunch of rather ripe bananas and some nectarines. Since I spent most of the weekend sanding skirting boards (and cursing the man who plastered the walls, such a shoddy job, but that’s England for you) I went with an easy, tried and tested, good old Delia recipe for banana walnut loaf, which is published on her website. Having sliced the finished cake in little squares, I tried icing the squares, but my icing technique (I used icing sugar and water mixed into a paste) obviously needs a lot of work still. To jazz the whole lot up a little, I found inspiration in D&C Duby's Wild Sweets in the shape of nectarine carpaccio. I don’t have a mandoline, so I just tried slicing the nectarine as thinly as possible. The slices were then ‘marinaded’ for a few hours in simple syrup (equal measures of water and sugar, boiled and stored in a closed container) with added vanilla bean paste, and draped on top of the cake square. Et voilà, a yellow(ish) cake thingy. Which I'm sure M would have enjoyed.


Brilynn said...

The nectarine carpaccio sounds great on top!

Barbara said...

Inne I'm so pleased to have your entry. I'm sorry your friend didn't find the strength to fight. Chemo is very hard to cope with and I can understand her refusing it. Your nectarine crpacio looks delicious.

Are chan said...

I'm sure M will have enjoyed this fantastic cake!
Yellow the imperial colour and the colour of the sun (one of her favourite colours)..

Helen said...

Inne, I am very sorry to hear about your friend. It is hard to take a back seat and watch the ones we love give up. My brother underwent chemo and all that but when he felt sick again, he gave up. He could not bear to do it ll again if it did not work once again. It was hard on us but it was harder on him. I am sure your friend did find comfort in your emails and gestures.
It is a wonderful entry!

Inne said...

Thank you Brilynn, Barbara, Seña and Helene for your nice comments.

I have been told how gruelling chemo is, and I have seen the effects on family members and friends, but of course I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like.

Helene, so sorry about your brother. Hopefully he was able to enjoy the time he had left with his family and friends.

Barbara, it's an inspiration to read your blog and I'm looking forward to read the Taste of Yellow round-up.

Kate said...

i'm sorry for your loss :( .its gr8 that everyone is participating and helping create awareness.A lovely entry for the livestrong event.BTW the comment link for the ravioli post is missing.Might want to fix that !