Why don’t you just eat duck?
My first ‘proper’ job was at the Bank of England when I was 21, in research. It was my first proper job because it was the first structured and full time role I had taken. I was so proud. I’ve long since forgotten that particular feeling of executive pride and I am sighing and smiling wisely as I write this.
I loved that black suited and focused people walked carefully on their heels, echoing their esteemed selves to somewhere clearly, very important to aid decision-making for the economy of our great country. Tiny mice made intermittent visits around the history of the building and one of my ‘down time’ favourite activities was mooching around economic papers in the vast and superior library within the Bank in the vault, near where old money was you know…it was hot there.
We had rule books on how to structure charts for publications. On one occasion whilst discussing it during drinks with some colleagues he asked me whom I would support if India and England were playing a cricket match. I said that I didn’t follow cricket, I’m not into sport. ‘But if you were, lets say’. You see I didn’t understand all this, I was a feisty, ambitious and focused young lady but in hindsight, naive. I wasn’t used to being made aware of race. I’ve never actually really thought about it. My now-husband accompanied me to work on the tube for the first couple of days when I started work, because I was a tube virgin. He took pictures of me outside the Bank.
Then the questions followed at work, ‘do you wear a headscarf at home?’ No, I’m Hindu. ‘Do you make samosas?’ I’m 21; I go out with my friends. ‘Are you having an arranged marriage?’ I’ve got a boyfriend.
One of the questions I often get asked is whether I am vegetarian for religious reasons. No. No.
One of the things I learned over the years is that the people around you, your own mind-set and your own actions make something special happen. Not a place, hierarchy, status, or a title or any other outwardly definition, for those just doesn’t last. Really and truly, they don’t. I used to read words like this and dismiss them. As much as we would will it to be progressively checking the milestones we plan, Life isn’t a freaking chart, is it.
In that must lay some strength. As I pick up the fragments I’m not piecing them together, I’m visualising new things. My heart isn’t as heavy as I thought it would be. In fact I’m even more able to give good wishes and love. As a youngster I didn’t experience failure but they always said it’s important to fail. I never understood why. Nobody ever said.
Failing is a process that allows a person to develop coping skills, growing skills, maturity, humility, grit, resilience. These shouldn’t just be words you bang out in the opening statement of the CV. If we don’t fail at the smaller hurdles in life, when the bigger stuff hits (and it will, it does) then we don’t know what to do with ourselves. And the older we grow, often there are fewer hands to walk us to shore.
I tell my boy that he should be kind, clever, and brave and always love his mumma.
I don’t eat duck. I eat things that taste good without having quacked. Bean curd skins are a good source of protein and have bite. The wraps contain ung choi, which is a bit like spinach and it wilts quickly, but it’s a bit more peppery. I picked my latest batch up from Tesco. This wrap is peppery, silky, slightly sweet, has bite and they’re easy to eat. Easy is good, isn’t it.
Ingredients to make 15 pancake wraps
250g of Ung choi, washed and sliced
One large carrot, grated
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. fennel seeds
¾ tsp. cumin seeds
1 ½ tbsp. soy sauce
¼ tsp. turmeric
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. coriander powder
½ tsp. garam masala
75g of bean curd skins (the sticks, they are available at oriental supermarkets)
Oil for deep frying the skins
For the pancakes
300g bread flour
100ml boiling water
75ml cold water
2 tsp. sesame oil
1. Soak the bean curd skins (use the sticks) in plenty of warm water for about two hours. They will swell. Drain the water, and then slice them into 3-4 cm rounds. Leave them to dry.
2. Heat oil in a deep pan and then deep fry the bean curd skins until the fluff up and catch a golden colour
3. Make the dough by first pouring the boiling water into the flour and mix it well. Then pour in the cold water and form dough, kneed it well and then rest the dough for 15 minutes, before dividing it into 15 equal portions. Roll out the pancakes into thin chapatti before toasting them on a non-stick pan
4. In another pan, heat the oil and add the cumin and fennel seeds and when the sizzle, stir in the garlic. Sauté for a minute, then add the ung choi and carrot and stir it well. Sprinkle in the turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala and stir well. Sauté for a minute before drizzling in the soy sauce and introducing pieces of fried bean curd skins. Cook the vegetables for another 3 minutes before turning off the heat.
5. Finally, assemble the wraps by putting a little filling in the centre of the pancake, wrap it, and eat it.