Thursday, 18 June 2009



            Okay, first of all, none of us want to see the word rats in the title of a food blog.  But the truth is, these creatures exist, and I am now witnessing that some are very picky eaters.  This past Sunday we planted our nice little patio with flower baskets, some palm like trees, and of course lots of herbs (coriander/cilantro, basil, lavender, chive, and mint) and salad green seeds (rocket/arrugula, spinach, and red leaf).  Seemed like a great idea.

            Living in East London is wonderful, we are near canals, parks, organic markets, Brick Lane, all that we desired for cultural enjoyment and of course we are in the heart of the area of study for my partner’s medical anthropology PhD fieldwork project titled ABBY (Adolescence among Bangladeshi and British Youth).  I wake up each morning, and look out over our street and shockingly; the sun has been shining down upon us each and every day.  But back to the garden.

            We planted the garden on Sunday and when I woke up to head to west London to teach one of the community food courses that I am a instructor for, I found quite a shock.  I was drinking my tea on the terrace amidst our new garden...and the flowers were beautiful, the plants were shady, the basil, lavender, mint and chives were looking great...but my coriander...where had it gone. 

            All that was left of our coriander was a few unnibbled stalks...every leaf and green shoot had vanished!!!  I was absolutely shocked...was it mice, moles, ants, slugs, or rats..???  I was not sure...but I knew that something had to be done...we love our coriander...mixed into our cucumber yogurt raita( 1 cup yogurt, ¼ cucumber, chopped coriander, lime zest, ½ lime juice, cumin, grind of pepper, pinch salt...all mixed together and let to set in refrigerator...and the perfect foil for spicy curries!!!), tossed in our Bangladeshi dahl ( Check this weekends blog, I promise!!!) just before serving, in our salsa ( 2 tomato, 1 garlic clove, ½ red onion, ½ jalapeno, lime juice, chopped coriander, salt, peppe...all chopped and a quick stir), truly a staple for us.

            I also noted that during the hard rain of the night all our row of seedling pots of  salad greens had fallen, what a rain.  I decided I needed to head to work, I got on the tube, then to the train, and waited for my ride.  Outside the station at a garden centre I spoke with an attendant who assured me it was most likely ants that ate the herbs.

            At work, I spoke with my co workers who listened to my coriander story and relayed similar issues in their gardens and how they had combated slugs,  with a variety of remedies ( salt, Vaseline, natural pellets, etc.)  I thought about all these things as I returned from work and  as my partner was making rice, dahl (lentils), and cabbage  for our dinner. When she asked me to run to the store for coriander, I decided, then and there...I would solve the coriander quandry.

            After a wonderful meal of rice, dahl,cabbage and  coriander-cucumber raita  we  relaxed and eventually went to sleep.  We spoke of waking up in the middle of the night to see the ants or slugs in action and I had the evil though of using more than my individual nutritional portion of salt upon them!!! 

            At midnight, I crept out of bed, walked over to the window where the herbs were visible, and waited...and what did I see., not a slug or an army of ants but a gigantic east London rat, staring at my/his coriander stems!!!  He was as shocked as I, and scurried away, once again knocking over salad green seed holders, and I guess he, like I was a bit upset to be forced to go elsewhere for his coriander!!!

            So sorry for the delay, I hope you enjoyed yesterdays quick pickle bit, and the present ramble. I will give you Laurens amazing Bangladeshi Dhal recipe for your weekend enjoyment (serve with a nice spicy quick pickle that you can find in the previous days blog, basmati rice, and the simple raita we described above.)


  1. Maybe you could get Lauren to fashion a rat trap out of twigs, now that she's had all that practice with her mobiles?

  2. Wow...and I get mad at the rabbits!! Great story...and publish that dahl recipe!!
    Hi to Lauren!