I’m worried I’ve developed culinary OCD. I’m spending a few days in London visiting my family before my annual pilgrimage to Italy and I realized that I had mapped out every meal before even arriving. It turns out I have a gastronomic check list for every city I’ve been to more than once.
First there’s the obligatory Chinese meal; Chinese food in England is to Chinese food what Tex Mex is to Mexican; delicious but not exactly authentic. Then there’s a curry from Brick Lane in East London, Bangers and Mash and a drink at The Holly Bush (a beautiful old pub in the backstreets of Hampstead) as well as various other unhealthy ‘musts’ giving me no chance to try anything new.
Between meals, I’ve been helping my father clear out his cupboards and taken a nostalgic trip down memory lane including some spectacularly bad but ambitious childhood art projects. There’s something very comforting about spending time in the house where you grew up, where every creak is familiar – I still know which floorboards to avoid when coming home too late and passing my father’s bedroom door. The breakfast room with its crazy William Morris wallpaper is my favorite room where my place at the head of the table is still left empty even though I haven’t lived here for 15 years.
Next on to my mother’s house where there's always something cooking on the stove and a fridge full of delicious leftovers. My first meal there is always her famous Salmon Carpaccio. I love this dish so much that I find myself scarfing down my third helpings as I look up to watch everyone else demurely finishing their first. It's a wonderful starter for a dinner party as it can be prepared the day before and just brought to room temperature before serving.
So here’s the much coveted recipe for Salmon Carpaccio.
Serves 6-8 people as an appetizer
2lbs of thinly sliced raw sushi grade salmon (ask your fishmonger to cut it for you)
1 cup of washed dill
½ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ¼ cup of olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ teaspoon of pink peppercorns (if you can find these soaked in brine, they are the best)
1. Mix the salt and lemon juice together in a bowl and beat in the olive oil.
2. Bash the peppercorns in some foil with a rolling pin.
3. In a large bowl put a spoonful of the dressing, layer over some salmon and then sprinkle some dill and a few crushed peppercorns.
4. Continue layering as above until you’ve used up all the salmon.
5. Serve with toasted French bread.