Sunday, 13 February 2011

Mushrooms à la Mubarak

Some things are bigger than food blogging. Recent events in Egypt – that desert of political pessimism – may yet inspire a generation.

To many, Hosni 'the Pharaoh' Mubarak appeared an immovable object. Yet this view proved a mirage, cogent only to weary souls, thirsting for hope. The sea of protest that flooded into Cairo's dusty streets showed once and for all that the force of righteousness is truly irresistible.

And so to you, the people of Egypt, I dedicate this recipe for cheddar-baked mushrooms.

At a push, you could probably call this a Collapsing Pyramid of Cheesy Fungus. V. quickly, there are three components: pearl barley; portobello mushrooms; and cheddar cheese.

1. Simmer the pearl barley until it's soft enough for humanoid teeth. Then add salt, pepper and butter until you can face eating it.

2. Bake the big mushrooms on their own for five-ten minutes with a little butter.

3. When the mushrooms are half-baked, slop some pearl barley onto the gill-side, then top with grated cheddar. Bake for another five minutes.

- when that's all done, take it out, scatter with fresh thyme and serve with a vivacious salad.

With more time and a larger sack of fava beans, I would have taken a stab at Egypt's national dish. But the signs are that Egyptians have had enough of their fool.

Whatever political regime emerges in Egypt, let us hope that it offers greater freedom and fulfilment to the inspirational people we met in Tahrir Square. And as Amnesty argue, let us hope this heralds a change in fortunes for Egypt's womenfolk.

For Hosni Mubarak, Just For Men wasn't only a handy haircare solution; it also summed up his attitude to basic civil rights. For many reasons, the Egyptian woman's lot is not a happy one. In 2006, one of them fled the country to study human rights at Birkbeck University, spending long nights dry-humping in a tiny dorm with yours truly.

There can be no clearer picture of despair.

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