Virginia Barton

26 October 2018: The Lure of the Levant

26 October 2018



Naturally greedy, the idea of making my own Lebanese dishes led me to purchase a small tagine. Not one of those striped jobbies but a business-like, perfectly plain terracotta crock some 12 inches in diameter; priced at only £12.95. (It will be more after Brexit … everything will be more after Brexit, including Remorse…)

The elegant shape, reminiscent of the mysterious East, conjured up scents of gently cooking lamb shanks, delicately flavoured with ras al hanout, apricots and lemons.

I got it home with some difficulty; but alas and alack, once on the cooker I had to admit I couldn’t manage it! Even the beautifully tapered lid was far too heavy. A classic example of the eye being bigger than.

Some lucky grandchild will get it for Christmas complete with essential ingredients tucked inside: a jar of harissa paste, spices, garlic and a lemon.

While I revert to my old sauté pan with lid.


Anyone got some good recipes apart from lamb shanks? A vegetarian one would be handy as so many people are. Or a fashionable vegan offering?


I have become an habitué of Comptoir Libanais canteen where I am steadily ruining my digestive system not so much from what I eat, but volume. Greed is a deadly sin; its opposite is temperance.

The Temperance Society, of which my great aunt was a keen member and had a medal to prove it, warned of the devilish drink, and tried to persuade folk to abstain — which was when you qualified for the medal.

As far as I know there is no such Society warning of the dangers of excessive eating. A looking-glass is a good substitute, wouldn’t you agree?





  • Harry P says on: October 26, 2018 at 12:07 am


    Your appetizing article sent me reminiscing.

    Remember not that long ago when you were invited to someone’s home for supper and you ate what was placed in front of you? There were no special meals for vegetarians (vegans did not yet exist, I believe). If you were anti-meat, well, you happily ate the veggies on the plate, no worries.

    Today the home cook must plan several options to accommodate all and avoid the whining. The absolute worst happened to me when one of my guests brought her own food as she did not like what I was serving (and it had nothing to do with allergies).

    Sorry I guess I’m in a curmudgeonly mood. But do I have a point? Whither manners?

    • Ginny says on: October 26, 2018 at 11:22 am


      In all my 81 years I never came across such bad manners! Fair enough if she had warned you beforehand, but to turn up, bag in hand with an excuse like that — I would have been tempted to call on heavy irony:

      “This is Lorna everybody, she has kindly brought her own food in case there isn’t enough.” Or some such remark.

      Don’t ask her again. Gin

  • Nadine says on: October 28, 2018 at 5:01 pm


    Yes but :

    Let me have men about me that are fat,
    Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.
    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look.
    He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous

    from “Julius Caesar”…

    • Ginny says on: October 28, 2018 at 7:08 pm


      This was always a favourite speech — thanks for the timely reminder!

      No fear of my becoming either lean or hungry, Nadine. Ginny

  • Coal-Filled Wellies says on: October 29, 2018 at 11:35 am


    Tagine always makes me think of the great Dolly Parton. When I hear the word, I immediately start hearing it to the beautiful melody of “Jolene”: tagine, tagine, tagine, tagine…

    Sorry, Ginny, this hasn’t really enriched the discussion!

    • Ginny says on: October 29, 2018 at 2:01 pm


      I think I know Dolly P by sight but not by song, so this ref. passes me by I’m afraid Wellies!

      Never be afraid of commenting off piste… Gin

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(c) All Rights Reserved. Site Designed by Magtype CR