Panzanella – Oh Glory!


As I’d promised myself when I woke up this morning, it could only be panzanella – Anna Del Conte’s recipe – for supper. It’s a trumpet voluntary, a salad in D Major, the whole brass section of flavours, the very food to make you joyful! Tomato, garlic, onion, basil, capers, good olive oil and red wine vinegar. It’s summer in a bowl, a last shout of sunshine and the kind of dish that I always make for four even though there will only be two of us at the table. It’s the salad that can transform a bad day into a good one – I’m going too far now, but you get the picture. We had the possibility of some pasta in hand, a frozen roll of pesto that would only have taken ten minutes to prepare, but the sourdough component of the salad is filling enough and apart from a pear we were done and smiling.

After supper we sat together reading through cookbooks – we are very greedy after all. Who’d have thought exploring a new vegetarian cuisine could be so much fun?

Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

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